From Mike Flynn: "The will is determined always to the good, but the intellect does not always know perfectly what is good, and a particular object may not be good from every perspective. If it were good from every perspective, the will could not freely withhold consent."
Question: What if the intellect did know perfectly what was good? If I'm understanding the Thomistic intellectualist position right, in that case we would make perfectly good choices.
For one, this appears to contradict Christian theology. God is all-good from every perspective. Yet the fallen angels are in their state because of their choice to sin against God. This is inexplicable given the framework where the will would be unable to freely withhold consent.
It also appears to cause problems for our personal responsibility. After all, what we choose depends on what is in our intellect. What is in our intellect is what first comes through our senses (according to Aquinas in De Veritate). So what we choose is dependent on what comes through our senses. This would imply that whether we make good or bad choices and become good or bad people is ultimately dependent on our "sensory history", i.e. whether or not we are fortunate enough to have had the types of sensations which would lead to our apprehending the types of truths which would cause us to act well. And if that's the case, it seems our action is ultimately just a matter of our having this flux of sensory stimuli rather than another. This isn't much better than the materialist picture; we're not the proper source of our actions.
Another problem is that some people have better intellects, if that makes sense. Of course, someone with a good intellect may not have a very congenial sensory history. This would explain why smart people can turn out wicked. But for those who have better intellects and better sensory histories, being directed to the good will come much easier to them insofar as they can apprehend truth and goodness more clearly than others. Thus, by chance, they're at an unfair advantage.
It seems safe to say that this means when we're punishing criminals we're ultimately (a) punishing them for not being gifted with a good intellect or (b) punishing them for not having the right sensory history. However, one should not be punished for external contingencies beyond one's control.