Thomas Aquinas: Contemporary Philosophical Perspectives

By Brian Davies | Go to book overview

12
Being and Goodness
ELEONORE STUMP & NORMAN KRETZMANN

Parts of Aquina's moral philosophy, particularly his treatments of the virtues and of natural law, are sometimes taken into account in contemporary discussions, but the unusual ethical naturalism that underlies all of his moral philosophy has been neglected. Consequently, the unity of his ethical theory and its basis in his metaphysics are not so well known as they should be, and even the familiar parts of the theory are sometimes misunderstood.

We think Aquina's naturalism is a kind of moral realism that deserves serious reconsideration. It supplies for his virtue-centered morality the sort of metaethical foundation that recent virtue-centered morality has been criticized for lacking. 1 Moreover, it complements Aquina's Aristotelian emphasis on rationality as a moral standard by supplying a method of determining degrees of rationality. And when Aquina's naturalism is combined with his account of God as absolutely simple, it effects a connection between morality and theology that offers an attractive alternative to divine-command morality, construing morality not merely as a dictate of God's will but as an expression of his nature. 2 Finally, Aquina's brand of naturalism illuminates a side of the problem of evil that has been overlooked, raising the question whether recent defenses against the problem are compatible with the doctrine of God's goodness.

Aquina's ethics is embedded in his metaphysics, only the absolutely indispensable features of which can be summarized here. Consequently, we can't undertake to argue fully for his ethical theory in this essay. For our purposes it will be enough to expound the theory, to consider some of the objections it gives rise to, and to point out some of the advantages it offers for dealing with recognized issues in ethics and philosophy of religion.

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Thomas Aquinas: Contemporary Philosophical Perspectives
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xi
  • Contributors xiii
  • Thomas Aquinas *
  • Introduction 3
  • Notes *
  • 1 - The Commentary of St. Thomas on the De Caelo of Aristotle 37
  • Notes *
  • 2 - Matter and Actuality in Aquinas 61
  • Notes *
  • 3 - The Logic of Being in Thomas Aquinas 77
  • Notes *
  • 4 - The Realism of Aquinas 97
  • Notes *
  • 5 - Natural Reason in the Summa Contra Gentiles 117
  • Notes *
  • 6 - The Esse/essentia Argument in Aquinas's De Ente Et Essentia 141
  • Notes *
  • 7 - The Five Ways 159
  • Notes *
  • 8 - Aquinas on What God is Not 227
  • Notes *
  • 9 - Aquinas Wittgenstein 243
  • Notes *
  • 10 - Man = Body + Soul Aquinas's Arithmetic of Human Nature 257
  • Notes *
  • 11 - Intellect and Will 275
  • Notes *
  • 12 - Being and Goodness 295
  • Notes *
  • 13 - Law and Politics 325
  • Notes 336
  • 14 - Aquinas on Good Sense 339
  • 15 - Aquinas on the Passions 353
  • Notes *
  • A Chronological List of Aquinas's Writings 385
  • Bibliography 389
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