A Moderately Libertarian Approach to the Will – with Scotistic & Maximian influences

Both Duns Scotus & Maximus the Confessor sufficiently nuance their notions of the will in ways that sufficiently navigate past both voluntarist & intellectualist flaws.

The following strategies are influenced by but not developed solely from Scotistic & Maximian approaches.

relocate primary causation (as an immediate, continuously conserving cause) to the act of existence, which is in limited potency to an essential cause

recognize that secondary causality includes realities that vary in degrees of indeterminacy

relocate the will from a formal to an efficient causal act, which is in limited potency to a material cause

relocate the operation of grace from an efficient to a formal cause, which is in limited potency to a final cause

distinguish will (self-determination) from nature (hetero-determination)

distinguish an “assent to,” a “refusal of” & an “absence of refusal of” grace (as one can cease to refuse grace without assenting to it)

distinguish three logoi of being, well-being, and eternal being, God the sole cause of the first & third, while well-being’s intermediately caused by our sponaneous movement & gnomic willing (epistemic & axiological distancing), hence, intellect’s necessarily operative but not wholly determinative in volition

attribute gnomic will to evolution not a “fall”

distinguish freedoms to assent, refuse or permit (absence of refusal)


freedom from – an indeterminate willing w/o ratio (choosing among goods, including one’s choosing whether to will at all) from

freedom to – a determinate willing w/ratio (fallibly choosing between goods, per one’s constitutive desires & needs, and privations, iow, refusing grace) and

freedom for – a self-determined or self-limited willing (as in kenosis)

Helpful Resources:

The Subtle Doctor and Free Will, Part 1, Maximus Confesses

The Subtle Doctor and Free Will, Part 2, Duns Scotus on Freedom of the Will and Divine Foreknowledge

A paradox in Scotus account of freedom of the will by Gonzalez-Ayesta

Duns Scotus on the Natural Will by C. Gonzalez-Ayesta

Chapter 4, Duns Scotus on Freedom as a Pure Perfection – Necessity & Contingency by Gonzalez-Ayesta in
Margaret Cameron ed., Philosophy of Mind in the Early and High Middle Ages: The History of the Philosophy of Mind, Volume 2, Routledge, Jul 6, 2018

St. Maximus the Confessor on the Will—Natural and Gnomic by David Bradshaw, Ph.D.

But the Problem of Free Will by David W. Opderbeck, Ph.D.

Divine Freedom & Necessity (analogues & antinomies)

no best possible worlds but a pareto front of equipoised optimalities, choosing among the perfectly good – jssylvest

Freedom and Necessity in Modern Trinitarian Theology, Oxford University Press, 2016

Brandon Gallaher shows that the classical Christian understanding of God having a non-necessary relationship to the world and divine freedom being a sheer assertion of God’s will must be completely rethought.

Review of Brandon Gallaher, Freedom and Necessity in Modern Trinitarian Theology (Oxford: OUP, 2016), Reviews in Religion & Theology 24.4 (2017): 697-699–Justin Shaun Coyle.pdf by Justin Shaun Coyle

Retreblement – a Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology per a Neo-Chalcedonian Cosmotheandrism

One can find further resources regarding Scotistic & Maximian libertarian conceptions of the will within these notes, above, especially by searching for Mary Beth Ingham, Marilyn McCord Adams & Eleonore Stump.

2 thoughts on “A Moderately Libertarian Approach to the Will – with Scotistic & Maximian influences

    1. When I think of Maximus & Scotus & their moderately libertarian approach, I’ve always got the old universalism debates in the back of my mind, as well as the reflexive dismissals of Scotus.

      Both Scotus & Aquinas subscribed to a noncompetitive account of divine-human agential interaction, Scotus being moderately libertarian, TA – moderately compatabilist, neither absolutist, as so often facilely caricatured in so many interminable blog discussions.

      An Open Invitation to Universalism – no matter how you square divine-human agential interaction

      Liked by 1 person

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