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Logic, Human Person, Metaphysics, Ancient Philosophy, Medieval Synthesis



Modern Philosophy



This course aims at presenting ethical ideas systematically, following the order developed in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and in Aquinas's Summa Theologiae (especially I-II). It also seeks to set that ethical position in relation to other, "competing," positions (such as utilitarianism or deontologism). Finally, it looks at arguments (pro and con) on issues of contemporary moment (e.g. abortion, euthanasia). All of this material is to be set in relation to Part III of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, whose teaching remains its norm. Thus, while centered on philosophical ethics, the course will also place this material in relation to Catholic teaching (e.g. Splendor Veritatis might also profitably be read).


Possible sequence of topics:

1. A Thomistic Ethic
  • The Final End or Goal: Happiness and God as Man's Happiness
  • Choice of Means to that End: the Voluntary, Human Acts and Passions
  • Moral Criteria of Choice: Object, Intention, Circumstance
  • Virtue (Cardinal and Theological)
  • Sin, Law, and Grace
  • 10 Commandments in outline (e.g. the CCC, Part III, Section Two)

2. Contrasting Positions (in each case: what it is, its contribution and positive relation to 1, and its weakness or shortcoming)


3. Debated issues (in each case, the pros and cons of debated issues, with a clear explication and defense of the Catholic position, if there is one)
Texts: Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II (e.g Treatise on Happiness, Treatise on Law, selected questions)
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics (key excerpts)
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (Part III)
Romanus Cessario, The Moral Virtues and Theological Ethics
Jacques Maritain, An Introduction to the Basic Problems of Moral Philosophy
Ralph McInerny, Ethica Thomistica
Alasdair McIntyre, After Virtue, Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry
John Oesterle, Ethics
Joseph Pieper, The Cardinal Virtues: Faith, Hope, and Love; Living the Truth
Servais Pinckaers, The Sources of Christian Ethics or Morality: The Catholic View
Christoph Schönborn, Living the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Life in Christ
Yves Simon, Moral Virtue