Peter Schulte
University of Zürich
The claims about free will that Descartes makes in his writings seem, at first glance, to be inconsistent. In recent years, several authors have argued that we can dissolve the apparent contradiction by taking a closer look at the role that attention plays in Descartes’s theory of the processes of judging and deciding. Prima facie, this exegetical approach seems promising, thus its considerable influence is understandable. Nevertheless, I aim to show that the approach is doomed to failure, since its proponents are committed to ascribe incoherent or otherwise unacceptable doctrines to Descartes, thus violating the principle of charity. This result raises interesting methodological questions, which I discuss in the concluding section of the paper.
Keywords Free will  Descartes  Attention
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DOI 10.3196/004433017820875828
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