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SCOTUS'S ARGUMENT FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD Scotus's argument for the existence of God is an attempt to combine proofs based on the idea of causality and Aristotelian principles with proofs based on superiority and Augustinian principles.1 It has two parts: First, Scotus proves a posteriori that a first effective cause exists and a priori that a first effective cause is possible. Second, he proves that if a first effective cause can exist, it must exist. The first argument is a cosmological or physico-theological proof based on the nature of causality in the world; the second argument is an ontological argument in the sense that it uses our concept of God to show that he exists. The two arguments are combined. In one sense Scotus uses the cosmological argument to demonstrate a premise required for the ontological argument. In another sense Scotus uses the ontological argument to make the cosmological argument, which is based on manifest but contingent propositions, fit the form of an Aristotelian scientific demonstration. Scotus begins with the cosmological argument, which is an a posteriori argument and procedes to the ontological argument, which is a priori. The combined arguments are found in similar form in Scotus's Lectura, his Ordinatio and in De primo principio.2 The fourth and final version of the argument is found in Scotus's Parisian Reportatio . Allan Wolter and Marilyn Adams have recently published an edition of the "Parisian proof" in Franciscan Studies. This interesting work shows further developments in Scotus's thinking.3 1 Allan B. Wolter, "Duns Scotus, John," Encyclopedia of Philosophy. See also Donald A. Cress, "Toward a Bibliography on Duns Scotus on the Existence of God," Franciscan Studies, 35 (1975): 45-65. 2 For a discussion of the authenticity of De primo principio, its date and the role of a scribe other than Scotus in its composition see Allan Wolter, in John Duns Scotus, A Treatise on God as First Principle (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1983) ix-xiii. 8 "Duns Scotus's Parisian Proof for the Existence of God," Franciscan Studies, 42 (1982): 252-321. 9 - Franciscan Studies 1987 258REGA WOOD But where possible I have chosen to quote the polished form of the argument presented in the Ordinatio; parallel passages from the other works are cited in the notes. I. THE A POSTERIORI ARGUMENT Conclusion 1: it is contingently true that some simply-first effective cause exists. Scotus employs a standard form of the cosmological argument to prove his first conclusion: it is contingently true that there is some first effective cause. In his Lectura, Scotus himself attributes this argument to Richard of St. Victor.4 Ockham suggests that this argument is common to almost all philosophers.5 The argument is as follows:6 (1)Something can be produced. (2)Everything which is produced is produced either by itself, or by nothing, or by some other cause. (3)Nothing can be produced from nothing. (4)Nothing can produce itself. (5)Therefore something is produced by another cause, call it a. (6)Either a is an uncaused cause or it is not. 4 Scotus, Lectura, I, d. 2, pars 1, qq. 1-2, num. 41 (ed. Vaticana XVI: 126). 8 Ockham, Scriptum in I Sent., d. 2, q. 10 (OTh II: 354). 8 Scotus, Ordinatio, I, d. 2, pars 1, qq. 1-2, num. 43: "Prima autem conclusions istarum novem est ista, quod aliquod effectivum sit simpliciter primum ita quod nec sit effectibile, nec virtute alterius a se effectivum. Probatio, quia aliquod ens est effectibile. Aut ergo a se, aut a nihilo vel ab aliquo alio. Non a nihilo, quia nullius est causa illud quod nihil est, nec a se, quia nulla res est quae se ipsam faciat vel gignat, I De Trinitate, 1; ergo ab alio. Illud aliud sit a. Si est a primum, hoc modo expĆ³sito, propositum habeo; si non est primum, ergo est posterius effectivum, quia effectibile ab alio vel a virtute alterius effectivum, quia si negetur negatio ponitur affirmatio. Detur illud alterum et sit 6, de quo arguitur sicut de a argutum est, et ita aut proceditur in infinitum, quorum quodlibet respectu prioris erit secundum, aut Statur in aliquo...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 257-277
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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