Augustine on Liberty of the Higher-Order Will

Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 81:67-89 (2007)
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Abstract

I have argued that like Harry Frankfurt, Augustine implicitly distinguishes between first-order desires and higher-order volitions; yet unlike Frankfurt, Augustineheld that the liberty to form different possible volitional identifications is essential to responsibility for our character. Like Frankfurt, Augustine recognizes that we can sometimes be responsible for the desires on which we act without being able to do or desire otherwise; but for Augustine, this is true only because such responsibility for inevitable desires and actions traces (at least in part) to responsibility for our volitional identifications, which in turn has leeway-libertarianconditions. However, David Hunt has interpreted Augustine’s account of divine foreknowledge as implying a type of source-incompatibilism that does not require alternative possible actions or intentions. Moreover, while Eleonore Stump’s account of Augustine on sanctification supports my interpretation, Augustine’s position on predestination in his latest writings may be incompatible with liberty of the higher-order will. I will argue against Hunt’s interpretation but admit that the leeway-libertarian has to reject the ‘no autonomy’ model in some of Augustine’s late writings.

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John J. Davenport
Fordham University

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