Anda di halaman 1dari 11

Study notes – In-class essay/exam

Christian Decision Making

Ethics Portion

KEY POINTS FOR EXAM:

 Perhaps start by talking about part of prudence:


o Integral parts (name the majority – pick the most interesting)
o Vices (vs potential parts)
 ***mental acts of Prudence
 Then ‘zoom out’ larger context in which a person makes a decision
 How does right practical reasoning interact with everything we are (appetites, desires,
emotional life – how these color the information we are taking in) – faces of Prudence
o 1st part – Augustine, Paul
o But if data is wrong
o Necessity of Grace
o Importance of other and Other
o Witness, others, testimony
 Gift of the Holy Spirit – Counsel
 Is there a wisdom beyond Aristotelian logic

PRUDENCE
= the excellence of practical reasoning (Aristotle and Aquinas)
Disposes us to see things rightly and to pursue what is good for us in a particular situation
Enables us to size up the situation accurately, to determine the best course of action and to embark on
it
Aquinas (following Aristotle) – right reason in action
PRUDENCE AND OTHER VIRTUES

One cannot be just without being prudent also – as much as we know what justice entails, prudence
determines what it takes to act justly in a given situation (prudence as the “Charioteer” of the virtues)

STRUCTURE OF THE ETHICS PORTION:

i. Prudence and the Moral Virtues


ii. Prudence Itself
iii. Prudence and Related Vices
iv. Theological Virtues ad Gifts

Two faces of Prudence: Prudence command


perceive 2
1 Right PR

3
Appetites
Both need the moral virtues

FIRST FACE OF PRUDENCE SECOND FACE OF PRUDENCE


Gauge what’s going on Command to act
Perceiving what is Deliberating and gathering information are done
Being aware
Recognizing the first situation for what it is

FIRST FACE OF PRUDENCE

Three pieces; three principles by which we know (largely Aristotelian)

A) UNIVERSAL
a. Something speculative
b. True knowledge of what is right and what is wrong (good vs. evil)
c. This knowledge is universal – ex: shouldn’t kill; should tie my shoes before walking down
icy steps
d. (Aquinas says this light never goes out
B) PARTICULARS
a. What goods are at stake here and now in this situation
b. Perceive this situation as unique vs. another situation/interaction we have seen
c. We don’t “know” the particulars of each situation; we need to perceive them
d. This takes experience (in a sense, the ‘right’ experience’)
e. An intellectual perception
C) MORAL VIRTUES
a. Well-ordered appetites
b. Moral virtues set the end
c. My will needs to be ordered so I can see the situation for what it is

SIDEBAR – THE APPETITES

Appetites set the end.


Appetites include:

1. Passions
a. Concupiscable sensory – food, drink, sex
b. Irascible – passions that raise me to anger to defend what I perceive to be good or to
flee what I should be defending
2. Will – the rational appetites (ex: choose friendship – desire because I understand)

There are intellectual virtues (Prudence) and moral virtues (temperance, courage, justice)
Moral virtues perfect corresponding appetites/passions:
Concupiscable – temperance
Irascible – courage (perseverance, patience)
Will - justice
PR

Appetites

Moral virtues

AQUINAS – Saint Paul is virtuous – has moral virtues and prudence


Yet still fights against concupiscence
We can’t get away from concupiscence
We are healed by Grace but never completely healed on earth
KRETZMANN/AQUINAS – St. Paul makes the right decision but still has to fight to do it

POSSIBILTY OF SELF-DECEPTION
FOUR STATES OF HUMAN NATURE
1) Before the fall – whole, integral, exists with grace
2) After the fall yet uder the law of sin
3) **After the fall – under the law of Grace (sanctifying Grace and redemptive Grace)
a. Baptism – wounds from original sin remains such that we still face temptation
4) Healed/beatified human nature (only in heaven)

**3)  our poverty


Our danger of self-deception is strong
Can spiral downward
Perverse understanding of what is the right thing next time
We THINK we are getting better , getting more enlightened but we aren’t
Need for outside help – GRACE must enter; something external – natural law, infused virtue (ex: Caritas),
etc.

PR
Concupiscence

Appetites

NECESSITY OF THE OTHER


The moment you need to make a decision, the least prepared you are to make the decision
Therefore we need to rely on others
Ex:
Friend
Church teaching, Scripture
Lives of the Saints
In some sense ou take a leap of faith – trusting the other
Don’t have a perception of the person’s experience, just that they are trustworthy
NECESSITY OF THE OTHER is inherent in the structure of Practical Reasoning

SECOND FACE OF PRUDENCE

Akratic action – incontinence – knowing the right thing but choosing not to do it; lack of self-control;
acting against one’s better judgement

Saint Paul as a Saint – he’s not sunning (akrasia) like you and I may do (and maybe he did in the
beginning)

Concupiscence is still an issue for the Saints

SIDEBAR – Conscience can be obscured; first spark of conscience (desire to do good) cannot
PRUDENCE ITSELF
(vs. how it relates) [INTEGRAL PARTS, CONNECTED PARTS, VICES CONTRARY]

THREE VIRTUES ASSOCIATED WITH PRUDENCE (RIGHT PRACTICAL REASONING)


1) Integral – concurrent – all other virtues are integral to Prudence being whole – virtues as the
walls of the house and Prudence as the roof – ‘prerequisites’ to Prudence
2) Potential (connected) parts of Prudence – virtues that pertain to Prudence in a particular matter
(not the whole of Prudence; Prudence in a particular realm – my addition: perhaps these parts
play a “supporting role” but aren’t integral to the virtue
3) Subjective – the subject that specifies – different forms of Prudence – pastor, family man,
political leader, the General, the business leader

EIGHT INTEGRAL VIRTUES FOR PRUDENCE – if we go wrong in one, we may not have perfect Prudence;
prudence cannot function properly without these; to grow in Prudence, we must attend to these
“EXELLECES OF THE PERFECTLY PRUDENT PERSON”
FIVE – for discerning (1st face; perceiving)
THREE – for doing (2nd face)

FIVE INTEGRAL VIRTUES (“EXCELLENCES” “PARTS”) OF PRUDENCE – for discerning (1st face; perceiving);
concerned with the capacity to form proper judgements based on past or present circumstance
1) Memory
a. The experience of the past; how people are used to behave and how things usually turn
out; we can better assign speculative knowledge to the situation at had because of past
experieces
b. Memory has to be whole and can’t be wounded
c. Must have memory and can also make new ‘past experiences’ (that is, must be able to
learn from our experiences)
d. There are different ways memories can be distorted (memories must be healed)
e. We can distort our memories, for instance by being overly-focused (kind of selective
memories)
2) Insight
a. The ‘ah-ha’ moment when you finally get it
b. For example – seeing the goods and values at stake for the discernment
c. ?of memories and what is happening in front of me
d. “understanding” “Intelligence” – ability to perceive with clarity the particularities of a
given situation and understand it in relation to moral principles; make rational
connections; distinguish between relevant and irrelevant, consistent and inconsistent,
truthful and untruthful
e. Aquinas: “the right estimate about a particular end”
3) Docility (from Pieper)
a. Willingness to learn from others
b. To be teachable
c. You have to be a learner (common use: docility to the Holy Spirit)
d. Peiper: the person who can receive and wait before reality (not the know-it-all)
e. Be silent before reality so it can teach you (Peiper: the silence of the soul)
f. For Aquinas – most directly this means the ability to listen to others even those under
you
4) Reasoning (corollary to insight)
a. Ability to make accurate judgements – prudent decisions require sharpness of mind and
acute reasoning – correct inferences; correct applications of general principles to
particular cases (defective reasoning leads to wrong decisions)
b. ‘ah-ha’ moment when solving the math problem (insight) but the rest of the problem
needs to be solved
c. Need to be able to reason through something
d. Need to connect all the dots
5) Alertness
a. Mental quickness; sharpness, shrewdness
b. Ability
c. Aristotle – a habit whereby congruities are discovered rapidly
d. To spot abnormalities – thigs about this situation that are different ad to react quickly
e. (the truly Prudent person does all of these things quickly – like second-nature)

THREE INTEGRAL VIRTUES (“EXCELLENCES” “PARTS”) OF PRUDENCE – for doing (2nd face); focus on the
future – on forming sound moral judgements in light of possible consequences
6) Farsightedness
a. Providencia; foresight
b. To foresee something
c. Requires a vision to the end and means
d. Prudence is not ONLY this as some people mistakenly say
e. The ability to see what is going to happen in terms of both proximate and long-term
ends
f. Considers the future consequences of his actions in light of the final end (what is
conducive to overall well-being and happiness
g. Imprudent robber: successful robbery but went to jail; the choice to rob the bank was
insensitive to the overall goal of his life, that is, to be happy
7) Circumspection
a. Ability to foresee that a given action will not be made wrong by the circumstances in
which it is performed
b. Lack of circumspection involves the choice of means that are bad or vain through
external circumstances
c. Ex: a professor wishes to cultivate friendship with his students. To that end, he brings
cookies to class which turned out to be poisoned but an angry worker in the bakery.
Half of the students die. Professor went to jail and did not make new friends – he had
lack of circumspection
d. Attention to changing circumstances
e. Looking around
f. While we are moving into action, our eyes are open
g. Looking for circumstances that may be changing
h. (ex: made a decision last week and acting on it today – need more circumspection)
i. Be attentive
8) Caution
a. Ability to foresee and prevent an action
b. Caution is what makes circumspection succeed
c. Attention to obstacles that might arise
d. Taking precautions against foreseeable obstacles
e. Note: one can be blindsided by an obstacle that was not foreseeable – this doesn’t
mean the decision wasn’t prudent – was the obstacle really foreseeable? Was due
diligence done?
The idea is to pass through #6,7,&8 and then do it.

Right Practical Reasoning requires the appetites:

 To be ordered do they don’t get in the way


 It also needs the appetites (ex: compassion, visiting a sick person, etc)

We need some desire to lead us to the ultimate end

[grave matter is that which is contrary to Caritas [the appetite that carries us forward to the true and
ultimate end – had to be a Grace; had to be above nature [even though we still have appetites directed
to the earth])

You cannot have perfect prudence without Caritas

Caritas draws us toward the right end

Without Caritas there is a danger of life with False prudence

SIDEBAR – the concupiscent, irascible appetites are directed to the good – aoriginal sin didn’t change
that – what’s broken in the dominion of reason over the appetites – we are healing now in the presence
of Grace; we are not healed here on earth

Aquinas – before you have Caritas, you need faith.

Faith is to know, to accept in love the ultimate end

Faith = to assent to that which is revealed because of the revealer

The ature of faith ISN’T to agree

I entrust myself – entrustment to the person

Believe the message because of the messenger

Assent of the mind/intellect – faith an an intellectual supernatural act – not as consent of the will
(assent of the intellect)

Hope is the ‘ flip sie’ of Caritas

[will] Caritas

[intellect] Faith

[will] Hope

Caritas = union; divine fellowship

Hope = acknowledgement that not yet at that fulfillment; striving for this great good which is difficult,
but possible (through the Grace of God) to attain. Heaven is only possible with God’s help.
Distinction between God’s supernatural Grace = grace

Vs.

God’s natural gifts

Faith changes the balance of decisions because it sees a wider view (vs. the narrower view that comes
from philosophy alone)

Faith shines a light that changes how I think about my actions

Hope does the same thing


MENTAL TASK OF MENTAL ACTS OF PRUDENCE CONNECT VIRTUES (EXCELLENCES) THAT VICES OPPOSED TO THE VIRTUE OF
PRUDENCE PERFECT EACH ACT PRUDENCE (parts of IMPRUDENCE; only
need one of these to be true to be
imprudent)
Before this is theoretical reason – 1)sight of the
good and 2) voice of the primordial conscience
(innate awareness of the primary, basic first
principles of avtion, summed up in the imperative
– ‘good is to be pursued, evil avoided’
DISCERNING (1st Deliberation THOROUGHNESS (including good counsel) HASTINESS
face of Prudence) To take counsel RASHNESS
(the intellectual Gathering data Doesn’t gather all information/data they
virtue) Gathering advice about the need to gather
data Acting on an impulse without due
Consideration reflection and consideration
Rushed into action because of will or
passion
“ Determination (Decide) COMMON SENSE HEEDLESSNESS
My mind comes to a Judging common or most general cases THOUGHTLESSNESS
judgement Ability to weigh up what is generally the Doesn’t heed the data they have in front of
Judgement case them; disregard the data
Good at judging common situations Not sitting with the data to see what is
Knowing what data is more important than important
others Miss the significance of something you
should have noticed
KEENNESS Ex: the car dealer did tell me that but I was
Ability to perceive through an uncommon too eager to buy it
situation May take time to think but fails to do it
Good at judging in difficult situations well because of an internal or external
obstacle
DOING (2nd face of Direction PRUDENCE INCONSTANCY
Prudence) I command a decision Never got around to doing it
“X” is to be done Knows what to do but not getting around
to doing it
(the line with will begins to Comes from second-guessing, easily
blur) distracted, perfectionism
Command Going back on a decision through some
gust of passion
Withdrawal from a definite good purpose
Ex: alcoholic who determined drinking is
damaging to his health, but goes back to
drinking when he goes out with his friends