Luigi Taparelli

Luigi Taparelli d
Born(1793-11-24)24 November 1793
Died21 September 1862(1862-09-21) (aged 68)
Rome, Papal States
(present-day Italy)
Alma materUniversity of Turin
Era19th century
RegionWestern philosophy
InstitutionsOblates of the Virgin Mary
Society of Jesus
Main interests
Religion, sociology
Notable ideas
Social justice, subsidiarity

Luigi Taparelli SJ (born Prospero Taparelli d'Azeglio; 1793–1862) was an Italian Jesuit scholar of the Society of Jesus and counter-revolutionary who coined the term social justice and elaborated the principles of subsidiarity, as part of his natural law theory of just social order.[1][2][3]


Taparelli cofounded the journal Civiltà Cattolica in 1850 and wrote for it for twelve years. He was particularly concerned with the problems arising from the industrial revolution. He was a proponent of reviving the philosophical school of Thomism, and his social teachings influenced Pope Leo XIII's 1891 encyclical, Rerum novarum (On the Condition of the Working Classes).[4]

In 1825, he became convinced that the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas needed to be revived, thinking that the subjective philosophy of René Descartes leads to dramatic errors in morality and politics. He reasoned that whereas different opinions on the natural sciences have no effect on nature, unclear metaphysical ideas about humanity and society can lead to social chaos.

The Catholic Church had not yet developed a clear philosophical view regarding the great social changes that were appearing in the early nineteenth century in Europe, which led to much confusion among the ecclesiastical hierarchy and laity. In response to this problem, Taparelli applied the methods of Thomism to these social problems in a coherent manner.[5][3]

After the social revolutions of 1848, the church decided to enter the conflict raging between the laissez-faire liberal capitalists and the socialists. Up until then, the church relied primarily on evangelical charitable activities. In 1850, Taparelli was granted permission by Pope Pius IX to co-found Civiltà Cattolica with Carlo Maria Curci. In particular, he attacked the tendency to separate morality from positive law, and also the "heterodox spirit" of unconstrained freedom of conscience which destroyed the unity of society.[6][7]

His major ideas include social justice and subsidiarity. He viewed society as not a monolithic group of individuals, but of various levels of sub-societies, with individuals being members of these. Each level of society has both rights and duties which should be recognized and supported. All levels of society should cooperate rationally and not resort to competition and conflict.

His brother was the Italian politician Massimo d'Azeglio.[8][9]


  1. ^ Herbermann, Charles. “Aloysius Taparelli,” The Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: Appleton Company, 1913).
  2. ^ Behr, Thomas. “Luigi Taparelli D'Azeglio, SJ and the Revival of Scholastic Natural Law," The Journal of Markets and Morality, Spring 2003.
  3. ^ a b Behr, Thomas. Social Justice and Subsidiarity: Luigi Taparelli and the Origins of Modern Catholic Social Thought (Washington DC: Catholic University of American Press, December 2019).
  4. ^ Behr, Thomas. "Catholic Social Teaching" in The Development of Catholic Social Teaching: A Volume of Scholarly Essays. G. Bradley; E. Brugger (eds.). (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019).
  5. ^ Behr, Thomas. "Taparelli on Cult, Culture and Authentic Progress," Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly, Summer 2020.
  6. ^ Taparelli, Luigi. "Critical Analysis of the First Principles of Political Economy," Thomas Behr, ed., trans. Journal of Markets & Morality, Fall 2011.
  7. ^ Behr, Thomas. "Luigi Taparelli's Natural Law Approach to Social Economics," Journal des Économistes et des Études Humaines, Summer 2002.
  8. ^ Behr, Thomas. "Luigi Taparelli D'Azeglio," New Catholic Encyclopedia (Cengage 2010).
  9. ^ Behr, Thomas. "Massimo Taparelli D'Azeglio," New Catholic Encyclopedia. (Cengage 2010).