•  5
    Logical Necessity and Divine Love in Duns Scotus's Ethical Thought
    Franciscan Studies 78 (1): 159-170. 2020.
    I do not think scholars have thought hard enough about Scotus’s position that there are necessary moral truths over which God has no control. Just about everyone who writes on Scotus’s ethics has noted this position, but none has paid sufficient philosophical attention to it. It turns out that necessary moral truths are logically necessary (in Scotus’s sense of logical modalities), and the fact that they are logically necessary significantly alters how we should understand radical-sounding claim…Read more
  •  7
    Reconstructing Aquinas's World
    Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy 4 (1). 2016.
    This article focuses on some topics in Jeffrey Brower’s recent and excellent book, Aquinas’s Ontology of the Material World: Change, Hylomorphism, and Material Objects. Part of Brower’s goal for the book is to reconstruct Aquinas’s views. I offer some reflections on Brower’s use of this metaphor of reconstruction, before considering four topics in some detail. These are: 1. Brower’s discussion of the relation between Aristotle’s Ten Categories and the not-obviously-connected four-fold division o…Read more
  •  1
    Divine Ideas
    Cambridge University Press. 2020.
    This Element defends a version of the classical theory of divine ideas, the containment exemplarist theory of divine ideas. The classical theory holds that God has ideas of all possible creatures, that these ideas partially explain why God's creation of the world is a rational and free personal action, and that God does not depend on anything external to himself for having the ideas he has. The containment exemplarist version of the classical theory holds that God's own nature is the exemplar of…Read more
  •  4
    On the Symposium (review)
    Philosophia Christi 6 (2): 363-366. 2004.
  •  34
    A Most Mitigated Friar
    American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 93 (3): 385-409. 2019.
    In his ethical writings, Duns Scotus emphasized both divine freedom and natural goodness, and these seem to conflict with each other in various ways. I offer an interpretation of Scotus which takes seriously these twin emphases and shows how they cohere. I argue that, for Scotus, all natural laws obtain just by the natures of actual things. Divine commands, such as the Ten Commandments, contingently track natural laws but do not make natural laws to be natural laws. I present textual evidence fo…Read more
  • Book Review (review)
    Philosophia Christi 6 (2): 363-365. 2004.
  •  21
    Scotism About Possible Natures
    Philosophical Quarterly 69 (275): 393-408. 2019.
    I motivate and develop a view, found in John Duns Scotus, concerning God's explanatory role in the possibility of possible natures. A possible nature is a nature which can be instanced. The view is that possible natures have their possibility due to the coherence of their simple parts, but the simples which make up natures are themselves ex nihilo productions of divine intellect.
  •  23
    Ward examines Scotus's arguments for his distinctive version of hylomorphism, the view that at least some material objects are composites of matter and form. It considers Scotus's reasons for adopting hylomorphism, and his accounts of how matter and form compose a substance, how extended parts, such as the organs of an organism, compose a substance, and how other sorts of things, such as the four chemical elements and all the things in the world, fail to compose a substance. It highlights the ex…Read more
  •  45
    Voluntarism, Atonement, and Duns Scotus
    Heythrop Journal 57 (6): 37-43. 2016.
    The two most important concepts in Duns Scotus's theology of the Atonement are satisfaction and merit. Just what these amount to and how they function in his theory are heavily conditioned by two more general commitments: Scotus's voluntarism, which includes the claim that nearly all of God's relations with the created order are contingent; and his formulation of the Franciscan Thesis, which holds that fixing the sin problem is not the primary purpose of God's Incarnation in Christ and that if A…Read more
  •  33
    This paper examines some of the metaphysical assumptions behind Aquinas’s denials that a human rational soul unites with matter at conception and that a human rational soul is capable of developing and arranging the organic parts of an embryo. The paper argues that Buridan does not share these assumptions and holds that a soul is capable of developing and arranging organic parts. It argues that, given hylomorphism about the nature of organisms, including human beings, Buridan’s view is philosoph…Read more
  •  72
    Spinoza on the Essences of Modes
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 19 (1): 19-46. 2011.
    This paper examines some aspects of Spinoza's metaphysics of the essences of modes.2 I situate Spinoza's use of the notion of essence as a response to traditional, Aristotelian, ways of thinking about essence. I argue that, although Spinoza rejects part of the Aristotelian conception of essence, according to which it is in virtue of its essence that a thing is a member of a kind, he nevertheless retains a different part of such a conception, according to which an essence is some structural featu…Read more
  •  39
    Taking Aquinas's metaphysics of human nature as my point of departure and taking inspiration from Dante's concept of transhumanization, I sketch a metaphysics of the afterlife according to which a human person in the interim phase between death and resurrection is not a mere disembodied soul. I offer some theological reasons for thinking that our bodily human nature is essential to what we are and for thinking that we can survive the destruction of our bodies at death. I argue that these claims …Read more
  •  76
    Losing the Lost Island
    International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 83 (1): 127-134. 2018.
    Gaunilo’s Lost Island Objection to Anselm’s Ontological Argument aims to show that if Anselm’s argument can establish the existence of a greatest conceivable being then a very similar argument can establish the existence of a greatest conceivable island. The challenge for the defender of Anselm is to identify the relevant disanalogy between Anselm’s argument and Gaunilo’s, in order to explain why Anselm’s can succeed while Gaunilo’s fails. In this essay I take up this challenge. Reflection on th…Read more
  •  196
    Animals, Animal Parts, and Hylomorphism: John Duns Scotus's Pluralism about Substantial Form
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 50 (4): 531-557. 2012.
    This paper presents an original interpretation of John Duns Scotus’s theory of hylomorphism. I argue that Scotus thinks, contrary to Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, that at least some of the extended parts of a substance—paradigmatically the organs of an animal—are themselves substances. Moreover, Scotus thinks that the form of corporeity is nothing more than the substantial forms of these organic parts. I offer an account of how Scotus thinks that the various extended parts of an animal are subst…Read more
  •  152
    This article presents a new interpretation and critique of some aspects of Aquinas’s metaphysics of relations, with special reference to a theological problem—the relation of God to creatures—that catalyzed Aquinas’s and much medieval thought on the ontology of relations. I will show that Aquinas’s ontologically reductive theory of categorical real relations should equip him to identify certain relations as real relations, which he actually identifies as relations of reason, most notably the rel…Read more