The modes of
responsibility are the primary specifications of the basic moral criterion
or first principle. One way of expressing the most general moral principle
is: Love God and love neighbor. Also: One ought to choose (and otherwise
will) in such a way as to respect all basic human goods, both in oneself
and in others. From this moral principle one can derive very specific
moral norms, such as: One ought never intentionally kill innocent human
persons; or: One ought (in general) to fulfill one’s promises. The modes
of responsibility are implications of the first moral principle that are
not as specific as these norms, but are still more specific than the first
deflect us from respect for all human goods in oneself and others. The
modes of responsibility specify the various ways this can occur and
prescribe against its happening. Thus, one should not be deterred from
pursuing real human goods by mere felt inertia or laziness (first mode),
or by individualism (second mode), or by desire for pleasure (third mode).
Likewise, one should not let mere fear or aversion (as opposed to a
reasonable concern for a real harm to a good) deflect one from pursuing
real human goods (fourth mode).
not let the mere emotional attachment to oneself or other people close to
one (as opposed to a real duty to oneself or others close to one)
determine how one chooses, for this is to act out of partiality (fifth
mode). One should not pursue the mere experience or appearance of a good,
in a way that interferes with sharing in the real good – that is, one
should not prefer appearances to reality (sixth mode).
not, out of hostility, choose to destroy, damage, or impede any intrinsic
human good (seventh mode.) And, finally, one should not choose to destroy,
damage, or impede one instance of an intrinsic good for the sake of
another instance of an intrinsic good. That is, as St. Paul points out
(cf. Rom 3:8), one should not do evil that good may come from it (eighth
Absolute Moral Norms; Conscience; Human Goods; Natural Law; Practical
Shaw. Our Sunday Visitor's Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine. Copyright ©
1997, Our Sunday Visitor.
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