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NATURE OF Motive INFLUENCES. Though such a criticism should be made with extreme caution, in examining the conclusions of so close a reasoner as Edwards, it yet seems difficult to extricate his fundamental argument from the vicious circle." In answer to the question : " What determines the will ?” he replies: “It is that motive, which, as it stands in the view of the mind, is strongest."1 And then, when he comes to define and settle the meaning of the phrase "strongest motive," he includes in it everything in the external world and in the mind itself which has “strength, tendency, or advantage to move or excite”2 the will. Is not this saying simply this : “ The will is determined by that which determines it?" And who would, who could, dispute this ? Certainly it may, with great justice, be claimed that Edwards never has been and never can be answered, if his fundamental argument is an identical proposition.
Dr. Whedon does not, however, take any advantage of this fallacy of statement; but proceeds at once to give the necessitarian doctrine of motives the most critical and thorough review that can be found on record. At the outset he warns us against the danger of error from the abundant use of physical terms in this discussion, such as, “highest,” “ strongest,” “ weightiest,” as applied to motives. Mathematics cannot be applied to quantities and weights of thought. This assumption of perfect commensurability of motives, and consequent power of accurate calculation of volitions, provided there be a perfect insight of motives, is altogether baseless. “ The qualities of thought may be comparable without being commensurable."
“ The comparability of motives may be supposably ascertained either from extra-volitional or from volitional sources. Thus we may compare the different degrees of excitement in an emotion, a moral feeling, a desire, a fear, a sense of obligation. Some we may know to be prevolitionally and
1 Inquiry, Part II., Sect. 2.
intrinsically intenser than others. But prevolitional impressions are not so properly motives in themselves, but in their relation to the will. What is, in truth, meant by the highest or strongest motive must be derived from the will itself; and thence we have this definition, which is all-important to this discussion, that the so-called strength of a motive is the comparative prevalence which the will assigns it in its oien action. Or, otherwise, it is the nearness with which the will comes to acting according with or to it. Volitionally considered (the only true mode of consideration), the so-called strength of a motive may be again defined the degree of probability that the will will choose in accordance with or on account of it. And it is most important to remark that the result is not always, nor in most cases necessarily, as the highest probability. The will may choose for the higher or the lower. And as the will may choose for a lower rather than for a higher probability, so it may choose on account of what is called antecedently a weaker over a stronger motive. .... That result is not necessarily as the highest probability is shown in the doctrine of contingencies, or probabilities. The chance may be improbable, and yet may prove successful.
So the volition calculably improbable may become the actual. On the contrary, there may be the highest probability and yet a failure. And this is equivalent to saying, that there may be the strongest motive and yet the will reject it. . ... Relatively to the prevolitional faculties the strongest motive often fails ; relatively to the will the strongest motive is but another term for the accorded motive” (p. 129, etc.).
Estimating, then, the influence of motives upon the future decisions of a given human will is but a calculation of probabilities. The highest probability may fail, the lowest succeed. Here then we come upon the real meaning of the word “ contingency” as applied to volitions. As thus applied it is to be carefully discriminated from “ accident” and “ chance.” Viewed from without, volitions may be styled contingent, because to the observer it is uncertain which
way they will turn; but, viewed from within, there is nothing accidental about them; they are simply free. 66 While freedom is the intrinsic quality of the agent in volition, contingency is the exterior view of the same thing.” We call events accidental because we are ignorant of their causes; for even the upturning of a given face of a die depends on hidden causes, such as delicate muscular movements, etc., which, could they be repeated, would give the same result again. We call it " chance," because the cause is concealed from us; but volitions are contingent because of the very alternative nature of the cause. “ There is a phenomenal resemblance” between freedom in volitions and “ chance," but it is only phenomenal, for “the essential base is different.” Edwards's objections to what he calls “ Arminian contingency” (cf. Inquiry, Part II., Sect. 8) are thus completely obviated.
This explanation of the real meaning of “motive strength" lets in light on many obscurities, and dissipates many sophistries. Take for instance the problem of Sir William Hamilton:
“ On the supposition that the sum of the influences (motives, dispositions, tendencies) to volition A is equal to 12, and the sum of counter-volition B equal to 8, can we conceive that the determination of volition A should not be necessary? We can only conceive the volition B to be determined by supposing that the man creates (calls from non-existence into existence) a certain supplement of influ
But this creation, as actual, or in itself, is inconceivable, and even to conceive the possibility of this inconceivable act we must suppose some cause by which the man is determined to exert it. We thus in thought never escape determination and necessity. It will be observed that I do not consider this inability to volition any disproof of the fact of free-will."1 Here is a problem that Hamilton deemed insoluble; but in the light of the above explanation of the true meaning of " strength of motive," we
1 Note to Reid, p. 611.
find this solution which we are confident must satisfy every mind.
“ No creation or calling-power from nonexistence is, we reply, needed in the case. The numerals 8 and 12 are but representations of the different degrees of anterior probability that the will will decide in favor of A or B. It is a chance as two to three that the agent will decide for A; but this does not settle the question as in a counter-action of mechanical forces. The weaker probability may, in strict accordance with the doctrine of probabilities, receive the accord of the will, and B may, without any contradiction to any existing truth, be chosen. What is wanting is not creation of new power, but use of power already in existence” (p. 138).
The relative strength of motives, it will be seen, becomes from this point of view relative degree of probability that the will will choose thus or thus; and to ask as does Ed. wards : “ What motive can there be to choose for the weaker motive ?” is to ask : “ What probability is there in favor of the lesser probability ?” Edwards's questions, whether there can be choice without motive, and against superior motive (as in the supposed case of the man with two different kinds of food before him, for one of which he has a superior appetite), his argument by approximation (if invincible inducements destroy liberty, half as strong inducements half destroy it, etc.), and his argument that if motives do not necessitate volition exhortations are in vain, all find satisfactory answer here. The commensurability of motives is then amply discussed, wherein it is shown that while the necessitarian theory supposes an accurate balance and measurement of conflicting motives to be possible, yet a cold intellection and a warm emotion, a sense of duty and a sentiment of taste, a moral obligation and a physical appetite, are as incomparable and as incommensurable with each other as, “a pound and a rod," or as “the weight of a rock and the honor of a gentleman." Under this head it is also shown that the will is not always as the “greatest ap
parent good.” Having settled these principles the author then proceeds to refute the main arguments on which Edwards depends to prove that motives necessitate volition. Here are met the assumptions that for the will to act in accordance with a motive, and for it to be caused to act by the motive, are the same; that “ if the acts of the will are excited by motives, then motives are the causes of their being excited,” and “necessary causes” also. Edwards's argument from a series of equivalent terms, or pseudo-synonymes, in reply to Mr. Chubb, his objections that if the will be not causatively necessitated, then it is insanely loose from all reason, and that freedomism involves a “ heap of inconsistencies,” are thoroughly discussed, and, as we judge, fairly refuted. Still further, we have chapters on uniformities of volition, and on double volition; and Edwards's elaborate and finely spun argument concerning the necessity of the Divine volitions (Inquiry, Part IV. Sect 8) crumbles utterly away, as it is shown to confound sinilarity and identity.
Will is the real cause of volitions ; motives, the normal conditions. The motive may exist, and yet there is full power in the will to put forth or to withhold the volition. But if the motive influence be solely on one side, and no alternative present to the mind, then there are not the requisite conditions for counter-choice. Here there is, in the given case, an objective limit to freedom. That is, on this supposition, freedom and responsibility vanish together. But, it is important to add, if the absence of these conditions indispensable to a right volition is itself the result of the agent's free action, then is he justly held responsible for depriving himself of the power of right doing.
The Edwardean (i.e. the Hobbesian) theory of the causational character of motives naturally leads us to the subject of
PhilosOPHICAL NECESSITY. Sir William Hamilton has said (what all will admit) that “ the assertion of absolute necessity is virtually the negative of a moral universe, consequently of the moral governor of