Malebranche On Laws Of Nature And God's General Volitions

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Logical Analysis And The History Of Philosophy (Philosophiegeschichte Und Logische Analyse)


According to Malebranche’s occasionalism, all cases of causation in the world are due to the action of God’s will. These actions are divided into "particular volitions" and "general volitions". There has been sharp disagreement in the secondary literature concerning the nature of general volitions, for Malebranche. One side claims that general volitions are volitions of wide scope which cover a multiplicity of potential situations. The other side claims that general volitions are specific but fall under the scope of broader laws of nature. I draw on the quantifier apparatus of modern predicate logic to highlight the differences between the two views, which I refer to as the Universality view and the Regularity view respectively. I also outline a third ‘Hybrid’ view that borrows elements of each. I conclude that there is a fundamental ambiguity in Malebranche’s account of general volitions which prevents any one account from fully fitting with Malebranche’s remarks.

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