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  • Paperback
  • Bookstore's Wholesale Price: $16.00
  • November 1987
  • ISBN: 978-0-393-95243-8
  • 288 pages
  • Territory Rights: Worldwide

St. Thomas Aquinas on Politics and Ethics

Norton Critical Editions


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Saint Thomas Aquinas (Author), Paul E. Sigmund (Editor, Princeton University)


St. Thomas Aquinas on Politics and Ethics contains translations of carefully chosen and central selections from The Summa Against the Gentiles, On Kingship or The Governance of Rulers, and The Summa of Theology.

The selections not only include St. Thomas Aquinas’s views on government, law, war, property, and sexual ethics, but also provide the theological, epistemological, and psychological background for his political and ethical thought, including the Five Proofs on the existence of God and Aquinas’s theories of knowledge, the soul, the purpose of man, and the order of the universe. Throughout the book, footnotes explain technical terms and historical, biblical, and classical references.

"Backgrounds and Sources" follows the text, with selections from the writings of Aristotle, St. Augustine, and Dionysius the Areopagite.

"Interpretations" traces Aquinas’s influence on medieval thought, on Roman Catholicism during the Renaissance, on early modern political thought (Richard Hooker and Francisco Suarez), on nineteenth-and twentieth-century papal social thought, and on contemporary Christian Democratic political parties in Europe and Latin America.

The volume concludes with "Contemporary Problems in Thomistic Ethics", which contains eight analyses of the influence of Aquinas's thought on modern debates on war, contraception, and abortion.

A Selected Bibliography is included.



    Note on Translation

    Selections from the Work of St. Thomas Aquinas

    The Summa against the Gentiles (Summa contra Gentiles, 1259–1264)

    1. BOOK I
      1. 3. The Two Ways of Knowing the Truth about God.
      2. 4. Truths about God that Known by Reason are also Properly Made Available to Man by Faith.
      3. 7. The Truths Based on Reason Are Not Contrary to the Truth of the Christian Faith.
      4. 8. The Relationship between the Human Reason and the Primary Truth of Faith.
    2. BOOK II
      1. 68. How an Intellectual Substance Can Be the Formative Principle of the Body.
    3. BOOK III
      1. 2. Everything that Acts Acts for an End.
      2. 3. Everything that Acts Acts for a Good.
      3. 25. The End of Every Intellectual Substance Is to Know God.
      4. 27. Human Happiness Does Not Consist in Bodily Pleasures.
      5. 32. Happiness Does Not Consist in the Goods of the Body.
      6. 37. Man’s Ultimate Happiness Consists in the Contemplation of God.
      7. 48. Man’s Ultimate Happiness Is Not in this Life.
      8. 51. How God May Be Seen in His Essence.
      9. 53. A Created Intellect Needs the Influence of (Divine) Light in Order to See God in His Essence.
      10. 63. In that Final Happiness Every Human Desire Will Be Fulfilled.
      11. 64. God Governs the Universe by His Providence.
      12. 81. Order among Men and in Relation to Other Things.
    4. BOOK IV
      1. 54. It Was Fitting for God to Become Man.
      2. 76. On the Rank of Bishop and (the Pope) Who Is Highest in That Rank.

    On Kingship or The Governance of Rulers (De Regimine Principum, 1265–1267)

      1. 1. Men in Society Must Be under Rulers.
      2. 2. Is It Better for a Group to Be under One Ruler or Many?
      3. 3. Just Rule by One Person Is the Best Form of Government; Its Opposite Is the Worst.
      4. 4. The Kinds of Government in Rome, and How the Republic Sometimes Prospered under Popular Rule.
      5. 5. Tyranny is More Likely to Develop from the Rule of Many than of One Person. Therefore Monarchy Is Preferable.
      6. 6. The Rule of One Man Is Best. How to Limit the Possibility of Tyranny. Tyranny Is to Be Tolerated to Avoid Greater Evils.
      7. 12. The Duties of a King. The Likeness of the King in His Kingdom to the Soul in the Body and to God in the Universe.
      8. 14. The King Should Follow the Example of God’s Rule. The Similarity between Government and Piloting a Ship. A Comparison of the Rule of Priests and Kings.
      9. 15. To Gain the Ultimate End, the King Should Direct His Subjects to a Life of Virtue as Well as to Intermediate Ends. What is Needed for the Good Life.

    The Summa of Theology (Summa Theologiae, 1266–1273)

    1. I PART I (1266–1268)
      1. Qu.2. The Existence of God
        1. a.3. Does God Exist?
      2. Qu. 12. How We Know God
        1. a. 12. Can We Know God in this Life by Natural Reason?
        2. a. 13. Do We Know God Better through Grace than through Natural Reason?
      3. Qu. 20. On God’s Love
        1. a. 2. Does God Love All Things?
      4. Qu. 75. The Essence of the Soul
        1. a. 2. Is the Soul Self-Subsistent?
        2. a. 5. Is the Soul Composed of Matter and Form?
        3. a. 6. Is the Human Soul Corruptible?
      5. Qu. 79. The Powers of the Intellect
        1. a. 12. Is Synderesis a Special Power?
      6. Qu. 85. The Manner and Order of Understanding
        1. a. 1. Does Our Intellect Know Bodily and Material Things through Abstraction from Sense Images?
        2. a. 2. Are Intelligible Types (Species) Abstracted from Sensory Images Known by the Intellect?
      7. Qu. 92. The Creation of Woman
        1. a. 1. Should Woman Have Been Made in the Original Creation?
      8. Qu. 96. Dominion among Men in the State of Innocence
        1. a. 3. Would All Men Have Been Equal in the State of Innocence?
        2. a. 4. Would One Man Have Been Lord over Another in the State of Innocence?
      9. Qu. 98. The Preservation of the Race(Species)
        1. a. 2. In the State of Innocence Would Procreation Have Taken Place through Sexual Intercourse?
      10. Qu. 108. The Hierarchies and Order of the Angels
        1. a. 2. Are there Several Orders in Each Hierarchy of the Angels
    2. I—II THE FIRST PART OF PART II (1269–1270)
      1. Qu. 3. What is Happiness (Beatitudo)?
        1. a. 8. Does the Happiness of Man Consist in the Vision of the Divine Essence?
      2. Qu. 5. The Attainment of Happiness
        1. a. 3. Can Anyone Be Happy in this Life?
      3. Qu. 21. The Consequences of Human Acts
        1. a. 4. Are Good and Evil Human Acts Meritorious or Lacking in Merit in Relation to God?
      4. Qu. 62. The Theological Virtues
        1. a. 3. Is it Right to Call Faith, Hope, and Charity the Theological Virtues?
      5. Qu. 81. The Cause of Sin in Man
        1. a. 1. Was the First Sin of our First Parent Pass on to His Descendants as Original Sin?
    3. THE TREATISE OF LAW (Qu. 90–97)
      1. Qu. 90. The Essence of Law
        1. a. 1. Is Law a Matter of Reason?
        2. a. 2. Is Law Always Directed toward the Common Good?
        3. a. 3. Can Any Person Make Law?
        4. a. 4. Is Promulgation Necessary for a Law?
      2. Qu. 91. The Kinds of Law
        1. a. 1. Is There an Eternal Law?
        2. a. 2. Is There a Natural Law?
        3. a. 3. Is There Human Law?
        4. a. 4. Was There a Need for Divine Law?
      3. Qu. 92. The Effects of Law
        1. a. 1. Is an Effect of the Law to Make Men Good?
      4. Qu. 93. The Eternal Law
        1. a. 1. Does the Eternal Law Exist in the Highest Reason of God?
        2. a. 3. Is All Law Derived from the Eternal Law?
      5. Qu. 94. The Natural Law
        1. a. 2. Does the Natural Law Contain One Precept or Many?
        2. a. 3. Is All Law Derived from the Eternal Law?
        3. a. 4. Is the Natural Law the Same for All Men?
        4. a. 5. Can the Natural Law Be Changed?
      6. Qu. 95. Human Law
        1. a. 1. Was it Useful for Man to Make Human Laws?
        2. a. 2. Are All Human Laws Derived from the Natural Law?
        3. a. 4. What Are the Divisions of Human Law?
      7. Qu. The Power of Human Law?
        1. a. 2. Should Law Repress All Vices?
        2. a. 4. Does Human Law Oblige in Conscience?
        3. a. 5. Is Everyone Subject to Law?
        4. a. 6. May Someone Subject to the Law Act Contrary to the Letter of the Law?
      8. Qu. 97. Change in the Law
        1. a. 1. Should Human Laws Ever Be Change?
        2. a. 2. Should Human Law Be Changed Whenever an Improvement Is Possible?
        3. a. 3. Can Custom Obtain the Force of Law?
        4. a. 4. Can Rulers Grant Dispensations from Human Law?
      9. Qu. 100. The Moral Precepts of the Old Law
        1. a. 1. Do All the Precepts of Morality Belong to the Natural Law?
      10. Qu. 105. The Reason for Judicial Precepts
        1. a. 1. Did the Old Law Contain Useful Provisions on Government?
      11. Qu. 109. The Grace of God—the External Foundation of Human Acts
        1. a. 2. Can Man Will or Do Anything Good without Grace?
    4. II—II THE SECOND PART OF PART II (1271–1272)
    5. Qu. 10. Unbelief
      1. a. 8. Are Unbelievers to be Forced to Accept the Faith?
      2. a. 9. May One Associate with Unbelievers?
      3. a. 10. May Unbelievers Exercise Government or Dominion over the Faithful?
      4. a. 11. Are the Rites of Unbelievers to be Tolerated?
      5. a. 12. Are the Children of Jews and Other Unbelievers to be Baptized against the Will of Their Parents?
    6. Qu. Heresy
      1. a. 3. May Heretics Be Tolerated?
    7. Qu. 12. Apostasy
      1. a. 2. Are Subjects Obliged to Obey a Ruler Who Apostasizes from the Faith?
    8. Qu. 40. War
      1. a. 1. Is Warfare Always Sinful?
    9. Qu. 42. Sedition Against Peace
      1. a. 2. Is Sedition Always a Mortal Sin?
    10. Qu. 57. Justice
      1. a. 2. Is it Correct to Divide Law (Jus) into Natural Law and Positive Law?
      2. a. 3. Is the Law of Nations (Jus Gentium) the Same as the Natural Law?
      3. a. 4. Should Paternal Law and Property Law Be Specifically Distinguished?
    11. Qu. 60 Judicial Decisions
      1. a. 6. Are Judicial Decisions Made by Usurpers Invalid?
    12. Qu. 64. Homicide
      1. a. 3. Can a Private Person Kill a Criminal?
      2. a. 5. Is Suicide Permissible?
      3. a. 7. Is It Permissible to Kill in Self-Defense?
      4. a. 8. Is Someone Who Kills a Man by Accident Guilty of Murder?
    13. Qu. 66. Theft and Robbery
      1. a. 1. Is the Possession of External Goods Natural to Man?
      2. a. 2. Is Private Property Legitimate?
      3. a. 7. Is Stealing Allowed in a Case of Necessity?
    14. Qu. 69. Self-Defense
      1. a. 4. Is it Permissible for Someone Who Has Been Condemned to Death to Defend Himself?
    15. Qu. 77. Fraud
      1. a. 4. Is It Legitimate to Sell Something for More than its Cost?
    16. Qu. 78. The Sin of Usury
      1. a. 1. Is It Sinful to Charge Interest (Usury) for Lending Money?
    17. Qu. 104. Obedience
      1. a. 1. Is One Man Obliged to Obey Another?
      2. a. 5. Are Subjects Obliged to Do Everything that Their Superiors Command?
      3. a. 6. Are Christians Obliged to Obey Secular Authorities?
    18. Qu. 110. Lying
      1. a. 3. Is Every Lie a Sin?
    19. Qu. 150. Drunkenness
      1. a. 2. Is Drunkenness a Mortal Sin?
    20. Qu. 152. Virginity
      1. a. 2. Is Virginity Lawful?
    21. Qu. 154. The Types of Lechery
      1. a. 2. Is Ordinary Fornication a Grave Sin?
      2. a. 4. May Caresses and Kisses be Mortally Sinful?
      3. a. 8. Is Adultery a Specific Kind of Lechery?
      4. a. 11. Is Unnatural Vice a Kind of Lechery?
      5. a. 12. Is Unnatural Vice the Worst Sin of all the Types of Lechery?
    22. III PART III (1272–1273)
      1. Qu. 8. The Grace of Christ as Head of the Church
        1. a. 3. Is Christ the Head of All Mankind?
      1. Qu. 52. Slavery as an Impediment
        1. a. 1. Is Slavery an Impediment to Marriage?

    Backgrounds and Sources


    1. Physics
      1. Bk. II, ch. 1 [Nature and the Natural]
      2. Bk. II, ch. 3 [The Four Causes]
    2. On the Soul
      1. Bk. II, ch. 1 [The Soul and the Body]
    3. Metaphysics
      1. Bk. XII, ch. 5 [The Unmoved Mover]
    4. Nicomachean Ethics
      1. Bk. I, ch. 7 [Happiness as the Life of Virtue in accord with Reason]
      2. Bk. II, ch. 6 [Virtue as the Mean between Extremes]
      3. Bk. V, ch. 7 [Natural Justice]
      4. Bk. X, ch. 7 [Contemplation as Perfect Happiness]
    5. Politics
      1. Bk. I, ch. 1-2 [Man Is by Nature a Political Animal]
        ch. 3-6 [Natural Slavery]
        ch. 8-10 [Interest-Taking is against Nature]
      2. Bk. II, ch. 5 [The Natural Basis of Property]
      3. Bk. III, ch. 11 [The Collective Wisdom of the Many]

    St. Augustine

    1. The City of God
      1. Bk. IV, ch. 4 [Kingdoms as Large-Scale Robberies]
      2. Bk. XIV, ch. 28 [The Two Cities]
      3. Bk. XIX, ch. 6 [Judges Condemn the Innocent]
        ch. 13 [Peace as the Tranquillity of Order]
        ch. 15 [Slaver as Punishment for Sin]
        ch. 20 [True Wisdom]
      4. Bk. XXI, ch. 16 [Sinful Man and Grace]



    1. St. Thomas and Aristotle
      1. Walter Ullmann, The New Orientation
      2. Harry Jaffa, Thomism and Aristotelianism
    2. St. Thomas and Platonism
      1. Fernand van Steenberghen, Thomism as a New Philosophy
      2. Etienne Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas
    3. St. Thomas and Augustinian Christianity
      1. Frederick Copleston, S.J., Aquinas and Augustine


    1. Aquinas as Medieval Conservative
      1. Katherine Archibald, The Concept of Social Hierarchy in the Writings of St. Thomas Aquinas
    2. The Transmission of Thomism
      1. Paul Oskar Kristeller, The Thomist Tradition
    3. Thomism and Early Modern Political Thought-England and Spain
      1. Richard Hooker, The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity-Book I Laws in General
      2. Francisco Suarez, S.J., Political Authority and Community Consent
    4. Thomism in Papal Social Thought, 1888–1963
      1. Leo XIII, Human Liberty
      2. Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum-The Condition of Labor (1891)
      3. Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno-Reconstructing the Social Order (1931)
      4. John XXIII, Mater et Magistra-Christianity and Social Progress (1961)
      5. John XXIII, Pacem in Terris-Peace on Earth (1963)
    5. Neo-Thomism and Christian Democracy in Europe and Latin America
      1. Jacques Maritain, The Rights of Man; Church and State
      2. Jaime Castillo, Natural Law and Communitarianism
      3. Julio Silva Solar, St. Thomas and Property-A View From the Christian Left in Chile
      4. Paul E. Sigmund, Thomistic Natural Law and Social Theory


    1. The Just War and Self-Defense
      1. Paul Ramsey, War and the Christian Conscience
    2. Contraception
      1. John T. Noonan, Jr., Aquinas on Contraception
      2. Pius XI, Casti Connubii-Christian Marriage (1930)
      3. Germain Grisez, A New Formulation of a Natural Law Argument against Contraception
      4. Louis Dupré, A Thomistic Argument against the Ban on Contraception
    3. Abortion
      1. John T. Noonan, Jr., Aquinas on Abortion

    Selected Bibliography