Philosophical Explorations 22 (1):16-32 (2018)

Andrew Sims
Catholic University of Louvain
Libertarians about free will sometimes argue for their position on the grounds that our phenomenology of action is such that determinism would need to be false for it to be veridical. Many, however, have thought that it would be impossible for us to have an experience that is in contradiction with determinism, since this would require us to have perceptual experience of metaphysical facts. In this paper I show how the libertarian claim is possible. In particular, if experience depicts the world such that there is more than one physically possible future, then determinism would need to be false for that experience to be veridical. I show that we have experiences, or perceptual episodes, of this kind on the basis of recent work in the study of perception. Theorists in this area have argued that we have vision-for-action, and that what we visually perceive are not just objects but also possibilities for action. If we experience that it is possible that we ϕ, then we also experience that it is possible that we not ϕ. Furthermore, we probably experience more than one possibility for action at any one moment. I argue that these are physical possibilities, and therefore that we experience the world such that there is more than one physically possible future. So the libertarian claim about the semantics of agential phenomenology is highly plausible, even if this does not entail libertarianism.
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Reprint years 2019
DOI 10.1080/13869795.2018.1506045
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An Essay on Free Will.Peter Van Inwagen - 1983 - Oxford University Press.

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