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Studia Neoaristotelica

Volume 16, Issue 2, 2019

T. Allan Hillman, Tully Borland
Pages 275-305

Duns Scotus on the Nature of Justice

Duns Scotus has a remarkably unique and comprehensive theory concerning the nature of justice. Alas, commentators on his work have yet to full flesh out the details. Here, we begin the process of doing so, focusing primarily on his metaethical views on justice, i.e., what justice is or amounts to. While Scotus’s most detailed account of justice can be found in his Ordinatio (IV, q. 46 especially), we find further specifics emerging in a number of other contexts and works. We argue that Scotus offers a unique contribution in the history of philosophy: justice in God is a formality (formalitas), in humans a virtue, and when attributed to actions, a relation. Even though formalities, virtues, and relations are ontologically distinct items, each can satisfy Scotus’s preferred Anselmian definition of justice—rectitude of will preserved for its own sake—since each characterizes a will aimed at rendering to goodness what is its due.

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