November 3, 2018

"William King on Free Will"

A preprint of my paper "William King on Free Will" is now available on my writings page. This paper was in fact accepted by Philosophers' Imprint in July. Since the journal is open access and has usually been very fast in my previous experience, I hadn't bothered to post a preprint in advance. However, it seems that staff turnover has resulted in substantial publication delay at the journal, so I've decided to post the preprint after all. Here is the abstract:


William King's De Origine Mali (1702) contains an interesting, sophisticated, and original account of free will. King finds 'necessitarian' theories of freedom, such as those advocated by Hobbes and Locke, inadequate, but argues that standard versions of libertarianism commit one to the claim that free will is a faculty for going wrong. On such views, free will is something we would be better off without. King argues that both problems can be avoided by holding that we confer value on objects by valuing them. Such a view secures sourcehood and alternate possibilities while denying that free will is simply a capacity to choose contrary to our best judgment. This theory escapes all of the objections levelled against it by Leibniz and also has interesting consequences for ethics: although constructed within a eudaimonist framework, King's theory gives rise to a very strong moral requirement of respect for individual self-determination.

Comments welcome below!

Posted by Kenny at November 3, 2018 3:50 PM
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