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Core Concepts

Adequate Determinism
Alternative Possibilities
Causa Sui
Causal Closure
Chance Not Direct Cause
Chaos Theory
The Cogito Model
Comprehensive   Compatibilism
Conceptual Analysis
Could Do Otherwise
Default Responsibility
Determination Fallacy
Double Effect
Either Way
Emergent Determinism
Epistemic Freedom
Ethical Fallacy
Experimental Philosophy
Extreme Libertarianism
Event Has Many Causes
Frankfurt Cases
Free Choice
Freedom of Action
"Free Will"
Free Will Axiom
Free Will in Antiquity
Free Will Mechanisms
Free Will Requirements
Free Will Theorem
Future Contingency
Hard Incompatibilism
Idea of Freedom
Illusion of Determinism
Laplace's Demon
Liberty of Indifference
Libet Experiments
Master Argument
Modest Libertarianism
Moral Necessity
Moral Responsibility
Moral Sentiments
Paradigm Case
Random When?/Where?
Rational Fallacy
Same Circumstances
Science Advance Fallacy
Second Thoughts
Soft Causality
Special Relativity
Standard Argument
Temporal Sequence
Tertium Quid
Torn Decision
Two-Stage Models
Ultimate Responsibility
Up To Us
What If Dennett and Kane Did Otherwise?


Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
George Berkeley
Isaiah Berlin
Richard J. Bernstein
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
Michael Burke
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
Sam Harris
William Hasker
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
C. Lloyd Morgan
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Alasdair MacIntyre
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Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
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Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
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David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
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Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
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Ayn Rand
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Bertrand Russell
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Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
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Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
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Alan Sidelle
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Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
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Mark Twain
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R. Jay Wallace
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf


Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
E. P. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
Joseph Fourier
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Martin J. Klein
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Abraham Pais
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
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Max Planck
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Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
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Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
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B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
John Stachel
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek


Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium

The Paradigm-Case Argument
In the early days of ordinary language philosophy at Oxford University, and perhaps inspired by the need for "usage examples" to define a term in a dictionary (consider the great OED), some philosophers called for "paradigm cases" to establish the meaning of a word. Understanding a concept, doing "conceptual analysis," then became simply a matter of finding an appropriate paradigm case.

Very early in the development of such paradigm case arguments, "free will" became a paradigm of analysis by finding a paradigm case. Antony Flew found one in the case of a man who marries the girl he wants to marry, under no social pressure.

The "pressure" reference is, of course, to the absence of any external constraints or compulsions that might limit his "freedom of action" or "compatibilist free will."

Flew says

"The clue to the whole business now seems to lie in mastering what has recently been usefully named, The Argument of the Paradigm Case.69 Crudely: if there is any word the meaning of which can be taught by reference to paradigm cases, then no argument whatever could ever prove that there are no cases whatever of whatever it is. Thus, since the meaning of 'of his own freewill' can be taught by reference to such paradigm cases as that in which a man, under no social pressure, marries the girl he wants to marry (how else could it be taught ?): it cannot be right, on any grounds whatsoever, to say that no one ever acts of his own freewill. For cases such as the paradigm, which must occur if the word is ever to be thus explained (and which certainly do in fact occur), are not in that case specimens which might have been wrongly identified: to the extent that the meaning of the expression is given in terms of them they are, by definition, what 'acting of one's own freewill' is. As Runyon would say: If this isn't an x, it will at least (do till an x comes along. A moment's reflexion will show that analogous arguments can be deployed against many philosophical paradoxes.

"What such arguments by themselves will certainly not do is to establish any matter of value, moral or otherwise: and almost every one who has used them, certainly the present writer, must plead guilty to having from time to time failed to see this. For one cannot derive any sort of value proposition: from either a factual proposition about what people value: or from definitions however disguised of the value terms which people as a matter of fact employ."

The next year Arthur Danto wrote an article, "The Paradigm Case Argument and the Free-Will Problem." He doubted that a paradigm-case argument was useful for the "real problem of free will."
I wish to show that the sort of argument I have quoted does not in fact close the books even on the ancient issue. And I wish to show that ordinary language so construed is simply irrelevant to the celebrated problem of the freedom of the will.
Danto nicely points out that what the (comaptibilist and determinist) philosophers of his time considered the "free-will problem" was not the ordinary language use in this paradigm case.
The occasions on which we might use the expression in ordinary life are really rather special. There is, of course, the reproachful use: Smith has botched his marriage and cries on our shoulder, so we say "Well, you married of your own free-will." We would not say this were we sympathetic with Smith, or felt his problem deeply, or were being paid to listen to him, or blamed his wife. Mainly, however, we use the expression only when someone else has said, or thought, that somebody was forced to do something against his will. "He did it of his own free-will" then serves to deny such an assertion.

It is a characteristic (and perhaps a crucial) difference between ordinary and philosophical denials of free-will that willingness is not a component of the latter. The determinist is surely not arguing the patently false proposition that we always act unwillingly, contrary to our will. But that, I think, is nearly always what we mean in ordinary life when we say that someone did not act of his own free-will. We mean he was forced to do it. Furthermore, we never say, apropos of nothing, that someone did something of his own free-will. Indeed, were someone to tell me that Smith married and add that he did so of his own free-will, I should wonder what he was insisting upon. And I would gather that there was more to the story than I had been aware of. Now if I am correct in all this, then, I think, even if determinism came to be universally accepted, it would leave this part of ordinary language quite unmodified. For people would still have inclinations, would still sometimes be forced to act against those inclinations, would very likely still seek extenuation, etc. Or they would sometimes be released from certain pressures, restrictions, and obligations. So we should still require the expressions we now employ, e.g., "He did it of his own free-will" or "He is free" (i.e., "no longer in conference," "no longer engaged to the girl from Vassar," "has broken the habit," "is out of jail").

Here Danto anticipates Peter Strawson's changing the subject to moral responsibility in 1962
Someone might of course complain, once determinism were universally accepted, that these expressions smack of an old, wrong view of things, that new expressions ought to be found. But what would be the gain? The distinctions would still need somehow to be made. And the point is, the expression "of his own free-will" is used simply to make these distinctions now.
For Teachers
For Scholars

Chapter 3.7 - The Ergod Chapter 4.2 - The History of Free Will
Part Three - Value Part Five - Problems
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