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Locke’s Compatibilism: Suspension of Desire or Suspension of Determinism?

Locke’s Compatibilism: Suspension of Desire or Suspension of Determinism?

Chapter:
(p.109) 6 Locke’s Compatibilism: Suspension of Desire or Suspension of Determinism?
Source:
Action, Ethics, and Responsibility
Author(s):
Charles T. Wolfe
Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262014731.003.0006

This chapter focuses on Locke’s account of “the Will” as an entirely distinct entity associated with the mainstream notion of freedom as being synonymous with autonomy. He poses a challenge to this notion via his argument positing that the existence of free will is an impossibility because freedom and will are both “powers,” and there cannot exist such a thing as a power of a power. According to Locke, humans are free to act or not act, but all actions are determined by the will; humans are not free to will or not will. The chapter endeavors to show that an original form of compatibilism which acknowledges the complexity of mental life was presented by Locke and radicalized by his disciple Anthony Collins, in a way unlike either Hobbes before them or Hume after them.

Keywords:   Locke, Anthony Collins, Hobbes, Hume, freedom, autonomy, free will, compatibilism

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