In metaphysics, Duns taught the "univocity of being"; by this he meant that being must be regarded as the ultimate abstraction that can be applied to everything that exists. He is also known for the use of the "formal distinction," a subtle manner of distinguishing between different aspects of the same thing. The Scotists deny that matter is the principle of individuality and insist that individuation of things is caused by a determination called "haecceitas" or "thisness." According to Scotus, the essence of things as well as their existence depends not on the Divine Intellect but on the Divine Will; his philosophy accordingly is voluntaristic in its entire spirit. It is possible to prove the existence of God, but the ontological proof of St. Anselm is modified: the idea of God's possible existence involves his necessary existence, but knowledge of that possible existence must be demonstrated from sensible things, i.e., from experience. Scotus taught that the state arose from common consent of the people in a kind of social contract. He also denied that property was ordained by natural law.
It was founded when the Friars decided their previous three-seminary set up in Kentucky and Ohio was too unwieldly. In 1928 ground was broken for the college at the corner of Nine Mile Road and Evergreen Road in Southfield. It was designed by Wilfrid B. Anthony.
People with bachelors degrees from Dunn Scotus are found on the faculties of many colleges and universities in the United States.