Recognition of Excellence: ACPA Young Scholar's Award

Recognition of Excellence: ACPA Young Scholar's Award

Recognition of Excellence: AMU Doctoral Candidate Wins ACPA Young Scholar's Award

Ave Maria University doctoral candidate, Brandon Wanless, wins the American Catholic Philosophical Association 2016 Young Scholar’s Award for his paper on Aquinas and Justice.

As another example of the effectiveness of the Patrick F. Taylor Graduate Programs in Theology at AMU, doctoral candidate Brandon Wanless has been awarded the 2016 Young Scholar’s Award by the American Catholic Philosophical Association (ACPA). Mr. Wanless’ paper, “St. Thomas Aquinas on Original Justice and the Justice of Christ: A Case Study in Christological Soteriology and Catholic Moral Theology,” has been recognized as the best blind reviewed paper by a scholar 35 years of age or under for the 2016 ACPA meeting. The theme of this year’s meeting is “Justice: Then and Now,” and Mr. Wanless will present his paper in a session dedicated to “Justice in St. Thomas Aquinas.”

Established in 1926, ACPA is known for its engagement with major philosophers of every era and responding to issues and themes of contemporary philosophy, all while “[s]teeped in classical sources and cultivating the Catholic Philosophical heritage” (cited from the ACPA website). Mr. Wanless, then, will be presenting his paper alongside some of the foremost Catholic scholars in the United States and Canada, contributing to and influencing the conversation with his paper that was formed in the AMU Graduate Theology Program.

As Mr. Wanless attests, the paper that would later go on to receive this award was first conceived of and drafted in his classes at AMU. In his paper, Mr. Wanless examines Thomas Aquinas’ use of the concept of personal justice (a concept taken from Aristotle). Based on this examination, he goes on to defend Thomistic moral theology against the critique that it is not properly centered on the person of Christ. As he states in his abstract:

“I will show that, for Aquinas, Christ’s personal justice both fulfills the right ordering of humanity lost through sin and restores that integrity to mankind in the grace of justification—the root of the Christian’s entire moral life.”

In this way, Wanless’ paper is characteristic of the Graduate Theology Program, in that it attempts to engage robustly with the current scholarly conversation, while being formed in and knowledgeable of the rich theological heritage of the Catholic Church.