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Free Will: A Very Short Introduction


Unfortunately, I think most of my notes disappeared for complicated reasons. All I can say is that much of the book was validating. The major criticism of libertarian free will is something that I came up with during my undergrad years, having never read any academic philosophy on the matter.

What was aggravating was that Pink kept on hinting that he had a response of some sort, but it ended up to be pretty empty I think. The main criticism is that libertarian free will is incoherent. If it is random, that is not free will. If it is determined, that is not free will. If it is just some combination, that is not either.  I think that determined and random exhaust the field, and I challenge anyone to introduce a third option. Pink claims there is one, but doesn’t say anything about it, instead just asserting that people are dogmatic in believing that there is not. Whatever there is that might be neither determined, nor random, I’d love to hear an explanation. But until then, it feels like Pink is making blind appeals.

Libertarianism needs to explain how an action can be causally undetermined by past events without, however, being merely random or blind. And many philosophers have doubted that any such story can be given. For this reason, despite our naturally libertarian intuitions, many, perhaps most, modern philosophers are inclined instead to Compatibilism or to Scepticism (404)

Note: Validation! I made the same argument in college.

But the fact remains that our natural intuitions are incompatibilist (414)

Note: How about some evidence for this?

In particular, we have no compelling reason to abandon our libertarian intuitions. There really is a coherent account of how incompatibilist freedom can be exercised in human action. So there is certainly nothing internally confused or contradictory in our natural belief that we enjoy such a freedom. It is at least very possible that how we act is indeed up to us in just the way that we ordinarily suppose (439)


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