Compatibilism as Non-Ideal Theory: A Manifesto

In David Shoemaker, Santiago Amaya & Manuel Vargas (eds.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility Volume 8: Non-Ideal Agency and Responsibility. Oxford University Press (2024)
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This paper articulates and responds to a challenge to contemporary compatibilist views of free will. Despite the popularity and appeal of compatibilist theories, many are left with lingering doubts about compatibilism. This paper explains this doubt in terms of the absurdity challenge: because a compatibilist accepts that they do not have causal access to all the actual sufficient causal sources of their own agency, the compatibilist can find their own agency absurd. By taking a cue from political philosophy, this paper argues that a non-ideal construction of the problem of free will allows compatibilists to overcome this existential-metaphysical challenge, and by doing so, perhaps adopt a metaphysically progressive picture of human agency.

Author's Profile

Robert H. Wallace
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo


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