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The Development of Ethics: Volume 1From Socrates to the Reformation$
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Terence Irwin

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780198242673

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198242673.001.0001

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Aquinas: Will

Aquinas: Will

(p.434) 16 Aquinas: Will
The Development of Ethics: Volume 1


Oxford University Press

Thomas Aquinas has at least three aims in his moral philosophy: First, he tries to say what Aristotle means, and what an Aristotelian conception of morality commits us to. Second, he tries to show that this conception of morality is defensible on philosophical grounds. Third, he seeks to show that it also satisfies the theological and moral demands of Christian doctrine. The third aim explains why his fullest treatment of ethics appears in the Summa Theologiae. Aquinas begins his discussion of the infused moral virtues from his Aristotelian conception of a moral virtue. His discussion of divine grace and human free will relies on an Aristotelian conception of freedom and of the will. In looking for moral philosophy in the Summa, we are looking for arguments and claims that are defended or defensible without reference to the distinctive sources of Christian dogma. These arguments and claims in Aquinas present us with a system of moral philosophy.

Keywords:   Thomas Aquinas, aims, moral philosophy, Aristotle, ethics, Summa Theologiae, virtue, freedom, will

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