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Locke and Cartesian Philosophy$
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Philippe Hamou and Martine Pécharman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198815037

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198815037.001.0001

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Locke and Descartes on Free Will

Locke and Descartes on Free Will

The Limits of an Antinomy

Chapter:
(p.144) 8 Locke and Descartes on Free Will
Source:
Locke and Cartesian Philosophy
Author(s):

Denis Kambouchner

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198815037.003.0009

The chapter considers striking parallels in the evolution of Descartes’s and Locke’s thoughts and formulations with regard to the problem of free will, which, from almost opposite starting points, bring them closer together. The ‘family resemblance’ between them (also seen in Malebranche) is due to the recognition of the irreducibility and complexity of the problem concerning the determination of the will—a problem that cannot be solved with simplistic formulations such as ‘the will is necessitated’, or ‘the will is absolutely free’. Both Descartes and Locke carefully distinguish between various aspects of the question: whether the will can or cannot be compelled, whether it can resist the attractiveness of certain perceptions, whether the determination of the will obeys rules. When we examine their most carefully considered positions, what appears prima facie as an antinomy between the two doctrines must be significantly nuanced, to the point that the affinities prevail.

Keywords:   Descartes, Locke, Malebranche, free will, determinism, compatibilism

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