# Binary powers that come in degrees?

I think there are at least two models for views that accept the following claims:

(i)                  Freedom is identified with a binary power and

(ii)               Freedom comes in degrees.

Reid and Kant hold views which claim (i) and (ii).

The first:        Suppose we have a switch with two values, OFF and ON. Now suppose that to get from OFF position to ON position and vice versa, we must go through some intermediate area. If the switch is really binary, it is not the case that position in this intermediate area corresponds to any sense in which the switch is more or less OFF or ON except in the sense that there are exactly two degrees, 0 and 1, and position in the intermediate area correlates with the switch’s being closer to one of these positions. The switch is always either OFF or ON, 0 or 1. Likewise, if freedom consists in the power to will to Φ or will not to Φ and that power is binary, it is not the case that it can admit of degrees besides 0 and 1 in any interesting sense besides being closer to farther away from being free or unfree.

The second model:   Suppose the switch is a dimmer switch. There is a point on such a switch where the light changes from off to on, and from that point on, moving the switch makes more light. In this analogy, what “more light” consists in is more freedom: being more responsive to the moral law or eschewing animal natures or whatever. This seems like a perfectly coherent possibility. And it seems to be this model, rather than the binary switch model, that Jennifer attributes to Reid.

It strikes me that (i) and (ii) on the first model is conceptually incoherent.

I want to suggest that any picture of freedom on which the following is true faces difficulties:

(i)                 Freedom is identified with a binary power and

(ii)               Freedom comes in degrees.

On such pictures, what we need in order to make sense of freedom’s being an all-or-nothing affair and nevertheless coming in degrees is a notion of a binary power that admits of degrees. I want to tentatively suggest that this is conceptually confused. If that is right, then Jennifer is too sanguine about the possibility of making sense of Reid.

Suppose we have a binary switch with two values, OFF and ON. Now suppose that to get from OFF position to ON position and vice versa, we must go through some intermediate area. If the switch is really binary, it is not the case that position in this intermediate area corresponds to any sense in which the switch is more or less OFF or ON except in the sense that there are exactly two degrees, 0 and 1, and position in the intermediate area correlates with the switch’s being closer to one of these positions. The switch is always either OFF or ON, 0 or 1. Likewise, if freedom consists in the power to will to Φ or will not to Φ and that power is binary, it is not the case that it can admit of degrees besides 0 and 1.

So Reid should either give up one of (i) or (ii) or respond to the charge of conceptual confusion. Perhaps it isn’t conceptually confused and I’m just not seeing things correctly.

But, I do think that Reid can move to the second picture and hold (i) and (ii) on it.