Free Will in Experimental Philosophy

Topics: Free will, Determinism, Libertarianism Pages: 4 (1592 words) Published: December 10, 2012
Although the “free will” problem envelops a spectrum of ideas, I agree with the following belief: “The folk are compatibilists about free will.” While there are, of course, incompatibilists and indeterminists, for the most part, the general population consists of compatibilists. Now, I know experimental philosophy has a problem with the use of generalizations without actual statistics, but throughout this paper, I will explain exactly why the world revolves in a generally compatibilist manner.

Firstly, to speak of compatibilism, you’d have to assume that the world is deterministic, meaning that everything that happens from here on out, including human action, is caused by the facts of everything that has happened before it. With that assumption in mind, compatibilist believe that we still have free will as long as we aren’t operating under external limitations. The problem with that is that although compatibilists believe we are free, there is still disagreement on just exactly how free we may be, which is the weak spot indeterminists and incompatibilists use to try to break the argument.

One nature of compatibilism is referred to as classic compatibilism. This means that we’d be acting freely as long as we, without being impeded by any outside force, take a course of action that we personally choose for ourselves. These compatibilists believe that it is the presence of impediments such as “physical restraints, lack of opportunity, duress or coercion, physical or mental impairment, and the like” that would cause us to not act freely (Caruso, 2012). However, this line of reasoning is not accepted by those who support the Consequence Argument. In the simplest terms, this argument states that no one has power over the facts of the past and the laws of nature. Also, no one has power over the fact that the facts of the past and the laws of nature entail every fact of the future (i.e., determinism is true). Because of that, no one has power over the facts of the...

References: Caruso, G. D. (2012). The Folk Psychology of Free Will: Arguement Against Compatibilism. Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy, 26, 56-89.
Frankfurt, H. G. (1971, January 14). Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person. The Journal of Philosophy, 5-20.
McKenna, M. (2004, April 26). Compatibilism. Retrieved from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/
Nahmias, E., Stephen, M., Nadelhoffer, T., & Turner, J. (2005, October). Surverying Freedom: Folk Intuitions about Free Will and Moral Responsibility. Philosophical Psychology, 18(5), 561 - 584.
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