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presidential address

1. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
Thomas A. Cavanaugh

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presentation of the aquinas medal

2. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
Angela Knobel

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plenary sessions

3. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
John Haldane

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4. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
Katherine Rogers

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contributed papers

5. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
Joseph Cherny

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Robert Nozick argues that the problem of the meaning of life is caused by limitations, especially death. Consequently, attaining meaning in one’s life requires connecting to something larger than oneself. Since anything can be conceived of as meaningless from a wide enough perspective, meaning will ultimately depend on connecting to “the unlimited.” Although initially plausible, this theory of meaning is vulnerable to a number of objections. One is that “the unlimited” is an incoherent notion due to the necessity that it include ideas that are contradictory to each other, and another is that the meaning of life ought to include internal goods, which Nozick ignores. I will defend Nozick’s theory against these two objections by bringing in elements of the thought of Aristotle and St. Thomas.
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6. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
Chad Engelland

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In dialogue with Stephen Hawking, Martin Heidegger, and Thomas Aquinas, I argue that there are three different and compatible ways to understand the question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” (1) The scientific way asks about the origin of the cosmos. (2) The transcendental way asks about the origin of experience. (3) The metaphysical way asks about the origin of existence. The questions work independent of each other, so that answering one version of the question does not affect the other two versions. Hawking and Heidegger are therefore mistaken to think that the scientific and transcendental questions render otiose the metaphysical question concerning the origin of existence.
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7. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
Pol Vandevelde

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I argue that the romantic notion of “understanding better,” as the ideal of interpretation according to Schleiermacher and Schlegel, is not a “meliorative” understanding, retrospectively situating the work in a broader conceptual or historical context and thus surpassing what the original author meant. The qualification “better” is ethical insofar as it indicates a future-oriented task of responding for the authors and contributing to the continued life of their work. What guides interpreters in such an ethical task is benevolence or love, both toward the object of interpretation—the work—and the author of the work. Love is a hermeneutic imperative that has two sides: first, interpretation “augments” the work or brings it to its “second power;” and, second, interpreters need to put themselves in a certain attitude of non-understanding so that the work will not be constricted in pre-established categories and, instead, susceptible to challenge interpreters.
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8. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
Traci Phillipson

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9. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
M. T. Lu

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Alasdair MacIntyre once famously asked “is patriotism is a virtue?” but never quite answered the question. In this paper, I seek to provide a more concrete response by analyzing whether patriotism fits the model of an Aristotelian natural virtue. Since Aristotle himself does not offer an extensive discussion of patriotism as a virtue, I take my inspiration from St. Thomas who does clearly regard something like patriotism as a part of the natural virtue of piety. After exploring the significance of Thomas’s key claim that patriotism is owed to the “sources of our being,” I sketch the structure of moral virtue in Aristotle with an emphasis on his claim that all the virtues are . Finally, I show how patriotism fits the model of an Aristotelian natural moral virtue and conclude by addressing a few natural objections.
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10. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
Harrison Jennings

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Sexual realism has traditionally held that our categories of sex refer to something real about our biology. Sexual non-realism, on the other hand, either partially or wholly rejects this position. Sexual non-realists typically point to intersexuality as evidence that our categories of sex are not inherent to nature but are culturally constructed. This paper makes use of the work of Carrie Hull in her book The Ontology of Sex to explore the philosophical backgrounds of sexual non-realism and to make a general case for sexual realism from a Thomistic framework.
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11. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
Ryan Michael Miller

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Classical authors were generally artistic realists. The predominant aesthetic theory was mimesis, which saw the truth of art as its successful representation of reality. High modernists rejected this aesthetic theory as lifeless, seeing the truth of art as its subjective expression. This impasse has serious consequences for both the Church and the public square. Moving forward requires both, first, an appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of the high modernist critique of classical mimetic theory, and, second, a theory of truth which makes adequate reference to both subject and object. This paper argues that Lonergan offers just such an account of truth, and so cashes out the high modernist rejection of classical mimesis in Lonergan’s terms, thereby creating the opportunity for a synthesis of the two views.
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12. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
Mark K. Spencer

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Some recent philosophers of religion have argued that no divine attribute sufficiently grounds an obligation to worship God. I argue that divine beauty grounds this obligation. This claim is immune to the objections that have been raised to claims that other divine attributes ground this obligation, and can be upheld even if, for the sake of argument, those objections are granted. First, I give an account of what worship is. Second, I consider reasons for and against the claims that the obligation to worship is rooted in God’s having created us, God’s being our final end and lawgiver, God’s numinousness, and God’s goodness. Finally, I show how divine beauty grounds the obligation to worship, by drawing together accounts of beauty from Thomas Aquinas, Dietrich von Hildebrand, Plato, Aristotle, and others.
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13. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
Joseph Gamache

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14. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
Joshua Hinchie, SJ

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An oft-neglected issue in Plato’s Euthyphro is the problem of how human beings can reciprocate the gods’ gifts if nothing we do can benefit them. This problem is relevant to a Christian faith that proposes to “serve” God in some way, while also maintaining that God is perfect and in need of nothing from human beings. In this paper I propose a solution to this problem using the concept of divine glory as suggested by several texts of St. Thomas Aquinas. I believe that Aquinas’s claim that God seeks not profit but glory from human acts explains how human beings can reciprocate God’s gifts without detracting from his perfection and self-sufficiency.
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15. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
Christopher V. Mirus

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What picture of reality emerges from the attempt to hold together the following three claims? (1) For temporal beings only the present, not the past or the future, exists. (2) For God, all times are present. (3) For temporal beings, what counts as present varies from individual to individual, as described in the theory of relativity. These claims jointly suggest that reality is always reality for—for God, or for this or that creature. This is neither relativism nor anti-metaphysical phenomenology; instead, it looks more like a modest but insistent development of the Thomistic doctrine of participation in being. Being is not a neutral and amorphous glop spread out before just any observer; rather, it belongs to and is measured by particular beings. Created being as a whole belongs to God (and, eventually, to the saints in God), whereas the share in being assigned to any creature is limited.
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16. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
Alexander Pruss

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I shall defend Augustine’s holistic aesthetic response to the problem of evil by considering the variety of ways in which our vision of the cosmos is limited and how this is similar to the kinds of limitations on viewing a work of art that would make negative criticism unreasonable. At the same time, I identify an interesting asymmetry: we may be justified in making positive, but not negative, judgments about the creator’s skill on the basis of a mere partial perception.
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17. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
Naomi Fisher

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In the Critique of the Power of Judgment, Kant claims that “the beautiful is the symbol of the morally good.” In this article I offer an interpretation of this claim. According to Kant’s conception of a symbol, the form of judgment operative in judgments of beauty can also be applied to morality. This parallel application highlights that we are directed at an end which cannot be determined by theoretical cognition. I argue that beauty’s symbolism of morality depends upon the solution to the Antinomy of Taste, and Kant’s conclusion that judgments of taste are grounded in the concept of the supersensible. Such an interpretation renders intelligible Kant’s remark that judgment makes possible a transition from nature to morality. Namely, beauty demonstrates to us nature’s openness to transcendence, and thus is a symbol, a making-sensible of our own transcendence and practical determination of nature.
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18. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
Alice M. Ramos

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For Dietrich von Hildebrand beauty invites us to transcendence and leads us before the face of God, or in conspectu Dei. In order to elucidate what this means attention will be focused first on the objective importance of beauty, which carries with it according to von Hildebrand a message such that it speaks to us. The meaning of beauty as a “word” needs to be grounded in a metaphysics of the Logos which is in fact Light and Beauty, making everything a participant in its light and beauty. If beauty as that which is important in itself or as value speaks to us, then a response is needed on our part, but responses to beauty can vary as von Hildebrand indicates in distinguishing between appropriate and inappropriate responses; why this is so will occupy briefly the second part of this paper. And lastly, the “call” of beauty to us is related to the final perfection of the human person, where true identity is achieved and where we will at last stand before the face of God.
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19. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
Gaston G. LeNotre

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Neoplatonic commentators found in Aristotle’s Categories a basis for participation and self-predication (or reflex predication). Although Simplicius seems to accept a certain type of self-predication (e.g., “quality is qualified”), Pseudo-Dionysius gives arguments against self-predication among caused things, making exception only for the divine nature insofar as the predicates preexist in their Cause (e.g., “God’s Beauty is beautiful”). Theologians such as Philip the Chancellor (1165/85–1236) and Thomas Aquinas adapt the Neoplatonic view of divine transcendence while also elaborating a transcendental conception of metaphysics. These theologians in effect make ontological space for created substantial goodness. One sign of this second beginning in metaphysics is the ability to make reflex predications about creatures (e.g., “goodness is good”). Philip the Chancellor argues for this reflex predication in Summa de Bono (q. 9), and Thomas defends it at length in De veritate (q. 21, a. 4 ad 4).
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20. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 94
Michael J. Rubin

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Thomas Aquinas consistently maintains that there are two kinds of beauty: bodily or sensible beauty and spiritual or intelligible beauty. Due to the lively debate over whether intelligible beauty is a transcendental for Thomas, discussions of his aesthetics have tended either to ignore his views on sensible beauty or to mention them only in passing. The present paper will therefore give a brief overview of Thomas’s thought on bodily beauty. The first section will discuss the objective aspects of sensible beauty for Thomas, i.e., its definition and three conditions, while the second will present his views on its subjective aspects, i.e., how we experience it, why it pleases us, and its importance for human flourishing. The third and final section will examine how Thomas’s account of sensible beauty affects his views on the beauty of the glorified human body and of the universe as a whole after the Last Judgment.
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