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Knowledge, Belief, and GodNew Insights in Religious Epistemology$
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Matthew A. Benton, John Hawthorne, and Dani Rabinowitz

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198798705

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198798705.001.0001

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Duns Scotus’s Epistemic Argument against Divine Illumination

Duns Scotus’s Epistemic Argument against Divine Illumination

Chapter:
(p.54) 3 Duns Scotus’s Epistemic Argument against Divine Illumination
Source:
Knowledge, Belief, and God
Author(s):

Billy Dunaway

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198798705.003.0004

Theories of “divine illumination” were popular from St Augustine through the Middle Ages. Henry of Ghent is traditionally thought of as providing one of the last and most sophisticated theories of Divine Illumination. This chapter examines one of John Duns Scotus’s main arguments against Henry’s theory of Divine Illumination. The chapter reads Scotus as claiming that Henry’s theory aims, but fails, to avoid skepticism—the conclusion that we can’t have any knowledge on the basis of sensation. It shows how this argument can be understood formally on the basis of an analogy with modal logic, which Scotus explicitly calls attention to. The chapter argues that this way of understanding Scotus’s argument points toward some important refinements that contemporary anti-risk principles in epistemology will need to account for.

Keywords:   Duns Scotus, Henry of Ghent, divine illumination, modal logic, modal epistemology, knowledge

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