Christian List on free will

For many people, the idea of free will is bound up with the notion of “could have done otherwise”. By their lights, if only one future is possible for a person — that is, if the person cannot do otherwise — then free will is an illusion.

Philosopher Christian List — author of the recent book Why Free Will is Real — proposes an interesting species of free will based on the claim that while physics may be deterministic, behaviors at the agent level are not. Agents can do otherwise, according to List, and this is enough to ground free will even if physics is deterministic.

I think List is mistaken, but I’ll save my criticisms for the comment thread.

Readers can find List’s argument in this paper:

Free Will, Determinism, and the Possibility of Doing Otherwise

See you in the comment thread.


756 thoughts on “Christian List on free will

  1. walto: Just aping nonsense there.

    Do you see any difference between giving money away and lending money?

  2. CharlieM: And what if they acted out of pure unconditional love without any expectation of how it was going to make them feel?

    It would depend if one can freely can chose to have pure, unconditional love. If one can ,how one feels would depend on the reasoning behind the choice.

    Otherwise they would feel compelled by emotion of pure ,unconditional love and their action would be more deterministic.

  3. CharlieM,

    My point is that his arguments are bad. If a sentence here and there within his windy oratory happens to be true, good for both of you.

  4. CharlieM: Do you see any difference between giving money away and lending money?

    Sure, why? Do you think that difference makes one a free act and the other compelled?

  5. If anyone did not get their Joni Mitchell fill from this thread, here is a nice video of her demoing “Coyote” to others in a 70s Dylan tour. It’s an excerpt from the Dylan documentary now on Netflix.

    Her demo takes place in Gordon Lightfoot’s house in Canada, which, in a circumstance which may surprise many USAers, is not in fact an igloo.


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