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LEGAL MORALITY

A term sometimes applied to those politicians who resort to the distinction between what is legal and what is moral. Morality, it is argued, is a private affair that does not pertain to the State as a religiously neutral society, no matter what it does legally. Morality is also said to belong essentially to the will. Provided the intention is good, it is immaterial what the State or the people, as citizens, do or permit juridically. A person simply dissociates his or her will from an objectively bad action (such as abortion) and thereby exempts himself or herself from any guilt or complicity. At best one should not be held guilty for allowing others, even as a legislator, the legal right of doing what one's own conscience says is wrong. "Legal morality" is a modern form of Machiavellianism.

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

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