Based on the responses I received, I found that this definition was the only one that I could use to fend off attempts to justify torture under "coercion of obedience." St. Thomas was pulled into their arguments to justify torture.
As one person said, "That's why I believe it certainly isn't as cut and dried as the pope condemning contraception, which has ALWAYS and everywhere been condemned. In this case, we have a LOT of people saying that this is OK, including Thomas: "On the other hand, there are unbelievers who at some time have accepted the faith, and professed it, such as heretics and all apostates: such should be submitted even to bodily compulsion, that they may fulfil what they have promised, and hold what they, at one time, received."
My response was
"Thomas, great as he was, was still wrong in some areas. I believe this is one of them.
He says “Bodily compulsion.” Does this mean compulsion of the will through the body,
or does he mean that compelling the body is the same as compelling the will?
I do not think he means the latter. But consider the ramifications of either
Another grad brings St. Thomas into it: You say that "The will is formed, not coerced, through threat of the
consequence of evil actions." Well, Thomas says exactly the opposite:
"The greater power should exercise the greater coercion. Now just as a city
is a perfect community, so the governor of a city has perfect coercive power:
wherefore he can inflict irreparable punishments such as death and mutilation.
On the other hand the father and the master who preside over the family household,
which is an imperfect community, have imperfect coercive power, which is
exercised by inflicting lesser punishments, for instance by blows which do
not inflict irreparable harm. (http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3065.htm#2)
If I may be so bold,
seems to define coercion as St. Thomas
"the environment that exists when people choose not to commit an evil act
due to the knowledge that punishment will be meted out for a choice contrary
to the purpose of free will." Coercion in the physical realm, such as forcing
a cork into a bottle, or forcibly disarming a madman, is a different entity
than coercing self-free-willed human behavior, freely willed behavior being
something that necessarily comes from within.
Any coercion of a human act is intrinsically a directly willed
attempt to force the will or intellect. Creating an environment where people are
accountable for their actions is not a coercion of free will. We were born into
such an environment, and it is necessary for every legitimate government, and its
laws, to reflect this universal order of nature. As I said, torture, by its
definition, is not used as punishment, but is always a means to an end.
As you can see, if torture, as the Catechism (not the Church) says, includes
"The use of physical or moral violence [what about psychological violence?]
to punish the guilty," then there is no legitimate use of corporal or capital
punishment for any crime. (Both of these punishments are allowed by the Church.)
Thomas' definition of coercion seems really to be a definition of "correction" or
Semantic arguments are necessary. Without them, heresies get started. Without them,
heresies are never overturned. I will send the anonymized dialogue to you, Colin,
and to anyone else who solicits it. It offers a view of what kind of things people
are saying, and why this definition is necessary. I'm not using this definition
to be anal-retentive, to take a jab at the Church, or to be "holier-than-thou."
I'm using this definition because I believe it is the only accurate definition.
Because I believe it is the truth, and the truth needs to be embraced whenever it is