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Dr. John Hittinger Gives Political Philosophy Lecture at UST
1/26/2011
Photo: Dr. John HittingerDr. John Hittinger, University of St. Thomas Philosophy Department chair, will give the annual political science public lecture, “From Monarchy to Democracy: Yves R. Simon and the Transformation of Thomistic Political Philosophy,” on Feb. 7 at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, NB, Canada.

What St. Thomas Aquinas said about political regimes? Whether he give an unqualified endorsement of monarchy? Can authority be consistent with democratic theory? Do the deepest principles of the Church condemn or support modern democracy? In his lecture, Hittinger will address these questions and discuss the political philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas and the efforts by French philosopher Yves R. Simon to transform modern Thomistic philosophy in the direction of democratic theory.

Hittinger believes that although St. Thomas Aquinas made a number of arguments in favor of monarchy as the best regime, his arguments were balanced by his admission that tyranny is the worst form of government. “He took an interest in the notion of the mixed regime, but the monarchical aspect still held sway in this account,” said Hittinger.

In the second half of his talk, Hittinger will discuss the research of Yves R. Simon on the topic. Simon did much to sort through the legacy of St. Thomas and point modern Thomistic philosophy in the direction of democratic theory.

“Simon clarified the historic and doctrinal issues surrounding the Church’s condemnations of modern democracy and showed how its deepest principles, deriving in part from St. Thomas, lend support to democracy against totalitarianism,” added Hittinger.

Dr. Hittinger is a professor in the department of philosophy at the University of St. Thomas (Houston) and is a member of the Center for Thomistic Studies. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, he completed a master’s thesis on “Reason and Intellect in Two Texts of Thomas Aquinas,” at the School of Philosophy, Catholic University of America, and a doctoral dissertation on “Natural Law in Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding.”

He has published a number of books and articles and has presented papers on a variety of topics including John Locke, Jacques Maritain, military ethics, liberal education, political philosophy, and the thought of John Paul II.

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