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The Disfigured FaceTraditional Natural Law and Its Encounter with Modernity$
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Luis Cortest

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780823228539

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823228539.001.0001

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Chapter Two: Ontological Morality and Human Rights

Chapter Two: Ontological Morality and Human Rights

(p.14) Chapter Two: Ontological Morality and Human Rights
The Disfigured Face

Luis Cortest

Fordham University Press

This chapter examines the ontological morality of Thomas Aquinas and the concept of human rights. Aquinas strongly defends the notion that morality is grounded on nature and being. For Aquinas, moral action must be understood in terms of the perfection of being. In this system, man, as a rational being, makes informed choices. Moreover, only human beings are capable of acts of moral volition. Thomas's strong defense of the human person has led some modern scholars to argue that he was, in fact, a defender of a specific set of natural human rights. An even more explicit notion of human rights finds its beginnings in the writings of Hobbes, whose understanding of man and nature was entirely different from that of Aquinas and Aristotle. For Hobbes, and for so many other thinkers who followed him, morality has no ontological foundation.

Keywords:   ontological morality, Thomas Aquinas, Hobbes, moral action, moral volition, human rights, being

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