Modern Schoolman 74 (2):73-94 (1997)

Thomas Williams
University of South Florida
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.
Keywords John Duns Scotus  voluntarism  right reason
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ISBN(s) 0026-8402
DOI schoolman19977429
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