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Faith and Philosophy

Volume 34, Issue 1, January 2017

Joshua Lee Harris
Pages 33-56
DOI: 10.5840/faithphil201712575

Analogy in Aquinas
The Alston-Wolterstorff Debate Revisited

In the last decade there arose a debate between William P. Alston and Nicholas Wolterstorff on the subject of Thomas Aquinas’s doctrine of analogia—that is, the position that perfection terms, when properly predicated of God and of creatures, are distinct, yet related in meaning. Whereas Alston interprets Aquinas to hold this well-known position before criticizing it, Wolterstorff argues that Aquinas actually did not hold the position as it is usually presented. In this paper, I show why Alston’s “orthodox” interpretation is more faithful to the letter of Aquinas’s text than is Wolterstorff’s “heterodoxy” and attempt to defuse Alston’s criticisms.