chapter  15
40 Pages

The Environmental Policy of Saint Thomas Aquinas

WithPatrick Halligan

This chapter outlines the realistic philosophy of nature of Saint Thomas Aquinas and briefly sketches his presentative model of perception and his active theory of knowledge. It identifies the Thomistic theory of creation from neo-Platonic concepts of emanation. The chapter shows how Thomistic theories of knowledge and nature lead to "ontological natural law" ethics and jurisprudence. It tries the norms of Thomistic ethics both to community environmental policy and to personal behavior in using natural resources. The chapter focuses on what St Thomas might say about a much-debated, topic of environmental jurisprudence: the proposal to give nonhuman creatures juridical standing to sue. The thought of Thomas Aquinas is monotheistic, realistic in its metaphysics and philosophy of nature, and confident in its theory of knowledge. Thomas's methodology of natural philosophy and his vision of philosophical psychology are mixes of sensual empiricism and rational abstraction by human subsisting souls intimately united to human bodies in this life.