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Reason, Morality, and LawThe Philosophy of John Finnis$
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John Keown and Robert P. George

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199675500

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199675500.001.0001

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On Moral Philosophy and Kinds of Human Actions *

On Moral Philosophy and Kinds of Human Actions *

(p.133) 9 On Moral Philosophy and Kinds of Human Actions*
Reason, Morality, and Law

Cristóbal Orrego

Oxford University Press

This chapter is a discussion of Finnis vs. Anscombe on the specification of human actions. Against Anscombe, it is proposed that moral philosophy is needed prior to establishing the specification of actions in the field of the philosophy of mind. In a way that complements what John Finnis has written on this topic, the view is defended that moral virtues are needed and moral evaluation does enter into the specification of types of actions, albeit not — as Finnis rightly contends — in the descriptions of actions for the purpose of such specification. Aquinas and Aristotle help to explain this paradox, which is needed to understand why names such as ‘sodomy’ or ‘injustice’ can be used in a purely descriptive, non-evaluative way, as Anscombe does; a way that does not preclude the question about their goodness or badness as species of human actions.

Keywords:   action, specification, moral philosophy, Anscombe, Finnis

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