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Summary Incompatibilism is the thesis that free will is incompatible with the truth of determinism. Incompatibilists divide into libertarianians, who deny that determinism is true and hard determinists who deny that we have free will. The compatibility question is for many philosophers the heart of the free will debate: the question concerning the existence of free will arises from contemplation of the fact that if the laws of nature are deterministic, then our actions and choices were inevitable even prior to our birth.
Key works Incompatibilist intuitions seem to have deep roots: the claim that indeterminsim is necessary for freedom is already well developed in Stoic times Carus & AllisonTr 1921. The mechanism of 17th century science seemed to make the threat especially powerful, though, prompting both early compatibilist responses and the development of hard determinism by D'Holbach unknown and Spinoza 1677. Recent debate has focused on a number of powerful arguments for incompatibilism, such as the consequence argument (Inwagen 1983) and the manipulation argument Pereboom 2005
Introductions Vihvelin 2003/2017
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675 found
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1 — 50 / 675
  1. A Reflection on our Freedom.Matthew H. Slater - 2010 - Philosophia 38 (2):327-330.
    Many Compatibilists seem to suppose that discover that we lived in a deterministic world would not unseat our confidence that many of our actions are nevertheless free. Here's a short story about such confidence becoming unseated.
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  2. Frankfurt Cases and 'Could Have Done Otherwise'.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    In his seminal essay, Harry Frankfurt argued that our exercise of free will and allocation of moral responsibility do not depend on us being able to do other than we did. Leslie Allan defends this moral maxim from Frankfurt's attack. Applying his character-based counterfactual conditional analysis of free acts to Frankfurt's counterexamples, Allan unpacks the confusions that lie at the heart of Frankfurt's argument. The author also explores how his 4C compatibilist theory measures up against Frankfurt’s conclusions.
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  3. Free Will and Compatibilism.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    The author mounts a case against the libertarian and hard determinist's thesis that free will is impossible in a deterministic world. He charges incompatibilists with misconstruing ordinary 'free will' talk by overlaying common language with their own metaphysical presuppositions. Through a review of ordinary discourse and recent developments in jurisprudence and the sciences, he draws together the four key factors required for an act to be free. He then puts his 4C theory to work in giving a credible account of (...)
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  4. Freedom in a physical world – a partial taxonomy.Jude Arnout Durieux - manuscript
    If I take a free decision, how does this express itself physically? If God acts in this world, how does he do so? The answers to those two questions may be different or the same. Here we sketch a typology of possible answers, including Transcendent Compatibility. It turns out that in an open universe, freedom is the timewise mirror image of causality.
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  5. The Consequence Argument: An Argument For Incompatibilism?Kristin M. Mickelson - manuscript
    According to Joseph Campbell's "No Past Objection" (NPO), popular formal statements of the Consequence Argument are oddly silent about the freedom status of actors who lack a “remote past,” a time prior to their birth at which their universe existed but they did not. As such, NPO problematizes the common view that the Consequence Argument concludes that determinism (perhaps in combination with other things) conflicts with or poses some kind of threat to free will. In this essay, I present a (...)
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  6. Constructive Dilemma Arguments for the Impossibility of Free Will.Kristin M. Mickelson - manuscript
    The traditional problem of free will and determinism is ostensibly about settling the relationship between free will and determinism. According to the standard narrative, this problem boils down to settling whether free will stands in a compatibility or incompatibility relation with determinism. Similarly, there is traditional debate over whether a compatibility or an incompatibility relationship holds between free will and indeterminism. Since indeterminism is simply the negation of determinism, anyone who holds that human free will is incompatible with both determinism (...)
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  7. Nietzsche's Incompatibilism.Donovan Miyasaki - manuscript
  8. How necessary is the past? Reply to Campbell.Matthew H. Slater - manuscript
    Joe Campbell has identified an apparent flaw in van Inwagen’s Consequence Argument. It apparently derives a metaphysically necessary conclusion from what Campbell argues is a contingent premise: that the past is in some sense necessary. I criticise Campbell’s examples attempting to show that this is not the case (in the requisite sense) and suggest some directions along which an incompatibilist could reconstruct her argument so as to remain immune to Campbell’s worries.
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  9. Free will, determinism, and moral responsibility: The whole thing in brief.Ted Honderich - manuscript
  10. How necessary is the past?Ron Mallon - manuscript
    [ draft, later version under review ] Joe Campbell has identified an apparent flaw in van Inwagen’s Consequence Argument. It apparently derives a metaphysically necessary conclusion from what Campbell argues is a contingent premise: that the past is in some sense necessary. I criticise Campbell’s examples attempting to show that this is not the case (in the requisite sense) and suggest some directions along which an incompatibilist could reconstruct her argument so as to remain immune to Campbell’s worries.
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  11. Freedom, determinism and Gale's principle.Alexander R. Pruss - manuscript
    In simplified form, the argument that I am defending holds that the incompatibility of our freedom with determinism follows from the conjunction of (1) a plausible supervenience claim which says that whether a human agent is free depends only on what happens during the agent’s life and (2) a freedom-cancellation principle of Richard Gale which says that an agent is not free if all of her actions are intentionally brought about by another agent. Improved versions of (1) and (2) are (...)
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  12. Closing the door on the belief in ability thesis.Neil Levy - unknown
    It is, as Dana Nelkin (2004) says, a rare point of agreement among participants in the free will debate that rational deliberation presupposes a belief in freedom. Of course, the precise content of that belief – and, indeed, the nature of deliberation – is controversial, with some philosophers claiming that deliberation commits us to a belief in libertarian free will (Taylor 1966; Ginet 1966), and others claiming that, on the contrary, deliberation presupposes nothing more than an epistemic openness that is (...)
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  13. Intuition, Orthodoxy, and Moral Responsibility in advance.John Ross Churchill - forthcoming - Faith and Philosophy.
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  14. Freedom and the Open Future.Yishai Cohen - forthcoming - Analytic Philosophy.
    I draw upon Helen Steward’s concept of agential settling to argue that freedom requires an ability to change the truth-value of tenseless future contingents over time from false to true and that this ability requires a metaphysically open future.
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  15. “It was all a cruel angel’s thesis from the start”: Folk intuitions about Zygote cases do not support the Zygote argument.Florian Cova - forthcoming - In Thomas Nadelhoffer & Andrew Monroe (eds.), Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Free Will and Responsibility. Bloomsbury.
    Manipulation arguments that start from the intuition that manipulated agents are neither free nor morally responsible then conclude to that free will and moral responsibility are incompatible with determinism. The Zygote argument is a special case of Manipulation argument in which the manipulation intervenes at the very conception of the agent. In this paper, I argue that the Zygote argument fails because (i) very few people share the basic intuitions the argument rests on, and (ii) even those who share this (...)
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  16. Natural Compatibilists Should Be Theological Compatibilists.Taylor Cyr - forthcoming - In Peter Furlong & Leigh Vicens (eds.), Theological Determinism: New Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 119-132.
    Natural compatibilists say that moral responsibility is compatible with natural (or causal) determinism, where natural events and laws of nature determine everything that happens. Theological compatibilists say that moral responsibility is compatible with theological determinism, where God (rather than natural events/laws) determines everything that happens. Some philosophers accept natural compatibilism but reject theological compatibilism, and, in this chapter, I argue that this combination of views is untenable I start with a discussion of why someone might be attracted to this combination (...)
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  17. Why the Manipulation Argument Fails: Determinism Does Not Entail Perfect Prediction.Oisin Deery & Eddy Nahmias - forthcoming - Philosophical Studies:1-21.
    Determinism is frequently understood as implying the possibility of perfect prediction. This possibility then functions as an assumption in the Manipulation Argument for the incompatibility of free will and determinism. Yet this assumption is mistaken. As a result, arguments that rely on it fail to show that determinism would rule out human free will. We explain why determinism does not imply the possibility of perfect prediction in any world with laws of nature like ours, since it would be impossible for (...)
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  18. Compatibilism and incompatibilism as both false, and the real problem.Ted Honderich - forthcoming - The Determinism and Free Will Philosophy Website.
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  19. Effects, Determinism, Neither Compatibilism nor Incompatibilism, Consciousness.Ted Honderich - forthcoming - Philosophical Explorations.
    Since the rise of the theory of determinism, philosophers have argued and declared that we are diminished by it. Bishop Bramhall against Thomas Hobbes in the 17th Century, Kant against Hume in the 18th, F. H. Bradley against John Stuart Mill in the 19th, Robert Kane and Robert Nozick against such as me in the 20th Century. There must be something in this relentless tradition. It cannot, it seems to me, be the falsehood of determinism. Is it, so to speak, (...)
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  20. Levinas and the Second Personal Structure of Free Will.Kevin Houser - forthcoming - In Michael Fagenblat & Melis Erdur (eds.), Levinas and Analytic Philosophy: Second-Personal Normativity and the Moral Life. Research in Phenomenology Series.
    Many suppose some form of free will is required to make moral responsibility possible. Levinas thinks this is backwards. Freedom does not make moral responsibility possible. Moral responsibility makes freedom possible. Free will is not a condition for morality. Free will is an aspect and expression of our moral condition. Key to Levinas’s argument is his rejection of free-will-individualism: the idea that free will is a power a single being could possess. A “contradiction” extracted from standard accounts, and related troubles (...)
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  21. Freedom and Determinism.Jenann Ismael - forthcoming - Philosophical Explorations.
    Any person truly considering belief in a scientific world view has to confront the question of whether and in what sense, if she views herself as a natural system in a world governed by natural laws, she can continue to regard herself as free. The prima facie clash is usually expressed in terms of a conflict between freedom and determinism, captured in an argument known as the Consequence Argument. If the natural laws are deterministic, our behavior must be deducible by (...)
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  22. The Four-Case Argument and the Existential/Universal Effect.Andrew J. Latham & Hannah Tierney - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-11.
    One debate surrounding Derk Pereboom’s (2001, 2014) four-case argument against compatibilism focuses on whether, and why, we judge manipulated agents to be neither free nor morally responsible. In this paper, we propose a novel explanation. The four-case argument features cases where an agent is the only individual in her universe who has been manipulated. Let us call manipulation whose scope includes at least one but not all agents existential manipulation. Contrast this with universal manipulation, which affects all agents within a (...)
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  23. (In)compatibilism.Kristin M. Mickelson - forthcoming - In Joseph Campbell (ed.), Companion to Free Will. New York: Wiley-Blackwell.
    The terms ‘compatibilism’ and ‘incompatibilism’ were introduced in the mid-20th century to name conflicting views about the in-principle relationship between the thesis of determinism and the thesis that someone has free will. These technical terms were originally introduced within a specific research paradigm, the classical analytic paradigm, but few free-will theorists still work within that paradigm (i.e. using its methods, granting its substantive background assumptions, etc.). This chapter discusses how the ambiguity of the terms ‘incompatibilism’ and ‘compatibilism’ took root. I (...)
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  24. A Problem for Counterfactual Sufficiency.John Waldrop - forthcoming - Analysis.
    The consequence argument purports to show that determinism is true only if no one has free will. Judgments about whether the argument is sound depend on how one understands locutions of the form 'p and no one can render p false'. The main interpretation on offer appeals to counterfactual sufficiency: s can render p false just in case there is something s can do such that, were s to do it, p would be false; otherwise, s cannot render p false. (...)
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  25. Resentment, Parenting, and Strawson’s Compatibilism.Daniel Coren - 2023 - Erkenntnis 88 (1):43-65.
    Is moral responsibility compatible with determinism? Peter Strawson’s first answer is: I do not know what the thesis of determinism is. His second answer seems to be: Yes, it is, and we can see this by looking to relevant pockets of our ordinary practices and attitudes, especially our responses (resentment, anger, love, forgiveness) to quality of will. His second answer has shaped subsequent discussions of moral responsibility. But what exactly is Strawson’s compatibilism? And is it a plausible view? By attending (...)
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  26. Compatibilism from the inside out1.Andrew M. Bailey - 2022 - Analytic Philosophy 63 (3):137-146.
    In this article, I focus on internal dimensions of moral responsibility. I argue that if such dimensions are real -- and it seems they are -- then moral responsibility is compatible with determinism.
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  27. A Companion to Free Will.Joseph Campbell, Kristin M. Mickelson & V. Alan White (eds.) - 2022 - Hoboken, NJ, USA: Wiley-Blackwell.
    The concept of free will is fraught with controversy, as readers of this volume likely know. Philosophers disagree about what free will is, whether we have it, what mitigates or destroys it, and what it's good for. Indeed, philosophers even disagree about how to fix the referent of the term 'free will' for purposes of describing and exploring these disagreements. What one person considers a reasonably neutral working definition of 'free will' is often considered question-begging or otherwise misguided by another. (...)
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  28. Does the Direct Argument Beg the Question?Justin Capes - 2022 - American Philosophical Quarterly 59 (1):81-96.
    The direct argument is among the most prominent arguments for the incompatibility of determinism and moral responsibility. Some critics of the argument have accused it, or certain defenses of its central premise, of begging the question. This article responds to that accusation.
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  29. Precis of Rejecting Retributivism: Free Will, Punishment, and Criminal Justice.Gregg D. Caruso - 2022 - Journal of Legal Philosophy 2 (46):120-125.
  30. Retributivism, Free Will Skepticism, and the Public Health-Quarantine Model: Replies to Kennedy, Walen, Corrado, Sifferd, Pereboom, and Shaw.Gregg D. Caruso - 2022 - Journal of Legal Philosophy 2 (46):161-216.
  31. Moral Responsibility Reconsidered.Gregg D. Caruso & Derk Pereboom - 2022 - Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
    This Element examines the concept of moral responsibility as it is used in contemporary philosophical debates and explores the justifiability of the moral practices associated with it, including moral praise/blame, retributive punishment, and the reactive attitudes of resentment and indignation. After identifying and discussing several different varieties of responsibility-including causal responsibility, take-charge responsibility, role responsibility, liability responsibility, and the kinds of responsibility associated with attributability, answerability, and accountability-it distinguishes between basic and non-basic desert conceptions of moral responsibility and considers a (...)
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  32. Molinism: Explaining our Freedom Away.Nevin Climenhaga & Daniel Rubio - 2022 - Mind 131 (522):459-485.
    Molinists hold that there are contingently true counterfactuals about what agents would do if put in specific circumstances, that God knows these prior to creation, and that God uses this knowledge in choosing how to create. In this essay we critique Molinism, arguing that if these theses were true, agents would not be free. Consider Eve’s sinning upon being tempted by a serpent. We argue that if Molinism is true, then there is some set of facts that fully explains both (...)
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  33. Free Will and (In)determinism in Hang the DJ.Taylor Cyr - 2022 - In Amber Bowen & John Anthony Dunne (eds.), Theology and Black Mirror. Lanham, MD: Fortress Academic. pp. 55-65.
    Like most episodes of Black Mirror, “Hang the DJ” raises a host of philosophical questions. While there is much from this episode to explore, this chapter will explore something that has not yet been addressed in other work, namely the connection between “Hang the DJ” and questions about free will and determinism (or indeterminism, as the case may be). This chapter will proceed as follows: first, I will sketch some reasons for thinking that, if determinism is true, then no one (...)
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  34. No Choice for Incompatibilism.Julio De Rizzo - 2022 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 11 (1):6-13.
    P. van Inwagen famously offered three precise versions of the so-called Consequence Argument for incompatibilism. The third of these essentially employs the notion of an agent’s having a choice with respect to a proposition. In this paper, I offer two intuitively attractive accounts of this notion in terms of the explanatory connective ‘because’ and explore the prospects of the third argument once they are in play. Under either account, the argument fails.
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  35. Why Frankfurtian all-in can’ts are irrelevant to free will.Keil Geert - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65.
    This paper argues that Frankfurt-style counterexamples (FSCs) do not compromise the agent’s ability to decide otherwise. In his attack on the Principle of Alternative Possibilities, Frankfurt relied on what Austin called the ‘all-in’ sense of ‘can’, and misconstrued the agent’s inability to do otherwise as an all-in can’t. Like the new dispositionalists, I maintain that the agent’s relevant abilities are ‘masked’ rather than lost in Frankfurt cases. The argument from masked abilities, however, is not confined to a compatibilist construal of (...)
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  36. How (not) to think about the sense of ‘able’ relevant to free will.Simon Kittle - 2022 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 65 (10):1289-1307.
    This essay is an investigation into the sense of ‘able’ relevant to free will, where free will is understood as requiring the ability to do otherwise. I argue that van Inwagen's recent functional specification of the relevant sense of ‘able’ is flawed, and that explicating the powers involved in free will shall likely require paying detailed attention to the semantics and pragmatics of ‘can’ and ‘able’. Further, I argue that van Inwagen's promise-level ability requirement on free will is too strong. (...)
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  37. Can Machines Have Free Will? Analysis of the Concept of Free Will in Relation to the Psychophysical Problem.Krzysztof Krenc - 2022 - Dissertation, Uniwersytet Łódzki
    The goal of this thesis is to analyse the notion of free will from the perspectives of various stances in the philosophy of mind. It employs an approach quite different than the more standard one, in which philosophers try to answer the question “do we have free will?” directly. The first chapter of this thesis contains an analysis of the compatibilism/incompatibilism debate – the question “is free will compatible with the determinism?” Showing that the answer to this question means something (...)
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  38. Defusing Existential and Universal Threats to Compatibilism: A Strawsonian Dilemma for Manipulation Arguments.Andrew J. Latham & Hannah Tierney - 2022 - Journal of Philosophy 119 (3):144-161.
    Many manipulation arguments against compatibilism rely on the claim that manipulation is relevantly similar to determinism. But we argue that manipulation is nothing like determinism in one relevant respect. Determinism is a "universal" phenomenon: its scope includes every feature of the universe. But manipulation arguments feature cases where an agent is the only manipulated individual in her universe. Call manipulation whose scope includes at least one but not all agents "existential manipulation." Our responsibility practices are impacted in different ways by (...)
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  39. Anscombe and Intentional Agency Incompatibilism.Erasmus Mayr - 2022 - Synthese 200 (3):1-23.
    In “Causality and Determination”, Anscombe stressed that, in her view, physical determinism and free action were incompatible. As the relevant passage suggests, her espousal of incompatibilism was not merely due to specific features of human ‘ethical’ freedom, but due to general features of agency, intentionality, and voluntariness. For Anscombe went on to tentatively suggest that lack of physical determination was required for the intentional conduct of animals we would not classify as ‚free‘, too. In this paper, I examine three different (...)
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  40. Libertarian Free Will and the Physical Indeterminism Luck Objection.Dwayne Moore - 2022 - Philosophia 50 (1):159-182.
    Libertarian free will is, roughly, the view that agents cause actions to occur or not occur: Maddy’s decision to get a beer causes her to get up off her comfortable couch to get a beer, though she almost chose not to get up. Libertarian free will notoriously faces the luck objection, according to which agential states do not determine whether an action occurs or not, so it is beyond the control of the agent, hence lucky, whether an action occurs or (...)
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  41. Strawsonian Incompatibilism.Nicholas Sars - 2022 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 39 (4):373-384.
    Although philosophers sympathetic to Peter Strawson's view in “Freedom and Resentment” tend to be compatibilists, they need not be. This paper develops a recent suggestion that Strawson's view can be read as consistent with libertarianism by showing that an important distinction Strawson makes between personal and moral reactive attitudes leaves room to be a Strawsonian compatibilist with respect to personal responsibility and a Strawsonian incompatibilist with respect to moral responsibility. Understanding this possibility reveals a potential gap within Strawson's argument that (...)
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  42. Causality, determination and free will: towards an anscombean account of free action.Niels van Miltenburg - 2022 - Synthese 200 (4):1-20.
    Anscombe’s “Causality and Determination” is often cited in the contemporary free will debate, but rarely discussed in much detail. It’s main contribution, it is thought, is the defense of an alternative to deterministic causation, thus clearing the way for an incompatibilist analysis of free actions in terms of probabilistic causation. However, in this paper I will show that the contemporary probabilistic analysis of free action actually stands in direct conflict with Anscombe’s lecture. Instead, I will argue, its true value for (...)
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  43. Incompatibilism and the Principle of Sufficient Reason in Kant’s Nova Dilucidatio.Aaron Wells - 2022 - Journal of Modern Philosophy 4 (1:3):1-20.
    The consensus is that in his 1755 Nova Dilucidatio, Kant endorsed broadly Leibnizian compatibilism, then switched to a strongly incompatibilist position in the early 1760s. I argue for an alternative, incompatibilist reading of the Nova Dilucidatio. On this reading, actions are partly grounded in indeterministic acts of volition, and partly in prior conative or cognitive motivations. Actions resulting from volitions are determined by volitions, but volitions themselves are not fully determined. This move, which was standard in medieval treatments of free (...)
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  44. In defense of flip-flopping.Andrew M. Bailey & Amy Seymour - 2021 - Synthese 199 (5-6):13907-13924.
    Some incompatibilists about free will or moral responsibility and determinism would abandon their incompatibilism were they to learn that determinism is true. But is it reasonable to flip-flop in this way? In this article, we contend that it is and show what follows. The result is both a defense of a particular incompatibilist strategy and a general framework for assessing other cases of flip-flopping.
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  45. What Should we Believe About Free Will?Jeremy Byrd - 2021 - Erkenntnis 86 (3):505-522.
    Given the available evidence, I argue that we face considerable uncertainty about free will. In particular, I argue that the available philosophical evidence does not support being highly confident in our theories about the nature of free will, though this does not necessarily mean that we should suspend judgment about either incompatibilism or compatibilism. For those who accept incompatibilism, however, I argue that there is enough uncertainty about libertarian free will that they should suspend judgment about whether we are ever (...)
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  46. The Prejudice of Freedom: an Application of Kripke’s Notion of a Prejudice to our Understanding of Free Will.James Cain - 2021 - Acta Analytica 36 (3):323-339.
    This essay reframes salient issues in discussions of free will using conceptual apparatus developed in the works of Saul Kripke, with particular attention paid to his little-discussed technical notion of a prejudice. I begin by focusing on how various forms of modality (metaphysical, epistemic, and conceptual) underlie alternate forms of compatibilism and discuss why it is important to avoid conflating these forms of compatibilism. The concept of a prejudice is then introduced. We consider the semantic role of prejudices, in particular (...)
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  47. On the Compatibility of Rational Deliberation and Determinism: Why Deterministic Manipulation Is Not a Counterexample.Gregg D. Caruso - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (3):524-543.
    This paper aims to defend deliberation-compatibilism against several objections, including a recent counterexample by Yishai Cohen that involves a deliberator who believes that whichever action she performs will be the result of deterministic manipulation. It begins by offering a Moorean-style proof of deliberation-compatibilism. It then turns to the leading argument for deliberation-incompatibilism, which is based on the presumed incompatibility of causal determinism and the ‘openness’ required for rational deliberation. The paper explains why this argument fails and develops a coherent account (...)
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  48. Just Deserts: Debating Free Will.Gregg D. Caruso & Daniel C. Dennett - 2021 - 2021: Polity.
    Some thinkers argue that our best scientific theories about the world prove that free will is an illusion. Others disagree. The concept of free will is profoundly important to our self-understanding, our interpersonal relationships, and our moral and legal practices. If it turns out that no one is ever free and morally responsible, what would that mean for society, morality, meaning, and the law? Just Deserts brings together two philosophers – Daniel C. Dennett and Gregg D. Caruso – to debate (...)
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  49. Quantum propensities in the brain cortex and free will.Danko D. Georgiev - 2021 - Biosystems 208:104474.
    Capacity of conscious agents to perform genuine choices among future alternatives is a prerequisite for moral responsibility. Determinism that pervades classical physics, however, forbids free will, undermines the foundations of ethics, and precludes meaningful quantification of personal biases. To resolve that impasse, we utilize the characteristic indeterminism of quantum physics and derive a quantitative measure for the amount of free will manifested by the brain cortical network. The interaction between the central nervous system and the surrounding environment is shown to (...)
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  50. Obligation Incompatibilism and Blameworthiness.Ishtiyaque Haji - 2021 - Philosophical Papers 50 (1-2):163-185.
    Obligation incompatibilism is the view that determinism precludes moral obligation. I argue for the following. Two principles, ‘ought’ implies ‘can’ and ‘ought not’ is equivalent to ‘impermissi...
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