Traditional Catholic philosophy: baby and bathwater

In Michael Whelan (ed.), Issues for Church and Society in Australia. Sydney, Australia: St Pauls. pp. 15-32 (2006)
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The teaching of the Aquinas Academy in its first thirty years was based on the scholastic philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, then regarded as the official philosophy of the Catholic Church. That philosophy has not been so much heard of in the last thirty years, but it has a strong presence below the surface. Its natural law theory of ethics, especially, still informs Vatican pronouncements on moral topics such as contraception and euthanasia. It has also been important in Australia in the High Court’s deliberations on the Mabo case. It is argued that some officially-sanctioned deductions on particular cases have not been correct, but that any attempt to do without a natural law foundation of ethics would throw out the baby with the bathwater. The sense of the basic objective worth of persons that is the centre of natural law ethics is essential to any ethics better than a simple “might is right” approach

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James Franklin
University of New South Wales


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