Lets start with mass immigration of moral clarity

December 4, 2015 § 16 Comments

In the case of the positive moral precepts, prudence always has the task of verifying that they apply in a specific situation, for example, in view of other duties which may be more important or urgent.  – Veritatis Splendour

Negative moral precepts oblige always and everywhere.  No circumstances or good intentions can justify the deliberate choice of an intrinsically immoral concrete behavior. Adultery and sodomy for example can never be justified under any circumstances and are always objectively grave matter, the matter of mortal sin.  Those kinds of behaviors are the grave matter of mortal sin no matter how much sympathy we may have for the people choosing those behaviors, how good their intentions, or how difficult the circumstances.

Positive precepts – give to the poor, welcome the stranger, tend the sick, and even conserve nature – are no less important than the negative precepts.  However precisely what to do and when to do it in order to carry out these positive imperatives depends upon facts and circumstances. This falls in the domain of prudential judgment.

This comes up in discussions of the Just War doctrine frequently, and the fact that whether or not to go to war is a prudential judgment is often used by supporters of a particular war as a rhetorical foil. Going to war is a positive act; and the justice of that act, like the justice of all sometimes-permissible positive acts, depends upon the actual objective facts and circumstances. Because it is a prudential judgment, we are often told, everyone is free to disagree.  In this way any conclusion that a particular decision to go to war was or would be definitely unjust is rhetorically resisted.

But this begs the question, because people are not entitled to their own facts.  It is either truly prudent to permit a particular wave of immigration in particular circumstances, or it is truly imprudent to do so.  “Prudential judgment” is not a code phrase which entitles the speaker to beg a question of fact, and prudential judgments are not immune to truth claims.

Moral principles do fall under magisterial competence generally speaking; but moral principles do not exhaustively determine right and wrong in the case of positive precepts. Not even bishops, cardinals, or popes are entitled to their own facts. If the Pope and bishops had supported the second Iraq War that would not have made it a just war.

§ 16 Responses to Lets start with mass immigration of moral clarity

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