The purpose of __Aquinas's Ethics__ is to place Thomas Aquinas's moral theory in its full philosophical and theological context and to do so in a way that makes Aquinas readily accessible to students and interested general readers, including those encountering Aquinas for the first time. RebeccaKonyndyk DeYoung, Colleen McCluskey, and Christina Van Dyke begin by explaining Aquinas's theories of the human person and human action, since these ground his moral theory. In their interpretation, Aquinas's theological commitments crucially (...) shape his account of the human person, human capacities for action, and human flourishing. The authors develop a comprehensive picture of Aquinas's thought, which is designed to help students understand how his concept of happiness and the good life are part of a coherent, theologically-informed worldview. Many studies of Aquinas naturally focus on certain areas of his thought and tend to assume a general knowledge of the whole. __Aquinas's Ethics_ _takes the opposite approach: it intentionally links his metaphysics and anthropology to his action theory and ethics to illuminate how the moral theory is built on foundations laid elsewhere. The authors emphasize the integration of concepts of virtue, natural law, and divine grace within Aquinas's ethics, rather than treating such topics in isolation or opposition. Their approach, presented in clear and deliberately non-specialist language, reveals the coherent nature of Aquinas's account of the moral life and of what fulfills us as human beings. The result is a rich and engaging framework for further investigation of Aquinas's thought and its applications. _"___Aquinas’s Ethics_ _is a perfect introduction to one of the most sophisticated and influential ethical systems in Western thought. DeYoung, McCluskey, and Van Dyke capture the brilliant clarity of Aquinas’s moral vision, offering an illuminating perspective true to both the theoretical depth and practical richness of Aquinas’s writings. Those new to Aquinas’s ideas will find this book eminently readable. Everyone—students and scholars alike—will appreciate its direct, distinctive voice and clear philosophical intelligence." —_Scott MacDonald, Norma K. Regan Professor in Christian Studies, Cornell University_ "__Aquinas's Ethics_ _is an excellent contribution to the literature on Aquinas and ethics, providing an integrated and robust account of the relationship between a metaphysics of human nature, natural law theory, and virtue theory. Showing these inextricable connections, it is very much like the work of St. Thomas himself, and suggests why so many lesser theories of ethics are unsatisfying for their lack of depth and comprehensive reach." —_John Kavanaugh, S.J., Saint Louis University_ “DeYoung, McCluskey, and Van Dyke have written the ideal introduction to Aquinas’s ethics, situating it in the broader context of his thinking about human nature and action. Although Aquinas cared more about—and wrote more about—ethics than about any other philosophical topic, it remains the most unjustly neglected aspect of his thought. I know of no better guide to that territory than this book.” —_Robert Pasnau, University of Colorado at Boulder_. (shrink)
Julia Roberts on the red carpet at the Oscars. Lady Gaga singing “Applause” to worshipful fans at one of her sold-out concerts. And you and me in our Sunday best in the front row at church. What do we have in common? Chances are, says RebeccaKonyndyk DeYoung, that we all suffer from vainglory -- a keen desire for attention and approval. Although contemporary culture has largely forgotten about vainglory, it was on the original list of seven capital (...) vices and is perhaps more dangerous than ever today. In Vainglory: The Forgotten Vice, DeYoung tells the story of this vice, moving from its ancient origins to its modern expressions. She defines vainglory, gives examples from popular culture, explores motivational sources, and discusses other vices associated with it such as hypocrisy and boasting. After exposing the many ways in which vainglory can rear its ugly head, she explores personal spiritual practices that can help us resist it and community practices that can help us handle glory well. (shrink)
This paper is an exploration of the Thomistic vice of despair, one of two vices opposed to the theological virtue of hope. Aquinas's conception of despair as a vice, and a theological vice in particular, distances him from contemporary use of the term "despair" to describe an emotional state. His account nonetheless yields a compelling psychological portrait of moral degeneration, which I explain via despair's link to its "root," the capital vice of sloth. Cases in which sloth and its offspring (...) vices progress into full-fledged despair raise intersecting issues about whether and how despair might be remediable. I conclude by considering puzzles regarding despair's disordered effects on the intellect and will and weighing three possible means of remedying it. (shrink)
This paper compares Aristotle’s and Aquinas’s accounts of the virtue of magnanimity specifically as a corrective to the vice of pusillanimity. After definingpusillanimity and underscoring key features of Aristotelian magnanimity, I explain how Aquinas’s account of Christian magnanimity, by making humandependence on God fundamental to this virtue, not only clarifies the differences between the vice of pusillanimity and the virtue of humility, but also showswhy only Christian magnanimity can free us from improper and damaging forms of dependence on the opinions (...) and standards of others, enabling us toavoid the moral pitfalls of both pusillanimity and presumption. (shrink)
Aquinas’s reflection on the relationship between faith and science took place amidst serious controversy about the acceptability of the very form of science Aquinas had adopted. Aquinas uses the Aristotelian conception of science and his own view of the place of theology and faith, to produce arguments for the compatibility of reason and science. I examine the arguments he presents in the Summa Contra Gentiles, and I criticize details of his arguments, but I endorse what I see as his general (...) strategy. (shrink)
On Aquinas’s account of this virtue, martyrdom fits best as its paradigm act. By this choice of paradigm, he underscores the way that the virtues of faith, hope, and charity inform courage, and the way grace infuses virtue and produces a joy that can overcome even the greatest fear and sorrow this world has to offer. Martyrdom, as the exemplar act of courage, is best suited to illustrate the features of this virtue so as to counter any mistaken conceptions of (...) courage—those relying solely on human power and control— that ancient and modern ideals alike might tempt us to hold. Aquinas’s choice ofmartyrdom as his paradigm introduces new dimensions of courage and redefines the standard elements of other portraits. His paradigm introduces a new understanding of power, one that resists the world’s eager use of force and offers grace-filled possibilities for human beings precisely in their vulnerability and weakness. Aquinas’s portrait of courage supplies new dimensions of love to counteract fear, and transforms the basis of hope and daring from human heroics to a relationship of humble dependence on divine assistance. In doing so, it also opens up this virtue to an entirely new range of practitioners. The infant in the baptismal waters is a fitting picture of human frailness and trust before the gift of divine grace and power, and captures the essential point of Aquinas’s baptismal transformation of courage. By modeling courage on the example of Christ’s own suffering and steadfast witness, Aquinas directs our moral gaze beyond the limits of human life and power to a life in which virtue and happiness are perfected by a power that is both beyond us and yet can become our own. (shrink)
Three very different assessments of the rationality of theistic belief have emerged from Oxford University in recent years. Richard Swinburne argues that theism is rationally demonstrable, producing a trilogy and more of books building an evidential case for theism. The late John Mackie, on the other hand, argued persistently that theism is not supported by the evidence usually offered for it and is controverted by our best evidence. The most rational course of action, according to him, is to be an (...) atheist. Anthony Kenny, meanwhile, takes an agnostic position, arguing on personal grounds that he neither has adequate reason to accept theism nor adequate reason to embrace atheism. Although he says this issue is one on which it is important to have a view and one on which he formerly held a view, he unhappily finds himself in the position of being agnostic. (shrink)
What would a course on ethics look like if it took into account Alasdair MacIntyre’s concerns about actually teaching students ethical practices? How could professors induct students into practices that prompt both reflection on their cultural formation and self-knowledge of the ways they have been formed by it? According to MacIntyre, such elements are prerequisites for an adequate moral education. His criticism of what he terms “Morality” includes the claim that most courses don’t even try to teach the right things. (...) He charges that academic teaching has little if anything to do with character formation, whereas thick practices can transform lives in ways mere argument can never do. Even those who appreciate his arguments and agree with his criticisms, however, may find implementing more adequate forms of ethical instruction in the university classroom a tall order. My goal in this essay is to provide a sketch of my own experimental course on normative ethics in order to illustrate what teaching according to a more MacIntyrean program might look like. (shrink)
Virtue in Scripture What is a Virtue? The History of Virtue and the Human Good (Plato, Aristotle, Stoics, medieval Christians, Hume, Kant, Foot, MacIntyre) Challenges to Virtue (situationism) Bibliography.
This is a reply to Rebecca Taylor's 2017 JOPE article ‘Indoctrination and Social Context: A System-based Approach to Identifying the Threat of Indoctrination and the Responsibilities of Educators’. It agrees with her in going beyond the indoctrinatory role of the individual teacher to include that of whole educational systems, but differs in emphasizing indoctrinatory intention rather than outcome; and in allowing the possibility of indoctrination without individual teachers being indoctrinators at all.
Rebecca Bennett, in a recent paper dismissing Julian Savulescu's principle of procreative beneficence, advances both a negative and a positive thesis. The negative thesis holds that the principle's theoretical foundation – the notion of impersonal harm or non-person-affecting wrong – is indefensible. Therefore, there can be no obligations of the sort that the principle asserts. The positive thesis, on the other hand, attempts to plug an explanatory gap that arises once the principle has been rejected. That is, it holds (...) that the intuitions of those who adhere to the principle are not genuine moral intuitions, but instead simply give voice to mere (non-moral) preferences. This paper, while agreeing that Savulescu's principle does not express a genuine moral obligation, takes issue with both of Bennett's theses. It is suggested that the argument for the negative thesis is either weak or question-begging, while there is insufficient reason to suppose the positive thesis true. (shrink)
Rebecca Bennett, in a recent paper dismissing Julian Savulescu's principle of procreative beneficence, advances both a negative and a positive thesis. The negative thesis holds that the principle's theoretical foundation--the notion of impersonal harm or non-person-affecting wrong--is indefensible. Therefore, there can be no obligations of the sort that the principle asserts. The positive thesis, on the other hand, attempts to plug an explanatory gap that arises once the principle has been rejected. That is, it holds that the intuitions of (...) those who adhere to the principle are not genuine moral intuitions, but instead simply give voice to mere preferences. This paper, while agreeing that Savulescu's principle does not express a genuine moral obligation, takes issue with both of Bennett's theses. It is suggested that the argument for the negative thesis is either weak or question-begging, while there is insufficient reason to suppose the positive thesis true. (shrink)
ExcerptThe Summer 2010 issue of Telos contained an article by Rebecca E. Karl in which she alleged that, as President of the Association for Asian Studies, I argued in an “inaugural AAS speech’” that “the current appeal to a Confucian-inspired harmonious society (hexie shehui) provides evidence for the fact that the old Confucian lack of rights-thinking is the cultural basis for the CCP's lack of rights thinking.”1 No citation or footnote was offered for this allegation. First, let me clarify (...) that I never delivered an “inaugural AAS speech.” My official speech as president of the Association for Asian Studies was…. (shrink)
The purpose of this study is to determine after a one year program, the effects of Philosophy for Children on critical thinking skills of a select group of 22 second graders at Saginaw Elementary. These students have had no previous study in Philosophy for Children and met for 170 days, bi-weekly for at least 30-minutes with no more than three sessions missed. It was anticipated there would be a significant positive difference of critical thinking skills of second graders as observed (...) and noted by the teacher, in a recorded journal, prior, during and after the study. The teacher used Rebecca plus the teacher's manual for the basis of instruction. (shrink)
For over 50 years, since the development of nuclear-armed ICBMs, the USA has sought a way to defend against them. These efforts evolved through various strategies and technologies: from nuclear-tipped rockets through space-based laser weapons to today’s system of ground-based kinetic-kill interceptors. Public debate around these issues reached a peak in the 1980s with President Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative, popularly known as Star Wars.Rebecca Slayton examines this history in Arguments that Count, a valuable and well-told account of a particular (...) aspect of missile defense: computer software. Missile defense required identifying a hostile missile launch, keeping track of thousands of incoming warheads on their ballistic trajectories, and directing interceptors to the right place—and doing all this in less than 30 minutes. From the outset, designers turned to computers to do the complex calculations quickly enough. But missile defense presented an additional factor, in that any m .. (shrink)
Challenging previous interpretations of Levinas that gloss over his use of the feminine or show how he overlooks questions raised by feminists, Claire Elise Katz explores the powerful and productive links between the feminine and religion in Levinas’s work. Rather than viewing the feminine as a metaphor with no significance for women or as a means to reinforce traditional stereotypes, Katz goes beyond questions of sexual difference to reach a more profound understanding of the role of the feminine in Levinas’s (...) conception of ethical responsibility. She combines feminist interpretations of Levinas with interpretations that focus on his Jewish writings to reveal that the feminine provides an important bridge between his philosophy and his Judaism. Katz’s reading of Levinas’s conception of the feminine against the backdrop of discussions of women of the Hebrew bible points to important shifts in contemporary philosophy toward the creation of life and care for the other. (shrink)