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A critique of Vihvelin’s Three-fold Classification

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2020

Kristin Mickelson*
Department of Philosophy, University of Minnesota, Morris, 600 E. 4th Street, Morris, MN56267, USA


In this essay, I argue for the rejection of Vihvelin’s ‘Three-fold Classification’ (3-FC), a nonstandard taxonomy of free-will compatibilism, incompatibilism, and impossibilism. Vihvelin is right that the standard taxonomy of these views is inadequate, and that a new taxonomy is needed to clarify the free-will debate. Significantly, Vihvelin notes that the standard formal definition of ‘incompatibilism’ does not capture the historically popular view that deterministic laws pose a threat to free will. Vihvelin’s proposed solution is to redefine ‘incompatibilism.’ However, Vihvelin’s formal definition of ‘incompatibilism’ is flawed according to her own arguments. In addition, Vihvelin’s characterization of ‘compatibilism’ is (at best) incomplete, and at least two important free-will views are missing from her proposed taxonomy. Given the problems with Vihvelin’s arguments for 3-FC, her novel view of the dialectic between the major free-will views lacks support.

Research Article
Copyright © Canadian Journal of Philosophy 2015

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