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Jorati, Julia, , . Du Châtelet on Freedom, Self-Motion, and Moral Necessity
2019, Journal of the History of Philosophy 57 (2):255-280
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Julia Jorati

Abstract: This paper explores the theory of freedom that Emilie du Châtelet advances in her essay “On Freedom.” Using contemporary terminology, we can characterize this theory as a version of agent-causal compatibilism. More specifically, the theory has the following elements: (a) freedom consists in the power to act in accordance with one’s choices, (b) freedom requires the ability to suspend desires and master passions, (c) freedom requires a power of self-motion in the agent, and (d) freedom is compatible with moral necessity but not with physical necessity. While these elements may at first appear disparate, the paper shows that they fit together quite well. The resulting theory is a surprising combination of doctrines that appear to be based on Samuel Clarke’s libertarian account of free will and doctrines that are reminiscent of the compatibilist accounts of John Locke, Anthony Collins, Gottfried Leibniz, and Thomas Hobbes.

Comment: Gives an overview of Du Châtelet’s views on freedom of the will; can be useful to someone who wants to teach Du Châtelet’s essay “On Freedom”

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Jorati, Julia, , . Gottfried Leibniz [on Free Will]
2017, In Kevin Timpe, Meghan Griffith & Neil Levy (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Free Will. New York, USA: Routledge. pp. 293–302
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Julia Jorati

Abstract: Leibniz was obsessed with freedom. He turns to this topic again and again throughout his long career. And what he has to say about freedom is much more resourceful and inventive than typically acknowledged. While building on medieval theories—for instance by describing freedom in terms of the relation between the agent’s will and intellect—he also adds radically new elements and even anticipates some views that are popular today. The combination of theses about free will that Leibniz endorses in his mature writings is unusual and may at first appear inconsistent: (a) he claims that some of our actions are free, (b) he links free agency closely to agent causation and in fact appears to deny that there is event causation; (c) he accepts a form of determinism. In other words, Leibniz endorses what we can describe as an agent-causal compatibilist theory of freedom. The three theses may seem to be in tension not only because proponents of agent causation views are typically incompatibilists, but also because determinism is often defined in a way that presupposes event causation. As we will see soon, however, the tension is merely apparent. Leibniz’s version of agent-causal compatibilism is perfectly coherent and has some unique advantages over rival accounts.

Comment: Gives an overview of Leibniz’s views on freedom of the will; can be used for survey courses on early modern philosophy or for courses on the free will debate.

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