Journal of Religious Ethics 44 (2):232-245 (2016)

Can the theology of Thomas Aquinas serve as a resource for reflection on democratic civic virtue? That is the central question taken up by Mark Jordan, Adam Eitel, John Bowlin, and Michael Lamb in this focus issue. The four authors agree on one thing: Aquinas himself was no fan of democracy. They disagree, though, over whether Aquinas can offer resources for theorizing democratic virtues. Bowlin, Eitel, and Lamb believe he can, and propose Thomistic accounts of tolerance, civic friendship, and democratic hope, respectively. Jordan, in contrast, issues a cautionary note against such enterprises. This divergence is due in part to different judgments about what it would mean to claim certain resources as “Thomistic.” In part, too, it flows from a disagreement about whether Aquinas himself countenances genuine virtues among non-Christian citizens, and about whether Christians and non-Christians can be said to share even proximate ends. This conversation is an important one, since accounts of the democratic virtues constructed using Thomistic resources have the potential to move discussions of democratic and theological virtues beyond common impasses.
Keywords Thomas Aquinas  friendship  civic virtue  democracy  hope  tolerance
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DOI 10.1111/jore.12139
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