The Thomist 62 (2):193-215 (1998)

Thomas Williams
University of South Florida
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.
Keywords libertarianism  synchronic alternatives  John Duns Scotus  Thomas Aquinas  intellectual appetite
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