Is It Wrong to Use Mainstream Internet Browsers?

So many major tech companies nowadays support so-called “gay marriage” or Planned Parenthood. What are we to do about not supporting these companies when they all seem to have a hand in developing every piece of software and hardware available.

Browsers are a prime example. I can’t use Chrome, Firefox, IE, Safari, or any of the alternatives that I’ve been able to find because they all use some software (mostly the SDKs) developed by one of the big companies. Are there any objections to Opera? That’s what I’m using right now. I’m not too keen on switching to Linux because that would require lots of time and effort that I don’t really have since I’m in college. I don’t want to resort to using TOR or something like it for obvious reasons.

I’ve been using the internet only when I need something answered or for school work, but it still doesn’t seem to be legitimate under the principle of double effect since killing babies isn’t really proportionate to getting my online math homework done, is it? It seems like I’m being too scrupulous, but it all adds up as far as I can tell.

Plus, even if I could find a licit browser, I wouldn’t be able to use Youtube because they’re owned by Google and they permit the posting of pornography if the definition given by the Catechism is correct ( and if I’m interpreting it correctly). Have we really reached the point where the evils of society are so grave that we have to abstain from every product or service that isn’t an absolute necessity?

If you avoided buying products from or generally doing business with every single company that, even tangentially, did something contrary to the Church’s teachings, you would never buy or do anything ever again and you will not get any closer to stopping whatever it is that contradicts the teachings.

Tell me how not using Google will stop or even diminish support for gay marriage. Tell me how not using Chrome will shut down PP. You can’t because those things only remotely tie in with the business you are doing with the companies. Avoiding these companies is an ineffectual way to go about enforcing moral teachings and, frankly, a waste of time. Instead of fretting about who donated money to what, your time would be better spent doing something more direct and proactive. Pray for people; volunteer at a pregnancy crisis center; write to you congressman about gay marriage; do anything other than scrupulously worrying about what companies to avoid.

True.

As Catholics, we’re aloud to associate with the sinful (so long as we’re able to not let ourselves be influenced negatively). Christ ate with tax collectors and people who didn’t wash their hands. We can eat pork even though it’s an unclean animal. Just love them despite their poor choices and instead of spending energy avoiding ‘bad compagnies’ seek out the good ones- especially charities. amiright?

That’s also what I thought at first, but I don’t see how we can disregard the principle of double effect. If I want to watch a funny video on Youtube, can I do that? It’s not really proportional to the evil being committed i.e. supporting PP. Of course that’s just going off of the principle of double effect. It could also fall under formal vs. material cooperation or I’ve heard that it’s a prudential decision based on how many degrees of separation your act has from the evil. Is it possible that using the internet through these browsers is only licit in certain circumstances like in advocating against abortion? It seems logical except that everybody else uses the internet with no qualms. I must be missing some teaching that justifies it, but I haven’t found it yet.

You have no *obligation *to boycott products like browsers, although you can certainly do so by choice.

You are correct that you are being scrupulous.

Assuming that teachings of the Catholic Church cannot contradict one another, and given the requirement of proportionality under the principle of double effect, how can it be said that every possible use of the internet that has the object of achieving a good, no matter how small, is morally permissible? I don’t understand how the requirement for proportionality is fulfilled in watching funny youtube videos if some of the proceeds from ads goes to a cause like abortion. I’m sure I must be wrong because nobody agrees with my stance, but I don’t understand why.

I’m starting to think that maybe I’m holding the correct stance on this issue. If it’s wrong to pay a doctor to give you an abortion then why would it be okay for you to pay a doctor to give someone else an abortion? If you’re using Youtube, for example, that’s essentially what you’re doing. The degrees of separation (proximate or remote) apparently aren’t taken into account if it’s formal cooperation, even if it’s implicit. It seems to be formal cooperation if you account for the requirement for proportionality under the principle of double effect. It all seems to make sense. If I’m wrong on this then please correct me. I came here for substantial answers based on the teachings of the Church (as the name of the site implies), but so far I’m not getting any sources and it doesn’t feel like anybody in this thread actually knows enough about Catholic theology to answer my question. I’m not trying to personally attack anyone; I’m just saying that if you don’t know the answer my question then please don’t guess. In some other circumstances, that might be okay. In this case, however, I really would appreciate it if my question could be addressed directly and by someone with a little more expertise in Catholic theology. Maybe I should have asked this question on another board, but what can I say? I’m new here.**

Hi Patrick,

Welcome to the Catholic Answers Forum. :slight_smile:

If you feel like your concerns haven’t been addressed, you can always try asking your question on another Forum here.

There is the “Ask an Apologist” Forum, for example, since you seem to be looking for an answer to your question from someone who is more of a Theologian.

I guess when I think about your question or concern, I think about it in terms of what I can do every day, to make a difference in terms of in the way that I handle moral issues that concern me.

For example, one of the biggest concerns that I have, is the animal testing that still goes on by manufacturers in the health and beauty industry, so I do my best to try and not buy products made by those companies.

For you, you are trying to use an Internet Browser that you feel comfortable with.

In my opinion, we should all just try to do the best that we can, when it comes to doing what is important to us from a moral stand point.

This is very close to scrupulosity. Please calm down and enjoy life.:wink:

I’ve been researching this topic for a week. Like you said, the sources I’ve found require interpretation. The trouble is that nobody is talking about the problem in terms of those sources. I don’t just want the answer; I want you to show your work. If you don’t show how you arrived at an answer then how can I trust that you’re not just advocating moral relativism? I’m not saying that you are, but my interactions with other people have conditioned me to be cautious in trusting everything that I hear. Once again, I’m not trying to insult Gia B, 1ke, or anyone else. I’d just like to know why you’re correct. I think that you probably are, but I’d like to see the process. I know that I have a problem with scrupulosity and I’m working on that, but I don’t think it’s irrational to be distrustful of people on the internet, even on this forum.

That being said, let’s talk about those details. Are you saying that the teachings on formal and material cooperation take precedence over the principle of double effect? Do the circumstances determine which we apply? If the teachings on formal and material cooperation do take precedence and are thus valid for making a sound moral judgment here, then it would seem to be mediate material cooperation. Essentially, if the teachings on cooperation take precedence over the principle of double effect in this case, then there’s no requirement for proportionality because requirements for mediate material cooperation don’t include proportionality. Is that correct? If so, then committing a good act, no matter how small i.e. watching a funny Youtube video, is morally permissible because the object is good regardless of the gravity of the evil act associated with it, correct? I guess the question now, assuming that was all correct, is whether the teachings on cooperation take precedence over the principle of double effect.

If this is the case, you should not be asking random people on the internet for their opinions. You should have a regular confessor/spiritual director who will help you with this. If you do not, I suggest that you spend your internet time sending an e-mail to your priest and asking him for his help.

If the information that I’m getting is logical then it doesn’t matter from whom I get it because logic is objective and universal. I can get these answers from a priest or from this forum, but either way they must be rational. If I can verify that an answer is sound then it doesn’t matter whether I get it here or from a priest. Being distrustful of someone doesn’t mean that they can’t give sound answers. It just means that I’m cautious about verifying what they say.

I did more research and it sounds like the principle of double effect is only applied to determine whether cooperation is mediate material. Since a person is still morally culpable for cooperation that is immediate material or formal, proportionality is still a consideration along with the other requirements for the principle of double effect. This comes from the third font of morality. In the case of supporting a company that supports PP your intention may be good and the act itself may be good, but the evil that comes as an effect of your good act must be taken into consideration. As I understand it, and I could be wrong, if an evil effect is anticipated at all, especially in the case of murdering infants, its gravity must be weighed against the probability of it actually occurring.

Each time you google something there’s a small chance that the ad revenue that’s generated goes to fund an abortion by PP. Since we’re assigning values based on the probability of an evil effect actually happening, the gravity of the evil effect, and the value of the good effect, and since the value of human life is incalculable, which is to say infinite, any act, no matter how good in itself, cannot be morally permissible if there’s any rationally foreseeable chance of abortion as an effect.

Even if that wasn’t the case and the value of human life can be estimated (or I made some other mistake in my reasoning) then consider that the probability, no matter how insignificant each time, of having some of the proceeds from you surfing the web going to fund an abortion would be compound. Since your good act only needs to have the morally imputable evil effect once, your chances of remotely funding an abortion would increase each time you use traceable products or services provided by these companies. With tech companies, their products and services are practically always traceable. Even if you have adblocker enabled, they still know that you’re using their products or services, and they can use that information for marketing.

I’m pretty sure that I’m wrong on this considering all the negative feedback, but I just don’t know why I’m wrong. Maybe I’m correct. It would certainly seem to make sense. If every Catholic actually boycotted companies that committed grave, morally imputable evils, then the fundamental principles of economics would cause them to change their policies (assuming these companies are interested in profits).

1759 “An evil action cannot be justified by reference to a good intention” (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Dec. praec. 6). The end does not justify the means. forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=430624

This is a very thoughtful and well-reasoned argument. However I don’t think this conclusion about “infinite value” in the mathematical sense is applicable to the question of moral proportionality. It it tempting to think of moral proportionality as a mathematical problem, because the terminology is so similar. But in this case I don’t think modern mathematical theory is what is intended. I think this notion of proportionality is an appeal to apply a more intuitive understanding of proportionality.

Here are some examples of this kind of proportionality being applied.

The crash of a passenger plane is a great evil, even when no one is morally culpable (no terrorist on board, and no gross negligence on the part of the maintenance crew). Since every flight contains some risk that the plane will crash, calculating proportionality where human lives are assigned the value of infinity would say that no one should ever consent to fly, or let a loved one fly. We clearly do not want this conclusion.

If you only want to consider evil for which someone is culpable, consider the probability of getting murdered when walking down the street a night. Even in a good neighborhood, the probability of getting murdered is not zero. Anyone who asks a friend to go the store and buy some milk is putting that person at some non-zero risk of being murdered. The good of getting a gallon of milk can never be proportional the risk of an infinitely valuable human life being taken through murder. So we would have to say that it is morally illicit to ask someone to go buy you a gallon of milk. We clearly don’t want to have to accept this conclusion either.

I think this shows that proportionality is either not the strictly mathematical kind, or else the value of a human life in these calculations is not infinite. As a practical aside, I can tell you that the FAA places the value of a human life at somewhere between 2 and 3 million dollars when deciding which safety features to mandate for the airline industry. They obviously cannot afford to treat every human life as having infinite value, or else all airplanes would be grounded.

Even if that wasn’t the case and the value of human life can be estimated (or I made some other mistake in my reasoning) then consider that the probability, no matter how insignificant each time, of having some of the proceeds from you surfing the web going to fund an abortion would be compound. Since your good act only needs to have the morally imputable evil effect once, your chances of remotely funding an abortion would increase each time you use traceable products or services provided by these companies. With tech companies, their products and services are practically always traceable. Even if you have adblocker enabled, they still know that you’re using their products or services, and they can use that information for marketing.

I think the principle you are applying here is a correct one. However this application of the principle would still come down to a consideration of proportionality. The degree of remoteness is a part of that “calculation”. The money that your use of their services provides them is not earmarked for abortions. It goes into the gross receipts of the company. That company then uses that income for a variety of purposes, mostly to invest in the service they provide, improve their product, provide for operating expenses, provide for employee salaries, and provide dividends to investors. A very small amount of that income goes for donations to places like Planned Parenthood. So while principle of this part of your argument is correct, I think in most cases it will still come down to a proportionality conclusion that is in favor of allowing you to do business with them.

I’m pretty sure that I’m wrong on this considering all the negative feedback, but I just don’t know why I’m wrong. Maybe I’m correct. It would certainly seem to make sense. If every Catholic actually boycotted companies that committed grave, morally imputable evils, then the fundamental principles of economics would cause them to change their policies (assuming these companies are interested in profits).

A Catholic may certainly choose to take this position, and if enough of them do, a change in policies is quite likely. But the Church does not mandate this specific response.

Patrick1234567, you go to the grocery store and buy milk. Some of your money goes to the owner of the cow. Some goes to the dairy. Some goes to the trucking company. Some goes to the grocery store. Some goes to the cashier, etc.

Do you actually vet each and every entity in every supply chain you participate in? I doubt it. To focus on one thing - web browsers - is missing the point. The point is, we are not responsible for what everyone in the world does. Our money is spread out over thousands if not millions of people.

Take a breath, and consider why your line of thought is only being advanced by you and not others.

I think Patrick understands full well the difficulty in this interpretation, but he is not so much advancing it as asking why it isn’t a logical consequence of Church teaching, which he has taken the trouble to research and cite. Saying “this is ridiculous” does not answer his more fundamental question about Church teaching.

It seems to rest on proportionality then, or at least on my interpretation of it. Isn’t it morally relativistic to assign values to effects intuitively rather than mathematically? Morality is objective. Why doesn’t the principle of double effect have some requirement that demonstrates the point that everyone here is trying to make? If your stance isn’t supported by anything in the teachings of the Church then I don’t see how it can be treated as correct. If there’s some teaching that I’ve failed to apply here that would change my conclusion then I think I’d like to know what it is.

And thank you, Leaf; that’s exactly what I’m trying to say.

Exactly! Please cite the document where the Church advises people of faith to avoid You Tube, Google, or to boycott any particular company.

How can anyone be ‘supporting’ an organisation that has some policies that one disagrees with, if you’re using a product of that organisation that is given away for free? They get no benefit from you using it. They are not sustained by means of that use.

One could almost take the view that using said free product could be thought of as harmful to them, inasmuch as it took resources to develop the product and therefore was a burden upon them.

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