Aquinas’s Two Pedagogies: A Reconsideration of the Relation between Law and Moral Virtue
This chapter argues that the "legal enforcement of morals" paradigm conduces to an exaggerated focus on Aquinas's negative pedagogy: law as "restraining and taming" the viciously inclined human. It also argues that Aquinas's political theory also comprises a positive pedagogy: law as assisting the well-intentioned person to grasp and develop the "social and civic" dimensions of the ethical virtues. The chapter considers what relevance this aspect of Aquinas's theory might hold for contemporary liberal democracy, focusing on the institution of the "legal holiday." It argues that Aquinas provides a cogent account of various ways in which "human" or civil legislation, especially in its overarching constitutional form, helps shape our sense of ethical parameters. The chapter examines Aquinas's positive legal pedagogy in greater detail, with a view to completing our grasp of the role he assigns to human law in "making men moral".