Volume 89, Issue 3/4, July/October 2012
Theological Themes in Medieval Philosophy
Scotus on Hell
The existence of everlasting punishment has sometimes been thought to be incompatible with God’s goodness and omnipotence. John Duns Scotus focused on the key issue concerning everlasting punishment, i.e., the impossibility for the damned to repent of their evil deeds and so to obtain forgiveness. Scotus’s claim
was that such an impossibility is not logical but nomological, i.e., it depends on the rules God established to govern the world, specifically on what I call ‘the rule of the permanence of the last volition.’ Scotus does not try to defend God’s decision to implement the rule of the permanence of the last volition. I suggest, however, that that decision can be taken as an indication of God’s preference for a world where this life is given unique value as the only test rational creatures have to prove themselves as moral agents.