The family, like so many other modern institutions, often looks more like an arena of competing wills than an ordered life in common. If we hope, therefore, to protect the special role that parents should have in relation to their children, and that the family in general should have in relation to its members, we will need a much more developed account of the goods that are at stake and why we think they are important enough to require authority, even (...) when members of the family oppose the decisions of that authority. This essay develops an older account of authority, one rooted in the thought of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas, and applies this account to our present difficulties concerning the authority of the family over its members in health care decision making. (shrink)
This essay first develops St. Thomas Aquinas’s appropriation of Aristotle's hylomorphic account of human nature by considering Aquinas’s commentary on the De anima and Aquinas's own mature account of human nature in the Summa Theologiae. It is then made clear how a series of problems arises for Aquinas’s position based on whether we emphasize body/soul unity or the special status of the intellectual soul, taking as the central difficulty the status of the disembodied soul between death and resurrection. In conclusion (...) a radical solution to this difficulty is proposed based on a reconsideration of the material element of human nature. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
W. David Solomon sits at the very center of the revival of virtue ethics. Solomon's work extended what began with the publication of G. E. M. Anscombe's "Modern Moral Philosophy" (1958) by solidifying virtue ethics as a viable approach within contemporary moral philosophy. Beyond the Self: Virtue Ethics and the Problem of Culture comprises twelve chapters: eleven that employ Solomon's work and legacy, followed by a twelfth concluding chapter by Solomon himself. Each chapter deepens and develops virtue ethics as a (...) rich intellectual tradition rooted in Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. Editor Raymond Hain divides the volume into three sections. The first addresses the historical contexts of happiness, justice, and mercy in the tradition of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. The second turns to recent themes in normative ethics, focusing on topics such as morality, virtue, and egoism. The third discusses broader ethical issues with significant cultural implications, such as human dignity, physician-assisted suicide, and secularization. Beyond the Self uncovers the shortcomings of contemporary moral philosophy and the depth and capacity of the Aristotelian and Thomistic traditions, reminding the reader that classical virtue ethics remains the most promising framework for understanding the moral life. Contributors include: Michael Beaty, Kevin L. Flannery, Raymond Hain, John Haldane, Thomas Hibbs, Irfan Khawaja, Alasdair MacIntyre, John O'Callaghan, Bryan C. Pilkington, W. David Solomon, Christopher Toner, and Candace Vogler. (shrink)
Jacques Maritain claims in the opening pages of Scholasticism and Politics that his distinction between individuality and personality is a universal one, and is found prominently, for example, in classical Hindu philosophy. After explaining Maritain's use of these terms, and their importance in Scholasticism and Politics, I consider the principle Upanishads and The Bhagavad Gita in order to see how true Maritain's claim might be, and what importance this might have for politics.
This paper develops some foundations for an Aristotelian ethics of the built environment by combining the formal elements of Aristotelian justice with the design theory of Christopher Alexander. The resulting ordered set of human actions and their corresponding built environments require social deliberation about the integration of activities. This deliberation is required at all levels of human action, is characterized by local and step-wise decision making, and in important ways makes it possible for us to know if and how we (...) are harming others. On the political level this is embodied in the “public square,” whose essential purpose as integrative and moral-epistemological has deep and provocative implications for our built environment. For example, walkable human communities should be the default ethical choice for our built environment. I conclude by discussing a two-fold challenge to the New Urbanism movement for the light this sheds on the overall argument. (shrink)