Canadian Journal of Philosophy 31 (2):221-244 (2001)

Thomas Williams
University of South Florida
According to Anselm's official definition, freedom of choice is ‘the power to preserve rectitude of will for the sake of that rectitude itself.’ From the point of view of contemporary metaphysics, this is one of the most unhelpful definitions imaginable. Does such freedom require alternative possibilities, for example? Is it compatible with causal determination? Is the exercise of such freedom a necessary and sufficient condition for moral responsibility? The definition sheds no light on these questions.And so we need to move on from Anselm's definition to Anselm's account of freedom. Here, though, we encounter the opposite problem. Where Anselm's definition seems not to answer these questions at all, Anselm's account seems to answer all these questions, sometimes with a yes and sometimes with a no. Consider the question about alternative possibilities. In De libertate arbitrii, Anselm seems clearly to deny that freedom involves alternative possibilities. God, the good angels, and the blessed dead cannot do otherwise than preserve rectitude, but they are still free- freer, in fact, than those who are capable of abandoning rectitude.
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0045-5091
DOI cjphil200131217
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Anselm on Ethics.Jeffrey E. Brower - 2004 - In Brian Davies & Brian Leftow (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Anselm. Cambridge University Press. pp. 222-56.

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