The Perspective of Morality

The Perspective of Morality

Philosophical Foundations of Thomistic Virtue Ethics

by Martin Rhonheimer

Translated by Gerald Malsbary

6.12 x 9.25 x 0.00 in

  • eBook
  • 9780813219301
  • Published: April 2011


  • Paperback
  • 9780813217994
  • Published: April 2011



**Selected as an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice Magazine**

Martin Rhonheimer is considered one of the most important contemporary writers in philosophical Thomistic ethics. Following his previously published volumes by CUA Press, The Perspective of the Acting Person, Vital Conflicts in Medical Ethics, and, most recently, Ethics of Procreation and the Defense of Human Life. Rhonheimer here presents a significant new resource for moral philosophy, The Perspective of Morality. The appearance of this book represents an epoch for the reception of Rhonheimer in the English-speaking world; readers now have access to a systematic argument for his efforts to advance an Aristotelian-Thomistic virtue ethics for the twenty-first century.

The book begins with an initial argument for virtue ethics and then locates virtue ethics within the philosophical disciplines. It expands into a consideration of happiness, human action, practical reasoning, moral virtues, and the structures of rationality. It does so through a penetrating engagement with the alternatives of utilitarianism, consequentialism, Kantianism, and discourse ethics. In proceeding step by step from an analysis of the metaphysics of human action to a comprehensive account of the cardinal virtues, it includes a stunningly insightful treatment of the principles of practical reason in action.

At every stage in the argument, brief and insightful notes carry on a rapier-like face-off with almost every significant ethical philosopher of the last three or four centuries, making clear how much Rhonheimer has gained from those with whom he has disagreed. This is at once a return to a refreshingly profound understanding of the texts of Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle, and a new synthesis of ethics for our time.


Martin Rhonheimer is professor of ethics and political philosophy at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. His publications include a dozen books, several of which have been translated into multiple languages. Gerald Malsbary translated the work into English.


"A tour de force of the history of moral philosophy.... In this well-formed and informed book, prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance come alive in contemporary application. Rhonheimer offers a notable volume on virtue ethics that repositions ancient philosophical ways of living within current practices of disciplinary philosophy. Highly recommended."— Choice

"A splendid introduction to moral philosophy. It should serve well, both as an introduction for a wider, more educated audience, and as a textbook for students of the specialty. It represents the classical tradition of the field, but argues its case with full awareness of the terrain of current ethical debates. I cannot think of any other book of comparable value today."—Robert Spaemann, University of Munich

"A fine book by a very important Catholic philosopher. Martin Rhonheimer is a major figure and his work is of very high quality."—John Finnis, Oxford University and University of Notre Dame

"Using contemporary work in action theory, Rhonheimer develops in a magisterial way the Thomistic conception of practical reason. Rhonheimer's book is among the best one can read to grasp the fallacy of teleological ethics (proportionalism and consequentialism): the argument of this ethics seems flawless and, therefore, is so convincing for many; but Rhonheimer superbly shows that such arguments miss the proper perspective of morality."—Giuseppe Abbà, Pontifical University Salesiana

"Rhonheimer has moved, with good reason, to the forefront of his field.... [This book] is well worth reading: intelligent, exhaustively researched, interesting, and informative. Essential reading for anyone engaged in philosophical ethics today.