Free Will, Determinism, and the Possibility of Doing Otherwise

Noûs 48 (1):156-178 (2014)

Authors
Christian List
London School of Economics
Abstract
I argue that free will and determinism are compatible, even when we take free will to require the ability to do otherwise and even when we interpret that ability modally, as the possibility of doing otherwise, and not just conditionally or dispositionally. My argument draws on a distinction between physical and agential possibility. Although in a deterministic world only one future sequence of events is physically possible for each state of the world, the more coarsely defined state of an agent and his or her environment can be consistent with more than one such sequence, and thus different actions can be “agentially possible”. The agential perspective is supported by our best theories of human behaviour, and so we should take it at face value when we refer to what an agent can and cannot do. On the picture I defend, free will is not a physical phenomenon, but a higher-level one on a par with other higher-level phenomena such as agency and intentionality.
Keywords Free will  determinism  the ability to do otherwise  compatibilism  agency  intentional stance  modal versus conditional and dispositional analyses of abilities  multi-level systems  supervenience and multiple realizability  nonreductive physicalism
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2014
DOI 10.1111/nous.12019
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

References found in this work BETA

Dispositional Abilities.Ann Whittle - 2010 - Philosophers' Imprint 10.
Freedom in Belief and Desire.Philip Pettit & Michael Smith - 1996 - Journal of Philosophy 93 (9):429-449.
Quantum Physics, Consciousness, and Free Will.David Hodgson - 2002 - In Robert H. Kane (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Free Will. New York: Oxford University Press.
Responsibility, Reason, and Irrelevant Alternatives.Susan L. Hurley - 1999 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 28 (3):205-241.

View all 6 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Emergent Chance.Christian List & Marcus Pivato - 2015 - Philosophical Review 124 (1):119-152.
VI—Agency and Two‐Way Powers.Maria Alvarez - 2013 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 113 (1pt1):101-121.

View all 21 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Analytics

Added to PP index
2011-07-20

Total views
1,308 ( #1,558 of 2,259,729 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
369 ( #918 of 2,259,729 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature