Occasionalism, Laws and General Will

Russell Wahl
Idaho State University
Malebranche held that God acts only by general volitions and so is not constantly interfering in the world. The content of God's volitions appears to include the general laws of nature and the particular initial configuration of the created world, so that occasional or natural causes have an important explanatory role. It is clear that at the least Malebranche meant by a 'general volition' the willing of events which followed general laws. Steven Nadler argued that this is all we should understand by a 'general volition', and so we should think that general volitions are simply particular volitions which follow a general law. I argue that this view is not the correct interpretation of Malebranche's general volitions, for it does not do justice to the theological doctrine of the Treatise, masks the genuine difference between Arnauld and Malebranche, and conflicts with what Malebranche says about practical volitions. I then argue that despite Malebranche's view of general volitions, there is still an important difference between his view and Leibniz's. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
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DOI 10.1080/09608788.2011.555160
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