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Book description

Although the virtues are implicit in Catholic Social Teaching, they are too often overlooked.  In this pioneering study, Andrew M. Yuengert draws on the neo-Aristotelian virtues tradition to bring the virtue of practical wisdom into an explicit and wide-ranging engagement with the Church's social doctrine.  Practical wisdom and the virtues clarify the meaning of Christian personalism, highlight the irreplaceable role of the laity in social reform, and bring attention to the important task of lay formation in virtue. This form of wisdom also offers new insights into the Church's dialogue with economics and the social sciences, and reframes practical political disagreements between popes, bishops, and the laity in a way that challenges both laypersons and episcopal leadership. Yuengert's study respects the Church's social tradition, while showing how it might develop to be more practical.  By proposing active engagement with practical wisdom, he demonstrates how Catholic Social Teaching can more effectively inform and inspire practical social reform.


‘Andrew Yuengert's lucidly written and deftly argued book is a genuine desideratum finally filling a longstanding lacuna - the bridging between Catholic Social Teaching and practical reasoning, the virtue of prudence in act. A noted economist, Yuengert has acquired a remarkable expertise in the neo-Aristotelian virtue tradition and puts it to use with great competence to the practice of Catholic social teaching. I cannot think of a more important work on Catholic Social Teaching in recent years. It should be required reading for Catholic bishops and Catholic laity in decision making positions in economics, politics, and business.’

Reinhard Huetter - School of Theology and Religious Studies, The Catholic University of America

‘Andrew Yuengert advances the tradition of Catholic social thought through an interdisciplinary engagement of Catholic social thought and social sciences integrated by a recovery of a Thomist understanding of practical wisdom. He overcomes the all-too-common problems of abstraction in Catholic social thought and the instrumentalism in the social sciences giving us insights into the wisdom that is needed in our world today.’

Michael Naughton - Director, Center for Catholic Studies and Koch Chair in Catholic Studies, University of St. Thomas

‘One of the many remarkable things about this study is that it has taken an economist to name and surmount the gap in Catholic social thought between high-level principles and social action! Expertly naming the limits of empirical analysis in bridging that gap, Yuengert sees that only attention to the virtues - especially prudence - can make CST truly practical. The author shows how ‘a prudential audit of CST’ must be much more than the common claim that the teachings involve ‘prudential judgment’ that is little more than personal opinion about the effectiveness of particular policies. Instead, Yuengert displays how practical wisdom rooted in a life of virtue allows for a ‘practical personalism’ in which CST forms laypeople at every level of their social lives. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in how the distinctive social vision of CST can be rightly applied by the laity in their vocation to shape a more just and loving world.’

David Cloutier - Ordinary Professor of Theology and Area Director, Moral Theology & Ethics, The Catholic University of America

‘Andrew Yuengert has provided a deeply insightful and practically helpful argument for how Catholic social thought needs to be enriched by greater attention to the virtues - especially practical reason, what Aristotle called ‘prudence.’ Everyone in social ethics agrees that principles alone are insufficient for decisions in the concrete, where contingency complicates our judgments and principles are often in tension with each other. Yuengert has done us a great service in articulating how attention to practical reason can clarify ongoing disputes about public policy and improve our judgments about pressing social issues.’

Daniel K. Finn - Clemens Professor of Economics and Professor of Theology, The College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University

‘Pope Paul VI affirmed that ‘the world is in trouble because of the lack of thinking.’ We can add, for the lack of deep and critical - thoughtful - thinking. Ours is a time of reflection on what it means to be human. This book presents just such a reflection. As economist and a faithful Catholic, Andrew Yuengert can think things apart and then together again. It is an important building block in the edifice of humanism.’

Msgr Martin Schlag - JD, STD; Moss endowed Chair for Catholic Social Thought, Center for Catholic Studies/Opus College of Business, University of St. Thomas

‘Do many academics live in an unreal world? Not economist Andrew Yuengert. Determined to close the gap between partial economic analyses and their prudential application, and aware of inevitable tradeoffs and inescapable complexities on the ground, he draws upon virtue ethics, Catholic social teaching, and practical wisdom, to lay out a pathway to the common good. This book makes a much needed contribution to the literature.’

James L. Heft - S.M., Alton Brooks Professor of Religion at the University of Southern California; Founder and President Emeritus of the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies

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