Narrative, Casuistry, and the Function of Conscience in Thomas Aquinas

Stephen Chanderbhan

About author

Dr. Stephen Chanderbhan
Assistant Professor
Department of Philosophy
Canisius College
2001 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14216
United States of America
Phone (Office): 1-716-888-2223

E-mail: chanders@canisius.edu
Alternative E-mail: steve.chanderbhan@gmail.com

Stephen Chanderbhan is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Canisius College (Buffalo, NY, USA).  His research interests include medieval philosophy (specifically, the thought of Thomas Aquinas), moral psychology, philosophy of religion, and Catholic social thought.  He is the author of “Does Empathy Have Any Place in Aquinas’s Account of Justice?” (Philosophia 41.2 (2013)) and “The Shifting Prominence of Emotions in the Moral Philosophy of Thomas Aquinas” (Diametros 38 (2013)).  In addition, he is the Director of the Be the Light Youth Theology Institute at Canisius College, which is part of the Lilly Endowment’s Theology Institutes for High School Youth Initiative.

Abstract


Both the function of one’s conscience, as Thomas Aquinas understands it, and the work of casuistry in general involve deliberating about which universal moral principles are applicable in particular cases. Thus, understanding how conscience can function better also indicates how casuistry might be done better – both on Thomistic terms, at least. I claim that, given Aquinas’ descriptions of certain parts of prudence (synesis and gnome) and the role of moral virtue in practical knowledge, understanding particular cases more as narratives, or parts of narratives, likely will result, all else being equal, in more accurate moral judgments of particular cases. This is especially important in two kinds of cases: first, cases in which Aquinas recognizes universal moral principles do not specify the means by which they are to be followed; second, cases in which the type-identity of an action – and thus the norms applicable to it – can be mistaken.

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References


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DOI:

http://dx.doi.org/10.13153/diam.47.2016.865

Article links:

Default URL: http://www.diametros.iphils.uj.edu.pl/index.php/diametros/article/view/865
English abstract URL: http://www.diametros.iphils.uj.edu.pl/index.php/diametros/article/view/865/en

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