•  29
    Complexity without Composition
    with Thomas Williams
    American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 93 (4): 611-631. 2019.
    John Duns Scotus recognizes complexity in God both at the level of God’s being and at the level of God’s attributes. Using the formal distinction and the notion of “unitive containment,” he argues for real plurality in God, but in a way that permits him to affirm the doctrine of divine simplicity. We argue that his allegiance to the doctrine of divine simplicity is purely verbal, that he flatly denies traditional aspects of the doctrine as he had received it from Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas, …Read more
  •  25
    Complexity without Composition in advance
    American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly. forthcoming.
  •  12
    At the center of all medieval Christian accounts of both metaphysics and ethics stands the claim that being and goodness are necessarily connected, and that grasping the nature of this connection is fundamental to explaining the nature of goodness itself. In that vein, medievals offered two distinct ways of conceiving this necessary connection: the nature approach and the creation approach. The nature approach explains the goodness of an entity by an appeal to the entity’s nature as the type of …Read more
  •  5
    Duns Scotus, the Natural Law, and the Irrelevance of Aesthetic Explanation
    Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy 4 (1): 78-99. 2016.
    According to Duns Scotus, the First Table of the Decalogue contains only those moral propositions whose truth value is known from their terms alone, or conclusions that necessarily follow from them. As such, God cannot make a dispensation from them. In contrast, God can make dispensations from the Second Table precepts, since these precepts are not logical deductions following necessarily from the First Table. Nevertheless, they are “highly consonant” with it. However, Scotus does not explai…Read more
  •  2
    In Thomas Williams (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Ethics, . 2019.
    I first consider three medieval accounts of happiness—Augustine, Boethius, and Thomas Aquinas—noting particular the connection between happiness, the ultimate end, and virtue. As we will see, these various accounts all share the formal conception of happiness with their ancient predecessors, but uniformly agree that only the perfect and unchanging good, God himself, can truly satisfy these conditions as the ultimate end. However, each of these accounts has a unique way of filling out its content…Read more
  •  1
    The Prospects of a Naturalist Theory of Goodness: A Neo-Aristotelian Approach
    Florida Philosophical Review 13 (1): 29-39. 2013.
    Ethical non-naturalists posit a sui generis realm of moral and evaluative properties, while ethical naturalists identify moral and evaluative properties with natural or descriptive properties. First, I explore the standard arguments in favor of an ethical non-naturalist account of goodness, specifically the open-question argument. Then, I examine Philippa Foot’s criticism of the open-question argument and her alternative neo-Aristotelian theory of goodness. Foot’s account, I argue, is vulnerable…Read more