Compatibilism is the doctrine that the doctrine of determinism is logically consistent with the doctrine of libertarianism. Determinism is the doctrine that every being and event is brought about by causes other than itself. Libertarianism is the doctrine that some human actions are free. Was Descartes a compatibilist? There is no doubt that he was a libertarian: his works are full of professions of freedom, human as well as divine. And though he held that God has no cause other than (...) himself, Descartes thought that everything apart from God is externally caused: he was a determinist with respect to the created universe. So it appears, assuming him consistent with himself, that Descartes must have been a compatibilist. And indeed, there are passages in his writings in which he appears explicitly to affirm that he is. Since both Descartes’s libertarianism and his determinism are complex doctrines, however, his view of the relation between them is complex as well. (shrink)
In Principles I. 53, Descartes states what appears to be an important metaphysical principle: P1: Each substance has one principal property, which constitutes its nature and essence, and to which all its other properties are referred (AT VIIIA 25; CSM I 210).1 Marleen Rozemond calls this Descartes's "Attributes Premise", and it leads directly, as she points out, to Cartesian Dualism, the doctrine that a human mind and a human body, even when they belong to the same human being, are distinct (...) substances (Rozemond forthcoming). (shrink)
Meditation. A man is a compositus ex mente et corpore (VII 82; II 57), a composite being consisting of a mind and a body. [Note: In parenthetical citations of Descartes's text, the first pair of numerals refers to volume and page of the Adam and Tannery edition; the second pair to volume and page of the English translation by Cottingham, Stoothoff, Murdoch, and Kenny.] These two components of a man are themselves different things. Not only are they disparate in nature, (...) having nothing in common; but they are also distinct from one another, in the sense that each can exist without the other. (shrink)
In the first edition of the Essay concerning Human Understanding, Locke claims that human beings have freedom of action - that is, that some of their actions are free - but that they do not have freedom of will - that is, that none of their volitions are free. Volitions themselves are actions for Locke; they are operations of the will and hence acts of willing. And volitions give rise to other actions: an action that follows and is caused by (...) a volition is thereby a voluntary action. But volitions are not subject to the will; they cannot be caused by acts of willing and so cannot themselves be voluntary actions. This doctrine, that acts of willing cannot be voluntary, is one of Locke’s reasons for thinking that they are not free. (He also has a reason for holding this doctrine, and a second reason for thinking that acts of willing cannot be free, both of which I’ll be considering later on.) Locke follows not only the scholastics but also Descartes and Hobbes in holding that being voluntary is a prerequisite for being free. But unlike Descartes and Hobbes, though not unlike the scholastics, Locke does not make voluntariness sufficient for freedom. In addition to being voluntary, a free action must be one its agent can avoid - avoid, that is, merely by willing, whether by willing not to do it or by willing to do something else that is incompatible with doing it. (shrink)
Ideas play a large role in Locke’s philosophy. In Locke’s view, everything existing or occurring in a mind either is or includes an idea; and all human knowledge both starts from and is founded on ideas. The very word “idea” appears more frequently in the Essay concerning Human Understanding than any other noun; its occurrences outnumber even those of such common words as “he,” “have,” and “for.”.
1. For many thinkers in the seventeenth century, self-determination is the mark of free agency: a free agent is one who determines himself, and conversely. To determine oneself, in this context, is to be the cause of one’s own actions, and that in two ways. A self-determiner brings it about, first, that he does something, as opposed to not acting at all. And second, he brings it about that the action he performs is of some specific kind, as opposed to (...) being an action of some other kind.1 Not to be self-determined, then, with respect to a particular action, is for that action to be caused (if caused at all) by something other than the agent himself. This other thing may be altogether distinct from the agent: another person or some external impersonal factor. Or it may be something that is within the agent in some way but is distinguishable from himself - that is, from his real or true self. An action whose cause is a thing or person other than the agent who performs it is said to be determined by that thing or person, and the latter is said to determine it. Correspondingly, when an agent himself is the cause of an action, he is said to determine that action, and the action is said to be determined by him. Thus the term “determine” is used in such wise that free agents can be said to determine their own actions as well as their own selves. Indeed, when an agent is said to determine himself, what is usually meant is that he determines himself to act or to act in such and such way. 2. The terms “determine” and “determination” had other uses in seventeenth-century philosophical writing. Sometimes to determine something was to decide or settle it; to ascertain or establish it; to direct or regulate it; or to fix, delimit, or define it. But the causal use that I have just characterized is the one that most pertains to the concept of self-determination and thence to that of free agency. (shrink)
New in the Oxford Readings in Philosophy series, this volume brings together some of the best recent articles on John Locke's philosophy. The contributors, including some of the world's leading Locke scholars, focus on innate ideas, ideas and perception, primary and secondary qualities, free will, substance, personal identity, language, essence, knowledge, and belief. By bringing together in one place often difficult to find writings, the volume constitutes an essential collection for students and specialists.
Oxford Readings in Philosophy -/- The aim of this series is to bring together important recent writings in major areas of philosophical inquiry, selected from a variety of sources, mostly periodicals, which may not be conveniently available to the university student or the general reader. The editors of each volume contribute an introductory essay on the items chosen and on the questions with which they deal. A selective bibliography is appended as a guide to further reading. -/- This new volume (...) in the successful Oxford Readings in Philosophy series presents fifteen recently published articles on the main topics in Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding. The increased interest in Locke's philosophy over the past twenty years has resulted in more rigorous, better informed, and more philosophically sophisticated studies than ever before. The essays included here represent the best of this recent work. Each article covers one or more major issues in Locke's Essay. Together they cover all the key themes, including: innate ideas, ideas and perception, primary and secondary qulaities, free will, substance, personal identity, language, essence, knowledge, and belief. The authors include some of the world's leading Locke scholars: Michael R. Ayers, Margaret Atherton, J.L. Mackie, John Campbell, Vere Chappell, Martha Brandt Bolton, Jonathan Bennett and Kenneth P. Winkler. Their essays exemplify the best - and most accessible - recent scholarship on Locke, making it essential for students and specialists. (shrink)
The Essay concerning Human Understanding was published at the end of 1689.1 It sold well, and within three years Locke was planning revisions for a second edition. Among those whose “advice and assistance” he sought was the Irish scientist William Molyneux. Locke had begun a correspondence with Molyneux a few months before, after the latter had lavishly praised the Essay and its author in the Epistle Dedicatory of his own Dioptrica Nova, published early in 1692. Here was a man, Locke (...) concluded, whose judgment one could trust. He returned Molyneux’s compliment in the Essay’s new edition, calling him “that very Ingenious and Studious promoter of real Knowledge, ... whom I am proud to call my friend”. (shrink)
Each volume of this series of companions to major philosophers contains specially commissioned essays by an international team of scholars, together with a substantial bibliography, and will serve as a reference work for students and non-specialists. One aim of the series is to dispel the intimidation such readers often feel when faced with the work of a difficult and challenging thinker. The essays in this volume provide a systematic survey of Locke's philosophy informed by the most recent scholarship. They cover (...) Locke's theory of ideas, his philosophies of body, mind, language, and religion, his theory of knowledge, his ethics, and his political philosophy. There are also chapters on Locke's life and subsequent influence. New readers and non-specialists will find this the most convenient, accessible guide to Locke currently available. (shrink)
Locke was a libertarian: he believed in human freedom. To be sure, his conception of freedom was different from that of many philosophers who call themselves libertarians. Some such philosophers maintain that an agent is free only if her action is uncaused; whereas Locke thought that all actions have causes, including the free ones. Some libertarians hold that no action is free unless it proceeds from a volition that is itself free; whereas Locke argued that free volition, as opposed to (...) free action, is an impossibility. On the other hand, Locke agrees with the typical professed libertarian that free actions depend on volitions - or, as he often puts it, that an agent is free only with respect to the actions she wills, to those that are voluntary. And he also refuses to make voluntariness sufficient for freedom, whereby a free action is merely one that is willed. The free agent, Locke insists, must also be able or have been able to do something other than she does or did. Thus both Locke and the libertarian professor require indifference as well as spontaneity for freedom. But Locke’s freedom is not contra-causal; and he denies that it extends to volition. In this paper I want to focus on just this last component of Locke’s view of freedom: that freedom in willing, far from being required for free agency, is not even possible. I call this ‘the thesis of volitional determinism’. Locke presents an argument for this thesis in the Essay, but scholars have never paid much attention to it: I want to examine it. (shrink)
The Essay concerning Human Understanding was published at the end of 1689.1 It sold well, and within three years Locke was planning revisions for a second edition. Among those whose “advice and assistance” he sought was the Irish scientist William Molyneux. Locke had begun a correspondence with Molyneux a few months before, after the latter had lavishly praised the Essay and its author in the Epistle Dedicatory of his own Dioptrica Nova, published early in 1692. Here was a man, Locke (...) concluded, whose judgment one could trust. He returned Molyneux’s compliment in the Essay’s new edition, calling him “that very Ingenious and Studious promoter of real Knowledge, ... whom I am proud to call my friend” (2-5 II.ix.8: 145-46). (shrink)