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The Difficult Good: A Thomistic Approach to Moral Conflict and Human Happiness (Moral Philosophy and Moral Theology) [Hardcover]

Daniel J. McInerny
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

July 15, 2006 0823226212 978-0823226214 0
The claim that human agents are vulnerable to tragic conflict, situations in which one cannot help but do wrong, is a commonplace in contemporary moral philosophy. This book draws on Thomas Aquinas's moral thought in order to delineate an alternative view. While affirming that the human good can be attained only through difficulty, including the difficulty of moral conflict, it argues that Aquinas's understanding of a natural, hierarchical ordering of human goods allows for the rational resolution of moral conflict in a way that avoids tragic necessity.

Editorial Reviews


"One could not find a better introduction to Aristotle and Aquinas on the subject."

About the Author

Daniel McInerny is Associate Director of the Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame.

Product Details

  • Series: Moral Philosophy and Moral Theology (Book 6)
  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press (July 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823226212
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823226214
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,113,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Daniel McInerny is the author of the blackly comic thriller, HIGH CONCEPTS: A HOLLYWOOD NIGHTMARE, as well as the humorous KINGDOM OF PATRIA series for middle grade readers. His latest work is a play, THE ACTOR, based upon little-known events in the life of Karol Wojtyla, the man who became Pope John Paul II. A native of South Bend, Indiana, he holds a PhD in philosophy and taught and worked for many years at various universities in the United States. He now lives in Virginia with his wife Amy and three children.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent study of an important question March 21, 2007
The question addressed by McInerny is not only perennial and philosophical, but personal and existential: Are aspects of the human condition unavoidably and ineluctably tragic? Are there basic conflicts in people's moral lives that cannot be resolved by reasoning? D. McInerny -- son of the famous Notre Dame Thomist, Ralph McInerny -- says not. In this marvelously instructive presentation of classic "virtue ethics," he argues against the commonplace claim in contemporary ethical discussions that human agents are vulnerable to tragic situations in which they cannot help but do wrong. This widespread assumption that moral evil is unavoidable surfaces in popular culture in movies like "Crash" and TV series like "24" -- as well as in classrooms where students cheat to maintain passing grades and procure abortions to avoid unwanted children. It echoes the legacy of pre-Socratic fatalism defended by intellectuals such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Martha Nussbaum, and Bernard Williams. Such thinkers reject even the possibility that one's moral experience can be rendered ultimately intelligible. They reject the way in which religious traditions -- Christian, Jewish and at least the Mu'tazilite school of Muslim thought -- have assimilated and extended Plato's and Aristotle's attempt to make ethical relations to the world fully understandable. This question was brought to the world's attention in flash of controversy last year (2006) by Pope Benedict XVI's lecture in Regensburg, Germany, in which he asked whether Muslims and Christians can engage REASON in controversial questions of faith. Drawing on Aquinas's moral thought, McInerny argues that the human good can be attained sometimes only through difficulty (what Aquinas calls the 'bonum arduum'), including the difficulty of moral conflict. Read more ›
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