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presidential address
1. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 90
Kevin L. Flannery, S.J. Rule of Law and the Virtue of Justice: The Socrates of Plato’s and a Pair of Later Moral Issues
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The author considers, first of all, recent and fairly recent interpretations of Plato’s dialogue the Crito, arguing that the character Socrates, whose expressed ideas probably correspond in major detail to the convictions of the historical Socrates, is not saying that the laws of Athens demand unquestioning obedience. The dialogue is rather an account of the debate that goes on in Socrates’s mind itself. A strong consideration in this debate is clearly the rule of law; but equally strong is Socrates’s lifelong commitment to carry out what, in the end, he regards as the most reasonable course of action. The author then considers two contemporary ethical issues: our way of coming to know the natural law and the proper understanding of laws that allow of exceptions. Regarding the first, he argues—consistently with what we find not only in the Crito but also in Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas—that we come to know the natural law through being immersed in the laws and customs of a particular society: the more just the society, the better access to the natural law it provides. Regarding the second, he argues that an article in Aquinas is sometimes interpreted as suggesting that the realm of concrete human experience is beyond the reach of law. He argues, in the spirit of the historical Socrates, that the rule of law is equivalent to the rule of reason and that this does reach into the realm of concrete human experience, where exceptions are sometimes recognized as contained in the law.
presentation of the aquinas medal
2. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 90
Jeffrey Bloechl Life and Work of Adriaan T. Peperzak, 2016 Aquinas Medal Recipient
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aquinas medalist’s address
3. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 90
Adriaan T. Peperzak A Great Tradition
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plenary sessions
4. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 90
John O’Callaghan Mercy Beyond Justice: The Tragedy of Shylock and Antonio
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Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice provides a dramatic setting for thinking about the relationship of mercy to justice, a topic of great concern to contemporary ethical and political thought. Traditionally classified as among Shakespeare’s comedies, the play can also be analyzed as a tragedy in which Shylock is the protagonist. The tragedy is driven by the relatively weak conception of mercy in relationship to justice that informs Portia’s famous soliloquy “the quality of mercy . . . . ” The mercy she praises is closely related to the stoic conception of mercy that Seneca urges upon Nero, a mercy that is bound within the confines of justice. Examining Aquinas’ discussion of misericordia in relation to justice and forgiveness provides a more robust conception of mercy that is closely associated with friendship, particularly the friendship Aquinas argues is owed by all human beings to all human beings. This concept of mercy can rightly be said to be a mercy beyond justice, a mercy that justice strives to attain.
5. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 90
Terence Irwin Aristotle’s Second Thoughts on Justice
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The Aristotelian Corpus contains two extended treatments of justice as a virtue of character: Magna Moralia i 33 and Nicomachean Ethics Book V (or Eudemian Ethics Book IV). Differences between the two treatments include these: (1) MM denies, but EN V affirms, that natural justice is part of political justice; (2) MM denies, but EN V affirms, that general (or ‘universal’) justice is an other-directed virtue that should concern us in the treatment of justice as a virtue; (3) MM does not discuss the relation between equity (epieikeia) and justice, while EN V affirms that equity and justice do not conflict. Are these differences connected? How are they to be explained? Might they help us to answer questions about (a) the relation of MM to the other two ethical treatises, and (b) the relation of EN V to the EE and to the EN ?
6. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 90
V. Bradley Lewis Religious Liberty and the Limits of Rawlsian Justice
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Religious freedom is included among the basic liberties to which persons are entitled in John Rawls’s account of Justice as Fairness. Rawls’s revised presentation of this as a political conception of justice in Political Liberalism aims to show how it can be (along with the other parts of Justice as Fairness) the focus of an overlapping consensus of reasonable comprehensive doctrines. As an example, Rawls contends that his understanding of religious freedom is consistent with that of the Roman Catholic Church, at least since the Second Vatican Council. I argue that he was mistaken in this in so far as other aspects of his political conception, especially its characterization of citizens as normatively having the power to form their own conceptions of the good, puts it at odds with the teaching of the Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis humanae. This suggests more generally that the limits of consensus in modern pluralist societies are greater than Rawls’s theory holds.
session 1: justice in plato
7. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 90
Terence Sweeney Beginning and Ending with Hestia: Finding a Home for Justice in Plato’s Political Philosophy
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In my essay, I examine Plato’s understanding of justice and injustice within the home and the city. For Plato, the home, as private, must be suppressed to bring about a common polis. I critique Plato’s conclusions regarding the home and the city, especially his privative definition of justice, which loses the complexity of justice in-between persons, families, and communities. To critique Plato, I rely on his own doubts about his project, especially in his portrayal of the city of sows. The city of sows and the city of guardians both show that we need a politics guided by justice with prudence. The space of justice exists in the needs and obligations that lie between us, our homes, and our cities; it is in this space alone that political prudence can grow in the weaving together of oikos with oikos in the rich tapestry of the polis.
8. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 90
Justin Habash Plato’s Debt: Justice and Nature in Early Greek Philosophy
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This paper examines the relationship between justice and nature in key figures in early Greek philosophy in order to understand the idea of nature that grounds Plato’s account of justice. Tracing the idea of justice through Anaximander, Heraclitus, and Parmenides, I show that each figure uses justice in unique and innovative ways to explain different concepts of nature. Among the Presocratics then, justice is a heuristic for grasping the newly emerging and evolving concept of nature. It is in turn this evolving concept of nature that ushers in the transformation of justice from the conventional Hesiodic notion of “legal settlement” or “paying one’s debts” to Plato’s philosophical account of justice based on nature. The transformation is marked by the development of several key epistemological criteria and teleological facets in the earliest concepts of nature. As such, Plato’s account of justice in the Republic is deeply indebted to Presocratic conceptions of justice and nature.
session 2: justice in aristotle and modernity
9. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 90
Will Britt Why Friendship Justifies Becoming
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In his discussions of justice and of friendship in the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle appeals frequently—without much explanation—to temporal considerations. I take these indications as a key for sorting out the systematic significance of Aristotle’s claim that “when people are friends, there is no need for justice” (NE VIII.1.1155a26). Anaximander’s fragmentary claim that coming-to-be is itself an injustice serves as a touchstone for the analysis; I ask whether and how Aristotle might agree with such a claim. I first isolate some problems, especially those involving time, that underlie Aristotle’s various dialectical articulations of justice in NE V and show that friendship addresses them more beautifully than does justice. Then I try to establish that the ultimate work of friendship is to alter human temporality, interweaving multiple particular lives into a whole that both imitates and fits into the cosmic whole.
10. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 90
M. T. Lu The Missing Virtue: Justice in Modern Virtue Ethics
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Several commentators have noted that “justice has not fared well in the revival of virtue ethics”; it “has become damagingly marginalized” and “no longer has a starring role.” Given its traditional place among the four cardinal virtues this is a remarkable state of affairs and yet exactly this has occurred has not been adequately explored or explained. In this paper, I argue that the particular moral virtue of justice has been largely disregarded by the contemporary virtue theorists primarily because their conception of justice is so different from Aristotle’s. Accordingly, they do not need the virtue of justice to do the kind of explanatory work in their systems that it does in Aristotle’s.