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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 51, Issue 4, December 2011

Andrew LaZella
Pages 483-500
DOI: 10.5840/ipq201151450

Siger of Brabant on Divine Providence and the Indeterminacy of Chance

The compatibility of divine providence with the contingency of human freedom is widely-debated within medieval thought. Following recent works on the Islamic philosopher Averroes, this essay expands the issue of causal indeterminism to include the less disputed question of contingency in the larger framework of chance. In tradition of Latin Averroism, Siger of Brabant provides a unique and heterodox perspective on the compatibility of chance with providence. Unlike his fellow scholastics who attempt to preserve contingency under the watchful gaze of divine providence, Siger rejects such moves as destructive of contingency. He instead argues for restrictions on the determination of such events by the arche of divine providence, thus leaving them anarchic with respect to its order but capable of introducing new beginnings in the otherwise closed universe of causes.