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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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The Reformation and Scholastic Moral Philosophy

The Reformation and Scholastic Moral Philosophy

(p.744) 29 The Reformation and Scholastic Moral Philosophy
The Development of Ethics: Volume 1

Terence Irwin

Oxford University Press

Modern moral philosophy developed especially in England, Scotland, and Germany, in areas where the Reformation was widely accepted, in its Lutheran, or Calvinist, or Anglican forms. Since mediaeval moral philosophers were also theologians, expounding the doctrines and practices of the mediaeval Latin Church, and since the Reformers rejected some of these doctrines and practices, it is worth considering whether the religious and theological disputes connected with the Reformation affect prevalent attitudes to mediaeval moral philosophy. Martin Luther and John Calvin assert that the Scholastics are mistaken in their views about the acquired moral virtues and their relation to the moral demands of the Christian faith. These Scholastic errors are connected to errors about free will. The Reformers oppose these errors through their distinctive doctrines of predestination, election, grace, and faith. Though the Reformers attack Scholasticism, it is not always easy to see what these attacks imply about Thomas Aquinas. Thus, the chapter compares the views of the Reformers with Aquinas' actual position, not simply with the Scholastic position as they interpret it.

Keywords:   modern moral philosophy, Reformation, Martin Luther, John Calvin, moral virtues, Christian faith, errors, free will, Scholasticism, Thomas Aquinas

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