Descartes on Degrees of Freedom: A Close Look at a Key Text

Essays in Philosophy 14 (2):239-268 (2013)

In an influential article, Anthony Kenny charged that the view of freedom in Descartes’ “1645 letter to Mesland” is incoherent, and that this incoherence was present in Descartes’ thought from the beginning. Against , I argue that such incoherence would rather support Gilson’s suspicions that the 1645 letter is dishonest. Against , I offer a close reading of the letter, showing that Kenny’s objection seems plausible only if we misconstrue a key ambiguity in the text. I close by defending Descartes against some related worries of my own about the degrees of Cartesian freedom. I conclude that there is really no good reason to deny that Descartes’ view in the 1645 letter is both internally coherent and a genuine explication of the Meditations’ account of freedom
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DOI 10.7710/1526-0569.1474
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References found in this work BETA

Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1971 - Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):5-20.
Human Freedom and the Self.Roderick M. Chisholm - 1964 - In Robert Kane (ed.), Free Will. Blackwell.
Descartes on the Will.Anthony Kenny - 1998 - In John Cottingham (ed.), Descartes. Oxford University Press.
Alternative Possibilities in Descartes's Fourth Meditation.C. P. Ragland - 2006 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 14 (3):379 – 400.
Descartes on Spontaneity, Indifference, and Alternatives.Joseph Keim Campbell - 1999 - In Gennaro Rocco & Huenemann Charles (eds.), New Essays on the Rationalists. Oxford University Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

Descartes on Human Freedom.Marie Jayasekera - 2014 - Philosophy Compass 9 (8):527-539.

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