The principle “bonum ex integra causa, malum ex quocumque defectu” means “an action is good when it is good in every respect; it is wrong when it is wrong in every respect.”
This means that in order that an action may posses in an essential degree — no action is absolutely perfect — its moral perfection, it must be in conformity with the law in three respects.
First, the action, considered under the character by which it ranks as an element of conduct, must be good. The physical act of giving another person money may be either an act of justice, when one pays a debt, or it may be an act of mercy or benevolence, as it is if one give the money to relieve distress. Both, of these actions possess the fundamental element of goodness (bonum ex objecto).
The motive, if there is a motive beyond the immediate object of the act, must also be good. If one pays a man some money that one owes him with the purpose, indeed, of paying one’s debts, but also with the ulterior purpose of enabling him to carry out a plot to murder one s enemy, the end is bad, and the action is thereby corrupted. The end which is the motive must also be good (bonum ex fine). Thus, an action, otherwise good, is spoiled if directed to an immoral end; conversely, however, an action which in its fundamental character is bad is not rendered good by directing it to a good end. The end does not justify the means.
The circumstances under which the action is performed should be in entire conformity with reason, otherwise it lacks something of moral completeness, though it may not be thereby rendered totally immoral. We frequently say that something which a person has done was right enough in itself, but he did not do it in the proper place or season.
The supreme good of man according to Aristippus is pleasure or the enjoyment of the moment, and pleasure is essentially gentle motion. Pleasure can never be bad, and the primary form of it is bodily pleasure. But, in order to secure the maximum of pleasure, prudent self-control is necessary; and this is virtue. Epicurus held that pleasure is the chief good; but pleasure is rest, not motion; and the highest form of pleasure is freedom from pain and the absence of all desires or needs that we cannot satisfy. Hence an important means towards happiness is the control of our desires, and the extinction of those that we cannot gratify, which is brought about by virtue
Utilitarianism is a modern form of the Hedonistic ethical theory which teaches that the end of human conduct is happiness, and that consequently the discriminating norm which distinguishes conduct into right and wrong is pleasure and pain.
Positivism asserts that sense experiences are the only object of human knowledge, but does not prove its assertion. It is true that all our knowledge has its starting point in sense experience, but it is not proved that knowledge stops there. Positivism fails to demonstrate that, above particular facts and contingent relations, there are not abstract notions, general laws, universal and necessary principles, or that we cannot know them.
Rationalism is used to designate any mode of thought in which human reason holds the place of supreme criterion of truth; in this sense, it is especially applied to such modes of thought as contrasted with faith. In other words, man’s ultimate truth is what our reason dictates.
In its more general signification communism refers to any social system in which all property, or at least all productive property, is owned by the group, or community, instead of by individuals. Thus understood it comprises communistic anarchism, socialism, and communism in the strict sense. The complete equality sought by communism is a well-meant but mistaken interpretation of the great moral truths, that, as persons and in the sight of God, all human beings are equal; and that all have essentially the same needs and the same ultimate destiny.
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