Essays in Philosophy

Volume 14, Issue 2, July 2013

Cartesian Virtue and Freedom

Kimberly Blessing
Pages 141-161

What’s Done, is Done
Descartes on Resoluteness and Regret

In René Descartes’ correspondence with Elizabeth (mainly 1645-1647) as well as his Passions of the Soul (1649), Descartes says that regret is appropriate only when agents act irresolutely, regardless of whether or not their actions bring about good states-of-affairs. In this paper I set out to explain what Descartes views as a novel account of virtue: that being virtuous amounts to being resolute. I show how this account of virtue fits into Descartes’ larger world-view, and then examine his belief that a person should not regret resolute misdeeds.