Taking Hobart Seriously

Philosophia 49 (4):1407-1426 (2020)
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Abstract

Hobart’s classic 1934 paper “Free Will as Involving Determination and Inconceivable Without It” has been widely cited as an example of an argument for the view that free will requires the truth of determinism. In this paper, I argue that this reading of Hobart’s paper is mistaken and that we should instead read Hobart as arguing that an agent exercises their free will only if the proximate causes of the agent’s action deterministically cause their action. After arguing that Hobart’s view, rightly understood, escapes the problems typically raised for Hobart’s compatibilism, I also argue that Hobart’s view is problematic for different reasons. Nevertheless, I argue that there is a crucial insight to be gleaned from Hobart’s paper—one that provides compatibilists with a new recipe for challenging libertarian accounts of free will.

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Taylor W. Cyr
Samford University

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