Tag Archives: Pro Life

Steven Long and the Moral Object – 3

Another interesting outcome of this New Morality approach to the natural law. Criminal legislation!

All Catholics ought to be pro-life. But the pro-life stance involves the will and the effort to achieve legislation protecting the unborn.

Now, on the New Natural Law approach, we supposedly don’t know if an act of in-utero-child-killing really is abortion until we ask the agent what her / his intention is. Only if the agent proposes to himself / herself “I seek the death of the child,” then – on this execrable account of the moral object – the act constitutes abortion.

But if the agent proposes to himself / herself “I seek only the removal of the child,” then – on this execrable account of the moral object – the act does not constitute abortion but simply “removal of the fetus.”

In the latter case, the New Natural Law analysis has one further question: Is there “proportionate reason” to remove the fetus? If not, the act is not justified. If so, the act is justified. The NNL analysis then submits that if the mother were to die unless the fetus is removed, there is proportionate reason. A fortiori, the argument goes, if both mother and fetus were to die unless the fetus is removed.

What is the upshot? The upshot is that on the New Natural Law account, pro-life legislation requires examination of the intention of the agent. Now, it is notoriously difficult for a human tribunal to discover with moral certitude the intentions of an agent. Sometimes these intentions are shown in evidence. Example: Someone plotting a death in writing leaves evidence of First Degree culpability. But just what would be the way in which one might reliably, for the most part, determine the intention of the agent seeking or providing abortion?

In fact, the New Natural Law approach seems on this score very ill suited to practical application. And practical application is one of the leading reasons why those who eschew the theory tolerate it – or donate to its richly endowed foundations. But here, that practical political application seems doomed to a bad fate.

Is this defect not definitional to the NNL approach? For that approach denies the basic point that some actions have per se effects and that for any agent intelligently to propose to commit the action just is to propose to bring about these per se effects. Let the money go to the Traditional Natural Law.