Introduction to Catholic
Morality
Freedom, Sin, Scripture, Conscience
and Law
Making Moral Decisions
• 1. Object: What will I do?
• 2. Intention: Why? What is the motive? What is
the intended outcome?
• 3 Circumstance: What is the situation? What
were the actual circumstances?
• Does my action have a positive object, intention
and circumstance?
Object
•
•
•
•
•
Actions:
Express who we are
Make us who we are
Impact the world around us
“The morality of the human act depends
primarily and fundamentally on the “object”
rationally chosen by the deliberate will.”
Splendor of Truth JPII
Intention
• Why am I doing this?
• Effects culpability but not the quality of the act
• Two rules govern intention:
• 1. Keep the intention good
• 2. The end does not justify the means—my
good intentions cannot make an evil act good.
Circumstances
• What is going on in the midst of this decision?
• Effects culpability but not the quality of the act
• Circumstance can make us guilty of choosing
not to act when we have the opportunity.
Object, Intention and Circumstance
•
Create examples of moral acts when given a
description of the act in terms of its three
elements (1750). For example:
–
–
–
Negative object, positive intention and
circumstance.
Positive object and intention made negative by
circumstance.
Positive object made negative by intention.
Brief Summary of STOP Process:
• This unit will explore the STOP method of making a
moral decision.
• This Method includes:
• Searching for the object, intention, and circumstances;
• Thinking about alternatives and their probable
consequences;
• Others-Who will this effect? Who should I consult?
• Praying for guidance.
SEARCH
S-SEARCH
What are my options? What is the moral object?
What action do I want to take? What are my
motives? My intentions? What are the reasons
for my choice?
What are the circumstances?
THINK
T-THINK
What are my alternatives? Is there any less harmful
options that I should consider? What are the
possible and probable consequences of each
action? What would be the effects on the
world if everyone chose this object?
OTHERS
O-OTHERS—Consider and consult
What might be the effects of my decision on others?
What does the church teach about this issue?
(Exactly, with references) What does scripture
say? What do other trusted adults say and friends say?
Are they objective?
PRAY
P-PRAY
What type of prayer would be appropriate? With whom?
What would you need to pray for?
Three questions to ask:
• Would I want what I am doing done to me?
• Would I be proud to do this in front of my
parents, teachers, etc…
• Would I want my action to be broadcast on the
evening news?
Aristotle/Virtue Ethics
Kant/Deontology
Mills/Utilitarianism
Locke/Rights Theory
Object—Intention--Circumstance
• Ellen is an attractive 19 year-old female. She
wants to be a pediatrician and has been
accepted to med school. Unfortunately, she
does not have the money she needs to go to
school. She has a friend who dances at a
topless bar to cover her tuition expenses.
Although this is legal, is it moral?
Aristotle/Virtue Ethics
Kant/Deontology
Mills/Utilitarianism
Locke/Rights Theory
Object—Intention--Circumstance
• I am a senior in high school. My close
friend uses drugs frequently and I am afraid
for him. I have talked to him repeatedly,
but he will not change. I want to tell on him
so that he can get the help he needs. The
problem is that he has applied for several
college scholarships, and I am afraid that he
will lose them if he is suspended or expelled.
Aristotle/Virtue Ethics
Kant/Deontology
Mills/Utilitarianism
Locke/Rights Theory
Object—Intention--Circumstance
• Jane has been trying to have a baby for
several years and is now finally pregnant.
She says that she really wants her baby, yet
she has decided to do amniocentesis to test
for any fetal defects. She claims that should
the tests indicate any abnormality, she is
going to abort, even if it means doing so
well into her second trimesters. What do you
think of her decision?
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Object, Intention and Circumstance