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James Harris’s book, Of Liberty and Necessity , is a remarkable achievement. It is the first book to provide a true chronicle of the rich and intricate discussion in early modern Britain of the relationship between freedom and necessity. The figures it discusses range from the towering figures of early modern British thought (Locke, Hume, Reid), to the well-known (Clarke, Collins, Edwards), to the under-appreciated and insufficiently discussed in recent times (Kames, King, Beattie, Priestley), to the obscure (Watts, Hartley). As a result, the book makes available a world of scholarly material that few contemporary historians of philosophy are even aware of. In addition, the book possesses a rare sensitivity to nuanced differences between similar philosophical positions.
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