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Justice as a Degree of Ontological Dignity: An Anselmian InvestigationAdd to Queue

  • Posted by : Gregory B. Sadler

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  • Date posted : Jan 01, 1970


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In this talk, given at the 8th Felician Ethics Conference, I present a truncated version of my paper "Justice as a Degree of Ontological Dignity: An Anselmian Investigation," which examines several issues arising from the intersection of one key aspects of St. Anselm's neo-Platonic metaphysics -- the conception of degrees of being -- and one central feature of his moral theory -- his robust conception of justice of the will. Anselm is committed to there being four degrees of being involved in human being: bare being, living being, sentient being, and rational being -- each of these not just naming a quality possessed by human being, but actually representing a higher level of being. The question I am considering is this: could justice, as Anselm understands it, be a fifth, and higher level of being. I consider several passages which seem to bear on the issue, interpret them, and arrive at the position that Anselm would qualifiedly endorse justice as a higher degree of being.

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