Volume 58, Issue 3, September 2018
Christopher James Wolfe, Jonathan Polce, S.J.
A Response to John Rawls’s Critique of Loyola on the Human Good
In this paper we shall consider whether John Rawls’s treatment of Ignatius of Loyola is a fair one. Rawls claims in A Theory of Justice that Catholic theology (and Ignatius’s theology in particular) aims at a “dominant end” of serving God that overrides other moral considerations. Rawls argues that dominant end views lead to a disfigured self and a disregard for justice. We do not question Rawls on the normative issue of whether dominant end conceptions are untenable, but rather on his factual claim that Ignatian spirituality and Catholic theology in general presupposes a dominant end view as he defines it. The Loyola whom Rawls attacks in Theory of Justice is a straw-man. Ignatian spirituality and Catholic theology in general embraces something closer to an inclusive end view, since it argues that several different ways of virtuous living can lead to happiness.