Free Will and Open Alternatives

Open access


In her recent book Causation and Free Will, Carolina Sartorio develops a distinctive version of an actual-sequence account of free will, according to which, when agents choose and act freely, their freedom is exclusively grounded in, and supervenes on, the actual causal history of such choices or actions. Against this proposal, I argue for an alternative- possibilities account, according to which agents’ freedom is partly grounded in their ability to choose or act otherwise. Actual-sequence accounts of freedom (and moral responsibility) are motivated by a reflection on so-called Frankfurt cases. Instead, other cases, such as two pairs of examples originally designed by van Inwagen, threaten actual-sequence accounts, including Sartorio’s. On the basis of her (rather complex) view of causation, Sartorio contends, however, that the two members of each pair have different causal histories, so that her view is not undermined by those cases after all. I discuss these test cases further and defend my alternative-possibilities account of freedom.

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