Thomas Aquinas – Human Dignity and Conscience as a Basis for Restricting Legal Obligations

Diametros 47:64-83 (2016)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
In contemporary positive law there are legal institutions, such as conscientious objection in the context of military service or “conscience clauses” in medical law, which for the sake of respect for judgments of conscience aim at restricting legal obligations. Such restrictions are postulated to protect human freedom in general. On the basis of Thomas Aquinas’ philosophy, it shall be argued that human dignity, understood as the existential perfection of a human being based on special unity, provides a foundation for imposing limitations on the scope of legal obligations in general. Human freedom plays a crucial role in understanding dignity as perfection based on the special individuality of a personal being, which in turn is based on the free choice to pursue a unique way of life. Therefore, Aquinas’ argumentation is, at its core, liberal – the perfection rather than the imperfection of a human being underlies the requirement to limit legal obligations. Dignity understood as the special unity of a person also provides the basis for limiting obligations in the case of conscientious objection; however, in that case, such limitations aim at safeguarding internal integrity rather than the individualisation of a given way of life. _This project was financed with funds from the National Science Centre allocated on the basis of the decision number DEC-2013/09/B/HS5/04232._
Reprint years
PhilPapers/Archive ID
Revision history
Archival date: 2016-03-29
View upload history
References found in this work BETA
Richard McKeon.McKeon, Richard

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Added to PP index

Total views
207 ( #21,066 of 50,387 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
12 ( #37,648 of 50,387 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.