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Summary Libertarians believe that free will is incompatible with causal determinism, and agents have free will. They therefore deny that causal determinism is true. There are three major categories of libertarians. Event-causal libertarians believe that free actions are indeterministically caused by prior events. Agent-causal libertarians believe that agents indeterministically cause free actions. Non-causal libertarians typically believe that free actions are constituted by basic mental actions, such as a decision or choice.
Key works In the contemporary debate, event-causal libertarianism has been most powerfully defended by Robert Kane; Kane 1996 is the most complete statement of his position. O'Connor 2000 is perhaps the best articulated defence of agent-causation. Ginet 1990 and McCann 1998 are influential defences of non-causal theories. Clarke 2003 is careful and penetrating overview.
Introductions Clarke & Capes ms
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  1. Determinism and Luck.Steven M. Duncan - manuscript
    In the course of writing a book on Free Will, I took the opportunity to read a good deal of contemporary literature on the Free Will problem. This paper is a survey and reflection on that reading, responding to the current trends and state of play concerning the existence of free will.
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  2. Sublating the Free Will Problematic: Powers, Agency and Causal Determination.Ruth Groff - manuscript
    I argue that a powers-based metaphysics radically reconfigures the existing free will problematic. This is different from claiming that such an approach solves the ill-conceived problems that emerge from Humean-Kantian default commitments.
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  3. The Basis of Indeterminism.Shan Gao - 2001
  4. Closing the Door on the Belief in Ability Thesis.Neil Levy - unknown
    It is, as Dana Nelkin (2004) says, a rare point of agreement among participants in the free will debate that rational deliberation presupposes a belief in freedom. Of course, the precise content of that belief – and, indeed, the nature of deliberation – is controversial, with some philosophers claiming that deliberation commits us to a belief in libertarian free will (Taylor 1966; Ginet 1966), and others claiming that, on the contrary, deliberation presupposes nothing more than an epistemic openness that is (...)
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  5. On Free Will.Peter van Inwagen - manuscript
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  6. Taking Hobart Seriously.Taylor W. Cyr - forthcoming - Philosophia:1-20.
    Hobart’s classic 1934 paper “Free Will as Involving Determination and Inconceivable Without It” has been widely cited (and taught in many undergraduate courses) as an example of an argument for the view that free will requires the truth of determinism. In this paper, I argue that this reading of Hobart’s paper is mistaken and that we should instead read Hobart as arguing that an agent exercises her free will only if the proximate causes of the agent’s action deterministically cause her (...)
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  7. Free Will. 2. Is Free Will Incompatible with Something or Other.Ap Griffiths - forthcoming - Philosophy.
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  8. Free Will and Moral Luck.Robert J. Hartman - forthcoming - In Joseph Campbell, Kristin M. Mickelson & V. Alan White (eds.), A Companion to Free Will.
    Philosophers often consider problems of free will and moral luck in isolation from one another, but both are about control and moral responsibility. One problem of free will concerns the difficult task of specifying the kind of control over our actions that is necessary and sufficient to act freely. One problem of moral luck refers to the puzzling task of explaining whether and how people can be morally responsible for actions permeated by factors beyond their control. This chapter explicates and (...)
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  9. Heavenly Freedom and Two Models of Character Perfection.Robert J. Hartman - forthcoming - Faith and Philosophy.
    Human persons can act with libertarian freedom in heaven according to one prominent view, because they have freely acquired perfect virtue in their pre-heavenly lives such that acting rightly in heaven is volitionally necessary. But since the character of human persons is not perfect at death, how is their character perfected? On the unilateral model, God alone completes the perfection of their character, and, on the cooperative model, God continues to work with them in purgatory to perfect their own character. (...)
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  10. Fischer's Fate With Fatalism.Christoph Jäger - forthcoming - European Journal for the Philosophy of Religion 9 (2017).
    John Martin Fischer’s core project in Our Fate (2016) is to develop and defend Pike-style arguments for theological incompatibilism, i. e., for the view that divine omniscience is incompatible with human free will. Against Ockhamist attacks on such arguments, Fischer maintains that divine forebeliefs constitute so-called hard facts about the times at which they occur, or at least facts with hard ‘kernel elements’. I reconstruct Fischer’s argument and outline its structural analogies with an argument for logical fatalism. I then point (...)
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  11. What Does Indeterminism Offer to Agency?Andrew Law - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
    Libertarian views of freedom claim that, although determinism would rule out our freedom, we are nevertheless free on some occasions. An odd implication of such views (to put it mildly) seems to be that indeterminism somehow enhances or contributes to our agency. But how could that be? What does indeterminism have to offer agency? This paper develops a novel answer, one that is centred around the notion of explanation. In short, it is argued that, if indeterminism holds in the right (...)
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  12. Restrictivism is a Covert Compatibilism.Neil Levy - forthcoming - In N. Trakakis (ed.), Essays on Free Will and Moral Responsibility. Cambridge Scholars Press.
    _Libertarian restrictivists hold that agents are rarely directly free. However, they seek to reconcile their views_ _with common intuitions by arguing that moral responsibility, or indirect freedom (depending on the version of_ _restrictivism) is much more common than direct freedom. I argue that restrictivists must give up either the_ _claim that agents are rarely free, or the claim that indirect freedom or responsibility is much more common_ _than direct freedom. Focusing on Kane’s version of restrictivism, I show that the view (...)
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  13. Libertarian Free Will and the Physical Indeterminism Luck Objection.Dwayne Moore - forthcoming - Philosophia:1-24.
    Libertarian free will is, roughly, the view that agents cause actions to occur or not occur: Maddy’s decision to get a beer causes her to get up off her comfortable couch to get a beer, though she almost chose not to get up. Libertarian free will notoriously faces the luck objection, according to which agential states do not determine whether an action occurs or not, so it is beyond the control of the agent, hence lucky, whether an action occurs or (...)
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  14. Free will and control: a noncausal approach.David Palmer - forthcoming - Synthese:1-20.
    According to the noncausal libertarian view of free will, in order for a person’s action to be free, it must be uncaused. A standard criticism of this view—the control objection—is that a person cannot have control over whether an uncaused action occurs and, so, such an action cannot be free. The background to this criticism is the claim that control over action is plausibly a causal rather than noncausal matter. In this paper, I defend noncausal libertarianism against the control objection (...)
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  15. The Principle of Sufficient Reason and Libertarianism: A Critique of Pruss.Brandon Rdzak - forthcoming - Philosophia:1-16.
    Alexander Pruss’s Principle of Sufficient Reason states that every contingent true proposition has an explanation. Pruss thinks that he can plausibly maintain both his PSR and his account of libertarian free will. This is because his libertarianism has it that contingent true propositions reporting free choices are self-explanatory. But I don’t think Pruss can plausibly maintain both his PSR and libertarianism without a rift occurring in one or the other. Similar to the old luck/randomness objection, I contend that Pruss’s libertarianism (...)
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  16. Why Frankfurtian All-in Can’Ts Are Irrelevant to Free Will.Keil Geert - 2021 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 64.
    This paper argues that Frankfurt-style counterexamples (FSCs) do not compromise the agent’s ability to decide otherwise. In his attack on the Principle of Alternative Possibilities, Frankfurt relied on what Austin called the ‘all-in’ sense of ‘can’, and misconstrued the agent’s inability to do otherwise as an all-in can’t. Like the new dispositionalists, I maintain that the agent’s relevant abilities are ‘masked’ rather than lost in Frankfurt cases. The argument from masked abilities, however, is not confined to a compatibilist construal of (...)
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  17. Freedom in a Physical World.Andrew M. Bailey - 2020 - Philosophical Papers 49 (1):31-39.
    Making room for agency in a physical world is no easy task. Can it be done at all? In this article, I consider and reject an argument in the negative.
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  18. Rolling Back the Rollback Argument.László Bernáth & János Tőzsér - 2020 - Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy 2 (39):43-61.
    By means of the Rollback Argument, this paper argues that metaphysically robust probabilities are incompatible with a kind of control which can ensure that free actions are not a matter of chance. Our main objection to those (typically agent-causal) theories which both attribute a kind of control to agents that eliminates the role of chance concerning free actions and ascribe probabilities to options of decisions is that metaphysically robust probabilities should be posited only if they can have a metaphysical explanatory (...)
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  19. Manipulation Arguments and Libertarian Accounts of Free Will.Taylor W. Cyr - 2020 - Journal of the American Philosophical Association 6 (1):57-73.
    In response to the increasingly popular manipulation argument against compatibilism, some have argued that libertarian accounts of free will are vulnerable to parallel manipulation arguments, and thus manipulation is not uniquely problematic for compatibilists. The main aim of this article is to give this point a more detailed development than it has previously received. Prior attempts to make this point have targeted particular libertarian accounts but cannot be generalized. By contrast, I provide an appropriately modified manipulation that targets all libertarian (...)
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  20. Free Will, Values, and Narrative Selfhood.Alessandro Fiorello - 2020 - Philosophia 48 (1):115-132.
    Robert Kane’s libertarian theory of freedom is frequently attacked in the free will literature by the “luck objection”. Alfred Mele’s articulation of the objection is a very influential formulation as it captures the spirit of Kane’s critics and their complaint with Kane’s view. Mele argues that without a contrastive explanation that highlights aspects of the agent their free choices are reducible to luck. I argue that the lack of a contrastive explanation does not establish that there is no explanation for (...)
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  21. Freedom, Indeterminism, and Fallibilism.Danny Frederick - 2020 - Cham, Switzerland: Palgrave Macmillan.
    This book uses the concepts of freedom, indeterminism, and fallibilism to solve, in a unified way, problems of free will, knowledge, reasoning, rationality, personhood, ethics and politics. Presenting an overarching theory of human freedom, Frederick argues for an account of free will as the capacity for undetermined acts. Knowledge, rationality, and reasoning, both theoretical and practical, as well as personhood, morality and political authority, are all shown to be dependent at their roots on indeterminism and fallibility, and to be connected (...)
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  22. Indirectly Free Actions, Libertarianism, and Resultant Moral Luck.Robert J. Hartman - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (6):1417-1436.
    Martin Luther affirms his theological position by saying “Here I stand. I can do no other.” Supposing that Luther’s claim is true, he lacks alternative possibilities at the moment of choice. Even so, many libertarians have the intuition that he is morally responsible for his action. One way to make sense of this intuition is to assert that Luther’s action is indirectly free, because his action inherits its freedom and moral responsibility from earlier actions when he had alternative possibilities and (...)
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  23. Can eternity be saved? A comment on Stump and Rogers.William Hasker - 2020 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 87 (2):137-148.
    Eleonore Stump and Katherin Rogers have recently defended the doctrine of divine timelessness in separate essays, arguing that the doctrine is consistent with libertarian free will and that timeless divine knowledge is providentially useful. I show that their defenses do not succeed; a doctrine of eternity having these features cannot be saved.
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  24. The Reality of Free Will.Claus Janew - 2020 - Journal of Consciousness Exploration and Research 11 (1):1-16.
    The uniqueness of each viewpoint, each point of effect, can be "overcome" only by changing the viewpoint to other viewpoints and returning. Such an alternation, which can also appear as constant change, makes up the unity of the world. The wholeness of an alternation, however, is a consciousness structure because of the special relationship between the circumscribing periphery and the infinitesimal center. This process structure unites determinacy and indeterminacy at every point also totally. We are dealing, therefore, with forms of (...)
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  25. The Two‐Stage Luck Objection.Seth Shabo - 2020 - Noûs 54 (1):3-23.
    The Luck Objection is an influential family of challenges to libertarianism. In recent years, discussions of the Luck Objection have reached an impasse of sorts. On one hand, existing responses to the objection have failed to satisfy libertarianism’s many critics. On the other hand, a growing number of libertarians seem unimpressed by existing formulations of the objection. To break the impasse, I present a two-stage version of the objection. The first stage has the limited objective of showing that supposed exercises (...)
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  26. Free Will and External Reality: Two Scepticisms Compared.Helen Steward - 2020 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 120 (1):1-20.
    This paper considers the analogies and disanalogies between a certain sort of argument designed to oppose scepticism about free will and a certain sort of argument designed to oppose scepticism about the external world. In the case of free will, I offer the ancient Lazy Argument and an argument of my own, which I call the Agency Argument, as examples of the relevant genre; and in the case of the external world, I consider Moore’s alleged proof of an external world. (...)
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  27. Free Will and Mental Powers.Niels van Miltenburg & Dawa Ometto - 2020 - Topoi 39 (5):1155-1165.
    In this paper, we investigate how contemporary metaphysics of powers can further an understanding of agent-causal theories of free will. The recent upsurge of such ontologies of powers and the understanding of causation it affords promises to demystify the notion of an agent-causal power. However, as we argue pace, the very ubiquity of powers also poses a challenge to understanding in what sense exercises of an agent’s power to act could still be free—neither determined by external circumstances, nor random, but (...)
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  28. Why Libet-Style Experiments Cannot Refute All Forms of Libertarianism.László Bernáth - 2019 - In Bernard Feltz, Marcus Missal & Andrew Sims (eds.), Free Will, Causality, and Neuroscience. Leiden, Hollandia: pp. 97-119.
    In my paper, I spell out which types of libertarian theories can be refuted by Libet-style experiments and which cannot. I claim that, on the one hand, some forms of deliberative libertarianism and restrictive libertarianism cannot even in principle be denied on the basis of these experiments; and on the other hand, standard libertarianism, along with some versions of restrictive and deliberative libertarianism, can in principle be refuted by these experiments. However, any form of restrictive libertarianism can be refuted in (...)
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  29. Will According to Swami Vivekananda: A Literary Review.Krishna Bharadwaj N. - 2019 - International Journal of Yoga - Philosophy, Psychology and Parapsychology 7 (2):29-33.
    Swami Vivekananda was a spiritual giant of the modern age. He was a man of profundity and the full import of his ideas is yet to be understood by us. This article deals with understanding Swami Vivekananda’s view on Will, especially its nature. This is a field in which very few researches have been done. For this review, “The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda” published in 9 volumes by Advaita Ashrama was referred to. A keyword search for the terms “Will” (...)
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  30. Free Will, Resiliency and Flip-Flopping.James Cain - 2019 - Southwest Philosophy Review 35 (1):91-98.
    Many philosophers accept with certainty that we are morally responsible but take it to be an open question whether determinism holds. They treat determinism as epistemically compatible with responsibility. Should one who accepts this form of epistemic compatibilism also hold that determinism is metaphysically compatible with responsibility—that it is metaphysically possible for determinism and responsibility to coexist? John Martin Fischer gives two arguments that appear to favor an affirmative answer to this question. He argues that accounts of responsibility, such as (...)
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  31. The Free Will Pill.Taylor Dunn - 2019 - Philosophy Now 130:14-15.
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  32. Toward a Plausible Event-Causal Indeterminist Account of Free Will.Laura Ekstrom - 2019 - Synthese 196 (1):127-144.
    For those who maintain that free will is incompatible with causal determinism, a persistent problem is to give a coherent characterization of action that is neither determined by prior events nor random, arbitrary, lucky or in some way insufficiently under the control of the agent to count as free action. One approach—that of Roderick Chisholm and others—is to say that a third alternative is for an action to be caused by an agent in a way that is not reducible to (...)
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  33. The Demand for Contrastive Explanations.Nadine Elzein - 2019 - Philosophical Studies 176 (5):1325-1339.
    A “contrastive explanation” explains not only why some event A occurred, but why A occurred as opposed to some alternative event B. Some philosophers argue that agents could only be morally responsible for their choices if those choices have contrastive explanations, since they would otherwise be “luck infested”. Assuming that contrastive explanations cannot be offered for causally undetermined events, this requirement entails that no one could be held responsible for a causally undetermined choice. Such arguments challenge incompatibilism, since they entail (...)
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  34. Free Will, Values, and Narrative Selfhood.Alessandro Fiorello - 2019 - Philosophia 44 (1):1-20.
    Robert Kane’s libertarian theory of freedom is frequently attacked in the free will literature by the “luck objection”. Alfred Mele’s articulation of the objection is a very influential formulation as it captures the spirit of Kane’s critics and their complaint with Kane’s view. Mele argues that without a contrastive explanation that highlights aspects of the agent their free choices are reducible to luck. I argue that the lack of a contrastive explanation does not establish that there is no explanation for (...)
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  35. The Complex Tapestry of Free Will: Striving Will, Indeterminism and Volitional Streams.Robert Kane - 2019 - Synthese 196 (1):145-160.
    The aim of this paper is to respond to recent discussion of, and objections to, the libertarian view of free will I have developed in many works over the past four decades. The issues discussed all have a bearing on the central question of how one might make sense of a traditional free will requiring indeterminism in the light of modern science. This task involves, among other things, avoiding all traditional libertarian appeals to unusual forms of agency or causation that (...)
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  36. Besteht Libertarische Freiheit Darin, Beste Gründe in den Wind Zu Schlagen?Geert Keil - 2019 - In Klaus von Stosch (ed.), Streit um die Freiheit. Philosophische und theologische Perspektiven. Paderborn: Schöningh. pp. 23-39.
    1. Ein klassischer Einwand gegen die libertarische Freiheitsauffassung 2. Eine Flurbereinigung: Buridan-Situationen 3. Freiheit zur Unvernunft 4. Freiheit zur Unmoral 5. Du kannst, weil du sollst? 6. Freiheit als Zwei-Wege-Vermögen.
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  37. What’s Wrong with the Consequence Argument: A Compatibilist Libertarian Response.Christian List - 2019 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 119 (3):253-274.
    The most prominent argument for the incompatibility of free will and determinism is Peter van Inwagen’s consequence argument. I offer a new diagnosis of what is wrong with this argument. Proponents and critics typically accept the way the argument is framed, and only disagree on whether the premisses and rules of inference are true. I suggest that the argument involves a category mistake: it conflates two different levels of description, namely, the physical level at which we describe the world from (...)
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  38. The Problem of Free Will and Determinism: An Abductive Approach.Kristin M. Mickelson - 2019 - Social Philosophy and Policy 36 (1):154-172.
    This essay begins by dividing the traditional problem of free will and determinism into a “correlation” problem and an “explanation” problem. I then focus on the explanation problem, and argue that a standard form of abductive (i.e. inference to the best-explanation) reasoning may be useful in solving it. To demonstrate the fruitfulness of the abductive approach, I apply it to three standard accounts of free will. While each account implies the same solution to the correlation problem, each implies a unique (...)
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  39. The Libertarian Predicament: A Plea for Action Theory.Niels Miltenburg & Dawa Ometto - 2019 - Synthese 196 (1):161-178.
    Libertarians in the contemporary free will debate find themselves under attack from two angles. They face the challenge of defending the necessity of indeterminism for freedom against the philosophical mainstream position of compatibilism. And second, they are increasingly forced to argue for the very possibility of indeterministic free will, in the face of the so-called luck objection. Many contemporary libertarians try to overcome the second problem by adopting the causal theory of action. We argue that this move at the same (...)
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  40. William King on Free Will.Kenneth L. Pearce - 2019 - Philosophers' Imprint 19.
    William King's De Origine Mali contains an interesting, sophisticated, and original account of free will. King finds 'necessitarian' theories of freedom, such as those advocated by Hobbes and Locke, inadequate, but argues that standard versions of libertarianism commit one to the claim that free will is a faculty for going wrong. On such views, free will is something we would be better off without. King argues that both problems can be avoided by holding that we confer value on objects by (...)
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  41. The Libertarian Predicament: A Plea for Action Theory.Niels van Miltenburg & Dawa Ometto - 2019 - Synthese 196 (1):161-178.
    Libertarians in the contemporary free will debate find themselves under attack from two angles. They face the challenge of defending the necessity of indeterminism for freedom against the philosophical mainstream position of compatibilism. And second, they are increasingly forced to argue for the very possibility of indeterministic free will, in the face of the so-called luck objection. Many contemporary libertarians try to overcome the second problem by adopting the causal theory of action. We argue that this move at the same (...)
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  42. Agentive Phenomenology and Moral Responsibility Agnosticism.Leigh C. Vicens - 2019 - Southwest Philosophy Review 35 (1):181-190.
    Most incompatibilist theories of free will and moral responsibility require, for a person to count as morally responsible for an action, that specific events leading up to the action be undetermined. One might think, then, that incompatibilists should remain agnostic about whether anyone is ever free or morally responsible, since whether there are such undetermined events would seem to be an empirical question unsettled by scientific research. Yet, a number of incompatibilists have suggested that the phenomenological character of our experiences (...)
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  43. Explaining and Evaluating Types of Liberal Incompatibilism in Solving the Conflict Between Human Free Will and the Determined World.Zeynab Abolghasemi Dehaghani & Mohammad Saeedi Mehr - 2018 - Journal of Philosophical Theological Research 20 (77):5-21.
    Liberal incompatibilism considers the causal determinism governing all events of the world as a serious obstacle to human freedom.Thus, they seek a way of protecting human freedom with one of these three different approaches: 1. Non-causal account or simple indeterminism, 2. Event causal account or indeterministic causation of events. 3. Agent causation account. In this research, we study the views of the main theorists of these three ideas and criticize them. Then, according to the definition of free will, based on (...)
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  44. Agent Causation and Free Will: A Case for Libertarianism.Thad Botham - 2018 - In Lenny Clapp (ed.), Philosophy for Us. Cognella. pp. 49-58.
    Some people endorse a view called incompatibilism, which states that free will is incompatible with determinism. No free action could possibly be determined, they think. More informatively, incompatibilists think it is impossible that someone’s freely acting be causally guaranteed to happen by things that occur before she freely acts. Some people hold a view called libertarianism, which states both that incompatibilism is true and that someone actually performs a free action. Other people reject incompatibilism. They hold to compatibilism, which is (...)
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  45. A Critique of Alfred R Mele’s Work on Autonomous Agents: From Self-Control to Autonomy: Oxford University Press, New York, 1995. [REVIEW]Pujarini Das - 2018 - Journal of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research 35 (3):603-617.
  46. Explaining Free Will.Michael Elstob - 2018 - Chesham, UK: C. M. Elstob. Printed and distributed by Amazon.
    A new approach using independence indeterminism, a novel naturalistic metaphysics for an open creative universe. -/- The problem of free will - what exactly it is, whether it is required for us to be morally responsible for our actions, and whether any natural being can possibly possess it - has remained unresolved for over 2000 years. -/- Now, starting from the very widely held belief that most change takes place in a way that is independent of how most other change (...)
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  47. Gilberto Gomes é mesmo um compatibilista?Marcelo Fischborn - 2018 - Filosofia Unisinos 19 (3):179-188.
    This paper focuses on Gilberto Gomes’ work on free will. In a series of contributions that have had a significant impact on the respective literature, Gomes developed a conception about free will and argued that its existence is consistent with recent scientific findings, specially in neuroscience. In this paper, I object to a claim of Gomes about his conception of free will, namely the claim that it is a compatibilist conception. I seek to show that Gomes does not use the (...)
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  48. A Minimal Libertarianism: Free Will and the Promise of Reduction.Christopher Evan Franklin - 2018 - New York, USA: Oxford University Press.
    In this book, Christopher Evan Franklin develops and defends a novel version of event-causal libertarianism. This view is a combination of libertarianism--the view that humans sometimes act freely and that those actions are the causal upshots of nondeterministic processes--and agency reductionism--the view that the causal role of the agent in exercises of free will is exhausted by the causal role of mental states and events (e.g., desires and beliefs) involving the agent. Franklin boldly counteracts a dominant theory that has similar (...)
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  49. Indeterministic Intuitions and the Spinozan Strategy.Andrew Kissel - 2018 - Mind and Language 33 (3):280-298.
    This article focuses on philosophical views that attempt to explain widespread belief in indeterministic choice by following a strategy that harkens back at least to Spinoza. According to this Spinozan strategy, people draw an inference from the absence of experiences of determined choice to the belief in indeterministic choice. Accounts of this kind are historically liable to overgeneralization. The pair of accounts defended in Shaun Nichols’ recent book, Bound: Essays on Free Will and Responsibility, are the most complete and empirically (...)
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  50. Online Overview Article: Determinism.Jan G. Michel - 2018 - SDA, Digital Humanities Project, Oxford University.
1 — 50 / 770