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Title: Peter John Olivi, Free Will, and the Threefold aspectus
Author(s): SZLACHTA, Michael
Journal: Recherches de Théologie et Philosophie Médiévales
Volume: 85    Issue: 2   Date: 2018   
Pages: 285-307
DOI: 10.2143/RTPM.85.2.3285392

Abstract :
Peter John Olivi belongs to a group of philosophers and theologians, the 'voluntarists', who hold that the will is a self-moving power. Olivi stands out from other voluntarists for arguing that the exercise of free will requires that the will not only move itself to the act of willing, but that it also have the ability to will that act of willing. Olivi himself does not explain why this power is necessary for the exercise of free will, but the idea that reflexivity is intimately related to human free will is not new. In his Disputed Questions on Truth, Thomas Aquinas argues that human beings have free will because they are able to form meta-judgements. I draw a comparison between what Aquinas and Olivi say about reflexivity and free will to better understand why the latter thinks that the power to form a meta-volition is necessary for the exercise of free will. I argue that, like Aquinas, Olivi thinks that, for human beings to have free will, they must have ownership over their actions, and they have this ownership because they are able to reflect on themselves and form second-order acts. Olivi, however, makes a novel contribution to medieval thought about human freedom by emphasizing the importance of volitional rather than intellectual second-order activity.

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