This is a reissued revised doctoral dissertation originally published a decade ago as Finality and Marriage and has many of the assets and defects of a dissertation-turned-book. While Hogan does provide a fairly comprehensive view of relevant magisterial teaching on reproduction, as well as the grounding principles derived from Thomas Aquinas, much of her material is rather dryly presented and does not break much new ground. It is hard to see who the readership of this volume might be. Scholars are already fairly well versed in the material and arguments while the genre employed would probably argue against a popular audience such as educated lay persons.
Chapter One deals with the tradition in Pius XI and Pius XII while Chapter Two treats the use of the tradition in Gaudium et spes, Humanae vitae, and Donum vitae. Chapter Three outlines what Hogan terms an emerging position on marriage as a human relationship, and Chapter Four is a a short epilogue which gives responses to questions raised in the earlier edition, including a brief and dismissive discussion of the possibility of homosexual marriage. Overlooked in the consideration of the tradition is a range of issues which would be of great interest to those engaged with a feminist and/or post- modern critique of the Church's historical treatment of women in marriage, such as Casti Conubii's assertion of natural law argument for the proper subjugation of the wife to husband. Hogan seems to be unaware, or dismissive, of any feminist critique of such argumentation. Similarly, while she acknowledges the scriptural basis for the condemnation of contraception as akin to the sin of Onan, she does not even raise the well-known exegetical difficulties this interpretation involves.
Hogan relies a lot Richard McCormick for her interpretation of the changes in Church teaching though a little more history, such as that done by Joseph Selling and John Mahoney, S.J., might have augmented her analysis. Except for two brief references, the 1965 Pontifical Commission on the Regulation of Births Final Report is largely ignored. This short-shrift is surprising, since it would have given a different paradigm for reading the various moral principles enunciated in the documents that Hogan does track. The most helpful part of the work is Hogan's utilization of Bernard Lonergan's distinctions on levels of finality as these could relate to a consideration of marriage. Briefly put, Lonergan proposes a horizontal finality related to an essential good (e.g., the sexual union of the gametes of two partners is necessary for the creation of a zygote ), a vertical finality related to an excellent good (e.g., marriage as a union of friendship), and a transcendental finality related to an absolute good (union with God). How one goes about making the requisite judgments about the appropriate ways to realize these respective ends is a matter of "prudential judgment" according to Hogan. Many philosophers and theologians no doubt would agree with her on this point, but it is a point made with far too great brevity and with insufficient engagement with the long scholastic tradition of the Church's sexual ethics to be likely to change too many minds on this matter.
Hogan's philosophical condemnation of homogenital acts even within the context of a committed, stable, and loving monogamous relationship would seem to make coherent sense only if one adopts a physicalist, absolutist paradigm, and if one can use this mode of argumentation to condemn these sorts of acts, then it seems equally logical and consistent to extend a similar condemnation to each and every act of artificial contraception in marriage, a claim though that Hogan denies in the latter.
Regrettably, virtually nothing from married experience finds its way into this text, either from the author's own experience as a wife and mother of six children, or the experiences of others. This is a real loss, since it is precisely this voice of experience which the needs to augment better the tradition which has developed to date. What Hogan has given us could have come from the pen of any well- read celibate cleric trained in a closed seminary setting, and while she has done this credibly enough, at least this reader was left disappointed that what could have been brought to the discussion was left back at home.