Does human law command the acts of
all the virtues?
It seems that human law does not
command the acts of all the virtues:
Objection 1: The acts
of the vices are opposed to the acts of the virtues.
But as has been explained (a. 2), human law does not
prohibit all the vices. Therefore, human law does
not command the acts of all the virtues.
The act of a virtue proceeds from that virtue. But virtue
is the end of law, and so what proceeds from a
virtue cannot fall under a precept of the law. Therefore,
human law does not command the acts of all the virtues.
As has been explained (q. 90, a. 2), law is ordered toward
the common good. But certain acts of the virtues are
ordered not toward the common good, but instead toward
[the agent’s] private good. Therefore, the law does not
command the acts of all the virtues.
But contrary to this:
In Ethics 5 the Philosopher says, “The law commands
the acts of the brave man and the acts of the temperate
man and the acts of the mild‑mannered man—and so on for
the other virtues and vices, commanding the former and
prohibiting the latter.”
As is clear from what was said above (q. 54, a. 2),
the species of virtue are distinguished by their objects.
But all the objects of the virtues can be traced back
either to the private good of an individual or to the
common good of a multitude. For instance, one
can execute acts of fortitude either for the sake of
conserving the community or for the sake of preserving
a friend’s rights.
Now as has
been explained (q. 90, a. 2), law is ordered toward
the common good. And so there is no virtue such
that the law cannot command acts of that virtue.
However, human law does not issue commands concerning
all the acts of all the virtues; instead, it commands
only those acts which can be ordered toward the common
good either (a) immediately, as when certain
acts are done directly because of the common good, or
(b) mediately, as when the lawmaker commands
certain acts pertaining to the good discipline through
which citizens are formed in such a way as to conserve
the good of justice and peace.
Reply to objection 1:
Human law does not prohibit all vicious acts by an
obligatory precept, just as it does not command all
virtuous acts, either. Yet it prohibits certain acts of
individual vices, just as it likewise commands certain
acts of individual virtues.
Reply to objection 2:
There are two ways in which an act is said to be an
act of a virtue:
First, because the man is doing something virtuous.
For instance, it is an act of justice to do something
right and an act of fortitude to do something brave.
In this sense the law commands some acts of the virtues.
because the man is doing something virtuous in the
way that a virtuous man does it. An act of
this sort always proceeds from the virtue and never
falls under a precept of the law, but is instead the
end which the lawmaker intends to lead [the citizens]
Reply to objection 3:
As has been explained, there is no virtue whose acts
cannot be ordered toward the common good, either mediately