Jacques Maritain Center : Elements of Moral Theology


§ 1. Whence are they derived?

Is every human action good, or are some evil? What S. Thomas proved in Pars Prima is here to be remembered. For good and evil in actions are like good and evil in things, since each thing produces action according to its essential nature. Now it is a fundamental principle of truth, which was shown in Part I., that Good and Being are convertible terms. (Being is good, and the good is Being viewed as desirable.) As much of Being as anything possesses, so much of good it has. God alone has absolute plenitude of being. But each thing which He has made possesses such plenitude of being as He finds suitable for it according to its peculiar nature. Some things, however, may have being, and yet lack that plenitude of being which they ought to have. Thus a man is compounded of body and soul, with all their suitable organs and powers. If any one of these is lacking, there is defect in his plenitude of being. Such defect is an evil. A blind man, e.g., has the good of life, but he has also the evil of defect, his blindness. But if he lacked everything which belongs to being, we could not apply the words good or bad to him. Where there is defect, the thing is good secundum quid. I conclude, therefore, that every action, so far as it has being, has goodness; but so far as it lacks that plenitude of being which is due to human action, it is bad; e.g., if it lacks the due quantity, or the due place, etc. The evil acts by virtue of the deficient good. If there were no good, there would be no being, no action. If there were no deficiency, there would be no evil in the being or in the action. So the action actually produced is in such a case a defective good, good secundum quid, but simply evil.

Anything may be, in one regard, actual, in another deprived of actuality; and thus deficient action will be caused. A blind man has power to walk (which is a good); but wanting sight, he walks hesitatingly (which is an evil).

An evil action may have some effect per se, which is in one way good, but evil as opposed to the due order of reason, e. g., conception following adultery.

Does human action derive goodness or badness from its object?

The kind of action is primarily determined by its object as the terminus of the action. Not, indeed, the object as viewed in itself, but in its relations to the actor, as in accordance or disaccordance with right reason so far as he is concerned. In this way actions are good or bad in their nature. Thus unjustly taking another's property is malum per se.

In speaking of the object thus, I am not speaking of an external thing which is in itself a good, but of the related action.

The goodness of the action is not caused by the goodness of its effect; but an action is called good because it can produce a good effect; and so the very relation of an action to its result is a cause of the goodness of that action.

Is human action good or had according to the circumstances of it?

I answer that the plenitude of being in (individual) action is not totally due to its nature, but also (in part) to the due circumstances. Hence, if anything be lacking in these due circumstances, the action is bad.

Is human action good or bad according to its end?

(Here we speak, not of the intrinsic end which coincides with the object spoken of above, but of the extrinsic object.) This is the extrinsic cause of the action. Due portion and relation to that end is requisite in order to constitute the action good.

So then, in human action there may be four-fold goodness: (1) in its genus, sc., action; because as much of action and being as it has, so much it has of goodness; (2) in the kind of action, according as it has a fitting object; (3) in the accidental circumstances of the (individual) action; (4) according to the end, its relation to the goodness of its cause.

Observe, however, with reference to this last, that this final cause may be only the seeming good, and so evil action may follow from it. And especially, it is to be noted that an action having goodness of one of these four kinds may be deficient in another of them. It may be good according to its species or its circumstances, and bad in the intention of the one who does the action. And an action is not simply good unless all four kinds of goodness are found in it.

Does the end aimed at make an action specifically good or bad?

Some acts are called human inasmuch as they are our voluntary acts.

Now, in the voluntary act is found a two-fold action; one, the interior act of the will, another, the outward act. And eacli of these has its object. The end is the proper object of the inward voluntary act; but that about which the outward act is concerned is its object. And as the outward act takes its specific character from its object, the inward act gets its specific character (as good or bad) from the end sought for. But the outward acts are only moral so far as they are voluntary. We use our members as instruments of our will. Therefore human acts, although they may be described according to their outward object, the "material" part of them, are yet specifically good or bad according to the end, the "formal" part of them. Aristotle, accordingly, observes (Nic. Eth., v. 2) that he who steals in order to commit adultery, is even more an adulterer than a thief.

Indifferent acts.

A human act, i.e., a moral act, gets its species from its object as related to the (directing) principle of human acts, which is reason. Hence, if the object of the act embraces what is in accordance with the order of reason, the species of act will be good, e.g., to give alms. But if it include what is repugnant to the order of reason, the act will be, specifically, a bad act; e.g., to take unjustly another's property. But the object of the act may possibly embrace nothing pertaining to the order of reason, e.g., to pick up a straw from the ground. Such acts are in themselves indifferent.

I say, in themselves; but when we consider the individual who does the act the case is altered. For a moral act has goodness not only from its object, but also from its circumstances. And every individual act has circumstances by which it may be rendered good or bad; the intention at least may produce this result. For since it is the part of reason to direct, an act proceeding from deliberate reason, if not ordered for the due end, is, on that very account, repugnant to reason, and is bad; but if it is ordained for a due end, it is in accordance with reason, and is so far good.

But every act of a man which proceeds from deliberative reason is either ordained or not ordained for a due end therefore, considered with reference to the individual, it is either good or bad.{1} But if it does not so proceed, as when rubs his beard, or moves his hand or his foot, such an act is not, properly speaking, human or moral, and is indifferent.

Does any circumstance constitute a specifically moral act, bad or good?

I answer yes; because the species of moral acts, as species, depend upon the concepts or forms, as framed by the mind. And so what in any act is viewed as a supervening circumstance, may again be viewed as one of the chief conditions of the object. Thus taking unjustly another's property is theft in general; but we may also consider some circumstance which adds a special deformity contrary to the order of reason, as the place, the time, the person, the manner. And so theft may be robbery or sacrilege.

§ 2. The good and evil of the inward acts of the will.

A good will depends upon its object.

Good and evil per se pertain to the will, as the true and the false pertain to the intellect. But in human acts different objects make a difference in kind. Good and evil, therefore, in acts of the will depend upon the object of it. It is true that the will can only seek the good; but what seems so may be only the apparent good. And so the act of will is sometimes evil.

The goodness of the will depends upon the object alone, not on the circumstances of the act. This object is the end sought; we are speaking, therefore, of the intended end.

If the will is for the good, no circumstance can make that a bad will. If you say that any one wills any good when, or where, or as he ought not to do, your words are equivocal. For you may mean that that circumstance is willed. And so he does not will the good. Because the willing a good when, or where, or as, one ought not so to do, is not willing the good. But again, you may mean the very act of willing; and so it is impossible that any one should will the good when he ought not to, because he ought always to will it; unless, perhaps, accidentally, when in willing this good, lie is hindered from willing some good which be ought to will. And the evil does not arise from his willing that good, but from his not willing the other.

It may be objected that ignorance of circumstances excuses the evil of the will; and that this proves that the goodness or the evil of the will depends upon those circumstances, and not upon its object only. But this excuse regards the circumstances as a part of the thing willed, i.e., we are ignorant of the circumstances of the act which is willed. Thus the objection falls to the ground.

The goodness of the will depends upon reason also.

For the object of the will is proposed to it by the reason. This is not the good of sense or imagination. That is offered to the sensuous appetite, not to the will. The object of reason and will is the good as viewed in its general conception.

The goodness of the will depends, still more, upon eternal law.

The light of reason which is in us can show us the good, and regulate our reason, only so far as it is derived from the eternal light (Ps. iv. 6). This shines on us in the form of eternal law. We do not know it, indeed, as it exists in God; but our reason is the image of God in us, and naturally, or by supernatural revelation, sees in part that eternal law which orders our reason itself as the measure of our acts.

Every will discordant with reason, whether that reason is correct or erring, is a bad will.

By conscience I understand the act in which we apply our moral judgment (1) testifying concerning what we have done or left undone; (2) judging that something is to be done or not to be done; (3) judging that what has been done was rightly or not rightly done, sc., an accusing or excusing conscience. So understood, the question before us may be otherwise stated, sc., does an erroneous conscience create obligation? In things indifferent (in their own nature) a will discordant from reason, an erroneous conscience, is, in a certain way, bad on account of the object on which good or evil in the will depends; not indeed on account of the object as it is in itself, but as it is regarded by reason, being viewed as good or bad, to be done or to be shunned. And because the object of the will is that which is proposed to it by reason, if anything is presented by the reason as evil, a will following that is a bad will.

But this is true not only of things indifferent, but also of those which are in themselves good or bad. For that which is good may be viewed as evil, and that which is evil may be regarded as good. To abstain from fornication is a moral good. But we do not seek this good as a good, except as it is presented by our reason. If, therefore, it is presented by an erroneous conscience as evil, we follow that abstinence under the idea of its being sin. And the will is bad because it wills what we regard as evil. To believe in Christ is per se good and necessary to salvation. But if our reason judges that faith to be an imposture, we accept it as an evil thing; our will is a bad will. Therefore S. Paul says (Rom. XIV. 23), "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin."

It may be objected, (1) that reason is the rule of human will because it is based on eternal law, but an erring reason is not derived from eternal law, and so is not the rule of human will; neither is the will bad if it does not agree with an erring reason. But, nevertheless, that erring reason proposes its judgment as true and based on God's law. (2) Erroneous conscience sometimes proposes what is contrary to the command of God, and therefore imposes no obligation. But if any one believes that the order coming from a subordinate officer is the command of the chief, in despising the one he despises the other. So if we were aware that our reason dictated something contrary to God's command, we would not be bound to follow that. But, in that case our reason would not be totally erroneous. But when erring reason presents anything as a commandment of God, to despise that dictate of reason, and to reject the commandment of God, are one and the same.

Is a will which agrees with erring reason a good will?

This is the same as the question whether an erroneous conscience excuses. It has already been shown (qu. vi., art. 8) that ignorance sometimes causes the involuntary, sometimes does not. And since moral good and evil imply a voluntary act, it is evident that that ignorance which makes action involuntary, totally removes from it the notion of good or evil; but not that ignorance which does not cause the involuntary. And it has also been shown that ignorance which is directly or indirectly willed, does not produce the involuntary; such ignorance is directly willed, when it is intentional; it is indirectly willed when it results from negligence, from our not willing to know that which we are bound to know. If then reason or conscience err through directly or indirectly voluntary ignorance, such error being with regard to that which we are bound to know, it does not hinder a will which agrees with erring reason or conscience from being a bad will.

The will of those who slew the apostles was a bad will but they thought that their action was one of reason and piety towards God. The Lord himself said, "The hour cometh that whosoever killeth you shall think that he offereth service unto God" (S. John xvi. 2).

But if the error be that which causes the involuntary, coming from ignorance of some Circumstance, in which there has been no negligence, then such error excuses and the will agreeing with erring reason is not a bad will.

But if the will discordant from erring reason is bad, why not the will which agrees with it good? I answer, the good requires the full, complete conditions indicated already, and defeat in any one is evil. The will is bad in following that which is actually evil, or that which is deemed such; but that the will be good, both are requisite.{2}

Eternal law cannot err, but human reason can err; therefore a will agreeing with human reason has not always rectitude, nor is it always in accordance with eternal law.

This truth produces no perplexity, nor any necessity of sinning. Suppose that one does what he is bound to do out of a spirit of vainglory. He sins, whether he does it or leaves it undone. But there is no perplexity, no need of sinning; be can cast away his bad intention. From vincible and voluntary ignorance follows evil in the will; but the error can be removed; therefore there is no necessity of sinning.

Does the goodness of the will respecting the means depend upon the intention or end aimed at?

This intention may be viewed as preceding or as following the act of the will which we are now considering. It precedes causally the act of the will, when we will something on account of our aiming at a certain end. And then this relation to the end is regarded as one reason why the thing willed is good. Thus one may will to fast out of a sense of obligation towards God; and that fasting is so far good, viz., because it is done for God's sake. Since, then, the goodness of the will (as we have seen) depends upon the goodness of the thing willed, it necessarily depends upon the end aimed at.{3}

But the intention may follow an act of the will, in a certain way, e.g., if one wills to do a certain thing, and afterwards refers it to God. Then the goodness of the first act of will does not depend upon the subsequent intention, except so far as the act of will is repeated along with that subsequent intention.

I anticipate three objections. (1) It has been said that the goodness of the will depends upon the object alone; but when we will the means to an end, the object willed is different from the end intended. I answer that when the intention is the cause of the act of will it is the relation to the end which is the reason why we attribute goodness to the object directly willed.

(2) Willing to keep the commandments of God pertains to a good will; but this may be referred to a bad end, e.g., vainglory or covetousness; as when one wills to obey God on account of some earthly benefits which he expects thereby. But the will is not good if a bad intention is the cause of its act. He who wills to give alms, because he expects to get a good name thereby, wills that which in itself is good under the idea of evil. Therefore, so far as willed by him, it is evil and his will is a bad will.

(3) The badness of the will does not depend (solely) on the evil end; for he who wills to defraud in order that he may be able to give for charitable ends, has a bad will, although he aims at a good end.

But it has been already pointed out that the evil results from either one of the possible defects; whereas the good requires completeness in its requisites. The will is bad whether it seeks what is in itself evil under the notion of good, or what is good under the idea that it is evil. But for a good will it is required that it seek the good under the notion of good, i.e., that it will the good for the sake of the good.

The goodness of the human will depends upon its conformity to the Divine will.

For the goodness of the will depends upon its end, and its ultimate end is the highest good, which is God. The object of that infinite will is the highest good, and thus that Divine will is the measure of rectitude and goodness of will throughout the universe. Our will, indeed, cannot be conformed to that by equivalence, but only by imitation. So is it also with our knowledge, so far as we are able to know the truth.

Is it necessary that our will be conformed to the Divine will in the very thing willed, in order that we may have a good will?

We have seen that the will is directed to its object as proposed by reason. Now since anything may be viewed by reason in different lights, in one way it may be good, in another evil. And therefore, if the will of one person follow it according as it is good, he has a good will; while another, willing the same thing not to exist, because it has evil in it, has also a good will. So the judge has a good will when he wills the criminal to be executed, because the punishment is just; but the will of the wife or child, in willing the opposite, may also be a good will, because that execution is a sundering of natural ties. But since will follows reason's apprehension of a thing, it follows that that good will is of a higher sort, which seeks the higher good which reason apprehends. Thus, in the example before us, the judge has a care of the higher good, sc., that of the community, viz., justice. Therefore he wills the execution of the criminal as related to the common good. But the wife looks at the good of the family, and, for the sake of that, wills that the criminal be not executed. But what God specially regards is the good of the universe, of which He is Creator and governor. Hence whatever He wills falls under the notion of the universal good, His own goodness. But our apprehension, according to our nature, is of some particular good proportioned to our nature. Now that may be good, so viewed, which is not good in more general relations, and conversely. Hence it is that diverse wills of different men may be good though directed towards opposites, as falling under diverse particular notions.

But there is no rectitude of will in willing some special good, unless that be referred to the general good as the end. For from the end is derived the reason for willing the means to the end. In one way, then (what Aristotle calls the "material" part), a right will seeks the particular good; but (in the "formal" part), in the ultimate intention, that right will seeks the common good which is Divine.

Our human will, therefore, is bound to be conformed to the Divine will in its ultimate intention, i.e., to will under the same notion with the Divine will, to will because God wills (saying "not my will, but Thine be done "). But it is not necessarily so obliged in the special thing which is willed (the material part of the act, respecting which we do not know the Divine will). But even in both in a certain way the right human will is conformed to the Divine will. For in being conformed to that in the general notion of the thing willed, it is so conformed in the ultimate end; while, if not conformed in the special thing which is willed, it nevertheless is so in the idea of the efficient cause, since the special inclination to the special good is derived from God its maker. Hence we may say that our human will is conformed to the Divine will when we will that which God wills that we should will.

From the grace of charity man wills what God wills, and as God wills it. And this is the being conformed to the Divine will, since the ultimate end is the object of charity.

(1) No objection then can be found in the fact that we are often ignorant in particulars of what God wills, while we are unable to will what we are ignorant of. For in those particulars we are not obliged to conform our will to the Divine will. But we do know what kind of thing is willed by God. For we know that whatever God wills, He wills under the idea of the good. And therefore, whenever we will a thing as good, we have a will conformed to God's will in that general notion.

(2) But how can man will the damnation of him who dies in mortal sin? Yet God wills this. I answer that it is not as death or as damnation that God wills such a thing, for He wills that all men be saved. But He wills death and condemnation under the idea of justice. Therefore it is enough for man to will that the order of justice and the order of nature be preserved.

There is no repugnance of wills when diverse things are willed from different points of view. True repugnance is found only where the thing is viewed under the same notion.

§ 3. On good and evil in outward human acts.

Does all the good or evil of outward acts solely depend on the moral character of the will?

I answer that we may consider either the due matter and circumstances, or the relation to the end. The latter depends solely on the will. But the former depends on reason, and on this depends the goodness of the will. Remember that any one of the defects already pointed out (p. 26-7) makes anything evil; but that anything be good, simply, one requisite does not suffice, but complete integrity is requisite. If therefore the will be good, both as regards its proper object and the end sought for, the outward act will be good; but it is not sufficient that the aim be good. But if the will be bad, either in the intention or in the act willed, the outward act will be evil.{4} Both are sins of the will. (Where there is no will, there is no sin.)

Does the outward act add an thing to the good or evil of the inward act?

If we speak of the good or evil derived from the end sought for, then the outward act adds nothing in that respect, unless it happen that the will in itself is rendered better by good deeds or worse by evil deeds. This may happen (1) by repeated acts of will; (2) by prolonged inward action; (3) by the increased intensity of will which pleasurable acts produce, while painful acts have the opposite effect. And the more intense the will is in tending to good or evil, the better or the worse it is.

But if we speak of the goodness or the badness which the outward act has according to due matter and circumstances, since that outward act is the terminus and end of the will, it adds to the goodness or the badness of the will. For every such motion reaches its perfection at its terminus. Will is only perfect when it operates, if the opportunity of doing so is afforded to it. But if there is no possibility of action, and the perfect will is present, it would act if it could. The outward defect is simply involuntary. This involuntary state of things adds nothing to the merit or demerit, and takes nothing away.

Do consequences add anything to the goodness or the badness of outward acts?

The event which follows action is either contemplated beforehand, or it is not. If it is so intended, it manifestly adds to the goodness or the badness of the act. For when one foresees that from his act many ill consequences may arise, and yet does not on that account refrain from action, his will is evidently the more inordinate on this account. But if the result which follows was not contemplated in advance, then a distinction is to be made; because if, per se, and ordinarily, this result is wont to happen in consequence of such an act, then the resulting event does add to the goodness or the badness of the act. For it is manifest that that is a better act in its kind from which many good results may flow; and that is a worse act from which naturally flow many evil consequences.{5}

But if we speak of an accidental result, which follows only in exceptional cases, then such an event adds nothing to the moral status of the act.

Note that acts may be similar in their nature, but very different from a moral point of view.

§ 4. What results from the moral character of human acts?

Human acts as good or bad fall under the notion of rectitude or of sin.

The word "bad," used in its widest extent, is of broader signification than "sin," as "good" is of wider extent than "righteous." For every privation of good in anything whatsoever, is bad. But sin, fault, is found only in the act which is produced for a certain end, when that act has not due relation to that end.

But that due order with respect to the end is measured according to some rule. In natural agents this rule is the natural inclination to the end; and rectitude of action, the absence of fault, consists in undeviating following of that rule. But in those things which proceed from will, the proximate rule is reason; the supreme rule is eternal law. Whensoever, then, man's act proceeds toward the end according to the order of reason and eternal law, the act is right; but when it deviates from this rectitude, it is sinful. Hence it follows that in human conduct the good and the bad are the righteous or the sinful.

Human acts, as good or bad, are laudable or culpable.

An act is called laudable or culpable when it is imputed to the agent. But it is so imputed, when it is in his power, so that he has dominion over his action. But this is true of all voluntary acts, because by will we have such dominion. And only voluntary acts are laudable or culpable.

(1) It is true that fault exists in what is produced by nature, which is neither laudable nor culpable. But such acts are not in the power of the natural agent, since nature is determined to a single result. Therefore the idea of blame has no place in this matter.

(2) There is fault, not always blame, in what is done by man's art. But the question is a different one from that of morals. There are two kinds of fault in connection with art. The artificer may deviate from the particular end aimed at by his art; intending to make a good work, he may make a had one. This will be fault in his art with its particular end. But, also, this particular end is ordained for the common end of human life; and in this way there may be fault and sin in the artificer if he intend fraudulently to make a bad piece of work, and actually does so. But this is the fault of the man rather than of the artificer as such. In the first case he is blamed as an artificer, hut in the second, as a man. But in morals, where the order of reason is regarded with reference to the common end of life, fault is always a deviation from the order of reason respecting the common end of human life. For such fault a man is blamed as a man and a moral agent.

(3) Infirmity or weakness may take away or diminish the blame. And evil, as such, is weak, impotent. But the infirmity which is found in voluntary evil is subject to man's power; and, therefore, it neither takes away nor diminishes the blameworthiness.

Human acts as good or evil have merit or demerit according to retributive justice (between man and man).

The prophet says (Is. iii. 10), " Say ye to the righteous, that it shall be well with him : for they shall eat the fruit of their doings. Woe unto the wicked: it shall be ill with him : for the reward of his hands shall be given him." Merit and demerit express the relation of human acts to retribution according to justice. But this retribution is due to any one according as he injures or benefits another. But each one living in any society is a part and member of that society. In doing good or evil to another member his act affects the whole society, as he who cuts off a hand injures the man. In benefiting or injuring another, there is a two-fold merit or demerit; one, as retribution is due from the individual who is aided or injured; another, as retribution is due from the society. But when any one ordains his act primarily for the society, retribution is due to him primarily and principally from the society, but secondarily from all members of the society. And even when any one acts for his own proper good or harm retribution is due to him, inasmuch as his action affects the whole society, of which he is a part.

(1) It may be asked, how is this reconcilable with the dominion which man has of his own acts? For no one is blamed for disposing as he will of that in which he is absolute lord. If he destroy his own property, he does not deserve to be punished as if he were destroying another's. I answer, that man himself belongs to the community of which he is a part; before that community, therefore, he has merit or demerit according as he orders his acts well or ill. So, also, if he dispose of his property well or ill, with which he is bound to serve the community.

(2) It is true that "virtue is its own reward" and evil is its own punishment. But the good or ill which one does to himself affects also the community (and calls for retribution from it).

Are human acts, as good or bad, meritorious or demeritorious before God?

The Holy Word says (Eccl. xii. 14), "God shall bring every work into judgment, whether it be good or whether it be evil." We have just seen that acts have merit or demerit as they are ordained with reference to another, either for his own sake, or for that of the community. In both modes our acts, good and bad, have merit or demerit before God; by reason of Himself, because he is the ultimate end of man to which all acts must be referred; but by reason also of the universal community of which He is Governor and Lord. For he who rules has the care of the common good, and it therefore pertains to him to reward and punish what is done well or ill in that community. If there were no such merit and demerit, God would have no care of human acts.

(1) It is easy to object that our acts can do no harm, confer no benefit, upon God. But man can withdraw something from God or render it to him, by observing or not observing the due order which God has instituted.

(2) Again, it may be objected that man is only an instrument of Divine ordering; and an instrument has no merit or demerit with him who uses it. Isaiah said (x. 15), "Shall the axe boast itself against him that heweth therewith?" I reply that man is so moved as an instrument of God that he also moves himself with free Choice of his action.

Again, it may be objected that human acts obtain merit or demerit from their being ordered with reference to another. But not every act is ordered with reference to God; therefore not all have this merit or demerit. I answer that not the whole man, with all that he has, is ordained to be referred to the political community. And therefore not every act of his has merit or demerit before that community. But the whole man, and all that he has, is ordained for God. Therefore every act of his is the occasion for reward or punishment.

(S. Thomas explains further this notion of merit in qu. cxiv. art. 1. It means a reward, not from absolute justice, which herein is out of the question, but according to conditions of reward pre-ordained by God Himself, and fulfilled with the aid of His prevenient and sustaining grace. In the strict sense of merit, Tennyson's words are unchallenged "Merit lives from man to man, And not from man, O God, to Thee.")

{1} Note that what is not intrinsically evil may become such indirectly, through contempt of the law, or of the law-giver, through scandal, etc.

{2} See Bishop Sanderson's fourth Serm. ad Clerum, "Whatsoever is not of faith is sin."

{3} All choice of bad means for any end whatsoever is bad (Rom. iii. 8); but not all choice of good means is good. Choice of good means for a good end constitutes a double goodness, and choice of bad means for a bad end makes a double evil.

(Qu. Bribing a legislator in order to secure a useful and even necessary law?)

{4} Rom. iii. 8; Sanderson's Praelect., ii. 9.

{5} The ill effects of our act are imputed to us, even though that act be imperfectly voluntary, on three conditions, so., (a) if those effects are in some degree foreseen even in confuso; (b) if the cause of them could be avoided (c) and if by reason of those ill effects we are bound not to do what produces them otherwise we may merely permit the ill effects and not be answerable for them.

The good end sought for by us may justify our action even though some ill effects follow from it, if (1) that end is good (2) if the action is itself good, or, at least, indifferent; and (3) if the good effect which we expect is at least as near to the end as that bad effect and equal to it.

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