Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person by Harry Frankfurt

1226 Words Jun 21st, 2018 5 Pages
In “Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person”, Harry Frankfurt illustrates the concepts of freedom of will and freedom of action, but more importantly, Frankfurt has refined the compatibilism theory. Compatibilism allows the freedom of will to exist in the deterministic world. According to determinism theory, the future state of worlds is determined by some events in the distant past (E) and the laws of nature (L). More specifically, E refers to the history, such as experiences or states whereas L refers to scientific or physical law like gravity. For example, an alcoholic’s action is determined that he will not stop drinking. Here E is that he had been drinking in the past, and L is the physiological addiction effect caused by …show more content…
According to Frankfurt, “there is no more than an innocuous appearance of paradox in the proposition that it is determined, ineluctably and by forces beyond their control, that certain people have free wills and that others do not” (20). Frankfurt’s theory is purely based on the relationship between different orders of desires, instead of the origin of the desires. In other words, so long as one has the freedom to desire a particular first-order desire of his, he has the freedom of will, even though all of his desires are causally determined.
There is one objection to the necessity of higher order desires. Consider Hugh wants to have another drink at the bar, and he also wants to drive safely on the road. At last, he chooses not to drink another glass of wine and drives safely home. The simple structure of Humean compatibilism is that one is free when his action is followed by his desire. Since Hugh has a desire to drive home safely and he makes this effective, he is free. Yet, using Frankfurtean view leads to confusing conclusion. First, Hugh has two conflicting first order desires, and he also has a second order desire not to be moved by his first order desire, which is to have another the drink. Due to the fact that Hugh chooses not to have another drink, Hugh has freedom of will and acts freely. Nevertheless, it does seem that Hugh forms his second order desire, based
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