The principle of cooperation with evil: implicit cooperation

In the previous article, we discussed explicit cooperation with evil. Explicit cooperation is always also either formal cooperation, or material cooperation. These three types of cooperation (explicit, formal, material) depend upon the three fonts of morality (intention, moral object, circumstances). Explicit cooperation is based on the first font of intention. Formal cooperation is based on the second font of moral object. Material cooperation is based on the third font of circumstances.

If you sin by intention only, then your act, while a sin, is not the sin of cooperation with evil, since you have not cooperated by the choice of an intrinsically evil act (formal cooperation), nor by the circumstances of your act (material cooperation). In order for your sin by intention to be also explicit cooperation, it must also be either formal or material cooperation.

On the other hand, if you do not intend to cooperate with the sin of the other person, so that your intention in the first font is good, your chosen act and/or its circumstances could still be formal or material cooperation (or both). In such a case, the formal or material cooperation is called implicit, rather than explicit. In implicit formal cooperation or implicit material cooperation, the cooperator does not intend to cooperate with the sin of the other person, and yet his chosen act and/or its reasonably anticipated consequences do in fact cooperate with the sinful act of the other person. A good intention alone is not sufficient to make your acts moral. If you intend good, but you do evil, then you have still sinned. And this remains true when your act is sinful by formal or material cooperation with the sin of another person.

For more on the principle of cooperation with evil, see my book:
The Catechism of Catholic Ethics
or my Kindle ebooklet:
Roman Catholic Teaching on Cooperation with Evil

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One Response to The principle of cooperation with evil: implicit cooperation

  1. Nicholas says:

    When I read your book “A Catechism of Catholic Ethics” I found the chapter on “Cooperation with Evil” to be one of the more difficult, and at the same time more rewarding chapters because it was so intricate, and at the same time it really can set one’s own conscience at rest because the potential of cooperating with evil can be a troubling for one trying to live a good life in an evil and fallen world.

    And in the chapter I could see the perfection and fruitfulness of the three fonts of morality as well as a sort of culmination of your book. What a great gift to have these three fonts taught to us by the Magisterium in these modern times and to have them explained by good theologians.

    This is a good review. Am glad to see it.

    Grace and Peace to you always Ron :)

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