Where Free Will and Nature Meet

19 May 2010

St Peter's College, Oxford

A Sketch of how Agents enter the World of Events

I shall give a brief account of what I believe to be the most defensible form of Libertarianism, one which combines agent-causation and event-causation to enable what I call 'ultimate authorship' - this all motivated by a commitment to Source Incompatibilism and our being free in more or less the sense we ordinarily take ourselves to be. As I believe that a Libertarianism along these lines must be true, so I look forward to hearing and responding to criticisms of the account and improving it thereby.

What Parts of the Free Will Problem Does (the right kind of) Indeterminism Solve?

  • John Dupre

Generally, I claim that my kind of indeterminism makes it entirely unproblematic that humans should be autonomous and causally efficacious (a kind of agent causation, I suppose).  Whether it makes them the right sort of causal agent is much harder.  Even within the local concentration of causal order around a particular agent, the causal history of an action seems to trace back to things for which the agent is not obviously responsible.  Can this be blocked, and if not, does it matter?

Free Will, Contexts and the Laws of Physics

  • Robert Bishop

Free will debates can be boiled down to the question of how to make sense of human free choice and action in a realm of ordered causes. In the modern era, this question has been cast as the question of free will and determinism. That framing almost always is developed against the background of the laws of nature and seemingly unending chains of efficient cause and effect. Indeed, since the 17th century the tendency has been to use the deterministic theories of physics as the models for construing all other forms of determinism, metaphysical or otherwise, with regards to human action. However, these implications depend upon a thesis known as the causal closure of the physical or, alternatively, the causal completeness of the physical (CoP). If all effects are physical effects, and CoP is true, then all causes are supposedly physical causes. Free will and human action would be among these physical causes and on this view. I argue that this prima facie picture is misleading. Instead, modern physics provides only necessary conditions for the physical possibilities of human action and free will.

Rethinking Free Will: New Perspectives on an Ancient Problem