Philosophy Research Archives

Volume 11, 1985

Maurice Mandelbaum
Pages 355-378

The Determinants of Choice

This paper assumes that human choices are determined, and distinguishes among the views of some classical modern philosophers regarding what determines choice. Hobbes and Hume are taken as representatives of choice as determined by subjective propensities; the differences between their views is discussed. Descartes is taken as a major representative of the view that choice is determined by an apprehension of that which is objectively good, and Spinoza, Malebranche, and Leibniz are discussed insofar as they share that view. It is then shown that interpretations of Locke and Mill whieh assimilate their views to those of Hobbes and Hume are mistaken. As a third alternative, the self-determinist positions of Green and Dewey are discussed. The views of James, in which attention and effort are key concepts, are traced, and that aspect of his view whieh stresses attention is accepted, while his emphasis on effort is rejected.