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The history of moral dilemma theory often ignores the medieval period, overlooking the sophisticated theorizing by several thinkers who debated the existence of moral dilemmas from 1150 to 1450. In this book Michael V. Dougherty offers a rich and fascinating overview of the debates which were pursued by medieval philosophers, theologians and canon lawyers, illustrating his discussion with a diverse range of examples of the moral dilemmas which they considered. He shows that much of what seems particular to twentieth-century moral theory was well-known long ago – especially the view of some medieval thinkers that some forms of wrongdoing are inescapable, and their emphasis on the principle 'choose the lesser of two evils'. His book will be valuable not only to advanced students and specialists of medieval thought, but also to those interested in the history of ethics.Read more
- Discusses examples of moral dilemmas involving a full range of human activities: sex, commerce, friendship, promises, political manoeuvring, crimes, secrets and religious observances
- Translations provided for texts not previously found in English
- Presents medieval dilemmas in terms of contemporary philosophical discussions
Reviews & endorsements
"… offering a detailed overview of the debates over the existence of moral dilemmas pursued by medieval philosophers from around 1150 to 1450 … aside from appealing to scholars specializing in medieval philosophy, Dougherty's work will interest contemporary ethicists, who will benefit from coming to know not only the dilemmas discussed (which by themselves make for interesting thought experiments), but also the competing theories developed to address them … Recommended …"
F. A. Grabowski, ChoiceSee more reviews
"… Dougherty’s study is well written and pedagogical, and offers a sophisticated and valuable contribution to the field of moral dilemmas."
Taina M. Holopainenn, Journal of the History of Philosophy
"… Michael Dougherty’s excellent study shows that medievals in fact gave serious thought to moral dilemmas … A major contribution of Dougherty’s book is its treatment of two issues debated in twentieth-century literature about Aquinas’s teachings on moral dilemmas …"
Bonnie Kent, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly
"… the work as a whole is designed to be of interest to contemporary moral dilemma theorists as well as historians … enormously influential … Dougherty’s exposition and choice of figures is excellent. The reconstruction of Aquinas is also highly plausible and valuable … the chief value of the study for contemporary theorists is to be found in the very richness of the medieval treatments of moral dilemmas, a richness which Dougherty manages to convey with admirable skill."
Stephen Boulter, Philosophy in Review
"… solid and well-reasoned argument … Accessible not only to specialists, Dougherty's work is easy to understand even for a layman in the field …"
Joshua Alexander Sequeira, Lumen Veritatis
"This book attempts to correct the impression one may gain from many histories of ethics that sophisticated moral dilemma theory did not exist in the Middle Ages. M. V. Dougherty examines the debates in the years following 1150 among philosophers, theologians, and canon lawyers. He shows that moral dilemmas were discussed in these debates, given that some human wrongdoing is inescapable and one must choose the lesser evils."
The European Legacy: Toward New Paradigms
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- Date Published: May 2011
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107007079
- length: 238 pages
- dimensions: 229 x 152 x 20 mm
- weight: 0.52kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
1. Gratian and his Glossators on conflicts in the natural law
2. Twenty moral dilemmas from two early 13th-century summaries of theology: William of Auxerre's Summa aurea and the Franciscan Summa Halesiana
3. Raymond Lull and moral ensnarement in the Vita coaetanea
4. Thomas Aquinas, moral dilemmas, and a missing article from Quodlibet XII
5. Thomas Aquinas on failures of practical reasoning: why synderesis doesn't inoculate agents against malformed conscience dilemmas
6. Moral dilemmas in the early Thomistic tradition: Johannes Capreolus and the deceiving demon dilemma
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