Last fall the kind people at Ave Maria University sent me a copy of Steven Long’s impressive book, The Teleological Grammar of the Moral Act, which seeks to explain and defend Aquinas’s complex yet crucial doctrine of the moral act (a doctrine at the heart of topics such as sexual morality, medical ethics, etc.). The doctrine of double-effect is unintelligible without it.
The book was immediately a topic of much conversation, with a session at this year’s Kalamazoo being devoted to it, and a recent issue of Ave Maria’s journal, Nova et vetera (English edition)—more on this up-and-coming (if not already-arrived) journal in a future post—being built around the topics found in the book. Here is its blurb, found on the web page where you can order it:
Cutting through contemporary confusions with his characteristic rigor and aplomb, Steven A. Long offers the most penetrating study available of St. Thomas Aquinas’s doctrine of the intention, choice, object, end, and species of the moral act. Many studies of human action and morality after Descartes and Kant have suffered from a tendency to split body and soul, so that the intention of the human spirit comes to justify whatever the body is made to do. The portrait of human action and morality that arises from such accounts is one of the soul as the pilot and the body as raw material in need of humanization. In this masterful study, Steven Long reconnects the teleology of the soul with the teleology of the body, so that human goal-oriented action rediscovers its lost moral unity, given it by the Creator who has created the human person as a body-soul unity.