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Explain Harry Frankfurt's notion of a second-order volition. Does this notion have any bearing on the question of whether an
Pages 6 (1506 words)
Frankfurt’s notion of Second Order Volition vis-a-visits Impact on Freedom of Will and Action (Essay) Harry G. Frankfurt (born May 29, 1929) is an American philosopher and a retired professor of philosophy at Princeton University. His major areas of interest include moral philosophy, philosophy of mind and action and 17th century rationalism…
This essay is an attempt to analyseFrankfurt’s notion of a second order volition in the light of its impact on the freedom of will and action. (Shook, 2005, pp. 854-56) Frankfurt’s essay opens with his views on the concept of “person”. When his contemporaries seek to define a person as merely a body with states of consciousness, Frankfurt begs to differ. He states that a person is not just the singular form of ‘people’. It does not merely refer to the members of certain biological species with a set of specific physical and mental characteristics that are supposed to be uniquely human. Humans are not the only creatures with desires, motives and choices. But it is the capacity of reflective self-evaluation and a desire to be different from what they are that makes the persons a class apart from the other living beings.The primary feature that differentiates a person from other creatures is his structure of will. (Frankfurt, 1988, pp. 11-12) To define “will”, one needs to first understand the concept of first order desire. A first order desire is simply a desire for something or a desire to do or not to do one thing or another. For example, a desire to smoke a cigarette or to watch a movie or to read a book is a first order desire. ...
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