“For Godwin, to express it with restraint, was an unusual man — as also were Saint-Simon, Fourier, and Owen; and the eccentric and bizarre always have a psychological fascination for the great unenterprising bulk of humanity, whose humdrum visages conceal no hidden weakness or waywardness.” (Gray, Socialist Tradition, 114)
I laughed heartily at the following: “There is no such thing as Free Will; as has already been noted, we are entirely the results of our environment: ‘my propensities are the fruit of the impressions that have been made upon me.’ In one of those extravagant phrases beloved of Godwin, ‘the assassin cannot help the murder he commits any more than the dagger.'” (130)
First, the plight of the assassin does not disprove “free will,” which is the power of choice, by which alternate courses of action are contemplated by the intellect and weighed by the will.
Second, free will’s compatibility with determinism means that what was determined was that the assassin would murder, not that he could not (or should not) help murdering.
The way the assassin, in the totality of his inner personality and the external influences on him, was before embarking on the murder was not enough to stop his evil deed. But it is precisely this moral ignorance/weakness/malice within him that is wicked.
For example, the assassin may have been aware of his duty not to murder; but future satisfaction of his desire tempted him to commit the crime despite the duty’s demand that he suppress his murderous urges and thereby cleanse his will.
Given my moral duty-driven internalism, I do not think there can be such thing as an amoralist who gives no weight to moral considerations in deciding what to do. The very meaning of the term “duty” intrinsically compels. Instead, there are just sinners.