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session 4: natural law

61. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 92
J. W. Schulz

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In 1947, Jacques Maritain argued before the UN that “men mutually opposed in their theoretical conceptions can come to a merely practical agreement regarding a list of human rights.” Maritain justified this thesis using a progressive theory of the natural law which rests on a distinction between the natural law as operative in human nature and the natural law as known and articulated. Drawing on Maritain’s 1951 Man and the State, this essay defends a MacIntyrian reading of Maritain’s thesis and its plausibility against four objections from Ralph McInerny, Charles Taylor, and Alasdair MacIntyre himself.
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62. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 92
Francis Feingold

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Is the institution of private property part of the natural law? Leo XIII seems to say simply that it is, and many modern Catholic thinkers have followed suit. Aquinas presents a more nuanced view. On the one hand, he denies that the institution of private property is “natural” in the strict sense—unlike the ordering of physical goods to general human use. On the other hand, he maintains that private property does belong to the ius gentium, which is founded directly upon natural law in the strict sense. I argue that this relegation of private property to the ius gentium is necessary in order for Aquinas to coherently maintain that it is licit to “steal” when in dire need, but that this relegation nonetheless does not deprive private property of the kind of “natural” character which Leo XIII ascribes to it.
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session 5: man and the cosmos

63. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 92
Steven Baldner

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Thomas Aquinas recognizes natural inclination to be present everywhere in nature, and this inclination is always toward what is good both for the natural thing itself and also for the universe as a whole. Thomas’s primary example of natural inclination is found in the four simple elements, which have natural inclinations to their natural places. The inclination of these non-living elements is then the basis for understanding that natural human inclinations are towards goods for the human person and that the whole world shows a universal intelligent ordering toward what is good. I argue, however, that the natural inclination of non-living, natural bodies to ends that are good for the elements themselves makes good sense in Thomas’s cosmology, but not in ours. Natural substances still show finality in our cosmos, but in a more restricted way than what Thomas was able to find.
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64. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 92
John G. Brungardt

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The Catholic Church has increasingly invoked the principle of human dignity as a way to spread the message of the Gospel in the modern world. Catholic philosophers must therefore defend this principle in service to Catholic theology. One aspect of this defense is how the human person relates to the universe. Is human dignity of a piece with the material universe in which we find ourselves? Or is our dignity alien in kind to such a whole? Or does the truth lie somewhere in between? The metaphysics of creation properly locates the human being in the universe as a part, ordered to the universe’s common good of order and ultimately to God. Human dignity is possible only in a cosmos; that this is concordant with modern scientific cosmology is briefly defended in the conclusion.
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session 6: the common good

65. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 92
Leonard Ferry

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Political authority is not eliminable, even if in a globalizing world order the particulars of its exercise might be undergoing a transformation. What matters to political philosophy is whether or not its existence and exercise can be justified. In this paper I begin by contrasting two paradigmatic approaches to justifications of political authority and political obligation: political naturalism and political voluntarism. Having set the stage for the debate, I connect Aquinas’s account of political authority with the former—though one will not find a full-fledged version of that account in this paper (it appears elsewhere). More importantly, I connect Aquinas’s naturalist defense of political obligation to a non-instrumental account of the common good, though the bulk of the paper deals with what I argue are failed attempts to offer non-naturalist accounts of the common good as alternative natural law defenses of political authority.
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66. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 92
V. Bradley Lewis

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The idea of the common good has been a signature feature of Catholic social teaching and so of modern Catholic engagement in public affairs. It has recently been suggested that the notion is now obsolete due to changes in the culture and politics of the West. In keeping with this suggestion, some argue that Catholics should abandon it in favor of an appeal based on lower intermediate goods in a manner more related to Augustine’s engagement with the largely pagan culture of his time than to Aquinas’s categories tailored to an integrally Christian society. I argue that such a solution misreads aspects of the tradition and of the present political and cultural situation and I suggest some alternative grounds on which Catholic engagement with contemporary public life should proceed and that thinking again about the common good is a necessary part of such engagement.
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session 7: objectivity of the good

67. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 92
Jonathan Fuqua

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In this paper I will apply the Moorean response to external world skepticism to moral skepticism, specifically to the evolutionary debunking argument against morality. I begin, in section 1, with a discussion of Mooreanism. In section 2, I proceed to a discussion of metaethical Mooreanism, which is the view that some moral facts are Moorean facts. In section 3 I apply metaethical Mooreanism to the evolutionary debunking argument against morality. If the arguments of the paper hold up it will turn out that it is no more rational to abandon the existence of moral facts than it is to deny that one knows that one has hands.
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68. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 92
Catherine Peters

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Peter Geach claims in Good and Evil that there can never be “just good or bad, there is only being a good or bad so-and-so” and thereby denies that goodness can ever be used in a non-relative sense. Although his rejection of absolute goodness might initially seem to be a startling and mistaken departure from the Thomistic understanding, I argue that an examination of Thomas’s texts reveal a strong agreement between them, one grounded in a common rejection of univocal goodness. For both, “good” is relative to the nature of a being. To defend the relativity of goodness, I consider two objections: first, that relativizing goodness leads to subjectivism. Second, that divine goodness is absolute and non-relative. In answering these objections, I show that in both Thomas’s medieval and Geach’s modern accounts “good” is an analogical perfection relative to a nature. In this way, then, goodness is objectively relative.
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session 8: anthropology

69. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 92
Gaston G. LeNotre

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A premodern philosophy of race and racism in Thomas Aquinas resolves some seeming oppositions between the three most current theories of race. Thomas’s generational account of race is primary. It affirms the racial naturalist view that there are biological differences between people, and some of which stem from a characteristic genotype and geography. Thomas’s individual account of race is secondary but nevertheless a necessary clarification of the generational account. It affirms the racial skeptic view that these racial characteristic properties are individual properties, not essential or specific properties, and as such cannot lead to a definite, essential being that is a ‘race.’ Thomas’s intersubjective account of race is tertiary, insofar as it presumes the generational and individual accounts, and yet crucially explains a peculiar social reality. It affirms the racial constructionist view that the intention by which we understand the notion of race is a socially constituted object, a mind-dependent reality informed by experience.
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70. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 92
Phillip Berns

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Gender dysphoria in children has become a hot-button topic; however, clinical data still remain sparse on the effects of hormone therapy and transitional surgery on the physical and psychological well-being of those children. The American College of Pediatricians (as opposed to the American Academy of Pediatrics) cites studies indicating that anywhere from 77 to 94 percent of boys and 73 to 88 percent of girls desist in GD; that is, following puberty the majority of children who experience GD will identify with their assigned biological sex. After reviewing the clinical studies, this paper addresses the notion of gender from a Thomistic perspective, locating gender as a differentiation in the matter of the person flowing from the essence of the soul, resulting from the power of generation as opposed to other differences such as sight, which functions the same regardless of material differences. As a result, the paper concludes that hormone therapy cannot be morally licit for children.
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acpa reports and minutes

71. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 92
Mirela Oliva

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72. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 92
Mirela Oliva

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73. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 92

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74. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 92

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75. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 92

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76. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 92

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presidential address

77. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 91
Thomas Hibbs

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presentation of the aquinas medal

78. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 91
William A. Frank

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aquinas medalist’s address

79. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 91
Linda Zagzebski

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plenary sessions

80. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 91
Bishop Daniel E. Flores

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