Did Scotus Embrace Anselm’s Notion of Freedom?

Did Scotus Embrace Anselm’s Notion of Freedom?

Langston, Douglas

Medieval Philosophy and Theology, vol. 5, no. 2 (1996)


In his “Duns Scotus and the Experience of Human Freedom,” Joseph Incandela outlines three contemporary interpretations of Duns Scotus’s understanding of freedom. Much of the article is devoted to explaining William Frank’s view that Scotus embraces Anselm’s understanding of freedom as “the ability to keep the rectitude of the will for its own sake.”* Frank is not alone in seeing this connection; it has been noted by, among others, B. M. Bonansea and Allan B. Wolter. There can be no doubt that Scotus was influenced by Anselm’s thought on many issues: the satisfaction theory of the atonement, the distinction between affectio commodi and affectio justitiae, and the ontological argument, to name a few.

It is important, however, to see exactly what the influence is, for Scotus often rejects Anselm’s views. In particular, it is important to gauge what influence Anselm’s views about freedom exerted on Scotus’s own understanding of freedom. To do so, we must first look briefly at Anselm’s own claims about free choice.

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