Scotus on the Possibility of a Better World

Giorgio Pini

Summary: 1. The Standard Position: Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas. 2. Henry of Ghent’s Problem. 3. Scotus on God’s Ability to Act Otherwise. 4. Order and Dispositions. 5. How Actual Things Could Be Better.

Abstract: Scotus gave an original answer to the standard question whether God can make the world better than He did. Whereas Bonaventure and Thomas Aquinas had held that God can create other worlds, better than the actual one, but that the order of the actual world is the most fitting one, Scotus’s strategy is based on the claim that it makes no sense to compare alternative possible states of affairs as better or worse before God’s choice. He held that the order of the actual world is good not because it is the best among other alternative orders but because it is the order that God has made the object of His volition. Accordingly, any complaint about God’s failing to make things better than He did is not so much groundless as meaningless.