Duns Scotus on Natural Theology

Scotus’ natural theology has distinctive claims: (i) that we can reason demonstratively to the necessary existence and nature of God from what is actually so; but not from imagined situations, or from conceivability-to-us; rather, only from the possibility logically required for what we know actually to be so; (ii) that there is a univocal transcendental notion of being; (iii) that there are disjunctive transcendental notions that apply exclusively to everything, like ‘contingent/necessary,’ and such that the inferior cannot have a case unless the superior does; (iv) that an a priori demonstration of the existence of God is impossible because there is nothing explanatorily prior to the divine being, and so, reasoning must be a posteriori, from the real dependences among things we perceive to the possibility of an absolutely First Being (The First Principle); (v) that such a being cannot be possible without existing necessarily; and (vi) that the First Being (God) is simple, omni-intelligent, free (spontaneous), omnipotent and, positively infinite;[1] and moreover, (vii) that there is a formal distinction, that is more than a distinction within our concepts or definitions, among the divine attributes. He makes that first point obvious throughout his several treatments, that one cannot reliably reason from conceptual consistency for us to the real and formal possibility or necessity of something; one must reason only to those necessities that are conditions of the possibility of what is known to be actual. The schema of the reasoning is, in a word, that “only the existence of God can make an effect even possible”[2]. Thus, it is explicitly incorrect to classify him along with St Anselm, Descartes and Leibniz, among those who reason a priori to the being of God[3]. He characteristically and deftly argues by indirect proof. He supposes the opposite of his intended conclusion and deduces a contradiction between that supposition and certain self-evident, or previously proved propositions, thus, getting his own conclusion by using the principle that whatever entails the denial of what is already known to be so, is false and its opposite is true,[4] “si negatur negatio, ponitur affirmatio.”[5] He also uses the argument form, “ if ‘p’ is not necessary, then ‘not-p’ is possible”..
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