Of Gods and Clocks: Free Will and Hobbes-Bramhall Debate

In Recasting Hume and Early Modern Philosophy: Selected Essays. New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 133-157 (2021)
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Contrary to John Bramhall and critics like him, Thomas Hobbes takes the view that no account of liberty or freedom can serve as the relevant basis on which to distinguish moral from nonmoral agents or explains the basis on which an agent becomes subject to law and liable to punishment. The correct compatibilist strategy rests, on Hobbes’s account, with a proper appreciation and description of the contractualist features that shape and structure the moral community. From this perspective human agents may indeed use their liberty to make themselves moral agents. In doing this, however, they are not employing a distinct kind of liberty but rather using a liberty that they share with animals and other nonmoral agents to perform a distinct kind of act (i.e., consent) whereby they become moral agents subject to law and any punishments that are required to enforce it. ____ Originally published in the Oxford Handbook of Philosophy in Early Modern Europe - eds. D. Clarke & C. Wilson, OUP 2011 Republished in Recasting Hume and Early Modern Philosophy: Selected Essays - OUP 2021: Paul Russell]

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