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Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy Volume 7$
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Robert Pasnau

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198845515

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198845515.001.0001

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Walter Chatton’s Rejection of Final Causality

Walter Chatton’s Rejection of Final Causality

(p.212) Walter Chatton’s Rejection of Final Causality
Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy Volume 7

Kamil Majcherek

Oxford University Press

The paper examines Walter Chatton’s rejection of final causality. At the core of Chatton’s theory lies the claim that there are four kinds of cause (material, formal, efficient, and final), but only three kinds of causality, because final causality should in a sense be reduced to efficient causality. The author begins by situating Chatton’s theory in the context of the fourteenth-century discussions concerning the problematic status of ends as causes. After that, the paper reconstructs Chatton’s rejection of the opinio communis of his time, according to which both final causes and final causality must be posited. The author claims that Chatton’s objections employ three main arguments, based on (1) ontological parsimony, (2) possible non-existence of ends, and (3) the efficient character of love and desire. Then, Chatton’s own theory is presented. The author’s exposition is focused on Chatton’s thesis that final causes are said to be causes only in a metaphorical sense. The final part of the article examines William of Ockham’s reaction to Chatton’s theory. Arguing against Chatton’s teleology, Ockham wants to prove that we have good reasons to retain both final causes (as real causes) and final causality.

Keywords:   Walter Chatton, William of Ockham, final causality, teleology, ontological parsimony

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