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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 86, Issue 1, Winter 2012

Steven J. Jensen
Pages 135-159
DOI: 10.5840/acpq_2012_7

Thomistic Perspectives?
Martin Rhonheimer’s Version of Virtue Ethics

Martin Rhonheimer’s The Perspective of Morality: Philosophical Foundations of Thomistic Virtue Ethics offers a bold summary of Thomistic virtue ethics, laid upon some not-so-Thomistic foundations, culminating in questionable, perhaps even dangerous, conclusions concerning actions evil in themselves. As an introduction to ethical thought, the book covers a wide range of topics, including happiness, freedom, the nature of human actions, the moral virtues, conscience, the principles of practical reason, consequentialism, Kantian ethics, and much more. For some of these topics Rhonheimer provides a helpful summary of the ethics of Aquinas, sprinkled with thoughtful reflections for the modern age. For other topics Rhonheimer introduces questionable interpretations and developments of Aquinas, written with obscurity and lack of precision. This article provides some suggested alternatives to Rhonheimer’s account, especially with regard to the origin of the first practical principles.

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