Challenge Grant: Our Boosters will match donations up to $45,000. We have $41,060 to go. Please donate!
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Dictionary

A modern dictionary of Catholic terms, both common and obscure. Find accurate definitions of words and phrases.

Search:

Or browse the dictionary by selecting a letter!
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

DETERMINANTS OF MORALITY

The factors in human conduct that determine whether it is good or bad. There are three such determinants of morality, namely the object, the end, and the circumstances.

By object is meant what the free will chooses to do--in thought, word, or deed-or chooses not to do. Be end is meant the purpose for which the act is willed, which may be the act itself (as one of loving God) or some other purpose for which a person acts (as reading to learn). In either case, the end is the motive or the reason why an action is performed. By circumstances are meant all the elements that surround a human action and affect its morality without belonging to its essence. A convenient listing of these circumstances is to ask: who? where? how? how much? by what means? how often?

Some circumstances so affect the morality of an action as to change its species, as stealing a consecrated object becomes sacrilege and lying under oath is perjury. Other circumstances change the degree of goodness or badness of an act. In bad acts they are called aggravating circumstances, as the amount of money a person steals.

To be morally good, a human act must agree with the norm of morality on all three counts: in its nature, its motive, and its circumstances. Departure from any of these makes the action morally wrong.

All items in this dictionary are from Fr. John Hardon's Modern Catholic Dictionary, © Eternal Life. Used with permission.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Cardinal Kasper's nose is growing again October 18
Challenge Grant Begins as Synod Ends October 17
What's wrong with this Synod, IV: Unprepared for marriage October 17
No, mainstream religious orders aren't attracting vocations as fast as younger traditional orders October 17
The Synod: Is the sky falling? October 17

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Key synod report calls for 'gradualism' in Church response to irregular family situations CWN - October 13
Cardinal Parolin: UN must protect innocents from Islamic State CWN - September 30
Synod of Bishops opens with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica CWN - October 6