“As One Is Disposed, So the Goal Appears to Him”: On the Function of Moral Habits (habitus) According to Thomas Aquinas

  • Rolf DargeEmail author
Part of the Historical-Analytical Studies on Nature, Mind and Action book series (HSNA, volume 7)


This chapter is a study of the role moral habits (habitus) play both in determining the goals of our actions and in inclining us to actually accomplish these actions, according to Aquinas. Moral habitus are not “habits” in the usual sense (the Latin term for such habits would be consuetudo), inasmuch as they do not entail the automatic, unconscious act common habits seem to produce. Rather, they dispose the agent to a special type of action without relieving her/him of a deliberate decision regarding the purpose and concrete behaviour which correspond to the proper objective of the habitus in question. In a concrete action situation, the moral habitus primarily and essentially affects (a) the content of the judgement about the specific goal of the action and (b) the mode of this judgement. Under the influence of the habitus, the judgement about the goal determines the special type of action the moral habitus is ordered to as its proper and immediate goal, as the target to be pursued in the action simpliciter and for its own sake. This judgement does not result from rational deliberation (per modum cognitionis) but is given spontaneously or intuitively per modum inclinationis.


Moral habitus Habitude Practical deliberation Virtue Prudence 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Fachbereich Philosophie KTHUniversität SalzburgSalzburgAustria

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