The Reformation and Scholastic Moral Philosophy

Terence Irwin

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

The Reformation and                         Scholastic Moral Philosophy

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Modern moral philosophy developed especially in England, Scotland, and Germany, in areas where the Reformation was widely accepted, in its Lutheran, or Calvinist, or Anglican forms. Since mediaeval moral philosophers were also theologians, expounding the doctrines and practices of the mediaeval Latin Church, and since the Reformers rejected some of these doctrines and practices, it is worth considering whether the religious and theological disputes connected with the Reformation affect prevalent attitudes to mediaeval moral philosophy. Martin Luther and John Calvin assert that the Scholastics are mistaken in their views about the acquired moral virtues and their relation to the moral demands of the Christian faith. These Scholastic errors are connected to errors about free will. The Reformers oppose these errors through their distinctive doctrines of predestination, election, grace, and faith. Though the Reformers attack Scholasticism, it is not always easy to see what these attacks imply about Thomas Aquinas. Thus, the chapter compares the views of the Reformers with Aquinas' actual position, not simply with the Scholastic position as they interpret it.

Keywords: modern moral philosophy; Reformation; Martin Luther; John Calvin; moral virtues; Christian faith; errors; free will; Scholasticism; Thomas Aquinas

Chapter.  22375 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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