- Big Picture
- Nature of Free Will
- Classical Determinism
- Neural Determinism
- Psychological Determinism
- Quantum Probability
- Arguments for Free Will
- Principle of Alternate Possibilities
Do people have free will?
“The most contentious question of metaphysics, the most contentious science” (David Hume)
Nature of Free Will
- Is free will …
- being able to choose among alternatives?
- being able to have done otherwise had you wanted, chosen, or tried to?
- being able to have done otherwise under the same conditions?
View Nature of Free Will
Classical Determinism is the thesis that every event is determined by laws of nature and antecedent conditions.
Neural Determinism is the view that free will is incompatible with the operation of the brain.
View Neural Determinism
Psychological Determinism is the claim that human actions are determined by psychological laws, e.g. the Law of Strongest Motive.
Quantum Probability is the claim that free will is incompatible with the probabilities predicted by Quantum Mechanics.
View Quantum Probability
Arguments for Free Will
- During deliberation it’s self-evident to a person that they can choose any option under consideration.
- Moral Responsibility
- People are morally responsible for some of their actions.
- A person is morally responsible for an action only if they can act otherwise.
- Therefore, people can sometimes act otherwise.
- Making a Virtue of Necessity
- What’s rational to believe must be believable.
Principle of Alternate Possibilities
The Principle of Alternate Possibilities (PAP) is that people are morally responsible only if they could have done otherwise.
- People believe they have categorical free will, that they could have done otherwise under conditions at the time.
- Moral responsibility requires categorical free will.
- Thus, having categorical free will matters to people.
- Neural Determinism and Quantum Probability are incompatible with categorical free will.
- There is substantial evidence supporting Neural Determinism and Quantum Probability.
- There is no compelling argument for categorical free will.
- Hence there is substantial evidence that a belief that matters to people – that they could have done otherwise under the conditions at the time – is false.