Volume 99, Issue 2, April 2022
Making Room for Miracles
John Duns Scotus on Homeless Accidents
In this article, I consider Duns Scotus’s treatment of accidents existing without substances (= homeless accidents) in the Eucharist to shed light on how he thinks Aristotle’s metaphysics should be modified to make room for miracles. In my reconstruction, Duns Scotus makes two changes to Aristotle’s metaphysics. First, he distinguishes a given thing’s natural inclinations (its “aptitudes”) from the manifestations of those inclinations. Second, he argues that it is up to God’s free decisions (organized in systematic policies) whether a thing’s aptitudes manifest or do not manifest themselves in any given situation. In this way, Duns Scotus tries to find a point of equilibrium between the necessary causal order he attributes to Aristotle and his followers on the one hand, and God’s freedom to break the natural order at any moment on the other hand.