Consciousness and Free Will: A Critique of the Argument from Introspection

Southwest Philosophy Review 24 (1):219-231 (2008)
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Abstract

One of the main libertarian arguments in support of free will is the argument from introspection. This argument places a great deal of faith in our conscious feeling of freedom and our introspective abilities. People often infer their own freedom from their introspective phenomenology of freedom. It is here argued that from the fact that I feel myself free, it does not necessarily follow that I am free. I maintain that it is our mistaken belief in the transparency and infallibility of consciousness that gives the introspective argument whatever power it possesses. Once we see that consciousness is neither transparent nor infallible, the argument from introspection loses all of its force. I argue that since we do not have direct, infallible access to our own minds, to rely on introspection to infer our own freedom would be a mistake.

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Gregg D. Caruso
Corning Community College

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