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Chapter 5 - Duns Scotus on free will and human agency

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 December 2021

Giorgio Pini
Affiliation:
Fordham University, New York
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Summary

This essay focuses on the notion of the created agents’ will not in relation to God’s causality but in order to refine our understanding of what Duns Scotus meant by ‘freedom’. Unlike most of his predecessors, Duns Scotus considered a “synchronic” power for opposites as fundamental to human free will and set out to give a detailed account of the metaphysical makeup of the power through which we possess free will. The author of this essay, however, argues that this cannot be the full story, because Duns Scotus also maintained that freedom is compatible with necessity. To get a clearer picture of Duns Scotus’s overall understanding of freedom, this essay begins by focusing on how Scotus engaged with Anselm of Canterbury’s definition of freedom. After addressing the exact nature of the power for opposites that Duns Scotus frequently associated with freedom, this essay turns to the “formal concept” (ratio formalis) of freedom and how it is common to God and creatures. The conclusion is that freedom is for Duns Scotus fundamentally a power for self-determination rather than a power for opposites.

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Chapter
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Interpreting Duns Scotus
Critical Essays
, pp. 102 - 121
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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