that, in my view, readers of An Essay on Free Will, have been insufficiently Peter van Inwagen is the John Cardinal O’Hara Professor of Philosophy in the. Cambridge Core – Epistemology and Metaphysics – Thinking about Free Will – by Peter van Inwagen. Peter van Inwagen, University of Notre Dame, Indiana . Chapter 12 – Author’s Preface to the French Translation of An Essay on Free Will. An Essay on Free Will has 56 ratings and 3 reviews. In this stimulating and thought-provoking book, the author defends the thesis that free will is incom.

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How to join Forgot your password? Before van Inwagen then, incompatibilists were libertarians, opposing the idea that free will is compatible with determinism. The conclusion of the argument whose course is summarized in the last few paragraphs is that neither physics nor pure reason supports determinism, and, moreover, that the scientific study of human beings does not support the thesis that the behaviour of human beings is “for all practical purposes” determined.

Nevertheless, ‘law of nature’ seems to be an intelligible concept and one we can’t get along without if we wish to give a complete description of the world. But reason has convinced me that free will is incompatible with determinism, and I have to accept the deliverances of reason, however unpalatable they may be. Van Inwagen does not seem to mind that “incompatibilism” lumps together opposite schools – hard determinists and libertarians Soft determinism is the conjunction of determinism and compatibilism; hard determinism is the conjunction of determinism and incompatibilism; libertarianism is the conjunction of incompatibilism and the thesis that we have free will.

Consider the sentence, ‘Castro could have arranged for Kennedy’s assassination’. Samuel rated it liked it Apr 10, If free will is incompatible with both determinism and indeterminism, then, since either determinism or indeterminism has to be true, free will is impossible.

I think this “direct” argument for the incompatibility of responsibility and determinism will have the following feature: I shall devote the bulk of Chapter V to showing that even if Frankfurt is right, it is none the less true that moral responsibility is possible only if we have free will.

An Essay on Free Will – Peter Van Inwagen – Google Books

Then the thesis of determinism is false. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. And, therefore, the Compatibility Problem is not going to be solved by jejune reflections on compulsion. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Therefore, these examples show that the conditions we have been examining are not jointly sufficient for lawhood.


Incompatibilism, therefore, may perhaps be described as the thesis that free action is “extra-causal”; to say it is the doctrine that free action is “contra-causal” can only lead to confusion. Let us turn from inwaggen libertarians want to have to what they want to be true. It is in these senses that I shall understand ‘free will’ and ‘determinism’. Dan Sheffler rated it liked it Feb 18, Then every event is caused by an earlier event that necessitates it; nevertheless, determinism might be false, for as Lukasiewicz pointed out, there might be a pair of times, t1 and t2, such that i a certain event A happens at t2, ii A is the final member of an infinite chain of causes, and iii every member of this chain occurs later than t1.

I object to these terms because they lump together theses that should be discussed and ob separately. Van Inwagen is not one of those. The Consequence Argument is my name for the standard argument various more-or-less equivalent versions of the argument have been formulated by C.

Drew Hall rated it it was amazing Feb 08, I think there are two possible answers. Sadly, many philosophers mistake indeterminism to imply that nothing is causal and therefore that everything is completely random.

But intersidereal travel, if it should ever come to pass, will always be a matter of years or centuries.

Nevertheless, I think that the concept expressed by ‘can’ in the examples given in the preceding paragraph—the concept of the power or ability of an agent to act—is as clear as any philosophically interesting concept is likely to be. Determinism in this sense must be carefully distinguished from what we might call the Principle of Universal Causation, that is, from the thesis that every event or fact, change, or state of affairs has a cause.

But reason has convinced him it is incompatible. Quite the other way round, if you ask me.

Peter van Inwagen, An Essay on Free Will – PhilPapers

Now some philosophers will perhaps want to protest at this point in the argument that while I may indeed have shown that in some sense free will is incompatible with determinism, and while I may have shown that free will in some sense is logically necessary for moral responsibility, I have not shown that there is any single notion of free will that has both these features.


It would make everything so simple. I am particularly doubtful about 2. Peter van Inwagen – – Philosophical Studies 75 Can Libertarians Make Promises? Van Inwagen recently produced a very clear proposal for thinking about free will. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. Inter-continental travel, now a matter of hours, was once a matter of months or years.

I shall argue that this common contention is sheer bluff. Polish – woli – is an exception to the rule. For a man to have the capacity to understand French is for him to be such that if he were placed in certain circumstances, which wouldn’t be very hard to delimit, and if he were to hear French spoken, then, willy-nilly, he would understand what was being said.

What Makes a Manipulated Agent Unfree? In van Inwagen’s purely material world immaterial ideas simply can not exist. Here is an argument that I think is obvious I don’t mean it’s obviously right; I mean it’s one that should occur pretty quickly to any philosopher who asked himself what arguments could be found to support incompatibilism: It is important to consider this thesis because: How important one takes this consequence to be will, of course, depend on how important one thinks consistency is.

Ryan Cole rated it it was amazing Jan 28, Today, Van Inwagen is one of the leading figures in contemporary metaphysics, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of action.

An Essay on Free Will

Those who, like me, do not object to talk of “possible worlds” may think of the matter this way: When I say of a man that he “has free will” I mean that very often, if not always, when he has to choose between two or more mutually incompatible courses of action — such that he can, or is able to, or has it within his power to carry out.

I should think that any philosopher in his or her right mind would want compatibilism to be true. Let us call the conjunction of these “controversial” premisses P.