Epistemic freedom

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 70 (1):73-97 (1989)
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Abstract

Epistemic freedom is the freedom to affirm anyone of several incompatible propositions without risk of being wrong. We sometimes have this freedom, strange as it seems, and our having it sheds some light on the topic of free will and determinism. This paper sketches a potential explanation for our feeling of freedom. The freedom that I postulate is not causal but epistemic (in a sense that I shall define), and the result is that it is quite compatible with determinism. I therefore claim that insofar as we feel metaphysically free-free in a sense that would be incompatible with determinism-we are mistaking the epistemic freedom that we have for a kind of freedom that we may lack. This claim will lead me, at the end of the paper, to a projectivist account of moral responsibility. Ascriptions of moral responsibility, I shall suggest, should be treated in the same way as ascriptions of color or other secondary qualities.

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J. David Velleman
New York University

Citations of this work

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