28 October 2016
The Warburg Institute | University of London | School of Advanced Study | Woburn Square | London WC1H 0AB
Christopher J. Martin (Auckland University)
'But only God can make a tree': Abaelard on Increase on Growth.
13:00-14:15 Lunch break
Cyrlle Michon (l’Université de Nantes)
Aquinas’s account of self- defence and the doctrine of double effect
Ben Page (University of Oxford)
Per Se Causal Chains?–A possible revival in contemporary metaphysics?
16:15-16:45 Coffee break
John Marenbon (University of Cambridge)
Non-Accidental Relations in earlier Medieval Latin Philosophy
17.45 Conference ends* * *
Christopher Martin, "“But only God can make a tree”: Abaelard on Increase on Growth."
Abstract: In this paper I return to a topic which I first discussed in my paper ‘The Logic of Growth”* on the claim that nothing grows, one the theses which defined the mid-twelfth century school of followers of Peter Abaelard known as the Nominales. Since I wrote on the subject Andy Arlig has explored Abaelard’s mereology further, arguing that it grounds a theory of objects, both natural and artificial quite at odds with our folk intuitions about them, and that Abaelard thus regards such quotidian beliefs as false and only to be retained as useful fictions. I take rather the opposite view and hold that while Abaelard does indeed present an account of wholes and parts which supports the thesis that nothing is increased, or grows, this is a philosophical truth which he seeks to reconcile with our ordinary intuitions about living creatures. In this paper I will attempt to defend my reading of Abaelard and introduce some further evidence for his position from the work of the followers of perhaps his greatest opponent, Alberic of Paris.* ‘The logic of growth: twelfth-century Nominalists and the development of theories of the Incarnation’, Medieval Philosophy and Theology 7, 1998, 1-15.
Ben Page, "Per Se Causal Chains? - A possible revival in contemporary metaphysics?"
Abstract: Per Se causal chains, for the Medievals, are everywhere. Yet look as you might in a contemporary introduction to causation, you are unlikely to find any discussion or explication of them. In fact what's more likely is that you find comments to the effect that causes which possess elements of the per se type are atypical and as such they warrant no further discussion. For the Medievalist this is frustrating since these causal chains are often thought of as primary and some interesting arguments, such as arguments for God’s existence, rely upon them and as such they seem worthy of contemporary discussion.The aim of my talk is to lay the groundwork for allowing Medieval discussions relating to per se causal chains to once again become relevant for the contemporary debate. I will do this by suggesting that contemporary metaphysics has smuggled in many aspects of per se causation under a new guise - grounding. I will discuss the similarities and differences between the two notions, and also show how contemporary worries over infinite grounding chains mirror Aquinas’s worries over infinite per se causal chains. If I am correct in thinking that grounding and per se causes are very similar, then it seems to me the time is right for a revival of per se causality within contemporary metaphysics, where debates and uses of these chains in Medieval philosophy will once again become of much broader interest. Medievalists should therefore be ready to lend there expertise to those metaphysicians rediscovering this previously explored notion, that is … assuming I’m correct regarding this similarity! I will leave that for you, the experts, to judge.
Cyrille Michon, "Aquinas’s account of self-defense and the doctrine of double effect"
Abstract: Aquinas’s brief treatment of self-defense (Summa Theologiae II-II.64.7) is rightly held for the source of both the notion and the theory of ‘double effect’. But whether Aquinas in this text, or elsewhere, defends what is nowadays called thus is controversial. I propose an interpretation.
John Marenbon, "Non-Accidental Relations in earlier Medieval Latin Philosophy"
Abstract: Historians of philosophy have long recognised that medieval conceptions of relations are radically different from contemporary ones. Contemporary logic represents relations as functions with more than one place, so that, for example, the function ‘— is father of — ’ describes the relationship between John (whose name fills the first gap) and Maximus (whose name fills the second). Similarly, the relations themselves described by such functions are conceived, not as belonging to only one of the things related, but as somehow being common to them. By contrast, throughout the Medieval Latin tradition, relation was considered, following Aristotle’s Categories, as one of the nine types of accident. But a given particular accident, according to Aristotle and the medieval tradition, can belong to only one substance. For medieval philosophers, therefore, my being father of Maximus is an accident that belongs to me, in much the way that the accident of being grey-haired does. For his part, Maximus has a different accident, of being the son of John. Yet, from Augustine onwards, Latin thinkers recognized a non-accidental type of relation. The persons of the Trinity are related: God the Father is the father of God the Son, and the Son the son of the Father, and the Holy Spirit is related to Father and Son as their spiration. These relations are not accidental, because God has no accidental properties. Moreover, although the relation of being-the-son-of is different from that of being-the-father-of, they do not, in the case of the Father and the Son (as they would do in that of John and Maximus) belong to two different substances.
My paper will explore the extent to which thinking about the Trinity allowed philosophers in the period up to 1200 to forge a way of considering relations distinct from Aristotle’s, although the Categories remains its point of departure.