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  1. Cudworth on Freewill.Matthew A. Leisinger - 2021 - Philosophers' Imprint 21 (1):1-25.
    In his unpublished freewill manuscripts, Ralph Cudworth seeks to complete the project that he begins in The True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678) by arguing for an account of human liberty that avoids the opposing poles of necessitarianism and indifferency. I argue that Cudworth’s account rests upon a crucial distinction between the will and the power of freewill. Whereas we necessarily will the greater apparent good, freewill is a more fundamental power by which we endeavour to discern the greater (...)
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  2.  80
    Locke’s Diagnosis of Akrasia.Matthew A. Leisinger - 2020 - Journal of Modern Philosophy 2 (1):6.
    I argue for a new interpretation of Locke’s account of akrasia. On this interpretation, akrasia occurs on Locke’s account because certain cognitive biases endemic to the human mind dispose us to privilege present over future happiness. As a result, we end up irrationally pursuing present pleasure and the removal of present pain even as we simultaneously judge that doing so runs contrary to our own greater good. In this sense, I argue that Locke seeks to diagnose akrasia by identifying its (...)
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    The Inner Work of Liberty: Cudworth on Desire and Attention.Matthew A. Leisinger - 2019 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 27 (5):649-667.
    Ralph Cudworth’s goal in his manuscript writings on freewill is to argue that our actions are in our own power in a robust sense that entails the ability to do otherwise. Cudworth’s unorthodox views about the nature of desire threaten to undermine this project, however. Cudworth maintains that only desire is able to distinguish good and evil and, consequently, that desire alone motivates our actions. Therefore, since Cudworth holds that desire itself is not in our own power, he appears committed (...)
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    Locke’s Arguments Against the Freedom to Will.Matthew A. Leisinger - 2017 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (4):642-662.
    In sections 2.21.23-25 of An Essay concerning Human Understanding, John Locke considers and rejects two ways in which we might be “free to will”, which correspond to the Thomistic distinction between freedom of exercise and freedom of specification. In this paper, I examine Locke’s arguments in detail. In the first part, I argue for a non-developmental reading of Locke’s argument against freedom of exercise. Locke’s view throughout all five editions of the Essay is that we do not possess freedom of (...)
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    Locke on Persons and Other Kinds of Substances.Matthew A. Leisinger - 2019 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 100 (1):129-155.
    Locke’s commentators are divided about whether Locke thinks that the idea of a person is a substance-idea or a mode-idea. I use Locke’s theory of kinds to argue for an intermediate interpretation on which the idea of a person is a substance-idea that contains a mode-idea. As a result, while proponents of the substance interpretation correctly claim that ‘person’ designates a kind of substance, proponents of the mode interpretation are nonetheless correct in insisting that mode-ideas play an important role in (...)
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    Locke’s Diagnosis of Akrasia.Matthew A. Leisinger - 2020 - Journal of Modern Philosophy 2 (1):6.
    I argue for a new interpretation of Locke’s account of akrasia. On this interpretation, akrasia occurs on Locke’s account because certain cognitive biases endemic to the human mind dispose us to privilege present over future happiness. As a result, we end up irrationally pursuing present pleasure and the removal of present pain even as we simultaneously judge that doing so runs contrary to our own greater good. In this sense, I argue that Locke seeks to _diagnose_ akrasia by identifying its (...)
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    Cudworthian Consciousness.Matthew A. Leisinger - forthcoming - Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy.
    Ralph Cudworth’s The True Intellectual System of the Universe (1678) is credited with the first instance of the English word “consciousness” used in a distinctively philosophical sense. While Cudworth says little in the System about the nature of consciousness, he has more to say in his (largely unpublished) freewill manuscripts. I argue that, in these manuscripts, Cudworth distinguishes two kinds of consciousness, which I call “bare consciousness” and “reflective consciousness”. What both have in common is that each is a kind (...)
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  8.  48
    Locke on the Motivation to Suspend Desire.Matthew A. Leisinger - 2021 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 51 (1):48-61.
    This paper takes up two questions regarding Locke’s doctrine of suspension. First, what motivates suspension? Second, what are the conditions under which we are motivated to suspend? In response to the first question, I argue that suspension is motivated by the desire to avoid the possible future evils that might result from acting precipitately upon some desire without suspending. In response to the second question, I argue against the common assumption that the desire motivating suspension must be an agent’s most (...)
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