Teleology and degrees of freedom

There is a debate in philosophy of mind about the nature of reason explanations of action, and this volume is testament to a resurgence of interest in non-causal accounts. In Teleological Realism: Mind, Agency, and Explanation,2 I have proposed a non-causal account according to which common-sense reason explanations of action are irreducibly teleological in form. I claim that we explain behavior by citing the state of affairs towards which the agent was directing her behavior, i. e., by citing the purpose or goal of the behavior. I will not be defending that account of action explanation here, but will be assuming it and applying it to the free will debate. I will argue that the teleological account of action explanation leads to a view of free will with some interesting and attractive features. Philosophical accounts of free will typically propose some sort of criterion for determining which behaviors count as free, e. g., that the agent could have done otherwise, or that the behavior was in accord with the agent’s second-order volitions. The account is then usually used to answer the question of whether we have free will, and especially whether we can have free will even if determinism is true. To test these accounts, philosophers make arguments of various sorts, but the primary method is with cases. Here’s the recipe for an objection to an account of free will: come up with a case where the theory says that the agent is free, but our intuition says that the agent is unfree, or vice versa. I won’t question the method of cases in principle; it’s what we have and it makes some sense. On the picture of analytic philosophy as conceptual analysis, it makes perfect sense. Philosophers put forward a precisely spelled out version of our concept of free will; but if such an account is at odds with firm intuitions in particular cases, then it can’t be what we mean. We know that the situation is not really so simple as that. Our ordinary concept of free will might be messy and not perfectly consistent; accordingly, any particular theory might get a few cases ›wrong‹ as judged by our intuitions..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 35,527
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

What Makes a Manipulated Agent Unfree?Chandra Sekhar Sripada - 2012 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 85 (3):563-593.
Active Control, Agent-Causation and Free Action.Ishtiyaque Haji - 2004 - Philosophical Explorations 7 (2):131-148.
An Argument Against the Causal Theory of Action Explanation.Scott R. Sehon - 2000 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 60 (1):67-85.
The Freedom of Collective Agents.Frank Hindriks - 2008 - Journal of Political Philosophy 16 (2):165–183.
Free Will.Kevin Timpe - 2006 - Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Locke on the Freedom of the Will.Vere Chappell - 1994 - In G. A. J. Rogers (ed.), Locke's Philosophy: Content and Context. Oxford University Press. pp. 101--21.
Libertarianism, Luck, and Action Explanation.Ishtiyaque Haji - 2005 - Journal of Philosophical Research 30:321-340.


Added to PP index

Total downloads
88 ( #72,963 of 2,287,730 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #166,593 of 2,287,730 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature