Frankfurt on Personhood and Moral Responsibility Essay

In Harry Frankfurt’s philosophy journal on “Personhood and Moral Responsibility” he formulates many ideas of how people should act. He believes a person is morally responsible for what he has done, only if he could have done otherwise. A person could have done otherwise if the casual determinism is false, and therefore they are not morally responsible. According to Frankfurt, to be a person, one must have a second-order desire. A second-order desire is a desire about a first-order desire, that they yearn to have or not have a certain desire of the first order, and a first-order desire is one that is more than a desire, it is more if one wants to do or not do something.

Frankfurt refers to people who have no second-order desires, which he believes are essential to being a person, as “wantons” (11).

Don't use plagiarized sources. Get Your Custom Essay on
Frankfurt on Personhood and Moral Responsibility Essay
GET AN ESSAY WRITTEN FOR YOU FROM AS LOW AS $13/PAGE
Order Essay

Wantons simply let their first-order desires play out, and do not care about their will. They may sometimes reflect on their desires, but they would never form second-order longings.

Wantons are mainly animals, young children, and adults who may not have the opportunity to act in accordance to their desires. Frankfurt maintains that free will is the ability to make ones will conform to second-order desires, and to be morally responsible for one’s actions, one must accept that they had second-order desires about it. By saying this however, Frankfurt is accepting his theory that if one does not have these second-order desires they are not classified as a “person”, and then they cannot be held morally responsible for anything, since they are not a “person”.

Frankfurt believes that having free will does not mean having the freedom to do what one wants. That is freedom of action. If you deprive someone the freedom of their action, that does not mean you are undermining the freedom of their will. Someone who may not be able to act on their desires is in no way hindered in their ability to form desires and make determinations. Freedom of will can be observed in Frankfurt’s example of addicts, in which the unwilling addict’s will is not free, since this is not the will he wants. He is conflicted with his first-order desires, to smoke or not to smoke, but his second-order desire to not smoke is hard to put into effect. Therefore, the unwilling addict lacks freedom of will, since his will is pointing in the direction of smoking, but his second-order desires didn’t want that to be the case. Free will is important since it consists of the satisfaction of second-order desires, and shows us why animals lack free will- they lack second-hand volitions.

There is a distinction between a “will” and a “desire” according to Frankfurt. While a desire is a short term will, it can cause a hierarchy of wills, ranking which wills we choose as more important than a simple desire. The question of whether a person is free to want what he really wants to want arises though. Certain people can enjoy freedom of the will and others cannot. In his last paragraph, Frankfurt states that “it seems by chance that a person is free to have the will he wants” (20). Saying that whether or not we have free will is by chance seems to deny that our actions are willful at all, but when he mentions that we have a “state of affairs” (20) that could also cause us to have free will, he is essentially sustaining his original argument.

Grand Paper Writers
Order NOW For A 10% Discount!
Pages (550 words)
Approximate price: -

Our Advantages

Plagiarism Free Papers

All papers are written by the best professional writers to ensure 100% originality. We always provide plagiarism reports whenever we deliver completed papers.

Free Revisions

All papers by Grand Paper Writers are completed and submitted on time. This timely delivery of papers gives you time to go through the paper before the official deadline.

Title-page

As an additional service, we will provide a title page that precedes the contents of your paper. Here, you will provide your personal details.

Bibliography

We also ensure that we provide an extra page for the references or bibliographies following referencing rules.

Originality & Security

At Grandpaperwriters.com, we guarantee students for the provision of security and original work. All your personal information is handled with confidentiality and is not shared with third parties. Additionally, we ensure that we provide original content with accompanying plagiarism reports to show originality.

24/7 Customer Support

Our customer support team is always available 24/7 to provide instant responses to any queries raised by students.

Try it now!

Calculate the price of your order

We'll send you the first draft for approval by at
Total price:
$0.00

How it works?

Follow these simple steps to get your paper done

Place your order

Fill in the order form and provide all details of your assignment.

Proceed with the payment

Choose the payment system that suits you most.

Receive the final file

Once your paper is ready, we will email it to you.

Our Services

Grandpaperwriters.com has the best professional essay writers for quality services.

Pricing

Flexible Pricing

Here, a Grandpaperwriters.com, we do not compromise on the time of our clients. We always deliver all completed papers on or before the deadlines.

Communication

Admission Help & Client-Writer Contact

Grandpaperwriters.com provides an interactive portal where students can communicate directly to their writers.

Deadlines

Paper Submission

Here, a Grandpaperwriters.com, we do not compromise on the time of our clients. We always deliver all completed papers on or before the deadlines.

Reviews

Customer Feedback

Grandpaperwriters.com appreciates feedback from our clients to help us improve the delivery of essay writing services. As such, we are constantly changing our policies to ensure maximum customer and writer satisfaction.