Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

Moral Dilemmas in Medieval Thought
From Gratian to Aquinas


  • Date Published: May 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107683891

£ 32.99

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an inspection copy?

This title is not currently available on inspection

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • The history of moral dilemma theory often ignores the medieval period, overlooking the sophisticated theorizing by several thinkers who debated the existence of moral dilemmas from 1150 to 1450. In this book Michael V. Dougherty offers a rich and fascinating overview of the debates which were pursued by medieval philosophers, theologians and canon lawyers, illustrating his discussion with a diverse range of examples of the moral dilemmas which they considered. He shows that much of what seems particular to twentieth-century moral theory was well-known long ago - especially the view of some medieval thinkers that some forms of wrongdoing are inescapable, and their emphasis on the principle 'choose the lesser of two evils'. His book will be valuable not only to advanced students and specialists of medieval thought, but also to those interested in the history of ethics.

    • Discusses examples of moral dilemmas involving a full range of human activities: sex, commerce, friendship, promises, political manoeuvring, crimes, secrets and religious observances
    • Translations provided for texts not previously found in English
    • Presents medieval dilemmas in terms of contemporary philosophical discussions
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Dougherty's exposition and choice of figures is excellent. The reconstruction of Aquinas is also highly plausible and valuable … But perhaps the chief value of the study for contemporary theorists is to be found in the very richness of the medieval treatments of moral dilemmas, a richness which Dougherty manages to convey with admirable skill.' Stephen Boulter, Philosophy in Review

    'This book attempts to correct the impression one may gain from many histories of ethics that sophisticated moral dilemma theory did not exist in the Middle Ages. M. V. Dougherty examines the debates in the years following 1150 among philosophers, theologians, and canon lawyers. He shows that moral dilemmas were discussed in these debates, given that some human wrongdoing is inescapable and one must choose the lesser evils.' The European Legacy: Toward New Paradigms

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2013
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107683891
    • length: 238 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.33kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Gratian and his Glossators on conflicts in the natural law
    2. Twenty moral dilemmas from two early 13th-century summaries of theology: William of Auxerre's Summa aurea and the Franciscan Summa Halesiana
    3. Raymond Lull and moral ensnarement in the Vita coaetanea
    4. Thomas Aquinas, moral dilemmas, and a missing article from Quodlibet XII
    5. Thomas Aquinas on failures of practical reasoning: why synderesis doesn't inoculate agents against malformed conscience dilemmas
    6. Moral dilemmas in the early Thomistic tradition: Johannes Capreolus and the deceiving demon dilemma

  • Author

    M. V. Dougherty, Ohio Dominican University
    M. V. Dougherty is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Ohio Dominican University. He is the editor of Pico della Mirandola: New Essays (Cambridge University Press, 2008).

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.