Last year David Deleiden rngaged in a sting operation to reveal the depraved Molochian Planned-Parenthood body-parts trade scandal.
Subsequently assorted 'Pro-Lifers' were quick to condemn David because in order to uncover the criminal activity he had to engage in deception and in the process 'tell lies'
Absolutist appeals were made to 'telling the truth is non-negotiable' and a moral absolute.
Lying is always expressly forbidden etc etc etc.
One may never perform evil so that a good may result etc etc
What followed was a denunciation of Peter Kreeft who argued 'of course there are times you must lie in order to defend the truth against those who do not deserve the truth'[para]
...and what resulted were many appeals to the arguments laid out by Edward Feser whereby he maintains indeed on Thomistic principles there is intrinsically absolutely never any excuse to be 'jesuitical'
Now I do not object to Dr Feser's analysis of the Moral Theory
But I do counter category-shift applications of the theory to occasions and circumstances where the actual definitions of what is being done are called into question.
Anyone readiing Part 2 od the Summa on Sin will be reminded that just as certains ostensible violations of one commandment are actually more grave sins against another - so too there are actions which apparently seem to be engaging in one thing when they are truly performing another.
I argue in these circumstances that is exactly what is happening:
Those who automatically condemned Deleiden for his actions are guilty of an oversimplified kantianism - they're denying any intentionality and
final end - they're eradicating all 2nd fontal considerations - which is
Grisez-ite neo-natural law pharisaism.
Yes indeed the Catholic position is indeed very clear -
just they're not following it - lying in its holism of formal and final
ends is sinful - 'lying' in its formal nature is always inherently wrong
but it is NOT intrinsically objectively evil - for it to be so
requires the intentionality of the end to prevent the achievability of a
good [ie which is in this case not being in error]
objectively in any way, shape or form is always wrong - it is always
morally disordered - but in order to be absolutely proscribed as an
objective evil it requires that final end - otherwise it becomes
something intrinsically morally disordered.
ie although normatively
if committed to either its own natural end or any other natural morally
disordering intentional end it is gravely sinful and absolutely
being an intrinsic moral disorder we have recourse
to its utilisation in only one way - in emergency direct immediate
reaction for grave reasons in the prevention of an actual objective evil
[in the same way we can permit just war, lethal self-defence,
submitting to rape rather than being killed, stealing bread to feed
someone dying of starvation etc]
Aquinas himself argues of
forfeiture of those acting in a bestial way - ie they cannot appeal to
any injustice within an act when that act's direction to the Good and
actuation of justice is preventing their injustice being fulfilled
Now an opponent might still attempt ot dismiss my claims as if they're consequentialist equivocations - that the ends justify the means etc
That's not what I'm saying
I'm arguing - just the same way Aquinas and the neo-scholastics and neo-thomists argue
that sin constitutes the form and the end
if the end is bad it is always gravely sinful and prohibited
- only normatively [ie not absolutely always] gravely sinful unless it is an intrinsic
- and objective deception
- speaking falsely or
incompletely to allow inference of error
- is not objectively evil
otherwise silence or mental reservation or half-speaking and refraining
from the whole truth would be mortally sinful at all times for any
In order for speaking falsely to be an objective evil it
requires intentionality for that very nature of falseness to be intended
as to achieve the final end of error.
ie it has veered from the natural
law - it does not have God as its gravitation or ultimate intended end.
error or compounded error is NOT the intended end [rather it is the
diminution of error - the defeat of deception - the destruction of a
AND the ultimate end is the good - the conformity with the 'gravitation' of God's attraction.
it is double effect recourse to IMD deception in the prevention of evil
like stealing back the diamonds from the thief is an IMD forcefully
removing property to prevent the evil of that thief's retention of them.
It is very easy to fall into the Grisez/Finnis/Boyle trap of having worldly neo-natural
law gradations of intentionality and ends if I commit A with
sub-intention B for the intention of resultant C with the intention of
conforming to God as the final end D.
I cannot be condemned on a kantian-basis because A-B is normatively wrong - we're not talking about A-B
- we're talking about A-D - the paradigm is rewritten.
the recent planned parenthood farce - the C-stage intention was to
unveil a grand deception - a diabolical lie which was slaughtering
millions AND selling their body parts while the world looked on
ignorantly and the corrupt conspirators in the culture of death thrived
and continued their evil.
The only recourse to achieve this end was by using deception A to provoke truth telling about the reality B.
The ultimate end D being of course God
please tell me how this deception A fulfilled the criteria for lying in
the CCC ?
[ie leading another into error]
...when rather than leading that
person into error it actually led them to reveal an undisclosed truth
about an evil practice
- ie it invoked a diminution of error and the
ultimate prevention of the furtherance of their lies and deceptions
which were leading the entire nation into error?.
If lying is defined as false talking which leads another into error and therefore away from God?
This isn't lying
it must be something else
ie deception - which is normatively sinful if committed to its own ends
if committed towards other ends which actually defeats error , draws
the perpetrator away from evil and error - and conforms to justice and
the common good and the destruction of misinferred error among the
It's permissible double effect to prevent evil.
What looked like lying was in the larger framework a means of telling the truth to reveal a truth.
There is no inviolability of a truth-denier wilfully preventing a
Good from being thwarted from achieving that end of denying that Good
They have no sacrosanct right to not be lied to while that lie is being prevented from being achieved.
one is wilfully deceiving one cannot appeal against recourse to being
deceived - when the intention of that deception to lead that person OUT
OF ERROR [ie contrary to the very nature of lying as defined in the
CCC] rather than compounding the error - when one is in the process of
Arguing otherwise is ignoring the actual
natural law holism of the formal nature of lying which requires both
formal cause and final cause. Natural law is a gravitation to conformity
of action towards an End which is Infinitely Good in being God.
We're not kantians!
Objectivity and subjectivity are two sides of the same coin
It would also be arguing a non-contra-positive and pleading the obverse - just
because all snow is white it does not mean that all that is not snow is
It's classifying a lie without paying any attention to
its consequent - a lie has direct intentionality towards a specific end -
when that end does not exist it becomes something formally different
from its presumptive nature see Pt 2 of the Summa esp 110.
unjust aggressor indeed does not cease to be human but an act committed
to retain and protect their humanity [ie preventing them from being a
killer] even if by recourse to a negative double effect of engaging in
an intrinsically morally disordered act to prevent a grave objective
evil occurring by default....
....so let's alter the paradigm from 'right to protection of innocent life' to that of 'a right to the Truth'
Liar deserves to be thwarted in their lying by an act appealing to the
Truth even if that includes recourse to an intrinsically morally
disordered act like deception to prevent that grave objective evil of
Lying from occurring.
[remembering - as Feser and the
neo-scholastics keep reminding us - lying is wrong insofar as it is
actually lying and actually intends that end of being a lie for the sake
of lying - if it is not deliberately willing and intending to achieve that
end it cannot be that which it is claimed in its objective nature - in
the same way attempting to save one's life from an unjust aggressor could
not be deemed attempted murder]
To those who want to become a deontological absolutist I'm afraid you'll find no solace in Aquinas....
Now four additonal points:
a] Tollefsen rightly dismisses the Jesuitical appeal to a
hyperbolised extended moral reservation that the truth is only
mandatory for those who positively afford it [ie deserve] the truth -
BUT in the process he imposes a potentially false paradigm of axiomatic
moral neutrality upon the person being deceived - that desert of truth
is an irrelevance in regard to the objective act of the person
'deceiving or lying' - that would indeed be the case if the third font
circumstances were neutral - but what if they aren't?
rushes over the direct intentionality and the 'achievable end' which is
being thwarted and prevented through the act of lying - which is exactly
what the revised CCC definition clarifies - it is the wilful
prevention/thwarting of a person reaching an achievable end of being in
non-error - BUT what if this is intrinsically impossible already as they
are already immediately directly in a state of intrinsic error?
Tollefsen also rushes over the morality behind Aquinas's justification
of the army using diversionary feint tactics to allow the enemy to
misinfer one's future acts
- this is wilful deception by omission
not an actuation of mental reservation
- it's instead a willed act with
the intentionality to deceive
- allowing the person to be led into
error by their own rationale
- so why is this permissible?
can't be the Jesuitical 'they are 'not deserving of the truth'
paradigm is so nearly-identical in effects that there must be some valid form
of congruent causal justification within the primary and secondary fonts
- so what is it?
- and is there an available analogy or a
moral precedent elsewhere?
d] The answer is right in front of us
- and the potential to reach that achievable end of
- rather than the Jesuit negative prevention and with-holding
what if this is obverted into a positive moral obligation to maintain
the sanctity of truth towards the innocent who are able to achieve that
end of being in non-error?
Just as the sanctity of life is reserved
to innocent life....
[hence we have recourse to endanger life through just
war and self-defence and even [intellectually hypothetically speaking]
exact punishment upon those who have forfeited their life via the death penalty]
....So too can we utilise this precedent in regard to our
moral obligation and duty/responsibility to those who are innocent - and
although that would include those who were circumstantially,
motivationally, conditionally non-innocent - it would not include those
who were objectively intrinsically non-innocent
We are permitted
recourse to self-defence in the promotion of life against a culpable
direct immediate unjust aggressor who by their actions has forfeited the
appeal to the inviolablity of their life by intrinsically defying that
By precedent we must also be permitted recourse to
self-defence [via deception] in the promotion of truth against a
culpable direct immediate unjust deceiver who by their actions has
forfeited their right to the whole truth by intrinsically defying that
principle through their actions.
The deceiver is already in a
state of intrinsic abrogation of the truth - they cannot be led into any
more error via deception - rather the reverse by secondary consequents
in the same way an unjust aggressor who is not killed by someone defending themself is prevented from becoming a murderer
same way a prosecution lawyer via deception tricks a criminal into
confessing their crimes and through punishment and reform has the
opportunity for moral conversion
the same way a person hiding the jews from the nazis and deceiving them prevents them from becoming the murderers of those jews
the same goes for police and the military in sting operations to prevent criminality and terrorism
ditto the justification of espionage to save lives and diminish the war-crimes of the invading aggressor.
The Principles become:
The affording of the sanctity of life to the innocent
The affording of the sanctity of truth to the innocent.