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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
Isaiah Berlin
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
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
C. Lloyd Morgan
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Karl Popper
Huw Price
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
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
John Herschel
Werner Heisenberg
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
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
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
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Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
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Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
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
Joseph Keim Campbell

Joseph Keim Campbell is a rare critic of Frankfurt-style examples which are intended to deny the importance, even the existence, of alternative possibilities.

Campbell even argues that far from disproving alternative possibilities, the Frankfurt examples strengthen the case for a "strong compatibilism," one that includes alternative possibilities.

In his article "A Compatibilist Theory of Alternative Possibilities," Philosophical Studies, 88, pp.319-30, 1997, Campbell wrote:1

In recent discussions of freedom and determinism, two views of compatibilism have emerged. One, which I call strong compatibilism,2 assumes the following:
  1. Alternative possibilities of action are necessary for both free will and moral responsibility.

  2. Both free will and moral responsibility are compatible with causal determinism.
Strong compatibilism has long been thought to be incoherent by incompatibilists, who deny (2),3 but recently it has also received criticism from other compatibilists, who deny (1). In a celebrated essay, for instance, Harry Frankfurt has provided examples in which it seems that a person is morally responsible for some action even though she could not have done otherwise.4 This result has delighted many philosophers who find that attempts to establish (2) in light of (1) have generally led to failure,5 and has given rise to what I call weak compatibilism:
1'. Moral responsibility does not require alternative possibilities of action, so neither does any freedom that is necessary for moral responsibility.

2'. Moral responsibility – and any freedom that is essential to it – is compatible with causal determinism.6

The strength and uniqueness of weak compatibilism rests with (1') and, thus, the supposed counterexamples put forth by Frankfurt.

In this paper I prove that (1') is false. The Frankfurt examples,7 as I call them, not only fail to establish (1') but they lend support to strong compatibilism instead. The paper is a defense of the traditional theory of the will which states that a person has free will provided that she has certain powers of agency and cognition which are not in any way impeded. That one has such powers entails the existence of possibilities which can be used to construct a compatibilist account of ‘could have done otherwise’. Since agents in the Frankfurt examples have the appropriate powers they must also have alternative possibilities of action. At most, the agents lack categorical possibilities that are incompatible with determinism. Therefore, the Frankfurt examples promote strong, not weak, compatibilism.

According to the strong compatibilist, a person has free will only if she has alternative possibilities of action, that is, only if she could have, in some relevant sense, done otherwise.8 In addition, the strong compatibilist will also endorse the following:

The Principle of Alternative Possibilities [PAP]: A person is morally responsible for what she has done only if she could have done otherwise.9
Given PAP and a standard incompatibilist argument,10 one may contend that moral responsibility is also incompatible with determinism. Since many previous compatibilist accounts of alternative possibilities are flawed11 some compatibilists have jettisoned the notion of alternative possibilities altogether and provided some other basis for a theory of freedom and moral responsibility. Thus, we are led to weak compatibilism, which is primarily driven by Frankfurt’s apparent counterexamples to PAP.


In his 2004 introduction to his book Freedom and Determinism, written with Michael O'Rourke and David Shier, Campbell describes the current context of the traditional problem of freedom and determinism.

Thoughts about freedom and determinism have engaged philosophers since the days of ancient Greece. On the one hand, we generally regard ourselves as free and autonomous beings who are responsible for the actions that we perform. But this idea of ourselves appears to conflict with a variety of attitudes that we also have about the inevitable workings of the world around us. For instance, some people believe that strict, universal laws of nature govern the world. Others think that there is an omnipotent God who is the ultimate cause of all things. These more global views suggest that each particular event — including each human action — is causally necessitated, and so they suggest a conflict with the claim that we are free. Hence, the problem of freedom and determinism is, at base, a problem about reconciling attitudes we have toward ourselves with our more general thoughts about the world around us. It is a problem about locating our actions within those streams of events that make up the broader universe.

Freedom is usually discussed within the context of theoretical concerns about the nature of moral responsibility. For it is a basic assumption that some kind of freedom — call it "moral freedom" — is a necessary precondition for our being accountable for our actions. Moreover, even those who endorse moral nihilism, the claim that no one is ever morally responsible for anything, usually do so because they also believe that we lack moral freedom...

In summary, the majority of contemporary philosophers agree that some kind of freedommoral freedom — is required for moral responsibility. But they differ as to the nature of this freedom as well as some of the other necessary conditions for moral responsibility. Proponents of the traditional view continue to maintain that moral freedom is just free will, but a variety of philosophers have rejected the latter notion altogether. This is primarily due to the impact of the Frankfurt examples and formal arguments for moral nihilists, and incompatibilism. Moreover, while debate about the compatibility of moral freedom and determinism is still alive and well, most philosophers have rejected determinism given quantum mechanics. Gone are the labels of soft determinism and hard determinism, but the lion's share of opinions on the nature of freedom and determinism still fall into three main groups: libertarians, moral nihilists, and compatibilists, including semicompatibilists.

In 2011, Campbell wrote Free Will, a survey of the dazzling number of "problems, arguments, and theories" about free will that now comprise "free will skepticism," the claim that no one has free will. Campbell's three main groups still include libertarianism (which he does not explore deeply) and compatibilism, but he replaces moral nihilism with free will skepticism (p. 73).

Campbell is concerned that there are many conflicting views on the definition of free will. This is so, but Campbell does not clearly define the major difference betweeen "libertarian free will" and "compatibilist free will." the latter being the determinist position that as long as our actions are not externally coerced or compelled then we have freedom of action.

He defines a "monism" as the idea that all views of free will are the same, or reducible to one view, and "pluralism" as the idea that there are multiple conflicting views. His "provisional" monist proposal is that free will exists when our actions are up to us. This is the way Aristotle and Epicurus defined what we now call "libertarian free will," as something that was neither chance nor necessity.

Campbell says that his provisional view could cover both the "classical view," i.e., that free will requires the ability to do otherwise, and the "source view," that the agent need only be the "adequate" or perhaps the "ultimate" source of the action traceable back in the "actual sequence."

He presents the standard argument against free will as what he calls the "free will dilemma."

  1. If determinism is true then no one has free will.
  2. If indeterminism is true, then no one has free will.
  3. Therefore, no one has free will.

Campbell calls premise 1 in this simple logical argument against free will "the problem of free will and determinism."

He calls premise 2 "the problem of luck." And he later revises it as premise 2' - Indeterminism cannot help." This he defends following Galen Strawson's attack on indeterminism as making our actions random.

But some indeterminism does not entail that all our actions are undetermined, says Campbell.

In a sensible analysis of of premise 2 (and 2') Campbell says:

Determinism entails that every act is determined by prior causes. Indeterminism does not entail anything about the causal structure of the world surrounding any particular human action. Thus, indeterminism cannot entail that every act is undetermined let alone that every act is a matter of luck. Ergo, the Mind argument does not support premise 2 of the free will dilemma. Considerations of luck are relevant to free will skepticism but not for this reason. They are relevant because they lend support to the view that indeterminism cannot help [premise 2'].

Campbell has a finely nuanced understanding of quantum indeterminism, as not making events uncaused, but as only making them probabilistically caused. He says:

Informally, determinism is the thesis that "given the past and the laws of nature, there is only one possible future." Determinism is usually understood as a causal thesis: past events together with the laws of nature bring about future events. But we should be careful to distinguish determinism from the thesis of universal causality: every event has a cause. Perhaps quantum mechanics requires indeterminism but it doesn't follow from this that quantum events are uncaused. Quantum laws might be probabilistic, so there can be universal causality without determinism.

Indeed, indeterministic events that generate alternative possibilities for action do not in any way reduce our responsibility for evaluating the alternatives and choosing one, for reasons, motives, feelings, etc. that are consistent with our character. This is the two-stage model of free will, with indeterminism limited to the first stage and adequate determinism in the second stage.

It is not clear why logical philosophers who make such dramatic assumptions as premise 1 are not making similar dramatic assumptions about premise 2, namely, that indeterminism does entail that every act is undetermined, the logical opposite of premise 1. This was what the ancients Leucippus and Chrysippus feared, and moderns like J. J. C. Smart and Nowell-Smith also maintained. And is not Galen Strawson's argument similar?

Perhaps not. Perhaps Campbell thinks Strawson is saying some acts are determined (no responsibility there) and some acts are undetermined (no responsibility there either). This indeed is Strawson's view. He does not care whether actions are determined or undetermined. Free will skepticism, according to Strawson, "holds good whether determinism is true or false; the issue of determinism is irrelevant." (p. 55.)

Nevertheless, Campbell argues correctly (p. 55) that "indeterminism is not incompatible with free will." Indeed, some indeterminism is required to break the causal chain of physical determinism. The question becomes, is indeterminism helpful? (yes, because it introduces alternative possibilities and ambiguous futures) and can it be shown to be not harmful? (yes, as long as it is limited to generating possibilities and is not the direct cause of our actions).

And even chance "centered" in the decision is acceptable as long as all of the alternative possibilities that remain after second-stage deliberation are defended by reasons, motives, etc, so none is simply random. Examples of these defensible possibilities are Robert Kane's Self-Forming Actions.

Campbell was trained as an epistemologist and notes that we might define "knowledge" as absolute infallible certainty. "Given this definition, it is pretty easy to show," he says, "that no one knows anything. But no one cares about that because we all accept that knowledge is fallible, that even the most certain of evidence does not guarantee truth." (p.57) Campbell should apply this epistemological skepticism and pragmatic reasoning to the absolute truth of determinism, for which no evidence at all exists. Indeed, considerable evidence exists for some indeterminism, though not enough to make our actions random, unless we want them to be random. Might he not conclude that the determinism we have is merely "adequate" for all practical purposes?

Campbell concludes his survey of free will skepticism with an argument that "for every response to the argument for epistemological skepticism, there is a formally analogous response to the consequence argument that is equally plausible." (p. 103) Campbell provides no explicit parallels, but concludes his work on an optimistic note, with what he says is a "compelling argument."

  1. For every response to the argument for epistemological skepticism there is a formally analogous response to the consequence argument that is equally plausible.
  2. If one adopts epistemological skepticism,
  3. Therefore, there is no good reason to deny that we have free will.

The second premise should be obvious: the epistemological skeptic is an agnostic about free will, not a free will denier. The firt premise is debatable but if it can be established, it would show that there is no good reason to endorse free will skepticism.

For Teachers
For Scholars

Campbell, C. A. (1957): On Selfhood and Godhood, London: George Allen & Unwin.

Chisholm, R. (1964a): ‘J. L. Austin’s Philosophical Papers’, Mind 73, 20–25.

---- (1964b): ‘Human Freedom and the Self’, The Lindley Lecture: 3–l5.

Department of Philosophy, University of Kansas. ---- (1966): ‘Freedom of Action’, in Lehrer 1966a.

Davidson,D. (1973): ‘Freedom to Act’, in Ted Honderich (ed.), Essays on Freedom of Action, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Fischer. J. M. (1982): ‘Responsibility and Control’, Journal of Philosophy 89, 24–40. Reprinted in Fischer 1986a.

---- (ed.) (1986a): Moral Responsibility, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

---- (1986b): ‘Introduction: Responsibility and Freedom’, in Fischer 1986a.

---- and M. Ravizza (1991): ‘Responsibility and Inevitability’, Ethics 101, 258–278.

Frankfurt, H. G. (1969): ‘Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility’, Journal of Philosophy 66, 828–839. Reprinted in Fischer 1986a.

Hart. H. L. A. (1968): Punishment and Responsibility, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Hume, D. (1975): Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, third edition, edited by L. A. Selby-Bigge and revised by P. M. Nidditch. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kane, R. (1985): Free Will and Values, Albany: State University of New York Press.

Lehrer, K. (ed.) (1966a): Freedom and Determinism, New York: Random House.

---- (1966b): ‘An Empirical Disproof of Determinism?’, in Lehrer 1966a.

---- (1968): ‘Cans Without Ifs’, Analysis 29, 29–32.

---- (1976): ‘ “Can” in Theory and Practice: A Possible Worlds Analysis’, in M. Brand and D. Walton (eds.), Action Theory, Dordrecht: D. Reidel.

---- (1980): ‘Preferences, Conditionals and Freedom’, in Peter van Inwagen (ed.), Time and Cause: Essays Presented to Richard Taylor, Dordrecht: D. Reidel.

Lewis, D. (1981): ‘Are We Free to Break the Laws?’, Theoria 47, 113–121. Reprinted in Lewis 1986.

---- (1983): Philosophical Papers, Volume I, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

---- (1986): Philosophical Papers, Volume II, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Locke, J. (1979): An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, edited by Peter H. Nidditch. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Moore, G. E. (1912): Ethics, Chapter Vl, New York: Oxford University Press.

Reid, T. (1983): Inquiry and Essays, edited by Ronald E. Beanblossom and Keith Lehrer. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company.

Taylor, R. (1963): Metaphysics, first edition, Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall.

Wolf, S. (1990): Freedom Within Reason, New York: Oxford University Press.

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