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Journal of Philosophical Research

Volume 38, 2013

Christopher Gilbert
Pages 275-298
DOI: 10.5840/jpr20133814

Descartes, Passion, and the Ability to Do Otherwise

What does Descartes regard as necessary for human freedom? I approach this topic from a distinctive angle by focusing on the role of the passions in Descartes’s account of free will. My goal is to show that (1) Descartes takes us to have the ability to do otherwise when we judge or choose under the influence of the passions, and that (2) while such ability does not constitute freedom in the fullest Cartesian sense, it does ensure that the judgments and choices we make in response to passions are neither compelled nor unfree, but under our control.

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