This volume addresses a wide variety of moral concerns regarding slavery as an institutionalized social practice. By considering the slave's critical appropriation of the natural rights doctrine, the ambiguous implications of various notions of consent and liberty are examined. The authors assume that, although slavery is undoubtedly an evil social practice, its moral assessment stands in need of a more nuanced treatment. They address the question of what is wrong with slavery by critically examining, and in some cases endorsing, certain (...) principles derived from communitarianism, paternalism, utilitarianism, and jurisprudence. (shrink)
This book is a collection of secondary essays on America's most important philosophic thinkers—statesmen, judges, writers, educators, and activists—from the colonial period to the present. Each essay is a comprehensive introduction to the thought of a noted American on the fundamental meaning of the American regime.
This discussion recounts the development of several anthropological definitions of human nature. It then examines conclusions of studies in other disciplines that make possible a revised empirical definition of human nature and which have led to re-examination of paleoanthropological data classed as unimportant under the rubrics of preceeding studies. Finally, this discussion appraises certain of these data, as they pertain to the question: "Do empirical evidences suggest that a human nature, as well as a human structure, may be the product (...) of evolutionary processes?". (shrink)
The great medieval philosopher Thomas Aquinas was Dominican regent master in theology at the University of Paris, where he presided over a series of questions - academic debates - on ethical topics. This volume offers translations of disputed questions on the nature of virtues in general, the fundamental or 'cardinal' virtues of practical wisdom, justice, courage, and temperateness, the divinely bestowed virtues of hope and charity, and the practical question of how, when and why one should rebuke a 'brother' (...) for wrongdoing. The introduction explains how Aquinas's theory of virtue fits into his ethics as a whole, and it illuminates Aquinas's views by explaining the institutional and intellectual context in which these disputed questions were debated. (shrink)
In this ambitious study, Alexander W. Hall examines the two preeminent figures of the golden age of natural theology: Thomas Aquinas and John Duns Scotus. Hall is not so much concerned with retracing particular proofs of the existence of God and derivations of the divine attributes—well-worn paths in discussions of medieval natural theology—as with investigating the larger philosophical issues that are raised by the project of natural theology, such as the nature of scientia and demonstrative arguments, and accounts of (...) signification and the meaningfulness of theological discourse.Hall's opening chapter offers an overview of natural theology in the High Middle Ages, summarizing the conclusions he will defend at greater length over the course of the book. In chapter 2 Hall relies primarily on Aquinas's commentary on the Posterior Analytics to get clear on his account of scientia, or scientific knowledge. "For Aquinas," Hall writes,"paradigmatic scientia is the result of syllogistic reasoning . . . Syllogisms productive of scientia use either real or nominal definitions as their middle, and thus the conclusion tells us what belongs to the subject through itself or per se". (shrink)
ThomasWilliams Note: This is a preprint of my introduction to the forthcoming translation by Margaret Atkins of Thomas Aquinas’s Disputed Questions on the Virtues (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy). The basic procedure was simple. The topic would be announced in advance so that everyone could prepare an arsenal of clever arguments. When the faculty and students had gathered, the professor would offer a brief introduction and state his thesis. All morning long an appointed graduate (...) student would take objections from the audience and defend the professor’s thesis against those objections. (And if the graduate student began to flounder, the professor was allowed to help him out.) A secretary would take shorthand notes. The next day the group would reassemble. This time it would be the professor’s job to summarise the arguments on both sides and give his own response to the question at issue. The whole thing would be written up, either in a rough-and-tumble version deriving from the secretary’s notes or in a more carefully crafted and edited version prepared by the professor himself. Records of such academic exercises have come down to us under the title ‘disputed questions’. (shrink)
There are two general routes that Augustine suggests in De Trinitate, XV, 14-16, 23-25, for a psychological account of the Father's intellectual generation of the Word. Thomas Aquinas and Henry of Ghent, in their own ways, follow the first route; John Duns Scotus follows the second. Aquinas, Henry, and Scotus's psychological accounts entail different theological opinions. For example, Aquinas (but neither Henry nor Scotus) thinks that the Father needs the Word to know the divine essence. If we compare the (...) theological views entailed by their psychologies we find a trajectory from Aquinas, through Henry, and ending with Scotus. This theological trajectory falsifies a judgment that every Augustinian psychology of the divine persons amounts to a pre-Nicene functional Trinitarianism. This study makes clear how one's awareness of the theological views entailed by these psychologies enables one to assess more thoroughly psychological accounts of the identity and distinction of the divine persons. (shrink)
ThomasWilliams presents the most extensive collection of John Duns Scotus's work on ethics and moral psychology available in English. This accessible and philosophically informed translation includes extended discussions on divine and human freedom, the moral attributes of God, and the relationship between will and intellect.
Colleen McCluskey begins Thomas Aquinas on Moral Wrongdoing with an overview of Aquinas’s account of human nature and his theory of human action. She discusses the powers of the soul, including the sensory appetite and its passions, the intellect, and the will. Crucially, she devotes considerable attention to the ways in which the passions can affect the intellect’s judgment and, thereby, the will. She then explores Aquinas’s account of the ontological status of evil as a privation, arguing that criticisms (...) of the privation theory can be met, though the theory is not enough by itself to acquit God of responsibility for the existence of evil. The centerpiece of Thomas Aquinas on Wrongdoing is a careful exploration of Aquinas’s understanding of the three sources of moral wrongdoing: defects in the intellect, defects in the sensory appetite, and defects in the will. Finally, McCluskey examines vices, which are firmly rooted dispositions, acquired by repeated action, that prompt particular acts of wrongdoing. She provides a helpful overview of Aquinas’s treatment of the vices both in ST II-II, where the vices are discussed in relation to the virtues to which they are opposed, and in the contemporaneous De malo, questions 9–15, in which Gregory the Great’s list of seven capital vices provides the structuring principle. (shrink)
This volume provides a systematic overview and comprehensive assessment of Bernard Williams' contribution to moral philosophy, a field in which Williams was one of the most influential of contemporary philosophers. The seven essays, which were specially commissioned for this volume, examine his work on moral objectivity, the nature of practical reason, moral emotion, the critique of the 'morality system', Williams' assessment of the ethical thought of the ancient world, and his later adoption of Nietzsche's method of 'genealogy'. (...) Collectively, the essays not only engage with Williams' work, but also develop independent philosophical arguments in connection with those topics that have, over the last thirty years, particularly reflected Williams' influence. (shrink)
This paper considers Aquinas's accounts of the end of human action and the structure of human action, examines the debate between intellectualist and voluntarist interpretations of Aquinas, and corrects mistaken accounts of Aquinas's views on freedom, necessitation, and causation.
After setting out in part 1 Scotus's libertarian account of the will, I shall discuss two of the most important implications Scotus understood his account to have. First, according to Scotus, the Thomist understanding of the will as intellective appetite is inadequate to provide a libertarian account of freedom. Scotus therefore rejects that understanding and offers an alternative moral psychology. In part 2 of the paper I therefore draw attention to the passages in which Scotus offers his reasons for rejecting (...) Aquinas's account in order to show that they arise directly out of the libertarian account of the will I stated in part 1. I then ask whether Scotus is in fact justified in supposing that Aquinas's conception of will is incompatible with freedom as Scotus understood it. In parts 3 and 4 of the paper I shall argue that he is, since Aquinas's conception of possibility at best allows him to make room for diachronic alternatives, whereas Scotus insists on synchronic alternatives. -/- The second implication of Scotus's libertarian understanding of freedom is his distinctive conception of choice and of rationality in action. In part 5 of the paper I explain this conception and show why Scotus associates it with a libertarian understanding of freedom. (shrink)
It is somewhat misleading to think of the Franciscans as forming a “school” in ethics, since there was a fair bit of diversity among Franciscans. Nonetheless, one can identify certain characteristic tendencies of Franciscan moral thought, and certain “celebrity” Franciscans whose views in ethics and moral psychology are particularly noteworthy. I shall first offer an overview of the general character of Franciscan moral thought in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries and then turn to a more detailed examination of (...) the thought of John Duns Scotus (1265/66-1308) and William Ockham (c. 1288-1347) on three central matters of debate: the nature of the virtues, the relationship between intellect and will, and the relationship between moral requirements and the divine will. (shrink)
A discussion of egoism and altruism as related both to ethical theory and moral psychology. Williams considers and rejects various arguments for and against the existence of egoistic motives and the rationality of someone motivated by self-interest. He ultimately attempts to give a more Humean defense of altruism, as opposed to the more Kantian defenses found in Thomas Nagel, for example.
In her volume on Aquinas for Routledge’s “Arguments of the Philosophers” series, Eleonore Stumps aims at an interpretation of Aquinas that is historically faithful but also responsive to the concerns of contemporary philosophers. I assess her success in attaining this twofold aim by examining in detail Stump’s overview of Aquinas’s metaphysics, which engages with contemporary debates over constitution and identity, and her interpretation of Aquinas’s account of justice, which brings Aquinas into dialogue with Annette Baier and Thomas Nagel. I (...) conclude with a brief evaluation of the merits of Stump’s twofold aim. (shrink)
Adrian Moore’s paper continues the development of a radical re-interpretation of Kant’s practical philosophy initiated by his Noble in Reason, Infinite in Faculty. [Moore, 2003] I have discussed elsewhere why it seems to me that Moore’s work, taken as a composite with that of his co-symposiasts today Philip Stratton-Lake and Burt Louden, adds up to a comprehensive and radical re-assessment of the contemporary significance of Kant’s practical philosophy which moral philosophers generally ought not to ignore. [Thomas, 2004] Moore states (...) that he is engaged in today’s paper “in a rational reconstruction of Kant …. sufficiently Kantian to be at least worth taking seriously. But I shall certainly part company with Kant at various points.” [Moore, 2005 p. 1] I shall, similarly, not be evaluating Moore’s arguments in terms of their fidelity to Kant; that would not be be the most fruitful way to engage with his project. It is better evaluated as a free-standing meta- 2 ethical position that draws on Kant and as a position that seems to me one of the most interesting on offer in contemporary meta-ethics. Moore’s overall strategy has three separable components. First, he accepts that there is no such thing as pure practical reason, as that very idea would violate the internal reasons constraint. [Williams, 1981, 1995a, 2001] Second, he makes a concession, which softens the impact of this first admission, to the effect that concept possession in the context of a given social practice has a range of normative commitments including practical commitments. Third, Moore emphasises the continuity between the practical orientation of living by concepts and the general project of making rational sense. It is this latter idea, in particular, that leads his general arguments in his book length study into Kant’s religious as well as his moral writings. On the first point, Moore is simply prepared to work with the idea that a general contrast between “reasons” and “motives” is not helpful.. (shrink)