Moral Dilemmas in Medieval Thought

Moral Dilemmas in Medieval Thought : From Gratian to Aquinas

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The history of moral dilemma theory often ignores the medieval period, overlooking the sophisticated theorizing by several thinkers who debated the existence of moral dilemmas from 1150 to 1450. In this book Michael V. Dougherty offers a rich and fascinating overview of the debates which were pursued by medieval philosophers, theologians and canon lawyers, illustrating his discussion with a diverse range of examples of the moral dilemmas which they considered. He shows that much of what seems particular to twentieth-century moral theory was well-known long ago - especially the view of some medieval thinkers that some forms of wrongdoing are inescapable, and their emphasis on the principle 'choose the lesser of two evils'. His book will be valuable not only to advanced students and specialists of medieval thought, but also to those interested in the history of more

Product details

  • Electronic book text | 248 pages
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1139006126
  • 9781139006125

About M. V. Dougherty

M. V. Dougherty is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Ohio Dominican University. He is the editor of Pico della Mirandola: New Essays (Cambridge University Press, 2008).show more

Table of contents

Preface; Introduction; 1. Gratian and his Glossators on conflicts in the natural law; 2. Twenty moral dilemmas from two early 13th-century summaries of theology: William of Auxerre's Summa aurea and the Franciscan Summa Halesiana; 3. Raymond Lull and moral ensnarement in the Vita coaetanea; 4. Thomas Aquinas, moral dilemmas, and a missing article from Quodlibet XII; 5. Thomas Aquinas on failures of practical reasoning: why synderesis doesn't inoculate agents against malformed conscience dilemmas; 6. Moral dilemmas in the early Thomistic tradition: Johannes Capreolus and the deceiving demon dilemma; Conclusion; Bibliography; more

Review quote

'Dougherty's exposition and choice of figures is excellent. The reconstruction of Aquinas is also highly plausible and valuable ... But perhaps the chief value of the study for contemporary theorists is to be found in the very richness of the medieval treatments of moral dilemmas, a richness which Dougherty manages to convey with admirable skill.' Stephen Boulter, Philosophy in Review 'This book attempts to correct the impression one may gain from many histories of ethics that sophisticated moral dilemma theory did not exist in the Middle Ages. M. V. Dougherty examines the debates in the years following 1150 among philosophers, theologians, and canon lawyers. He shows that moral dilemmas were discussed in these debates, given that some human wrongdoing is inescapable and one must choose the lesser evils.' The European Legacy: Toward New Paradigmsshow more