Barriers to Distinction Moral Vision What Is Natural Law Article Discussion


Part 1: Write a 2 page paper (and keep the paper on a file because you will use it later in the semester).

  • Explain the contrast outlined on page 35, chapter 3 of Moral Vision. The contrast is between looking for meaning/purpose and looking for a mechanism/principle of operation.
  • Reflect on the questions put forward at the end of “2. The Moral Journey (out of the cave)” in the questions “For Reflection of Further Study.” Tell the story of where you have been, where you are, and where you think you are going in terms of a profession, discipline, or line of work as a calling/vocation. A vocation is the connection between your talents, interests, and desires and the needs of others – meeting human needs and avenues for human fulfillment.

Part 2: Write 2 pages on Sokolowski’s third section, “Barriers of the Distinction” between ends and purposes on pages 514-517. List and explain the barriers. If possible use examples from part 1 on your education and career (the journey of where you are going). Remember “seeing” the distinction between ends and our purposes is key to moral vision.

This assignment is based on an article by Robert Sokolowski, titled, “What is Natural Law?” The Thomist 68, no. 4 (October 2004), 507-529. This is the article referenced in “Further Study” question # 3, Moral Vision, pp. 40-1.

Sokolowski – What is Natural Law.pdf

The audio file below is the same recording included in the previous assignment. I put it here because you will need it again.

Play audio recording. Attached below.

An “end” is the basic (and ultimate) reason for a thing or activity — what it is for. When the end is reached, the activity/purpose is fulfilled. See the quotation below where Sokolowski uses the example of the end of medicine. Purposes are what particular people or groups add to the end. Purposes are not bad if they are properly ordered to the end..

Sokolowski explains (page 512).

“Ends and purposes come to light in contrast with one another. For example, the end [the telos] of medicine is the restoration and preservation of health, but a man might have many different purposes in practicing medicine. He may intend to heal people and keep them healthy, he may intend to earn money, he may intend to become famous, he may intend to become a politician, or, if he is a vicious agent, he may want to become adept at torturing people. At first, medicine comes to us soaked through with such purposes, often with many of them, and it takes moral intelligence to make the distinction between what belongs to medicine as such and what purposes we have in practicing it. Obviously, the people who teach the medical student will talk about the distinction, but ultimately the student and later the doctor has to make the distinction for himself; the teacher cannot make it for him. No one can make a distinction for anyone else; a distinction is someone’s mind at work. The telos [the end] and the essence of the thing come to light for us precisely in contrast with our purposes, and our purposes also come to light in contrast with what belongs to the things themselves.”


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