Article ID: CBB001450273

Conscience and the Foundations of Morality in Ockham's Metaethics (2013)


William of Ockham seems to ground morality in two distinct ways. At times he suggests that moral norms have their foundation in the will of God, and at times that what makes an act right or wrong is its conformity to right reason (recta ratio), suggesting that morality is actually grounded in a standard that is independent of the divine will. In contrast to those who argue that this represents a contradiction in Ockham's metaethics, I argue that these twin pillars can be reconciled so long as one recognizes that right reason is subordinate to the divine will. I go on to argue that a careful examination of Ockham's notion of conscience, and particularly the state of invincible ignorance, can serve to illuminate what is motivating Ockham's curious metaethics.

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Authors & Contributors
Maurer, Armand A.
Monfasani, John
Lambertini, Roberto
Nauta, Lodi
Donati, Silvia
Dekker, Dirk-Jan
Vivarium: Journal for Mediaeval Philosophy and the Intellectual Life of the Middle Ages
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Renaissance Quarterly
Science in Context
Revue d'Histoire des Sciences
Acta Philosophica
Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies
Cornell University
Pontificia Università della Santa Croce
Ockham, William of
Burley, Walter
Buridan, Jean
Franciscus de Marchia
Valla, Lorenzo
Erigena, Johannes Scotus
Time Periods
14th century
13th century
15th century
12th century

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