•  121
    Anselm is known for offering a distinctive definition of freedom of choice as “the ability of preserving uprightness of will for its own sake.” When we turn to Anselm’s account of the devil’s fall in De Casu Diaboli, however, this idiosyncratic understanding of freedom is not at the forefront. In that text, Anselm seemingly assumes a traditional understanding of free will defined in terms of alternative possibilities for the angels. These alternative possibilities must be present so the angel…Read more
  •  19
    The Root of Sin is Still Undiscovered
    American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 93 (1): 147-160. 2019.
    In “Aquinas’s Original Discovery: A Reply to Barnwell,” Steven Jensen offers five objections to my earlier claim that Aquinas’s explanation of the origin of sin, also known as his “original discovery,” does not succeed. In this paper, I quickly summarize Aquinas’s putative discovery and my initial criticism. I then begin to address Jensen’s five objections. The issue at hand between Jensen and myself largely rests upon disagreeing over the truth of a particular conditional; I claim the condition…Read more
  •  2
    Although De Casu Diaboli is not a traditional locus for a discussion of faith and reason, it is nonetheless subtly permeated by this topic in two ways. The first concerns Anselm’s general strategy for answering the student’s questions regarding the cause of the devil’s first sin. Anselm ends by claiming the devil willed incorrectly for no other cause than that his will so willed. Anselm thus ultimately calls upon the student to have faith in the mysterious, libertarian self-determining power…Read more
  •  53
    The story of the devil’s fall poses at least three separate philosophical puzzles, only two of which Anselm addressed. The first (Puzzle A) wonders how this angel could have committed a sin in the first place since he was created with a good will and good desires. A second puzzle (Puzzle B) consists of trying to explain why the devil cannot ever be forgiven for that first sin. According to Christian teaching, the devil is unable to “repent” (i.e., express sorrow for) that first sin and thereby a…Read more
  •  76
    The Problem with Aquinas’s Original Discovery
    American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 89 (2): 277-291. 2015.
    Jacques Maritain asserted that Aquinas’s explanation of sin’s origin is “one of the most original of his philosophical discoveries.” In this explanation, Aquinas traces the origin of sin back to the will’s defect of failing to consider or use the rule of divine law. To succeed, Aquinas must show how this defect is both voluntarily caused by the agent and non-culpable despite its serving as the origin for sin. (If it were culpable, a non-explanatory regress would ensue.) Aquinas’s “original” solu…Read more
  •  73
    Trolley Cases and Being ‘In the Realm,’
    Southwest Philosophical Studies 32 29-35. 2010.
    I argue against Judith Jarvis Thomson’s solution for solving paradoxes surrounding trolley cases. I then offer my own competing, novel solution. Thomson famously proposed that what matters in trolley-type cases is whether an agent does something to a threat itself so as to minimize harm or whether the agent initiates a new threat against a person so as to minimize harm. According to her, we intuitively assume that minimizing harm is permissible in the former case (doing something to a threat)…Read more
  •  70
    Soul-making theodicy and compatibilism: new problems and a new interpretation
    International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 82 (1): 29-46. 2017.
    In the elaboration of his soul-making theodicy, John Hick agrees with a controversial point made by compatibilists Antony Flew and John Mackie against the free will defense. Namely, Hick grants that God could have created humans such that they would be free to sin but would, in fact, never do so. In this paper, I identify three previously unrecognized problems that arise from his initial concession to, and ultimate rejection of, compatibilism. The first problem stems from the fact that in two im…Read more
  •  46
    William Wood has importantly distinguished between a ‘hard problem’ and a ‘harder problem’ in explaining the devil's fall. He points out that previous attempts to explain Satan's sin have focused only on the former and cleverly argues that consumer preference theory, when applied to Anselm's account of Satan's sin, can solve the latter. In this article, I demonstrate that Wood's solution (i) undermines itself, (ii) fails to absolve God of the charge of being tyrannical, (iii) surreptitiously rei…Read more
  •  427
    Aquinas’s Two Different Accounts of Akrasia
    American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 84 (1): 49-67. 2010.
    Aquinas’s analyses of akrasia can be divided into two: the discussions in his theological works and his Ethics commentary. The latter has sometimes been regarded as merely repetitive of Aristotle and unrepresentative of Aquinas’s own thoughts. As such, little attention has been paid to the specific, and sometimes significant, differences between the two treatments and to what those differences might mean. This paper remedies this situation by focusing on four such differences. I ultimately provi…Read more
  •  97
    Introduction : what's the problem? -- The problem may lurk in Aristotle's ethics -- Aristotle's akratic : foreshadowing a solution -- A negligent omission at the root of all sinfulness : Anselm and the Devil -- Negligent vs. non-negligent : a Thomistic distinction directing us toward a solution -- Can I have your divided attention? : Scotus, indistinct intellections, and type-1 negligent omissions almost solved -- I can't get you out of my mind : Scotus, lingering indistinct intellections, and t…Read more
  •  28
    Although De Casu Diaboli is not a traditional locus for a discussion of faith and reason, it is nonetheless subtly permeated by this topic in two ways. The first concerns Anselm’s general strategy for answering the student’s questions regarding the cause of the devil’s first sin. Anselm ends by claiming the devil willed incorrectly for no other cause than that his will so willed. Anselm thus ultimately calls upon the student to have faith in the mysterious, libertarian selfdetermining power of …Read more