•  2247
    Aquinas on Free Will and Intellectual Determinism
    with Cyrille Michon
    Philosophers' Imprint 17. 2017.
    From the early reception of Thomas Aquinas up to the present, many have interpreted his theory of liberum arbitrium to imply intellectual determinism: we do not control our choices, because we do not control the practical judgments that cause our choices. In this paper we argue instead that he rejects determinism in general and intellectual determinism in particular, which would effectively destroy liberum arbitrium as he conceives of it. We clarify that for Aquinas moral responsibility presuppo…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
  •  829
    This bibliography contains primary and secondary literature on Duns Scotus and Scotism.
  •  115
    Aquinas and intellectual determinism: The test case of angelic sin
    Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 89 (2): 122-156. 2007.
    This paper intends to show that Aquinas gives a non-deterministic account of free decision. Angelic sin is the eminent test case: ex hypothesi, angels are supremely intelligent and not subject to ignorance, passions, or negatively disposing habits. Nothing predetermines their choice; rather it ultimately depends on their freedom alone. All angels acted based upon reasons, but why certain angels acted for an inadequate reason whereas others for an adequate reason cannot be fully explained. Thomas…Read more
  •  80
  •  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
  •  53
    This book studies medieval theories of angelology insofar as they made groundbreaking contributions to medieval philosophy. The discussion of angels, made famous by the humanist caricature of ‘how many angels can dance on the head of a pin’, was nevertheless a crucial one in medieval philosophical debates. All scholastic masters pronounced themselves on angelology, if only in their Sentence commentaries. The questions concerning angelic cognition, speech, free decision, movement, etc. were sprin…Read more
  •  45
    Weakness of Will from Plato to the Present (edited book)
    Catholic University of America Press. 2008.
    This volume contains thirteen original essays on weakness of will by scholars of contemporary philosophy and the history of philosophy. It covers the major periods of Western philosophy.
  •  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
  •  38
    Aquinas on the Moral Progress of the Weak Willed
    In Tobias Hoffmann, Jörn Müller & Matthias Perkams (eds.), The Problem of Weakness of Will in Medieval Philosophy, Peeters. 2006.
    The paper investigates Aquinas’s explanation of how the incontinent can make moral progress. The incontinent cannot be healed by moral instruction, because they already know what is best, but fail to act accordingly. Their moral knowledge has to be interiorized. Thus by attaining prudence and the moral virtues, moral knowledge becomes practically effective knowledge. Yet these virtues are no remedy for the incontinent, who are still struggling to attain them. By reason and will they can resist i…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
  •  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.
  •  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
  •  21
    According to Henry of Ghent, akrasia (incontinence or weakness of will) does not presuppose, but rather produces a cognitive defect. By tracing akratic actions and other evil actions to a corruption in the will rather than to a cognitive defect, Henry wants to safeguard their freedom. Though the will is able to reject what the intellect judges as best here and now, strength and freedom of the will increase to the degree that one adheres more firmly to the good. What strengthens the will are the …Read more
  •  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
  •  8
    Aquinas and the Nicomachean Ethics (edited book)
    with Jörn Müller and Matthias Perkams
    Cambridge University Press. 2013.
    Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics is the text which had the single greatest influence on Aquinas's ethical writings, and the historical and philosophical value of Aquinas's appropriation of this text provokes lively debate. In this volume of new essays, thirteen distinguished scholars explore how Aquinas receives, expands on and transforms Aristotle's insights about the attainability of happiness, the scope of moral virtue, the foundation of morality and the nature of pleasure. They examine Aquinas…Read more
  •  8
    Conscience and synderesis
    In Brian Davies & Eleonore Stump (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Aquinas, Oxford University Press. 2011.
    This article gives a basic account of Aquinas’s theory of “synderesis” and conscience. Aquinas understands synderesis as an infallible moral awareness and conscience as the fallible judgment that applies a general moral conviction to a concrete case. The article also compares Aquinas’s and his contemporaries’ theories of whether erring conscience is morally binding, that is, whether to act in accord with erring conscience or against erring conscience is sinful.
  •  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
  •  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
  •  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
  •  2
    Certain traits of the magnanimous man of the Nicomachean Ethics seem incompatible with gratitude and humility. Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas are the first commentators of the Latin West who had access to the integral portrayal of magnanimity in the Nicomachean Ethics. Surprisingly, they welcomed the Aristotelian ideal of magnanimity without reservations. The paper summarizes Aristotle’s account of magnanimity, discusses briefly the transformation of this notion in Stoicism and early schola…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
  •  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.