The sweet mystery of compatibilism

Acta Analytica 21 (4):50 - 61 (2006)
Any satisfactory account of freedom must capture, or at least permit, the mysteriousness of freedom—a “sweet” mystery involving a certain kind of ignorance rather than a “sour” mystery of unintelligibility, incoherence, or unjustifiedness. I argue that compatibilism can capture the sweet mystery of freedom. I argue first that an action is free if and only if a certain “rationality constraint” is satisfied, and that nothing in standard libertarian accounts of freedom entails its satisfaction. Satisfaction of this constraint is consistent with the universal causal predetermination of action (UCP). If UCP is true and the rationality constraint satisfied, there’s a sense in which our actions are explanatorily (though not necessarily causally) overdetermined. While it seems plausible (given UCP) that our actions are so overdetermined, it seems utterly mysterious why they should be so overdetermined. Compatibilism’s capacity to accommodate this mystery is a mark in its favor.
Keywords compatibilism  freedom  rationality  explanatory overdetermination  mechanism
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DOI 10.1007/s12136-006-0004-3
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