Revisiting the Question

Philosophy and Theology 22 (1-2):77-104 (2010)
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Abstract

In this article I argue that the 1729 Dissertation on Liberty and Neces­sity should be attributed to Anthony Collins. This was the prevailing view until the publication of James O’Higgins’s 1970 biography of Collins. Since then, most have followed Collins’s modern-day biographer in denying that Collins penned the Dissertation. After reviewing O’Higgins’s six reasons for rejecting Collins as the author, I respond to the substantive issues in what follows. Part I is a historical positioning of the Clarke-Collins liberty-necessity debate where I discuss the debate’s context, Collins’s methods and disposition, and timeline issues pertinent to ascribing authorship of the Dissertation to Collins. Part II is a demonstration of the fittingness of the Dissertation as Collins’s response to the earlier debate regarding liberty and necessity he had with Samuel Clarke.

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