Experimental Philosophy, Robert Kane, and the Concept of Free Will

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Trends in experimental philosophy have provided new and compelling results that are cause for re-evaluations in contemporary discussions of free will. In this paper, I argue for one such re-evaluation by criticizing Robert Kane’s well-known views on free will. I argue that Kane’s claims about pre-theoretical intuitions are not supported by empirical findings on two accounts. First, it is unclear that either incompatibilism or compatibalism is more intuitive to nonphilosophers, as different ways of asking about free will and responsibility reveal different answers. Secondly, I discuss how a study by Josh May supporting a cluster concept of free will may provide ethicists with a reason to give up a definitional model, and I discuss a direction future work might take. Both of these objections come from a larger project concerned with understanding the cognitive mechanisms that people employ when they make judgments about agency and responsibility—a project that promises not only to challenge contemporary philosophy, but to inform it.
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