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Locke's Metaphysics$
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Matthew Stuart

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199645114

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199645114.001.0001

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Agency: The First Edition

Agency: The First Edition

(p.391) 9 Agency: The First Edition
Locke's Metaphysics

Matthew Stuart

Oxford University Press

This chapter is devoted to Locke's philosophy of action in the first edition of the Essay. It presents him as a volitionist who waffles between two conceptions of volition. Locke holds that to be free with respect to an action is to be able to perform it if one wants to perform it, but also to be able to refrain from performing it if one wants not to perform it. A person can do what she does voluntarily without doing it freely. Locke favors a robust conception of forbearing that leads to difficulties. He denies that it makes sense to characterize the will, or acts of will, as free. Finally, it is shown that Locke offers an account of motivation that combines egoism and hedonism.

Keywords:   action, volition, freedom, voluntariness, forbearance, motivation

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