Essays Conceptual Analysis

This is a puzzle faced by all accounts of responsibility, but there is something pressing about it in the case of libertarianism.

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Suppose the libertarian offers us an answer to these questions, and the other empirical challenges I raised in the prior section. It is a concern about what work the indeterminism does in libertarianism, apart from providing a way to preserve our default self-image as deliberators with genuine, metaphysically robust alternative possibilities.

(p.148) Naturalists argue that humans are just a form of animal and that we lack free will because animals do.

That sense of freedom — whatever it amounts to — is what we mean to get at by the phrase "free will." However, there may be things for which free will might be important or other senses of free will that are independent of concerns about moral responsibility.

For example, philosophers have worried whether free will is required for some human achievements to have a special worth or value, or for there to be values and valuing in any robust sense.

We must separate the "free" thoughts from the "willed" actions.

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A random thought can lead to an adequately determined action, for which we can take full responsibility.

These random events create alternative possibilities for action.

Freedom requires some events that are not causally determined by immediately preceding events, events that are unpredictable by any agency, events involving quantum uncertainty.

(Libertarians do not like this requirement.) Adequate determinism means that randomness in our thoughts about alternative possibilities does not directly cause our actions.

This requires that any randomness not be the direct cause of our actions.


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