You are on page 1of 40

BIOETHICS, Session 2

Milagros F. Neri, MD, MA,MPH, MS

Natural Law Ethics
—  Thomistic
ethics, scholastic ethics,
Christian ethics and/or Catholic ethics

—  There
exists a natural moral law which is
manifested by the natural light of human
reason, demanding the preservation of the
natural order and forbidding its violation.
Natural Moral Law
—  Fundamental
moral principle:
Do good and avoid evil

—  Constitutes
the totality of duties imposed
by God upon man, which man can know
through human reason.
Natural Inclinations of Man
—  Self-preservation
—  Propagation of species
—  Just dealings with others

Thus, any act that violates these basic

inclinations is wrong, it contradicts human
nature as the creator intended it to be.
Characteristics of Moral Law
—  Universality
- all men, without exception, in whatever
place and time, are subject to its principle.

—  Immutability
- it does not change in the course of
Voice of Reason
—  Voice of conscience

—  Synderesis– inherent capacity of every

individual to distinguish the good from the
—  Judges a concrete act as good or evil

—  Moral faculty which tells people

subjectively what is good and evil

—  Immediate judgment of practical reason

applying the general principle of morality
to individual concrete actions or
Levels of Conscience
—  Conscience 1: Basic sense of responsibility

—  Conscience 2: Exercise of moral reasoning

—  Conscience3: Judgment by which we

evaluate a particular action
Conscience 1: A Characteristic

General sense of value, an awareness of

personal responsibility characteristic of
the human person
Conscience 2: A Process
—  Formation of conscience

—  Steps of a well formed conscience:

1.  Gather information
2.  Form a morally certain judgment (weigh
& choose from among options; moral
3.  Act accordingly
4.  Accept responsibility for action
Conscience 3: An event
—  Anultimate practical judgment on the
morality of a concrete action,
commanding to do what is good and to
avoid what is evil.

—  Final
norm by which a person’s actions
must be guided

—  Infallible
“Thus, whenever I am faced with a particular
act, the voice of conscience serves as my
natural guide in making my decision.
Similarly, I know I am doing the right thing if
and when I follow my conscience;
Otherwise, I feel a sense of guilt, self-reproach
and remorse. “
Act according to one’s conscience.
Conscience Moral Law
—  Subjective and —  Objective norm of
proximate norm of morality
(Not the source; an
—  It has to be correct,
—  Supreme norm is the
well-formed, and in Divine Law
agreement with the
moral law.
Stages in Moral Development
Level I: Preconventional Stage

Stage 1: Obedience and Punishment

-obey rule to avoid punishment

Stage 2: Naively Egoistic Orientation

-conform to obtain rewards
Level II: Conventional Stage

Stage 3: Good Boy Orientation

- avoid disapproval

Stage 4: Authority & Social Order

- avoid censure by authorities
Stage 5: Contractual Legalistic Orientation
-to maintain respect in terms of community
Stage 6: Conscience or Principle
“Laws are only valid in so far as they are grounded
in justice; and that a commitment to justice carries
with it an obligation to disobey unjust laws.”
Martin Luther King
Division of Conscience
— Antecedent —  Consequent
- Before an action -  After an action
-  Proactive judgment -  Reactive judgment

—  Certain —  Doubtful

- wide moral -  Uncertain
certainty: slight but -  Suspends judgment
negligible fear of
error; error is of
little probability
—  Erroneous Conscience
1. Invincibly erroneous conscience
-no awareness of possibility of error

2.Vincibly erroneous conscience

-aware of possibility of error
—  Laxconscience
- judges something to be lawful which is

—  Perplexconscience
-confronted with two precepts; choose
lesser evil

—  Scrupulous
-constant dread of sin where there is none
Human Acts
—  Outward expression of a person’s choice
—  Acts that proceed from insight and free

—  Two elements:

1. Intellectual Constituent (I know, I have
2. Volatile Constituent (I freely will)
Acts of Man
—  Performed without intervention of
intellect and free will

1. Spontaneous biological and sensual

2. Without use of reason
3. Spontaneous reactions which precede
the intellect and the will
Division of Voluntary Act and Effect
—  Perfectly voluntary – knowledge + free

—  Imperfectly
voluntary – impaired
knowledge and free will
Impairment of Knowledge
—  Ignorance
1. Invincible– cannot be corrected
2. Vincible – could be corrected
—  Error
- deficient education, influence of bad
company, reading misleading books, etc
—  Inattention
- momentary privation of knowledge
Impairment of Free Will
—  Passion or concupiscence
-  hinders reflection, weakens attention
—  Fear and social pressure
-  moral force against the will
—  Violence
- compulsive force by an extrinsic agent
—  Disposition & habit
- inclination to certain ways of reaction or
Division of Voluntary Act and Effect
—  Directly voluntary —  Indirectly voluntary
effect effect
-  intended -  not intended, merely
Positively voluntary
—  —  Negatively voluntary
effect - voluntary omission of
- positive steps in the an act
causation of the
Sources Defining Morality of Human

—  Object
—  Intention
—  Circumstance

For an act to be truly good, the 3

determinants – the object, the circumstance
and the end of the agent must all be good.
—  The
specific action, the means, what the
person chooses to do now.

—  Primary determinant of morality

—  Intrinsically
evil act – acts which per se
and in themselves are always seriously

—  Thepurpose of the agent, the motive, the

ulterior end
—  Who, where, by whom, when, the context
of the action

—  Willeither mitigate or aggravate the

goodness or the badness of a particular
—  Who? —  What?

- S p e c i a l q u a l i t y, -  Quality or quantity
prestige , rank or of the moral object
excellence of the
person involved in the -  What is the extent of
human act
—  Where? —  When?

- Place where the act - Time element

occurs involved in the
performance of the
Christian Principles
1. Inviobility of Life
- all human life from the moment of
conception, and through all subsequent
stages, is sacred
-recognizes that death is a natural end of
life and biological life is not the highest
-one does not have to do everything to
prevent death
2. Stewardship
-man must take care and cultivate innate
-Ex. Research, education, not destroying
one’s body in reproductive technology,
correction of defects in cosmetic
3. Totality – functional and anatomical

4. Solidarity – unity of interest,

responsibility or goal
5. Subsidiarity
- man should be entrusted with function
he is capable of performing
- care should be supportive aiming for
self-confidence, independence and self-
6. Personalized sexuality

- conjugal act has inseparable and

integrated unitive and procreative
7. Double Effect
Action (object) is good
Intention (end) is good
Beneficial effect =/> evil effect
—  Legitimate Cooperation – participation
of a secondary agent (cooperator) with
the primary agent (wrongdoer)

1.  Intention – formal and material

2.  Action – immediate and mediate
3.  Distance – proximate and remote
—  Conditions:

1.  Cooperation is material, mediate,

2.  Proportionate reason for the action
3.  Scandal is avoided
4.  No alternative lesser evil action is
available to prevent greater harm

Alora, A., Bioethics for Students, 2006, UST Publishing House,

Joven, J., et al. BIOETHICS, 2009,Rex Bookstore, Manila.
Manlangit, J.R. OP, Fundamental Concepts, Principles and Issues
in Bioethics, 2010, UST Publishing House, Manila.
Monge, M., Ethics in Medical Practice, 2014, Sinag-Tala Publishers,
Peschke, K., Fundamentals of Moral Theology, 1996, Divine Word
Publications, Manila.
Timbreza, F., Bioethics and Moral Decisions, 2001, De La Salle
University Press, Inc.,