Locke’s arguments against the freedom to will

British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (4):642-662 (2017)
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Abstract

In sections 2.21.23-25 of An Essay concerning Human Understanding, John Locke considers and rejects two ways in which we might be “free to will”, which correspond to the Thomistic distinction between freedom of exercise and freedom of specification. In this paper, I examine Locke’s arguments in detail. In the first part, I argue for a non-developmental reading of Locke’s argument against freedom of exercise. Locke’s view throughout all five editions of the Essay is that we do not possess freedom of exercise (at least in most cases). In the second part, I argue that, when Locke asks whether we possess freedom of specification, his question is intentionally ambiguous between two readings, a first-order reading and a higher-order reading. Locke’s view is that, on either reading, we do not possess freedom of specification (at least in any interesting sense).

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References found in this work

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.John Locke - 1979 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 169 (2):221-222.
Freedom to act.Donald Davidson - 1973 - In Ted Honderich (ed.), Essays on Freedom of Action. Boston,: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
New Essays on Human Understanding.G. W. Leibniz - 1981 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 45 (3):489-490.
Locke on the freedom of the will.Vere Chappell - 1994 - In Graham Alan John Rogers (ed.), Locke's philosophy: content and context. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 101--21.

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