Scotus: Virtue and Practical Reason


in The Development of Ethics: Volume 1

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780198242673
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680519 | DOI:

Series: Development of Ethics

Scotus: Virtue and Practical                         Reason

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John Duns Scotus believes that since freedom depends on will rather than intellect, and since virtuous action is (as Augustine says) the good use of free will, the will is also the subject of the moral virtues. If the moral virtues belonged to the passions or to the intellect, they would not be subject to free will, and so we would not be open to praise or blame for being virtuous or vicious. If the will is the subject of the moral virtues, Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas are wrong to make the passions the subjects. Scotus rejects Aristotle's view that assigns the virtues to the sensory appetite rather than to the will. Though he rejects the view that he ascribes to Aristotle, Scotus also believes that Aristotle sometimes treats the will as the subject of the virtues. Scotus argues that every moral virtue requires a good habituated state in the will no less than in the sensory desires.

Keywords: John Duns Scotus; freedom; free will; intellect; moral virtues; Aristotle; Thomas Aquinas; passions; desires

Chapter.  14158 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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