María Elton
DOI:  10.17421/2498-9746-03-04
Abstract 

Thomas Reid (1710-1796) proved the existence of will as an original faculty of man, against Hume and the modern philosophical tradition, and has been very influential in the contemporary ‘agent causation’ theory. He did so out of what —in his concept— was the Newtonian empirical method when rightly understood. However, this same methodology did not allow him to go deep on the metaphysical nature of will, and therefore he remained in the experimental area of volitions to explain moral liberty. On account of this deficiency, he has been subject to significant objections, for which no convincing solution has been put forth.

The most serious objection is the following: according to Reid, an agent can efficiently cause his decision (volition) to perform an action, but his detractors affirm that this free decision is the effect of a prior volition which in itself is the fruit of other volition and so forth ad infinitum. This study offers a possible solution, which is based on O’Connor’s claim that Reid’s concept of moral freedom is implicit in Aquinas’ philosophy and Rowe’s suggestion of calling on the Aristotelian “prime mover”. The solution recovers classical doctrines of ‘potentiality’ and ‘actualization’, and of the variety of causes in the explanation of actions, both implicit in Aquinas’s concept of will. For him, the human will is a natural inclination towards universal good, caused by God, who moves it first, but according to its own condition, which is not acting out of necessity but through choice.

According to Kenny, there is a modern philosophical tradition according to which the will is a phenomenon, a mental event or episode, an item of introspective consciousness, whose occurrence marks the difference between voluntary and involuntary actions.[1] This tradition has often been opposed to talk of faculties, and has questioned the distinction between a capacity and its exercise, “jeering” at “occult powers.”[2] This volitionism had its origin in Descartes and reached its maximum expression in Hume.[3] As Kenny notes, a “volonté” is, according to Descartes, a particular type of thought or “pensée,” and as a result the will is a certain kind of perception. His view is the same as that advanced more clearly by Hume, who defined the will as an “internal impression we feel and are conscious of when we knowingly give rise to any new motion of our body or new perception of our mind.”[4] Anscombe has argued in the same line as Kenny in relation to Descartes. She holds that the notion of cogitatio has turned, in Descartes, into that of consciousness or experience. Cogitationes, Descartes says, make up sensations as well as acts of the understanding, will and imagination: everything that takes place within us that we are aware of, precisely qua object of consciousness.[5]

My thesis is that Thomas Reid (1710-1796) tried, at the height of the Enlightenment, to depart from this modern tradition, recognizing the existence of will as a metaphysical faculty. His philosophy of free will and actions has influenced the contemporary “agent causation” theory due to his acuity and his opposition to the “event causation” theory that had its origin in Hume.[6] Indeed, Reid defended human liberty against a prevailing determinism which couldn’t explain moral freedom. This modern determinism has influenced certain contemporary theories of compatibilism between liberty and necessity, something that has been opposed by some authors working from Reid’s philosophy of action.

But this Reidian recognition of the faculty of will is, to a certain degree, feeble, since he discovers it by an experimental method of philosophizing that does not make it possible to analyze the consistency and functioning of the will from a metaphysical point of view. Thus, while his argument to demonstrate the existence of the will as a faculty has merit, in the end Reid maintains a volitionism characteristic of the Cartesian approach, and which remains subjected to the same objections. Rowe has magisterially underlined the greatness of Reid’s explanation of human free will and, at the same time, sets out the principal objections which have arisen against it among contemporary authors.[7] At the end of the first section, I will refer to Rowe’s arguments in order to find a solution to these objections. As O’Connor affirms, the “agent causation” theory is implicit in medieval philosophers such as Aquinas and Scotus, and can even be traced back to Aristotle.[8] My principal aim in this paper is to explain how—based on Aquinas’s concept of will as a natural inclination, and thus taking into account the metaphysical nature of will—one can do what Reid couldn’t, due to the limited access that his method has to metaphysics.

I will develop this argument in the following three sections. In the first, I will discuss the contrast between the different concepts of will held by Hume and Reid, i.e. as an impression and as a faculty, respectively. This difference can be explained on the basis of their different methods of philosophizing, an approach that allows us to emphasize the access that Reid has to the existence of certain metaphysical causes. In the second, I will explain why Reid, although he discovers the metaphysical existence of the will, couldn’t by the same method elucidate its metaphysical characteristics and functioning, and thus ends up in a volitionism similar to that of Descartes-Hume, remaining exposed to a number of objections from contemporary authors. In the third, I will propose a solution to the principal aspect of these objections, employing Aquinas’s concept of the metaphysical nature of the will as a natural tendency.

1 Hume and Reid on Will. Deductive and Inductive Method

Reid took the Newtonian method of philosophizing very seriously, as well as Newton’s suggestion that his method could be applied to moral philosophy as part of natural philosophy.[9] On the other hand, Reid criticized Hume for basing the entirety of the Treatise of Human Nature on certain hypothetical principles, transgressing a fundamental rule of this method. Indeed, Newton had established that “whatever is not deduced from the phenomena must be called a hypothesis; and hypotheses, whether metaphysical or physical, or based on occult qualities, or mechanical, have no place in experimental philosophy.”[10] For Reid, the existence of ideas and impressions and their corresponding laws of association in the human mind is a hypothesis that Hume leaves undemonstrated.[11] From these principles, Hume deduced his famous definition of the will, cited at the beginning of this paper as a clearer expression of Descartes’ volitionism, saying that the will is an “internal impression we feel and are conscious of when we knowingly give rise to any new motion of our body or new perception of our mind.”[12]

From consciousness or experience we can’t discover a power in the mind, according to Hume, because every idea is copy of an impression, and we have no impression of such a power.[13] However, we have the experience that the movements of body and thought follow the command of the will, but only as one event follows another event.[14] The actions of the mind are like the actions of matter: we only perceive their constant conjunction, without perceiving the energy or power that produces them,[15] in accordance with a rule of association of ideas in the mind, say that of “cause and effect.”[16]

This Humean skepticism about the power of the will impressed Reid greatly, because it follows from Hume’s position that it is impossible to explain moral freedom and responsibility in man.[17] Discussing this opinion, he very consciously applies the first part of the Newtonian method, i.e. analysis, which is more philosophical in the sense that it looks to discover the existence or reality of a cause on the basis of the experience of mental phenomena. Indeed, Newton affirms in Optics that the investigation of difficult things in natural philosophy has to be performed using the method of analysis, which ought always to precede the method of composition. Analysis consists in making experiments and observations, and in drawing general conclusions from them by induction.[18]

In order to apply the inductive method to the mind, Reid had to generalize the Newtonian method of analysis from the observation of physical phenomena to the observation of those mental phenomena that are physically observable, i.e. perceptions of the external senses,[19] and from there to an attentive reflection on the operations of mind. His theory of perception led him to establish a bridge between observation and reflection.[20] Restricting himself as much as he can to the physical data of perception, Reid identifies the external senses as faculties, and when he applies this induction to the workings of the mind, he uses the method of reflection. The question of method is crucial to any discussion of Reid’s thought.[21] According to Stewart, Reid “conceived justly and clearly the analogy between natural and moral philosophy, defining, with precision, the distinct provinces of observation and reflection, in furnishing the data of all our reasoning concerning matter and mind.”[22]

Reid agrees with Hume that the power of the will is not an object of consciousness, but differs from him by claiming that we can infer its existence from our consciousness of its operations. It is one thing to be conscious of the powers of the mind, and quite another to be conscious of their operations. According to Reid, “our conception of power is relative to its exertions or effects. Power is one thing; its exertion is another thing.”[23] We have consciousness or an immediate knowledge of our present thoughts and purposes, and, in general, of all the operations of our mind.[24] In this regard, we are “conscious” of the act of determining ourselves in things which we conceive to depend upon our determination, an act which we denominate will or volition.[25] This determination is an operation of our mind, which can be described only on the basis of its operations.[26] From this act of determining ourselves, we can infer by reason that we have an active power in our mind,[27] one which only can be exerted by the will.[28] According to Reid, one of the metaphysical first principles or necessary truths is that whatever begins to exist must have a cause which produced it.[29]

Now, since power is evidently a quality, it cannot exist without a subject to which it belongs. It is an absurdity, shocking to every person of minimal understanding, to think that a power may exist without any being or subject that it can be attributed to.[30] This subject is the will. According to Reid, “it is self-evident that nothing is in our power that is not subject to our will.”[31] In this way we can affirm the existence of the will as a subject or being—not a mere impression as in Hume—by which we can determine ourselves. Self-determination, in turn, is a certain movement of the mind, and since the distinction between moving and being moved belongs to metaphysics,[32] the will and its activity are something metaphysical.

Precisely because it is metaphysical we can say very little about the will. “The weakness of human understanding,” says Reid, “which gives us only an indirect and relative conception of power, contributes to darken our reasoning, and should make us cautious and modest in our determinations.”[33] According to Stewart, what especially characterizes Reid’s inductive science of mind is that it professes to abstain from all speculations concerning the mind’s nature and essence. He confines his attention entirely to phenomena for which we have the evidence of consciousness, and to the laws by which these phenomena are regulated.[34] Hume thought that the will is essence-less. Reid, by contrast, thought that the will has an essence, but one which is unknown by us. But Reid thinks that our consciousness of the acts of will and an attentive reflection upon them can allow us to discover the modus operandi of the will, which is the subject of the next section.

2 Reid on the analysis of free acts of will

Having described the limited access that Reid had to the metaphysics of the will, I can now turn to the experimental area of his moral philosophy, to see how Reid explains moral freedom in man. This explanation does not proceed from a metaphysical description of a human mental capacity, but from the consciousness we have of the operations of mind while we are operating. Reid was able to extend the experimental method to moral philosophy because we have consciousness of the operations of the mind, while we are performing those operations, and we can reflect attentively on them.[35] This is the experimental area of moral philosophy, so to speak, from which we may justly infer the existence of the power from its operations. But since this power is not an object of consciousness, as its operations are, it always lies “behind the scene.”[36]

If we begin from consciousness we can find volitions in our mind, as episodes distinguishable among each other and from the will itself. Reid holds that an act of determination, for example willing to walk for half an hour, is a volition complete in itself, incapable of being more or less, and is distinguishable from the act of exertion which immediately succeeds and produces an event, which may be great or small or middling.[37] Every volition and the corresponding exertion which it produces in the mind must be understood through the simple schema of efficient cause and effect.

Thus, Reid falls into almost the same volitionism that had its origin in Descartes and reached its greatest expression in Hume, even though he has recognized the existence of the faculty of will as an original power in the mind.[38] This volitionism involves certain complexities in order to explain freedom, because in this context, as Kenny affirms, “volitions are postulated to be that which makes actions voluntary.”[39] Actions are free if they are caused by free volitions. But how can the volitions that issue from the mind be voluntary or involuntary? According to Reid, this latens processus, by which the efficient cause produces its effects, can only be known in its essence through metaphysics or natural theology, while his own thinking moves in the area of moral philosophy, which is part of natural philosophy.[40] In this latter area, volitions and actions are distinct and successive effects. In order for an action to be free, the volition that caused it must be free. It is free if every man who produces the volition “is conscious of a power to determine in things which he conceives to depend upon his determination.”[41] It means that “in any action, he had power to will what he did, or not to will it.”[42] Volitions are contingent and dependent on our own determination.

That is right. But the problem is that Reid cannot explain, strictly on the basis of moral philosophy, the latens processus by which the will, as a faculty, has the power to will or not to will this volition. Remaining in the area of moral philosophy, he can say that in order to produce an act of free will, a man must exert his power to bring about this act of will.[43] Now, an exertion of power is itself an effect, in this context, and as such it too must have a cause, i.e. another exertion, which, since it is also an effect, needs to be caused by another exertion, and so on ad infinitum. Thus, in order to produce a free volition, a man must cause an infinite number of exertions, which is an absurdity. Rowe, a distinguished scholar of Reid’s theory of freedom, considers this issue to be the most serious objection to Reid’s theory of free will. He has tried to remove the apparent contradiction that it implies through the employment of certain other elements of Reid’s philosophy.[44]

The solution Rowe provides is very interesting in the context of this paper because it points to that very metaphysics that Reid could not access through his own method. Speculating as to what Reid might say if he were confronted with this objection, coming from an indeterminist such as him, Rowe takes textual support from the following citation: “Everything that begins to exist must have a cause of its existence, which had power to give it existence. And everything that undergoes any change must have some cause of that change.”[45] Playing off this distinction, Reid would be able to affirm, according to Rowe, that a volition occurring in a person would be a change that she undergoes when exerting her power to produce some volition. Her exertion of her power to produce that change, that is the occurrence of the volition within herself, is not a change that the person undergoes, because it is her own activity, her own exercise of an active power, and as such does not require a cause. So, this exertion would not be an event,[46] and the regress of causes would stop with it.

Rowe seeks to defend his interpretation by recurring to a rational discussion between Reid’s system and that of Aristotle. He states that “another possible support for the view that the agent’s exercise of his active power is not itself a change in the agent may be contained in Aristotle’s remarks about a self-mover,” referring to Aristotle’s Physics, book 8, sec. 4 and 5.[47] Indeed, in chapter 5 Aristotle, in the context of considering the problem of movement, asserts that we have to admit the existence of a first unmoved self-mover precisely so that the sequence of moved-movers won’t regress to infinity.[48] However, I think that it is very difficult to apply Aristotle’s remarks to the case of Reid’s free will because the Aristotelian thesis concerns the physical world, his examples are about things in contact,[49] and the self-mover isn’t a person in this case. My opinion is that the view that the agent’s exercise of her active power is not itself a change in the agent is implicit in Aquinas’s conception of will as a metaphysical natural tendency. I will argue along this line in the next section.

3 Aquinas on the will as a metaphysical natural tendency

Despite the objections that his theory of free action raises, and the limited methodology by which Reid explains free volition, “his invocation of a concept of agent causation as essential to a satisfactory account of free and responsible action is by no means original to him,” according to O’Connor.[50] Previously I noted that Hume’s skepticism about the power of the will impressed Reid greatly, because it follows from Hume’s position that it is impossible to explain moral freedom and responsibility in man.[51] The originality of Reid’s theory of free action has merit because he demonstrates the existence of a faculty of will within a Cartesian tradition dominated by the idea that consciousness alone is the defining characteristic of mind, substituting privacy for rationality as the mark of the mental. The intellectual capacities which distinguish men from animals are not analyzed in this tradition, because in themselves they aren’t marked by any particular privacy.[52] In contrast, following Aristotle, for Aquinas the mind is essentially a set of faculties that can be analyzed with the metaphysical categories of being in general. Indeed, Aquinas has much to contribute to the philosophy of mind that began with Descartes, from this different viewpoint.[53]

On the other hand, O’Connor affirms that Reid’s concept of agent causation “is implicit in the thought of medieval philosophers such as Scotus and (perhaps) Aquinas, and (on some readings) it goes all the way back to Aristotle.”[54] So it is proper to establish a discussion between Reid and Aquinas on the subject, despite there being a difference in standards of thought between them. Even if there is a certain incommensurability between Aquinas’s system and Reid’s, the discussion can nonetheless be, following MacIntyre, a prologue to a rational debate, a kind of debate from which one party emerges as rationally superior because the opposing standpoint fails on its own terms and by its own standards.[55] In initiating this discussion, what I want to do now is to demonstrate that the regress ad infinitum objection to Reid’s volitionism has a solution in Aquinas’s conception of will as a metaphysical natural tendency, whereby we can better appreciate the solution which Rowe has provided.

In order to begin the discussion, I will refer to Aquinas’s distinction between two classes of will-activity.[56] Those acts that issue immediately from the will belong to the first class, and are volitions themselves; they are denominated “elicited acts,” as for example wanting, intending or delighting in something. Those acts commanded by the will but executed through some other operative ability belong to the second class, as for instance walking or speaking. According to Kenny, elicited acts have been wrongly identified with the mythical volitions of Descartes and Hume,[57] and which we find also in Reid’s volitionism, as we saw previously. However, when Thomas Aquinas says that the elicited acts are “unmediated exercises of the will” he is not referring to mythical acts of pure will, but only establishing a difference from acts performed by other active powers commanded by the will.[58] In the context of Thomas’s philosophy, says Kenny, the term “act,” as a translation of the Latin word actus, is a term for “actualization” as opposed to “potentiality.”[59]

We can thus interpret Rowe’s argument in favor of Reid from the perspective of Aquinas’s metaphysical categories of potentiality and actualization. Recall that his argument says that the exertion of the power of will in producing some volition wouldn’t be an effect, or episode, or event that would require another exertion that is an effect, episode or event to produce it as its cause, and so on ad infinitum, because the first exertion would be the person’s own activity by her will. The problem that this argument brings with it is that Reid would not, on this account, be able to explain how the will can exercise its own personal activity, because he can’t say anything more about the will’s activity than that it is a producer of mental events. This is because we only have consciousness of the operations of the will, while the power lies behind the scenes, so to speak. Thus, the will is a faculty unknown to us in its essence or nature, whose existence we can infer as an isolated efficient cause which produces exertions and volitions as effects outside itself in the mind, about which we are conscious. From Aquinas’s viewpoint, on the other hand, the will is a potency which exercises its own activity by actualizing itself. Let me now refer to a text of Aquinas on whose basis we can begin to develop this principle of explanation, and go deeply into the nature of will, something Reid couldn’t do with his method.

Asking the question of whether the will is set in motion by the mind,[60] that is to say by the intellect, Aquinas affirms that a psychological power is said to be potential in two ways: first, in its acting or not acting, second, in its doing this or doing that. “The first come from the side of the subject, found to be sometimes acting and sometimes not; the second from the side of the object, which shapes the activity and determines the form it takes.”[61] If the will, as a potentiality, is able to move itself, thus becoming actualized in the first way of being potential, we can say that it is the efficient cause of its own actualizations.[62] In a very similar way as Reid, Aquinas says that the will is able to will or not and to act or not.[63]

If the will moves itself in becoming actualized, is it a self-mover as Rowe claims in order to save Reid from the absurdity of an infinite regress? I said no on an earlier occasion because Rowe took the notion of self-mover from Aristotle’s Physics, which refers to a physical movement. But, from Aquinas’s viewpoint, we can speak of the will’s self-movement as a spiritual movement, in a sense analogous to material movement.[64] His will is not only a metaphysical faculty, as is Reid´s will, but also a spiritual faculty and, as something spiritual, it has a higher form of existence and is of a broader and deeper power than material things.[65]

Aquinas’s will receives its first movement from God. Indeed, “God moves man’s will as universal mover to the universal object of will, which is the Good. A man cannot will anything without this universal motion. However, he makes up his own mind with respect to the willing of this or that, which may be authentically or only seemingly a good.”[66] So the will tends naturally to this universal good, and it embodies this natural drive in the volition of a particular good.[67] In fact, as a natural tendency, the will is in potentiality and is lifted from potentiality to actuality when it wills something.[68]

Now, the fact that God gives the original impulse which sets the will in motion allows a man to will anything without a regress of exertions of the will ad infinitum. Employing the metaphysical categories of potentiality and actualization, Aquinas can explain how the will is moved while being a self-mover at the same time. That is, the will has a proper mode of causing over and above that which with nature has, for in the latter there is a determinism to one effect. Still, the will is grounded on nature, and shares in the natural working of its subject.[69] The natural tendency of the will to the universal good, as its final cause, makes the will be in potency to all the particular goods that might actualize its desire by choosing some of them in a way that is entirely free.

But there might be a problem in accepting Aquinas’s solution because a man, in order to choose among particular goods, might be determined by the particular goods known to him.[70] But Aquinas does not fall into this determinism, as is evident from the following. We saw previously that the will’s movement from potentiality to actualization also comes from the side of the object. “This is a principle of motion in that it determines activity in the manner of a formal cause.”[71] Indeed, as a metaphysical category, form is the specific existence of everything,[72] and thus of every action.[73] Now, the forms for all things are true, and truth is the object of the mind.[74] Thus, the practical intellect, by presenting the object to the will, moves the will to its activity, qua formal cause.[75] In fact, practical reason presents an object to the will from the viewpoint of its desirability, moving it.[76]

This metaphysical truth has recently been defended from the perspective of analytical philosophy in order to explain the very nature of motives of action.[77] In discussion with the Humean tradition, Alvarez demonstrates by a rigorous analytical argument that despite the fact that wants are sometimes called reasons, it is possible to conclude that they are not in fact motivating reasons.[78] However, she explains that some desires are had for reasons, something that can be found in Aquinas.[79] Indeed, Aquinas affirms that willing is a rational appetite, which follows from having some form, held in knowledge, that is good as apprehended.[80] This thought, says Alvarez, has been emphasized by Anscombe, who talks about the “desirability characterization” of what is wanted, some aspect that captures what the good of it is in the agent’s eyes.[81]

Reid would in general be in agreement with Anscombe and Alvarez on this point, because he holds that man, in order to act as an agent, must act as urged by arguments, not pushed by appetites and passions.[82] However, even though he thinks that we have to act for reasons, as Anscombe and Alvarez state, he does not take into consideration the possibility of a rational desire, as the latter do. Reason on the one hand, and appetites and passions on the other, influence the will in different ways, not only in degree, but also in kind, according to Reid.[83] He considers appetites, affections and passions to be motives that incite, push or at best influence the will.[84] He has in mind the defenders of necessity such as Collins, Hume, Kames, Edwards, Hartley and Priestly, [85] who state that men are governed by motives.[86] So, at best motives can be weighed by reason, in Reid’s thought, but they could not be rational desires. On the other hand, the best situation for Reid is when man is urged only by arguments, by cool and rational principles.[87] For him, reason is a faculty detached from motives and the will, but to whose arguments the will can yield or not. “Arguments, whatever be the degree of their strength, diminish not a man’s liberty”; says Reid, “they may produce a cool conviction of what we ought to do, and they can do no more.”[88] Broadie interprets this detachment as being at the base of the liberty of will for Reid.[89] But this detachment leaves the will isolated, uncaused by anything, and susceptible of continuing in an infinite regress of exertions, as we have seen previously, in order that it be free.

In Aquinas, on the contrary, practical reason presents an object to the will from the viewpoint of its desirability, moving it, as we saw previously. This is so because the will has originally been set in motion towards the universal good, and is in potential to actualize itself by choosing particular goods known by reason, which avoids the regression ad infinitum of exertions. However, although the intellect moves the will, says Aquinas, it does not set it willing of necessity.[90] The interaction between will, as an efficient cause, and reason, as a formal cause, doesn’t explain the will’s movement entirely, because reason can’t determine the will with necessity. In fact, the beginning of the movement of the will is something willed naturally,[91] “the good as common to all things. This is that to which the will by nature tends, like any power to its proper object. This good is also the ultimate end, which is to the things we desire what first principles are to things we demonstrate.”[92] So reason is a formal cause because the will has a final cause, the good qua common, which embraces many particular goods, presented by reason; however, there is no determination within itself towards any of the latter.[93]

Indeed, according to Aquinas there is a difference between the form of a natural thing individuated by matter, which inclines to one thing, and the form as understood. The latter is universal and includes many individual things, none of which exhausts its potentiality, leaving the inclination of the will disposed to many things.[94] Indeed, God moves the will according to its condition, i.e. as indeterminately disposed to many things, not in a necessary way.[95] On the other hand, the particular objects moving the will are goods apprehended as suitable, because human beings necessarily seek happiness. So if we were to apprehend something as a suitable good in every conceivable particular, it would necessarily move the will.[96] However, this is not possible in the present condition of man. But even if it were possible, it would move the will necessarily in regards to the specification of the act, but a person may at a particular time not will to think about happiness, because the acts of the intellect and the will are particular acts.[97] “The will moves its very self.”[98]

Notes

[1] See A. Kenny, The Metaphysics of Mind, Oxford University Press, Oxford-New York 1992, p. 32.

[2] See A. Kenny, Will, Freedom and Power, Basil Blackwell, Oxford 1975, pp. 14-15

[3] See Kenny, 1975, p. 12

[4] See Kenny, 1975, p. 12; R. Descartes, Les Passions de l’Ame, Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin, Paris 1966, I, 18-19; D. Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1960, II, III, 1.

[5] See G.E.M. Anscombe, “Events in the Mind”, in G.E.M., Anscombe, Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Mind, Collected Philosophical Papers, Volume II, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis 1981, p. 60.

[6] See T. O’Connor, Agent Causation, in T. O’Connor, T. (ed.), Agents, Causes, and Events: Essays on Indeterminism and Free Will, Oxford University Press, New York 1995; T. O’Connor, Thomas Reid on Free Agency, “Journal of the History of Philosophy”, 32, 1994; J.A., Weinstock, Reid’s Definition of Freedom, “Journal of the History of Philosophy”, Volume 13, Number 3, July 1975; R. Taylor, Determinism and the Theory of Agency, in S. Hook, Determinism and Freedom in the Age of Modern Science, New York University Institute of Philosophy, New York 1961; K. Lehrer, Freedom and Determinism, Random House, New York, 1966; M. Brand, The Nature of Human Action, Scott-Foresman, Glenview, Illinois, 1970; L.H., Rice, Agent Causation and Acting for Reason, “American Philosophical Quarterly”, Volume 48, Number 4, October; M. Alvarez, Reid, Agent Causation and Volitionism, “Reid Studies”, Volume 4 N° 1, Autum 2000; M. Alvarez, Thomas Reid, in T. O’Connor, Companion to the Philosophy of Action, Blackwell, United Kingdom 2010, pp. 505-512.

[7] See W.R. Rowe, Thomas Reid on Freedom and Morality, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, 1991a.

[8] See O’Connor, 1994, p. 605.

[9] See I. Newton, Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. Optics, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Chicago 1990, p. 543

[10] I. Newton, 1990, p. 371

[11] See “Reid’s Examination of the Ideal System, 1758-9”, Manuscripts, in T. Reid, An Inquiry Into The Human Mind, The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, Pennsylvania 1997, p. 304. Dugald Stewart, the student and biographer of Thomas Reid, holds that, as was generally admitted in his time, the whole of the Humean system rests on a principle for which there is no evidence other than the authority of philosophers. In no part of his system has Hume sought to systematically investigate those general principles of our constitution which can alone provide a synthetic explanation of its most complicated phenomena (See D. Stewart, “Account of the Life and Writings of Thomas Reid”, in W. Hamilton, The Works of Thomas Reid, Thoemmes Press, Edinburgh 1994, Vol. 1, p. 8).

[12] Hume, 1960, p. 399.

[13] See, Hume, 1960, Appendix, p. 633.

[14] See D. Hume, Enquiries Concerning The Human Understanding And Concerning The Principles Of Morals, Clarendon Press, Oxford 1992, pp. 65-69.

[15] Hume, 1960, p. 633.

[16] See Hume, 1960, pp. 10-11.

[17] See T. Reid, Essays on the Intellectual Powers of Man, The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, Pennsylvania 2002a, pp. 478-479

[18] See Newton, 1990, p. 543

[19] See Reid, 2002a, pp. 71-253

[20] See W.J. Ellos, Thomas Reid’s Newtonian Realism, University Press of America, Washington D.C., 1981, pp. 23-24.

[21] See Ellos, 1981, pp. 3-4

[22] See Stewart, 1994, p. 13

[23] Reid, 2002a, p. 11

[24] See Reid, 2002a, p. 24

[25] T. Reid, Essays on the Active Powers of Man, Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh 2010, p. 46. This isn’t merely a power to act as we will, but is a power which extends to the determinations of the will itself (See Reid, 2010, p. 199).

[26] By the mind of a man, Reid understands that which in the person thinks, remembers, reasons, wills. But its essence, just as with the body’s essence, is unknown to us. We know certain properties of the body, and certain operations of the mind, and it is only by these that we can define or describe this essence (Reid, 2002a, p. 20).

[27] See Reid, 2010, p. 8

[28] See Reid 2010, p. 31

[29] See Reid, 2002a, p. 497

[30] See Reid, 2002a, p. 11

[31] See Reid, 2002a, p. 31

[32] T. Reid, The Correspondence of Thomas Reid, The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, Pennsylvania, 2002b, p. 127

[33] Reid, 2010, p. 28

[34] See Stewart, 1994, p. 18. In relation to the knowledge of the mind, Reid affirms the following: “By the mind of a man, we understand that in him which thinks, remembers, reasons, wills. The essence both of body and of mind is unknown to us. We know certain properties of the first, and certain operations of the last, and by these only we can define or describes them” (Reid, 2002a, p. 20).

[35] See Reid, 2002a, pp. 56-59

[36] See Reid, 2010, p. 8

[37] See T. Reid, An Essay By Thomas Reid On The Conception Of Power, “The Philosophical Quarterly”, Vol. 51, January 2001, N° 202, pp. 3-5

[38] See Reid, 2002a, p. 21

[39] See Kenny, 1992, p. 32.

[40] See Reid, 2002b, pp. 243- 244.

[41] Reid, 2010, p. 46.

[42] Reid, 2010, p. 198.

[43] See Reid, pp. 2010, 203.

[44] See Rowe, 1991a, chapters 8 and 9; Responsibility, Agent-Causation, and Freedom: An Eighteenth-Century View, “Ethics” 101 (January 1991b), pp. 245-47; The Metaphysics of Freedom: Reid’s Theory of Agent Causation, “American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly”, Volume LXXIV, Summer 2000, Issue N° 3, pp.438-441.

[45] Reid, 2010, p.202.

[46] See Rowe, 1991a, pp.150-151.

[47] Rowe, 1991a, pp.153-154.

[48] See Aristotle, Physics, Oxford University Press, 1996, 256a 4-21.

[49] See Aristóteles, Física. Libros VII-VIII. Traducción, introducción y comentario: Marcelo D. Boeri, Biblos, Buenos Aires, 2003, pp. 214-215.

[50] See O’Connor, 1994, p. 605.

[51] See Reid, 2002a, pp. 478-479.

[52] See A. Kenny, Aquinas on Mind, Routledge, London and New York 1993, p. 17.

[53] See Kenny, 1993, 15-29.

[54] See O’Connor, 1994, 605.

[55] See A. MacIntyre., Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry, Duck Worth, London 1990, pp. 4-5.

[56] See St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2006, I-II, q.6, a.4.

[57] See Kenny, 1975, p. 24.

[58] See Aquinas, I-II, q.6, a.4; and Kenny, 1975, p. 24.

[59] See Kenny, 1975, p. 24.

[60] See Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q.9, a.1.

[61] See ibid.

[62] See Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q.9, a.4.

[63] See Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q.13, a.6.

[64] “For the will, as noted in the De Anima (III,9. 432b5), is in the reason, and the reason is a psychological power unbound to a bodily organ. The conclusion remains that the will at root is a power quite spiritual and bodiless” (Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q.9, a.5).

[65] Ibid.

[66] Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q.9, a.6, ad 3.

[67] See Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q.10, a.1, ad 1.

[68] See Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q.10, a.1, ad 2.

[69] See Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q.10, a.1, ad 1.

[70] See A. Broadie,, The Scotist Thomas Reid, “American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly”, Vol. LXXIV, Summer 2000, Issue N. 3, 385-407.

[71] See Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q.9, a.1.

[72] See Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I, q.4, ad 3.

[73] See Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q.9, a.1.

[74] See ibid.

[75] Ibid.

[76] See Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q.9, a.1, ad 2.

[77] See M. Alvarez., Kinds of Reasons. An Essay in the Philosophy of Action, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2010.

[78] See Alvarez, 2010, chap. 4.

[79] See Alvarez, 2010, pp. 80-87.

[80] See Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q.8, a.1;

[81] See G.E.M., Anscombe, Intention, Blackwell, Oxford 1957, p. 76; and Alvarez, 2010, p. 82.

[82] See Reid, 2010, pp. 51-59.

[83] See Reid, 2010, p. 58.

[84] See Reid, 2010, pp. 51-59 and pp. 213-221.

[85] See Reid, 2010, p. 213, and endnote 18.

[86] See Reid, 2010, p. 213.

[87] See Reid, 2010, pp. 53-54 and p. 59.

[88] Reid, 2010, p. 59.

[89] See Broadie, 2000, pp. 394-400.

[90] See Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q.9, a.1, ad 1. Although the text of the reference clearly sets out Aquinas’s doctrine on this point, it could be demonstrated much more from other of his texts. This argument is very important for showing that Aquinas is not a determinist, but that is a subject for another paper.

[91] See Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q.10, a.1.

[92] Ibid.

[93] See Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-II, q.10, a.1, ad 3.

[94] See Aquinas, T., On Evil, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2003, q.6, a.1.

[95] See Ibidem.

[96] See Ibidem.

[97] See Ibidem.

[98] Ibid.


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