Lecture Fourteen: Teleology (Good & Bad), Considering Consequences


Study Questions

1. How does the following text from scripture apply to the question of intrinsic evil?  “And why not do evil that good may come – as some people slanderously charge us with saying? Their condemnation is just.”  (Romans 3:8, Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition).

2. Examine the items listed as intrinsic evils in §27 of Gaudium et spes, Vatican Council II’s document on “The Church in the Modern World”).  Is it clear that all of the practices mentioned satisfy the conditions to be listed as intrinsic evils?  If any present difficulties, how might one argue the case for and against their designation in this way?

3. How does the following text from scripture apply to the question of whether a good intention or a particular set of circumstances may sometimes diminish the moral gravity of a certain practice even if it can never eliminate its evil character?   “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the immoral [lit., the fornicators], nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals [lit., the effeminate nor the sodomites], nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”  (1 Corinthians 6: 9-10, Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition).


Suggestions for further reading:

Gaudium et spes, especially §27 (“The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World,” Vatican Council II, promulgated by Pope Paul VI on December 7, 1965.  Accessible at: http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651207_gaudium-et-spes_en.html.

Martin Rhonheimer, “Intrinsically Evil Actrs and the Moral Viewpoint: Clarifying a Central Teaching of Veritatis splendor” in Veritatis splendor and the Renewal of Moral Theology, edited by J.A. DiNoia, O.P. and Romanus Cessario, O.P.. Huntington IN: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1999, pp. 161-94.  This article presents one method of defending the position taken by Veritatis splendor.

Louis Janssens, “Teleology and Proportionality: Thoughts about the Encyclical Veritatis splendor” in The Splendor of Accuracy: An Examination of the Assertions made by Veritatis splendor, edited by Joseph A. Selling and Jan Jans. Grand Rapids MI: William B. Eerdmans, 1994, pp. 99-113, This article defends the stance criticized by Veritatis splendor.