Volume 88, 2014
Dispositions, Habits, and Virtues
Michael P. Krom
Aquinas on Piety, Observance, and Religion
This paper articulates Aquinas’s account of the duties citizens have toward the nation, focused specifically on the virtues of piety and observance. In the first section, I discuss justice as the foundation of good citizenship. In the second, I delineate the acts of justice which primarily orient citizens toward serving the nation, focusing specifically on piety and observance. Finally, in the third section I reflect on how religion, or the virtue by which humans render proper worship to God, has a moderating effect on what we owe to the nation. Reverence for political authorities easily becomes state idolatry unless a strong religious commitment to loving God first and neighbor second is present among the citizenry. Thus, religion is shown to be a bulwark of freedom from tyranny.