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1. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 2
Paul Symington The Analogical Logic of Discovery and the Aristotelian Epistemic Principle: A Semantic Foundation for Divine Naming in Aquinas
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In this paper, I focus on the important semantic components involved in analogy in hopes of providing an epistemic ground for predicating names of God analogously. To this task, I address a semantic/epistemic problem, which concludes that the doctrine of analogy lacks epistemological grounding insofar as it presupposes a prior understanding of God in order to sufficiently alter a given concept to be proportionate to God. In hopes of avoiding this conclusion, I introduce Aquinas’s specifically semantic aspects that follow after the real distinction between a thing’s esse and its essence or form in the context of analogy and show that the ratio of a term can be altered in a way proportionate to a consideration of the mode of being of God.
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2. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 2
Hans Feichtinger “Nothing Rash Must Be Said”: Augustine on Pythagoras
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Augustine comments on Pythagoras in many of his works. The early dialogues can speak very positively about the ancient philosopher; later, Augustine’s remarks become more nuanced. Still, he always reserves a certain respect for Pythagoras, which is significant as Pythagoras was a symbolic figure in Neoplatonic attempts to provide a philosophical understanding of Greco-Roman religion. Despite the differences between Christian and Pythagorean theology (understood as philosophical way of speaking about God), Augustine underlines those traits in Pythagoras’s thinking that distinguish him from other philosophical and popular views on questions of religion and “natural theology.” In accordance with his own Christian concept of the need for mediation and grace, Augustine appreciates in particular Pythagoras’s humility, best expressed in not calling himself “wise” but rather a “philosopher.” Augustine’s views on Pythagoras, while evolving, always remain balanced and provide a good example of how he relates to pre-Christian philosophers in general.
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3. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 2
Lynda Gaudemard Disposition and Latent Teleology in Descartes’s Philosophy
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Most contemporary metaphysicians think that a teleological approach to mereological composition and the whole-part relation should be ignored because it is an obsolete view of the world. In this paper, I discuss Descartes’s conception of individuation and composition of material objects such as stones, machines, and human bodies. Despite the fact that Descartes officially rejected ends from his philosophy of matter, I argue, against some scholars, that to appeal to the notion of disposition was a way for him to maintain teleological reference within a mechanistic conception of nature. Through a study of Descartes’s texts, I also want to make clear why it might be difficult to entirely ignore teleological notions, when one wants to account for composition and unity of material objects.
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4. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 2
Matthew Schaeffer The Thick-Esse /Thin-Essence View in Thomistic Personalism
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The thick-esse /thin-essence view asserts that esse—the act of existing—constitutes all of the ontological positivity, perfection, and intelligibility of a being, while essence is simply an internal limitation or mode of the esse of a being. In this paper I (i) explain why Fr. W. Norris Clarke’s Thomistic personalism relies on the thick-esse /thin-essence view; (ii) acknowledge three objections to the thick-esse /thin-essence view; (iii) reply to these objections; and (iv) provide a positive argument (or case) for the thick-esse /thin-essence view. I conclude that Clarke’s reliance on a thick-esse /thin-essence view does not militate against his Thomistic personalism; on the contrary, it militates in its favor. In order to reach this conclusion, though, I make it clear that the details of Clarke’s thick-esse /thin-essence view must be modified to fall in line with the details of William E. Carlo’s thick-esse /thin-essence view.
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5. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 2
Michael Barnwell The Problem with Aquinas’s Original Discovery
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Jacques Maritain asserted that Aquinas’s explanation of sin’s origin is “one of the most original of his philosophical discoveries.” In this explanation, Aquinas traces the origin of sin back to the will’s defect of failing to consider or use the rule of divine law. To succeed, Aquinas must show how this defect is both voluntarily caused by the agent and non-culpable despite its serving as the origin for sin. (If it were culpable, a non-explanatory regress would ensue.) Aquinas’s “original” solution hinges on his claim that the will is not always morally obligated to consider or use the rule. When Aquinas’s texts are closely examined, it becomes apparent that his explanation admits of two different interpretations. In this paper, both interpretations are scrutinized and found to be problematic. Despite its originality and courage in addressing what many consider inexplicable (namely, sin), Aquinas’s attempt seems not to be a successful discovery.
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6. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 2
Samuel Kahn Is the Final Chapter of the Metaphysics of Morals also the Final Chapter of the Practical Postulates?
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In this paper I trace the arc of Kant’s critical stance on the belief in God, beginning with the Critique of Pure Reason (1781) and culminating in the final chapter of the Metaphysics of Morals (1797). I argue that toward the end of his life, Kant changed his views on two important topics. First, despite his stinging criticism of it in the Critique of Pure Reason, by the time of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant seems to endorse the physico-theological argument. Second, some time around the publication of the Metaphysics of Morals, Kant seems to move away from the argument for the practical postulates.
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7. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 2
Patrick Toner On Departing Hominization
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It is a matter of dispute whether St. Thomas Aquinas accepted the doctrine of “departing hominization.” Departing hominization is the view that in the process of human death, the rational soul departs first, leaving a mere animal ensouled by a sensitive soul, and then the sensitive soul departs, leaving a corpse. This would be a surprising thing for St. Thomas to believe, but he does appear to endorse the view in at least one place. I argue that he does not, in fact, accept departing hominization, and explain how the recalcitrant text should be understood.
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8. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 3
John Zeis Introduction
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9. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 3
Heidi M. Giebel On Why and How Intention Matters
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While our common sense seems to tell us that intention matters to ethical evaluation, there is considerable disagreement among ethicists regarding why and how it matters. In this article I argue that intention matters to act evaluation in much the way that the principle of double effect (PDE) implies. First, I identify five propositions—one epistemological and four ethical—that the proponent of PDE holds regarding the ethical relevance of intention. Second, I give two general arguments for the ethical relevance of intention. Third, I offer preliminary arguments for each of the five propositions outlined in the first section. Together, these general and more specific arguments are meant to place the burden of proof on one denying intention’s relevance to act evaluation. Fourth and finally, then, I show that recent critiques of PDE and of the ethical relevance of intention fail to carry that burden of proof.
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10. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 3
Joseph Boyle Intention, Permissibility, and the Structure of Agency
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The core of the double effect rule supposes the existence of a kind of impermissible action whose impermissibility is determined by its including the intention of a bad result. How can the reality of actions having this tight connection between intending bad results and impermissibility be justified? None of the obvious justifications is promising. But the conditions of human agency provide a justification for the centrality of intention within the impermissible actions double effect addresses. The human power to avoid intentional actions is robust, but not the power to avoid unintended bad results. Supposing there is a normative case for indefeasible prohibitions (which the rule does not establish but needs if it is to have application), limiting them to intentional actions is warranted, since the prohibition can be complied with. But when unintended bad results are not avoidable, such a prohibition would demand the impossible.
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11. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 3
Joseph Shaw Death and Other Harms: Intention and the Problem of Closeness
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This paper considers the problem of closeness in the ethical use of intention. In section I, attempts inspired by Anscombe to use a “coarse grained” understanding of intention, to deal with certain difficult cases, are rejected. In section II it is argued that the difficult cases can be addressed using other moral principles. In section III a more detailed account of intention is set out, analysing intention as a reason for action, and in section IV two paradoxes apparently created by this account are addressed: on the contrast between intentions and intentional action, and the difference between killing a group of people together or individually. In section V another set of cases is considered, to test how this account of intention handles the intention of harm. Section VI considers the objection that an agent may cause what is a harm without intending it as a harm.
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12. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 3
Jean Porter Choice, Causality, and Relation: Aquinas’s Analysis of the Moral Act and the Doctrine of Double Effect
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The traditional distinction between the agent’s intention and the effects which she merely permits would seem to allow for a re-description of the act in terms of the agent’s overall good aims. This paper argues that Aquinas understands the relation between the agent’s choice and her overall intention in a different and more persuasive way. His analysis of the object and the end of the act is complicated, but once the relevant distinctions have been sorted out, it is apparent that he does not hold that a particular action can be described, or much less morally evaluated, in terms of the agent’s overall good intentions. On the contrary, he insists that the object of the agent’s immediate choice is always morally relevant, and can be morally decisive for assessing the overall value of the act.
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13. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 3
Lawrence Masek In Defense of a Minimalist, Agent-Based Principle of Double Effect
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Many philosophers assume that the principle of double effect (PDE) is meant to cover trolley cases. In fact, trolley cases come from PDE’s critics, not its defenders. When philosophers stretch PDE to explain intuitions about trolley cases, they define intended effects too broadly. More importantly, trolley cases make poor illustrations of PDE because they focus attention away from the agent and onto the victim. When philosophers lose sight of the agent, some intuitions that fit PDE survive, but the rational basis of these intuitions collapses. I avoid these problems by defending a minimalist, agent-based version of PDE. My version is minimalist because I do not try to turn PDE into a complete checklist that explains intuitions about every case. It is agent-based because I consider the agent’s perspective to define intentions and to make moral judgments.
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14. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 3
Bernard G. Prusak Aquinas, Double-Effect Reasoning, and the Pauline Principle
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This paper reconsiders whether Aquinas is rightly read as a double-effect thinker and whether it is right to understand him as concurring with Paul’s dictum that evil is not to be done that good may come. I focus on what to make of Aquinas’s position that, though the private citizen may not intend to kill a man in self-defense, those holding public authority, like soldiers, may rightly do so. On my interpretation, we cannot attribute to Aquinas the position that aiming to kill in self-defense is prohibited where so aiming is the only way to stay alive. Instead, for the private citizen though not for the public authority, it is aiming to kill as an end in itself, over and above the aim of saving one’s life, that is prohibited. Accordingly, we also cannot attribute to Aquinas the third condition of the principle of double effect in its textbook formulation.
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15. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 3
Neil Delaney The Doctrine of Double Effect: Some Remarks on Intention and Evaluation
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This essay consists of some clarifying remarks on the doctrine of double effect (DDE). After providing a contemporary formulation of the doctrine we put special emphasis on the distinction between those aspects of an action plan that are intended and those that are merely foreseen (the I/F distinction). Making use of this distinction is often made difficult in practice because salient aspects of the action plan exhibit a felt “closeness” to one another that is difficult if not impossible to articulate with the precision we might like. The essay goes on to examine an especially adroit criticism of DDE best articulated by J. J. Thomson. We conclude with a brand new double effect case (new to the philosophical literature anyway) taken from medicine and Roman Catholic pastoral ministry.
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16. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 3
Christopher Tollefsen Double Effect and Two Hard Cases in Medical Ethics
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Two hard cases have generated controversy regarding the application of the principle of double effect in recent years. As regards the first, the case of the conjoined twins of Malta, there has been considerable convergence: most natural law ethicists seem to agree that separation of the twins was morally permissible. By contrast, the so-called “Phoenix case,” involving an abortion at a Catholic hospital for a woman with pulmonary arterial hypertension, has become a touchstone of disagreement between defenders of the so-called “new” natural law theory, and more “traditional” Thomists. I argue in this essay that, contrary to widespread opinion, the two cases were alike in the following respect: in neither need the principal agents have intended the death of anyone.
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17. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 3
Philip A. Reed How to Gerrymander Intention
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Essential to the doctrine of double effect is the idea that agents are prohibited from intending evil as a means to a good end. I argue in this paper that some recent accounts of intention from proponents of double effect (such as by Michael Bratman and John Finnis) cannot sustain this prohibition on harmful means. I outline two ways to gerrymander intention that mark these accounts. First, intention is construed in such a way that an agent intends only those states of affairs that she cares about or finds motivating for their own sake. Second, intention is construed in such a way that what counts as intended is determined sufficiently by the agent’s beliefs.
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18. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 3
T. A. Cavanaugh DER and Policy: The Recommendation of a Topic
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If viable, DER justifies certain individual acts that—by definition—have two effects. Presumably, it would in some fashion (at the very least, redundantly) justify policies concerning the very same acts. By contrast, acts that sometimes have a good effect and sometimes have a bad effect do not have the requisite two effects such that DER can justify them immediately. Yet, a policy concerning numerous such acts would have the requisite good and bad effects. For while any one such act would lack the relevant two effects, a series of such acts and a policy governing such a series would have them. This paper addresses DER’s justification of policies that apply to such acts. It shows that there are certain acts which DER mediately justifies by justifying policies (having the requisite two effects) concerning them. Thus, it recommends the larger topic of DER’s bearing on policy.
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19. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 4
Brian Besong Reappraising the Manual Tradition
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Following the Second Vatican Council, the predominant trend in Catholic moral theology has been decidedly antagonistic toward the tradition that dominated moral theology before the Council: namely, the use and formulation of ecclesiastically-approved “manuals” or “handbooks” of moral theology, the contents of which chiefly involved general precepts of morally good and bad behavior as well as the extension of those precepts to particular cases. In this paper, I will oppose the dominant anti-manual trend. More particularly, I will first sketch what I take to be the central aspects of the manual tradition. Second, I will provide several arguments in favor of this tradition. Last, I will raise and respond to objections to this tradition that feature prominently in the works of Pinckaers and Cessario.
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20. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 89 > Issue: 4
Paul A. Macdonald Jr. Hell, the Problem of Evil, and the Perfection of the Universe
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In this article, I address the question why God would create a world with damned human beings in it when (presumably) he could create a better world without damned human beings. Specifically, I explain and defend what I call the “perfection of the universe argument.” According to this argument, which is Augustinian and Thomistic in origin, it is entirely and equally consistent with divine goodness for God to create a world with damned human beings in it or a damnation-free world so long as God ensures that each world is good as a whole. I then respond to two different objections to this argument. Finally, I show how the perfection of the universe argument leaves room for hoping that we live in a world in which no human being is damned and God affords every human being a life that is good as a whole.
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