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The will is indeed necessitated by its own nature to tend towards the good in general; we cannot wish for what is evil unless it presents itself to us under the appearance of good.
We also necessarily wish for happiness, and if we found ourselves in presence of some object which fully satisfied all our desires and contained in itself nothing to repel us, we should be necessitated to love it.
The will, which is the seat of moral obligation, is incapable of being physically coerced in that manner. It is indeed possible to conceive that the will is necessitated to action by the antecedent conditions.
The doctrine of those who deny free will is easily intelligible although we deny that it is true.
That doctrine explains the peremptoriness, the sacredness, the universality of moral obligation, made known to us, as it is, by the dictates of conscience.
The doctrine has seldom been put in clearer or more beautiful language than by Cardinal Newman in his Letter to the Duke of Norfolk (p.
Man is a creature, made by God his Creator, with Whom he is destined to live for all eternity.
By moral obligation we understand some sort of necessity, imposed on the will, of doing what is good and avoiding what is evil.
The necessity, then, which constitutes the essence of moral obligation must be of the kind which an end that must be attained lays upon us of adopting the necessary means towards obtaining that end.
If I am bound to cross the ocean and I am unable to fly, I must go on board ship.
There is, however, a special quality in the necessity of moral obligation which is peculiar to itself.
We all appreciate this when we say that children are "obliged" to obey their parents, that they "ought" to obey them, that it is their " duty " to do so.
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In ethics it acquired a wider meaning and was used as a synonym for duty.