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Aquinas and Libertarianism: Coercion and the Common Good in the Summa’s Definition of Law

Jonathan McIntosh

Abstract


While many scholars have addressed the relationship between Aquinas’s political philosophy and the concerns of classical liberalism more broadly, less attention has been given to his thought in light of libertarianism’s focus on the problem of coercion and the principle of harm more specifically. By reading Aquinas’s systematic definition of law from the Summa Theologiae’s “Treatise on Law” (ST I-II, q. 90, a. 1) in light of the libertarian harm principle, my aim is not only to pinpoint precisely those areas of disagreement between the Thomistic and libertarian approaches to law, but also those areas of either real or at least possible agreement. Where they disagree, I show that this is the result of either assumptions on Aquinas’s part that lack necessity or arguments that are fallacious in their reasoning.

Jonathan McIntosh, "Aquinas and Libertarianism: Coercion and the Common Good in the Summa's Definition of Law," Journal of Markets & Morality 24, no. 2 (2021): 247-268.


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