Free your mind: Buddhism, causality, and the free will problem

Zygon 55 (2):461-473 (2020)
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The problem of free will is associated with a specific and significant kind of control over our actions, which is understood primarily in the sense that we have the freedom to do otherwise or the capacity for self‐determination. Is Buddhism compatible with such a conception of free will? The aim of this article is to address three critical issues concerning the free will problem: (1) what role should accounts of physical and neurobiological processes play in discussions of free will? (2) Is a conception of mental autonomy grounded in practices of meditative cultivation compatible with the three cardinal Buddhist doctrines of momentariness, dependent arising, and no‐self? (3) Are there enough resources in Buddhism, given its antisubstantialist metaphysics, to account for personal agency, self‐control, and moral responsibility?

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Christian Coseru
College of Charleston


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