Virtue, Law, and the Common Good | Thomas Aquinas College, California | June 13-16, 2024

St. Thomas’s extensive writings on morality hinge on a few key ideas and principles: Virtue (an intrinsic principle of moral life), Law (an extrinsic principle of moral life), and the Common Good (the end or perfection of the moral life).

Understanding the moral life is, of course, invaluable for those who seek to understand human nature and human flourishing in this life and the life to come, and for a deeper understanding of God’s providence.

Participants at the 2024 Thomistic Summer Conference will address such questions as the following: What is virtue, and how is it related to happiness and the common good? What is justice, and why is that virtue specifically ordered toward the common good? Are the theoretical virtues also ordered toward a common good? How do the supernatural virtues differ from the natural virtues? What is law? Is it a work of reason, or is it merely an expression of force or power? What is the natural law? How do we know the natural law, and is there an order among its precepts? Does it presuppose a divine lawgiver? What is the proper relation between natural law and human law? Why are natural law and human law insufficient to order man toward his ultimate end? What is the relation between the political common good and the common good of the whole universe? What about the relation between the political common good and the common good of the heavenly city?

Join us for three days of engaging lectures and lively conversation exploring questions such as these in the light of the thought of St. Thomas, a champion of the essential harmony between faith and reason.


Featured Speakers

Christopher KaczorChristopher Kaczor is Chair of the Department of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University and the Honorary Professor for the Renewal of Catholic Intellectual Life at Bishop Barron's Word on Fire Institute.

He is the author of 17 books, including The Ethics of Abortion (Routledge, 2022, 3rd edition) and Disputes in Bioethics (Notre Dame, 2020). His research on issues of ethics, philosophy, and religion has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, NPR, BBC, EWTN, ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, MSNBC, and The Today Show. He can be found on X-Twitter at @Prof_Kaczor.


Michael PakalukMichael Pakaluk, educated at Harvard (A.B., Ph.D.) and at the University of Edinburgh (M.Litt.), wrote his dissertation on Aristotle’s theory of friendship. His books include Other Selves: Philosophers on Friendship (Hackett Publishers, 1991); Nicomachean Ethics, Books VIII and IX, Translation with Commentary (Oxford University Press, 1998); Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, An Introduction (Cambridge University Press, 2005); and Moral Psychology and Human Action in Aristotle (with Giles Pearson, Oxford University Press, 2011).

He has also written several influential essays on St. Thomas’s natural law theory, and in 2011 he was appointed an Ordinarius of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas. He is a professor of philosophy at The Catholic University of America in the Busch School of Business.


Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem

Rev. Sebastian Walshe, O.Praem., is a Norbertine Canon of the Abbey of St. Michael in the Diocese of Orange, California, where he is Dean of Studies for St. Michael’s Abbey Seminary. After graduating from Thomas Aquinas College in California and completing a Licentiate in Philosophy from The Catholic University of America, he received a Master’s in Sacred Theology and a Doctorate in Philosophy from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas (the Angelicum) where he wrote on “The Primacy of the Common Good as the Root of Personal Dignity in the Doctrine of St. Thomas Aquinas.”

He is the author of several books, including The Foundations of Wisdom, a comprehensive four-volume introduction to philosophy.



John F. NietoJohn Francis Nieto has been a tutor at Thomas Aquinas College since 1992 and has taught the complete curriculum. He wrote his dissertation, Continuity and the Reality of Movement, while in the departments of philosophy and philosophy of science at the University of Notre Dame.

He has written articles for The Aquinas Review on a range of subjects, such as mathematics, psychology, metaphysics, and poetry. A number of his writings that hope to become books appear in an unfinished form on the website: John Francis Nieto – Half-Baked Books. In 2003 he published a collection of poems, Glossae/The Gloss, with Edwin Mellon Press.



John J. GoyetteJohn J. Goyette received his Ph.D. in philosophy from The Catholic University of America in 1998. He has taught for more than 20 years at the California campus of Thomas Aquinas College and recently completed his tenure there as Dean. He edited St. Thomas Aquinas and the Natural Law Tradition (CUA Press, 2004) and has published articles on natural law, the political common good, substantial form, and on John Henry Newman’s Idea of a University.

His recent work has focused on the use of philosophy in the science of sacred doctrine, especially on the use of the interior word in St. Thomas’s trinitarian theology.



Registration / Accommodations Info

  • Registration Fee: $95 if before April 22 and $120 afterward (covers all meals, including Saturday evening’s banquet dinner). Registration fees will be waived for those whose paper proposals are accepted.
  • On-Campus Lodging: $200 single occupancy for up to four nights (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday; private room with a shared bathroom in a single-sex dormitory; linens provided)
  • Off-campus lodging can be found at various nearby accommodations
  • To register and reserve accommodations, please visit our online form
  • To request a shuttle to or from LAX airport, please use this form
  • Check-in: Wednesday, 2:00–5:00 p.m., or Thursday, 9:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.
  • Deadline to request shuttle service: June 7
  • Paper proposals will be accepted until February 19. Authors will be notified by February 29.





Thomas Aquinas College Thomistic Summer Conference Virtue, Law, & the Common Good Thomas Aquinas College June 13–16, 2024 Thomistic Summer Conference Featuring: Christopher Kaczor Loyola Marymount University Michael Pakaluk The Catholic University of America Fr. Sebastian Walshe St. Michael’s Abbey Seminary John Francis Nieto Thomas Aquinas College John Goyette Thomas Aquinas College Additional papers welcome


Thomas Aquinas College believes that to learn is to discover and grow in the truth about reality. It is the truth, and nothing less, that sets men free. And because truth is both natural and supernatural, our academic program aims at both natural and divine wisdom. In particular, we look to St. Thomas Aquinas, the Common Doctor of the Church, whose extensive writings testify to the natural harmony between faith and reason.

Thomas Aquinas College is truly unique among American colleges and universities. In place of textbooks, students here study the Great Books of Western civilization — the works that have shaped the course of history and guided the development of the major disciplines (mathematics and science, language and literature, philosophy and theology). With truth as their aim, our students engage in this four-year pursuit, attempting to answer the enduring questions raised by the authors of these great works, not in vast lecture halls, but in vigorous classroom discussions of 15-18 students.

This curriculum presents the arts and sciences of liberal education as a comprehensive whole. There are no majors, no minors, no electives, and no specializations. The works studied are arranged so as to build upon one another, and together they form a comprehensive and integrated whole. After four years of study, graduates are awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree, having completed 146 semester hours.