Libertarianism, Moral Character, and Alternative Possibilities in Thomas Reid

History of Philosophy Quarterly 35 (1):59-75 (2018)
  Copy   BIBTEX


In the following paper, I wish to examine a problem for the theist libertarian. On the one hand, libertarians insist that freedom requires possible alternatives open to the agent. On the other hand, God’s perfectly formed moral character implies that He always does the morally best. Give His moral character, then, it appears that there are no possible alternatives open to God. We thus get a dilemma for the theist libertarian: either a) God is not libertarian free – because His moral character rules out possible alternatives; or b) God’s character is not perfectly formed – because libertarian freedom requires that it is possible for God to act out of character. In the present paper, I argue that Thomas Reid, a paradigmatic libertarian, has the theoretical tools to retain a robust account of libertarian freedom without compromising a robust account of perfectly formed characters. In sum, it is necessary that agents with fully formed characters always act in character (read de dicto), but it is possible that agents with fully formed characters act out of character (read de re). The former claim captures the robustness of perfectly formed moral characters and the latter claim captures the robustness of libertarian freedom.



External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Thomas Reid on Character and Freedom.Kenneth L. Pearce - 2012 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 29 (2):159-176.
Ultimacy and alternative possibilities.John Martin Fischer - 2009 - Philosophical Studies 144 (1):15-20.
Soft Libertarianism and Flickers of Freedom.Alfred R. Mele - 2003 - In David Widerker & Michael McKenna (eds.), Moral Responsibility and Alternative Possibilities. Ashgate. pp. 251--264.
Luck’s Extended Reach.Ishtiyaque Haji - 2016 - The Journal of Ethics 20 (1-3):191-218.
Explaining our Choices: Reid on Motives, Character and Effort.Esther Kroeker - 2007 - Journal of Scottish Philosophy 5 (2):187-212.
Thomas Reid on the Moral Sense.Robert Stecker - 1987 - The Monist 70 (4):453-464.
Thomas Reid on the Moral Sense.Robert Stecker - 1987 - The Monist 70 (4):453-464.
An Analytical and Critical View of Reid's Ethical Intuitionism.Ali Akbar Abdolabadi - 2013 - Journal of Philosophical Investigations at University of Tabriz 7 (13):103-120.
A critique of Frankfurt-libertarianism.Kevin Timpe - 2006 - Philosophia 34 (2):189-202.


Added to PP

181 (#111,545)

6 months
181 (#17,378)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Juan Garcia Torres
Wingate University

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references