Monday, April 12, 2010

Constellation No. 6

How few people are,
Held apart by acres
Of housing, and children
With their shallow violent eyes.

Philip Larkin, “How” (1970).


I shall use the term “wanton” to refer to agents who have first-order desires but who are not persons because, whether or not they have desires of the second order, they have no second-order volitions. The essential characteristic of a wanton is that he does not care about his will. His desires move him to do certain things, without its being true of him either that he wants to be moved by those desires or that he prefers to be moved by other desires. The class of wantons includes all nonhuman animals that have desires and all very young children. Perhaps it also includes some adult human beings as well.

Harry G. Frankfurt, “Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person” (1971).