Freedom of judgement in Descartes, Hume, Spinoza and Kant

Is our judgement of the truth-value of propositions subject to the will? Do we have any voluntary control over the formation of our beliefs – and if so, how does it compare with the control we have over our actions? These questions lead into interestingly unclear philosophical and psychological territory which remains a focus of debate today. I will first examine the classic early modern discussions in Descartes, Spinoza and Hume. Then I will review some relevant themes in Kant, including some lesser-known material from his lectures on ‘Logic’. Kant’s critical philosophy makes important appeal to the notion of ‘spontaneity’ or mental activity, but I argue that there are five different kinds of spontaneity in Kant which need distinguishing. I hope thus to achieve some clarification of the differences between theoretical judgements and practical decisions.
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DOI 10.1080/09608780410001676476
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