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Duns Scotus (c. 1265 - 1308) was a Roman Catholic philosopher and theologian. Details of his early life are not entirely clear, but he was probably born in Duns in Scotland, hence the name by which he came to be known.
He is known as the Subtle Doctor, on account of the perceived subtlety of his thinking. He was the founder of the philosophical school of Scotism, which was influential during the later Middle Ages. However, later critics claimed that his subtlety was nothing more than sophistry, and as a result his name is the origin of the English word dunce. He taught at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Paris.
 Forcible baptism
Scotus taught that duly constituted authorities could get a Jewish children baptized against the wishes of their parents. Naturally in the opinion of the dunce the Roman Catholics were the only group who properly understood how to worship god and what is proper religion. If Jewish parents failed in their duty to introduce their children to the one true faith then properly constituted authorities could intervene and get the children baptized. Similarly if Jewish parents did not recognize their own need for baptism as well as that of the child the authorities could have them forcibly baptized.
 Other theology
His greatest contribution to Catholic thought was his defence of the doctrine of Immaculate Conception through his argument potuit, decuit, ergo fecit, Latin for God could do it, it was appropriate that God do it, therefore God did it (or, as we would put it "Goddidit"). It would become a foundational principle in Catholic theology and a standard way for the religious to get out of losing arguments. This principle was originally formulated by Anselm, but it was Scotus who popularised it. Scotus used this principle to argue for the Immaculate Conception of Mary (i.e., her conception free of original sin); God could have made her free from original sin, it was fitting for God to do so, therefore God must have done so. And somehow it was not appropriate to free the rest of us from original sin at conception.
 Blessed dunce
The Roman Catholic Church considers him blessed, which means they believe he is in Heaven, can intercede on behalf of people who pray to him, and is the third of four steps on the way to becoming a saint.
 See also
- Thomas Aquinas: Another Medieval theologian.
- Augustine of Hippo: Late-Roman theologian.
- Catholic sacraments