Religious Studies

Anselm on Eudaemonism and the hierarchical structure of moral choice

a1 Philosophy Department, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19713

Article author query
rogers ka   [Google Scholar] 


Because Anselm of Canterbury argues that the morally responsible created agent must have the option to choose between justice and benefit, many scholars conclude that he is a proto-Kantian, pitting duty against self-interest and natural inclination. This is mistaken. Anselm proposes a hierarchical schema, prefiguring that of Harry Frankfurt, in which the inclination for justice constitutes a second-order desire that one's first-order desires for benefits should be moderated to conform to God's will. I defend this interpretation through careful textual analysis, then show that Anselm's hierarchical analysis is not subject to some of the criticisms one might raise against Frankfurt's.