Aquinas: Sin and Grace


in The Development of Ethics: Volume 1

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780198242673
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680519 | DOI:

Series: Development of Ethics

Aquinas: Sin and Grace

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Thomas Aquinas' views on the roles of original sin, grace, and human merit are complex. On the one hand, he seems to affirm the possibility of being virtuous by one's own efforts; and so, if God approves human virtues (which he should, because of his relation to the natural law), the acquired virtues seem to be a source of merit. On the other hand, Aristotle's conditions for voluntariness leave Aquinas with more scope than another theory would allow him for attributing a large causal role to external influences — either original sin or divine grace — while insisting that an action or state of character is up to the person and that one is responsible for it. He has a possible basis for reconciling responsibility for one's actions with Christian doctrines about grace and merit.

Keywords: Thomas Aquinas; original sin; grace; human merit; God; virtues; Aristotle

Chapter.  16129 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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