Libertarianism and a Counterfactual Account of Freedom

Felipe Pereira


The question of free will frequently consists of a debate between two views: Hard Determinism and Libertarianism. Hard Determinism is the view that laws of nature determine human behavior and that there is no free will. Libertarianism is the view that there are some actions that are not caused by physical events, but instead are caused by agents, and that there is free will. Science often promotes the first. Yet, first-hand experience seems to support the latter. The impulse to rely blindly on the authority of some voices in the scientific community and reject Libertarianism, however, is a mistake. This paper argues that, despite its appeal, Hard Determinism relies on problematic assumptions about cause-effect relations, which provide reason to believe that its counterpart, Libertarianism, is a plausible, defensible account of free will. With that aim, this paper will be divided into three sections. Section one will present the thesis of Hard Determinism. Section two will present, in contrast, the thesis of Libertarianism. And section three will describe how a counterfactual account of causation implies a mitigation of our epistemological criteria to make knowledge-claims about causal relationships, such that introspective evidence of agent-causation gains newfound credibility, thus undermining Hard Determinism and providing support for the libertarian thesis.


Determinism; Libertarianism; Causation; Free Will

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