Consilium and the Foundations of Ethics

The Thomist 79 (1):43-74 (2015)

Raymond Hain
Providence College
This essay develops the foundations of a Thomistic ethics of inquiry by proposing an account of 'consilium' (or practical deliberation) that is essentially social. This account in turn has three important implications. First, the moral knowledge available to us prior to the workings of 'consilium' is too vague to ground anything approaching substantive moral conclusions (the content of 'synderesis' is significantly limited). Second, if the apprehension of all but the very highest moral truths depends on a series of deliberative relationships, the nature and development of those relationships must be a central task of Thomistic ethics. Third, the workings of 'consilium' itself, pointing us toward a particular kind of moral community, can ground the nature and content of Thomistic ethics as an ethics of inquiry.
Keywords Practical Reason  Aquinas  Deliberation  Consilium  Alasdair MacIntyre
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