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Christian Wilhelm Snell, On Determinism and Moral Freedom, Offenbach, 1789

from I - Freedom and Determinism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 March 2022

Edited and translated by
Jörg Noller
Affiliation:
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munchen
John Walsh
Affiliation:
Martin Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany
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Summary

In his 1789 On Determinism and Moral Freedom, Snell treats the compatibility of determinism and morality. Drawing on Kant’s distinction between the empirical and intelligible character, Snell tackles the issue of how the determinism of the phenomenal world can be reconciled with freedom, specifically with respect to the capacity to do otherwise. Anticipating the contemporary charge that intelligible freedom understood as entailing the capacity to do otherwise would contradict the causal connection of appearances, Snell advances a Leibnizian interpretation of Kant’s account of free will and rejects the proposition that an indeterministic conception of the capacity to do otherwise is a necessary condition for moral imputation. He defines freedom principally as the absence of external constraint and argues that this in no way infringes upon the hypothetical necessity of occurrences in the world of sense. Furthermore, Snell maintains that the agent’s consciousness and inner feeling of self that his action is the expression of his own self-activity is all that is required for morality and moral imputation.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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