essays on free will and moral responsibility

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Essays on free will and moral responsibility

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This sample philosophy paper explores how moral responsibility and free will represent an important area of moral debate between philosophers. This type of writing would of course be seen in a philosophy course, but many people might also be inclined to write an essay about their opinions on free will for personal reasons. In our history, free will and moral responsibility have been longstanding debates amongst philosophers.

Some contend that free will does not exist while others believe we have control over our actions and decisions. For the most part, determinists believe that free will does not exist because our fate is predetermined. An example of this philosophy is found in the Book of Genisis.

The biblical story states God created man for a purpose and designed them to worship him. Since God designed humans to operate in a certain fashion and he knew the outcome, it could be argued from a determinist point of view that free will didn't exist. Because our actions are determined, it seems that we are unable to bear any responsibility for our acts.

However, Strawson also has implied that we are unable to be responsible. We are unable to be responsible because, as determinists suggest, all our decisions are premade; therefore, we do not act of our own free will. Consequently, because our actions are not the cause of our free will, we cannot be truly deserving because we lack responsibility for what we do. Free will implies we are able to choose the majority of our actions "Free will," While we would expect to choose the right course of action, we often make bad decisions.

In order for free will to be tangible, an individual would have to have control over his or her actions regardless of any external factors. Analyzing the human brain's development over a lifetime proves people have the potential for cognitive reasoning and to make their own decisions. On the other hand, while we can determine whether or not we will wake up the next day, it is not an aspect of our free will because we cannot control this.

Incidentally, determinism suggests everything happens exactly the way it should have happened because it is a universal law "Determinism," In this way, our free will is merely an illusion. Have a philosophy assignment? Think about buying an essay from Ultius. For example, if we decided the previous night that we would wake up at noon, we are unable to control this even with an alarm clock.

One, we may die in our sleep. Obviously, as most would agree, we did not choose this. Perhaps we were murdered in our sleep. In that case, was it our destiny to become a victim of violent crimes, or was it our destiny to be murdered as we slept? Others would mention that the murderer was the sole cause of the violence and it their free will to decide to kill.

Therefore, the same people might argue that the murderer deserved a specific punishment. The key question, then, is the free will of the murderer. If we were preordained to die in the middle of the night at the hand of the murderer, then the choice of death never actually existed.

Hence, the very question of choice based on free will is an illusion. Considering that our wills are absolutely subject to the environment in which they are articulated in, we are not obligated to take responsibility for them as the product of their environment. Our constitutional laws allow us the right to bear arms and have access to legal representation. In addition, our constitutional laws allow us the freedom to express our thoughts through spoken and written mediums and the freedom to believe in a higher power or not.

We often believe we are free to act and do what we want because of our free will. This being the case, can we be deserving if we can so easily deflect the root of our will and actions? Perhaps, our hypothetical murder shot us. It could be argued that gun laws in the United States provided them with the mean to commit murder. Either the murderer got a hold of a gun by chance or he or she was able to purchase one.

While the purchase is not likely, one would have to assume that someone, maybe earlier, purchased the weapon. However, the meanings will change depending on our position. For example, some would suggest that the murderer acted with his or her own free will. However, once they are caught and convicted, they are no longer free in the sense that they can go wherever they want. On the other hand, they are free to think however they want.

If they choose to reenact their crimes in their thoughts, they are free to do so. Some many say, in the case of the murderer, he or she is held responsible for his or her crime, thus he or she deserves blame. However, if the murderer had a mental illness and was unaware he or she committed a crime, should we still consider that the murderer acted with his or her free will?

Compatibilism, Incompatibilism, and Pessimism, , para. Strawson does not believe we have the ability to act on our own free will. However, he does not believe our actions are predetermined either. While some would agree young children and disabled adults would not hold any responsibility, others would claim that criminals should bear responsibility when they commit a crime.

What if the actions are caused by both nature and nurturing of the parents? Or, what if they're caused by prior events including a chain of events that goes back before we are born, libertarians do not see how we can feel responsible for them. If our actions are directly caused by chance, they are simply random and determinists do not see how we can feel responsible for them The Information Philosopher Responsibility n.

There is no free will without moral responsibility and there is no moral responsibility without free will. Based on these rough definitions, the basic assumptions and definitions of this essay can be formulated:. It is possible to strive for morally good actions as much as it is possible to strive for true knowledge.

The fifth assumption should exclude those philosophical debates which deny any morality completely as well as societal views which debate about whether morality can at least be considered as a societal concept and whether it is at least societally desirable to punish an unmoral action of a person.

Such as a scientist needs to presuppose in his or her researches that there is such an ideal as truth — otherwise, writing this essay would be a waste of time and being a philosopher would not make any sense —, a person who strives for morally good actions needs to presuppose that there is such an ideal as morality or good and evil — otherwise, trying to act morally or researching on good or bad actions would not make any sense.

The following two metaphysical pre-conditions constitute the fundamental argumentative basis through which it would be possible that people are free and morally responsible for their actions:. B Humans cannot be ultimately understood as empirical entities and actions cannot be ultimately explained as empirical phenomena.

These conditions are quite common in philosophical debates: e. So the aim of the following arguments is not to ultimately justify the concept of free will or moral responsibility, but at least to try to argue that these two metaphysical pre-conditions — under which it is at least possible that people can be free and morally responsible — are plausible and reasonable:.

P1: All events in nature happen due to or are determined by causal necessity. P2: My actions are part of these natural events. C1: My actions are determined due to causal necessity. C3: I cannot have free will. P1 : Nothing can be causa sui — nothing can be the cause of itself. C : Therefore nothing can be truly morally responsible.

Strawson , 1. Nevertheless, the following comparison between the actions of three SS-officers in shows that different and other forms of causality — besides natural causality — are necessary if we want to distinguish these three cases in the sense of moral responsibility :. Add to cart. The Possibility of Free Will and Moral Responsibility What would be the consequences if free will was just an illusion? Based on these rough definitions, the basic assumptions and definitions of this essay can be formulated: 1 If someone acted freely, he or she was the source of his or her action and he or she could have done otherwise.

Sign in to write a comment. Read the ebook. Kann Moral effizient sein? Can Strawson's Objectivity Argume Die Explikation des Meinens nach Gric Zu: P.

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In the second part, the two metaphysical pre-conditions are discussed, which are the basis for the arguments in the third part, which should support my thesis. Finally, the common claim that free will is just an illusion, will be critically reflected in the fourth part. The concept of free will or freedom is characterized by choices or actions that are in a way free — he or she could have done otherwise.

On the contrary, the concept of determinism is constituted by choices or actions that are causally determined — he or she could not have done otherwise. It is obvious that there is a strong interdependency between these terms: Acting intentionally is an essential requirement that someone or something can be considered to have a free will.

On the other hand, free will is a necessary pre-condition that someone can be held morally responsible for an action. There is no free will without moral responsibility and there is no moral responsibility without free will. Based on these rough definitions, the basic assumptions and definitions of this essay can be formulated:.

It is possible to strive for morally good actions as much as it is possible to strive for true knowledge. The fifth assumption should exclude those philosophical debates which deny any morality completely as well as societal views which debate about whether morality can at least be considered as a societal concept and whether it is at least societally desirable to punish an unmoral action of a person.

Such as a scientist needs to presuppose in his or her researches that there is such an ideal as truth — otherwise, writing this essay would be a waste of time and being a philosopher would not make any sense —, a person who strives for morally good actions needs to presuppose that there is such an ideal as morality or good and evil — otherwise, trying to act morally or researching on good or bad actions would not make any sense. The following two metaphysical pre-conditions constitute the fundamental argumentative basis through which it would be possible that people are free and morally responsible for their actions:.

B Humans cannot be ultimately understood as empirical entities and actions cannot be ultimately explained as empirical phenomena. These conditions are quite common in philosophical debates: e. So the aim of the following arguments is not to ultimately justify the concept of free will or moral responsibility, but at least to try to argue that these two metaphysical pre-conditions — under which it is at least possible that people can be free and morally responsible — are plausible and reasonable:.

P1: All events in nature happen due to or are determined by causal necessity. P2: My actions are part of these natural events. C1: My actions are determined due to causal necessity. C3: I cannot have free will. P1 : Nothing can be causa sui — nothing can be the cause of itself. C : Therefore nothing can be truly morally responsible. Strawson , 1. Nevertheless, the following comparison between the actions of three SS-officers in shows that different and other forms of causality — besides natural causality — are necessary if we want to distinguish these three cases in the sense of moral responsibility :.

Add to cart. The Possibility of Free Will and Moral Responsibility What would be the consequences if free will was just an illusion? Based on these rough definitions, the basic assumptions and definitions of this essay can be formulated: 1 If someone acted freely, he or she was the source of his or her action and he or she could have done otherwise. But if the connection is nondeterministic, then it is possible even in the absence of showing any inclination to decide to vote for Bush, that Jones decides to vote for Bush, and so he retains the ability to do otherwise.

Either way Frankfurt-style cases fail to show that Jones is both morally responsible for his decision and yet is unable to do otherwise. While some have argued that even Frankfurt-style cases that assume determinism are effective see, e. Supposing that Frankfurt-style cases are successful, what exactly do they show? In our view, they show neither that free will and moral responsibility do not require an ability to do otherwise in any sense nor that compatibilism is true.

The Consequence Argument raises a powerful challenge to the cogency of compatibilism. But if Frankfurt-style cases are successful, agents can act freely in the sense relevant to moral responsibility while lacking the ability to do otherwise in the all-in sense.

This allows compatibilists to concede that the all-in ability to do otherwise is incompatible with determinism, and yet insist that it is irrelevant to the question of the compatibility of determinism with moral responsibility and perhaps even free will, depending on how we define this cf. But, of course, showing that an argument for the falsity of compatibilism is irrelevant does not show that compatibilism is true.

Thus, if successful, Frankfurt-style cases would be at best the first step in defending compatibilism. The second step must offer an analysis of the kind of sourcehood constitutive of free will that entails that free will is compatible with determinism cf. Fischer At best, Frankfurt-style cases show that the ability to do otherwise in the all-in sense —in the sense defined by the Categorical Analysis —is not necessary for free will or moral responsibility cf.

Franklin To appreciate this, let us assume that in the above Frankfurt-style case Jones lacks the ability to do otherwise in the all-in sense: there is no possible world in which we hold fixed the past and laws and yet Jones does otherwise, since all such worlds include Black and his preparations for preventing Jones from doing otherwise should Jones show any inclination.

Even if this is all true, it should take only a little reflection to recognize that in this case Jones is able to do otherwise in certain weaker senses we might attach to that phrase, and compatibilists in fact still think that the ability to do otherwise in some such senses is necessary for free will and moral responsibility. Consequently, even though Frankfurt-style cases have, as a matter of fact, moved many compatibilists away from emphasizing ability to do otherwise to emphasizing sourcehood, we suggest that this move is best seen as a weakening of the ability-to-do-otherwise condition on moral responsibility.

A potentially important exception to this claim is Sartorio [], who appealing to some controversial ideas in the metaphysics of causation appears to argue that no sense of the ability to do otherwise is necessary for control in the sense at stake for moral responsibility, but instead what matters is whether the agent is the cause of the action.

In this section, we will assume that Frankfurt-style cases are successful in order to consider two prominent compatibilist attempts to construct analyses of the sourcehood condition though see the entry on compatibilism for a more systematic survey of compatibilist theories of free will.

The first, and perhaps most popular, compatibilist model is a reasons-responsiveness model. While compatibilists develop this kind of account in different ways, the most detailed proposal is due to John Martin Fischer , , , ; Fischer and Ravizza For similar compatibilist treatments of reasons-responsiveness, see Wolf , Wallace , Haji , Nelkin , McKenna , Vargas , Sartorio One mechanism they often discuss is practical deliberation. For example, in the case of Jones discussed above, his decision to vote for Clinton on his own was brought about by the process of practical deliberation.

What must be true of this process, this mechanism, for it to be moderately reasons-responsive? Fischer and Ravizza maintain that moderate reasons-responsiveness consists in two conditions: reasons-receptivity and reasons-reactivity. The second condition is more important for us in the present context. Fischer and Ravizza argue that the kind of reasons-reactivity at stake is weak reasons-reactivity, where this merely requires that there is some possible world in which the laws of nature remain the same, the same mechanism operates, there is a sufficient reason to do otherwise, and the mechanism brings about this the alternative action in response to this sufficient reason 73— Fischer and Ravizza offer a novel and powerful theory of freedom and responsibility, one that has shifted the focus of recent debate to questions of sourcehood.

Moreover, one might argue that this theory is a clear improvement over classical compatibilism with respect to handling cases of phobia. By focusing on mechanisms, Fischer and Ravizza can argue that our agoraphobic Luke is not morally responsible for deciding to refrain from going outside because the mechanism that issues in this action—namely his agoraphobia—is not moderately reasons-responsive.

There is no world with the same laws of nature as our own, this mechanism operates, and yet it reacts to a sufficient reason to go outside. No matter what reasons there are for Luke to go outside, when acting on this mechanism, he will always refrain from going outside cf. As we have just seen, Fischer and Ravizza place clear modal requirements on mechanisms that issue in actions with respect to which agents are free and morally responsible.

Indeed, this should be clear from the very idea of reasons-responsiveness. Whether one is responsive depends not merely on how one does respond, but also on how one would respond. Thus, any account that makes reasons-responsiveness an essential condition of free will is an account that makes the ability to do otherwise, in some sense, necessary for free will Fischer [forthcoming] concedes this point, though, as noted above, the reader should consider Sartorio [] as a potential counterexample to this claim.

The second main compatibilist model of sourcehood is an identification model. Accounts of sourcehood of this kind lay stress on self-determination or autonomy: to be the source of her action the agent must self-determine her action. Like the contemporary discussion of the ability to do otherwise, the contemporary discussion of the power of self-determination begins with the failure of classical compatibilism to produce an acceptable definition. While Hobbes seems willing to accept this implication [], 78 , most contemporary compatibilists concede that this result is unacceptable.

The idea is that while agents are not or at least may not be identical to any motivations or bundle of motivations , they are identified with a subset of their motivations, rendering these motivations internal to the agent in such a way that any actions brought about by these motivations are self -determined. The identification relation is not an identity relation, but something weaker cf. Bratman , 39n What the precise nature of the identification relation is and to which attitudes an agent stands in this relation is hotly disputed.

Lippert-Rasmussen helpfully divides identification accounts into two main types. The second are authenticity accounts, according to which agents are identified with attitudes that reveal who they truly are But see Shoemaker for an ecumenical account of identification that blends these two accounts.

Proposed attitudes to which agents are said to stand in the identification relation include higher-order desires Frankfurt , cares or loves Frankfurt , ; Shoemaker ; Jaworska ; Sripada , self-governing policies Bratman , the desire to make sense of oneself Velleman , , and perceptions or judgments of the good or best Watson ; Stump ; Ekstrom ; Mitchell-Yellin According to classical compatibilists, the only kind of constraint is external e.

Identification theorists have the resources to concede that some constraints are internal. For example, they can argue that our agoraphobic Luke is not free in refraining from going outside even though this decision was caused by his strongest desires because he is not identified with his strongest desires.

It is important to note that while we have distinguished reasons-responsive accounts from identification accounts, there is nothing preventing one from combing both elements in a complete analysis of free will.

Even if these reasons-responsive and identification compatibilist accounts of sourcehood might successfully side-step the Consequence Argument, they must come to grips with a second incompatibilist argument: the Manipulation Argument. Suppose Diana succeeds in her plan and Ernie murders Jones as a result of her manipulation. Many judge that Ernie is not morally responsible for murdering Jones even though he satisfies both the reasons-responsive and identification criteria. There are two possible lines of reply open to compatibilists.

On the soft-line reply, compatibilists attempt to show that there is a relevant difference between manipulated agents such as Ernie and agents who satisfy their account McKenna , The problem with this reply is that we can easily imagine Diana creating Ernie so that his murdering Jones is a result not only of a moderately reasons-responsive mechanism, but also a mechanism for which he has taken responsibility.

On the hard-line reply, compatibilists concede that, despite initial appearances, the manipulated agent is free and morally responsible and attempt to ameliorate the seeming counterintuitiveness of this concession McKenna , — Some take the lesson of the Manipulation Argument to be that no compatibilist account of sourcehood or self-determination is satisfactory. Libertarians, while united in endorsing this negative condition on sourcehood, are deeply divided concerning which further positive conditions may be required.

It is important to note that while libertarians are united in insisting that compatibilist accounts of sourcehood are insufficient, they are not committed to thinking that the conditions of freedom spelled out in terms either of reasons-responsiveness or of identification are not necessary. Moreover, while this section focuses on libertarian accounts of sourcehood, we remind readers that most if not all libertarians think that the freedom to do otherwise is also necessary for free will and moral responsibility.

There are three main libertarian options for understanding sourcehood or self-determination: non-causal libertarianism Ginet , ; McCann ; Lowe ; Goetz ; Pink , event-causal libertarianism Wiggins ; Kane , , , ; Mele , chs. Non-causal libertarians contend that exercises of the power of self-determination need not or perhaps even cannot be caused or causally structured.

According to this view, we control our volition or choice simply in virtue of its being ours—its occurring in us. We do not exert a special kind of causality in bringing it about; instead, it is an intrinsically active event, intrinsically something we do. While there may be causal influences upon our choice, there need not be, and any such causal influence is wholly irrelevant to understanding why it occurs. Reasons provide an autonomous, non-causal form of explanation.

Provided our choice is not wholly determined by prior factors, it is free and under our control simply in virtue of being ours. Non-causal views have failed to garner wide support among libertarians since, for many, self- determination seems to be an essentially causal notion cf. Most libertarians endorse an event-causal or agent-causal account of sourcehood. Imagine a would-be accomplice of an assassin believes that his dropping his cigarette is the signal for the assassin to shoot his intended victim and he desires to drop his cigarette and yet this belief and desire so unnerve him that he accidentally drops his cigarette.

While the event of dropping the cigarette is caused by a relevant desire and belief it does not seem to be self-determined and perhaps is not even an action [cf. Davidson ]. To fully spell out this account, event-causal libertarians must specify which mental states and events are apt cf. Brand —which mental states and events are the springs of self-determined actions—and what nondeviance consists in cf.

Bishop We note that this has proven very difficult, enough so that some take the problem to spell doom for event-causal theories of action. Such philosophers [e. See Stout for a brisk survey of discussions of this topic. While historically many have thought that nondeterministic causation is impossible Hobbes [], []; Hume [], [] , with the advent of quantum physics and, from a very different direction, an influential essay by G. Anscombe , it is now widely assumed that nondeterministic or probabilistic causation is possible.

There are two importantly different ways to understand nondeterministic causation: as the causation of probability or as the probability of causation cf. Given that event-causal libertarians maintain that self-determined actions, and thus free actions, must be caused, they are committed to the probability of causation model of nondeterministic causation cf.

Franklin , 25— We note that Balaguer [] is skeptical of the above distinction, and it is thus unclear whether he should best be classified as a non-causal or event-causal libertarian though see Balaguer [] for evidence that it is best to treat him as a non-causalist. Agent-causal libertarians contend that the event-causal picture fails to capture self-determination, for it fails to accord the agent with a power to settle what she does.

Pereboom offers a forceful statement of this worry:. On an event-causal libertarian picture, the relevant causal conditions antecedent to the decision, i. In fact, because no occurrence of antecedent events settles whether the decision will occur, and only antecedent events are causally relevant, nothing settles whether the decision will occur.

Pereboom , 32; cf. But what more must be added? Agent-causal libertarians maintain that self-determination requires that the agent herself play a causal role over and above the causal role played by her reasons. But all agent-causal libertarians insist that exercises of the power of self-determination do not reduce to nondeterministic causation by apt mental states: agent-causation does not reduce to event-causation.

Agent-causal libertarianism seems to capture an aspect of self-determination that neither the above compatibilists accounts nor event-causal libertarian accounts capture. Some compatibilists even accept this and try to incorporate agent-causation into a compatibilist understanding of free will. See Markosian , ; Nelkin These accounts reduce the causal role of the self to states and events to which the agent is not identical even if he is identified with them.

But how can self -determination of my actions wholly reduce to determination of my actions by things other than the self? Despite its powerful intuitive pull for some, many have argued that agent-causal libertarianism is obscure or even incoherent.

With respect to the first worry, it is widely assumed that the only or at least best way to understand reasons-explanation and motivational influence is within a causal account of reasons, where reasons cause our actions Davidson ; Mele For further discussion see the entry on incompatibilist nondeterministic theories of free will. Finally, we note that some recent philosophers have questioned the presumed difference between event- and agent-causation by arguing that all causation is object or substance causation.

Most philosophers theorizing about free will take themselves to be attempting to analyze a near-universal power of mature human beings. Israel highlights a number of such skeptics in the early modern period. In this section, we summarize the main lines of argument both for and against the reality of human freedom of will. There are both a priori and empirical arguments against free will See the entry on skepticism about moral responsibility.

Several of these start with an argument that free will is incompatible with causal determinism, which we will not rehearse here. Instead, we focus on arguments that human beings lack free will, against the background assumption that freedom and causal determinism are incompatible. The most radical a priori argument is that free will is not merely contingently absent but is impossible. In recent decades, this argument is most associated with Galen Strawson , ch. And so on, ad infinitum. Free choice requires an impossible infinite regress of choices to be the way one is in making choices.

Mele , ff. Freedom is principally a feature of our actions, and only derivatively of our characters from which such actions spring. The task of the theorist is to show how one is in rational, reflective control of the choices one makes, consistent with there being no freedom-negating conditions. Clarke , —76 argues that an effective reply may be made by indeterminists, and, in particular, by nondeterministic agent-causal theorists.

For discussion of the ways that nature, nurture, and contingent circumstances shape our behavior and raise deep issues concerning the extent of our freedom and responsibility, see Levy and Russell , chs. A second family of arguments against free will contend that, in one way or another, nondeterministic theories of freedom entail either that agents lack control over their choices or that the choices cannot be adequately explained. For statements of such arguments, see van Inwagen , ch.

We note that some philosophers advance such arguments not as parts of a general case against free will, but merely as showing the inadequacy of specific accounts of free will [see, e. Such terms have been imported from other contexts and have come to function as quasi-technical, unanalyzed concepts in these debates, and it is perhaps more helpful to avoid such proxies and to conduct the debates directly in terms of the metaphysical notion of control and epistemic notion of explanation.

Where the arguments question whether an undetermined agent can exercise appropriate control over the choice he makes, proponents of nondeterministic theories often reply that control is not exercised prior to, but at the time of the choice—in the very act of bringing it about see, e.

We now consider empirical arguments against human freedom. Some of these stem from the physical sciences while making assumptions concerning the way physical phenomena fix psychological phenomena and others from neuroscience and psychology.

It used to be common for philosophers to argue that there is empirical reason to believe that the world in general is causally determined, and since human beings are parts of the world, they are too. While quantum mechanics has proven spectacularly successful as a framework for making precise and accurate predictions of certain observable phenomena, its implications for the causal structure of reality is still not well understood, and there are competing indeterministic and deterministic interpretations.

See the entry on quantum mechanics for detailed discussion. But this idea, once common, is now being challenged empirically, even at the level of basic biology. Furthermore, the social, biological, and medical sciences, too, are rife with merely statistical generalizations. Plainly, the jury is out on all these inter-theoretic questions. But that is just a way to say that current science does not decisively support the idea that everything we do is pre-determined by the past, and ultimately by the distant past, wholly out of our control.

For discussion, see Balaguer , Koch , Roskies , Ellis Now some of the a priori no-free-will arguments above center on nondeterministic theories according to which there are objective antecedent probabilities associated with each possible choice outcome. Why objective probabilities of this kind might present special problems beyond those posed by the absence of determinism has been insufficiently explored to date.

But one philosopher who argues that there is reason to hold that our actions, if undetermined, are governed by objective probabilities and that this fact calls into question whether we act freely is Derk Pereboom , ch. Pereboom notes that our best physical theories indicate that statistical laws govern isolated, small-scale physical events, and he infers from the thesis that human beings are wholly physically composed that such statistical laws will also govern all the physical components of human actions.

Finally, Pereboom maintains that agent-causal libertarianism offers the correct analysis of free will. The proposal that agent-caused free choices do not diverge from what the statistical laws predict for the physical components of our actions would run so sharply counter to what we would expect as to make it incredible.

Others see support for free will skepticism from specific findings and theories in the human sciences. They point to evidence that we can be unconsciously influenced in the choices we make by a range of factors, including ones that are not motivationally relevant; that we can come to believe that we chose to initiate a behavior that in fact was artificially induced; that people subject to certain neurological disorders will sometimes engage in purposive behavior while sincerely believing that they are not directing them.

Finally, a great deal of attention has been given to the work of neuroscientist Benjamin Libet If one is a compatibilist, then a case for the reality of free will requires evidence for our being effective agents who for the most part are aware of what we do and why we are doing it. If one is an incompatibilist, then the case requires in addition evidence for causal indeterminism, occurring in the right locations in the process leading from deliberation to action.

Instead, incompatibilists usually give one of the following two bases for rational belief in freedom both of which can be given by compatibilists, too. First, philosophers have long claimed that we have introspective evidence of freedom in our experience of action, or perhaps of consciously attended or deliberated action.

Augustine and Scotus, discussed earlier, are two examples among many. In recent years, philosophers have been more carefully scrutinizing the experience of agency and a debate has emerged concerning its contents, and in particular whether it supports an indeterministic theory of human free action.

For discussion, see Deery et al. Second, philosophers e. Most philosophers hold that some beliefs have that status, on pain of our having no justified beliefs whatever. It is controversial, however, just which beliefs do because it is controversial which criteria a belief must satisfy to qualify for that privileged status. Our belief in free will seems to meet these criteria, but whether they are sufficient will be debated.

Other philosophers defend a variation on this stance, maintaining instead that belief in the reality of moral responsibility is epistemically basic, and that since moral responsibility entails free will, or so it is claimed, we may infer the reality of free will see, e. A large portion of Western philosophical work on free will has been written within an overarching theological framework, according to which God is the ultimate source, sustainer, and end of all else. Some of these thinkers draw the conclusion that God must be a sufficient, wholly determining cause for everything that happens; all of them suppose that every creaturely act necessarily depends on the explanatorily prior, cooperative activity of God.

It is also commonly presumed by philosophical theists that human beings are free and responsible on pain of attributing evil in the world to God alone, and so impugning His perfect goodness. Hence, those who believe that God is omni-determining typically are compatibilists with respect to freedom and in this case theological determinism. Edwards [] is a good example. These positions turn on subtle distinctions, which have recently been explored by Freddoso , Kvanvig and McCann , Grant , and Judisch A standard argument for the incompatibility of free will and causal determinism has a close theological analogue.

But it is not up to us what went on before we were born, and neither is it up to us what the laws of nature are. Since God cannot get things wrong, his believing that something will be so entails that it will be so. An excellent discussion of these arguments in tandem and attempts to point to relevant disanalogies between causal determinism and infallible foreknowledge may be found in the introduction to Fischer See also the entry on foreknowledge and free will.

Another issue concerns how knowledge of God, the ultimate Good, would impact human freedom. Many philosophical theologians, especially the medieval Aristotelians, were drawn to the idea that human beings cannot but will that which they take to be an unqualified good. As noted above, Duns Scotus is an exception to this consensus, as were Ockham and Suarez subsequently, but their dissent is limited. Following Pascal, Murray , argues that a good God would choose to make His existence and character less than certain for human beings, for the sake of preserving their freedom.

He will do so, the argument goes, at least for a period of time in which human beings participate in their own character formation. See also the other essays in Howard-Snyder and Moser If it is true that God withholds our ability to be certain of his existence for the sake of our freedom, then it is natural to conclude that humans will lack freedom in heaven.

And it is anyways common to traditional Jewish, Christian, and Muslim theologies to maintain that humans cannot sin in heaven. Even so, traditional Christian theology at least maintains that human persons in heaven are free. What sort of freedom is in view here, and how does it relate to mundane freedom?

Two good recent discussions of these questions are Pawl and Timpe and Tamburro Finally, there is the question of the freedom of God himself. Perfect goodness is an essential, not acquired, attribute of God. God cannot lie or be in any way immoral in His dealings with His creatures appearances notwithstanding. Did we not contemplate immediately above that human freedom would be curtailed by our having an unmistakable awareness of what is in fact the Good?

And yet is it not passing strange to suppose that God should be less than perfectly free? One suggested solution to this puzzle takes as its point of departure the distinction noted in section 2. For human beings or any created persons who owe their existence to factors outside themselves, the only way their acts of will could find their ultimate origin in themselves is for such acts not to be determined by their character and circumstances.

For if all my willings were wholly determined, then if we were to trace my causal history back far enough, we would ultimately arrive at external factors that gave rise to me, with my particular genetic dispositions. My motives at the time would not be the ultimate source of my willings, only the most proximate ones. As is generally the case, things are different on this point in the case of God. As Anselm observed, even if God's character absolutely precludes His performing certain actions in certain contexts, this will not imply that some external factor is in any way a partial origin of His willings and refrainings from willing.

Indeed, this would not be so even if he were determined by character to will everything which He wills. Well, then, might God have willed otherwise in any respect? The majority view in the history of philosophical theology is that He indeed could have.

He might have chosen not to create anything at all. And given that He did create, He might have created any number of alternatives to what we observe. But there have been noteworthy thinkers who argued the contrary position, along with others who clearly felt the pull of the contrary position even while resisting it. The most famous such thinker is Leibniz [] , who argued that God, being both perfectly good and perfectly powerful, cannot fail to will the best possible world.

Leibniz insisted that this is consistent with saying that God is able to will otherwise, although his defense of this last claim is notoriously difficult to make out satisfactorily. One way this could be is if there is no well-ordering of worlds: some pairs of worlds are sufficiently different in kind that they are incommensurate with each other neither is better than the other, nor are they equal and no world is better than either of them.

Another way this could be is if there is no upper limit on goodness of worlds: for every possible world God might have created, there are others infinitely many, in fact which are better. If such is the case, one might argue, it is reasonable for God to arbitrarily choose which world to create from among those worlds exceeding some threshold value of overall goodness.

However, William Rowe has countered that the thesis that there is no upper limit on goodness of worlds has a very different consequence: it shows that there could not be a morally perfect Creator! It seems we can now imagine a morally better Creator: one having the same options who chooses to create a better world. For critical replies to Rowe, see Almeida , ch. The reason is that there is no plausible account of how an absolutely perfect God might have a resistible motivation—one consideration among other, competing considerations—for creating something rather than nothing.

It obviously cannot have to do with any sort of utility, for example. Perfect goodness will naturally communicate itself outwardly; God who is perfect goodness will naturally create, generating a dependent reality that imperfectly reflects that goodness.

Wainwright discusses a somewhat similar line of thought in the Puritan thinker Jonathan Edwards. Alexander Pruss , however, raises substantial grounds for doubt concerning this line of thought. Major Historical Contributions 1. The Nature of Free Will 2. Sourcehood Accounts 2. Do We Have Free Will?

Reid explains: I consider the determination of the will as an effect. While it is intelligible to ask whether a man willed to do what he did, it is incoherent to ask whether a man willed to will what he did: For to ask whether a man is at liberty to will either motion or rest, speaking or silence, which he pleases, is to ask whether a man can will what he wills , or be pleased with what he is pleased with?

Sourcehood Accounts Some have tried to avoid these lingering problems for compatibilists by arguing that the freedom to do otherwise is not required for free will or moral responsibility. Here is a representative Frankfurt-style case: Imagine, if you will, that Black is a quite nifty and even generally nice neurosurgeon.

Pereboom offers a forceful statement of this worry: On an event-causal libertarian picture, the relevant causal conditions antecedent to the decision, i. Theological Wrinkles A large portion of Western philosophical work on free will has been written within an overarching theological framework, according to which God is the ultimate source, sustainer, and end of all else.

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