Rigorism is the moral system according to which, in every doubt of conscience as to the morality of a particular course of conduct, the opinion for law must be followed. In other words, one may act for liberty only when the arguments for this course are certain. The view was defended in the 17th century by the Jansenists, particularly by John sinnich, an Irishman who taught at Louvain, in his book Saulus ex-Rex. The system eliminates the use of reflex principles and hence cannot be called a moral system in the present-day sense. Rigorism exaggerated the adage: "In a doubt the safer side is to be followed." This is correctly applied only to a practical doubt, not to a speculative doubt that can be resolved into practical certainty for liberty by the prudent use of reflex principles. Rigorism was condemned in 1690 by Alexander VIII, who listed among Jansenistic teachings the doctrine of Sinnich: "It is not lawful to follow a probable opinion, even if it is most probable among probable opinions" (H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum, ed. A. Schönmetzer [32d ed. Freiburg 1963] 2303).
See Also: morality, systems of; doubt, moral; reflex principles; conscience.
Bibliography: d. m. prÜmmer, Manuale theologiae moralis, ed. e. m. mÜnch, 3 v. (10th ed. Barcelona 1945–46) 1:338. j. aertnys and c. a. damen, Theologia moralis, 2 v. (16th ed. Marietti 1930) 1:101. m. zalba, Theologiae moralis compendium, 2 v. (Madrid 1958) 1:673.
[f. j. connell]