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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 77, Issue 3, Summer 2003

Allan B. Wolter
Pages 315-356

The Unshredded Scotus
A Response to Thomas Williams

Thomas Williams has developed a radical interpretation of Duns Scotus’s voluntarism using an earlier interpretation of my own as a foil. He argues that the goodness of creatures and the rightness of actions are wholly dependent on the divine will, apart from any reference to the divine intellect, human nature, or any principle other than God’s own arbitrary will. I explain how his interpretation fails to account for the roles that essential goodness and divine justice play in divine volition. The unmitigated voluntarism that Williams develops does not conform to the full range of authentic Scotistic texts. Despite the interest Williams’s voluntarism may have if taken as a theoretical position, it does not do justice to the nuance and speculative depth of Scotus’s actual understanding of the divine will, whose creative artistry is repugnant to arbitrary volition. I am grateful to Williams for the provocation to develop further the richness of Scotus’s volutarism.