William of Ockham

On Sin and Virtue

Excerpted from Quod. 3.14

Whether only an act of will is of necessity virtuous. To this question I say that the exclusive proposition posed in the question has two explanations: one is negative, which is that no act separated from an act of will is of necessity virtuous; and the other is affirmative, namely that any act of will is of necessity virtuous. As far as the negative explanation goes, I say that it is true simply, because every act separate from the act of will, which is in the power of the will, is good because it can be bad, because it can occur with a bad goal and a bad intention. Similarly, every other act can be elicited naturally and not freely, and no such [act] is of necessity virtuous. Besides, every act separate from the will can occur by God alone, and consequently it is not of necessity virtuous for a rational creature. Besides, any other act that remains the same can indifferently be praiseworthy and blameworthy, and [can be] praiseworthy in the beginning and blameworthy afterwards, according to the fact that it can in succession conform to an honest and a sinful will; this is clear in the case of going to church at first with a good intention, and later with a bad intention.

original latin

Praeterea nullus actus est virtuosus nec vitiosus nisi sit voluntarius et in potestate voluntatis, quia peccatum adeo est voluntarium etc.; sed actus alius ab actu voluntatis potest primo esse in potestate voluntatis, et post non; puta quando aliquis dimittit se voluntarie in praecipitium, et post paenitet et habet actum nolendi illum descensum meritorie propter Deum; sed in descendendo non est in potestate voluntatis; igitur ille descensus non est necessario vitiosus.

Circa affirmativam exponentem dico primo quod de virtute sermonis nullus actus est necessario virtuosus. Hoc probatur, tum quia nullus actus necessario est, et per consequens non est necessario virtuosus; tum quia omnis actus potest fieri a solo Deo, et per consequens non est necessario virtuosus, quia talis actus non est in potestate voluntatis.

Tertio dico quod ille actus necessario virtuosus modo praedicto est actus voluntatis, quia actus quo diligitur Deus super omnia et propter se, est huiusmodi; nam iste actus sic est virtuosus quod non potest esse vitiosus, nec potest iste actus causari a voluntate creata nisi sit virtuosus; tum quia quilibet pro loco et tempore obligatur ad diligendum Deum super omnia, et per consequens iste actus non potest esse vitiosus; tum quia este actus est primus omnium actuum bonorum.

Quarto dico quod solus habitus voluntatis est intrinsece et necessario virtuosus, quia quilibet alius habitus inclinat indifferenter ad actus laudabiles et vituperabiles.
Ad argumentum principale, nego assumptum, quia aliquis actus voluntatis nullo modo potest elici cum intentione mala, sicut patet ex praedictis.