About this topic
Summary Most philosophers and laypeople believe that under most conditions human beings, perhaps along with some other animals, possess a power of selecting and implementing actions which is special. This power is very widely held to be a necessary condition of responsibility for actions, for autonomy and for being entitled to take pride in (or to feel shame for) one's achievements. The free will debate in philosophy aims at elucidating the nature of that power as well as at identifying potential threats to it and explaining how it can exist. A major focus of the debate is the compatibility of free will with causal determinism. A minority of philosophers deny that we have free will because free will is incompatible with causal determinism.
Key works The free will debate is ancient in Western philosophy, but was first developed systematically by scholastic thinkers concerning about the relationship free will and God's foreknowledge (eg Ockham 1983). The rise of mechanistic science brought determinism to the forefront and played an important role in the development of compatibilism by philosophers like Hume (HUME 1751). The advent of Frankfurt-style cases (Frankfurt 1969) transformed the late 20th century debate, by allowing compatibilists to dispense with the principle of alternate possibilities (see Widerker & McKenna 2003 for important contributions to this debate). At the same time, important new libertarian views have been developed by thinkers like Robert Kane (Kane 1996) and Timothy O'Connor (O'Connor 2000). Very recently, there has been a revival of free will skepticism (Strawson 1994; Levy 2011).
Introductions O'Connor & Franklin 2018;McKenna 2008; Clarke & Capes ms
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  1. Kant's Retributive Theory of Remorse, and a Non-Retributive Kantian Alternative.Benjamin Vilhauer - manuscript
    Kant’s account of the pain of remorse involves a hybrid justification based on self-retribution, but constrained by forward-looking principles which say that we must channel remorse into improvement, and moderate its pain to avoid damaging our rational agency. Kant’s corpus also offers material for a revisionist but textually-grounded alternative account based on wrongdoers’ sympathy for the pain they cause. This account is based on the value of care, and has forward-looking constraints much like Kant’s own account. Drawing on both Kant’s (...)
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  2. Hegel’s Treatment of the Free Will Problem: A Conceptual Oversight and Its Implications for Legal Theory.Robert Donoghue - forthcoming - Symposion. Theoretical and Applied Inquiries in Philosophy and Social Sciences.
    Robert Donoghue ABSTRACT: G.W.F Hegel offers a thorough, complex, and unique theory of free will in the Philosophy of Right. In what follows, I argue that Hegel’s conceptualization of free will makes the mistake of collapsing the possibility of organic freedom into the potential for moral freedom ….
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  3. The Evil That Free Will Does: Plantinga's Dubious Defense.Mark Maller - forthcoming - Metaphysica.
    ABSTRACT -/- The Evil That Free Will Does: Plantinga’s Dubious Defense -/- Alvin Plantinga’s controversial free will defense (FWD) for the problem of evil is an important attempt to show with certainty that moral evils are compatible and justifiable with God’s omnipotence and omniscience. I agree with critics who argue that it is untenable and the FWD fails. This paper proposes new criticisms by analyzing Plantinga’s presuppositions and objectionable assumptions in God, Freedom and Evil. Notably, his limited concept of omnipotence, (...)
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  4. Blackwell Companion to Free Will.Joe Campbell, Kristin Mickelson & V. Alan White (eds.) - forthcoming - Blackwell.
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  5. “It Was All a Cruel Angel’s Thesis From the Start”: Folk Intuitions About Zygote Cases Do Not Support the Zygote Argument.Florian Cova - forthcoming - In Thomas Nadelhoffer & Andrew Monroe (eds.), Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Free Will and Responsibility. Bloomsbury.
    Manipulation arguments that start from the intuition that manipulated agents are neither free nor morally responsible then conclude to that free will and moral responsibility are incompatible with determinism. The Zygote argument is a special case of Manipulation argument in which the manipulation intervenes at the very conception of the agent. In this paper, I argue that the Zygote argument fails because (i) very few people share the basic intuitions the argument rests on, and (ii) even those who share this (...)
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  6. Free Will and Determinism: Resolving the Tension.Richard Startup - 2021 - Open Journal of Philosophy 11 (4):482-498.
    Progress may be made in resolving the tension between free will and determinism by analysis of the necessary conditions of freedom. It is of the essence that these conditions include causal and deterministic regularities. Furthermore, the human expression of free will is informed by understanding some of those regularities, and increments in that understanding have served to enhance freedom. When the possible character of a deterministic system based on physical theory is considered, it is judged that, far from implying the (...)
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  7. Freedom, Responsibility, and Omitting to Act.Randolph Clarke - 2014 - In David Palmer (ed.), Libertarian Free Will: Contemporary Debates. New York, NY, USA: pp. 107-23.
    We take it for granted that commonly we act freely and we are generally morally responsible for what we do when we so act. Can there be such a thing as freely omitting to act, or freely refraining or forbearing, and can we be similarly responsible for omitting, refraining, and forbearing? This paper advances a view of freely omitting to act. In many cases, freedom in omitting cannot come to the same thing as freedom in acting, since in many cases (...)
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  8. Do free will skeptics swallow their own medicine?: Daniel C. Dennett and Gregg D. Caruso: Just deserts. Debating free will. Cambridge: Polity, 2021, 223 pp, $15.99 PB.Maarten Boudry - 2021 - Metascience 30 (3):365-369.
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  9. Revisiting McKay and Johnson's Counterexample to Beta.Pedro Merlussi - forthcoming - Philosophical Explorations.
    In debates concerning the consequence argument, it has long been claimed that McKay and Johnson (1996) demonstrated the invalidity of rule (β). Here, I argue that their result is not as robust as we might like to think. First, I argue that McKay and Johnson’s counterexample is successful if one adopts a certain interpretation of “no choice about” and if one is willing to deny the conditional excluded middle principle. In order to make this point I demonstrate that (β) is (...)
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  10. The Free Will and Punishment Scale: Efficient Measurement and Predictive Validity Across Diverse and Nationally Representative Adult Samples.Adam Feltz, Edward Cokely & Braden Tanner - 2021 - Consciousness and Cognition 95:103215.
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  11. God, suffering, and the value of free will. Laura W. Ekstrom. Oxford University Press, 2021. 248 pp., $99.95. [REVIEW]Leigh Vicens - 2021 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 90 (3):251-255.
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  12. Body, Mind, and Spirit: The Crack in the Western Model.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    A brief reflection on the mind-body problem and its implications for the way we conceive of ourselves and live our lives.
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  13. Foundational Grounding and Creaturely Freedom.Kenneth L. Pearce - forthcoming - Mind:fzab024.
    According to classical theism, the universe depends on God in a way that goes beyond mere (efficient) causation. I have previously argued that this ‘deep dependence’ of the universe on God is best understood as a type of grounding. In a recent paper in this journal, Aaron Segal argues that this doctrine of deep dependence causes problems for creaturely free will: if our choices are grounded in facts about God, and we have no control over these facts, then we do (...)
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  14. Is “Free Will” an Emergent Property of Immaterial Soul? A Critical Examination of Human Beings’ Decision-Making Process(Es) Followed by Voluntary Actions and Their Moral Responsibility.Satya Sundar Sethy & M. Suresh - 2021 - Journal of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research 38 (3):491-505.
    The concept of free will states that when more than one alternative is available to an individual, he/she chooses freely and voluntarily to render an action in any given context. A question arises, how do human beings choose to perform an action in a given context? What happens to an individual who compels him/her to choose an action out of many alternatives? The behaviorists state that free will guides individuals to choose an action voluntarily. Therefore, he/she is morally responsible for (...)
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  15. Beyond the Courtroom: Agency and the Perception of Free Will.Edouard Machery, Markus Kneer, Pascale Willemsen & Albert Newen - forthcoming - In Samuel Murray & Paul Henne (eds.), Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Action.
    In this paper, we call for a new approach to the psychology of free will attribution. While past research in experimental philosophy and psychology has mostly been focused on reasoning- based judgment (“the courtroom approach”), we argue that like agency and mindedness, free will can also be experienced perceptually (“the perceptual approach”). We further propose a new model of free will attribution—the agency model—according to which the experience of free will is elicited by the perceptual cues that prompt the attribution (...)
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  16. Reasons‐Sensitivity and Degrees of Free Will.Alex Kaiserman - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, EarlyView.
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  17. Libertad y naturaleza en Bolívar Echeverría.Yankel Peralta García - 2016 - In Stefan Gandler (ed.), Stefan Gandler (coord.) (2016), Teoría crítica. Imposible resignarse. Pesadillas de represión y aventuras de emancipación, México, Universidad autónoma de Querétaro/Miguel Ángel Porrúa. Ciudad de México, CDMX, México: pp. 161-170.
    Un artículo mío sobre Bolívar Echeverría y su concepto de Libertad.
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  18. Comparative Evaluation of Free Will in Muhammad Taqi Ja’Fari and John Searle’s View.Seyed Ahmad Fazeli, Marziyeh Sadeghi & Morteza Zare Ganjaroudi - 2021 - Journal of Philosophical Theological Research 23 (1):5-30.
    The question of free will has long been considered one of the most important philosophical questions. It can be said that different and even conflicting opinions have been expressed on this issue. Allamah Jafari and John Searle are two thinkers who, in their intellectual framework, have made a significant contribution to clarifying the “free will” debate. The two thinkers agree on various issues such as the role of the ‘I’ in creating free will, the non-randomness of action, the existence of (...)
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  19. Time, Law and Free Will.Anna Marmodoro, Christopher Austin & Andrea Roselli (eds.) - forthcoming - Springer.
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  20. Critique of Al-Ghaz'lî's View on the Relationship Between Determinism and The Free Will.Keygobad Daneshian Kenanlu, Seyed Ebrahim Aghazadeh & Tavakkol Kouhi Giglou - 2021 - Philosophical Investigations 15 (35):65-80.
    The relationship between the free will and the philosophical rule of "causal determinism" is one of the issues that have been the subject of controversy among Islamic thinkers, theologians, and philosophers. Well-known Islamic scholars do not consider causal determinism in conflict with this rational and necessary law, but some theologians, including Al-Ghazâlî have considered it contrary to the free will. Therefore, the focus of this research is to study and research the works of the prominent thinker of the Islamic world (...)
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  21. Why the Readiness Potential Does Not Disprove Free Will.Totland Even - 2021 - Stance 14:124-134.
    Neuroscientist Benjamin Libet has conducted a series of experiments that reveal the existence of certain neural processes in the brain of human subjects, initiating an action prior to the human subject’s intention to act, thus seemingly threatening our idea of free will. The purpose of this paper is to show how these processes do not disprove any idea of free will one might have as one would, if accepting such a thesis, be committing two distinct mereological fallacies and ultimately, would (...)
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  22. La antropología de Gregorio de Nisa en el Quattrocento: la traducción latina del De oratione dominica por Atanasio Chalkéopoulos y su posible recepción en Giovanni Pico.Francisco Bastitta-Harriet - 2021 - In Matthieu Cassin, Hélène Grelier-Deneux & Françoise Vinel (eds.), Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies on the Our Father. An English Translation with Commentary and Supporting Studies. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. pp. 723-740.
    In the midst of the renewed interest of philosophers and scholars in Classical Antiquity, the Italian Quattrocento bears testimony to the discovery, study and translation of many works from the Greek Patristic tradition, which nurture the humanists’ desire for a Poetic Theology and a new Anthropology. In that context, some of Gregory of Nyssa’s texts that had remained unknown to the West during the Medieval period receive their first Latin translations, made by prominent representatives of the Italian and Byzantine cultures. (...)
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  23. Experimental Philosophy on Free Will and Determinism.Robin Aldridge-Sutton - unknown
    In the debate over whether free will is compatible with determinism most philosophers on both sides think that folk intuitions are a constraint on philosophical theorising. Most also think that the same criteria are required for free will in all cases. But recent attempts to empirically study folk intuitions about free will appear to show that these two positions cannot be jointly maintained. That is because folk intuitions about free will appear to represent compatibilist and incompatibilist criteria for free will (...)
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  24. Analogical Reasoning in Saint Anselm's De Concordia: Grace, Free Will, and Cooperation.Robert Allen - manuscript
    St. Anselm is a master of philosophical prose. His writings on God, truth, and free will are models of clarity born of unflagging concern for argumentative precision. He is especially adept at using analogies to cinch his readers' understanding of these recondite matters. Who could forget the light shed upon the concept of existence by the Painter Analogy in the Ontological Argument or how his River Analogy illumines the unification of the Holy Trinity? Such intellectual insights could only be gifts (...)
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  25. The Fundamental Unity Of Voluntary And Involuntary Actions.Aadarsh Singh - manuscript
    Social structure of our society decides the actions that are allowed by any individual human being. All the actions of an individual are characterized into voluntary or involuntary actions, which decides the behaviour of society towards that individual for that action. In this paper it has been shown that the characterization of action into these two categories is fundamentally flawed.
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  26. Analogical Reasoning in St. Anselm's Concordia: Free Will, Grace, and Cooperation.Robert Allen - manuscript
    St. Anselm is a master of philosophical prose. His writings on God, truth, and free will are models of clarity born of unflagging concern for argumentative precision. He is especially adept at using analogies to cinch his readers' understanding of these recondite matters. Who could forget the light shed upon the concept of existence by the Painter Analogy in the Ontological Argument or how his River Analogy illumines the unification of the Holy Trinity? Such intellectual insights could only be gifts (...)
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  27. On Second Thought, Libet-Style Unreflective Intentions May Be Compatible With Free Will.Nick Byrd - 2021 - Logoi 39 (23):17-28.
    Some have argued that our sense of free will is an illusion. And some base this free will skepticism on claims about when we become consciously aware of our intentions. Evidence suggests that unreflective intentions form before we are conscious of them. And that is supposed to challenge our sense of free will. This inference from unreflective intention to free will skepticism may seem intuitive at first. However, upon reflection, this argument seems to entail a magical view of free will. (...)
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  28. Just Deserts: Debating Free Will. [REVIEW]Kristin M. Mickelson - forthcoming - International Journal of Philosophical Studies:1-5.
    Plug ‘free will’ into YouTube’s search function and you will find a shocking range of people confidently sharing their untutored opinions on the topic – from recognizable physicists (Neil de Grasse...
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  29. Free Will for the Long Run.Benjamin I. Huff - 2021 - The Monist 104 (3):352-365.
    For beings that have a beginning in time, free will seems impossible, because our choices seem to be a result of past events over which we had no control. Latter-day Saint theology offers what seems a simple solution: the idea that human beings have always existed in the form of spirits or “intelligences.” While this idea solves some key puzzles, contemplating an infinite past also brings the recognition that causal autonomy is not enough for freedom. A crucial feature of humanity (...)
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  30. Would God Have Free Will?David A. Johnson - unknown
    This essay considers what the logical implications for God's free will would be if God possessed the characteristics that he is often said to have, such as Immutability. If God does not have free will it undermines the Free Will Defense for the Problem of Evil and the case for free will generally. Those who believe in human free will often believe that it exists because humans possess an immaterial soul; however, if God does not have free will then the (...)
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  31. God and the Value of Free Will.Luke Teeninga - forthcoming - Sophia:1-15.
    It is standard practice to appeal to libertarian free will to explain how God’s existence might be compatible with much of the evil we see in the actual world. Libertarian free will has also been important to certain responses to the argument for atheism from divine hiddenness. But what is often neglected in appealing to libertarian free will, as others have pointed out, is an explanation of why God would create us with such free will in the first place. Laura (...)
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  32. The (Meta)Politics of Thinking: On Arendt and the Greeks.Jussi Backman - 2021 - In Kristian Larsen & Pål Rykkja Gilbert (eds.), Phenomenological Interpretations of Ancient Philosophy. Brill. pp. 260-282.
    In this chapter, Jussi Backman approaches Hannah Arendt’s readings of ancient philosophy by setting out from her perspective on the intellectual, political, and moral crisis characterizing Western societies in the twentieth century, a crisis to which the rise of totalitarianism bears witness. To Arendt, the political catastrophes haunting the twentieth century have roots in a tradition of political philosophy reaching back to the Greek beginnings of philosophy. Two principal features of Arendt’s exchange with the ancients are highlighted. The first is (...)
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  33. Verbete: Respeito.Bruno Cunha - 2021 - In Dicionário de Cultura de Paz. Curitiba, PR, Brasil:
    O termo respeito é derivado do latim respectus, que corresponde ao uso substantivo do particípio passado do verbo respicere, cujo significado literal é "olhar para trás", "olhar de volta", "olhar novamente", "considerar" (do latim re "de novo" e spicere "olhar"). Derivações do termo latino respectus são encontradas tanto no francês antigo (sec. VIII-XIX), cujo termo respit significa "descansar", "repousar", quanto no inglês médio (sec. XI-XV), cujo termo respect aparece, assumindo a função de nome, no sentido de "relação ou referência a (...)
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  34. The Reasons Account of Free Will: A Libertarian-Compatibilist Hybrid.Julian Nida-Rümelin - 2019 - Archiv für Rechts- Und Sozialphilosophie 105 (1):3-10.
    Free Will is constituted by a desire to act that is based on practical reasons. Being guided by reasons constitutes human agency. The reasons account, which I will develop in this paper, is libertarian, as it implies that human agency is naturalistically underdetermined. Naturalistic descriptions, referring exclusively to natural causes, are not able to fully describe and explain human agency. On the other hand, there are no scientific arguments for the assumption that the causal impact of reasons interferes with the (...)
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  35. Psychology and Free Will: A Commentary.Alfred R. Mele - 2008 - In John Baer, James C. Kaufman & Roy F. Baumeister (eds.), Are We Free?: Psychology and Free Will. Oup Usa.
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  36. How Can Psychology Contribute to the Free Will Debate?Shaun Nichols - 2008 - In John Baer, James C. Kaufman & Roy F. Baumeister (eds.), Are We Free?: Psychology and Free Will. Oup Usa.
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  37. Did Epicurus Discover the Free Will Problem?Suzanne Bobzien - 2000 - In David Sedley (ed.), Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy: Volume Xix Winter 2000. Clarendon Press.
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  38. Nietzsche on Free Will, Autonomy and the Sovereign Individual.Ken Gemes - 2009 - In Ken Gemes & Simon May (eds.), Nietzsche on Freedom and Autonomy. Oxford University Press.
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  39. Fate and Free Will in Stoicism: A Discussion of Susanne Bobzien, Determinism and Freedom in Stoic Philosophy.Tad Brennan - 2001 - In David Sedley (ed.), Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy Volume Xxi: Winter 2001. Clarendon Press.
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  40. Ought Implies Can, Asymmetrical Freedom, and the Practical Irrelevance of Transcendental Freedom.Matthé Scholten - 2021 - European Journal of Philosophy 1 (1):1-18.
    In this paper, I demonstrate that Kant's commitment to an asymmetry between the control conditions for praise and blame is explained by his endorsement of the principle Ought Implies Can (OIC). I argue that Kant accepts only a relatively weak version of OIC and that he is hence committed only to a relatively weak requirement of alternate possibilities for moral blame. This suggests that whether we are transcendentally free is irrelevant to questions about moral permissibility and moral blameworthiness.
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  41. Fraqueza da Vontade e Liberdade.Ricardo Tavares Da Silva - 2020 - Dissertatio 1 (51):313-337.
    Os casos de fraqueza da vontade (incontinência) são tidos como paradoxais. Há, pelo menos, uma tensão entre tais casos e a lei psicológica que relaciona avaliações e volições: se julgamos que fazer x é melhor do que fazer y, então queremos fazer x; porém, por vezes, julgamos que fazer x é melhor do que fazer y e, ainda assim, queremos fazer y em vez de x. Como noutras propostas, defendo que a incompatibilidade é aparente. Porém, não rejeito que haja verdadeiros (...)
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  42. Nesnáze introspekce: svoboda rozhodování a morální jednání z pohledu filozofie a vědy.Filip Tvrdý - 2015 - Prague: Togga.
    V dějinách filozofie se objevilo nespočetné množství snah překonat kognitivní nedostatečnost člověka. Většinový názor zněl, že zatímco vnější smyslové poznání podléhá nejrůznějším klamům, poznání vnitřní je mnohem jistější, či dokonce neomylné. Předpokládaná znalost sebe sama je ovšem iluzorní a stala se důvodem pro vznik mnoha chybných přístupů ke skutečnosti. Kniha se skládá ze tří částí. První kapitola se zabývá introspekcí, především jejím přijetím v dějinách filozofie a odmítnutím v psychologickém behaviorismu 20. století. Druhá kapitola pojednává o iluzornosti svobody rozhodování, která (...)
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  43. Why All Classical Theists Should Believe in Physical Premotions, but It Doesn’T Really Matter.James Dominic Rooney - 2020 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 88 (2):139-166.
    “Physical premotion” is a concept associated with Baroque Catholic theological debates concerning grace and freedom. In this paper, I present an argument that the entities identified in this debate, physical premotions, are necessary for any classical theist’s account of divine causality. A “classical theist” is a theist who holds both that God is simple, that is, without inhering properties, and that humans and God are both free in the incompatibilist sense. In fact, not only does the acceptance of physical premotions (...)
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  44. Der Ort der Freiheit in der Natur.Godehard Brüntrup - 2018 - In Klaus/ Wendel von Stosch (ed.), Streit um die Freiheit. Philosophische und Theologische Perspektiven. Paderborn: pp. 125-148.
    An article on Free Will and Processphilosophy (in German).
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  45. Liberté et volonté chez Bayle et Malebranche.Jean-Luc Solere - 2018 - In Le Malebranchisme à l’épreuve de ses Amis et de ses Ennemis. Paris: pp. 97-128.
    La conception malebranchiste de la liberté est originale. Malebranche ne croit pas en une liberté d’indifférence absolue, c'est-à-dire en une capacité d’opérer un choix indépendamment de toute motivation. Il ne croit pas non plus que nous puissions indifféremment choisir entre deux motivations de force inégale : au moment où on se détermine, le bien le plus grand (du moins selon l’apparence) l’emporte. La liberté réside seulement dans le fait que l’on n’est pas obligé de se déterminer : nous pouvons toujours (...)
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  46. The Neo-Molinist Square Stands Firm: A Rejoinder to Kirk MacGregor.Elijah Hess - 2019 - Philosophia Christi 21 (2):391-406.
    In a previous issue of Philosophia Christi, Kirk MacGregor responded to an essay of mine in which I argued for a neo-Molinist account of open theism. The argument demonstrated how, given standard counterfactual semantics, one could derive an “open future square of opposition,” that is, a depiction of the logical relations that hold between future-tense statements from an open theistic standpoint. Conceding the validity of the argument, MacGregor nevertheless sought to deny its soundness by criticizing both its conclusion and the (...)
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  47. Editorial preface.R. L. Hall - 2020 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 87 (2):135-136.
  48. Becoming a Christian: Combining Prior Belief, Evidence, and Will. [REVIEW]Lydia McGrew - 2018 - Philosophia Christi 20 (2):599-603.
  49. Ключові питання глобальної проблематики розвитку людських ресурсів у соціально-економічних системах.Sergii Sardak - 2013 - In Федяєва В.Л (ed.), Міжнародна науково-практична конференція “Соціально-економічні трансформації в умовах глобалізації: світовий та вітчизняний виміри”(Херсон, 1-2 березня 2013). Херсон, Херсонская область, Украина, 73000: pp. 28-29.
    Ідентифіковано окремі аспекти глобальної проблематики розвитку людських ресурсів у соціально-економічних системах.
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  50. Animal Choice and Human Freedom: On the Genealogy of Self-Determined Action.Michael Yudanin - 2020 - Lanham, MA, USA: Lexington Books.
    This book develops an evolutionary account of animal choice and human freedom, thus supplementing the conceptual account of freedom with an explanation how it developed.
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