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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: Sin and Grace

Aquinas: Sin and Grace

(p.628) 24 Aquinas: Sin and Grace
The Development of Ethics: Volume 1


Oxford University Press

Thomas Aquinas' views on the roles of original sin, grace, and human merit are complex. On the one hand, he seems to affirm the possibility of being virtuous by one's own efforts; and so, if God approves human virtues (which he should, because of his relation to the natural law), the acquired virtues seem to be a source of merit. On the other hand, Aristotle's conditions for voluntariness leave Aquinas with more scope than another theory would allow him for attributing a large causal role to external influences — either original sin or divine grace — while insisting that an action or state of character is up to the person and that one is responsible for it. He has a possible basis for reconciling responsibility for one's actions with Christian doctrines about grace and merit.

Keywords:   Thomas Aquinas, original sin, grace, human merit, God, virtues, Aristotle

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