Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Argument against morality from determism, part 6

If the liberty of the will consists in indifference, and if an action can only be virtuous if performed in a state of liberty, then an action can only be virtuous if performed in a state of indifference. The more indifferent, the more virtuous, because the more indifferent, the more liberty in the will.

But this is against common sense, which dictates that virtue lies in what is contrary to indifference. The stronger the inclination to do good, the further from indifference; the more virtuous the heart, the more praiseworthy the action that comes from it. Edwards writes that “To have a virtuous heart, is to have a heart that favours virtue, and is friendly to it, and not one perfectly cold and indifferent about it” (Part III, Sec IV).

In fact, Edwards argues that in some cases indifference can be vicious. For example, if I were indifferent about helping a loved one in deep distress, and did not have any inclination to help, then my indifference would be a vice. Also, if I were indifferent about any suggestion that I kill my father, my indifference would be a vice.

Moreover, indifference is next door to committing a crime, because the next step is preponderation, and the slightest preponderation is choice. If a person is in perfect equilibrium, he is just as likely to do as to not do, and if we are always in equilibrium, then it would inevitably fall out that we would commit the crime as much as avoid it. Where’s the blame in that?

Part 7


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