Appeared in Winter 2001, Vol. XXVI, No. 4
Aquinas said that the first precept of practical reason (FPPR) Is that “good” is to be done and pursued, and evil avoided.1 What did he mean by ‘good’?2
According to Germain Grisez, he meant any kind of good. The precept directs one to do or pursue anything one recognizes as good. So taken, the FPPR is obvious (per se notum quoad nos) and underived: a starting point for any kind of practical reasoning, used both by persons who act well and by persons who act immorally. It bears comparison to the principle of non-contradiction (PNC), which is a starting point for any kind of reasoning at all and so is used not only by those who speak the truth but also by liars. They try to make their lies consistent.3
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