The reason of faith -- Thought and language -- Truth -- The Monologion arguments for the existence of God -- The Proslogion argument for the existence of God -- The divine attributes -- Thinking and speaking about God -- Creation and the word -- The Trinity -- Modality -- Freedom -- Morality -- Incarnation and atonement -- Original sin, grace, and salvation.
This discussion recounts the development of several anthropological definitions of human nature. It then examines conclusions of studies in other disciplines that make possible a revised empirical definition of human nature and which have led to re-examination of paleoanthropological data classed as unimportant under the rubrics of preceeding studies. Finally, this discussion appraises certain of these data, as they pertain to the question: "Do empirical evidences suggest that a human nature, as well as a human structure, may be the product (...) of evolutionary processes?". (shrink)
International health research in malaria-endemic settings may include screening for sickle cell disease, given the relationship between this important genetic condition and resistance to malaria, generating questions about whether and how findings should be disclosed. The literature on disclosing genetic findings in the context of research highlights the role of community consultation in understanding and balancing ethically important issues from participants’ perspectives, including social forms of benefit and harm, and the influence of access to care. To inform research practice locally, (...) and contribute to policy more widely, this study aimed to explore the views of local residents in Kilifi County in coastal Kenya on how researchers should manage study-generated information on sickle cell disease and carrier status. (shrink)
Thomas Williams presents the most extensive collection of John Duns Scotus's work on ethics and moral psychology available in English. This accessible and philosophically informed translation includes extended discussions on divine and human freedom, the moral attributes of God, and the relationship between will and intellect.
I shall confine my attention to the one Scotist doctrine that seems to be singled out as especially worrisome, the doctrine of univocity. In the first part of the paper I argue that the doctrine of univocity is true. So even if the doctrine has unwelcome consequences, we ought to affirm it anyway; it is not the job of the theologian or philosopher to shrink from uncomfortable truths. In the second part I argue further that the doctrine of univocity is (...) salutary. That is, it does not have the deplorable consequences that have been attributed to it. It should be noted that by “consequences” I mean logical consequences. What historical consequences the doctrine may have had are beside the point: if people have been led astray by false inferences from the doctrine of univocity, the proper remedy is to correct their inferences, not to reject univocity. (shrink)
Ranging from his early treatises, the ’Monologion’ (a work written to show his monks how to meditate on the divine essence) and the ’Proslogion’ (best known for its advancement of the so-called ontological argument for the existence of God), to his three philosophical dialogues on metaphysical topics such as the relationship between freedom and sin, and late treatises on the Incarnation and salvation, this collection of Anselm’s essential writings will be of interest to students of the history of philosophy and (...) theology as well as to anyone interested in examining what Anselm calls "the reason of faith." (publisher). (shrink)
This paper considers Aquinas's accounts of the end of human action and the structure of human action, examines the debate between intellectualist and voluntarist interpretations of Aquinas, and corrects mistaken accounts of Aquinas's views on freedom, necessitation, and causation.
Each volume in this series of companions to major philosophers contains specially commissioned essays by an international team of scholars, together with a substantial bibliography, and will serve as a reference work for students and non-specialists. One aim of the series is to dispel the intimidation such readers often feel when faced with the work of a difficult and challenging thinker. John Duns Scotus was one of the three principal figures in medieval philosophy and theology, with an influence on modern (...) thought arguably even greater than that of Aquinas. The essays in this volume systematically survey the full range of Scotus' thought. They take care to explain the technical details of his writing in lucid terms and demonstrate the relevance of his work to contemporary philosophical debate. New readers will find this the most convenient and accessible guide to Scotus currently available. (shrink)
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, and that his denial of the doctrine allows him to escape certain counterintuitive consequences of the doctrine without falling afoul of the worries that motivated the doctrine in the first place. We note also an important consequence of Scotus’s approach to simplicity for the correct interpretation of his view of the foundation of morality. (shrink)
Ranging from his early treatises, the _Monologion_ and the _Proslogion_, to his three philosophical dialogues on metaphysical topics such as the relationship between freedom and sin, and late treatises on the Incarnation and salvation, this collection of Anselm's essential writings will be a boon to students of the history of philosophy and theology as well as to anyone interested in examining what Anselm calls "the reason of faith.".
Scotus is notorious for occasionally making statements that, on their face at least, smack of voluntarism, but there has been a lively debate about whether Scotus is really a voluntarist after all. Now the debate is not over whether Scotus lays great emphasis on the role of the divine will with respect to the moral law. No one could sensibly deny that he does, and if such an emphasis constitutes voluntarism, then no one could sensibly deny that Scotus is a (...) voluntarist. As I am using the word, however, voluntarism is the view that (i) the goodness of almost all things, as well as the rightness of almost all acts, depends wholly on the divine will and (ii) what God wills with respect to those things and those acts is not in turn to be explained by reference to the divine intellect, human nature, or anything else. This is the view that Scotus’s critics decry and his defenders disclaim. Thus, his critics have seized on these passages and accused Scotus of believing that the moral law depends simply on “the arbitrary will of God.” His most sympathetic interpreters, however, have devoted great ingenuity to showing that Scotus did not mean anything unpalatable by these statements.1 What the critics and defenders apparently have in common is the view that voluntarism is an implausible and even discreditable doctrine. Interpreters who read Scotus as a voluntarist intend thereby to damn his moral views; interpreters sympathetic to his moral views feel compelled to mitigate his voluntarism. I wish to argue for a different approach. I agree with his defenders that Scotus’s moral philosophy ought to be taken seriously. But I think the best way to take any philosopher’s view seriously is to let him speak for himself, not to decide in advance that he must not have held a view that we find implausible. Let me suggest an analogy that will make my position clearer. Very nearly everyone finds immaterialism implausible. (shrink)
The practice of making datasets publicly available for use by the wider scientific community has become firmly integrated in genomic science. One significant gap in literature around data sharing concerns how it impacts on scientists’ ability to preserve values and ethical standards that form an essential component of scientific collaborations. We conducted a qualitative sociological study examining the potential for harm to ethnic groups, and implications of such ethical concerns for data sharing. We focused our empirical work on the MalariaGEN (...) Consortium, one of the first international collaborative genomics research projects in Africa. (shrink)
As everyone who discusses Scotus's moral theory points out, Scotus recognized two fundamental inclinations in the will: the affectio commodi and the affectio iustitiae. Everyone agrees that these two affectiones play an important role in his moral theory, and there is virtual unanimity about what that role is. I contend that the standard view is misguided, and that it obscures the true character of Scotus's very un-medieval moral theory. I shall begin by laying out the context in which Scotus develops (...) his theory of the two affectiones. The standard interpretation, I shall then argue, fails to appreciate that context; moreover, it can actually be shown to be contrary to Scotus's explicit statements. I shall then argue for my own interpretation of the two affectiones, which assigns to morality a role altogether independent of human flourishing. (shrink)
In some passages Scotus seems to endorse a thoroughgoing voluntarism, holding not merely that the moral law is established entirely by God's will, but even that there is no reason why God wills in one way rather than another. In other passages, however, Scotus insists that reason plays an important role in morality—that right reason is an essential element in the moral goodness of an action, and that moral truth is accessible to natural reason. -/- Many commentators have supposed that (...) these two views are incompatible, and so they have seen only three options for interpreting Scotus: (i) one can simply concede that Scotus is inconsistent, (ii) one can deny that Scotus in fact allows reason a place in morality, or (iii) one can deny that Scotus is really a thoroughgoing voluntarist. We can find all three of these views in print. By laying out Scotus's view of the role of reason in morality and showing how it coheres with his voluntarism, I show that there is in fact no difficulty here. (shrink)
In this paper we offer a reconstruction of Anselm’s account of freedom that resolves various apparent inconsistencies. The linchpin of this account is the definition of freedom. Anselm argues that the power to preserve rectitude for its own sake requires the power to initiate an action of which the agent is the ultimate cause, but it does not always require that alternative possibilities be available to the agent. So while freedom is incompatible with coercion and external causal determination, an agent (...) can, under certain circumstances, act freely even though he cannot act otherwise than he does. (shrink)
Work on Scotus's moral psychology and action theory has been concerned almost exclusively with questions about the relationship between will and intellect and in particular about the freedom of the will itself. In this essay I broaden the scope of inquiry. For I contend that Scotus's views in moral psychology are best understood against the background of a long tradition of metaethical reflection on the relationship between being and goodness. In the first section of this essay, therefore, I sketch the (...) main lines of that tradition in medieval thinking and examine the novel and sometimes daring ways in which Scotus appropriated them. In the sections that follow I elaborate on three areas of Scotus's action theory, very broadly conceived, in which his modifications of the medieval metaethical tradition can be seen bearing philosophical fruit. Thus, in the second section I examine his account of the goodness of moral acts, in the third his understanding of the passive dispositions of both sensitive appetite and will, and in the fourth his account of the active power of will. (shrink)
John Duns Scotus (1265/66-1308) was one of the most important and influential philosophertheologians of the High Middle Ages. His brilliantly complex and nuanced thought, which earned him the nickname "the Subtle Doctor," left a mark on discussions of such disparate topics as the semantics of religious language, the problem of universals, divine illumination, and the nature of human freedom. This essay first lays out what is known about Scotus's life and the dating of his works. It then offers an overview (...) of some of his key positions in four main areas of philosophy: natural theology, metaphysics, the theory of knowledge, and ethics and moral psychology. (shrink)
A good place to start in assessing a theory of truth is to ask whether the theory under discussion is consistent with Aristotle’s commonsensical definition of truth from Metaphysics 4: “What is false says of that which is that it is not, or of that which is not that it is; and what is true says of that which is that it is, or of that which is not that it is not.”1 Philosophers of a realist bent will be delighted (...) to see that Anselm unambiguously adopts the Aristotelian commonplace. A statement is true, he says, “when it signifies that what‐is is.”2 But the theory of truth that Anselm builds on this observation is one that would surely have confounded Aristotle. For no matter what the topic, Anselm’s thinking always eagerly returns to God; and the unchallenged centrality of God in Anselm’s philosophical explorations is nowhere more in evidence than in his account of truth. Indeed, we see in the student’s opening question in De veritate that the entire discussion has God as its origin and its aim: “Since we believe that God is truth, and we say that truth is in many other things, I would like to know whether, wherever truth is said to be, we must acknowledge that God is that truth.”3 The student then reminds Anselm that in the Monologion he had argued from the truth of statements to an eternal Supreme Truth. Does this not commit Anselm (the student seems to be asking) to holding that God himself is somehow the truth of true statements? But what definition of truth could make sense of such an odd claim? Anselm is happy to take up the challenge of showing that his description of God as “Supreme Truth” is no mere metaphor, but the expression of the deepest insight into the nature of truth. An account of truth is just theology under a different name. This first distinctive characteristic of Anselm’s theory, the centrality of God as Supreme Truth, helps account for a second distinctive characteristic: its strong insistence on the unity of truth. All truth either is God or somehow reflects God; thus, one simple being provides the.... (shrink)
In “Lies and the Vices of Deception,” J. L. A. Garcia argues that lying is always immoral, since it always involves a motivation contrary to the proper discharge of a morally determinative role. I argue that Garcia fails to show that anyone who fails in the sub-role of information-giver thereby fails in a morally determinative role, that the sub-role of information-giver is precisely that of “informing another truthfully,” that lying deviates from the motivation characteristic of someone with the virtue of (...) truthfulness, and that lies always undermine the well-being of the person to whom they are told. (shrink)
Notwithstanding considerable disagreement over certain details, writers on Plato’s theory of recollection are broadly in agreement regarding some of the main features. Setting aside for the moment those who doubt that Plato ever held any considered doctrine so well‐developed as to constitute a theory of recollection at all, we can find a substantial scholarly consensus in favor of the following account: In the Phaedo Plato argues that all human beings recollect the Forms. Such recollection is meant to account for the (...) formation of (at least certain) abstract concepts under which we classify particulars. Since all human beings engage in such conceptual thought to some degree, all human beings recollect; people could not even hold pre‐philosophical true opinions concerning such things as the good and the equal if they had not at least dimly recollected the Good or the Equal. Recollection is therefore not the exclusive prerogative of philosophers, although philosophers are the only ones who proceed beyond the initial shadowy recollection of the Forms and fully recover their knowledge.1 I have specified that this is the consensus about the Phaedo, since most scholars find a different doctrine in the Meno. Ackrill, Gallop, Gulley, and Bluck, for example, hold that the Meno is concerned with the knowledge of propositions and the Phaedo with the formation of concepts.2 Bostock finds that the Meno does not, but the Phaedo does, implicate recollection in.. (shrink)
Character formation is a central theme in Katherin Rogers’s Freedom and Self-Creation: Anselmian Libertarianism. According to Rogers, Anselm holds that the purpose of free choice is to afford creatures the possibility of creating their own characters through their free choices. I argue that Anselm has no doctrine of character formation. Accordingly, he does not hold the view of the purpose of free choice that Rogers attributes to him. Creatures cannot bring about justice in themselves, let alone increase it by their (...) own efforts; any moral progress is divine gift, not creaturely achievement. I offer an alternative account of the purpose of free choice. (shrink)
In her volume on Aquinas for Routledge’s “Arguments of the Philosophers” series, Eleonore Stumps aims at an interpretation of Aquinas that is historically faithful but also responsive to the concerns of contemporary philosophers. I assess her success in attaining this twofold aim by examining in detail Stump’s overview of Aquinas’s metaphysics, which engages with contemporary debates over constitution and identity, and her interpretation of Aquinas’s account of justice, which brings Aquinas into dialogue with Annette Baier and Thomas Nagel. I conclude (...) with a brief evaluation of the merits of Stump’s twofold aim. (shrink)
Background: There is general consensus internationally that unfair distribution of the benefits of research is exploitative and should be avoided or reduced. However, what constitutes fair benefits, and the exact nature of the benefits and their mode of provision can be strongly contested. Empirical studies have the potential to contribute viewpoints and experiences to debates and guidelines, but few have been conducted. We conducted a study to support the development of guidelines on benefits and payments for studies conducted by the (...) KEMRI-Wellcome Trust programme in Kilifi, Kenya. Methods: Following an initial broad based survey of cash, health services and other items being offered during research by all programme studies (n = 38 studies), interviews were held with research managers (n = 9), and with research staff involved in 8 purposively selected case studies (n = 30 interviewees). Interviews explored how these ‘benefits’ were selected and communicated, experiences with their administration, and recommendations for future guidelines. Data fed into a consultative workshop attended by 48 research staff and health managers, which was facilitated by an external ethicist.FindingsThe most commonly provided benefits were medical care (for example free care, and strengthened quality of care), and lunch or snacks. Most cash given to participants was reimbursement of transport costs (for example to meet appointments or facilitate use of services when unexpectedly sick), but these payments were often described by research participants as benefits. Challenges included: tensions within households and communities resulting from lack of clarity and agreement on who is eligible for benefits; suspicion regarding motivation for their provision; and confusion caused by differences between studies in types and levels of benefits. Conclusions: Research staff differed in their views on how benefits should be approached. Echoing elements of international benefit sharing and ancillary care debates, some research staff saw research as based on goodwill and partnership, and aimed to avoid costs to participants and a commercial relationship; while others sought to maximise participant benefits given the relative wealth of the institution and the multiple community needs. An emerging middle position was to strengthen collateral or indirect medical benefits to communities through collaborations with the Ministry of Health to support sustainability. (shrink)
According to Anselm's official definition, freedom of choice is ‘the power to preserve rectitude of will for the sake of that rectitude itself.’ From the point of view of contemporary metaphysics, this is one of the most unhelpful definitions imaginable. Does such freedom require alternative possibilities, for example? Is it compatible with causal determination? Is the exercise of such freedom a necessary and sufficient condition for moral responsibility? The definition sheds no light on these questions.And so we need to move (...) on from Anselm's definition to Anselm's account of freedom. Here, though, we encounter the opposite problem. Where Anselm's definition seems not to answer these questions at all, Anselm's account seems to answer all these questions, sometimes with a yes and sometimes with a no. Consider the question about alternative possibilities. In De libertate arbitrii, Anselm seems clearly to deny that freedom involves alternative possibilities. God, the good angels, and the blessed dead cannot do otherwise than preserve rectitude, but they are still free- freer, in fact, than those who are capable of abandoning rectitude. (shrink)
The Philosophy for Children in Schools Project is an ongoing research project to explore the impact of philosophy for children (P4C) on classroom practice. this paper responds on the responses of head teachers, teachers and local educational authority (LA) officers in South Wales, UK, to the initial training programme in P4C carried out by the University School of Education. Achieving change in schools through the embedding of new practices is an important challenge for head teacher.s Interviews and qualitative questionnaires were (...) used to explore perceptions of and attitudes towards the dialogic practice of P4C and the related challenged for school leaders. The results provide an insight into how head teachers planned to embed the new practice of P4C in their schools. Results from the interviews and questionnaires have been subject to iterative analysis and categories derived under which to discuss the findings. There are many similarities in the the ways in which different head teachers go about planning change in their schools as well as differences. The results provide insight into the role of initial continuing professional development (CPD) in school development and the processes by which individual heads plan to embed change in practice across the whole school. (shrink)
After setting out in part 1 Scotus's libertarian account of the will, I shall discuss two of the most important implications Scotus understood his account to have. First, according to Scotus, the Thomist understanding of the will as intellective appetite is inadequate to provide a libertarian account of freedom. Scotus therefore rejects that understanding and offers an alternative moral psychology. In part 2 of the paper I therefore draw attention to the passages in which Scotus offers his reasons for rejecting (...) Aquinas's account in order to show that they arise directly out of the libertarian account of the will I stated in part 1. I then ask whether Scotus is in fact justified in supposing that Aquinas's conception of will is incompatible with freedom as Scotus understood it. In parts 3 and 4 of the paper I shall argue that he is, since Aquinas's conception of possibility at best allows him to make room for diachronic alternatives, whereas Scotus insists on synchronic alternatives. -/- The second implication of Scotus's libertarian understanding of freedom is his distinctive conception of choice and of rationality in action. In part 5 of the paper I explain this conception and show why Scotus associates it with a libertarian understanding of freedom. (shrink)
(2013). The “Difficult Patient” Conundrum in Sickle Cell Disease in Kenya: Complex Sociopolitical Problems Need Wide Multidimensional Solutions. The American Journal of Bioethics: Vol. 13, No. 4, pp. 20-22. doi: 10.1080/15265161.2013.767960.
I start with a story to convey what I think is the essence of the Platonic outlook that Augustine adopts. Then I’ll show you how various Platonists put the insights that this story encapsulates to work in three different aspects of philosophy. After I’ve laid all that out, I’ll talk about how Augustine transforms this Platonic picture in the light of his Christian faith..
So I present myself this morning not as an expert with wisdom to impart, but as a neophyte reflecting on his own practice with a view toward getting clearer on the vision of philosophical historiography that underlies it and thereby, perhaps, improving that practice. The paper will fall into two tenuously connected parts. The first part contains a general reflection on method that I wrote a few years back which has since been published in Czech but has not had any (...) circulation in the Anglophone world. I venture to repeat these observations here because I haven’t thought better of them in the meantime, though many of you, I feel sure, will think that I should have. The second part takes up a case study. Having just finished a book on Anselm, I wanted to talk about the current state of historiographical method in Anselm scholarship and see what lessons, if any, can be derived from what I’ve found in my journeys through the secondary literature. (shrink)
"From time to time some of my friends startle me by referring to the Atonement itself as a revolting heresy," wrote Austin Farrer, "invented by the twelfth century and exploded by the twentieth. Yet the word is in the Bible." (1) Farrer is referring to Romans 5:11 in the Authorized Version: "we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement." Here the word 'atonement'--literally, the state of being "at one"--translates the Greek (...) katallagê, which means "reconciliation." The doctrine of the Atonement, then, is in its essentials the claim that the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ effects a reconciliation between God and human beings, who had been--and apart from Christ's gracious action would have remained--estranged on account of human sin. And that doctrine, far from being a twelfth-century innovation, is a prominent theme of the Pauline epistles and a matter of theological consensus from the earliest days of Christian thought. (shrink)
It is somewhat misleading to think of the Franciscans as forming a “school” in ethics, since there was a fair bit of diversity among Franciscans. Nonetheless, one can identify certain characteristic tendencies of Franciscan moral thought, and certain “celebrity” Franciscans whose views in ethics and moral psychology are particularly noteworthy. I shall first offer an overview of the general character of Franciscan moral thought in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries and then turn to a more detailed examination of (...) the thought of John Duns Scotus (1265/66-1308) and William Ockham (c. 1288-1347) on three central matters of debate: the nature of the virtues, the relationship between intellect and will, and the relationship between moral requirements and the divine will. (shrink)
It is characteristic of Anselm to adopt the formulations of his authorities while giving them meanings of his own, hiding conceptual disagreement by means of verbal echoes. Anselm's considerable originality sometimes goes unnoticed because readers see the standard Augustinian language and miss the fact that Anselm uses it to state un-Augustinian views. One striking instance of Anselm's quiet radicalism is his understanding of free choice and the fall. He seems to uphold standard Augustinian privation theory when he affirms that injustice (...) is merely an absence of justice where justice should be; he seems also to be committed to the standard Augustinian view that everything that has being is created by God. A closer examination, however, shows that Anselm clearly has qualms about whether privation theory can do all of the work to which Augustine had tried to put it; and Anselm actually affirms that every free choice has being and yet is not created by God. I begin by showing that Anselm regards unjust acts a.. (shrink)
Anselm had a particular interest in the art of painting. He saw a close analogy between physical beauty and rational beauty. Both can be represented—physical beauty by paintings, rational beauty through discourse—and Anselm was especially attentive to the possibility of misrepresentation. Deceptive rhetorical coloring can mislead; unworthy discourse can obscure the truth’s inherent beauty. Yet even when discourse does justice to the beauty it is intended to represent, Anselm places strict limits on the appeal to beauty. For beauty by itself (...) is not reliably persuasive. To one who is already persuaded, however, an appreciation of the rational beauty of the truth strengthens understanding, giving the believer a first-hand feel for the truth that is unmediated by argument. Just as Anselm says Credo ut intelligam, I believe in order that I might understand, so too he could say Credo ut mirer, I believe in order that I might be awe-struck. (shrink)
Up to this point, Anselm has been known for two quite different kinds of work: his devotional writings, which aim to move and inspire the reader and are marked by an ornate style that relies heavily on alliteration and antitheses and suchlike ornaments, and his Monologion, a work of what has come to be known as analytic theology, written in straightforward, unadorned, philosophical prose that aspires only to clarity and precision. In his new work, Proslogion, Anselm attempts to combine the (...) two styles and the two aspirations. The experiment is not a success.Anselm’s preface states a perfectly straightforward agenda: the new work will reach all, or at least a good many, of the conclusions already defended in the Monologion, but by means of a “single argument” as opposed to the “chaining together of many arguments” found in the earlier work. So one is surprised to turn to the first chapter and find, not an argument, but something called “A rousing of the mind to the contemplation of God.” .. (shrink)
Saint Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) was the outstanding Christian philosopher and theologian of the eleventh century. He is best known for the celebrated “ontological argument” for the existence of God in chapter two of the Proslogion, but his contributions to philosophical theology (and indeed to philosophy more generally) go well beyond the ontological argument. In what follows I examine Anselm's theistic proofs, his conception of the divine nature, and his account of human freedom, sin, and redemption.
In this ambitious study, Alexander W. Hall examines the two preeminent figures of the golden age of natural theology: Thomas Aquinas and John Duns Scotus. Hall is not so much concerned with retracing particular proofs of the existence of God and derivations of the divine attributes—well-worn paths in discussions of medieval natural theology—as with investigating the larger philosophical issues that are raised by the project of natural theology, such as the nature of scientia and demonstrative arguments, and accounts of signification (...) and the meaningfulness of theological discourse.Hall's opening chapter offers an overview of natural theology in the High Middle Ages, summarizing the conclusions he will defend at greater length over the course of the book. In chapter 2 Hall relies primarily on Aquinas's commentary on the Posterior Analytics to get clear on his account of scientia, or scientific knowledge. "For Aquinas," Hall writes,"paradigmatic scientia is the result of syllogistic reasoning . . . Syllogisms productive of scientia use either real or nominal definitions as their middle, and thus the conclusion tells us what belongs to the subject through itself or per se". (shrink)