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.
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Attention, Voluntarism, and Liberty in Descartes's Account of Judgment.Lex Newman - 2015 - Res Philosophica 92 (1):61-91.
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