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free will, problem of


Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


Extract

M etaphysics, philosophy of action There are threats to freedom involving the apparent determination of human action by factors independent of our will . These include divine foreknowledge and, in modern philosophy, the possibility that our actions are determined by causal laws. The problem seems to pose a dilemma whether one accepts or denies determinism . If determinism is true, one's acts are determined by events beyond one's control, and hence one has no free will. If determinism is false, one's acts are undetermined and due to chance , which is also beyond one's control, and hence one has no free will. One way out of the dilemma is to argue that free will is a dispositional causal power, which can exist in a wholly determined world and is thereby compatible with determinism. Another response attempts to show that determinism has weaker implications than any which would prevent it from being compatible with free will. Some philosophers argue that what we value in freedom is not challenged by determinism and is not aided by indeterminism. Rather, free will is constrained by coercion rather than determinism. Some argue further that any account of action, choice, and free will would be incoherent without determinism. Nevertheless, some philosophers still claim that on a proper understanding of freedom and fore-knowledge or freedom and causal laws, we cannot have both. These ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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