Category Archives: ethics

The Proper Definition of the Moral Object

Introduction One of the most fundamental teachings in Catholic Ethics is that some human acts are immoral by the very nature of the act. An act is a knowing choice; it is an exercise of free will and intellect. Each … Continue reading

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Moral Obligations and Duress

What happens if an act is a sin, but the sin is committed under duress? First of all, the act remains objectively sinful. An act is a sin based on the three fonts of morality, as they arise from and … Continue reading

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Pregnancy, Cancer, and the Indirect Death of a Prenatal

Let’s consider a moral dilemma that does not include an intrinsically evil act. A woman is pregnant and has been diagnosed with cancer. If she receives treatment for the cancer now, her life will likely be saved, but the treatment … Continue reading

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The Trolley Problem and the Three Fonts of Morality

The trolley problem is an ethical hypothetical meant to propose a seemingly insolvable moral dilemma. A trolley is traveling along a track toward a location where four persons are tied to the tracks. These four will die if the trolley … Continue reading

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Only 3 Things Make a War Just or Unjust

According to the teaching in Veritatis Splendor, only three things are needed to make any human act, that is, any decision or choice, objectively moral or immoral: (1) intention, (2) object, (3) circumstances. So this teaching must also apply to … Continue reading

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Just War doctrine and the Likelihood of Success

One of the conditions for a war to be just (morally justifiable) is stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church as: “there must be serious prospects of success”. The reason for this condition is that a war to defend … Continue reading

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Certain Kinds of Behavior are Always Wrong to Knowingly Choose

Intrinsically Evil Acts The type or kind of an act, in terms of its morality, is called the “moral species” of the act. Some acts are wrong by the nature of the act. These acts are a bad type of … Continue reading

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On Lying, Mass Murder, and Heresy

[1] Deacon Jim Russell wrote an article, titled Combatants, Non-Combatants, and Double Effect, published August 10, 2017 at Crisis Magazine. [2] My article is here: Response to Deacon Jim Russell on Combatants and Double Effect, with a follow-up titled: A … Continue reading

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Abortifacient contraception for a Medical Purpose

Can a Catholic married couple morally use abortifacient contraception (the birth control pill) for a medical purpose, while remaining sexually active. No, certainly not. And when we apply the principle of double effect to the question of using abortifacient contraception … Continue reading

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Contraception and Marriage: if it were true

A loose-knit group of Catholic commentators has decided to proclaim a radical revision to the teaching of the Magisterium on contraception: the claim that contraception is only intrinsically evil when used by a married couple. What happens when contraception is … Continue reading

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Intrinsic Evil, Heresy, and Excommunication

Many conservative Catholics today are just as much “cafeteria Catholics” as the liberals they criticize. They have their own belief system, which (for many, but not all of them) is substantially different from Catholic Christianity as taught by the Church. … Continue reading

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Most Catholics have rejected the Dogma of Intrinsic Evil

Reactions to the articles by deacon Russell and myself on the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki vary. What surprises me is the total absence of any understanding of the magisterial teaching on intrinsic evil. The atomic bombings are condemned by … Continue reading

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Response to Deacon Jim Russell on Combatants and Double Effect

Deacon Jim Russell wrote an article, titled Combatants, Non-Combatants, and Double Effect, published August 10, 2017 at Crisis Magazine. The article is one of the worst pieces of Catholic moral theology I have ever read. It contains several serious errors … Continue reading

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Which Acts are Beyond the Limits of a Sincere but Mistaken Conscience?

Sometimes an act which is objectively morally disordered is committed with a sincere but mistaken conscience, such that it is not also an actual sin. Only actual sins include guilt and deserve punishment. “Conscience frequently errs from invincible ignorance without … Continue reading

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Will the U.S. accept Euthanasia?

Euthanasia is intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral. It is not justified by a good intention or purpose, not even by the medical purpose of relieving severe suffering. It is not justified by a dire circumstance, not even that a … Continue reading

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Humanae Vitae on Marital Chastity

The teaching of Humanae Vitae is not limited to the topic of contraception within marriage. In Humanae Vitae, the Magisterium condemns contraception as intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral, regardless of marital state. “Just as man does not have unlimited … Continue reading

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Free book on Marital Sexual Ethics

My book, Roman Catholic Marital Sexual Ethics, will be free from Wednesday, June 7 to Friday, June 9 (Pacific time), in Kindle format only. Please take advantage of this offer. This book presents the teachings of the Roman Catholic Faith … Continue reading

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Saint Augustine on Marital Chastity

Saint Augustine of Hippo, Doctor of the Church, in his moral treatise ‘On the Good of Marriage,’ writes on the subject of sexual intercourse within marriage: “…nor be changed into that use which is against nature, on which the Apostle … Continue reading

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St. Thomas Aquinas on Marital Chastity

First, St. Thomas quotes Peter Lombard: Conjugal relations “are not to be changed to a use contrary to nature” [The Sentences, Book IV]. Then, St. Thomas explains what Lombard meant and why he is correct: “Marital relations are contrary to … Continue reading

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Is It Moral for Women to Freeze Their Eggs?

Is it moral for women to have eggs from their ovaries removed and frozen? 1. What is the intended end, i.e. the purpose of the act? If the reason is to use the eggs later in a procedure called IVF, … Continue reading

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