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Catholic Dictionary




Mental agitation as affecting moral responsibility. Of itself, fear does not remove the voluntary character of human actions, but it usually lessens their guilt, as also their merit. There is a distinc-tion, however, between acting through fear or with fear. One acts through fear if it is the fear that induces one to act, as when a student cheats out of fear of failing an examination. Such actions are voluntary and imputable in most cases. One acts with fear if the emotion merely accompanies an action but does not cause it. Any significant human action involves some associated fear. Normally this reaction does not affect moral responsibility.