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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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Boundaries and Ends

Boundaries and Ends

(p.155) 6 Boundaries and Ends
Ethics as a Work of Charity

David Decosimo

Stanford University Press

This chapter examines Summa Theologiae I.II 65.1 and the Disputed Questions on the Cardinal Virtues 2, focusing especially on imperfect virtue’s breadth and moral virtue’s unity. Demonstrating their support for the book’s thesis, the chapter also addresses two broader issues they raise. First, attending to Timothy Williamson’s epistemology and Thomas’s Dominican context, it suggests the rationale for Thomas’s insistence on a bright line dividing virtue from its antecedents and shows how he avoids vagueness problems in doing so. It also suggests that his analysis of pagan virtue illuminates humanity’s relation to the supernatural end: that infused virtue alone answers flawlessly to virtue’s ratio suggests that humans considered simpliciter are ordered to beatitude. Humans are ordered to the natural end only insofar as they are viewed secundum quid. Even so, the “political” view of humans is not one perspective among many but answers uniquely – if imperfectly – to human nature.

Keywords:   imperfect virtue, breadth, vagueness, Dominican context, secundum quid, Timothy Williamson, grade 2, grade 3, ex assuetudine, wholly imperfect virtue

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