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Natural Law and Practical Reason : A Thomist View of Moral Autonomy (Hardcover)

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Natural Law and Practical Reason: A Thomist View of Moral Autonomy seeks to overcome misunderstanding in the traditional neo-thomistic view of natural law as well as unjustified claims of some recent currents in Roman Catholic moral theology in trying to found new, yet problematic understandings of moral autonomy. Working exclusively from a philosophical standpoint, the volume also challenges the same moral theologians on their adoption of consequentialism and proportionalism.

Rhonheimer systematically explores Aquinas's doctrine on natural law, seeking to put into evidence both its coherency and its connection with other features of Aquinas's teaching on human action. Rejecting a certain neo-thomistic, rather naturalistic understanding of natural law, Rhonheimer puts into evidence how natural law should not be called a law of nature as such, but a law of practical reason that is completely natural to humankind because reason is an essential part of human nature. Moreover, the work argues that the position, which roots in a revisionist reading of Aquinas, leads to a deeply flawed conception of moral autonomy.

Being so tightly bound up with practical reason, any conception of natural law necessarily includes an understanding of moral autonomy. Autonomy roots in reason. Only a reasonable being -- i.e., a being acting on reasons, on the grounds of personal insight into the good -- can be called "autonomous". Curiously enough, currents of Catholic moral theology have opted for autonomy understood as one's capacity of determining good in a "creative" way. According to this conception, natural law is reduced to a person's capacity of rationally "creating" conceptions about the good andthe corresponding moral norms. Rhonheimer challenges this view, showing its inner contradictions and shortcoming and its lack of textual faithfulness. He develops an alternative view of moral autonomy that does justice to both human persons' cognitive autonomy in grasping and establishing the fundamental standards of the human good and the dependence of these standards on preconditions that are not at a person's disposal.


Publisher Fordham Univ Pr
Mfg Part# 9780823219780
SKU 202712935
Format Hardcover
ISBN10 082321978X
Release Date 4/10/2007
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