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Descent and Ascent from Ockham to Domingo de Soto: An Answer to Paul Spade

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Abstract Paul Spade has attacked the theory of the modes of personal supposition as found in Ockham and Buridan, partly on the grounds that the details of the theory are incompatible with the equivalence between propositions and their descended forms which is implied by the appeal to suppositional descent and ascent. I trace the development of the doctrines of ascent and descent from the mid-fourteenth century to the early sixteenth century, and I investigate Domingo de Soto’s elaborate account of how descent and ascent actually worked. I show that although Soto himself shared some of Spade’s doubts, including those about the use of merely confused supposition, he had a way of reducing at least some propositions containing terms with such supposition to equivalent disjunctions and conjunctions of singular propositions. Moreover, he gave explicit instructions on how to avoid the supposed problem of O-propositions.

Affiliations: 1: University of Waterloo Canada


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