Chapter Two: Ontological Morality and Human Rights

Luis Cortest

in The Disfigured Face

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print April 2008 | ISBN: 9780823228539
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235681 | DOI:

Series: Moral Philosophy and Moral Theology

Chapter Two: Ontological Morality and Human Rights

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This chapter examines the ontological morality of Thomas Aquinas and the concept of human rights. Aquinas strongly defends the notion that morality is grounded on nature and being. For Aquinas, moral action must be understood in terms of the perfection of being. In this system, man, as a rational being, makes informed choices. Moreover, only human beings are capable of acts of moral volition. Thomas's strong defense of the human person has led some modern scholars to argue that he was, in fact, a defender of a specific set of natural human rights. An even more explicit notion of human rights finds its beginnings in the writings of Hobbes, whose understanding of man and nature was entirely different from that of Aquinas and Aristotle. For Hobbes, and for so many other thinkers who followed him, morality has no ontological foundation.

Keywords: ontological morality; Thomas Aquinas; Hobbes; moral action; moral volition; human rights; being

Chapter.  5721 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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