C. P. Ragland's The Will to Reason: Theodicy and Freedom in Descartes is an insightful, impeccably scholarly engagement with some serious metaphysical questions. Most of the book deals with freedom, leading to a consideration of freedom and divine providence, and “addresses a final place where Reason seems to contradict itself for Descartes” (8). The conjunction of theodicy and freedom captures the book's importance. Ragland offers an impressively painstaking, detailed work on a conception of freedom, crucial to which is Ragland's defense of the Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP), “according to which an agent does something freely only if she could have done otherwise. . . . If PAP is correct, then freedom consists in a ‘two-way power’ to do or not do something” (84). Ragland's determination to defend PAP is striking.

The Will to Reason joins a number of philosophical works that take Descartes's...

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