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61. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 82
William Desmond It Is “Nothing”—Wording the Release of Forgiveness
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62. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 82
Gregory Sadler Forgiveness, Anger, and Virtue in an Aristotelean Perspective
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Aristotle figures significantly in the recent boom of literature on forgiveness, particularly accounts wishing to construe forgiveness as a virtue. While his definition of anger is often invoked, he is also a foil for accounts valuing forgiveness more than did Aristotle. I argue through interpretive exegesis of Aristotle’s texts that, while there are definite limits on forgiveness in his thought, so that his notion of forgiveness does not extend as far as in Christian ethics, it does play a significant role in his ethics. Forgiveness is particularly connected with the emotion and dynamic of anger, and my paper examines Aristotle’s discussions of anger, hatred and righteous indignation, indicating how forgiveness fits into these. Finally, I express my suspicions of recent accounts attempting to construe forgiveness itself as a virtue, arguing it is traditionally and more adequately understood as governed by virtues, in particular mildness (praōtēs) as Aristotle articulates it.
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63. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 82
Bernard G. Prusak What Are the “Right Reasons” to Forgive?: Critical Reflections on Charles Griswold’s Forgiveness: A Philosophical Exploration
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64. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 82
Josef Thomas Simpson Cognition and the Whole Person: Bridging the Gap in Virtue Epistemology
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Contemporary epistemology seems almost exclusively focused on questions concerning knowledge and justification. Such a focus has had two broad consequences. First, epistemologists have neglected other equally important concepts. Specifically, the concept of understanding is absent in most discussions. Secondly, discussions have avoided the role of the will in the agents to whom we attribute knowledge and justification. Surprisingly, virtue epistemology also suffers from this narrow view. Specifically, virtue epistemologists of all kinds have neglected these two important aspects of our epistemic lives. I examine the spectrum of virtue theories in epistemology, and locate a gap between the two sides—responsibilism and reliabilism. This gap, I suggest, might be bridged if we take seriously (i) the idea that there are other epistemic goals apart from knowledge and justification (e.g., understanding), and (ii) that cognition requires the whole person—intellect and will—and not simply the intellect in isolation from other faculties.
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65. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 82
Gaëlle Fiasse Forgiveness and the Refusal of Injustice
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This paper focuses on the act of forgiveness understood as an act which involves the recognition of injustice. Its goal is to answer to Arendt, who equates the realm of forgiveness with the possibility of punishment, to Derrida, who limits forgiveness to the unforgivable actions in order to highlight its unconditionality, and to Jankélévitch, who insists that the culprit’s repentance is an indispensable condition to forgiveness. By contrasting forgiveness, retaliation, and resignation, I emphasize that forgiveness implies attributing blame for injustice, but I distinguish this from the sphere of punishment. Secondly, by showing how self-esteem is necessary for the victim and the offender, I underline the significance of the culprit’s avowal. These two elements lead to the distinction between inner forgiveness, which entails a superabundant act and an element of unconditionality, and integral forgiveness, which requires the culprit’s repentance in order to be exchanged by two people.
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66. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 82
David Burrell, C.S.C. Postmodern Aquinas: With Attention to Aquinas’s Relation to Scotus: Language or Logic
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67. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 82
Tanya Loughead Shall I Love You as My Brother?: Deconstruction, Friendship, and Our Shared Future
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This essay begins with a perceived problem found in Maurice Blanchot’s work, namely that, while on the one hand, love as we find it in friendship is based upon the separation of two people, a distance which can never be erased; on the other hand, Blanchot makes a comment in a letter to the effect that ‘the Jews are our brothers,’ indicating a love based upon the familial bond, or closeness. This would seem (to some readers, such as Jacques Derrida) to involve a contradiction between the closeness and the distance created in a love relationship. The next section of this essay asks what ‘love of neighbor’ or ‘brotherly love’ could mean and if it can or does exist. Herein, we analyze the response of Sigmund Freud who thinks that it doesn’t exist—that I might be able to respect my neighbor, or have an ethical duty towards my neighbor, but not ‘love.’ We then take a closer look at Derrida, who does believe that there could be a love of neighbor, but that it is through understanding friendship—not brotherhood—that we arrive at this ‘democratic love.’ My conclusion (which aligns with Blanchot and Emmanuel Levinas to some degree) is that: (1) we can have a love of neighbor; and (2) brotherhood, or what I call sibial love, is the best way to understand it. The first point is in accordance with Derrida’s view, while the latter is not.
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68. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 82
Angela Elrod-Sadler Forgiveness in the Works of Julia Kristeva: Public Act or Private Meaning?
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This paper explores the theory of forgiveness offered by Julia Kristeva in her interview with Alison Rice for PMLA, in order to evaluate her “separation of spheres” and her claim that the practice of forgiveness may only occur between individuals. To limit forgiveness in this way has many interesting ramifications, chief among which is the manner in which communion is conflated for “relation” in the general sense. I argue that this inappropriate sense of communion leads Kristeva to an inaccurate distinction, and that her quasi-religious description of forgiveness and the understanding of oneself and others entailed by it, are better grounded in a sense of communion as unity of persons in a transcendent manner. To grasp forgiveness as an act of communion therefore holds several consequences for Kristeva’s theory and radically restructures the relation between the persons involved.
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69. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 82
Jason T. Eberl Cultivating the Virtue of Acknowledged Responsibility
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In debates over issues such as abortion, a primary principle on which the Roman Catholic outlook is based is the natural law mandate to respect human life rooted in the Aristotelian philosophy of Thomas Aquinas. This principle, however, is limited by focusing on the obligation not to kill innocent humans and thereby neglects another important facet of the Aristotelian-Thomistic ethical viewpoint—namely, obligations that bind human beings in relationships of mutual dependence and responsibility. I argue that there is a need to cultivate a “virtue of acknowledged responsibility” and conclude by addressing a prevalent issue in contemporary society: absent paternal responsibility. My aim is to show that there is an interesting and often neglected rationale in Catholic moral understanding for “deadbeat dad” laws that compel men to take responsibility for any children or fetuses they father and to assist women who give birth to those children or carry those fetuses.
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70. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 82
Marie I. George Aquinas on Whether One Ought to Confide All One’s Problems to True Friends
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Probably most of us have suffered at the hands of a friend who continually turned to us for help, as well having been grieved by a friend who failed to do so on a given occasion. And we have probably been chagrinned by friends who divulge to us only the most limited knowledge about their past problems, as well as by friends who provide unnecessary information about their woeful past. The purpose of this paper is to set out Aquinas’s recommendations for the moral guidelines to be followed in deciding which problems we disclose to our friends; these guidelines include: (1) not placing burdens on friends unnecessarily; (2) affording one’s friends the opportunity to do one good; (3) living in accord with one’s social nature; (4) being genuine; (5) encouraging friends struggling with moral problems; (6) bearing faith witness on occasion; (7) avoiding scandal; and (8) avoiding vices involving speech.
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71. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 82
John J. Fitzgerald Timeless Troubles: The Challenge of Prophecy to the Eternity Solution to the Foreknowledge/Freedom Dilemma
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One answer to the perennial question of how to reconcile divine foreknowledge with human freedom is the “Eternity Solution” (espoused by Thomas Aquinas): God is outside of time, and therefore it is incorrect to say he has foreknowledge. However, in the case of prophecy, God’s knowledge seems to be inserted into the temporal order and thereby transformed into foreknowledge. The eternalist might address this problem in a few ways, but the best answer appears to be that inevitable actions can be free in some sense. At the same time, this answer seems to either (a) ironically lead to the abandonment of the Eternity Solution in favor of other solutions to the foreknowledge/ freedom problem or (b) call for a coherent explanation of the idea that freedom is relatively limited in instances of prophecy and for a revision (or at least clarification) of Aquinas’s views on human freedom and divine non-passivity.
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72. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 83
Peter Koch An Alternative to an Alternative to Brain Death
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In this paper I will provide a hylomorphic critique of Jeff McMahan’s “An Alternative to Brain Death.” I will evaluate three puzzles—the dicephalus, the braintransplant, and the split-brain phenomenon—proposed by McMahan which allow him to deny that a human being is identical to an organism. I will contend thatMcMahan’s solution entails counterintuitive consequences that pose problems to organ transplant cases. A Thomistic hylomorphic metaphysics not only avoids these unwelcome consequences and provides solutions to the three puzzles but in doing so allows for an alternative definition of death. Since McMahan has constructed his definition of death around his own metaphysics, alternative metaphysics, in this case a hylomorphic metaphysics, allow for an alternative definition of death.
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73. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 83
Colin Connors Scotus and Ockham: Individuation and the Formal Distinction
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This paper is a defense of John Duns Scotus’s theory of individuation against one of William of Ockham’s objections. In the Ordinatio II. D.3. P. 1, John Duns Scotus argues for the existence of haecceity, a positive, indivisible distinction which makes an individual an individual rather than a kind of thing. He argues for the existence of haecceity by arguing for a form which is a “real less than numerical unity” and is neither universal nor singular. In the Summa Logicae, William of Ockham objects to Scotus’s theory of haecceity by attacking his theory of universals, claiming that the same thing would be proper and common simultaneously. The basis of Ockham’s objections is that only a real distinction is possible: if things are distinct, then they can exist separately. Without universals, a principle of individuation is unnecessary. To defend Scotus’s principle of individuation, an account and defense of the formal distinction is necessary. Without the formal distinction, metaphysical categories, such as being and one, are incoherent or contradictory. The formal distinction gives rise to a new law of contradiction:two or more entities are formally distinct if and only if contradiction or non-being results from their separation and the properties of one being do not match theproperties of the other being(s)
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74. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 83
Bernard G. Prusak Whither the “Offices of Nature”?: Kant and the Obligation to Love
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Since Kant, the standard response to the commandment to love has been that our affections are not ours to command, and so an obligation to feel lovefor another cannot reasonably be demanded. On this account, we must say that a parent who fails to love his or her child, in the sense of feeling affection for himor her, has not violated any obligation toward that child. Maybe we could say still that the parent is deficient somehow, but we could not characterize this deficiency as a moral failing. Here, then, is the subject of this paper: In the specific context of the parent-child relationship, is the commandment to love reasonable? Are we warranted in saying that the “offices of nature” include an officium caritatis, in a sense exceeding benevolence? My answer is yes, but it is necessary then to come to terms with Kant’s reasons for answering no.
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75. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 83
Catherine Jack Deavel Thomas Aquinas and Knowledge of Material Objects: Proper Objects of Cognition
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I will defend a principle at work in Thomas Aquinas’s argument that the human intellect must be immaterial in order to know material things in SummaTheologica, Ia, q.75, a.2. Thomas relies on the position that whatever knows certain things would be impeded in this knowledge if it contained in itself thesesame things. Thus, if humans can, in principle, know all material things, then the intellect cannot be material. The position that a material intellect would be limited in knowledge of material things is perhaps the most controversial part of the argument. I will articulate a version of this argument and argue that two objections to Thomas’s argument, offered by Norman Kretzmann and Robert Pasnau, fail, due in large part to a misunderstanding of proper objects of cognition.
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76. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 83
Andrew M. Lang Clarifying Two Central Issues in Double Effect Reasoning Debates
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The principles whereby the reason operates in ethically complicated situations has been subject to long-standing debates in Catholic Philosophy. A classic text which exemplifies this is Aquinas’s consideration of self-defensive killing. In this paper I clarify two central issues in double-effect reasoning debates surrounding this text. Both issues are connected to the seemingly simple but actually complex task of accounting for the “chosen means” of self-defense. The first issue is whether the “chosen means” are also able to be considered a “proximate end,” to which the intention is directed. The second is determining whether the assailant’s death is related to the “chosen means” per se and therefore to the rest of the moral action. Resolving these issues will provide grounds for answering the broader question implicit in the situation of self-defensive killing: what is to be done when human actions would inevitably entail that some evil is instrumentally tied to realizing some good?
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77. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 83
Peter Furlong The Latin Avicenna and Aquinas on the Relationship between God and the Subject of Metaphysics
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This paper examines and compares the ways in which the Latin Avicenna, that is the Persian thinker’s work as known in Latin translation to medieval Christianthinkers, and Aquinas alter Aristotle’s conception of the breadth and scope of the subject of metaphysics. These two medieval philosophers inherited the problem that Aristotle posed in the Metaphysics concerning the relationship between the study of being as being and the natural study of God. Both thinkers reject the idea that God is the subject of metaphysics and maintain that the one subject of this science is being qua being. They differ, however, in their analysis of the relationship between this subject and God. Avicenna does not directly address this problem, but certain passages from the Liber de prima philosophia seem to suggest, and were interpreted during the middle ages as suggesting, that God falls within the scope of being qua being. Aquinas, on the other hand, analyzes this relationship in detail and firmly denies that God falls within the scope of the subject of metaphysics.
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78. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 83
John Greco Religious Knowledge in the Context of Conflicting Testimony
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An adequate account of testimonial knowledge in general explains how religious knowledge can be grounded in testimony, and even in the context of conflicting testimonial traditions. Three emerging trends in epistemology help to make that case. The first is to make a distinction between two projects of epistemology: “the project of explanation” and “the project of vindication.” The second is to emphasize a distinction between knowledge and understanding. The third is to ask what role the concept of knowledge plays in our conceptual-linguistic economy. Each of these trends, it is argued, helps us to make progress in the epistemology of testimony, and by application in the epistemology of religious belief.
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79. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 83
Michael Wiitala Contemplation and Action within the Context of the Kalon: A Reading of the Nicomachean Ethics
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In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle seems to take it for granted that the contemplative man is morally virtuous. Yet in certain passages he suggests that morally virtuous actions can impede contemplation (theōria). In this paper I examine the relationship between contemplation and morally virtuous action in Aristotle’s ethics. I argue that, when understood within the context of the motivating power of the kalon, contemplation and morally virtuous action are related to one another in such a way that one cannot be contemplative without being morally virtuous and vice versa. I begin by showing how eudaimonia is used in the Nicomachean Ethics to interpret the erga kai ho bios, that is, lived experience, and to bring to light the kalon as the motive for morally virtuous actions. I argue that since the kalon is also the motive for contemplation, morally virtuous action and contemplation imply one another.
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80. Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association: Volume > 83
Roland J. Teske, S.J. An Augustinian Enigma
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In book eight of De trinitate Augustine of Hippo proposes two ways of coming to a vision of God, which have baffled me all my years of teaching Augustine.In the second of these he tells us to take “this good” and “that good” and to set aside “this” and “that” and promises that in doing so one will see God. Scholarlyliterature proved quite unhelpful in understanding what Augustine had in mind, especially since this procedure seems to presuppose that God, the subsistent good, is present in particular good things and merely has to be unwrapped or unveiled in order for one to see the Good itself that is God. A clue to understanding what the bishop of Hippo had in mind can be found in his inversion of John’s claim in 1 John 4:8 to “Love is God.” Other Latin Fathers follow Augustine in this inversion, and Prosper of Aquitaine generalizes it for all the virtues or excellences. If one bears in mind the Plotinian doctrine of the integral omnipresence of suchvirtues or excellences, each of which is God, the sort of abstraction of the Good itself from individual good things, as Augustine proposed, becomes intelligible,and Henry of Ghent illustrates this sort of abstraction in his metaphysical argument for the existence of God.
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