Contextualizing Free Will

Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 74 (2):187-204 (2020)
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Hawthorne toys with the view that ascriptions of free will are context-sensitive. But the way he formulates the view makes freedom contextualism look like a non-starter. I step into the breach for freedom contextualism. My aim is twofold. On the one hand, I argue that freedom contextualism can be motivated on the basis of our ordinary practice of freedom attribution is not ad hoc. The view explains data which cannot be accounted for by an ambiguity hypothesis. On the other hand, I suggest a more plausible freedom contextualist analysis, which emerges naturally once we pair the assumption that freedom requires that the agent could have acted otherwise with a plausible semantics of "can" statements. I'll dub the resulting view Alternate Possibilities Contextualism, or APC, for short. In contrast to Hawthorne's view, APC is well-motivated in its own right, does not beg the question against the incompatibilist and delivers a context parameter which allows for a wide range of context shifts. I conclude that, far from being a non-starter, freedom contextualism sets an agenda worth pursuing.

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Romy Jaster
Humboldt-University, Berlin


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