About this topic
Summary Most philosophers and laypeople believe that under most conditions human beings, perhaps along with some other animals, possess a power of selecting and implementing actions which is special. This power is very widely held to be a necessary condition of responsibility for actions, for autonomy and for being entitled to take pride in (or to feel shame for) one's achievements. The free will debate in philosophy aims at elucidating the nature of that power as well as at identifying potential threats to it and explaining how it can exist. A major focus of the debate is the compatibility of free will with causal determinism. A minority of philosophers deny that we have free will because free will is incompatible with causal determinism.
Key works The free will debate is ancient in Western philosophy, but was first developed systematically by scholastic thinkers concerning about the relationship free will and God's foreknowledge (eg Ockham 1983). The rise of mechanistic science brought determinism to the forefront and played an important role in the development of compatibilism by philosophers like Hume (HUME 1751). The advent of Frankfurt-style cases (Frankfurt 1969) transformed the late 20th century debate, by allowing compatibilists to dispense with the principle of alternate possibilities (see Widerker & McKenna 2003 for important contributions to this debate). At the same time, important new libertarian views have been developed by thinkers like Robert Kane (Kane 1996) and Timothy O'Connor (O'Connor 2000). Very recently, there has been a revival of free will skepticism (Strawson 1994; Levy 2011).
Introductions O'Connor & Franklin 2018;McKenna 2008; Clarke & Capes ms
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  1. Free Will Fundamentals: Agency, Determinism, and (In)Compatibility.Kristin Mickelson - 2012 - Dissertation, University of Colorado, Boulder
    NOTE TO READERS: My current research program is firmly grounded in the technical aspects of this dissertation. That said, my views have evolved significantly since writing this dissertation, e.g. I've flipped my views on the best working definition of 'determinism', and I no longer defend the viability of incompatibilist-impossibilism (I still grant the superficial logical consistency of the two views, but now contend that there is no way to defend one without rejecting the other). I have also given up on (...)
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  2. The Free Will and Punishment Scale: Efficient Measurement and Predictive Validity Across Diverse and Nationally Representative Adult Samples.Adam Feltz, Edward Cokely & Braden Tanner - 2021 - Consciousness and Cognition 95:103215.
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  3. Body, Mind, and Spirit: The Crack in the Western Model.Richard Oxenberg - manuscript
    A brief reflection on the mind-body problem and its implications for the way we conceive of ourselves and live our lives.
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  4. Libertad y naturaleza en Bolívar Echeverría.Yankel Peralta García - 2016 - In Stefan Gandler (ed.), Stefan Gandler (coord.) (2016), Teoría crítica. Imposible resignarse. Pesadillas de represión y aventuras de emancipación, México, Universidad autónoma de Querétaro/Miguel Ángel Porrúa. Ciudad de México, CDMX, México: pp. 161-170.
    Un artículo mío sobre Bolívar Echeverría y su concepto de Libertad.
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  5. Comparative Evaluation of Free Will in Muhammad Taqi Ja’Fari and John Searle’s View.Seyed Ahmad Fazeli, Marziyeh Sadeghi & Morteza Zare Ganjaroudi - 2021 - Journal of Philosophical Theological Research 23 (1):5-30.
    The question of free will has long been considered one of the most important philosophical questions. It can be said that different and even conflicting opinions have been expressed on this issue. Allamah Jafari and John Searle are two thinkers who, in their intellectual framework, have made a significant contribution to clarifying the “free will” debate. The two thinkers agree on various issues such as the role of the ‘I’ in creating free will, the non-randomness of action, the existence of (...)
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  6. Time, Law and Free Will.Anna Marmodoro, Christopher Austin & Andrea Roselli (eds.) - forthcoming - Springer.
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  7. Why the Readiness Potential Does Not Disprove Free Will.Totland Even - 2021 - Stance 14:124-134.
    Neuroscientist Benjamin Libet has conducted a series of experiments that reveal the existence of certain neural processes in the brain of human subjects, initiating an action prior to the human subject’s intention to act, thus seemingly threatening our idea of free will. The purpose of this paper is to show how these processes do not disprove any idea of free will one might have as one would, if accepting such a thesis, be committing two distinct mereological fallacies and ultimately, would (...)
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  8. La antropología de Gregorio de Nisa en el Quattrocento: la traducción latina del De oratione dominica por Atanasio Chalkéopoulos y su posible recepción en Giovanni Pico.Francisco Bastitta-Harriet - 2021 - In Matthieu Cassin, Hélène Grelier-Deneux & Françoise Vinel (eds.), Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies on the Our Father. An English Translation with Commentary and Supporting Studies. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill. pp. 723-740.
    In the midst of the renewed interest of philosophers and scholars in Classical Antiquity, the Italian Quattrocento bears testimony to the discovery, study and translation of many works from the Greek Patristic tradition, which nurture the humanists’ desire for a Poetic Theology and a new Anthropology. In that context, some of Gregory of Nyssa’s texts that had remained unknown to the West during the Medieval period receive their first Latin translations, made by prominent representatives of the Italian and Byzantine cultures. (...)
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  9. Experimental Philosophy on Free Will and Determinism.Robin Aldridge-Sutton - unknown
    In the debate over whether free will is compatible with determinism most philosophers on both sides think that folk intuitions are a constraint on philosophical theorising. Most also think that the same criteria are required for free will in all cases. But recent attempts to empirically study folk intuitions about free will appear to show that these two positions cannot be jointly maintained. That is because folk intuitions about free will appear to represent compatibilist and incompatibilist criteria for free will (...)
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  10. Analogical Reasoning in Saint Anselm's De Concordia: Grace, Free Will, and Cooperation.Robert Allen - manuscript
    St. Anselm is a master of philosophical prose. His writings on God, truth, and free will are models of clarity born of unflagging concern for argumentative precision. He is especially adept at using analogies to cinch his readers' understanding of these recondite matters. Who could forget the light shed upon the concept of existence by the Painter Analogy in the Ontological Argument or how his River Analogy illumines the unification of the Holy Trinity? Such intellectual insights could only be gifts (...)
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  11. The Fundamental Unity Of Voluntary And Involuntary Actions.Aadarsh Singh - manuscript
    Social structure of our society decides the actions that are allowed by any individual human being. All the actions of an individual are characterized into voluntary or involuntary actions, which decides the behaviour of society towards that individual for that action. In this paper it has been shown that the characterization of action into these two categories is fundamentally flawed.
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  12. Analogical Reasoning in St. Anselm's Concordia: Free Will, Grace, and Cooperation.Robert Allen - manuscript
    St. Anselm is a master of philosophical prose. His writings on God, truth, and free will are models of clarity born of unflagging concern for argumentative precision. He is especially adept at using analogies to cinch his readers' understanding of these recondite matters. Who could forget the light shed upon the concept of existence by the Painter Analogy in the Ontological Argument or how his River Analogy illumines the unification of the Holy Trinity? Such intellectual insights could only be gifts (...)
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  13. On Second Thought, Libet-Style Unreflective Intentions May Be Compatible With Free Will.Nick Byrd - 2021 - Logoi 39 (23):17-28.
    Some have argued that our sense of free will is an illusion. And some base this free will skepticism on claims about when we become consciously aware of our intentions. Evidence suggests that unreflective intentions form before we are conscious of them. And that is supposed to challenge our sense of free will. This inference from unreflective intention to free will skepticism may seem intuitive at first. However, upon reflection, this argument seems to entail a magical view of free will. (...)
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  14. Free Will for the Long Run.Benjamin I. Huff - 2021 - The Monist 104 (3):352-365.
    For beings that have a beginning in time, free will seems impossible, because our choices seem to be a result of past events over which we had no control. Latter-day Saint theology offers what seems a simple solution: the idea that human beings have always existed in the form of spirits or “intelligences.” While this idea solves some key puzzles, contemplating an infinite past also brings the recognition that causal autonomy is not enough for freedom. A crucial feature of humanity (...)
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  15. Would God Have Free Will?David A. Johnson - unknown
    This essay considers what the logical implications for God's free will would be if God possessed the characteristics that he is often said to have, such as Immutability. If God does not have free will it undermines the Free Will Defense for the Problem of Evil and the case for free will generally. Those who believe in human free will often believe that it exists because humans possess an immaterial soul; however, if God does not have free will then the (...)
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  16. God and the Value of Free Will.Luke Teeninga - forthcoming - Sophia:1-15.
    It is standard practice to appeal to libertarian free will to explain how God’s existence might be compatible with much of the evil we see in the actual world. Libertarian free will has also been important to certain responses to the argument for atheism from divine hiddenness. But what is often neglected in appealing to libertarian free will, as others have pointed out, is an explanation of why God would create us with such free will in the first place. Laura (...)
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  17. Historical Moral Responsibility and Manipulation via Deletion.Gabriel De Marco - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-18.
    In discussions on moral responsibility for actions, a commonly discussed case is one in which an agent is manipulated into performing some action. On some views, such agents lack responsibility for those actions partly because they issue from attitudes that were acquired in an inappropriate way. In this paper, it is argued that such views are in need of revision. After introducing a new problematic case of a manipulated agent, revisions are offered for specific views. The paper concludes with a (...)
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  18. The (Meta)Politics of Thinking: On Arendt and the Greeks.Jussi Backman - 2021 - In Kristian Larsen & Pål Rykkja Gilbert (eds.), Phenomenological Interpretations of Ancient Philosophy. Brill. pp. 260-282.
    In this chapter, Jussi Backman approaches Hannah Arendt’s readings of ancient philosophy by setting out from her perspective on the intellectual, political, and moral crisis characterizing Western societies in the twentieth century, a crisis to which the rise of totalitarianism bears witness. To Arendt, the political catastrophes haunting the twentieth century have roots in a tradition of political philosophy reaching back to the Greek beginnings of philosophy. Two principal features of Arendt’s exchange with the ancients are highlighted. The first is (...)
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  19. Verbete: Respeito.Bruno Cunha - 2021 - In Dicionário de Cultura de Paz. Curitiba, PR, Brasil:
    O termo respeito é derivado do latim respectus, que corresponde ao uso substantivo do particípio passado do verbo respicere, cujo significado literal é "olhar para trás", "olhar de volta", "olhar novamente", "considerar" (do latim re "de novo" e spicere "olhar"). Derivações do termo latino respectus são encontradas tanto no francês antigo (sec. VIII-XIX), cujo termo respit significa "descansar", "repousar", quanto no inglês médio (sec. XI-XV), cujo termo respect aparece, assumindo a função de nome, no sentido de "relação ou referência a (...)
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  20. The Reasons Account of Free Will: A Libertarian-Compatibilist Hybrid.Julian Nida-Rümelin - 2019 - Archiv für Rechts- Und Sozialphilosophie 105 (1):3-10.
    Free Will is constituted by a desire to act that is based on practical reasons. Being guided by reasons constitutes human agency. The reasons account, which I will develop in this paper, is libertarian, as it implies that human agency is naturalistically underdetermined. Naturalistic descriptions, referring exclusively to natural causes, are not able to fully describe and explain human agency. On the other hand, there are no scientific arguments for the assumption that the causal impact of reasons interferes with the (...)
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  21. Psychology and Free Will: A Commentary.Alfred R. Mele - 2008 - In John Baer, James C. Kaufman & Roy F. Baumeister (eds.), Are We Free?: Psychology and Free Will. Oup Usa.
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  22. How Can Psychology Contribute to the Free Will Debate?Shaun Nichols - 2008 - In John Baer, James C. Kaufman & Roy F. Baumeister (eds.), Are We Free?: Psychology and Free Will. Oup Usa.
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  23. Did Epicurus Discover the Free Will Problem?Suzanne Bobzien - 2000 - In David Sedley (ed.), Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy: Volume Xix Winter 2000. Clarendon Press.
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  24. Nietzsche on Free Will, Autonomy and the Sovereign Individual.Ken Gemes - 2009 - In Ken Gemes & Simon May (eds.), Nietzsche on Freedom and Autonomy. Oxford University Press.
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  25. Fate and Free Will in Stoicism: A Discussion of Susanne Bobzien, Determinism and Freedom in Stoic Philosophy.Tad Brennan - 2001 - In David Sedley (ed.), Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy Volume Xxi: Winter 2001. Clarendon Press.
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  26. Ought Implies Can, Asymmetrical Freedom, and the Practical Irrelevance of Transcendental Freedom.Matthé Scholten - 2021 - European Journal of Philosophy 1 (1):1-18.
    In this paper, I demonstrate that Kant's commitment to an asymmetry between the control conditions for praise and blame is explained by his endorsement of the principle Ought Implies Can (OIC). I argue that Kant accepts only a relatively weak version of OIC and that he is hence committed only to a relatively weak requirement of alternate possibilities for moral blame. This suggests that whether we are transcendentally free is irrelevant to questions about moral permissibility and moral blameworthiness.
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  27. Fraqueza da Vontade e Liberdade.Ricardo Tavares Da Silva - 2020 - Dissertatio 1 (51):313-337.
    Os casos de fraqueza da vontade (incontinência) são tidos como paradoxais. Há, pelo menos, uma tensão entre tais casos e a lei psicológica que relaciona avaliações e volições: se julgamos que fazer x é melhor do que fazer y, então queremos fazer x; porém, por vezes, julgamos que fazer x é melhor do que fazer y e, ainda assim, queremos fazer y em vez de x. Como noutras propostas, defendo que a incompatibilidade é aparente. Porém, não rejeito que haja verdadeiros (...)
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  28. Nesnáze introspekce: svoboda rozhodování a morální jednání z pohledu filozofie a vědy.Filip Tvrdý - 2015 - Prague: Togga.
    V dějinách filozofie se objevilo nespočetné množství snah překonat kognitivní nedostatečnost člověka. Většinový názor zněl, že zatímco vnější smyslové poznání podléhá nejrůznějším klamům, poznání vnitřní je mnohem jistější, či dokonce neomylné. Předpokládaná znalost sebe sama je ovšem iluzorní a stala se důvodem pro vznik mnoha chybných přístupů ke skutečnosti. Kniha se skládá ze tří částí. První kapitola se zabývá introspekcí, především jejím přijetím v dějinách filozofie a odmítnutím v psychologickém behaviorismu 20. století. Druhá kapitola pojednává o iluzornosti svobody rozhodování, která (...)
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  29. Why All Classical Theists Should Believe in Physical Premotions, but It Doesn’T Really Matter.James Dominic Rooney - 2020 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 88 (2):139-166.
    “Physical premotion” is a concept associated with Baroque Catholic theological debates concerning grace and freedom. In this paper, I present an argument that the entities identified in this debate, physical premotions, are necessary for any classical theist’s account of divine causality. A “classical theist” is a theist who holds both that God is simple, that is, without inhering properties, and that humans and God are both free in the incompatibilist sense. In fact, not only does the acceptance of physical premotions (...)
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  30. Der Ort der Freiheit in der Natur.Godehard Brüntrup - 2018 - In Klaus/ Wendel von Stosch (ed.), Streit um die Freiheit. Philosophische und Theologische Perspektiven. Paderborn: pp. 125-148.
    An article on Free Will and Processphilosophy (in German).
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  31. Liberté et volonté chez Bayle et Malebranche.Jean-Luc Solere - 2018 - In Le Malebranchisme à l’épreuve de ses Amis et de ses Ennemis. Paris: pp. 97-128.
    La conception malebranchiste de la liberté est originale. Malebranche ne croit pas en une liberté d’indifférence absolue, c'est-à-dire en une capacité d’opérer un choix indépendamment de toute motivation. Il ne croit pas non plus que nous puissions indifféremment choisir entre deux motivations de force inégale : au moment où on se détermine, le bien le plus grand (du moins selon l’apparence) l’emporte. La liberté réside seulement dans le fait que l’on n’est pas obligé de se déterminer : nous pouvons toujours (...)
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  32. The Neo-Molinist Square Stands Firm: A Rejoinder to Kirk MacGregor.Elijah Hess - 2019 - Philosophia Christi 21 (2):391-406.
    In a previous issue of Philosophia Christi, Kirk MacGregor responded to an essay of mine in which I argued for a neo-Molinist account of open theism. The argument demonstrated how, given standard counterfactual semantics, one could derive an “open future square of opposition,” that is, a depiction of the logical relations that hold between future-tense statements from an open theistic standpoint. Conceding the validity of the argument, MacGregor nevertheless sought to deny its soundness by criticizing both its conclusion and the (...)
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  33. Editorial preface.R. L. Hall - 2020 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 87 (2):135-136.
  34. Becoming a Christian: Combining Prior Belief, Evidence, and Will. [REVIEW]Lydia McGrew - 2018 - Philosophia Christi 20 (2):599-603.
  35. Ключові питання глобальної проблематики розвитку людських ресурсів у соціально-економічних системах.Sergii Sardak - 2013 - In Федяєва В.Л (ed.), Міжнародна науково-практична конференція “Соціально-економічні трансформації в умовах глобалізації: світовий та вітчизняний виміри”(Херсон, 1-2 березня 2013). Херсон, Херсонская область, Украина, 73000: pp. 28-29.
    Ідентифіковано окремі аспекти глобальної проблематики розвитку людських ресурсів у соціально-економічних системах.
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  36. Animal Choice and Human Freedom: On the Genealogy of Self-Determined Action.Michael Yudanin - 2020 - Lanham, MA, USA: Lexington Books.
    This book develops an evolutionary account of animal choice and human freedom, thus supplementing the conceptual account of freedom with an explanation how it developed.
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  37. Життєвий цикл соціально-економічних систем.Sergii Sardak - 2016 - Маркетинг І Менеджмент Інновацій 1:157-169.
    У статті розглянуто ознаки системи, особливості соціально-економічних систем та системного підходу. Враховано вплив аксіоматики, закономірностей та законів на розвиток систем. Досліджено циклічні закономірності у різнорівневих соціально-економічних системах. Визначено проблемно-дискусійні питання та спільні системні ознаки циклічності. Ідентифіковано структуру життєвого циклу соціально-економічної системи із визначенням загальних та конкретних складових елементів повторюваних змін за позасистемними та системними показниками.
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  38. Beyond Dordt and De Auxiliis The Dynamics of Protestant and Catholic Soteriology in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries.Jordan Ballor, Matthew Gaetano & David S. Sytsma (eds.) - 2019 - Leiden, Netherlands: Brill.
    Beyond Dordt and ‘De Auxiliis’ explores post-Reformation inter-confessional theological exchange on soteriological topics including predestination, grace, and free choice. These doctrines remained controversial within confessional traditions after the Reformation, as Dominicans and Jesuits and later Calvinists and Arminians argued about these critical issues in the Augustinian theological heritage. Some of those involved in condemning Arminianism at the Synod of Dordt (1618-1619) were inspired by Dominican followers of Thomas Aquinas in Spain who had recently opposed the vigorous defense of free choice (...)
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  39. G.E.M. Anscombe: guida alla lettura di Intention.Elisa Grimi - 2018 - Roma RM, Italia: Carocci.
    L’opera più importante per la filosofia dell’azione dopo l’Etica di Aristotele: così Donald Davidson ha definito il libro di Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe, Intention, che Elisa Grimi ci presenta oggi attraverso questa preziosa guida alla lettura, il primo testo di questo genere in lingua italiana. dalla Prefazione di Cyrille Michon. Che cosa sia un’intenzione, quale sia il ruolo che essa svolge all'interno di un’azione, se vi si possa trovare traccia della vera intenzione del soggetto guardando l’azione che compie: questi e (...)
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  40. Fähigkeiten und Dispositionen (Draft).Romy Jaster - manuscript
    In diesem Aufsatz argumentiere ich für eine teleologische Fähigkeitstheorie, derzufolge Fähigkeiten Dispositionen zu zweckmäßigem Handeln sind.
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  41. William of Ockham on Future Contingency. Øhrstrøm & David Jakobsen - 2018 - KronoScope 18 (2):138-153.
    In his philosophy, William of Ockham (1285-1347) offered an important and detailed response to the classical argument from the truth of a statement regarding the future to the necessity (unpreventability) of the statement. In this paper, Ockham’s solution and the possible formalisation of it are discussed in terms of modern tense and modal logic. In particular, the famous branching time formalisation suggested by A.N. Prior (1914-19) is discussed. Weaknesses and problems with this suggestion are pointed out, and an alternative formalisation (...)
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  42. La antropología del De opificio hominis de Gregorio de Nisa en la obra de Nicolás de Cusa.Francisco Bastitta-Harriet - 2015 - In Claudia D'Amico & Jorge Machetta (eds.), La cuestión del hombre en Nicolás de Cusa: fuentes, originalidad y diálogo con la modernidad. Buenos Aires: Biblos. pp. 43-55.
    Gregory of Nyssa’s treatise 'De opificio hominis' was one of the only Greek anthropological texts translated into latin during the early Middle Ages, by Dionysius Exiguus between the late 5th and early 6th centuries and by John Scotus Eriugena in the 9th century. Nicholas of Cusa certainly became acquainted with this work indirectly through the extensive citations in Eriugena’s 'Periphyseon' and through their partial reproduction in the 'Clavis physicae' of Honorius Augustodunensis. Our paper will analyse these and other possible ways (...)
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  43. Contribution à la Théorie de la Conscience, Conçue comme Activite du Cerveau.Gilberto Gomes - 1998 - Dissertation, Université Paris 7
    This thesis explores the possibility of theoretically conceiving consciousness as an activity of the brain. Objections, based on the concept of qualia, to the identification of consciousness with a brain activity are refuted. Phenomenal consciousness is identified with access-consciousness. Consciousness is conceived as a higher order processing of informational states of the brain. The state of consciousness represents an integration of prior nonconscious states. Libet’s research on the timing of conscious experience is reviewed and analyzed. His hypothesis of backward referral (...)
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  44. O Livre-Arbítrio em John R. Searle: Uma Contraposição do Naturalismo Biológico ao Fisicalismo e ao Funcionalismo.Daniel P. Nunes - 2014 - Dissertation, UNIVERSIDADE DE CAXIAS DO SUL
    This dissertation aims to examine whether John Searle’s biological naturalism is a more viable alternative to current physicalist and functionalist positions in dealing with the issue of free will. Thus, my strategy is to identify the assumptions of these lines of thought and their philosophical consequences. In order to accomplish this goal the concept of intrinsic intentionality is taken as a guide. I begin by defining what is meant by free will and go on to broadly characterize physicalist and functionalist (...)
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  45. Contesting the Will: Phenomenological Reflections on Four Structural Moments in the Concept of Willing.Vincent Blok - 2018 - Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 49 (1):18-35.
    The starting point of this article is the undeniable experience of conscious willing despite its rejection by scientific research. The article starts a phenomenology of willing at the level of the phenomenon of willing itself, without assuming its embeddedness in a faculty of the soul, consciousness and so forth. After the introduction, a brief history of the philosophy of willing is provided, from which the paradoxical conclusion is drawn that, according to phenomenologists like Heidegger and his followers, the dominance of (...)
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  46. Will and Free Will in Antiquity: A Discussion of Michael Frede, A Free Will.Jaap Mansfeld - 2012 - Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 42:351-368.
  47. A Probabilistic Argument for the Reality of Free Personal Agency.Ľuboš Rojka - 2017 - Studia Neoaristotelica 14 (1):39-57.
    If the influence of libertarian free will on human behaviour is real, the frequency of certain freely chosen actions will differ from the probability of their occurrences deduced from the statistical calculations and neuroscientific observations and laws. According to D. Pereboom, contemporary science does not prove the efficacy of libertarian free will. According to P. van Inwagen, there is always a random element in free decisions, and hence the effect of the free will remains unknown. Swinburne observes that it is (...)
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  48. Carolina Sartorio: Causation and Free Will. [REVIEW]Neal A. Tognazzini - 2016 - Journal of Philosophy 113 (8):417-422.
  49. Die Willensfreiheit Und Ihre Gegner. [REVIEW]Constantin Gutberlet - 1892 - Ancient Philosophy (Misc) 3:646.
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  50. Free Will: Interpretations, Implementations and Assessments.López-Corredoira Martín - forthcoming - Nova Science Publ..
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