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In the 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor Pope John Paul II stated that the “morality of the human act depends primarily and fundamentally on the ‘object’ rationally chosen by the deliberate will.” Since that time the interpretation of the moral object has garnered increased attention among Thomist scholars. Yet it remains a source of dispute. Two scholars who take rather opposed views on what Aquinas means by the moral object are Martin Rhonheimer and Steven Long. The purpose of this dissertation is to elucidate the account of Aquinas’s doctrine through a comparison of the interpretations of each of these scholars with Aquinas’s own work. Part 1 will elaborate the work of Steven Long and Martin Rhonheimer in order to identify the areas of disagreement between the two. Part 2 will summarize the work of Aquinas’s precursors in order to provide the context in which Aquinas developed his own doctrine and then examine Aquinas’s own work as it relates to the areas of disagreement between our two scholars. Part 3 will compare each scholar’s work with Aquinas’s texts in order to evaluate the accuracy of each account and the insights each has to offer. This analysis of two clearly opposing views in the post-Veritatis Splendor debates, informed by a critical reading of Aquinas’s texts, offers to provide a deeper understanding of the moral object as elaborated by Aquinas. ii This dissertation by John Makdisi fulfills the dissertation requirement for the doctoral degree in Moral Theology/Ethics approved by William C. Mattison III, Ph.D., as Director, and by Joseph Capizzi, Ph.D., and Tobias Hoffmann, Ph.D. as Readers.

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law, moral acts



The Object of the Moral Act: Understanding St. Thomas Aquinas through the Work of Steven Long and Martin Rhonheimer

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