Authors
Tito Magri
Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza
Abstract
The chapter 'Of power' of Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding is a very fine discussion of agency and a very complex piece of philosophy. It is the result of the superimposition of at least three layers of text (those of the first, second and fifth editions of the Essay), expressive of widely differing views of the same matters. The argument concerning agency and free will that it puts forward (as it now stands, reporting Locke's last word on the subject) is thus beset with problems, and even inconsistencies. But these textual and analytical difficulties should not hide from us the relevance and, in a way, the deep coherence of Locke's philosophy of action. In what follows, I will attempt to cast some light on this complicated interpretive and conceptual matter, by a careful reading of some parts of Locke's discussion. The first section shows how accounting for the evaluation and choice of remote goods, in terms of their real value and in preference to smaller, nearer ones, is a crucial problem for Locke's philosophy of action. The second section reads Locke's move from an internalist to an externalist view of motivation as a first, conceptually complex step towards such an account; and shows how this is linked to a change in the concept of will. The third and fourth sections reconstruct Locke's account (a pattern of suspension and examination of occurrent desire); discuss the role of the motivational and normative concept of happiness; and cast some doubt on the consistency of Locke's position.
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DOI 10.1080/096087800360229
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References found in this work BETA

Locke on the Freedom of the Will.Vere Chappell - 1994 - In G. A. J. Rogers (ed.), Locke's Philosophy: Content and Context. Oxford University Press. pp. 101--21.

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Citations of this work BETA

Does Locke Have an Akrasia Problem?Leonardo Moauro & Samuel C. Rickless - 2019 - Journal of Modern Philosophy 1 (1):9.
Locke’s Diagnosis of Akrasia.Matthew A. Leisinger - 2020 - Journal of Modern Philosophy 2 (1):6.
Locke on the Motivation to Suspend Desire.Matthew A. Leisinger - forthcoming - Canadian Journal of Philosophy.

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