Free Will and Abilities to Act

In Streit um die Freiheit: Philosophische und theologische Beiträge. Paderborn: Schoeningh/Brill (forthcoming)
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This paper examines the view of abilities to act advanced by Kadri Vihvelin in Causes, Laws, and Free Will. Vihvelin argues that (i) abilities of an important kind are “structurally” like dispositions such as fragility; (ii) ascriptions of dispositions can be analyzed in terms of counterfactual conditionals; (iii) ascriptions of abilities of the kind in question can be analyzed similarly; and (iv) we have the free will we think we have by having abilities of this kind and being in circumstances that are propitious for their exercise. I raise doubt about each of these claims. Further, I argue that even if abilities of the kind in question are dispositions, and even if determinism is compatible with our commonly having unexercised abilities of this kind, the compatibility of determinism and free will remains in question.
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