Philosophical Studies 179 (5):1591–1620 (2022)

Matthieu Queloz
Oxford University
Is the idea of the voluntary important? Those who think so tend to regard it as an idea that can be metaphysically deepened through a theory about voluntary action, while those who think it a superficial idea that cannot coherently be deepened tend to neglect it as unimportant. Parting company with both camps, I argue that the idea of the voluntary is at once important and superficial—it is an essentially superficial notion that performs important functions, but can only perform them if we refrain from deepening it. After elaborating the contrast between superficial and deepened ideas of the voluntary, I identify the important functions that the superficial idea performs in relation to demands for fairness and freedom. I then suggest that theories trying to deepen the idea exemplify a problematic moralization of psychology—they warp psychological ideas to ensure that moral demands can be met. I offer a three-tier model of the problematic dynamics this creates, and show why the pressure to deepen the idea should be resisted. On this basis, I take stock of what an idea of the voluntary worth having should look like, and what residual tensions with moral ideas this leaves us with.
Keywords voluntariness  voluntary action  will  responsibility  free will  conceptual ethics  Bernard Williams  moral luck  determinism  moral psychology  freedom
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Reprint years 2021, 2022
DOI 10.1007/s11098-021-01720-2
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Intention.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1957 - Harvard University Press.
Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.

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