Vocation to Love: Supererogation in Aquinas

International Journal of Systematic Theology 24 (2):156-172 (2022)
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Thomas Aquinas’ account of religious vocation has been interpreted as involving a qualified duty, where ordinary people fall short of living up to the moral ideal of becoming a monk or nun. Such an account of religious vocation makes a hash of Aquinas’ thought and misses important aspects of his ethics. Aquinas holds that religious life is praiseworthy, but not morally required, because there are multiple sources of normativity. I conclude by proposing that, while elements of Aquinas’ notion of supererogation might be shared with other traditions in virtue ethics, his theological commitments are central to his notion of supererogation.

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James Dominic Rooney
Hong Kong Baptist University


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