Journal articles

Monotonic and non-monotonic embeddings of Anselm’s proof. Logica Universalis 11:1, 121-133.

  • A consequence relation is monotonic iff for premise sets Γ, ∆ and conclusion ϕ, if Γ|- ϕ, Γ ⊆ ∆, then ∆ |- ϕ; and non-monotonic if this fails in some instance. More plainly, a consequence relation is monotonic when whatever is entailed by a premise set remains entailed by any of its supersets. From the High Middle Ages through the Early Modern period, consequence in theology is assumed to be monotonic. Concomitantly, to the degree the argument formulated by Anselm at Proslogion 2-4 is taken up by later commentators, it is accepted or rejected in accordance with a monotonic notion of consequence. Examining Anselm’s use of parallelism in the Proslogion, I show Anselm embeds his famous argument in Proslogion 2-4 in a non-monotonic context. If this weren’t so, Anselm would be contradicting himself when he adds God is greater than can be thought. The results found in this article challenge us to reconsider some deeply ingrained ideas governing the historiography of the long 12th century, particularly concerning how the theology of the later 11th through the 12th century relates to the scholasticism of the 13th.

The monadothergy: discovering transcendence with Leibniz and Levinas. The Heythrop Journal (forthcoming).

  • Abstract: This paper approaches the question of Levinas’ relation to philosophy by situating his understanding of transcendence next to that of Leibniz. After offering some preliminary examples, I detail the structure of transcendence in the philosophies of Leibniz and Levinas, focusing on Leibniz’s Principles of Nature and Grace and Levinas’ Essence and Disinterestedness. From here, I return to the question of whether Levinas’ thinking can be regarded as moving beyond philosophy as such. I conclude with some thoughts on what it would take for a thinking of transcendence to genuinely move past the maneuvers characteristic of philosophical thinking.

Nature, Will, and the Fall in Augustine and Maximus the Confessor. Augustiniana 65: 3-4 (2015), 205-230.

  • Abstract This paper compares the understanding of nature, will, and the Fall in Augustine and Maximus the Confessor, and finds their accounts to be identical on most points of substance, if not always in the terminology they use to express these points. On several points, they agree with each other against both Eastern and Western accounts as traditionally conceived. Given that these figures are often regarded as paradigmatic for Western and Eastern traditions of Christianity, respectively, this points to a need for a more nuanced account of the unity and divergences within and between Eastern and Western Christian traditions than that given to present.

Aquinas, the a priori a posteriori distinction, and the Kantian Dependency Thesis. Religious Studies 50:2 (2014), 175-192.

  • Abstract: This article re-examines the applicability of Kant’s dependency thesis to Aquinas’ cosmological proofs for the existence of God.  The first part of the paper provides a summary of Kant’s dependency thesis, followed by an account of why, given that much of the literature in natural theology has moved past this question, I think it worthwhile to bring it up again. After this I concentrate specifically on a defence of Aquinas by J. William Forgie. The second part of the paper explains some of the logical apparatus upon which Aquinas’ argument hinges – specifically his understanding of the a priori/a posteriori distinction. I conclude by calling attention to certain distinct metaphysical assumptions within Kant and Aquinas’ respective logical apparatus that would have to be addressed prior to the more specific question of whether Kant’s critique of the cosmological argument is applicable to Aquinas.

Book chapters

Leibnizian intelligibility. In M. Fichant, R. Pisano, A. R. E. Oliveira, and P. Bussotti (eds.), Leibniz and the Dialogue between Sciences, Philosophy and Engineering, 1646-2016: New Historical and Epistemological Insights (College Publications), 1-20.

  • Abstract: It is well-known that Leibniz rejected the accounts of gravitation offered by Newton and his followers. But literature on the topic up to present has been content either i) to explain this rejection as a consequence of Leibniz’s rejection of the intelligibility of action at a distance; or ii) to regard Leibniz’s rejection, given his acceptance of his own notion of force, as unjustified. This article provides a fuller account of why Leibniz regarded Newtonian gravitation as unintelligible. The paper divides into two parts. The first part shows that neither of the above explanations suffices to explain Leibniz’s rejection of Newtonian gravitation. The second part explicates the notion of intelligibility standing behind Leibniz’s charge against the Newtonians. In this part, I begin by cataloguing a list of physical hypotheses that Leibniz takes to be unintelligible. I then move to the positive account of intelligibility Leibniz gives in his correspondence with Christian Wolff. Thereby, I show that the different Newtonian accounts of gravitation each undermine the Leibnizian theological tenet that this is the best of all possible worlds.

In preparation

The Trivium at Bec and its Bearing on Anselm’s program of fides quaerens intellectum

  • Abstract. How should the phrase fides quaerens intellectum be understood as a characterization of Anselm’s Proslogion specifically and Anselm’s oeuvre more broadly? I argue that fides quaerens intellectum should be understood not in accordance with any of the standard meanings we assign to the words ‘faith’ and ‘understanding’, but in accordance with their meaning in works used to teach grammar and dialectic at Bec in and around Anselm’s lifetime.I begin by making the structures behind the usual understanding of ‘faith’ and ‘understanding’ explicit. From here, I detail the works used at Bec according to a 12th century library list, and provide justification for thinking these same works were used slightly earlier, in Anselm’s time. Next, I show how the terms fides and intellectus functioned in these works. Finally, I turn to the Proslogion and the exchange with Gaunilo to show how these considerations illuminate Anselm’s method in these works.