Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction

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pp. ix-xx

On May 5, 1888, Pope Leo XIII issued one of his lesser-known encyclicals, In Plurimis.1 This document, written in part to express the Roman pontiff ’s personal joy on hearing of the legal abolition of slavery in Brazil, includes a memorable description...

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Chapter One: Thomistic Ontology

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pp. 1-13

Before we can begin to examine Thomistic moral philosophy and its relationship to modern ethical systems, it is imperative that we understand the distinguishing feature of Thomas’s moral thought, its ontological foundation. Ontology, in simple...

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Chapter Two: Ontological Morality and Human Rights

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pp. 14-29

Thomas Aquinas strongly defended the notion that morality is grounded in nature and being. Thomas’s position is that moral action must be understood in terms of the rational nature of human beings. In this sense, nature itself is the model for moral...

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Chapter Three: The War of the Philosophers

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pp. 30-49

Thomistic ontological morality has a long history. The battles waged over moral questions during the Middle Ages served as basic training for the wars that would be waged centuries later. If one can speak of moral debates in military...

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Chapter Four: The Modern Way

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pp. 50-64

The last half of the seventeenth century in Europe represents a time of great change in the history of positive human rights. Many of the most fundamental ideas that characterize modern human rights doctrine were either first formulated during...

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Chapter Five: Pope Leo XIII and His Legacy

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pp. 65-76

Although it would be wrong to imagine that there were not many philosophical currents vying for ascendancy in the fi rst decades of the nineteenth century, it is clear from the previous chapter that empiricism, Kantianism, and Hegelianism were...

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Chapter Six: The Survival of Tradition

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pp. 77-102

One of those teachers selected by Pope Leo “to implant the doctrine of Thomas Aquinas in the minds of students” was a Belgian priest named Desiré Joseph Mercier. Mercier was only twenty-eight years old when...

Notes

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pp. 103-122

Bibliography

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pp. 123-130

Index

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pp. 131-136