Extrinsical or Intrinsical Necessity? Hobbes and Bramhall on Free Will

Daniel Mishori*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This chapter examines the ways in which Hobbes and Bramhall link liberty and necessity to inner or outer causes or “necessities” in their seminal controversy on free will. The chapter shows that Hobbes and Bramhall were not arguing on the particular Hobbesian doctrine of necessity, which focuses on intrinsical necessity or volitional determinism, but on ethical and theological consequences of predestination and determinism in general, and on Hobbes’ denial of an autonomous free will. Consequently, Hobbes’ particular doctrine of necessity and liberty could not have been refuted by Bramhall, who argues against deterministic doctrines in general and in particular against extrinsical necessity – not Hobbes’ position. Bramhall denies that Hobbes could acknowledge internal deliberation, consultation, or election. However, Hobbes describes at length the process of internal computation and deliberation in terms of mechanics and internal motions of volitions or appetites, thereby purporting to make moral philosophy “scientific.” External causes are only the beginning of complex internal causations which constitute the real beginning of voluntary motions, which are internally generated. Hobbes even employs an introspective argument, which later became commonplace in Empiricist argumentation. The introspective method or reflection was supposed to provide Empiricists philosophers with direct insight into the real essence of mental phenomena, and Hobbes explicitly contrasts this experiential proof with Bramhall scholastic verbalism. Given the importance of this controversy, it is surprising that the core of Hobbes argument was not debated. As the issues of intrinsical necessity and volitional determinism were not discussed, no wonder that this controversy could have never been resolved.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPerspectives on Theory of Controversies and the Ethics of Communication
Subtitle of host publicationExplorations of Marcelo Dascal's Contributions to Philosophy
EditorsDana Riesenfeld, Giovanni Scarafile
Place of PublicationDordrecht
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)978-94-007-7130-7, 978-94-024-0119-6
StatePublished - 2014

Publication series

NameLogic, Argumentation and Reasoning
ISSN (Print)2214-9120
ISSN (Electronic)2214-9139


  • Bramhall
  • Determinism
  • Free will
  • Hobbes
  • Introspection
  • Liberty


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