Joseph Pilsner

in The Specification of Human Actions in St Thomas Aquinas

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780199286058
Published online May 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603808 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Theological Monographs


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A crucial task for any moral theory is to determine what makes a human action to be of a certain kind. For instance, what makes almsgiving to be in its own species rather than in the species of theft or selling? Aquinas addresses this issue in a few of his works, most notably Commentary on the Sentences, De Malo, and the Summa Theologiae. However, a puzzle arises when his writings are examined carefully. Aquinas uses five different terms — end, object, matter, circumstance, and motive — to signify what gives species to human actions. Although similarities in meaning can be discerned among...

Keywords: circumstance; end; human action; matter; motive; object; proximate end; remote end; species; specification

Chapter.  2700 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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