TRS 835: The Moral Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas
Catholic University of America
Dr. William C. Mattison III
409 Caldwell Hall
Office Hours: by appt.
This course is an examination of St. Thomas Aquinas’ moral theology. It takes it starting point from Thomas’ own writings, and engages these texts as part of an ongoing and living tradition by examining them in historical context, attending to their sources, and mining them for their wisdom on enduring questions of moral theology. Students are thus invited to participate in the tradition of Thomistic moral theology by engaging his
texts and as well as his historical and contemporary interlocutors.
1. Students will be introduced to St. Thomas Aquinas’ writings on moral theology in the context of his overall corpus. They will identify: the organization of his moral writings, their connections to other writings, Thomas’ use of earlier sources, the main questions
Thomas engages, and the main strategies he employs in doing so.
2. Students will be inaugurated into the tradition of Thomistic scholarship in moral theology.
a) Students will locate Thomas in the broader stream of scholarship on morality,
which Thomas engages and contributes to.
What are Thomas’ key claims, moves, formulations, etc. on perennial
questions? How do those differ from non-Christian thinkers and /or other
Christian thinkers? What invaluable syntheses does Thomas offer? Are
there Thomistic omissions with important ramifications?
b) Students will participate in the long tradition on scholarship on Thomas’ own
work (with emphasis on more recent scholarship).
-What exactly does Thomas say on different particular questions? How
ought different parts of his work be understood to relate to each other?
What developments or inconsistencies may be found in his work?
3. Students will do an academic presentation.
4. Students will do an academic response.
5. Students will write an academic article ready for publication
6. Students will build a bibliography (and start a library) on Thomas’ own work and the important secondary literature
Needless to say, attendance is crucial for this class. It is a seminar, and thus your classmates are essential for learning about St. Thomas and his moral theology. You should not miss class. If there is some emergency that requires you to do so, inform me as soon as you are aware of it.
1. Seminar Presentation (One over the course of the term)
The student who presents on a given day is the person responsible for the class’
engagement with the texts of that day. The presenter should have a strong grasp
of the following:
a) The context of this particular section of Thomas’ work, including its
placement in relation to other sections of the Summa Theologiae as well as
other works of Thomas that treat the same topic. For the latter, the Somme
Theologique (published by Cerf in either three large volumes or many
smaller ones) is an invaluable resource.
b) The key sources for Thomas in this section.
c) A basic outline of Thomas’ argument throughout the section.
d) The key claims and contested questions, noting the practical relevance
of these questions. These, along with your paper, will serve as the impetus
e) Give a bibliography of secondary sources for this topic.
f) Presenters should contact the professor by January 26 with the articles
he or she would like the class to focus upon in the primary text reading.
Several days before our seminar (Friday, 2 pm?) the presenter should send out to
the class and professor by email a 2000-2500 wd. paper making an argument
relevant to the reading. It must be well footnoted with primary and secondary
sources. It is not a summary or overview – it is an argument that takes a position
(for or against Thomas or some interpreter of Thomas) on a contested question.
2. Seminar Response (One over the course of the term)
The assigned respondent for a class will write a 1000-1200 wd. direct response to
the paper handed out by Monday, agreeing and / or disagreeing with its claims
and explaining why. It must be well footnoted with primary and secondary
sources. It will be handed out and read in class, and serve as the starting point
(with the presenter paper) for discussion.
3. Final Paper (due Weds., May 6, by email by 3 pm)
Your your paper should be in the form of a publishable paper with a clear thesis,
argument, and command of the primary and secondary literature on the topic. It
should be 5,000-10,000 words. Use The Thomist submission guidelines (and
published articles) as an example. You should meet with me early and repeatedly
about this paper.
Latin Reading Group
If students are interested and able, there will optional reading of Thomas’ texts in Latin
for 45 minutes before each class. We will decide on this the first week of class.
All levels of Latin ability are welcome!
St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, English Dominicans translation, 5 vol.
Stephen Pope (ed.), The Ethics of Aquinas, Georgetown Press 2002 (EA)
John Berkman and Craig Steven Titus (eds.), The Pinckaers Reader, CUA Press 2005
Michael Sherwin, O.P., By Knowledge and By Love, CUA Press 2005
Dozens of articles available electronically.
-Electronic Subscription to The Thomist highly recommended ($20)
-Go to www.thomist.org
Recommended: Jean Porter, Nature as Reason, Eerdman’s 2005.
Romanus Cessario, O.P., Introduction to Moral Theology, CUA Press
(subject to revision)
Seminar Presentation 100
Seminar Response 50
Research Paper 200 (inc. 50 pt detailed proposal)
(subject to revision!)
Tuesday, January 13 Introduction to Course: St. Thomas’ Moral
Tuesday, January 20 Inauguration Day – No Class
-students have their presentation class chosen shortly after the first class, and must
should use the reading / preparation time for this class session to read their
primary and secondary material in order to inform the professor both what articles
the class will focus on that week, and what topic the student plans to write about
for his or her presentation
Tuesday, January 27 The Treatise on Happiness
1. primary text: I-II 1-5
2. possible other primary texts: parallels in Summa Contra Gentiles (SCG) or
Sentences; Commentary on Nicomachean Ethics; Augustine’s De moribus 1.1-15;
Augustine’s City of God XIX; Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics; Boethius’
Consolation of Philosophy ii & iii.
3. required secondary: Sherwin in Nova et Vetera 2005; Staley in Thomist 1989;
Long in The Thomist 2000
4. other secondary: PR 6; Wieland in EA; Porter Nature as Reason chap 3; PR
7; Pegis in American Catholic Philosophical Association 1949; Toner in Thomist
2007; Bradley’s book Aquinas on the Twofold Human Good; Pagan-Aguliar in
Thomist 2000; Pieper’s Happiness and Contemplation; Bowlin’s Contingency and
Fortune in Aquinas’ Ethics; PR 18; Nova et Vetera 5.1 (2007) pieces on nature /
Tuesday, February 3 The Treatise on Acts I
1. primary text: I-II 6-17
2. possible other primary texts: ST I 82-83, ST III 18; De malo 6; De veritate 22
3. required secondary: Sherwin BKBL chapter 2 & pp. 81-100 ; Westberg in
Thomist 1994 (only pp. 51-60)
4. other secondary: PR 10; Porter Nature as Reason pp. 248-268; Westberg’s
Right Practical Reason; Pasnau’s Thomas Aquinas on Human Nature; Finnis in
Thomist 1991; James Keenan’s Goodness and Rightness…; Flannery’s Acts Amid
Precepts; Gallagher in EA
Tuesday, February 10 The Treatise on Acts II
1. primary text: I-II 18-21
2. possible other primary texts: pre-Thomistic Scholastics from Hoffman’s
Thomist 2003 (and PR 11) – LIKELY NONE
3. required secondary: PR pp. 199-211; Long from Nova et Vetera 2008;
Rhonheimer in Nova et Vetera 2004; Flannery in Thomist 2003
4. other secondary: Porter Nature as Reason pp. 268-288; PR 11 & 12;
Westberg in EA; Finnis in Thomist 1991; Flannery in Thomist 2005; Long in
Thomist 2003; Hoffman in Thomist 2003; Dewan in Nova et Vetera 2008; Brock
in Nova et Vetera 2008; Long’s Teleological Grammar of the Moral Act;
Pinches’ Morality and Action; Brock’s Action and Conduct
Tuesday, February 17 The Treatise on the Passions
1. primary text: I-II 22-48
2. possible other primary texts: I 81; III 15; De veritate 26; Augustine’s City of
God IX & XIV
3. required secondary: Chenu article; Mattison JSCE article
4. other secondary: White in EA; PR 14, Gondreau in Thomist 2007; Jordan
1986 article; Barad in Thomist 1991; Mirkes in Thomist 1997; Gondreau’s The
Passions of Christ; Coolman in Thomist 2007; Mattison chapter 4 in Introducing
Moral Theology; Loughlin in Thomist 2001; Malloy in Thomist 2007; Mattison in
Theological Studies 2007; Westberg vs. Sarot on emotion in God in Thomist
1996; Drost in Thomist 1995; Mattison CTS 2000 article
Tuesday, February 24 The Treatises on Habit and Virtue I
1. primary text: I-II 49-70
2. possible other primary texts: Sentences III 33 & 36; De virtutibus in communi;
De virtutibus cardinalibus; Augustine’s City of God XIX; Augustine’s De
moribus I; Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics
3. required secondary: Mattison manuscript; Shanley in Thomst 1999; Osborne
in Thomist 2003; McKay in Thomist 2005
4. other secondary: Osborne in Thomist 2007; Kent in Religious Studies 1994;
MacIntyre’s Whose Justice?; Kant in EA; Reichberg in EA; PR 14; Cessario
books; Porter in Journal of Religious Ethics 1998; Porter’s Recovery of Virtue;
Keenan’s Goodness and Rightness
Tuesday, March 3 Spring Break
Tuesday, March 10 The Treatises on Habit and Virtue II
1. primary text: I-II 49-70
2. possible other primary texts: depends on direction presenter takes – some
Role of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and / or beatitudes and / or fruits of the
Connection of the virtues
Duration of the Virtues
Facility issue or seats of virtue issue (related to passions)
3. required secondary: depends on direction presenter takes
4. other secondary: depends on direction presenter takes
Tuesday, March 17 The Treatise on Sin
1. primary text: I-II 71-89
2. possible other primary texts: De malo; Summa Contra Gentiles II & IV
3. required secondary: Toner in Thomist 2005; Langan in 1987 Annual of the
SCE; DeYoung in Thomist 2004
4. other secondary: Sherwin’s By Knowledge and by Love 100-106; Keenan in
Heythrop Journal 1994; Piper’s The Concept of Sin; Dewan on lying in Thomist
1997 (esp. beginning part on sin); Pruss on lying in Thomist 1999; Guevin on
lying in Thomist 2002
Tuesday, March 24 The Treatise on Law
1. primary text: I-II 90-108 (inc. new law)
2. possible other primary texts: Commentary on Romans; On two precepts of
charity and On Ten Commandments; see Porter’s Divine and Natural Law for
other Scholastics on natural law; Augustine’s On the Spirit and the Letter
3. required secondary: Rhonheimer in Thomist 2003; Levering in Thomist 2006
4. other secondary: Kossell in EA; Hall in EA; Dewan on Porter in Thomist 2002; Porter / Rhonheimer exchange, 2005-2006; O’Reilly in Nova et Vetera 2007; Rhonheimer in Nova et Vetera 2004; Sokolowski in Thomist 2004;
Budziszewski in First Things Dec., 2008; Hall’s Narrative and Natural Law;
Butera in Thomist 2007; Gonzalez in Thomist 1999; see also work by Hittinger,
Porter, Robert George, Ralph McInery, Yves Simon, John Finnis, & Germain
Grisez – see superb volume edited by Goyette et al, St. Thomas Aquinas and the Natural Law Tradition
Tuesday, March 31 The Treatise on Grace & Law / Virtue / Grace
1. primary text: I-II 106-114 (inc. new law) 2. possible other primary texts: Sentences III 26-28; Summa Contra Gentiles III.147-158; De veritate 24 & 27; Augustine’s De Spiritu et Littera (see also: De
Natura et Gratia & On Praedestinatione Sanctorum & De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio)
; Porter’s Nature as Reason pp. 3. required secondary: Titus from Thomist 2008
309-324 & 327-342 & 378-400
4. other secondary: PR 19; Kobusch in EA; Hall (again) in EA; Thompson in Thomist 1999; Hibb’s Virtue’s Splendor, esp. 86-119; Carl from Thomist 1997; Di Blasi from Thomist 2004; Gonzalez from Thomist 1999; Wawrykow’s God’s
Grace and Human Action: Merit in the Thought of Thomas Aquinas
Tuesday, April 7 The Treatises on Faith and Hope 1. primary text: II-II 1-22
2. possible other primary texts: Sentences III.23-26; De Veritate 14; De spe;
3. required secondary: Sherwin chapter 3; Hutter from Nova et Vetera 2006
4. other secondary: Brown & Cessario in EA; Pieper’s Faith, Hope and Love;
Marshall in Thomist 1999; Cessario’s Christian Faith and the Theological Life;
Guzie in Thomist 1965; Jenkins’ Knowledge and Faith; Sokolowski’s God of Faith and Reason
Tuesday, April 14 The Treatise on Love 1. primary text: II-II 23-46
2. possible other primary texts: Sentences III.27-32 (just now in English); De
caritate; Augustine’s De Doctrina Christiana (esp. Book I) & Enchiridion
3. required secondary: Sherwin chapter 4, Keaty in Thomist1998; Porter in Thomist 1989
4. other secondary: Schockenhoff in EA, Malloy in Thomist 2007; Pieper’s Faith, Hope, and Love, Pope’s Evolution of Altruism and the Order of Love; Selner-Wrigth in Philosophy and Theology 1995; Wadell’s Primacy of Love
Tuesday, April 21 The Treatise on Prudence 1. primary text: II-II 47-56
2. possible other primary texts: De Veritate 17; De virtutibus cardinalibus,
Commentary on Nicomachean Ethics; Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics
3. required secondary: Miner in Thomist 2000; Sherwin’s By Knowledge and By
Love pp. 106-117 & 176-192
4. other secondary: PR 16 & 17, McInerny in Thomist 1974; Westberg’s Right
Practical Reason 6-13 & 100-106; Pieper’s Four Cardinal Virtues; McKay in
Thomist 2005; Osborne in Thomist 2007; Nelson’s Priority of Prudence (and
countless negative reviews of it)
Tuesday, April 28 The Treatise on Justice
1. primary text: II-II 57-122
2. possible other primary texts: Summa Contra Gentiles III.140-146
3. required secondary: (double effect / praeter intentionem with an emphasis on
killing, i.e., punishment, self-defense, etc.) Long in Thomist 1999; Brugger in
Thomist 2004; Reichberg in Thomist 2002
4. other secondary: Porter in EA; Rhonheimer in EA; White in Thomist 1993;
Kaczor in Nova et Vetera 2004; Brugger’s Capital Punishment; Reichberg in
Thomist 2005; Boyle in Thomist 1978; Sullivan in Thomist 2000; Cavannaugh in
Thomist 1997; Pieper’s Four Cardinal Virtues
Wednesday, May 6 Final Paper Due (by email by 3 pm)