The Problem of Negligent Omissions

Medieval Action Theories to the Rescue


Negligent omissions, cases in which an agent unintentionally forgets to fulfill an obligation, are philosophically problematic. They are problematic because they are considered blameworthy despite the fact that the conditions for voluntariness often appear unfulfilled. In an attempt to explain how they may be voluntary, this book delves into the action theories of Aristotle, Anselm, Aquinas, Scotus, and Suárez. In doing so, not only is the philosophical (and theological) importance of negligent omissions demonstrated via new and insightful interpretations, but a complex model for explaining the voluntariness of negligent omissions is constructed. The result is an original solution to the problem of negligent omissions that demonstrates the utility of appealing to historical approaches to solve contemporary philosophical and theological problems.
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Biographical Note

Michael Barnwell, Ph.D. (2005) in Philosophy and Religious Studies, Yale University, is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Niagara University. His publications include articles in American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, Southwest Philosophical Studies, and The Saint Anselm Journal.

Table of contents

Series Editor’s Note...ix
Preface ...xi
List of Abbreviations ... xv

Introduction: What’s the Problem? ...1
1: The Problem May Lurk in Aristotle’s Ethics. ...25
2: Aristotle’s Akratic: Foreshadowing a Solution ...43
3: A Negligent Omission at the Root of all Sinfulness: Anselm and the Devil ...71
4: Negligent vs. Non-negligent: A Thomistic Distinction Directing Us Toward a Solution ...97
5: Can I Have Your Divided Attention? Scotus, Indistinct Intellections, and Type-1 Negligent Omissions Almost Solved ...133
6: I Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind: Scotus, Lingering Indistinct Intellections, and Type-2 Negligent Omissions ...157
7: Scotus’s Affection-ate Corrective: A Possible Final Solution to a Type-2 Variant ...185
8: Neglected Treatises Help Solve Negligence: The Action Theory of Francisco Suárez ...209
9: An Answer That Cannot Be Neglected: The Solution ...249

Appendix A: Translation of Nicomachean Ethics 1146b31–1147b19 ...267

Bibliography ...271
Index ...275


Philosophers working in contemporary analytic action theory and ethics, those interested in theological and legal issues surrounding negligence, and historians of philosophy and theology (especially medieval philosophers and theologians)


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