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Why Does the Wood Not Ignite Itself? Duns Scotus’s Defense of the Will’s Self-Motion

Yul Kim, Philosophy Documentation Center

Abstract: The goal of this paper is to analyze the response of John Duns Scotus to Godfrey of Fontaines’s argument against Henry of Ghent’s theory of the will’s self-motion. Godfrey’s argument is that, if the object is assumed to be causa sine qua non and the efficient causality is totally attributed to the will in the act of volition, it would also follow that not only the will’s motion but every motion in nature, such as, for example, the igniting of wood, is a self-motion. In this paper, I will explain that Scotus’s refutation of this argument in Reportatio II, d. 25 is based on his reflection upon the general possibility of self-motion as well as upon the indeterminacy of the will’s act. In doing so, I will show that the development of Scotus’s theory of the will’s motion is closely related to his universalized theory of self-motion.
Keywords: wood / John / indeterminacy / volition / Duns Scotus / refutation / Igniting / godfrey

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