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Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person Author(s): Harry G. Frankfurt Reviewed work(s): Source: The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 68, No. 1 (Jan. 14, 1971), pp. 5-20 Published by: Journal of Philosophy, Inc. Stable URL: . Accessed: 19/01/2012 18:24
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THE JOURNALOF PHILOSOPHY VOLUME LXVIII."1 But thereare many entitiesbesides personsthat have both mental and physicalproperties. What concerns Strawson and Ayer is the problem of understanding the relation between mind and body. 101-102.It does violence to our language to endorse the application of the term'person' to thosenumerouscreatures which do have both psychological and material propertiesbut which are manifestly not persons in any normal sense of the word. they are also credited with various formsof consciousness" [A. J. Individuals (London: Methuen. this hardlyjustifiesthe misappropriation a valuable philoof sophical term. rather than the quite differentproblem of understandingwhat it is to be a creature that not only has a mind and a body but is also a addition to predicatesascribingcorporeal characteristics. are equally applicable to a single individual olfthat single type. Strawson.But althoughthe offense "merely is ' P. 1963). a type that includes not only human beings but animals of various lesser species as well... F. p. I97I that concept at all. This misuseof language is doubtless innocentof any theoretical error. 82]. NO. The Concept of a Person (New York: St. Strawson. Martin's. it happens-though it seems extraordiAs nary that this should be so-there is no common English word for the type of entityStrawsonhas in mind. . identifiesthe concept of a person as "the concept of a typeof entitysuch that both predicatesascribingstatesof consciousness and predicatesascribingcorporealcharacteristics .predicates that ascribe states of consciousness. JANUARY I4. W FREEDOM OF THE WILL AND THE CONCEPT OF A PERSON sis of the concept a person not actually of is of analysis HAT philosophershave lately come to accept as analy- 5 . Ayer's usage of 'person' is similar: "it is characteristic persons in this sense that beof sides having various physical properties . Whetherthe members some animal speciesare personsis surely of not to be settledmerelyby determining whetherit is correctto apply to them. . whose usage represents the currentstandard. Still. Ayer. pp. 1959). I.

withoutevokingany widespreadfeelingof loss.We do in factassume.Accordingly. that no member of anotherspecies is a person.and it increases the likelihood that we will overlook the importantarea of inquiry with which the term 'person' is most naturallyassociated.theyare designedto capture those attributes which are the subject of our most humane concernwith ourselvesand the source of what we regard as most importantand most problematicalin our lives. a concept of attributesthat are necessarily species-specific.6 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY verbal. For it gratuitously diminishesour philosophical vocabulary. however.that they are of able to formwhat I shall call "second-order desires" or "desiresof thesecondorder.It seems to be peculiarly characteristic humans." it does significant harm.some of whom even appear to engage in deliberation and to make decisionsbased upon prior thought.or in making choices. as Our conceptof ourselvesas personsis not to be understood. It is conceptuallypossible that membersof novel or even of familiar nonhuman species should be persons.on the otherhand. There is a sense in which the word 'person' is merelythe singular formof 'people' and in which both termsconnoteno more than membershipin a certain biological species. Yet thisproblemis so generally neglectedthat it has been possible to make offwith its veryname almost without being noticed and." .What interests most in the human condition us would not interest less if it were also a featureof the condition us of othercreatures well. Now these attributes would be of equal significance us to even if theywere not in factpeculiar and commonto the members of our own species. It mighthave been expected thatno problemwould be of more centraland persistent concernto philosophersthan that of understanding what we ourselvesessentiallyare. and it is also conceptuallypossible that some membersof the human species are not persons. therefore. thereis a presumption that what is essential to persons is a set of characteristics that we generally suppose-whether rightlyor wrongly-to be uniquely human. Rather.the criteria for being a person do not serve primarilyto distinguishthe membersof our own species from the membersof other species. In those senses of the word which are of greaterphilosophical interest. however. It is my view that one essential difference between persons and other creaturesis to be found in the structure a person's will. of Human beings are not alone in having desiresand motives. They share these thingswith the membersof certain other species.

(g) A hardlysufficient would ratherdie than X. first-order desire when he wants to have or and that he has a second-order order.3 like (a) through(g) are true: when A is uneven when statements aware of any feelingsconcerningX-ing. (f) A does not "really" want to X.FREEDOM OF WILL AND CONCEPT OF A PERSON 7 Besideswantingand choosingand being moved to do thisor that. A statement the form"A wants to X"-taken by itself. 3 What I say in this paragraph applies not only to cases in which 'to X' refers to a possible action or inaction.They are capable of wantingto be different. are by no means perfect synonyms. when he deceiveshimselfabout what he wants and 2 For the sake of simplicity. men may also want to have (or not to have) certain desires and in motives. It is therefore and to formulatethe distinctionbetween first-order second-order merelythat someone has a desires.My motive in forsaking the established nuances of these words arises from the fact that the verb 'to want'.as I have done. not to have a certaindesireof thefirst of As I shall understandthem. and so on. to speak in the plural of someone's "wants." But to speak in the singular of someone's "want" would be an abomination.fromwhat theyare. (c) A believes that he does not want to X. does not lend itself so readily to the formationof nouns as does the verb 'to desire'.statements the form"A wants to They may be true X" cover a ratherbroad range of possibilities. its apart froma contextthat servesto amplifyor to specify meanmay Such a statement little information. Many animals appear to desires" or "dehave the capacity for what I shall call "first-order order. . by suggesting desire when he wants to do or not to do such-and-such. theirpreferencesand purposes.when he is unaware that he wants to X. which suits my purposes better so far as its meaning is concerned.No animal other than man. I proalthough they pose to use the verbs 'to want' and 'to desire' interchangeably. (d) A wants to refrain fromX-ing. It is perhaps acceptable. with each of the followingstatements: (a) the prospect of doing X elicits no sensation or introspectible emotional response in A. (e) A wants to Y and believes that it is impossiblefor him both to Y and to X. ing-conveys remarkably for be consistent." which are simplydesires to do or not to sires of the first do one thingor another. (b) A is unaware that he wants to X. however. It also applies to cases in which 'to X' refersto a first-order desire and in which the statementthat 'A wants to X' is therefore a shortened version of a statement-"A wants to want to X"--that identifiesa desire of the second order. neglecting related phenomena such as choices and decisions.I shall deal only with what someone wants or desires.apthat is maniself-evaluation pears to have the capacityforreflective desires. example. albeit graceless.2 in of fested theformation second-order I The concept designated by the verb 'to want' is extraordinarily of elusive.

Thus. he may nonethelessdo something else instead of doing X because. On the other hand. and it may be true that he wants to X despite the factthat. and A may be mistakenabout them. then. by itself. A statement this kind does not. desire to do X proves to his be weaker or less effective than some conflicting desire. it may be true that A wants to X when he strongly prefersto do something else instead. is not coextensivewith the notion of first-order desires. to of indicate the relativestrength A's desire to X. Thus the notion of the will is not coextensive with the notion of what an agent intendsto do. statements which the term in . Considerfirst thosestatements the form"A wants to X" which of identify first-order desires-that is. statements which the term'to in X' refers an action.when he acts.But the notion of the will. as I am employingit. the statement identifies is not the desireto X thatmotivates him to do what he does. theyneed not be univocal. It is only when it is used in the second of theseways that. Now considerthosestatements the form"A wantsto X" which of second-order identify desires-that is. For even thoughsomeone may have a settledintention to do X. There is a further source of uncertainty with regard to statements that identify someone'sdesires. For it may correctly said be thatA wants to X even when his desireto X is only one among his desiresand when it is farfrombeing paramountamong them. It is not the notion odf somethingthat merelyinclines an agent in some degree to act in a certain way.given the special usage of 'will' that I propose to adopt. someone who statesthat A wants to X may mean to conveythat it is this desire that is motivating movingA to do what he is actually doing or or that A will in fact be moved by this desire (unless he changes his mind) whenhe acts. it is the notion of an effective desire-one that moves (or will or would move) a person all the way to action. Rather. is identicalwith one or more of his first-order desires. The desiresin question may be consciousor unconscious. however. or when he is ambivalent. when he also has other desiresthat conflict with his desire to X. To identify agent's will is either to identify A's an the desire (or desires)by which he is motivatedin some action he performs to identify or the desire (or desires) by which he will or would be motivatedwhen or if he acts.8 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY believes falselythat he does not want to X. An agent's will. It does not make of it clear whetherthis desire is at all likelyto play a decisiverole in what A actually does or tries to do. and here it is important mypurfor poses to be less permissive. despite his intention.

a second kind of situationthat may be describedby 'A is wants to want to X'.insofaras he wants to have a desire. there is nothing in what he now wants that would be satisfied the drug itself.that he alreadydoes desire to take it. It is entirelypossible.And insofaras he now wantsonly to want to take it.that. That is. His second-order desireto be moved to take the drug does not entail that he has a first-order desireto take it. and he mayprudently arrange to make it impossibleforhim to satisfy desirehe would have if the his desire to want the drug should in timebe satisfied. in fact.he may have no desire to take it. If the drug no were now to be administeredto him. If it is a genuine desire that he wants. While he wants to want to take the drug. There altogether by univocal desirenot to take the drug. and when the statement used to describea . Someone might want to have a certaindesire.then what he wants is not merelyto feel the sensations that addicts characteristically when theyare gripped by their feel desiresfor the drug. and not to take it. this mightsatisfy desire that is implicitin his desire to want to take to be inclined or moved to some extentto take thedrug. of want to X is not pertinentto the identification his will. it may be that all he wants is to taste the desire for it.He may now have.There are also two kinds 'to X' refers a desire of the first to of situationin which it may be true thatA wants to want to X. What the physicianwants. fromthe fact that the physito cian now wants to desire to take the drug. refrainfromX-ing. It would thus be incorrect infer.he does not want thisdesire to be effective.but univocallywant thatdesireto be unsatisfied. In the first place.altogether free of conflict and ambivalence. although he wants to be moved by a desire to take the drug. may not want it to move him all the way to action.FREEDOM OF WILL AND CONCEPT OF A PERSON 9 order. however. He He need not be interested finding in out what it is like to take the drug. wants only in this truncatedway to want to X Someone who and the fact that he wants to stands at the margin of preciosity. his desire to have a certaindesirethathe does not have may not be a desirethat his will should be at all different thanit is. it mightbe true of A that he wants to have a desire to X despite the fact that he has a univocal desire. Suppose that he is led in thisway to want to have a desire for the drug. withnarcotics Suppose thata physicianengagedin psychotherapy addicts believes that his ability to help his patients would be enhanced if he understoodbetterwhat it is like forthemto desirethe drug to which theyare addicted.

even though he does not moved by whatever desire know what B wants to do.I shall call his second-order volitions" or "volitionsof the second one degreeor another.It is necessarily on true." desires "second-order and not havingsecond-order Now it is havingsecond-order volitions. In situationsof the latterkind. in what he actuallydoes. on II Someone has a desireof the second ordereitherwhen he wantssimply to have a certaindesireor when he wants a certaindesireto be his will. 4 It is not so clear that the entailment relation described here holds in certain kinds of cases. It certainlydoes not follow that A already has. a desire like the one that constitutesB's will. It is only if he does want to X that he can coherently want the desire to X not merelyto be one of his desiresbut. on This desire is now among his desires. Now when the statement that A wants to want to X is used in thisway. the kind of descriptionby which the first-order Thus. thathe alreadywantsto concentrate his work. among his desires. then it does pertain to what A wants his will to be. without knowing what B's will is.But the question of whether or not his second-order desire is fulfilled does not turn merelyon the whether desirehe wantsis one of his desires. It is to not merelythat he wants the desire to X to be among the desires by which. I shall not pursue here the questions of whether there are genuine counterexamples to the claim made in the text or of how. A wants effectively his own will to be the does entail thatA alreadyhas a desire to X. thenwhat he wantsat that timeis not (in the relevantsense) what he wants to want.IO THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY situationof this second kind.he is moved or inclined to act. in other words. suppose that A admires B so fulsomelythat. It could not be trueboth thatA wants the desire to X to move him into action and that he does not want to X.It turnson whether this desire is. If. it is his desire to concentrate his work on thatmoveshim to do what he does. thenwhat he wantsat thattime is indeed (in the relevantsense)what he wantsto want. he wants to be effectively moves B. which I think may fairlybe regarded as nonstandard. This will be so despite the fact that the desireto concentrate his workcontinuesto be among his desires. In such cases the statement means that A wants the desire to X to be the desire that moves him effectively act. It is desiresgenerally. if there are. that I regard as essentialto being a person. more decisively. as he wants it to be. his effective desire or will. . when the chips are down. on the other hand.where between the standard and the nonstandard cases lies in the essential difference desire in question is identified. be his will. that claim should be altered. If it is some other desire that actually moves him when he acts.if this suppositionis correct. He wants this desire to be effective-that to provide the motive is.4 to Suppose a man wants to be motivatedin what he does by the desire to concentrate his work.

Perhaps it also includes some adult human beingsas well. Hereafter.I adopt it largely because it facilitates the formulationof some of the points I wish to make.more or less frequently. He may have no opportunity act in accordto ance with some of his desires. theymay act wantonly. whetheror not theyhave desiresof thesecond-order.5 theyhave no second-order of The essentialcharacteristic a wanton is that he does not care without about his will. ignoresthe question of what his will is to be. For it is only in virtueof his rational 5 Creatures with second-orderdesires but no second-ordervolitions differsigfrom brute animals. and.For of a wantonmaypossessand employrationalfaculties a high order. who reflects upon the suitability his to desires of one course of action or another.I shall use the in term 'wanton' to referto agents who have first-order desires but who are not persons because. In maintainingthat the essenceof being a person lies not in reason but in will. it would be desirable to nificantly regard them as persons.The class of wantons includes all nonhuman animals that have desiresand all very young children.would not be a person.whenever I consider statementsof the form "A wants to want to X. In any case." I shall have in mind statements identifying second-order volitions and not statements identifying second-order desiresthat are not second-order volitions. I am farfromsuggesting that a creaturewithout reason may be a person. for some purposes. Thus a rational creature. howeverunlikely.the translationof his desires into action may be delayed or precluded eitherby conflicting desiresof the first order or by the intervention deliberation. which withholds the designation 'person' from them. adult humans may be more or less wanton. My usage.Moreover. withsecond-order Such a creature. He Not only does he pursue whatevercourse of action he is most strongly inclined to pursue.FREEDOM OF WILL AND CONCEPT OF A PERSON I I logicallypossible. of Nothing in the concept of a wanton implies that he cannot reason or that he cannot deliberate concerninghow to do what he wants to do. volitions. its being true of him eitherthat he wants to be moved by thosedesires or that he prefersto be moved by other response to first-order desiresconcerningwhich theyhave no volitionsof the second order. is thus somewhat arbitrary. but he does not care which of his inclinationsis thestrongest.that thereshould be an agent desiresbut with no volitionsof the second order. What distinguishes rational wanton fromother rational the agents is that he is not concernedwith the desirabilityof his desires themselves. . The fact that a wanton has no second-order volitions does not mean that each of his first-order desiresis translated and heedlessly at once into action. His desiresmove him to do certainthings.may nonethelessbe a wanton. myview.

he has a volition of addition to these first-order the second order. desires:he wants first-order The unwillingaddict has conflicting to take the drug. Unlike the unwilling addict. it is the latterdesire. different animal. against its thrust. lar to the first-order human or not. in respectof his wanton lack of concern. rationalbeing. He is not a neutral with regard to the conflict between his desire to take the drug and his desire to refrainfrom that he wants takingit. His actions reflect economyof desires. In desires. The wanton addict may be an animal. his to constitute will. The that he is a of structure a person's will presupposes. One of the addicts hates his addiction and always strugglesdesperately. the wantonmay (perhaps due to conditioning)both want to take the drug and want to refrainfromtaking it. and thus incapable of being concernedabout his will. Let us suptratedby the difference pose that the physiologicalcondition accountingfor the addiction is the same in both men. He is an unwillingaddict. and thathe wantsto be effective to providethe purpose thathe will seek to realizein what he actuallydoes.accordingly. theyconquer him. simiconflict a The second of these addicts may suffer first-order Whether he is by conflictsuffered the first. But and invariably.helplessly violatedbyhis own desires. and thatboth succumbinevitablyto their periodic desiresforthe drug to which theyare addicted.ratherthan the former. In any event he froman is. thesedesiresare too powerfulforhim to withstand. If he encountersproblemsin obtaining the drug or his it in administering to himself. The distinctionbetween a person and a wanton may be illusbetween two narcoticsaddicts.and not the former.he does not preferthat one of his desiresshould be paramountover the other.But it never occurs to him to consider whetherhe wants the relations among his desires to result in his having the will he has. and he also wants to refrainfromtaking it.withouthis being concernedwhetherthe dehis first-order sires that move him to act are desires by which he wants to be moved to act.12 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY aware of capacities that a person is capable of becomingcritically his own will and of formingvolitions of the second order.however. responsesto his urges to take it may involve deliberation. he does not conflicting desire ratherthan the other should conpreferthat one first-order .althat he though to no avail. the The otheraddict is a wanton. It is the latterdesire. in the end.He trieseverything thinksmightenable him to overcomehis desiresfor the drug.

he will not siresis the stronger.He first-order ratherthan with the other of his conflicting makes one of them more trulyhis own and. in so doing. It may not be from the point of view of morality that the person evaldesires. Moreover.6 conto There is only one issue in the struggle which his first-order deflictmay lead: whetherthe one or the other of his conflicting Since he is moved by both desires. by be altogether satisfied what he does no matterwhich of themis to effective. it makes no difference him whetherhis cravingor But his aversiongets the upper hand. and that it is not of his own freewill but ratheragainst his will that this forcemoves him to takeit. of his desire to do it. His lack of concernis not due to his ing first-order It inabilityto finda convincingbasis for preference. he acts to satisfy succeedsin refraining literal sense his own desire.since this would suggestthat he to the conflict apart regardsthem as equally is true neitherthat he prefers fromhis first-order not theothernor thathe prefers to takesides. to be sure. if any.accomplishedthroughthe formation a secondmake order volition. throughthe formation desires. I do not mean to suggest that a person's second-order volitions necessarilymanifest a moral stance on his part toward his first-order desires. desireswins out. and he does it not because of some external whose aim happens to coincide with his own but because influence howhimself. Both desiresare first-order which of his conflicting his. he withdraws himselffromthe other.There is no essential restrictionon the kind of basis. The unwillingaddict identifies volition. to It makes a difference the unwilling addict.FREEDOM OF WILL AND CONCEPT OF A PERSON 13 stitutehis will. It is in virtue of this identification of and withdrawal. In either case he does somethinghe himselfwants to do. It would be misleadingto say that he is neutral as betweenhis desires. with one of a second-order ever. .upon which theyare formed. Second-ordervolitions express evaluations only in the sense that they are preferences. unlike the unwilling addict. The wanton addict cannot or does not care which of his conflictdesireswins out. He has no stake in the conflict between them and so. and whetherhe finallytakes the drug or finally what is in a fromtakingit. Since he has no identity one to desires. a person may be capricious and irreuates his first-order sponsible in forminghis second-ordervolitions and give no serious consideration to what is at stake. that the unwilling addict may meaningfully that the forcemoving him to puzzling statements the analytically take the drug is a forceother than his own. is due either or to his lack of the capacityforreflection to his mindlessindifferof ence to the enterprise evaluating his own desires and motives. who is a person. he can neither 6 In speaking of the evaluation of his own desires and motives as being characteristic of a person.

of Accordingto one familiarphilosophical tradition. the desireby which he is moved is eitherthe will he wants or a will he wants to be without. Justwhat kind of freedomis the freedomof the will? This question calls for an identification the special area of human expeof rience to which the conceptof freedom the will. since theyfail to satisfy essentialcondition for the enan joymentof freedomof the will. It can also be construedas the concept of a typeof entityforwhom the freedom its will may be a of problem.if any. It is only because a person has volitions of the second orderthathe is capable both of enjoyingand of lacking freedomof the will.14 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY win nor lose the strugglein which he is engaged. The conceptof a person is not only.When a wanton acts. my aim will be primarilyto locate the problem with which a person is most immediatelyconcerned when he is concerned withthefreedom his will. this doubtless affects desires and limits the his III . And it excludes those suprahuman beings. having the freedomto do what one wants to do is not a sufficient conditionof having a freewill. When a person acts. Now the a notion of an agent who does what he wants to do is by no means an altogetherclear one: both the doing and the wanting. There is a very close relationshipbetween the capacity for forming second-order volitionsand another capacitythat is essentialto persons-one that has oftenbeen considereda distinguishing mark of the human condition. When an agent is aware that thereare certain thingshe is not free to do. We do not suppose that animals enjoy freedomof the will. Thus. although we recognizethat an animal may be free to run in whatever directionit wants.whosewills are necessarily free.But althoughits focusneeds to be sharpenedand its formulation refined. the peculiar contentof the quite different idea of an agent whosewill is free. require elucidation. particularly is germane. it is neither. It is not a necessarycondition either.being free is fundamentally matterof doing what one wants to do.and the appropriaterelationbetweenthemas well. It however. missesentirely. as distinct of from the conceptsof other sortsof freedom. This concept excludes all wantons. then. the conceptof a typeof entitythat has both first-order desiresand volitionsof the second order.In dealing with it. I believe that this notion does capture at least part of what is implicit in the idea of an agentwho acts freely. For to deprive someone of his freedomof action is not necessarilyto underminethe freedomof his will.both infrahuman and human.

When we ask whethera person's will is freewe are not asking desiresinto whetherhe is in a position to translatehis first-order he actions.conflict. has to do withwhether is the will he wantsto have.that a person exercisesfreedomof the will. Even thoughhe is no longerfreeto do what he wants to do.Despite the fact that he is not freeto translatehis desiresinto actions or to act acof cording to the determinations his will. regard to desiresof the second order. The question of the freedomof his will does not concernthe relation between what he does and what he wants to do.This is shown by the fact that it is not the will he wants. the statementthat a person enjoys freedomof the will means (also roughly)that he is freeto want what he wants to it want. He lacksit. has in fact lost or been deprivedof his freedom of action.FREEDOM OF WILL AND CONCEPT OF A PERSON 15 range of choices he can make. More precisely. least) the freedom do what one wantsto do. The unwillingaddict's will is not free. But suppose that someone. it But what question about themis it? concerns desiresthemselves.If thereis an unresolvedconflict among regardto first-order . his It seems to me both natural and useful to construethe question of whethera person'swill is freein close analogy to the question of of whetheran agent enjoysfreedomof action. though in a different way. Now freedom action to is (roughly. it of It is in securingthe conformity his will to his second-order volitions. Since he has no volitions of that differs the second order. his will may remain as free as it was before. Rather. or to have the will he wants. It is also true. then. means thathe is freeto will what he wants to will.then. And it betweenhis will and his second-order is in the discrepancy volitions.the freedomof his will cannot be a problem for him. that the will of the wanton addict is not free.for example.that a personwho does not have thisfreedom feelsits lack. Analoat gously.There is as and self-deception for with much opportunity ambivalence. as thereis with default. The wanton addict neither has the will he wants nor has a will from the will he wants. or in his awarenessthat theircoincidenceis not his own doing but only a happy chance. People are generallyfar more complicated than my sketchyacof count of the structure a person's will may suggest.That is the questionof whether is freeto do as he pleases.without being aware of it. he may still formthose as desires and make those determinations freelyas if his freedom of actionhad not been impaired.Justas the question about the it freedom an agent'saction has to do withwhether is the action of the question about the freedomof his will so he wants to to speak.

if it is so severe that it preventshim from identifying himselfin a sufficiently decisive way with any of his conflicting first-order desires. It is relatively unimportantwhetherwe explain this by saying that this commitment deimplicitly generatesan endlessseriesof confirming sires of higherorders. on vated by the desire to concentrate his work.or by sayingthat the commitment tantais . Another complexityis that a person may have. This condition. is indifferent the question of whether it is with thisvolition or with some otherthat he wants his will to he accord. without reservationor conflict.For it either tends to paralyzehis will and to keep him fromacting at all. with one of his first-order desires.which would be a case of humanizationrun wild.nothingexcept common sense and. for unless this conflict resolved. The tendency to generate such a series of acts of formingdesires.In both cases he becomes. any higherorder. or it tendsto removehim fromhis will so thathis will operateswithout his participation. The decisivenessof the commitment has made means that he has decided that no furtherquestion about his secondorder the unwillingaddict though in a different way. desiresand volitionsof a higher order than the second.He can properlyinsistthat this question concerning thirda order desire does not terminate When a personidentifies himselfdecisively cuttingit off arbitrarily. a helpless bystanderto the forces thatmovehim.i6 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY someone's second-order desires. It would be a mistake to claim that. There is no theoreticallimit to the length of the seriesof desiresof higherand higherorders. of such a seriesof acts without It is possible.destroys him as a person. also leads toward the destruction a person. a saving fatiguepreventsan individual from obsessively refusingto identifyhimselfwith any of his desiresuntil he formsa desire of the next higherorder. because he has not consideredwhetherhe wants the second-order he to volition he has formed.he has no is preferenceconcerningwhich of his first-order desires is to be his will.then he is in danger of having no second-order volition.however.Consider wants to be motia person who.remainsto be asked. this commitment"resounds" the throughout potentiallyendless arrayof higherorders. The fact that his volition to be moved by this desire is a decisive one second-order that there is no room for questions concerningthe pertimeans nence of desiresor volitionsof higher orders. especially if his second-order desiresare in conflict.Suppose the person is asked whetherhe wants to want to want to concentrate his on work.

without any explicit forethought when Othersare moved by nastiness need forenergeticself-control. Examples such as the one concerningthe unwilling addict may must suggestthat volitionsof the second order. Some people are naturallymoved by kindness when theywant to be kind. My theoryconcerningthe freedomof the will accounts easily for our disinclination to allow that this freedomis enjoyed by the another members any species inferior our own. Suppose. It seems to me that he has. accrue to a person of whom it may be said that his will is his own. by The corresponding frustrations those suffered a person of are or whom it may be said that he is estrangedfromhimself. all the freedomit is possible to desire or to conceive.for example. he is also free to want what he wants to want. Consider.FREEDOM OF WILL AND CONCEPT OF A PERSON 17 mount to a dissolutionof the pointednessof all questionsconcerning higherordersof desire. It also satisfies to of condition that must be met by any such theory.or of higherorders.There are other good thingsin life. and by nastinesswhen theywant and without any to be nasty. Roderick Chisholm's quaint versionof the doctrinethat human freedomentails an abIV . making it apby parentwhythe freedomof the will should be regardedas desirable. and volitionsmay be far more thoughtless will to his higher-order spontaneous than this. of The enjoymentof a freewill means the satisfaction certaindesires-desires of the second or of higherorders-whereasits absence at The satisfactions stake are those which means theirfrustration. and withoutactive resistanceto these equally withoutforethought desires. that he findshimselfa helpless or a passive bystanderto the forcesthat movehim. however. in that case.The enjoymentof freedom violationsof theirhigher-order to comes easily to some. struggles and that a person characteristically be formeddeliberately of But the conformity a person's to ensure that theyare satisfied.But there thathe lacks. theywant to be kind and by kindnesswhen theyintendto be nasty. Othersmuststruggle achieve it. Then he is not only freeto do what he wants to do.that he enjoys both freedomof action and freedomof the will.and he may not possesssome of them. A person who is freeto do what he wants to do may yet not be in a position to have the will he wants. is nothingin thewayof freedom It is far fromclear that certainother theoriesof the freedomof but essentialconditions: that it be the will meet these elementary understandablewhy we desire this freedomand why we refuseto ascribe it to animals.

On the contrary.7 action. to inquire what is entailed by the assumptionthat someone is morally responsibleforwhat he has done.physiologistsmight well be able to by show that Chisholm's conditions for a free action are not satisfied. establishphysical cause ing that there is no relevant brain event for which a sufficient cannot be found. But why. This account fails to provide any basis fordoubtingthat animals of subhuman species enjoy the freedomit defines. indeed. is the outcome of a seriesof one physicalcauses. should anyone care whether he can interrupt the natural order of causes in the way Chisholm no describes?Chisholm offers reason for believing that there is a between the experienceof a man who miracdiscernibledifference ulously initiatesa seriesof causes when he moves his hand and a man who moves his hand withoutany such breach of the normal causal sequence." in K.'s a miracle. 11-44. desires.I8 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY Whenevera person performs free a sence of causal determination. in addition to satisfying of the freedom theory conditionsI have a primemoverunmoved"(23). whenwe act. There appears to be no concretebasis for preferrather than in the ring to be involved in the one state of affairs other.he is This means that.with regard to any of his first-order freeeitherto make that desire his will or to make some otherfirst7 "Freedom and Action. A person'swill is freeonly if he is freeto have the will he wants. He may be morallyresponsibleforhaving done it even thoughhis will was not freeat any case.. Freedom and Determinism (New York: Random House.the relation between moral responsibility and the freedomof the will It has been verywidelymisunderstood.8 the two It is generallysupposed that. A free agent has.however. accordingto Chisholm. is not true that a person is morallyresponsiblefor what he has done only if his will was free when he did it. was caused by the agent "a and not by any other events" (18). prerogativewhich some would attributeonly to God: each of us. 8 I am not suggestingthat the alleged difference between these two states of affairs is unverifiable. 1966).Chisholm says nothing that makes it seem less likely that a rabbit performsa miracle when it moves its leg than that a man does so when he moves his hand.The motion of a person's hand. The most common recentapproach to the the of problemof understanding freedom the will has been. ed. pp.a satisfactory of the will necessarily providesan analysisof one of the conditions of moral responsibility. In my view. but some event in thisseries. therefore. when the person moves it. ."and presumably of those that took place within the brain.

He is a willing addict.who would not have thingsany otherway. the assumptionthat a person is of For morallyresponsiblefor what he has done does not entail that the personwas in a position to have whatever will he is quite irrelevantto the evaluation of his moral responsibility inquire whetherthe alternatives to that he opted againstwereactuallyavailable to him.but that he is altogetherdelightedwith his condition. It is a vexed question just how 'he could have done otherwise'is to be understoodin contextssuch as this one. 23 (Dec. he cannot claim thathis will was forced upon him or that he was a passive bystanderto its constitution. he would not have wanted his will to differ fromwhat it was. then.Suppose that a person has done what he wanted to do.for his desire to take the drug will be effective regardlessof whetheror not he wants this his desire to constitute will. the will of the person whose will is freecould have been otherwise.and even supposing that he could have had a different will.howor ever. If the grip of his addiction should somehowweaken. Then he did it freelyand of his own freewill.he could have done otherwisethan to constitutehis will as he did. Suppose that his addiction has the same physiological basis and the same irresistible thrustas the addictions of the unwillingand wanton addicts. I am inclined to understandhis it freely of desituation as involving the overdetermination his first-order 9 For another discussion of the considerations that cast doubt on the principle that a person is morally responsible for what he has done only if he could have done otherwise.he takes and of his own freewill. 4. Even supposing that he could have done otherwise. But when he takes the drug. he would takestepsto renewits intensity. 1969): 829-839. This assumption does entail that the person did what he did freely. if his desire for the drug should begin to fade. would not have done he otherwise. thathe did it because he wanted to do it."thisJOURNAL. Whatever his will. Moreover. The willing addict's will is not believe that someone acts freely only when he is freeto do whateverhe wants or that he acts of his own freewill only if his will is free. LxvI. considera thirdkind of addict.since the will thatmovedhim when he acted was his will because he wanted it to be.9 In illustration.he would do whateverhe could to reinstateit. It is a mistake. But although this question is important the theory freedom. that he did it of his own freewill.see my "Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility. has no bearingon the to of it theory moral responsibility.FREEDOM OF WILL AND CONCEPT OF A PERSON I9 order desire his will instead. . Under these conditions. and thatthe will by which he was moved when he did it was his will because it was the will he wanted.

If thisis conceivable. believe.then it mightbe causally determinedthat a person enjoys a a numberof philosophers for statesof affairs come about in a way other than by chance to or as the outcome of a sequence of natural causes. may be for morally responsible takingthedrug.then it is also possible that a personshould in that third of waycome to enjoythefreedom thewill.10 On the other hand.but. it is determined. There is no incoherencein the propositionthat some agencyother than a person's own is responsible(even morallyresponsible)for the fact that he enjoys or fails to enjoy freedomof the will. it seems conceivable that it should come about by chance that a person is freeto have the will he wants.and each of these switchesis simultaneouslyflickedto the "on" person. Then it may be that both the addict and this other person are fully responsible for the addict's taking the drug. . nor do they share the responsibilityin the sense that each is partially responsible. Neither position by a different person is solely responsible for the light's going on. neither of whom is aware of the other. There is no more than an innocuous appearance of paradox in the propositionthat ineluctablyand by forcesbeyond their control. Given that it is therefore only because he of his addiction that his desire for the drug is effective.then it mightbe a matterof chance that certain people enjoy freedomof the will and that certain othersdo not.each of them is fullyresponsible. that certain people have free wills and that othersdo not. while neither of them is solely responsible for it. has not made this will his own. His will is outside his control. It is possible that a personshould be morallyresponsibleforwhat he does of his own freewill and thatsome otherpersonshould also be morallyresponsibleforhis havingdone it. Perhaps it is also conceivable. by his secondhe order desire that his desire for the drug should be effective. FRANKFURT The Rockefeller University 10There is a difference between being fully responsible and being solely responsible. HARRY G. My conceptionof the freedomof the will appears to be neutral It with regard to the problem of determinism. If it is indeed to conceivablefor the relevantstatesof affairs come about in some thirdway. seems conceivable that it should be causally determinedthat a person is freeto want what he wants to want.20 THE JOURNAL OF PHILOSOPHY desirebecause he is sire to take the drug. A certain light can be turned on or offby flickingeither of two switches. rather. If thisis conceivable. Suppose that the willing addict has been made an addict by the deliberate and calculated work of another. This desireis his effective desire also because addicted. That there is a distinction between full moral responsibilityand sole moral responsibilityis apparent in the followingexample. But it is his effective physiologically he wantsit to be.

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