Volume 86, Issue 3, Summer 2012
William of Ockham
Thomas M. Osborne, Jr.
William of Ockham on the Freedom of the Will and Happiness
When viewed in its historical context, Ockham’s moral psychology is distinctive and novel. First, Ockham thinks that the will is free to will for or against any object, and can choose something that is in some sense not even apparently good. The will is free from the intellect’s dictates and from natural inclinations. Second, he emphasizes the will’s independence not only with respect to passions and habits, but also with respect to knowledge, the effects of original sin, grace, and God. Third, Ockham consequently argues that someone is even able to will to be unhappy, and can will another’s happiness more than or even instead of his own.