A piece in Commonweal asks “When was the last time you saw dozens of people lining up for a philosopher’s autograph?”
The answer is at 2010 a Marietta, GA presentation by Alvin Plantinga, who has turned into a bit of a media superstar. The presentation summarized his argument in Where The Conflict Really Lies, an attack on those New Atheists who suggest evolutionary theory directly undermines religious belief. Plantinga argues that it is the New Atheists’ misunderstanding that creates a false dichotomy between belief and science.
Without divine guidance, evolution provides no assurance that the beliefs of an evolved brain are reliable, especially when it comes to questions about the nature of the universe. Therefore, Plantinga asks, why should atheists trust their own beliefs? His sweeping case against the reasonableness of atheism comes at the end of a sequence of careful arguments, presented with a mix of numbered propositions, symbolic logic, and jokes.
You can read the complete Commonweal article HERE.
Aquinas on the Nature of Love
by Eleonore Stump, PhD, O.P., Robert J. Henle Professor of Philosophy at Saint Louis University
NOTE: THIS TEXT MAY NOT BE CITED OR REPRODUCED WITHOUT THE EXPRESS APPROVAL OF THE AUTHOR.
Two competing accounts of love have become familiar in recent philosophical treatments of the subject.
On one account, love is a response of the lover to qualities he perceives and values in the beloved. On this way of thinking about love, there are intrinsic characteristics of the belovedperson which are especially attractive to the lover, whose love is engendered in her by these characteristics. So there is a reason for the love the lover has for her beloved, and that is the set of characteristics which the lover finds so valuable in the beloved. For ease of reference, we can call the approach common to all the variations of this account ‘the responsiveness account of love’.
There is something intuitively appealing about the responsiveness account, not least because we are accustomed to lovers who are filled with praise for the people they love. But, in all its variations, the responsiveness account suffers from problems which have been amply expounded by its critics.
To begin with, any intrinsic feature possessed by a beloved person is one which other persons do have or could have. Consequently, it seems that, on this account of love, another person could be acceptably substituted for the beloved, provided only that the new person had the valued characteristics of the beloved. But the non-substitutability of the beloved is sometimes taken as a hallmark of love.
In addition, if love is a response to intrinsic features in the beloved, then it seems not only that love would be generated by those intrinsic features in anyone who possessed them but also that the strength or intensity of the love would co-vary with the degree of the valued property. But this is manifestly not the case. We do not love our children more than the children of other people because we believe that our children are better or more valuable than the children of other people.
Furthermore, there is a problem as regards the constancy of love. Love is, of course, not invariant. Nonetheless, we still expect that real love will last even when the lover finds that her beloved no longer has the characteristics which she originally found valuable in him. But the responsiveness account implies that if the beloved loses the characteristics valued by the lover, then the lover’s love must cease. On the responsiveness account, then, the well-known Shakespearean line is wrong: pace Shakespeare, love must alter when it alteration finds. This implication has the counter-intuitive result of making love very fragile, contrary to what we expect and find.
Problems such as these, which arise in connection with the responsiveness account, have led some philosophers to an opposite theory of the relation between love and value in the beloved. This theory is sometimes called ‘the volitional account’, after a particular version of it whichhighlights the role of the will in love. On the volitional account, the beloved does have great value for the lover, but that value derives from the lover’s love of the beloved and is dependent on it.
There is something intuitively right about the volitional account. It does seem right to think that the value a child has for its parents is a function of the parents’ love for the child, and not the other way around. A mother whose love of her child was a response to the intrinsically valuable features she took herself to perceive in her child would be bizarre. But the problem with the volitional account is that it assigns no reason for love, or at least no reason rooted in the beloved; and this is a counter-intuitive result, too. If there is no such reason, then it seems as if the lover could just as easily have loved some other person. Since there is nothing about the particular person he loves which is the reason for his love, there is also no reason why he should love her rather than anyone else.
One way to think about the puzzle posed by these two competing accounts of love is to see that each of them appears to give a wrong answer to the question a beloved person might well ask the lover: “Why do you love me?” On the responsiveness account, the answer is the unsatisfactory line: “Because I love in you characteristics X, Y, and Z, which I find intrinsically valuable”. On the volitional account, the answer is the equally unsatisfactory: “Oh, there is no reason, at least no reason having anything to do with you.”
In the apparent impasse generated by these two accounts, I want to consider the theory of love given by Thomas Aquinas. I do not have space here for a detailed scholarly exposition of Aquinas’s position or for a defense of my interpretation of it. Instead, I will just sketch Aquinas’s accountas I understand it; and then I will consider its implications, not only for the contemporary debate about love but also for the related issue of the nature of forgiveness.
Aquinas’s account of love
The heart of Aquinas’s account of the nature of love is the idea that love requires two interconnected desires:
(1) the desire for the good of the beloved
(2) the desire for union with the beloved.
The first thing to understand about the desires of love is that the goodness at issue in the first desire is not to be identified with moral goodness only. Instead, it is goodness in the broader sense which encompasses beauty, elegance or efficiency, and metaphysical as well as moral goodness. Furthermore, because Aquinas holds that there is an objective standard of goodness, the measure of value for the goodness at issue in love is also objective; the good of the beloved is that which truly does conduce to the beloved’s wellbeing. So to desire the good of the beloved is to desire for the beloved those things which in fact contribute to the beloved’s flourishing.
Although the lover must desire as good for the beloved whatever it is he wants for the beloved, nothing in Aquinas’s account requires that the lover understand that good as something which conduces to the beloved’s flourishing. The lover need not understand that it does so in order for the lover to desire it as good for the beloved, since a person may fail to recognize the object of his desire under one or another description of it.
On the other hand, because the standard for value is objective, the things which the lover desires as the good of the beloved have to be things which do in fact, in one way or another, directly or indirectly, contribute to the beloved’s flourishing. If what a person desires for another is not in fact his good by this objective measure, then, to one degree or another, she does not love him, whatever she may believe about herself. So a parent who desires to beat her child because she supposes that beating is a good for the child is wrong in that supposition; and her desire to beat her child therefore does not count as a desire of love, whatever the parent may believe of herself.
It is an important feature of Aquinas’s account that the two desires of love are not independent of each other. If the desire for union is to be a desire of love, the union desired has to be a kind which is compatible with what is in fact conducive to the flourishing of the beloved. If a mother who wants her son with her tries to prevent him from ever leaving home, when leaving home is necessary for his flourishing, then she is not in fact desiring the good for her son. For that reason, her desire for union with him is also not a desire of love. To count as a desire of love, the mother’s desire to be united with her son has to allow for his living at some distance from her if that is, in fact, what conduces to his flourishing. On Aquinas’s views, a mother who wanted to keep her son at home with her when he was able and eager to join a resistance group working to overthrow the evil oppressors of his country would not be loving him in trying to keep him with her. And because by staying with her he would be abetting her failure to love him, a failure not conducive to her good as his mother, he would not be loving her if he gave in to her unloving desire.
On the other hand, if the desire for the good of the beloved is to be a desire of love, the good desired for the beloved has to include the good of union with the lover. A lover’s desire for the good of the beloved which failed to take note of the good of the beloved’s union with the loverwould not be a desire of love either. In order to count as loving, then, the son who left his mother to join the resistance would need not only to provide for her as best he could in his absence; but he would also need to do what he could to further union between them at a distance, if by no other means than by longing for a time when peace was restored so that he could return to her.
The character of the two desires of love
Although on Aquinas’s account the two desires of love are interconnected in this way, they are nonetheless very different in character.
To begin with, the desire for the good of the beloved does not depend on anything about the beloved. One can desire another person’s good independently of any particular intrinsic features of that person and independently of any particular relational features as well. To desire the good of a person requires only a certain state of will in the desirer; it does not depend on anything in the person for whom the good is desired.
For this reason, the desire for the good of the beloved need not be affected by variations in the beloved’s intrinsic characteristics; the constancy of the desire requires only the willingness of the desirer to persist in that desire. Changes in the desirer might affect the constancy of the desire, but changes in the person for whom the good is desired need not do so.
By contrast, the desire for union with the beloved is very much dependent on the characteristics of the beloved, both the intrinsic and the relational characteristics.
Aquinas thinks that it is possible to desire the good for humanity in general and also to desire some sort of union with all humanity — say, in the shared beatific vision of heaven. And so, on Aquinas’s account of love, a person can have an impartial love of all human beings. But Aquinas also supposes that some loves are and ought to be greater than others. A person ought to love all human beings, but not equally. She should love some people more than others in virtue of having certain relationships with them, which ought to make her love for them greater than her love for humanity in general.
On Aquinas’s views, some relationships make possible a deeper and more intimate union between the people so related. And the relational characteristics of the beloved determine the kind ofunion which is appropriate for the lover to seek. The same person may be a husband, a son, a father, a colleague, and a penitent; and all the people to whom he is related in these ways may love him. But the love they have for him should not and typically will not be the same. That is because the kind of union with him appropriate for the people who are his spouse, parent, child, colleague, and priest will be different, depending on the relationship in question.
For ease of exposition, I will refer to the differing kinds of relationships of love as the offices of love. The character of an office circumscribes the sort of union which is appropriate to the love of that office, and so it also delimits the sort of love appropriate within that office.
The locutions I just used in describing the offices of love — circumscribing, delimiting — may make it seem as if offices keep love from having its full force. But this is a mistaken way of thinking about the matter. Although some offices are indisputably more important than others in a person’s life, it is arguable that at least the loves of the most important offices are incommensurable. It is because of such incomensurability that it is possible for a person Paula to love her daughter neither more nor less than her mother or her husband. It is not that she loves each of these people equally. What is more nearly right to say is that, because the loves of these offices are incommensurable, each of these beloved people can hold an unrivaled position in love within the office which each has in Paula’s life. So the offices of love do not suppress love; they provide for it.
The two desires of love interconnect in the offices of love, too. If the lover seeks to unite herself with the beloved in a way inappropriate to the office of love which currently holds between them, she violates the office; and the violation of the office will be something which is not good for the beloved, insofar as it undermines or breaks the particular relationship between the beloved and the lover. To seek a kind of union with a person which is inappropriate for the office with him is thus to fail to desire his good and therefore also to fail to love him.
For these reasons having to do with the offices of love, on Aquinas’s account, the second desire of love, for union with the beloved, has to be responsive to characteristics of the beloved, as the first desire does not, because the offices of love are dependent on relationalcharacteristics of the beloved.
In addition, however, the intrinsic characteristics of the beloved also affect the second desire of love, not by determining an office for love but rather by affecting the character and extent of the union possible within an office. Whatever exactly union consists in, it is clear that in order to unite with the beloved, the lover must share something of himself with her. What he can share and the degree to which he can share it, however, will be dependent on her as well as on him. A man who is a composer may want to share his labor and joy in composition with his much-loved sister; but if she is tone-deaf and musically illiterate, what he is able to share with her will be different from what he could share with her if she herself were a musician. His desire for union with her will thus be shaped by intrinsic characteristics of hers and by his perception of those characteristics. To this extent, his love of her will be responsive to her, or to what he sees in her.
It is important to be clear that although the intrinsic characteristics of the beloved will affect the character and extent of the union possible within an office, they do not determine thetype of union appropriate to desire, which is a function of the office itself. It is appropriate for a musician to share himself in his music in one type of union with his wife and in another type of union with his sister, although if his sister is musical and his wife is not, then the musician will in fact share more of himself in his music in his office with his sister than in his office with his wife.
So we can sum up this comparison of the two desires of love by noting that, although the first desire of love, for the good of the beloved, is not necessarily responsive to anything in the beloved, the second desire definitely is. The union with the beloved which is possible and appropriate for the lover to desire is dependent on both the beloved’s intrinsic and relational characteristics.
Solutions to Problems
For Aquinas, then, love is, as it were, a systems-level feature, emerging from the interaction of two mutually governing desires, for the good of the beloved and for union with the beloved. Because love is complex in this way for Aquinas, his account can handle the problems troublesome for contemporary theories.
Consider, for example, the criticisms leveled against the responsiveness account. The responsiveness account has difficulty explaining the love of a parent for her children, because that love does not seem generated by the parent’s perception of her children as particularly valuable or as more valuable than the children of others; and the degree of parental love does not seem to co-vary with the valuable characteristics the parent supposes her children to have. A parent’s love does not typically decrease if she notes with sadness that her children are becoming deplorable. Aquinas’s account can explain such cases. The love between a parent and her child derives from the office which connects them, and the office is a function of the relational characteristics of the lover and the beloved. It is not a response to the intrinsic characteristics of the beloved. Consequently, the parent’s love does not co-vary with the intrinsic characteristics of her child either.
Furthermore, on Aquinas’s account, love will not be readily transferable to any other person just because the other person’s valuable intrinsic characteristics are the same as those of the beloved. The mere possession of the beloved’s valuable characteristics on the part of some person other than the beloved is not enough for establishing that other person in an office of love with the lover.
Aquinas’s account can also handle the problems raised by the volitional account. Because, for Aquinas, the nature and degree of what can be shared in an office of love is a function of intrinsic features of the beloved, the love of the lover is also responsive to things in the beloved. So when the beloved asks, “Why do you love me?”, on Aquinas’s account, the lover does not have to answer by saying, “Well, there is no reason, or, at least, no reason having to do withyou.” Rather, on Aquinas’s account, the lover can answer not only by calling attention to his relationship with the beloved, but also by noting features of the beloved herself which he values.
In addition, since, within the office of love, the lover is responsive to the intrinsic characteristics of the beloved, the lover’s love can vary with changes in the beloved without any diminution in the constancy and strength of the love of the office, provided that the office remains. On Aquinas’s account, then, although the love appropriate to the office does not alter when it alteration finds, nonetheless, within the office there may be alterations in the love that respond to alterations in the beloved. What the lover values in the beloved, or what the lover shares with the beloved, will change with changes in the beloved, as it in fact has to do if what the lover loves is her. In this way, Aquinas’s account can validate the much-cited Shakespearean line without ruling out change, and growth, in a relationship of love. The office of love can remain the same through great changes in the intrinsic characteristics of the beloved, but the nature of the sharing in that office can and should vary with those changes.
Love and Forgiveness
Finally, Aquinas’s account of love has implications for the concept of forgiveness which are worth seeing. It is not part of my project here to try to define forgiveness; but whatever exactly is required for forgiveness, it must involve some species of love for the person in need of forgiveness. A person who refuses to forgive someone who has been unjust to her is not loving towards the offender, and a person who does forgive someone who has injured her also manifests love of one degree or another towards him. So whatever else forgiveness is, it seems to include a kind of love of someone who has done one an injury or committed an injustice against one.
Since love emerges from the interaction of two desires, for the good of the beloved and for union with her, the absence of either desire is sufficient to undermine love. To the extent to which love is implicated in forgiveness, the absence of either desire undermines forgiveness, too.
So, for example, a desire for revenge is incompatible with love of the person against whom the desire for vengeance is directed. A vengeful person does not love his enemy because he desires the bad, rather than the good, for his opponent. For that reason, a vengeful person does not forgive his enemy either.
But, on Aquinas’s account of love, this is not the only way to fail to forgive. To forgive a person who has perpetrated an injustice against one, it is not enough to have just one of the desires of love, the desire for the good of the perpetrator. It is also necessary to have a desire for union with him — if nothing else, then at least the generic desire for union which is an element of the general love for humanity, on Aquinas’s views. A person who readily desires the good of someone who has injured her but who is determined never to have any contact with him ever, no matter what, fails to love him, in virtue of having the opposite of a desire for union with him. For that reason, she also fails to forgive him.
So failure to forgive can find expression not only in vengefulness but also in withdrawal from the wrongdoer. To forgive someone therefore requires maintaining towards him both the desires of love. On Aquinas’s account of love, one person Paula forgives another person Jerome who has injured her only if she desires the good for Jerome and union with Jerome even in the face of his injustice against her.
On the other hand, however, what those two desires imply in any given case is a function of the condition of the person being forgiven.
To desire the good for Jerome is to forego desiring the bad for Jerome, but what that good actually is will depend on Jerome. The desire for his good need not include the willingness to waive punishment for him. Desiring Jerome’s good requires foregoing punishment for him if that would be for his good — or insisting on punishment for him if that would be for his good. What is best for Jerome in these circumstances is whatever it takes to bring him to a more just condition in mind and will. Paula’s calling the police or hiring a lawyer might be the best for Jerome in some circumstances. So for Paula to forgive Jerome, she must desire the objective good for Jerome — but what that good is will be determined by Jerome’s character and the current state of his mind and will.
For this same reason, even if there was a previous relationship between Paula and Jerome, Paula’s desire for union with Jerome need not include a desire to return to her former habits of companionship with Jerome. If Jerome is entirely unrepentant, or if his repentance is genuine but not trustworthy, because chances are excellent that he will soon abandon it, then Paula’s desire for union with him need not and should not involve a willingness to return to her former relationship with him. At worst, by his actions, Jerome can destroy any significant office of love with Paula. In that worst case, Paula’s desire for union with Jerome can appropriately come to no more than the sort of desire for union involved in the generic love of humanity provided for in Aquinas’s account of love.
So when Paula forms the two desires of love in forgiveness of Jerome, the nature of the appropriate fulfillment of those desires is a function of Jerome’s state. Whether Paula can and should have any continued relationship with Jerome, and the character and extent of whatever company is warranted, depends on Jerome’s state.
On the other hand, if Jerome has not destroyed the relationship he had with Paula and if Jerome is genuinely and trustworthily repentant, then if Paula persists in withdrawing from him, she does not forgive him.
One way to test for forgiveness on Paula’s part is thus to consider Paula’s reaction to the possibility of complete, genuine moral reform on the part of the person who has injured her or been unjust to her. If the prospect of such reform is dismaying to her, if she is in effect hoping for the absence of such reform so that she can justifiably long for the punishment of the wrongdoer or stay at a distance from him, then she does not forgive him.
Furthermore, because to love and forgive Jerome is to desire the good for Jerome and union with Jerome, Paula must see Jerome as he is if she is to love and forgive him. But his actions against her and the cast of mind and will in him which are the source of those actions are part of him; and so Paula must see these things too if she is to see him. Misperception of the person loved undermines love; it doesn’t enhance it. For this reason, forgiveness does not require forgetting what Jerome has done. Rather, it requires remembering it and nonetheless loving Jerome as he is. If there is an obligation to remember great wrongs, as is sometimes claimed, then, on Aquinas’s views, forgiveness is compatible with that obligation.
Understanding forgiveness in terms of the two desires of love helps to resolve a familiar set of perplexities regarding forgiveness. Can forgiveness be granted unilaterally? Or does the granting of forgiveness require that the perpetrator repent his wrongdoing? Can one forgive his enemy while he is still hostile? For that matter, can one forgive someone who is long since dead? Does forgiveness require reconciliation? Or is it possible to fail to be reconciled with someone and still forgive him?
On Aquinas’s account of love, it is possible to harmonize the apparently conflictingintuitions which find expression in these questions. It is possible for Paula to forgive Jerome unilaterally, without repentance on Jerome’s part, because it is up to Paula alone whether she desires the good for Jerome and union with him. For this reason, it is also possible for Paula to forgive an enemy of hers while he is still filled with hatred against her, and it is even possible for her to forgive the dead. But the way in which the desires of love are fulfilled, or whether they are fulfilled at all, will depend crucially on the condition of the wrongdoer being forgiven. Paula’s desire for the good for Jerome cannot be fulfilled if, in self-destructive impulses, Jerome refuses the good offered him. And Paula’s desire for union with Jerome cannot result in any kind of union with him as long as his state of character and current condition keep her from being close to him.
Aquinas’s account of love thus helps to explain the compatibility of the apparently differing intuitions about forgiveness. A person can forgive unilaterally, as she can love unrequitedly. But the desires of love in forgiveness, like the desires of love generally, are inefficacious by themselves to bring about what they desire. A person who forgives, like a person who loves, has to be responsive to the person who is the object of her desires; in forgiveness as in love, she cannot have what she wants just in virtue of wanting it.
And so Aquinas’s account of love has explanatory power, not only as regards the nature of love itself but also in its implications with respect to the notion of forgiveness. In my view, his thirteenth-century account is illuminating for our contemporary reflections on both these topics.
 Strictly speaking, this claim should be put not in terms of intrinsic characteristics of the beloved, but in terms of intrinsic characteristics which the lover believes are in the beloved, since it is plain that a lover can be mistaken about intrinsic characteristics of the beloved. But, for ease of exposition, and for tracking the current debate which does not highlight this complication, I am leaving it out of account here.
 Of course, a lover might come to value different intrinsic features in the beloved in the course of time. Nonetheless, as long as the lover’s love is a response to the intrinsic features of the beloved which he values, the objection here will retain its force. I am grateful to Scott MacDonald for calling my attention to the need to address this point.
 Robert Kraut, “Love De Re”, Midwest Studies in Philosophy 10 (1986), p.425.
 Harry Frankfurt makes the point vividly in The Reasons of Love, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004), p.39.
 Cf.Frankfurt 2004, pp.39-40.
 See the version of this account in Frankfurt 2004, p.39.
 Cf. ST I-II q.26 a.4 where Aquinas says that to love is to will good to someone. Cf. also ST I-II q.28 a.4 where Aquinas explains the zeal or intensity of love in terms of the strength of a lover’s desire for the good of the beloved.
 Cf., e.g., ST I-II q.26 a.2 ad 2, and q.28 a.1 s.c., where Aquinas quotes approvingly Dionysius’s line that love is the unitive force. Cf.also ST I-II q.66 a.6, where Aquinas explains the superiority of charity to the other virtues by saying that every lover is drawn by desire to union with the beloved, and ST I-II q.70 a.3, where Aquinas explains the connection between joy and love by saying that every lover rejoices at being united to the beloved.
 The two desires of any love are therefore included under the more general heading of the desire for goodness, as Aquinas understands it. For detailed discussion of Aquinas’s views of goodness, understood in this broad sense, see the chapter on goodness in my Aquinas, (London: Routledge, 2003).
 The claim that the good desired for the beloved is an objective good therefore results from Aquinas’s analysis of the nature of love together with his metaethics. It is not itself implied by Aquinas’s analysis of love. I am grateful to Ish Haji for calling my attention to the need to make this point clear.
 For Sartre’s presentation of this case, see Existentialism and Human Emotions, (New York: Philosophical Library, 1957), pp.24-28.
 ST II-II q.26 a.6-12.
 Cf. ST I-II q.27 a.3 where Aquinas talks about the different sorts of similarity, actual and potential, of intrinsic characteristics which connect two people in a relationship of love.
 Although my claim that forgiveness includes love of a Thomistic sort implies that some accounts of forgiveness (such as the account of forgiveness as the forswearing of resentment) are ruled out as too restricted. For excellent discussions of forgiveness, see Jeffrie Murphy and Jean Hampton, Forgiveness and Mercy, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988); Jeffrie Murphy and Sharon Lamb, Before Forgiveness (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002); Jeffrie Murphy, Getting Even — Forgiveness and Its Limits, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003); and Trudy Govier,Forgiveness and Revenge, (London: Routledge, 2002). I am grateful to Jeffrie Murphy for helpful comments on an earlier draft of this section on forgiveness.
 I am simplifying here for the sake of brevity. In fact, more than genuine, trustworthy, whole-hearted repentance on Jerome’s part may be needed in order for it to be appropriate for Paula to restore Jerome to their former habits of companionship. If Paula has been traumatized by Jerome’s wrongdoing, for example, then something more than just genuine and trustworthy repentance on Jerome’s part may be necessary for the resumption of their former relations. For a detailed discussion of the additional element requisite in some cases, especially those involving very great wrongdoing, see my “Personal Relations and Moral Residue,” in History of the Human Sciences:Theorizing from the Holocaust: What is to be Learned?, ed. Paul Roth and Mark S. Peacock, vol. 17 No. 2/3 (2004) 33-57.
 See, for example, Avishai Margalit, The Ethics of Memory, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002).
 Cf.Richard Swinburne, Responsibility and Atonement,(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989), pp.81-85, for an argument that forgiveness requires repentance and penance on the part of the perpetrator of the wrong being forgiven.
 I am grateful to Robert Audi, Michael Barber, John Cottingham, John Foley, Lenn Goodman, Ish Haji, John Kavanaugh, Fergus Kerr, Brian Leftow, Scott MacDonald, Jeffrie Murphy, Paul Philibert, William Rehg, Alan Soble, Richard Swinburne, Bas van Fraassen, Theodore Vitali, and Howard Wettstein for helpful comments and discussion of earlier drafts of this paper.
by Steven Schultz
“The glory of God is man fully alive; but man’s life is the vision of God,” St. Irenaeus declared in Adversus haereses.[i] This phrase points to man’s ultimate and objective end. The current crisis in moral theology is mainly attributed to losing sight of a correct anthropology of man. In order to reestablish a correct view of moral theology, we must first reestablish a correct view of man. For us to see clearly the ultimate end of man and the objective nature of that end, we must begin with a correct understanding of the nature of the soul. Through this integration, the words of St. Irenaeus become clear and firmly establish our moral compass.
St. Augustine tells us that man is at once “both a servant and free.” It is upon this point we must build our understanding of the man’s soul. Moral theology traditionally hinged on finding a proper balance between duty to the law (the servant aspect) while also encouraging the spiritual formation which the law seeks to instill within man (the freedom aspect). Modern moralists have attempted to play one aspect off the other; a sort of “either/or.” Yet, a true understanding of man shows us it is a situation of “both/and.” In order to find its true direction, the human soul requires both, and therefore entails a return to a traditional understanding of man’s soul.[ii]
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over…[all creation]…upon the earth’” (Gen. 1:26, RSV-CE). Of all visible creation, man alone can know and love his Creator; called to share in His life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us the human body is special precisely because it is animated by a spiritual soul. The immortal soul is a special gift of God created immediately by God and not “produced” by the parents, showing that from creation man was ordered to a supernatural end. Although undeserved by man, God is able to raise man’s spiritual soul to communion with Him. The Church believes the unity of body and soul is so profound that the soul is considered the “form” of the body: “…spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.”[iii]
As a union of body and soul, material and spiritual, man interacts with created reality through his material body using his spiritual attributes of intellect and will. St. Thomas tells us only those actions of which man is master are properly called human. True human acts arise from deliberate use of the will and intellect; they involve reflection and choice. Moral choice requires the participation of both will and intellect since the concept of free will includes both powers.[iv]
The question now becomes one of determining how man should act, or the proper employment of intellect and will. A rational being must first determine the ultimate goal of his actions (the order of intention) before beginning to implement those goals. In this step, intellect is emphasized since a journey must first have a destination. Arrival at the destination is called the order of execution and here the will is emphasized since through the will a person attains his goals. Put simply: “One must investigate and decide on an ultimate destination and pursue it.”[v]
What is this ultimate destination for man? Being seeks perfection. So, in man’s every action, he seeks greater or further participation in being: “As the eye seeks sight, the mind seeks truth and the will seeks good or perfection.” This material end of the will, the actual good which perfects humanity, is the Holy Trinity. Thus, all things have the Holy Trinity as their origin and all things seek to return to the Holy Trinity.[vi]
For man, this happiness is the Beatific Vision. We find expression of this in Jesus’ preaching of the Beatitudes. The Church teaches that the Beatitudes respond to the natural desire for happiness placed in the human heart by God to draw man to Him and they reveal the goal of human existence, the ultimate end of human acts: God’s call to the Beatific Vision.[vii]
Thomas tells us, “man naturally desires, as his ultimate end, to know the first cause. But the first cause of all things is God. Therefore, the ultimate end of man is to know God.” Yet, he also tells us that “…throughout this life God can be known in no higher way than that whereby a cause is known through its effect.” God gave us an innate desire to know Him, yet did not provide us the means within ourselves to know Him by nature alone – we require His assistance of divine grace.[viii]
A misinterpretation of St. Thomas’s phrase “natural desire to see God” by Cardinal Thomas de Vio Cajetan (1469-1534) resulted in centuries of confusion in Catholic teaching. Cajetan took “desire” to mean an appetite of the will which negated the gratuitous character of grace. To compensate, he developed a “two-end” theory involving a hypothetical “pure nature” into which man could have been created, but instead was created in a second nature of grace which actually ordered man to Beatific Vision. Twentieth century theologians Henri de Lubac and Karl Rahner attempted to correct the failures in Cajetan’s theory, but instead only added to the confusion. The problem was rooted in an incorrect order of approach: happiness, possibility of attainment, and natural desire. The opposite is actually the correct order: the fact of natural desire, possibility, and then happiness.[ix]
An analysis of Thomas’s writing makes clear he did not mean “natural desire” as an appetite of the will, but as identical with the power of the intellect and its desire to know. This natural desire is a potential to know, not the knowledge itself. It is not desire in the sense of an appetite, but the tendency of every being to seek its perfection. Our destiny cannot be realized in this life because our intellect demands knowledge of the first cause. Thomas shows us that even the angels cannot be satisfied with knowing God merely as cause. As he concludes: “Although man is included to an ultimate end by nature, yet he cannot attain that end by nature, but only by grace because of the exalted character of the end.”[x]
Thus, the very nature of man’s soul drives him to reach towards the ultimate objective end of his being: the Beatific Vision. Although possessing an innate desire to see God, man cannot reach his ultimate end in his nature alone, but requires him to freely accept the freely offered gift from God of His grace. As the Catechism succinctly sums it up:
The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to Himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for[.][xi]
[i] As quoted in: Fr. Brian Mullady, O.P., Man’s Desire for God (Bloomington, IN: 1st Books Library, 2003), ix.
[ii] Fr. Brian Mullady, O.P., Both a Servant and Free: A Primer in Fundamental Moral Theology (New Hope, NY: New Hope Publications, 2011), xi, xiii.
[iii] Catechism of the Catholic Church: 2nd ed. (Washington, DC: United States Catholic Conference, 2000), 356-357, 364- 367.
[iv] Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, I-II, q. 1, a. 1, at New Advent, www.newadevent.org; Mullady, Man’s Desire for God, 34.
[v] Mullady, Man’s Desire for God, 34-35.
[vi] Mullady, Man’s Desire for God, 36-37.
[viii] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, III, 25, 11; III, 48, 9, Joseph Kenny, O.P. (ed.) (New York: Hanover House, 1955-1957) at Priory of the Immaculate Conception, http://dhspriory.org; Mullady, Man’s Desire for God, 42-43.
[ix] Mullady, Man’s Desire for God, 1-12.
[x] Mullady, Man’s Desire for God, 12-13, 15, 19.
[xi] CCC, 27.
Steven Schultz is a free-lance writer and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary
by Maciej Bazela, Ph.D
Business ethics issues have been making news headlines almost uninterruptedly since the 2007-2009 economic turmoil. The implosion of the banking sector and the string of bailouts which followed triggered a lively debate about the moral foundations and the future of capitalism. One issue in particular has received exceptionally harsh coverage. Executive remuneration attracted strong moral terms such as greed, envy, pride and hubris.
Besides the 2007-2009 downturn, there is substantial negative and positive evidence which confirms the importance of ethics in business management.
As far as the negative evidence is concerned, more than 40 international companies have been involved in ethical scandals since the beginning of this century. Wal-Mart’s bribe scheme in Mexico, the Olympus corporate governance scandal, the News of the World phone hacking case and the LIBOR rigging scandal are just a few most recent cases which show that government regulation and self-regulating market mechanisms cannot prevent ethical wrongdoing.
On the other hand, companies which care about ethically good management tend to enjoy higher profits, better productivity, lower employee turnover and other benefits.[i]
In the aftermath of the 2007-2009 downturn companies are facing a daunting task of restoring their tarnished reputations. Firms need to reinforce their corporate cultures, rebuild executive leadership and rethink business ethics programs.
To do so, companies require sound normative frameworks which inform corporate missions, vision, and decision making mechanisms. Although the majority of publicly traded companies already have business ethics codes and publish detailed corporate responsibility reports, these documents usually lack normative clarity and coherence. Moral justification of affirmed values rarely goes beyond a rather vague saying: ‘we, as corporation P, believe in x, y, and z because this is the right think to do’. An explanation why ‘x, y and z are the right think to do’ rarely follows.
On top of this, there is a growing awareness about the inadequacy of the homo economicus model, a vision of man as rational utility maximizer that underpins conventional economics. This model is a perilous caricature of the human person which is personally damaging and socially destructive.[ii]
In response to these challenges, I would like to argue that Thomas Aquinas’ moral philosophy provides a rationally sound and globally applicable ethical foundation for business management. Second, Aquinas moral theory is a valuable source of knowledge about decision-making skills and character traits which should be typical of responsible executives who lead with personal integrity and social responsibility. And third, Aquinas’ moral philosophy avoids the intrinsic limitations and weaknesses of utilitarianism and Kantianism – two moral traditions which dominate in business ethics.
2.0. Saint Thomas and business ethics
Unlike Adam Smith, the mythologized founding father of modern economics, Thomas Aquinas did not dedicate any of his voluminous works to economic issues. He offers only a few sporadic remarks about moral right and wrong in commerce, which are inserted in his discussion of human virtues and vices. In particular, Aquinas is known for his teaching on fraud, just price and usury.
Nevertheless, I would like to make a broader point about the relevance of Aquinas’ moral philosophy for business management. I intend to show that his explanation of human nature, moral good, and happiness are relevant to decision making in business.
2.1. Human nature
Aquinas opens the First Part of the Second Part of Summa Theologiae (ST) with a definition of man as ‘an image of God; intelligent being endowed with free-will and self-movement’. Intelligence gives man the capacity of inter-legere, that is, to understand and discern. Man also has free-will which means that he can choose between various ways of conduct.[iii]
Aquinas’ definition of man is truly liberating. It frees business management from the shackles of blind materialism, efficiency, profit-maximization or other forms of scientific or economic determinism.
Ethical wrongdoing at Enron, Parmalat, Siemens, Halliburton, AIG and many other companies demonstrates that markets do not operate on economics, but also on ethics. Markets do not always operate towards ever-grater efficiency. They are not perfectly self-corrective systems either.[iv]
Executives and managers are not completely dominated by ‘the invisible hand’, ‘the market sentiment’ or other supposedly ‘fixed’ rules. Although it would be nonsense to try to disprove the rule of supply and demand, the economy of scale or other general rules of economics, it does not imply that there is no room for ethics in business decision-making. In fact, business management is a juncture of ethics, management and economics.
To make wholesome decisions, business leaders need to learn how to combine axiology, economic laws and management tools. They need to apply the insights of these 3 sciences into concrete business situations and issues (i.e. participation in profits, hiring standards, ‘reasonable’ accommodations for disabled workers, work-life balance policies, remuneration packages, pricing policies, advertising campaigns, retention of talent).
2.2. Human happiness
In 1970 Milton Friedman, an American economist, published ‘The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits’.[v] He argues in that article that the only responsibility of corporate executives is to maximize profits within the limits established by the law and ethical customs.
Even though Friedman is not totally wrong, it is good to keep in mind that the purpose of business cannot consist in mere wealth maximization. Aquinas tells us that material wealth such as food, clothing, dwelling and the like support human nature and thus cannot be man’s last end. Money itself is a means that man has invented ‘for the convenience of exchange, and as a measure of things salable’ (ST, I-II, 2.1). Man seeks material possessions and money to procure for himself ‘the necessaries of life’.
Aquinas also warns us that ‘the desire for artificial wealth is infinite, for it is the servant of disordered concupiscence’ (ST, I-II, 2.1). Our material desires are unlimited inasmuch as consumer goods do not generate a lasting satisfaction. ‘When we already possess them, we despise them, and seek others’ (ST, I-II, 2.1). Thomas Aquinas anticipated by a few centuries the discoveries of modern psychology and behavioural economics (i.e. the Easterlin Paradox) which confirm that purchasing of goods is a circle of enchantment, acquisitions and gradual disillusion. It is a pendulous motion from desire to satiation, which is always a blend of joy and dismay.[vi]
Aquinas’ remarks on wealth and material possessions provide a strong reason to rethink the prevailing models of production and consumption. The fleeing nature of ‘material satisfaction’ should encourage companies to embrace more sustainable and meaningful models of production and consumption. Cradle-to-cradle industrial design[vii], service-based economies[viii], and frugal engineering[ix] are some promising examples of already existing best in class practices which tend to make business more socially meaningful and environmentally responsible.
These best in class cases prove that it is possible to run a successful and profitable company without the typical excess of conventional business: fast replacement, planned obsolescence, fleeing fashions, short-term profit maximization, and environmental exploitation.
Aquinas also makes a difference between an ethically good and ethically bad businessman within the discussion on the boundaries of profits. The former strives to serve others by making the best use of his industriousness and resourcefulness. He manages his enterprise in the interest of all stakeholders and the common good. The former is in business for the mere sake of profit, which puts him on a moral slippery slope.
Maximization of profits as the main business goal is a peril for personal integrity and social responsibility of a business leader. Although there is nothing wrong in being a profitable enterprise, it is wrong to pursue profits merely for their own sake. Aquinas observes that ‘when people do business merely for the sake of profits, they are acting out of a disordered desire for profits that knows no limit, but tends to infinity’ (ST, II-II, 77).
Money is an economic means, and not an end in itself. The purpose of money is to facilitate market exchange. The purpose of business is to provide wholesome goods and services which respond to life’s necessities. As the purpose of medicine is human health, so the purpose of business is human well-being and comfort. When, however, profitability becomes the primary goal of business, human dignity is at risk. A company which seeks ever-higher profits above all will be tempted to use its employers, customers and other stakeholders as mere instruments. When what should be means (i.e. profit) replace what should be ends (i.e. service to society), the risk of ethical mismanagement increases drastically (i.e. derivative investment products, corruption, sweatshop practices in the supply chain, collaboration with oppressive regimes, inside trading).
2.3. General ethical principles
On the wave of the latest business scandals, ‘ethics’ and ‘business ethics’ have become fashionable catch-all terms that are frequently used in political, economic and moral debates on capitalism and free markets. This phenomenon demonstrates a rising awareness about the importance of ethics in public affairs.
Nevertheless, executives and managers are not always sure which normative frameworks they should adopt and what ethical principles they should follow. Thomas Aquinas might be of help in this regard since he explains the most universal ethical principle that governs human conduct.
The first principle of the practical reason (sinderesis) tells us that man should do good and avoid evil (ST, I-II, 94.2). But, what does it mean to do good? Aquinas defines moral good as ‘all those things to which man has a natural inclination’ in accordance with his rational nature (ST, I-II, 94.2). He names among the most fundamental human goods the ‘preservation of life, education of offspring, knowledge of God, and [living] in society’. Therefore, business does moral good when it promotes these fundamental human goods as the most essential sources of human self-fulfilment.
In addition, Aquinas predicts the weakness of the utilitarian vision of moral good. He points out that ‘the goodness of an action is not caused by the goodness of its effects’. Nevertheless, ‘an action is said to be good from the fact that it can produce a good effect’ (ST, I-II, 18.2).
There is no doubt that utilitarianism, which focuses on the consequences of an action, is helpful to a degree in making sound decisions in complex business situations (i.e. allocation of scarce resources, strategic investment, stakeholder dialogue, zero-sum decisions).
Nonetheless, not all business decisions can be reduced to a mere calculus of costs and benefits. The ethical value of an action is determined not only by its consequences, but also by its moral object and its moral end (ST, I-II, 18.2). This is why corruption, sweatshop conditions and token wages are unacceptable business practices even though they seem to favour a greater (market) good for the greatest number (global consumers).
The golden rule of ethics – (‘treat others as you would like to be treated yourself’) – obliges corporations to treat employees, customers, suppliers and other stakeholders with due dignity and respect, which does not depend on the calculus of consequences.
At the same time, Aquinas’ vision of moral good is more operative and more inspiring than Kant’s ethics of duty. Although the fulfilment of deontological duties lies at the heart of professional business conduct (i.e. auditors, accountants, board members), the complexity of business life requires that we ‘go beyond’ rigid protocols and standards. One needs to do more than simply fulfil one’s duties to become a top class lawyer, a prominent executive, an acknowledge professor or a requested spiritual director. When you look at your occupation through the Kantian lens, you see responsibilities, rights and duties. When you look at it through the Aquinas’ lens, you see a calling, a purpose, and a source of personal fulfilment.
2.4. Character traits
Aquinas’ ethics is a paramount example of virtue ethics. Virtues are habits or perfections of will and intellect which allow us make good decisions and live fully as human beings (ST, I-II, 55). Virtues help us avoid irrational excesses of appetite which threaten human self-fulfilment. There are four cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, temperance, and courage (ST, I-II, 61.2).
The virtue of prudence denotes a ‘certain rectitude of discretion in any actions or matters whatever’ (ST, I-II, 61.3; ST, I-II, 61.4), ‘wisdom concerning human affairs’ (ST, II-II, 47.2) or ‘right reason with respect to action’.
Justice is a virtue which refers to inter-personal relationships (ST, II-II, 57.1; II-II, 58.1; II-II, 61.2). It calls business managers to give to each stakeholder what is its due even if it is not required by law. Without going into much detail about Aquinas’ definitions of commutative and distributive justice, it suffices to say that the virtue of justice urges business leaders to ask themselves uneasy moral questions regarding treatment of employees and associates, participation in profits, just wages, product pricing policies, service fees and so forth.
Temperance is a power of restraint and moderation (ST, II-II, 141.2). It is a firewall against the temptations of short-term gains, corruption, and embezzlement. Humility, a species of temperance, protects executives from hubris and complacency which mark the beginning of a corporate downfall.[x]
Courage is a middle point between excessive fear and disproportionate daring. It helps business leaders avoid recklessness, which usually lead to harm, accidents and financial losses. Executives, board members and senior managers who do not have the virtue of courage tend to become either brazen risk takers (i.e. Lehman Brothers) or submissive servants (i.e. Olympus). Both extremes have little to do with genuine ethical business management.
In contrast to utilitarianism and Kantianism, virtue ethics is the only ethical approach that is concerned with the impact of business management decisions on the personal integrity of the agent. While utilitarianism focuses on the consequences of an action, and Kantianism stresses the fulfilment of duties, Aquinas’s virtue ethics is interested in integral human development of the moral agent.
Virtuous conduct is derived from human reason’s basic insights into the nature of the human good (ST, I‐II, 94.3). While a contemporary moralist might emphasize the benefits of virtuous acts upon their recipients, Thomas adds to this the importance of the positive effects of justice upon its practitioner. Virtuous action, he argues, not only renders the act good, but also improves the agent. In fact, a natural inclination to act reasonably and virtuously is, for Thomas, common to all human beings (ST, I‐II, 91.2), regardless of political, religious or cultural differences (ST, I‐II, 94.4; I-II, 95.2). Virtuous behaviour unlocks otherwise dormant potentialities and helps individuals to make the most of themselves. People flourish from acting justly toward one another; therefore it lies in the self‐interest of individuals (and firms) not to be selfish.[xi]
3.0. Conclusions: charity – a new frontier of ethical business management
Aquinas makes a clear distinction between imperfect and perfect happiness. The former concerns the immanent and natural happiness that man strives to achieve in this world by investing in his own well-being and success. The latter however refers to transcendental and super-natural happiness which consists in the communion with the Supreme Good.
Aquinas’ virtue ethics reaches its climax in the teaching on charity which he defines as ‘love of God for his own sake’ (ST, I-II, 62.3). He adds however that the love of God includes love towards our neighbour because each and every man is an imago Dei (ST, I-II, 65.2).
Thus, there are two important lessons that stem from Aquinas’ vision of charity: (1) (business)men cannot be perfectly happy without at least some form of transcendental aspiration that informs their daily modus operandi; (2) the practice of charity is key to make (business) life more humane and more personal.
Charity goes beyond the logic of economic gain, the calculus of cost and benefit (utilitarianism) and the fulfilment of duties (Kantianism). A company dominated by the spirit of economic gain will never be a genuinely caring organization. The more we focus on immediate benefits, the less generous and collaborative we become. The more we think about short-term financial gain, the less we care about what happens to our colleagues, clients, suppliers, local communities and the environment.
Charity, which implies fraternity and gratuity, opens us up to others and has the potential to make our workdays more enjoyable. We need charity in business because we are not self-made men who achieve everything only and exclusively thanks to individual efforts. We need others to succeed and to do well our jobs. Charity feeds reciprocity. Reciprocity fosters trust. And trust cultivates collaboration and exchange.
Charity does not equal philanthropy. It is a new paradigm of business management which blurs the boundaries between for-profit and non-profit activities. Business organizations that operate on charity do not address most pressing global issue by donating funds or supporting relief work ‘after hours’. Instead, they tackle poverty, social exclusion and environmental degradation by providing innovative business solutions (i.e. micro loans, cooperatives, responsible investment, frugal engineering).
The post-recession consumers see kindness and empathy as valuable attributes of best in class companies.[xii] Tom’s Shoes, for example, sends a pair of shoes to a child in the developing world for each pair that a customer buys. Microsoft launched a program called ‘Elevate America’ which aims to provide free training in information technology to help the unemployed find jobs. Whole Foods has adopted a policy that no one in the company can be paid more than 19 times the average salary. Intel has a system of personalized medical and wellness programs for its associates.[xiii]
Last but not least, charity enables business leaders become ‘servant leaders’ who guide their organization with integrity, responsibility and compassion (i.e. Ken Melrose, CEO, Toro Company.; Vineet Nayar, CEO, HCL Technologies).
All in all, Aquinas’ moral philosophy seems to provide a richer and a more holistic ethical base for business management than utilitarianism and Kantian deontology do. On the one hand, Aquinas’ ethics escapes the pitfalls of materialism and relativism which undermine utilitarianism. On the other hand, it avoids the rigidity and abstraction of Kant’s moral imperative. Aquinas’ moral philosophy has a capacity to render business life more personal and more humane. And most importantly, it offers a holistic explanation to the most troublesome question asked now and again in business circles: ‘Which ethics shall we use?’
We find a truly Thomistic answer to this fundamental question in the Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical letter Caritas in veritate which says:
‘Economy needs ethics in order to function correctly — not any ethics whatsoever, but an ethics which is people-centred. Today we hear much talk of ethics in the world of economy, finance and business […]. It would be advisable, however, to develop a sound criterion of discernment, since the adjective “ethical” can be abused. When the word is used generically, it can lend itself to any number of interpretations, even to the point where it includes decisions and choices contrary to justice and authentic human welfare. Much in fact depends on the underlying system of morality. On this subject the Church’s social doctrine can make a specific contribution, since it is based on man’s creation “in the image of God” (Gen 1:27), a datum which gives rise to the inviolable dignity of the human person and the transcendent value of natural moral norms. When business ethics prescinds from these two pillars, it inevitably risks losing its distinctive nature and it falls prey to forms of exploitation; more specifically, it risks becoming subservient to existing economic and financial systems rather than correcting their dysfunctional aspects’. (Caritas in veritate, 45)
[i] Rf. C. Verschoor – E. Murphy, ‘The financial performance of large firms and those with global prominence: how do the best corporations rate?’, Business & Society Review 107, no.3 (2002), p.371-380; E. Murphy – C. Verschoor, ‘Best corporate citizens have better financial performance’, Strategic Finance 83, no. 7 (2002), p.20; S. Webley – E. More, ‘Does business ethics pay?’, Institute of Business Ethics (2003); S.A. Waddock – S.B. Graves, ‘The corporate social performance – financial performance link, Strategic Management Journal, vol. 18(4), pp. 303-319 (1997); J.P. Kottler – L. Heskett, Corporate culture and performance, Free Press 2011; ‘Developing Value: the Business Case for Sustainability in Emerging Markets’ by SustainAbility, the Ethos Institute and the International Finance Corporation (2012):http://www1.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/84a59480488559ca842cd66a6515bb18/Developing_Value_full.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=84a59480488559ca842cd66a6515bb18 (Retrieved November 6th 2012)
[ii] Rf. M. Bazela, Sustainable consumption. A philosophical and moral approach, IF Press, Rome (2008)
[iv] Rf. J. Ratzinger, ‘Church and economy: Responsibility for the future of the world economy’, Communio 13 (Fall 1986): 199-204
[vi] Rf. T. Kasser, The high price of materialism, The TIM Press, London-Cambridge (2002); J.F. Kavanaugh, Following Christ in a consumer society. The spirituality of cultural resistance, 25th anniversary edition, Orbis Books, New York (2006); A. Aldridge, Consumption, Polity Press, Cambridge (2003); W. Leiss, The limits to satisfaction an essay on the problems of needs and commodities, University of Toronto Press, Toronto-Buffalo (1976).
[vii] Production and consumption methods that do not generate unproductive waste (i.e. DesignTex – biodegradable fabrics; Dow Chemical – reusable degreasing chemicals; McDonough + Partners – eco industrial design).
[viii] Consumer demand is a demand for services rather than products (i.e. Interface – carpet leasing; Carrier Corp- air conditioning services; Electrolux – leasing of white goods).
[ix] Marketing which focuses on the needs of the 4 billion people at the base of global population pyramid whose purchasing power parity is lower than $1,500 per year. (i.e. Hindustan Lever – biodegradable washing products; Kenya Bank – mobile banking; Ruf & Tuf – ready-to-made jeans kits; Tata Group – Nano car).
[xiii] Rf. M. Benioff – K. Southwick, Compassionate capitalism. How corporations can make doing good an integral part of doing well, Career Press (2004); R.S. Sisodia – D. B. Wolfe –J.N. Sheth, Firms of endearment: How world-class companies profit from passion and purpose, Pearson Prentice Hall (2007)
Maciej Bazela, Ph.D. President, Applied Ethics Solution and Professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary
A popular philosophy blog ran a survey of their readers (primarily other philosophers) of who they thought were the top 50 Moral Philosophers. Now, this survey was amongst secular philosophers so there is no emphasis on Catholic or other Christian Philosophers. But the results show some names familiar to Holy Apostles students: Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, Kierkegaard and G.E.M. Anscombe. Those we think of as less worthy include Kant, Hume, Mill, Hobbes and Rousseau.
Interestingly, discussions about the list puzzle over Kant’s high ranking (“he gets more wrong than he gets right”) and debate over Plato and Socrates as two separate philosophers rather than two voices of a single philosopher. The list is below:
|1. Aristotle (Condorcet winner: wins contests with all other choices)
|2. Immanuel Kant loses to Aristotle by 364–227
|3. Plato loses to Aristotle by 414–168, loses to Immanuel Kant by 349–241
|4. David Hume loses to Aristotle by 494–95, loses to Plato by 378–197
|5. John Stuart Mill loses to Aristotle by 493–102, loses to David Hume by 292–271
|6. Socrates loses to Aristotle by 464–104, loses to John Stuart Mill by 292–250
|7. Thomas Hobbes loses to Aristotle by 556–29, loses to Socrates by 319–192
|8. John Rawls loses to Aristotle by 557–38, loses to Thomas Hobbes by 272–250
|9. Jeremy Bentham loses to Aristotle by 543–39, loses to John Rawls by 273–250
|10. Aquinas loses to Aristotle by 547–23, loses to Jeremy Bentham by 280–222
|11. Augustine loses to Aristotle by 550–20, loses to Aquinas by 306–131
|12. Friedrich Nietzsche loses to Aristotle by 542–57, loses to Augustine by 263–247
|13. Soren Kierkegaard loses to Aristotle by 553–31, loses to Friedrich Nietzsche by 290–210
|14. Epicurus loses to Aristotle by 554–21, loses to Soren Kierkegaard by 218–214
|15. Henry Sidgwick loses to Aristotle by 542–27, loses to Epicurus by 286–181
|16. Jean-Jacques Rousseau loses to Aristotle by 566–21, loses to Henry Sidgwick by 242–216
|17. G.E. Moore loses to Aristotle by 563–20, loses to Jean-Jacques Rousseau by 264–191
|18. Benedict Spinoza loses to Aristotle by 543–24, loses to G.E. Moore by 252–194
|19. G.E.M. Anscombe loses to Aristotle by 555–13, loses to Benedict Spinoza by 268–165
|20. G.W.F. Hegel loses to Aristotle by 546–14, loses to G.E.M. Anscombe by 227–161
The Ninth Annual Online Philosophy Conference is now open. The conference is being conducted at our Edvance Conference site. If you wish to participate please send a note to email@example.com for access.
Two papers have been posted and several more will be posted in the next several days. We’ve suspended the deadline so you can still submit a paper anytime during the conference. Please send your 5-7 page paper to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This year’s conference features a presentation by noted Thomist scholar, Dr. Eleanore Stump at 6:30 PM EDT on Thursday, April 25. The presentation will be on WEBEX. How to access the presentation will be published soon.
Please join us for this year’s conference. We look forward to your participation.
From The Moynihan Letters:
This Sunday evening in Rome, a beautiful, quiet, clear, cool spring evening, the parish priest of the Santo Spirito in Sassia church (the church next to the world headquarters of the Jesuits, 200 yards from the colonnade around St. Peter’s Square, and the church entrusted by Pope John Paul II to carry out a special devotion to the teaching about Divine Mercy preached by the Polish mystic, St. Faustina Kowalska), Father Giuseppe, a young and dynamic Polish priest, during his sermon on the day’s readings, told a little story I had not heard before.
Last week, he said, last Sunday, on April 7, the Sunday of Divine Mercy — on the eve of which Pope John Paul II died in 2005 — Pope Francis took possession of the cathedral church of the diocese of Rome, St. John Lateran.
But after doing that, while driving back over to the Vatican, Pope Francis, at about 7:15 in the evening — Father Giuseppe looked at his watch; “Yes,” he said, “it was about at this time, about 7:15 in the evening, a little after 7″ — Pope Francis stopped in front of the church, evidently out of respect for the Divine Mercy devotion practiced in this church, on Divine Mercy Sunday.
“Yes, it was about 7:15 in the evening,” Father Giuseppe said, still preaching his homily, and paused. “Pope Francis asked his driver to stop the car in front of the church, for a few moments. And when a few people noticed he was there, a crowd quickly gathered.
“And there was a young couple walking by, just at that time, in the providence of God. A young couple who had fallen away from the church. A young couple who were planning to be married. And when they saw the crowd gathering, they stopped, and they too caught a glimpse of the Pope.
“And catching a glimpse of Pope Francis, they were moved, deep within, and a few minutes later, after the Pope moved on, they came into the church. And they spoke with me for some time, and they want to again draw close to the church, because of the unusual events of that evening, because they saw the Pope stop in front of the church, just as they were walking by.
“And when I see the Pope, and I am sure that I will have a chance to see him, I will tell him this story, the story of how his decision to stop his car on the Feast of Divine Mercy, in front of this church dedicated to the Divine Mercy, brought mercy to those two young people, in such a tangible way that they wanted to change their lives and draw close again to God and to Christ.
“Little miracles of God’s mercy are always occurring, and that was one of them.”
The Holy Apostles College & Seminary bookstore is now open for the Summer Term. Please visit the bookstore HERE to buy your course materials and, by doing so, help support the college while picking up your books and other course materials. If your course is not listed on the site your instructor has found an alternative source for course materials.
Could I ask for prayers for a beautiful family with 9 children 12 and under. They have traveled to Lourdes (arriving today) to ask for a miracle, 2 possibly 3 of their 9 children have a incurable and genetic terminal degenerative disease. Their 9 yo has been slowly losing ability to walk or see, the 4 yo is on a fast decline with seizures leaving her not wanting (or easily able) to eat. Newborn shows signs, not yet confirmed, as a failure to thrive baby.
All this notwithstanding, their family is full of joy and love and fire for the faith. Please pray that they may be healed.