The Second-Person perspective in Aquina's ethics: Virtues and gifts
Pinsent, A. (2013). The second-person perspective in Aquinas’s ethics: Virtues and gifts (Vol. 17). Routledge.
The author argues that the key to understanding Aquinas’s approach is to be found in an association between: a) attributes h appends to the virtues, and b) interpersonal capacities investigated by the science of social cognition, especially in the context of autistic spectrum disorder. The book uses this research to argue that Aquinas’s approach to the virtues is radically non-Aristotelian and founded on the concept of second-person relatedness. To demonstrate the explanatory power of this principle, Pinsent shows how the second-person perspective gives interpretation to Aquinas’s descriptions of the virtues and offers a key to long-standing problems, such as the reconciliation of magnanimity and humility. The principle of second-person relatedness also interprets acts that Aquinas describes as the fruition of the virtues. Pinsent concludes by considering how this approach may shape future developments in virtue ethics. By focusing on structure, chapter 1 reviews the contemporary state of scholarship, focusing on the many problems raised by Aquinas’s accounts of the infused virtues, different from the kinds of virtues described by Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics. Chapter 2 examine those attributes called ‘gifts’ which Aquinas rates more highly than all the virtues except the theological virtues. Chapter 3 applies this metaphoric understanding to the problem of the infused virtues, relating the two main sets of virtues in Aquinas’s account, theological virtues and infused moral virtues, to the two sets of virtues required by situations of joint attention, namely, virtues of union and virtues of shared stance. Chapter 4 explores the thoroughly non-Aristotelian territory of the beatitudes and fruits as actualizations of the virtues and gifts.