Thomas Aquinas – Human Dignity and Conscience as a Basis for Restricting Legal Obligations

Main Article Content

Marek Piechowiak

Abstract

In contemporary positive law there are legal institutions, such as conscientious objection in the context of military service or “conscience clauses” in medical law, which for the sake of respect for judgments of conscience aim at restricting legal obligations. Such restrictions are postulated to protect human freedom in general. On the basis of Thomas Aquinas’ philosophy, it shall be argued that human dignity, understood as the existential perfection of a human being based on special unity (individuality and particularity), provides a foundation for imposing limitations on the scope of legal obligations in general. Human freedom plays a crucial role in understanding dignity as perfection based on the special individuality of a personal being, which in turn is based on the free choice to pursue a unique way of life. Therefore, Aquinas’ argumentation is, at its core, liberal – the perfection rather than the imperfection of a human being underlies the requirement to limit legal obligations. Dignity understood as the special unity of a person also provides the basis for limiting obligations in the case of conscientious objection; however, in that case, such limitations aim at safeguarding internal integrity rather than the individualisation of a given way of life.

This project was financed with funds from the National Science Centre (Poland) allocated on the basis of the decision number DEC-2013/09/B/HS5/04232.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Piechowiak, Marek. 2016. “Thomas Aquinas – Human Dignity and Conscience As a Basis for Restricting Legal Obligations”. Diametros, no. 47 (March):64-83. https://doi.org/10.13153/diam.47.2016.869.
Section
Special Topic - Thomas Aquinas' Theory of Conscience and Contemporary Debates on Conscientious Objection
Author Biography

Marek Piechowiak, SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities

Dr. Marek Piechowiak
Associate Professor
SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities
Faculty in Poznań
Institute of Law
ul. gen. T. Kutrzeby 10
PL-60-995 Poznań

E-mail: marekp4@gmail.com

Share |

References

Aertsen [1996] – Jan Aertsen, Medieval Philosophy and the Transcendentals: The Case of Thomas Aquinas, Brill, Leiden 1996.
View in Google Scholar

Aertsen [2012] – Jan Aertsen, Medieval Philosophy as Transcendental Thought: from Philip the Chancellor (ca. 1225) to Francisco Suarez, Brill, Leiden 2012.
View in Google Scholar

Aristotle [1985] – Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, trans. T. Irwin, Hackett, Indianapolis, Ind. 1985.
View in Google Scholar

Brock [2005] – Stephen L. Brock, “Is Uniqueness at the Root of Personal Dignity? John Crosby and Thomas Aquinas,” The Thomist (69) 2005, p. 173–201.
View in Google Scholar

Crosby [1996] – John F. Crosby, The Selfhood of the Human Person, CUA Press, Washington, D.C. 1996.
View in Google Scholar

Davies, Stump [2012] – Brian Davies, Eleonore Stump (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Aquinas, Oxford UP, Oxford 2012.
View in Google Scholar

Dewan [1999] – Lawrens Dewan, “The Individual as a Mode of Being according to Thomas Aquinas,” The Thomist (63) 1999, p. 403–424.
View in Google Scholar

Dewan [2007] – Lawrens Dewan, St. Thomas, Metaphysics, and Human Dignity, [in:] idem, Wisdom, Law and Virtue: Essays in Thomistic Ethics, Fordham University Press, New York 2007, p. 58–57.
View in Google Scholar

Finnis [1998] – John Finnis, Aquinas: Moral, Political, and Legal Theory, Oxford UP, Oxford 1998.
View in Google Scholar

Gaine [2003] – Simon Francis Gaine, Will There Be Free Will in Heaven? Freedom, Impeccability, and Beatitude, T & T Clark, London and New York 2003.
View in Google Scholar

Giertych [2012] – Wojciech Giertych, “Dlaczego św. Tomasz z Akwinu niewiele pisał o sumieniu?” Przegląd Tomistyczny (18) 2012, p. 159–173.
View in Google Scholar

Gurevich [1995] – Aaron Gurevich, The Origins of European Individualism, trans. K. Judelson, Blackwell, Oxford 1995.
View in Google Scholar

Hankey [2012] – W.J. Hankey, Aquinas, Plato, and Neoplatonism, [in:] The Oxford Handbook of Aquinas, B. Davies, E. Stump (eds.), Oxford UP, Oxford 2012, p. 55–64.
View in Google Scholar

Jones [2005] – John D. Jones, “An Absolutely Simple God? Frameworks for Reading Pseudo-Dionysius Areopagite,” The Thomist (69) 2005, p. 371–406.
View in Google Scholar

Levering [2006] – Matthew Levering, “Natural Law and Natural Inclinations: Rhonheimer, Pinckaers, McAleer,” The Thomist (70) 2006, p. 155–201.
View in Google Scholar

McCluskey [2002] – Colleen McCluskey, “Intellective Appetite and the Freedom of Human Action,” The Thomist (66) 2002, p. 421–456.
View in Google Scholar

McKeon [1941] – Richard McKeon (ed.), The Basic Works of Aristotle, Random House, New York 1941.
View in Google Scholar

Merkelbach [1962] – Benedictus H. Merkelbach, Summa theologiae moralis ad mentem D. Thomae et ad normam iuris novi, Desclée de Brouwer, Brugis 1962.
View in Google Scholar

Noone [1995] – Timothy B. Noone, “Individuation in Scotus,” American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly (69) 1995, p. 527–542.
View in Google Scholar

Owens [1994] – Joseph Owens, Thomas Aquinas (b. ca. 1225; d. 1274), [in:] Individuation in Scholasticism: The Later Middle Ages and the Counter-Reformation, 1150–1650, Jorge J.E. Gracia (ed.), State University of New York Press, Albany, N.Y. 1994, p. 173–194.
View in Google Scholar

Payne [2004] – Andrew Payne, “Gracia and Aquinas on the Principle of Individuation,” The Thomist (68) 2004, p. 545–575.
View in Google Scholar

Piechowiak [1999a] – Marek Piechowiak, Filozofia praw człowieka. Prawa człowieka w świetle ich prawnomiędzynarodowej ochrony, TN KUL, Lublin 1999.
View in Google Scholar

Piechowiak [1999b] – Marek Piechowiak, What Are Human Rights? The Concept of Human Rights and Their Extra-Legal Justification, [in:] An Introduction to the International Protection of Human Rights. A Textbook, R. Hanski and M. Suksi (eds.), 2nd, revised edition, Åbo Akademi University – Institute for Human Rights, Turku 1999, p. 3–14.
View in Google Scholar

Piechowiak [2003] – Marek Piechowiak, “Tomasza z Akwinu koncepcja godności osoby ludzkiej jako podstawy prawa. Komentarz do rozdziałów 111-113 księgi III. Tomasza z Akwinu Summa contra gentiles,” Poznańskie Studia Teologiczne (14) 2003, p. 219–142.
View in Google Scholar

Piechowiak [2010] – Marek Piechowiak, Auf der Suche nach einer philosophischen Begründung der Würde des Menschen bei Thomas von Aquin und Immanuel Kant, [in:] Würde – dignité – godność – dignity. Die Menschenwürde im internationalen Vergleich, C. Baumbach and P. Kunzmann (eds.), Herbert Utz Verlag, München 2010, p. 289–319.
View in Google Scholar

Piechowiak [2012] – Marek Piechowiak, Tomasza z Akwinu egzystencjalna koncepcja osoby i jej godności. Komentarz do Summy teologii, część I, kwestia 29, artykuł 1, [in:] Szkice o godności człowieka, M. Piechowiak and T. Turowski (eds.), Zielona Góra 2012, p. 35–47.
View in Google Scholar

Piechowiak [2013] – Marek Piechowiak, “Tomasza z Akwinu koncepcja prawa naturalnego. Czy Akwinata jest myślicielem liberalnym?” Przegląd Tomistyczny (19) 2013, p. 301–337.
View in Google Scholar

Plato 1997 – Plato, Apology, trans. G.M.A. Grube, [in:] Plato, Complete Works, J.M. Cooper (ed.), Hacket, Indianapolis, Ind. 1997, p. 17–36.
View in Google Scholar

Rosen [2012] – Michael Rosen, Dignity: Its History and Meaning, Harvard UP, Cambridge, MA – London 2012.
View in Google Scholar

Shanley [2007] – Brian J. Shanley, Thomas Aquinas on Created Freedom, [in:] Freedom and the Human Person, Richard Velkley (ed.), The Catholic University of America Press, Washington, D.C. 2007, p. 70–89.
View in Google Scholar

Thomae Aquinatis Opera omnia cum hypertextibus in CD-ROM, ed. R. Busa, 2nd edition, Stuttgart 1996.
View in Google Scholar

Waldron [2012] – Jeremy Waldron, Dignity, Rank, and Rights, Oxford UP, Oxford 2012.
View in Google Scholar

White [1995] – Kevin White, “Individuation in Aquinas’s Super Boethium De Trinitate, Q. 4,” American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly (69) 1995, p. 543–556.
View in Google Scholar

Legal Acts
View in Google Scholar

Universal Declaration of Human Rights [1948] – Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted 10 Dec. 1948, G.A. Res. 217 A (III), U.N. GAOR, 3rd Sess., U.N. Doc. A/RES/3/217A.
View in Google Scholar

Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany [1949] – Grundgesetz für die Bundesrepublik Deutschland, adopted 23 May 1949, print version as at: October 2010, transl. by Ch. Tomuschat and D. P. Currie.
View in Google Scholar

International Covenants on Human Rights [1966] – International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, adopted 16 Dec. 1966, G.A. Res. 2200 A (XXI), U.N. GAOR, 21st Sess., U.N. Doc. A/6316, 993 U.N.T.S. 3; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted 16 Dec. 1966, G.A. Res. 2200 A (XXI), U.N. GAOR, 21st Sess., U.N. Doc. A/6316, 999 U.N.T.S. 171.
View in Google Scholar

Proclamation of Teheran [1968] – Final Act of the International Conference on Human Rights, Teheran, 22 April to 13 May 1968, U.N. Doc. A/CONF. 32/41 at 3.
View in Google Scholar

Ustawa o gwarancjach wolności sumienia i wyznania [1989] – Ustawa z dnia 17 maja 1989 r. o gwarancjach wolności sumienia i wyznania (Dz.U. 1989 Nr 25, poz. 155, with amendments).
View in Google Scholar

The Constitution of the Republic of Poland [1997] – Konstytucja Rzeczypospolitej Polskiej adopted 2 April 1997 (Dz.U. Nr 78, poz. 483, with amendments), transl. by A. Pol and A. Caldwell, [in:] Polish Constitutional Law: the Constitution and Selected Statutory Materials, E. Gierach and P. Chybalski (eds.), Chancellery of the Sejm, Warsaw 2009.
View in Google Scholar

Charter of Fundamental Rights of European Union [2000] – Charter of Fundamental Rights of European Union proclaimed 7 Dec. 2000, Official Journal of the European Communities 18.12.2000, C 364/01.
View in Google Scholar

Ustawa o służbie zastępczej [2003] – Ustawa z dnia 28 listopada 2003 r. o służbie zastępczej, “Dziennik Ustaw” 2003 no. 223 item. 2217, with amendments.
View in Google Scholar

Ustawa o zawodzie lekarza i lekarza dentysty [1996] – Ustawa z 5 dnia grudnia 1996 r. o zawodzie lekarza i lekarza dentysty (Dz.U. 2008 Nr 136, poz. 857, with amendments).
View in Google Scholar

Ustawa o zawodach pielęgniarki i położnej [2011] – Ustawa z dnia 15 lipca 2011 r. o zawodach pielęgniarki i położnej (Dz.U. 2011 Nr 174, poz. 1039, with amendments).
View in Google Scholar