•  2
    While it is unproblematic that someone evil causes further evil, it is difficult to explain how a good person can cause his or her first evil act. Augustine, denying that something good can be the cause of evil, concludes that the first moral evil has only a ‘deficient cause’, not an efficient cause, which is to say that it has no explanation. By contrast, Aquinas and Scotus hold that the first moral evil has a cause, that the cause is something good, and that it is an efficient cause: the will.…Read more
  • Ch. 1. Introdcution
    with Jorn Muller and Matthias Perkams
    In Tobias Hoffmann, Jörn Müller & Matthias Perkams (eds.), Aquinas and the Nicomachean Ethics, Cambridge University Press. 2013.
  •  5
    Questions sur la métaphysique by Jean Duns Scot
    Journal of the History of Philosophy 60 (3): 503-505. 2022.
    The Questions on Aristotle’s Metaphysics is Duns Scotus’s most important philosophical work. While Scotus’s obscurity is proverbial, that work adds additional layers of impenetrability, so much so that its fifteenth-century editor spoke of a chaos metaphysicum. In the last twenty-five years, scholars have brought a lot of clarity to this chaos, which is partly due to the difficulty of Scotus’s thought and writing style, and partly to the complicated textual tradition of this work. A further cont…Read more
  •  27
    Free Will and the Rebel Angels in Medieval Philosophy
    Cambridge University Press. 2021.
    In this book Tobias Hoffmann studies the medieval free will debate during its liveliest period, from the 1220s to the 1320s, and clarifies its background in Aristotle, Augustine, and earlier medieval thinkers. Among the wide range of authors he examines are not only well-known thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham, but also a number of authors who were just as important in their time and deserve to be rediscovered today. To shed further light on their theories of fr…Read more
  •  1431
    Freedom without Choice: Medieval Theories of the Essence of Freedom
    In Thomas Williams (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Ethics, Cambridge University Press. pp. 194-216. forthcoming.
    Medieval authors generally agreed that we have the freedom to choose among alternative possibilities. But most medieval authors also thought that there are situations in which one cannot do otherwise, not even will otherwise. They also thought when willing necessarily, the will remains free. The questions, then, are what grounds the necessity or contingency of the will’s acts, and – since freedom is not defined by the ability to choose – what belongs to the essential character of freedom, the ra…Read more
  •  2
    Free Choice
    In M. V. Dougherty (ed.), Aquinas's Disputed Questions on Evil: A Critical Guide, . pp. 56-74. 2016.
    This article examines Aquinas’s theory of free choice and moral responsibility throughout his De malo and provides a careful analysis of question 6 “on human choice.” We argue that Aquinas here proposes an account of free choice as incompatible with determinism. We also show briefly that Aquinas’s account of the fall of the angels in the De malo confirms our interpretation.
  •  29
    The Problem of Weakness of Will in Medieval Philosophy (edited book)
    with Jörn Müller and Matthias Perkams
    Peeters. 2006.
    This volume contains fourteen papers on Aristotelian and non-Aristotelian medieval accounts of weakness of will, many of which have not yet been the object of scholarly writing. The papers give insight into a variety of accounts of practical rationality that were directly or indirectly influential on modern thinkers. The temporal framework of the volume exceeds the Middle Ages on both ends by including Aristotle and authors from the Renaissance and the Reformation.
  •  3
    Voluntariness, Choice, and Will in the Ethics Commentaries of Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas
    Documenti E Studi Sulla Tradizione Filosofica Medievale 17 71-92. 2006.
    The article studies the reception of Aristotle’s treatments of voluntariness and decision (EN 3.1–5) in the first three Latin commentaries (two by Albert the Great, one by Thomas Aquinas) that are based on the integral text of the Nicomachean Ethics. In particular, my goal is to examine how Albert’s and Thomas’s non-Aristotelian concepts of the will as a faculty distinct from reason influences their explanations of the Aristotelian account. It is argued that the Dominican commentators emphasize …Read more
  •  3
    This article examines different medieval explanations of the causes of moral goodness, principally the end of the agent and the object of the action. Special attention is given to Thomas Aquinas, who considers the end (that which is willed) to be not only the origin of moral goodness, but also its main criterion. Peter Abelard, whose ethics I argue to be non-subjectivist, had developed a similar theory, though the vocabulary he uses is not very refined. By contrast, for Albert and Duns Scotus, t…Read more
  •  37
    Freedom Beyond Practical Reason: Duns Scotus on Will-Dependent Relations
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 21 (6): 1071-1090. 2013.
    Most acts of the will have a complex structure, i.e. wanting A in relation to B . Duns Scotus makes the innovative claim that the will itself is responsible for the order of this complex structure. It does this by causing its own will-dependent relations, which he construes as a kind of mind-dependent relations . By means of these relations, the will can arrange the terms of its will-acts independently of any arrangement proposed by the intellect. This not only allows the structure of one's will…Read more
  •  34
    This article studies Walter Chatton 's account of the connection of the virtues and its relation to the teaching of Henry of Ghent and John Duns Scotus. Chatton 's position with regard to the connection of temperance, fortitude, and justice is influenced by Henry and yet importantly different from him. Chatton 's teaching on the connection between prudence and the moral virtues closely follows Scotus's view. Both Franciscans frame this problem in terms of the connection between intellect and wil…Read more
  •  2
    Leibniz’s first essay, his dissertation on the principle of individuality, is mainly dedicated to a critique of Duns Scotus’s explanation of individuation. Leibniz’s critique of Scotus and the historical antecedents of the German philosopher’s position have not been studied before. The paper examines Scotus’s and Leibniz’s views on individuation and sheds some light on the doctrinal genealogy that leads up to Leibniz’s position. I argue that Leibniz’s view and his critique of Scotus depend upon …Read more
  • Angelology gives Duns Scotus the occasion to test his action theory or to expand on it to accommodate the special case of angelic sin: freedom and determinism; synchronic continency; the will as a “comparative power” (assuming quasi-cognitive functions); the distinction between the two affections of the will (commodi and iustitiae).
  • The intellectual virtues
    In Brian Davies & Eleonore Stump (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Aquinas, Oxford University Press. 2011.
    The article presents Aquinas’s general conception of intellectual virtue and considers his account of the individual intellectual virtues, with a special focus on prudence.
  •  4
    Intellectualism and Voluntarism
    In Robert Pasnau (ed.), Cambridge Companion for Medieval Philosophy, Cambridge University Press. 2010.
    This chapter reviews major accounts of free decision of the second half of the thirteenth century, from St. Bonaventure to Duns Scotus. A clear divide between intellectualists and voluntarists is observable beginning in the early 1270s, when the question of whether free decision is founded upon reason or will becomes central. Intellectualists stress the causality of the object apprehended as good at the expense of the will’s self-determination, whereas the reverse emphasis can be observed among …Read more
  • The Distinction between Nature and Will in Duns Scotus
    Archives D’Histoire Doctrinale Et Littéraire du Moyen Âge 66 189-224. 1999.
    The distinction of active potencies into will and nature is one of the most characteristic traits of Duns Scotus’s thought. Scotus distinguishes free and self-determining causality from natural and necessary causality. In this article I show how this distinction underlies large parts of his moral psychology, ethics, metaphysics, and Trinitarian theology.
  •  17
    The most controversial aspect of the interpretation of Scotus’s modal theory concerns the question of whether things are possible because God knows them to be possible, or whether they are possible independently from God. I argue that Scotus thought that the possibles are possibles because of God’s knowledge of them. I adduce a number of relevant texts that previous 20th century discussions of this interpretational problem have not taken into account. In addition, I discuss the modal theory of F…Read more
  • The Distinction between Nature and Will in Duns Scotus
    Archives d'Histoire Doctrinale et Littéraire du Moyen Âge 66 189-224. 1999.
    In the thought of Duns Scotus, the distinction of active potencies into will and nature takes on a fundamental systematic significance. It distinguishes free and self-determining causality from natural and necessary causality. The purpose of this article is to show to what extent this distinction underlies large parts of Duns Scotus’ moral psychology, ethics, metaphysics and Trinitarian theology.
  •  76
    Peter Auriol on Free Choice and Free Judgment
    Vivarium 53 (1): 65-89. 2015.
    Some medieval authors defend free choice by arguing that, even though human choices are indeed caused by the practical judgment about what is best to do here and now, one is nevertheless able to freely influence that practical judgment’s formation. This paper examines Peter Auriol’s account of free choice, which is a quite elaborate version of this approach and which brings its theoretical problems into focus. I will argue in favor of Auriol’s basic theory, but I will also propose an emendation …Read more
  • This chapter emphasizes Duns Scotus’s indebtedness to Henry of Ghent with respect to the major themes of his metaphysics: his univocal notion of being, his view of being qua being as the subject of metaphysics, his metaphysical proof of God's existence, and his notion of being as a quidditative rather than existential notion.
  •  80
  •  40
    Are there subjective or objective conditions under which human life is not worth living? Or does human life itself contain the conditions that make it worth living? To find answers to these questions, this paper explores Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Richard of Mediavilla, and John Duns Scotus, who discuss whether the damned in hell can, should, and do prefer non-existence over their existence in pain and moral evil. In light of Aristotle’s teaching that there is a certain pleasure inherent to li…Read more