Modern philosophy has long dismissed the traditional moral notion that some actions are inherently good or evil, claiming rather that actions lack clear boundaries and have no set nature, whether good, evil, or anything else. We might expect to find resources to rebut these consequentialist assertions in the perennial philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas. Unfortunately, the analysis of the moral species within Aquinas confounds even the most resolute. Thomists are far from unanimity on the very questions at issue, such as the role of intention in moral judgment and the importance of the exterior or 'physical' act. One influential reading of Aquinas assigns intention a central role; another extols a return to teleology and to the physical nature of the action. In ""Good and Evil Actions"", Steven J. Jensen navigates a path through the debate, retrieving what is of value from each interpretation. Intention receives its proper due, while leaving room for physical causality and teleology. Jensen provides a novel explanation of self-defense and develops a much needed account of the dignity of the human person. With exceptional clarity, he identifies the essential issues, resolves conflicting views, and reveals the truth as conveyed by Aquinas. In his foreword, Ralph McInerny praises the book as 'a remarkable compendium of the status quaestionis of a large number of prickly issues associated with Thomas Aquinas' theory of human action, a fair look at proposed solutions, and finally Jensen's own best thought on the matter'. This title tackles the Thomistic debate surrounding the inherent good and evil of human actions.
Steven J. Jensen is associate professor of philosophy at the University of St. Thomas in Houston and specialises in the areas of ethics and medieval philosophy. He is the author of Good and Evil Actions: A Journey through Saint Thomas Aquinas (CUA Press).