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  #1  
Old 3rd June 2008, 01:30 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Default moral question

this article
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...,1504092.story
describes a soldier who received the Medal of Honor for
throwing himself on a grenade in order to save four fellow soldiers.

1. Was his act moral? Why or why not?

2. Apply the three fonts of morality to his act.
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  #2  
Old 3rd June 2008, 01:46 PM
St. Thomas More St. Thomas More is offline
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Default St. Maximilan Kolbe

This reminds me of St. Maximilian Kolbe. He was a priest, dedicated to Our Lady, imprisinoed in a concentration camp during WWII. When another prisoner, married with children, was chosen by the Nazi's for execution, St. Kolbe stepped forward and asked that he be executed instead, and that this man's life be spared. And so it happened.

He died a cruel death, after being deprived of food and water for weeks. Yet I bet that his death was filled with grace and joy.

Anyway, I'll take a stab at applying the three fonts:

The intention here is a good and noble one - protecting others from death and disaster.

The act is more controversial. He's giving up his life. It sounds like suicide (which would be wrong), but it's not. He's giving up his life to spare others. As Jesus said, "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).

The circumstances certainly tilt in favor of a selfless act whereby one gives up his life to save others.

So, this act is morally good and courageous.
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  #3  
Old 3rd June 2008, 01:49 PM
Brother Brother is offline
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I think I know the first one:

The act is moral as long as the intention of the man was to sacrifice his life in order to save the life of others. For what I've read, it really was. "There is no greater love for those who give up their lives for their friends".
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  #4  
Old 3rd June 2008, 01:59 PM
daytonafreak daytonafreak is offline
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Default

Lets see. The first font is the Intention, which is good-saving the life of his fellow soldiers.

The second font is the object of his intention. the act itself is throwing himself down to cover the grenade knowing that he would definitely be hurt. The meaning of the act is that he thought that doing this would prevent other injuries.

the third font is the circumstances. The circumstances were that a grenade was thrown, people were going to get hurt. He was just trying to minimize the damage.

It seems to me that this act is morally good.
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  #5  
Old 3rd June 2008, 03:27 PM
VKallin VKallin is offline
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Default It is moral

The intention was moral
The act itself was moral
The result of the act wasa moral

It is moral
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  #6  
Old 3rd June 2008, 04:10 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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the term circumstances is used in moral theology in a way that is different from its secular dictionary definition. It is anything that pertains to the morality of the act, other than the first font (intention) and the second font (the act itself and its inherent meaning). Principally, this would refer to the consequences of the act.

1. intention: to save others from death
2. act itself: an act of commission, implementing the positive precept to love your neighbor, preventing their deaths at the cost of his own life, but without violating the negative precept against suicide. His act of throwing himself on the grenade had the inherent meaning of directly protecting others from injury and death, and indirectly resulting in his own death.

3. good consequences, four persons were saved from death or severe injury, outweigh bad consequences, one person dies.

If the situation were that he would have to put a gun to his own head and kill himself directly in order to save a large number of persons, it would not be moral. One cannot directly do evil so that good may result.
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  #7  
Old 4th June 2008, 01:43 PM
St. Thomas More St. Thomas More is offline
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Default Finis

Ron,

Can the intention be separated into two parts: The intention of the act (finis operis) and the intention of the actor (finis operantis)? So, the intention of the act is to smother the grenade and the intention of the actor is to save the lives of those around him?
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  #8  
Old 4th June 2008, 02:49 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by St. Thomas More View Post
Can the intention be separated into two parts: The intention of the act (finis operis) and the intention of the actor (finis operantis)? So, the intention of the act is to smother the grenade and the intention of the actor is to save the lives of those around him?

According to St. Thomas (Aquinas, not More), the act is defined by its essential nature, not by intention. Also, intention is of will and intellect, i.e. a knowing choice; acts in and of themselves do not intend. The intention of the act is in the actor (in the first font), the consequences of the act are in the third font. The essential nature of the act, i.e. the kind or type of the act, is in the second font. Certain kinds of acts are always immoral.

Let me give an example where this kind of thinking, about intention, fails.

A doctor intends to relieve the suffering of a terminally ill cancer patient.
The act itself has as its end to relieve suffering.
Relief of suffering is good.

However, the suffering of the patient is relieved by giving the patient a lethal cocktail of drugs. The essential nature of the act is to directly kill the patient.

Euthenasia is intrinsically evil and always immoral. It cannot be justified by the end (finis) of the act (operis), which is the good of relieving suffering.

Quote:
Originally Posted by St. Thomas More View Post
So, the intention of the act is to smother the grenade and the intention of the actor is to save the lives of those around him?

No. The so-called intention of the act, i.e. the end or end result, is that lives are saved. The smothering of the grenade has as its end to save lives, so the smothering of the grenade would not in any sense be the end of the act.

There are plenty of moral theologians who think the way that you are saying, i.e. applying intention to both the first and second font. The end result of their work (finis operis) is to undermine or contradict the definintive teaching of the Church that some kinds of acts are intrinsically evil and always immoral.

Which theologian(s) did you get this idea from?
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  #9  
Old 4th June 2008, 03:21 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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An additional point.

In the above example, the doctor intends the end of relieving suffering, but he also intends the means to that end, euthanasia. Both the intended means and the intended end are in the first font; it is one intention, which includes means and end.

According to St. Thomas, the movement of the will to the end and the movement of the will to the means in a particular act are one and the same (Summa Theologica II, Question 12, Article 4).
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  #10  
Old 4th June 2008, 03:28 PM
St. Thomas More St. Thomas More is offline
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Default Finis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Conte View Post
An additional point.

In the above example, the doctor intends the end of relieving suffering, but he also intends the means to that end, euthanasia. Both the intended means and the intended end are in the first font; it is one intention, which includes means and end.


This is the point that I intended (no pun intended) to make - not separating the intention over the two fonts, but stating that, in the first font, there can be an immediate intention of the act and a larger intention of the actor. As you expressed it - a means and an end. I didn't realize they made up one intention.

Dr. Janet Smith has an article here [deleted by Administrator]
which discussed St. Thomas Aquinas and these various concepts. She describes these intentions as two different ones (citing to Aquinas).
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