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St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas

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St. Thomas Aquinas

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  1. St. Thomas Aquinas

  2. Four Cardinal Virtues • For the formal principle of the virtue of which we speak now is good as defined by reason; which good is considered in two ways. First, as existing in the very act of reason: and thus we have one principal virtue, called "Prudence." Secondly, according as the reason puts its order into something else; either into operations, and then we have "Justice"; or into passions, and then we need two virtues. For the need of putting the order of reason into the passions is due to their thwarting reason: and this occurs in two ways. First, by the passions inciting to something against reason, and then the passions need a curb, which we call "Temperance." Secondly, by the passions withdrawing us from following the dictate of reason, e.g. through fear of danger or toil: and then man needs to be strengthened for that which reason dictates, lest he turn back; and to this end there is "Fortitude."

  3. What’s St. Thomas’ Point? • Each of the cardinal virtues are really anchored in man’s ability to reason • For St. Thomas, reason is not what we often think of reason (i.e. being critical thinkers or scientifically capable) • Reason is more like the entire moral order that God has created rather than simply being a method • Reason = Truth

  4. St. Thomas’ point cont. • Prudence for him would be something like having “good common sense” or “right reason in action”; prudence is most easily identified as a disposition, a way a person generally carries himself • Temperance and Fortitude are involving the submission of our passions to reason • Justice follows in the footsteps of prudence • Justice is using reason to order “operations” according to Thomas • Operations here can mean many things but let’s narrow it down for our purposes to how society is structured and our relationships with others

  5. In sum… • Justice is rooted in our reason • The reason we are using is best understand as our apprehension of the Truth, the moral order that God has created in order for man to be happy • Justice is ordering our relationships and the whole of society according to what best ensures the happiness of all men

  6. Justice Broken Down • Commutative – quite simply, the justice of exchange • “an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage” or “you pay for what you get” • often when we equate justice with fairness this is the aspect of justice we are emphasizing • a lack of commutative justice in a society is demonstrated by widespread fraud, theft, tax evasion, vandalism, etc.

  7. Justice Broke Down 2) Distributive – justice that guarantees the common welfare • Has to do especially with the correct distribution of the earth’s goods to all people so that all might have their basic needs met • Implies that the earth’s goods are GIFTS for man to enjoy not exploit • Means that we can’t think of earth’s resources primarily in terms of maximizing profit • Lack of distributive justice in a society is seen by tremendous gaps between rich and poor, rich ruling over the poor with disregard, and extremely difficult living conditions for the poor

  8. Justice Broken Down 3) Legal – individual citizens’ responsibilities to obey society’s/government’s laws • Echoes our discussion on individual rights afforded by government require exercise of individual responsibility in return • Lack of legal justice seen in general lawlessness, an inability of the government to protect its citizens

  9. Social Justice 4) Social – also known as “contributive” justice; the application of the Gospel to society’s structures, systems, and laws • Essentially positive; presupposes that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is truly NEW, something which transform society and build up a society • Also presupposes that there are no “dead weights” in society; no one, no matter what their physical or mental limitations is a drain on society; human beings are fundamentally good and help society

  10. Social Justice in sum • Social justice rejects the idea that society or government is strictly a bunch of institutions • Proposes that society is very organic or natural composed of unique individuals who all have the capacity promote the good for all people • Necessitates that all people exercise the responsibility therefore to give their gifts and talents, their very lives for the good of others