‘Saint Augustine’ (354-430) Philippe de Champaigne
[1602-1674]

Course Description

This course in Ethics is designed to take the beginner through the philosophical science concerned with the nature of morality. Beginning with an investigation into the ultimate last end of human existence, we will consider the nature of happiness and in what it must essentially consist. An in-depth study of this topic would be incomplete without an extensive investigation into the contribution made to this discussion by the likes of the great ancient philosophers: Plato (428-347BC) and Aristotle (384-322BC), the Medievals: Bonaventure (1221-1275) and Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), and the moderns: Emmanuel Kant (1724-1804) and David Hume (1711-1776).

Upon understanding the essential nature of happiness we proceed to define the nature of the moral act. Here we distinguish between those acts which are devoid of morality from those actions having a moral aspect. In this we carefully define the nature of the willful and of the free. This takes us into a discussion concerning the influences affecting human freedom in the moral act; influences such as ignorance in deliberation, psychological states such as fear and anger, and the habits or accustomisations arising from within the human person. Finally the course considers the external influences to the moral act such as violence, either moral or physical.

Once we have studied the nature of morality in itself we then proceed to consider the objective and subjective rules of morality: namely, law and conscience. Here we consider the different types of law and their binding force, before considering the role of conscience in moral decision-making. The course concludes with an extensive investigation into the different virtues and vices and how they impact our moral life.

So join us for this beautiful course on the nature of morality.

Course Objectives

  1. To obtain a firm grasp of the philosophy of ethics.
  2. To gain an understanding of the nature of the moral act.
  3. To understand the nature of our vocation to happiness and how this is obtained.
  4. To grasp the nature of the rules of moral behaviour: law and conscience.
  5. To know of the different virtues and how to practice them; and the vices, and how to avoid them.

Course Duration

6 Weeks: 12 Hours (i.e., two hours, one night a week).

Recommended Reading

Popular Level Reading:

Gardeil, H.D. Introduction to the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1956.

Garrigou-Lagrange, Reginald. Reality: A Synthesis of Thomistic Thought. Translated by Patrick Cummins. London: B. Herder Book Co., 1950.

Geisler, Norman L. and Paul D. Feinberg. Introduction to Philosophy: A Christian Perspective. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1980.

Glenn, Paul. Apologetics. Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1980.

_________. Introduction to Philosophy. London: B. Herder Book Co., 1966.

Rogers, Glenn. Proof of God? Inquiries into the Philosophy of Religion: A Concise Introduction. Estherville, IO: Simpson & Brook, Publishers, 2012.

Maritain, Jacques. Introduction to Philosophy. Translated by E.I. Watkin. Merryland: Sheed and Ward, 2005.

Pieper, Josef. The Four Cardinal Virtues. Translated by Richard Winston. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1966.

Scholarly Level Reading:

Aristotle. The Complete Works of Aristotle: The Revised Oxford Translation. Edited by Jonathan Barnes. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1984.

Bourke, Vernon. Ethics. New York: Macmillan, 1951.

Bowlin, John. Contingency and Fortune in Aquinas’s Ethics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Bradley, Denis J. M. Aquinas on the Twofold Human Good. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1997.

Finnis, John. Aquinas: Moral, Political and Legal Theory. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Flannery, Kevin L. Acts Amid Precepts: The Aristotelian Logical Structure of Thomas Aquinas’s Moral Theory. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2001.

Garrigou-Lagrange, Reginald. Beatitude: A Commentary on St. Thomas’ Theological Summa, Ia IIae, qq.1-54. Translated by Patrick Cummins. St. Louis: B. Herder Book Co., 1956.

Gilson, Etienne. Moral Values and the Moral Life. St. Louis: Herder Book Co., 1931.

Harak, G. Simon. Virtuous Passions: The Formation of Christian Character. NY: Paulist Press, 1993.

Hibbs, Thomas. Aquinas, Ethics, and Philosophy of Religion: Metaphysics and Practice. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 2007.

Keenan, James F. Goodness and Rightness in Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1992.

McInerny, D. Q. A Course in Thomistic Ethics. Fraternity Publication Service, 1997.

McInerny, Ralph M. Aquinas on Human Action: A Theory of Practice. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1992.

_________. Ethica Thomistica. Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1997.

Nelson, Daniel Mark. The Priority of Prudence. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1992.

Pesch, Otto Hermann. Christian Existence According to Thomas Aquinas. Toronto, Ont., Canada: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1989.

Pieper, Josef. The Four Cardinal Virtues. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1966.

Joseph Pilsner. The Specification of Human Actions in St Thomas Aquinas. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Pinkaers, Servais, O.P. The Pinkaers Reader: Renewing Thomistic Moral Theology. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2005.

Pope, Stephen J. ed. The Ethics of Aquinas. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2002.

Porter, Jean. Recovery of Virtue. Louisville, KY: John Knox Press, 1990.

Rhonheimer, Martin, trans. by Gerald Malsbury. Natural Law and Practical Reason: A Thomist View of Moral Autonomy. New York: Fordham University Press, 2000.

Sherwin, Michael S. By Knowledge and By Love: Charity and Knowledge in the Moral Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas. Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 2005.

Thomas Aquinas. The Cardinal Virtues: Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance. Trans. Richard J. Regan, S.J., Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing, 2005.

Thomas Aquinas, Virtue: Way to Happiness. Translated by Richard Regan. University of Scranton Press, 2005.

Westberg, Daniel. Right Practical Reason: Aristotle, Action, and Prudence in Aquinas. New York: Clarendon Press; Oxford University Press, 1994.

Woodbury, Austin. Basic Morals. Aquinas Academy (unpublished text), 1962.

_________. Ethics. Sydney: Aquinas Academy (unpublished text), 1954-55.