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Proportionalism is an ethical theory that lies between teleological or consequential theories and deontological theories. Teleological or consequential theories, like utilitarianism, say that an action is right or wrong, depending on the consequences it produces, whereas deontological theories, like The Categorical Imperative, say that actions are either intrinsically right or intrinsically wrong. Proportionalist theories like rule utilitarianism, however, say it is never right to go against a principle unless a proportionate reason would justify it.
1960s Proportionalism is a consequentialist attempt to develop Natural Moral Law, a Catholic deontological absolutist theory by Thomas Aquinas. The moral guidelines set down by the Roman Catholic teachings of Natural Moral Law are mostly upheld in that intrinsically evil acts are still classified so. In certain situations where there is a balance of ontic goods and ontic evils (ontic evils are those that are not immoral but merely cause pain or suffering, ontic goods are those that alieviate pain or suffering). Proportionalism asserts that one can determine the right course of action by weighing up the good and the necessary evil caused by the action. As a result, Proportionalism aims to choose the lesser of evils. Pope John Paul II rules out the 1960s Proportionalism in his encyclicals Veritatis Splendor, promulgated in 1993 (cf. section 75), and in Evangelium Vitae, 1995 (cf. article 68). Instead, John Paul II, offers an ethics of beatitude.
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