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  • Print publication year: 2001
  • Online publication date: July 2009

2 - Coherence objections to libertarianism

Summary

INTRODUCTION

Critics of libertarianism have contended that indeterministically free action cannot be reconciled with certain provisions in action theory that libertarians themselves would want to endorse. Specifically, they have argued that a libertarian theory of action cannot allow for agents to be morally responsible for freely willed action, for freely willed action to meet plausible general requirements on explanation, and for freely willed action to be rational. These kinds of criticisms are sometimes categorized as coherence objections to libertarianism. According to another sort of complaint against libertarianism, the free will it espouses does not harmonize with the empirical evidence. Our choices produce physical events in the brain and in the rest of the body, and these events would seem to be governed by physical laws. The libertarian position must make it credible that our choices could be free in the sense it advocates given the evidence we have about these physical laws, and according to the objection, this cannot be done. This challenge gives rise to a family of empirical objections to libertarianism, the subject of the next chapter.

The concern of this chapter is the coherence of libertarianism, predominantly the first of the three mentioned coherence objections – whether a plausible libertarian theory of free will can allow for moral responsibility.

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Living without Free Will
  • Online ISBN: 9780511498824
  • Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511498824
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