Journal of Religious Ethics 37 (3):449-471 (2009)

Shawn Floyd
Saint Louis University
Contemporary philosophers often construe mercy as a supererogatory notion or a matter of punitive leniency. Yet it is false that no merciful actions are obligatory. Further, it is questionable whether mercy is really about punitive leniency, either exclusively or primarily. As an alternative to these accounts, I consider the view offered by St. Thomas Aquinas. He rejects the claim that we are never obligated to be merciful. Also, his view of mercy is not restricted to legal contexts. For him, mercy's scope is considerably broader, as it concerns a wide range of needs and hardships to which human beings are vulnerable. Such a view, I submit, affords a kind of normative depth lacking in many contemporary accounts. Unlike those views that construe mercy as either a supererogatory or legal concept, Aquinas's account illuminates mercy's obligatory nature and encourages us to make mercy a more salient fixture of our moral lives
Keywords mercy  charity  almsgiving  obligation  Aquinas
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9795.2009.00394.x
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,248
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

View all 32 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Mercy, Retributivism, and Harsh Punishment.Stephen Kershnar - 2000 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 14 (2):209-224.
Mercy.John Tasioulas - 2003 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 103 (2):101–132.
Punishing Cruelly: Punishment, Cruelty, and Mercy.Paulo D. Barrozo - 2008 - Criminal Law and Philosophy 2 (1):67-84.
Review Essay / Justice, Mercy, and Forgiveness.R. A. Duff - 1990 - Criminal Justice Ethics 9 (2):51-63.
Despair, Optimism, and Rebellion.Evan Fales - 2007 - Internet Infidels, Modern Library.


Added to PP index

Total views
94 ( #125,730 of 2,518,495 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #205,898 of 2,518,495 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes