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Aquinas's interpretation of EN 3.1-5 reveals from the outset a special interest in "choice". He states explicitly that Aristotle's definition of virtue as a "habit issuing in choices" requires a special treatment. The other main concepts discussed in 3.1-5, "the voluntary" and "the will" are in Aquinas's view connected with choice. Since choice is an interior act of the will, it is free in the sense of not being necessitated by any factor outside human reason, and cannot be impeded from taking place. It is thus the act about whose freedom there can never be any doubt. Aquinas's concept of will is not confined to simply positing a "rational appetite". By integrating an Augustinian concept of interior freedom and Aristotelian philosophy of nature, Aquinas is able not only to affirm that the will is open to alternative courses of action but to interpret this as a natural phenomenon.
Liberal contractarian political and moral theory, based in accounts of practical rationality, sets itself the task of identifying a reasonable set of conditions under which individual persons, conceived as having no necessary tie to one another, can form orderly societies for the sake of mutual benefit. Clearly, if individuals have no necessary tie with one another, there is no reason to expect that they will protect each other's interests. Nor is there any reason to suppose that one individual or group will gladly sacrifice its private good for the common weal, or for the well-being of another. And clearly, we cannot expect to have a stable, well-ordered society if each of us is prepared to do anything in her power to get what she wants, no matter what the cost to her fellows.
While it could turn out that every potential citizen in the desired common-wealth would just happen to be a lovely person who never would want a thing that would jeopardize others' interests, there is no reason to expect this happy turn of events, and, anyway, the aim of contractarian theory is to determine what rational social life would be like no matter how good-natured or ill-tempered the members of the society might be. The question for contractarian theory becomes, What kind of concessions should individuals make for the sake of cooperative social life?
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