instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A dumbell model

Prudence, as you know, is right reasoning about a thing to be done. To be prudent requires, among other things, knowing the difference between what must be done and what may be done, between what is prescribed (or proscribed) by law and what you are free to choose.

Sometimes, the moral law is overstated at the expense of human freedom. This can happen by inventing laws where none really exist, as I suggested happens with Grand Theories of Pure Living. It also happens with rule-based morality, where human freedom is for the most part left implied in whatever isn't covered by an explicit rule.

Sometimes, too, human freedom is overstated at the expense of the moral law. Some seem to hold that freedom always trumps the law, others that the law is a very vague and general thing, still others that the law comprises only a small and specific set of edicts (e.g., those found in dogmatic canons of Ecumenical Councils).

And then, sometimes, the proper balance between law and freedom is found, although of course it will look imbalanced to those whose own balance is misplaced.