Core Concepts

Actualism
Agent-Causality
Alternative Possibilities
Causa Sui
Causal Closure
Causalism
Causality
Certainty
Chance
Chance Not Direct Cause
Chaos Theory
The Cogito Model
Compatibilism
Complexity
Comprehensive   Compatibilism
Conceptual Analysis
Contingency
Control
Could Do Otherwise
Creativity
Default Responsibility
De-liberation
Determination
Determination Fallacy
Determinism
Disambiguation
Double Effect
Either Way
Enlightenment
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
Illusionism
Impossibilism
Incompatibilism
Indeterminacy
Indeterminism
Infinities
Laplace's Demon
Libertarianism
Liberty of Indifference
Libet Experiments
Luck
Master Argument
Modest Libertarianism
Moral Necessity
Moral Responsibility
Moral Sentiments
Mysteries
Naturalism
Necessity
Noise
Non-Causality
Nonlocality
Origination
Possibilism
Possibilities
Pre-determinism
Predictability
Probability
Pseudo-Problem
Random When?/Where?
Rational Fallacy
Reason
Refutations
Replay
Responsibility
Same Circumstances
Scandal
Second Thoughts
Self-Determination
Semicompatibilism
Separability
Soft Causality
Special Relativity
Standard Argument
Supercompatibilism
Superdeterminism
Taxonomy
Temporal Sequence
Tertium Quid
Torn Decision
Two-Stage Models
Ultimate Responsibility
Uncertainty
Up To Us
Voluntarism
What If Dennett and Kane Did Otherwise?

"Free Will"
"Free Will" - in scare quotes - refers to the common but mistaken notion that the adjective "free" modifies the concept "will." In particular, it indicates that the element of chance, one of the two requirements for free will is present in the determination of the will itself.

Critics of "libertarian free will" usually adopt this meaning in order to attack the idea of randomness in our decisions, which clearly would not help to make us morally responsible.

Unfortunately, even defenders of libertarian free will (Robert Kane, for example) continue to add indeterminism into the decision itself, making such free will "unintelligible" by their own account.

Despite their claim that they are better equipped than scientists to make conceptual distinctions and evaluate the cogency of arguments, professional philosophers have mistakenly conflated the concepts of "free" and "will." They (con)fuse them with the muddled term "free will," despite clear warnings from John Locke that this would lead to confusion.

Locke said very clearly, as had some ancients like Lucretius, it is not the will that is free (in the sense of undetermined), it is the mind.

John Locke liked the idea of Freedom and Liberty. He thought it was inappropriate to describe the Will itself as Free. The Will is a Determination. It is the Man who is Free. "I think the question is not proper, whether the will be free, but whether a man be free." "This way of talking, nevertheless, has prevailed, and, as I guess, produced great confusion," he said. It has and still does produce confusion

In chapter XXI, Of Power, in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Locke calls the question of Freedom of the Will unintelligible. But for Locke, it is only because the adjective "free" applies to the agent, not to the will, which is determined by the mind, and determines the action.

Concerning a man's liberty, there yet, therefore, is raised this further question, Whether a man be free to will? which I think is what is meant, when it is disputed whether the will be free. (s.22)

This, then, is evident, That a man is not at liberty to will, or not to will, anything in his power. (s.24)

Freedom of human action requires the randomness of absolute chance to break the causal chain of determinism, yet the conscious knowledge that we are adequately determined to be responsible for our choices.

Freedom requires some events that are not causally determined by immediately preceding events, events that are unpredictable by any agency, events involving quantum uncertainty. These random events create alternative possibilities for action.

Randomness is the "free" in free will.

In short, there must be a Randomness Requirement, unpredictable chance events that break the causal chain of determinism. Without this chance, our actions are simply the consequences of events in the remote past. This randomness must be located in a place and time that enhances free will, one that does not reduce it to pure chance.
(Determinists do not like this requirement.)

Freedom also requires an adequately determined will that chooses or selects from those alternative possibilities. There is effectively nothing uncertain about this choice.

Adequate determinism is the "will" in free will.

So there is also a Determinism Requirement - that our actions be adequately determined by our character and values. This requires that any randomness not be the direct cause of our actions. (Libertarians do not like this requirement.)

Adequate determinism means that randomness in our thoughts about alternative possibilities does not directly cause our actions.

A random thought can lead to a determined action, for which we can take full responsibility.

but not permit it to produce random actions
as Determinists mistakenly fear.

We must also limit determinism
but not eliminate it as Libertarians mistakenly think necessary.

Philosophers of logic and language are further muddled in their argument that if determinism is false, indeterminism is true. This is of course logically correct. Strict causal determinism with a causal chain of necessary events back to an Aristotelian first cause is indeed false, and modern philosophers know it, though most hold out hope that the quantum mechanical basis of such indeterminism will be disproved someday. Many analytic simply declare themselves agnostic on the truth or falsity of determinism, missing the empirical point.

These agnostic philosophers go on to argue that the principle of bivalence requires that since determinism and indeterminism are logical contradictories, only one of them can be true. The law of the excluded middle allows no third possibility. Now since neither determinism nor indeterminism allow the kind of free will that supports moral responsibility, they claim that free will is unintelligible or an illusion. This is the standard argument against free will.

The practical empirical situation is much more complex than such simple black and white logical linguistic thinking can comprehend. Despite quantum uncertainty, there is clearly adequate determinism in the world, enough to permit the near-perfect predictions of celestial motions, and good enough to send men to the moon and back. But this "near" (Honderich) or "almost" (Fischer) determinism is neither absolute nor required in any way by logical necessity, as Aristotle himself first argued against the determinist atomists, Democritus and Leucippus.

When we unpack the complex concept of "free will," we find the freedom is in our thoughts, the determination is in our willed acts.

In our Cogito model, "Free Will" combines two distinct concepts. Free is the chance and randomness of the Micro Mind. Will is the adequately determined choice of the Macro Mind. And these occur in a temporal sequence.

Our Thoughts are Free,
they come to us.

Our Actions are Willed,
they come from us.

Compatibilists and Determinists were right about the Will,