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Ethics as a Work of CharityThomas Aquinas and Pagan Virtue$
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David Decosimo

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780804790635

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804790635.001.0001

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Introduction Intrusions of grace

Introduction Intrusions of grace

(p.1) Introduction Intrusions of grace
Ethics as a Work of Charity

David Decosimo

Stanford University Press

The introduction identifies the book’s topic and elucidates its theological, philosophical, and political significance. The chapter explains that, for Thomas, the question of “pagan virtue” concerns what sort of virtue, if any, is attainable by fallen humans without charity and connects Thomas’s pagans and this question to our own outsiders and struggles with difference. Interpreters dispute whether Thomas follows Augustine in rejecting pagan virtue or goes with Aristotle in welcoming it. Such interpretations fund competing proposals for Thomas’s ongoing significance: “hyper-Augustinian” Thomists preserve Christian particularity but ask Christians to reject pagan virtue; “public reason” Thomists commend a welcome of pagan virtue but seem to abandon Christian commitment in the process. The chapter suggests “prophetic Thomism” as an alternative, arguing that in both form and substance, Thomas serves as a model for all who want to welcome outsiders without compromising their convictions.

Keywords:   hyper-Augustinian, public reason, prophetic Thomism, Augustine, pagan virtue, Alasdair MacIntyre, John Milbank, John Finnis, ethics for the church, outsider

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