Monday, July 12, 2004

Intrinsic Evils and "Proportionate Reasons"

A recent post from EWTN Q&A.

1. What are all the known Instrinsic Evils? 2. What makes an evil Instrinsic vs. non-Instrinsic? 3. What is meant by the phrase "in the presence of proportionate reasons"? 4. What are some examples of "proportionate reasons"?

Answer by Fr.Stephen F. Torraco on 07-09-2004:

1. Intrinsic evils are delineated by the Ten Commandments, otherwise known as the natural law.

2. An evil act is intrinsically so if the object of the act (the "what-ness") as distinct from its intention or circumstances, is evil. Object, intention, and circumstances constitute the "sources" of a human act. These are evaluated to determine the rightness or wrongness of an action. If the object of the act is evil, no good intention or set of circumstances can make it good. Such an act is intrinsically evil. On the other hand, a bad intention or set of circumstances (how, ehen, or where something is done) can make an otherwise good action bad. Such an action would not be intrinsically evil.

3. An example of "proportionate reason" can be found in a number of situations:

-in the act of self-defense, the preservation of one's life against an aggressor that needs to resort to force to accomplish the self-defense, even if the forseen but unintended and unavoidable evil consequence is the death of the aggressor. The evil consequence is allowed for the sake of avoiding an equally grave or greater evil. There is a moral proportion between the good (self-defense) and evil (death of aggressor) consequence.

-in the case of ectopic pregnancy, in which an unborn child is lodged in the mother's fallopian tube. The child will die in that location, and the mother will die if the tube is not removed. Removing the tube to save the mother's life results in the unintended and unavoidable death of the child. The evil consequence is allowed for the sake of avoiding an equally grave or greater evil.

If you have understood the above, you should then be able to understand the point that one cannot morally justify voting for a candidate that embraces an intrinsic evil in order to avoid voting for a candidate with whose views (not intrinsically evil) one can legitimately disagree. There is no moral proportion between an intrinsic evil and a political view with which one disagrees, albeit legitimately.

No comments: