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Scholars Day: April 11, 2012

The Coherence of Cartesian Freedom

Rene Descartes held that when a person clearly and distinctly perceives a proposition like 'if I think, then I exist'; or 'today cannot both be and not be Tuesday' or '2 + 3 = 5; the person cannot do otherwise than assent to it--that clear and distinct perceptions are 'assent-compelling.' Yet, he also held that assent to a clearly and distinctly perceived proposition is free; indeed, that it manifests the highest degree of freedom humans are capable of having. This position has seemed incoherent to many readers of Descartes. This paper defends the thesis that Descartes' position is in fact coherent.


Please note that presentation times are approximate. If you are interested in attending sessions with multiple presentations, please be in the room at the start of the session.
Presenter: Georges Dicker (Faculty)
Topic: Philosophy
Location: 27 Hartwell
Time: 2:30 pm Session IV