To Discover, Communicate, and Defend the Truth: A Thomistic Response to the New Natural Law Theorists



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My thesis is twofold. (a) The foundation of every properly human act is the inclination to the fullness of truth, and (b) all morality is rooted in the common goodness of the fullness of truth. This dissertation proceeds along two interwoven threads. The first is the critique of the NNL theorists’ central positions. The second is the development of a more Thomistic account of the foundations of human action with reference to the critique of the NNL theorists’ four central positions. Chapters 1-2 critique the NNL theorists’ position on the incommensurability of the basic goods. Chapters 3-4 critique their account of the ultimate end. Chapter 5 reformulates the NNL theorists’ doctrine on the ultimate end in light of a deeper consideration of happiness. Chapter 6 critiques the NNL theorists’ view on how the first precept directs human action. Chapter 7 addresses the NNL position on the first principles of morality. Simultaneously, Chapters 1-2 show that there is indeed a hierarchy of goods and proposes Thomas’s position that happiness with God is the good of the first precept, though this is only vaguely understood. Chapters 3-4 show that God Himself must be the final object of the human will, and all desire must be rooted in the desire for God. Chapter 5 follows Thomas’s proposal that the contemplation of God is the ultimate end, and that this is the good of the whole man. Chapter 6 argues that the inclination to the fullness of truth is the ground of human agency. Thus, God is the good of the first precept of practical reason, but He is inclined to as the fullness of truth, and this good is the ground of all human agency. Chapter 7 completes this thread, showing how the inclination to the fullness of truth instantiates a moral precept.



natural law, metaphysics, ethics, politics, Thomas Aquinas, New Natural Law, Thomas, Aquinas, Saint, 1225?-1274