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Old 21st October 2009, 01:53 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 12,630
Default the moral object

The three fonts of morality are:
1. the intention or purpose for which the act is done
2. the act itself with its inherent moral meaning as determined by the its moral object
3. the circumstances, especially the consequences of the act

The moral object is perhaps the most difficult point to understand. Every knowingly chosen act has a moral object, which is the end toward which the act itself is inherently directed. This is not the end chosen by the person who acts (the subject) as an intended end or purpose. Rather, it is independent of intention, except that the person who acts has intentionally chosen this particular act.

The act itself is always a knowingly chosen act, i.e. a deliberately chosen act, an intentionally chosen act. And the moral object is the end toward which that chosen act is inherently directed. The moral object is therefore always directly related to the chosen act.

When the moral object is evil, the chosen act is called intrinsically evil, because all knowingly chosen acts, good or bad, are intrinsically directed at their moral object. So when the moral object is evil, the act is intrinsically evil merely because it is directed toward that moral object, regardless of whether or not the moral object is achieved.

So a failed attempted murder is intrinsically evil, despite the fact that the moral object of the killing of an innocent person is not achieved.

Intrinsically evil acts are always immoral, regardless of the other two fonts of intention and circumstances.

Whenever the moral object is evil, the act itself is intrinsically evil. Whenever the moral object is good, the act itself is good, but the intention and circumstances must also be good for the overall act to be moral.
Ron Conte
Roman Catholic theologian
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