David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Elenchos 30 (1):5-52 (2009)
Critics have alleged that Democritus’ ethical prescriptions (“gnomai”) are incompatible with his physics, since his atomism seems committed to necessity or chance (or an awkward combination of both) as a universal cause of everything, leaving no room for personal responsibility. I argue that Democritus’ critics, both ancient and contemporary, have misunderstood a fundamental concept of his causality: a cause called “spontaneity”, which Democritus evidently considered a necessary (not chance) cause, compatible with human freedom, of both atomic motion and human actions. Some influential contemporary compatibilists have argued that freedom and responsibility are compatible with causal determinism, but not intentional constraint where some other agent is intentionally manipulating or coercing one’s actions. In line with this, Democritus holds that humans should not blame their actions on other agents like the gods, or agent-like external forces like fate or chance, but should assume ultimate intentional control over their own choices and actions. The famous remark of his associate Leucippus that “everything happens for a reason and out of necessity” is a fitting slogan of their atomistic philosophy, for Democritus pursued what can without anachronism be recognized as a causal theory of freedom.
|Keywords||Democritus Causality Free Will|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
James Warren (2002). Epicurus and Democritean Ethics: An Archaeology of Ataraxia. Cambridge University Press.
Vere Chappell (1994). Locke on the Freedom of the Will. In G. A. J. Rogers (ed.), Locke's Philosophy: Content and Context. Oxford University Press. 101--21.
Nicholas Rescher (2008). Free Will: A Philosophical Reappraisal. Transaction Publishers.
Tim O'Keefe (2003). Review of James Warren, Epicurus and Democritean Ethics: An Archaeology of Ataraxia. [REVIEW] Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2003 (5).
Malcolm Schofield (2002). Leucippus, Democritus and the Οὐ Μα̑λλον Principle: An Examination of Theophrastus "Phys. Op." Fr. 8. Phronesis 47 (3):253 - 263.
Malcolm Schofield (2002). Leucippus, Democritus and the Oυ Μαλλoν Principle: An Examination of Theophrastus Phys.Op. Fr. 8. Phronesis 47 (3):253-263.
Douglas C. Macintosh (1940). Responsibility, Freedom and Causality: Or, the Dilemma of Determinism or Indeterminism. Journal of Philosophy 37 (January):42-51.
Tim O'Keefe (1997). The Ontological Status of Sensible Qualities for Democritus and Epicurus. Ancient Philosophy 17 (1):119-134.
Bernard Berofsky (1987). Freedom From Necessity: The Metaphysical Basis of Responsibility. Routledge.
Jennifer Trusted (1984). Free Will and Responsibilty. Oxford University Press.
Author unknown, Democritus. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Robert Pasnau (2007). Democritus and Secondary Qualities. Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 89 (2):99-121.
Added to index2010-09-16
Total downloads33 ( #55,829 of 1,100,079 )
Recent downloads (6 months)3 ( #127,210 of 1,100,079 )
How can I increase my downloads?