Moral Philosophy

Chapter I: Of the Object-Matter and Partition of Moral Philosophy

1. Moral Philosophy is the science of human acts in their bearing on human happiness and human duty.

2. Those acts alone are properly called human, which a man is master of to do or not to do. A human act, then, is an act voluntary and free. A man is what his human acts make him.

3. A voluntary act is an act that proceeds from the will with a knowledge of the end to which the act tends.

4. A free act is an act which so proceeds from the will that under the same antecedent conditions it might have not proceeded.

An act may be more or less voluntary, and more or less free.

5. Moral Philosophy is divided into Ethics, Deontology, and Natural Law. Ethics consider human acts in their bearing on human happiness; or, what is the same thing, in their agreement or disagreement with man's rational nature, and their making for or against his last end. Deontology is the study of moral obligation, or the fixing of what logicians call the comprehension of the idea I ought. Ethics deal with to deon, 'the obligatory'. Deontology is the science of Duty, as such. Natural Law (antecedent to Positive Law, whether divine or human, civil or ecclesiastical, national or international) determines duties in detail, -- the extension of the idea I ought, -- and thus is the foundation of Casuistry.

6. In the order of sciences, Ethics are antecedent to Natural Theology; Deontology, consequent upon it.

Readings. -- St. Thos. in Eth., I., lect. 1, init.; ib., 1a 2ae, q. 1, art. 1, in corp.; ib., q. 58, art. 1, in corp.

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