Supervenient Freedom and the Free Will Deadlock

  • 1 University College, University of Oxford , Oxford, UK
  • 2 Department of Philosophy, King’s College London London, United Kingdom Division of Physiology and Neuroscience Department of Biosciences, University of Helsinki , Helsinki, Finland


Supervenient libertarianism maintains that indeterminism may exist at a supervening agency level, consistent with determinism at a subvening physical level. It seems as if this approach has the potential to break the longstanding deadlock in the free will debate, since it concedes to the traditional incompatibilist that agents can only do otherwise if they can do so in their actual circumstances, holding the past and the laws constant, while nonetheless arguing that this ability is compatible with physical determinism. However, we argue that supervenient libertarianism faces some serious problems, and that it fails to break us free from this deadlock within the free will debate.

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