Good and Evil Actions
A Journey through Saint Thomas Aquinas
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: The Catholic University of America Press
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It is inescapably true that we should do good and avoid evil, but how are we to know the difference between them? Whenever St. Thomas faces this question, he quotes the Psalmist in the Vulgate (Ps. 4, 6): Quis ostendit nobis bona? The answer is: Signatum est super nos lumen vultus tui, Domine. Who will show us what is good? ...
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I would like to thank all those who have helped with this book. Those deserving special mention include James Stromberg and Ralph McInerny, who provided the foundation and inspiration, Stephen Brock, whose insights have guided me over the years, Thomas Osborne, Thomas Hurley, Richard Cain, and Thomas Cavanaugh, all of whom provided helpful comments and suggestions, Barbara ...
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In 1954 Elizabeth Anscombe coined the term “consequentialism” to designate those moral theories that reduce the moral value of any action to its effects or consequences, leaving no moral significance to the act itself.1 Although she thought consequentialism morally bankrupt, and patently so, she claimed the philosophical explanation of its inadequacy was lacking, and given the current philosophical ...
1. Human Actions
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Traditionally, Catholic moralists have drawn a sharp distinction between two similar cases in medical ethics. In the craniotomy case, the head of the fetus is too large to pass through the woman’s pelvis, so that natural labor will not result in delivery but will continue indefinitely, probably resulting in the death of both the mother and the child. ...
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We are trying to identify the species of human actions. What belongs essentially to an action is a certain emanation from an agent toward some object. An action has a per se order from the agent to the object. What falls outside this order is circumstantial; it does not belong to the essence of the action. The movement or emanation of an action begins within the agent through some impulse or ...
3. Exterior Actions
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We are trying to discover the species of human actions, the per se order arising from within the agent and moving to some object. Intention seemed a plausible place to look for the source of this order, both on account of the very words of Aquinas and because intention is a principle of human actions. Unfortunately, the effort to draw the line between what is intended and what is outside intention ...
4. Love of Others
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We have seen that the material or subject acted upon is central to the moral species of human actions. Why does it play this central role? We can get a good idea by considering those cases when another human being is the subject acted upon. The act of murder, for instance, has another human being as its subject or material. ...
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This chapter addresses a few remaining difficulties before we proceed to consider the order of reason in more detail. First, some challenging texts must be examined in the light of Proportionalism (sections 5.1 and 5.2). ...
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The key to the moral species of human actions is the order to the good that reason aims to introduce in some material, which we have analyzed to some extent for the action of killing or harming more generally (chapter 4). The natural form introduced is death, but we have seen that this natural form implies using or subordinating the person for some further end. ...
7. Moral Species
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Aquinas teaches that human actions alone are good and evil in their very species. Other things are good or evil, but their good or evil does not define what they are. If we are fully to understand Aquinas’s doctrine of the specification of human actions, then, we must see why human actions have their good or evil in their very ...
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Page Count: 337
Publication Year: 2010