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  • Philosophical Abstracts

Vol. 93, No. 1, Winter 2019

Creation as Efficient Causation in Aquinas, JULIE LOVELAND SWANSTROM
In this article, Swanstrom explores Aquinas’s account of divine creative activities as a type of efficient causation. She proposes that Aquinas’s works hold a framework for understanding God as an efficient cause and creating as an act of divine efficient causation that makes explicit what Aquinas views to be implicit in Aristotle’s account of efficient causation. She explores Aristotelian efficient causation in depth, offering a detailed analysis of the components of Aristotelian efficient causation. After this exploration, it is necessary to address what reasons Aquinas has for viewing creation as efficient causation. Swanstrom explores Aquinas’s understanding of creation and relates it to Aristotle’s analysis of efficient causation, analyzing how, precisely, Aquinas’s conception of efficient causation—which includes change, creation, and conservation—aligns with Aristotle’s. Because Aquinas’s account is derivable directly from elements in Aristotle’s account, Aquinas’s account can be understood to be implied by Aristotle’s account.

Suarez on Creation and Intrinsic Change, JACOB TUTTLE
The late scholastic philosopher Francisco Suárez (1548–1617) articulates and defends an extraordinarily detailed account of efficient causation. Some of the most interesting and difficult questions connected with this account concern the particular types of efficient causation he acknowledges. This paper clarifies one of the most fundamental distinctions Suárez employs in the course of his treatment of efficient causation—namely, that between motion (motus) or change (mutatio), on the one hand, and creation ex nihilo, on the other. The paper shows that, although motion and creation differ in systematic and important ways, they nevertheless can both be captured by Suárez’s general theoretical model of efficient causation. Moreover, the paper shows that [End Page 625] creation serves as a kind of limit case of efficient causation, and accordingly that it informs how Suárez understands motion or change as well.

Against the Permissibility of Attempted Wife Poisoning, CRAIG M. WHITE
The Aristotelian-Thomist claim is that external actions can be morally evaluated when they are voluntary (which includes being based on reasonably accurate knowledge of what an agent is doing), absent which, in effect, we evaluate outcomes, not acts. Also, in the Aristotelian-Thomist tradition the internal act of the will is paramount. These claims contrast with some current theorizing, for example, by Judith Jarvis Thomson, that morally evaluates actions separately from agents, downplaying the internal act. Taking cases from current authors that revolve around ignorance of key facts, White critiques their theorizing on the basis of the nature of agency, the nature of abstraction, the moral language we use in describing acts, the need for reasonably complete descriptions of acts, and the tendency of act evaluations to “leak” into agent evaluations in objective theories. He then describes how Thomas Aquinas’s account of moral evaluation avoids these problems and provides a superior, multidimensional framework for moral evaluation.

The Virtual Presence of Acquired Virtues in the Christian, W. SCOTT CLEVELAND and BRANDON DAHM
Aquinas’s doctrine that infused virtues accompany sanctifying grace raises many questions. The authors examine one: how do the infused virtues relate to the acquired virtues? More precisely, can the person with the infused virtues possess the acquired virtues? The authors argue for an answer consistent with and informed by Aquinas’s writings, although it goes beyond textual evidence, as any answer to this question must. There are two plausible, standard interpretations of Aquinas on this issue: the coexistence view and transformation view. After explaining the views, the authors present plausible reasons for and against each view. The evidence suggests that the acquired virtues are both present and absent in the Christian. The authors then survey Aquinas’s account of virtual presence. Finally, they argue that the case of the presence of acquired virtues in the Christian is a good candidate for virtual presence.

St. Thomas, Teaching, and the Intellectual Virtue of Art, RANDALL G. COLTON
Applying Thomas Aquinas’s account of the intellectual virtue of art to teaching yields valuable results for both those who wish to understand teaching better and those looking for models of the...


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