Indirect compatibilism

Noûs 58 (1):141-162 (2024)
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In this paper I will introduce a new compatibilist account of free action: indirect conscious control compatibilism, or just indirect compatibilism for short. On this account, actions are free either when they are caused by compatibilist‐friendly conscious psychological processes, or else by sub‐personal level processes influenced in particular ways by compatibilist‐friendly conscious psychological processes. This view is motivated by a problem faced by a certain family of compatibilist views, which I call conscious control views. These views hold that we act freely when we act in a way that is caused by certain conscious psychological processes. One problem for such views is that current neuroscience suggests that most of our actions are not caused by such processes. Instead, many of the actions we typically suppose are free are caused by sub‐personal level processes and hence would count as not free according to contemporary conscious control views. I argue, contra these views, that many actions caused by these sub‐personal level processes are indirectly free. Further, most of the actions we ordinarily judge to be free are free in this indirect manner.

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Andrew James Latham
Aarhus University


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