Hesperus is Bosphorus

A group blog by philosophers in and from Turkey

Talk at Bogazici U., Julia Jorati (Ohio State), “Leibniz on Control, Weakness of Will, and Compulsion”

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Julia Jorati, Ohio State

Monday, December 21st, 5-7pm

TB 130 (Anderson Hall 130)


Leibniz is a compatibilist: he holds that freedom is compatible with determinism. My paper examines Leibniz’s responses to three problems that plague many compatibilists, namely (a) the problem of explaining in what sense free agents have control over their actions, (b) the problem of explaining what goes on in ostensibly weak-willed actions, and (c) the problem of distinguishing weak-willed from compelled actions. Leibniz explicitly discusses the notion of control—or, as he usually calls it, ‘mastery’—and, this paper argues, he manages to make room for a meaningful and desirable type of control. For Leibniz, we possess control to the extent that our rational judgments and rational desires are able to influence our actions. He acknowledges that we sometimes lack direct control, namely when our passions are so powerful that they would outweigh even the strongest rational desire. Yet, Leibniz insists, there are indirect ways to control our actions; we can take steps ahead of time that reduce the influence of our passions drastically. Some of the resources that allow Leibniz to give a powerful account of control also allow him to acknowledge a form of weakness of will. That is surprising because he holds that all intentional actions are determined by what the agent perceives as good. Moreover, Leibniz can capture the difference between weakness and compulsion—another notoriously difficult problem for determinists.




Written by markedwardsteen

December 11, 2015 at 11:50 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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