Front Page Titles (by Subject) QUESTION XCII.: OF THE EFFECTS OF LAW. - Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1)
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QUESTION XCII.: OF THE EFFECTS OF LAW. - St. Thomas Aquinas, Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas, vol. 1 (Summa Theologica - Prima Secundae, Secunda Secundae Pt.1) 
Aquinas Ethicus: or, the Moral Teaching of St. Thomas. A Translation of the Principal Portions of the Second part of the Summa Theologica, with Notes by Joseph Rickaby, S.J. (London: Burns and Oates, 1892).
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OF THE EFFECTS OF LAW.
Article I.—Is it an effect of law to make men good?
R. If the intention of the lawgiver is fixed upon true good, which is public good regulated according to divine justice, it follows that the working of the law is towards making men good absolutely. But if the lawgiver’s intention is carried to that which is not absolutely good, but is expedient or pleasurable to himself, even in opposition to divine justice, then the law does not make men good absolutely, but only in a restricted sense: good, that is, for the purposes of such a government. In this way good is found even in what is to be styled properly bad: as one is called a good robber, because he operates in a manner calculated to gain his end.1
§ 1. Virtue is twofold, acquired and infused. Habituation contributes to both, but in different ways. It causes acquired virtue: it disposes to infused virtue; and where infused virtue exists, it preserves it and advances it. Hence the Philosopher says that “legislators make people good by habituating them.”
§ 3. The goodness of every part is estimated in reference to the whole to which it belongs. Hence Augustine says: “Unseemly is every part that befits not the whole.” Since, then, every man is a part of the State, it is impossible for any man to be good, unless his behaviour is well calculated to serve the common good: nor can the whole be in a good condition, unless it is made up of parts well adapted to it. Hence it is impossible for the common weal to flourish unless the citizens are virtuous, at least they who exercise the sovereignty. But is enough for the good of the community, that the others be virtuous to the extent of obeying the commands of those in power. And therefore the Philosopher says: “The virtue of a sovereign and of a good man is the same: but the virtue of any common citizen and of a good man is not the same.”
§ 4. A tyrannical law, not being according to reason, is not, absolutely speaking, a law, but rather a perversion of law; and yet inasmuch as it has something of a law about it, it intends that the citizens should be good: its aim being to make them obedient, or good for the purposes of such a government.1
§ 5. It is a saying of the Philosopher, that “the wish of every legislator is to make men good.”
§ 4. To Augustine’s words, “Of servile fear, which is the fear of punishment, though one do good, yet he does not do it well,” it is to be said that from becoming accustomed to avoid evil and fulfil what is good through fear of punishment, a man is sometimes led on to do the same with delight and of his own will; and in this way the law even by punishment leads men on to goodness.
[1 ]It follows that where the mass of the citizens are not good, democracy makes an unhappy government. So of course does oligarchy also, where the ruling few are unprincipled men. (Trl.)
[1 ]This applies not to monarchical governments only The Social Democracy may be, and likely enough will be, the fruitful mother of many such tyrannical laws. (Trl.)