Locke on Power and Freedom

In Jessica Gordon-Roth & Shelley Weinberg (eds.), The Lockean Mind (forthcoming)

Julie Walsh
Wellesley College
In this chapter, I make three main points. First, I argue that, on Locke’s view, the power of human freedom is good because it allows us to be determined by the goods we have chosen for ourselves. Under ideal conditions, this power allows intellectual beings to attain happiness. There is, however, ample evidence that many intellectual beings are unhappy. This observation leads me to my second point. For Locke, bad choices are no less freely made than good ones. This is because bad decisions come from bad judgments about the intrinsic value of things, not from weakness of will. I next pose the question of how Locke understands the mechanism of our evaluation of the intrinsic value of things. I advance my third point by noting that while Locke thinks that many of our inclinations are engrained in childhood, it is possible for even the most inveterate sinners to change the way they perceive value, thereby changing their behavior.
Keywords Locke  Freedom  Suspension
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