Determination from Above

Philosophical Issues 33 (1):237-251 (2023)
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There are many historical concerns about freedom that have come to be deemphasized in the free will literature itself—for instance, worries around the tyranny of government or the alienation of capitalism. It is hard to see how the current free will literature respects these, or indeed how they could even find expression. This paper seeks to show how these and other concerns can be reintegrated into the debate by appealing to a levels ontology. Recently, Christian List and others have considered how the notion of levels could be relevant to the free will debate. Invariably, however, the focus is on the significance of facts at lower levels. The threats come from below, from fundamental physics or neuroscience. Here, I aim to show how we can frame many interesting concerns about free will in terms of threats from above. After arguing that determination from above is no less threatening, I catalogue such concerns that might constitute threats to our freedom. Doing this not only allows us to show how these concerns relate to those standardly discussed, but it pushes us to expand our conception of freedom.

Author's Profile

Kenneth Silver
Trinity College, Dublin


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