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Core Concepts

Adequate Determinism
Alternative Possibilities
Causa Sui
Causal Closure
Chance Not Direct Cause
Chaos Theory
The Cogito Model
Comprehensive   Compatibilism
Conceptual Analysis
Could Do Otherwise
Default Responsibility
Determination Fallacy
Double Effect
Either Way
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
Laplace's Demon
Liberty of Indifference
Libet Experiments
Master Argument
Modest Libertarianism
Moral Necessity
Moral Responsibility
Moral Sentiments
Paradigm Case
Random When?/Where?
Rational Fallacy
Same Circumstances
Science Advance Fallacy
Second Thoughts
Soft Causality
Special Relativity
Standard Argument
Temporal Sequence
Tertium Quid
Torn Decision
Two-Stage Models
Ultimate Responsibility
Up To Us
What If Dennett and Kane Did Otherwise?


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
George Berkeley
Isaiah Berlin
Richard J. Bernstein
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
C. Lloyd Morgan
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Alasdair MacIntyre
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
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
Isabelle Stengers
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
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
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
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
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

Tertium Quid
Free Will is a tertium quid (a third thing) beyond chance and necessity, beyond indeterminism and determinism, or perhaps it is just an artful combination of the two.

The idea of something more than just chance and necessity was clearly understood in antiquity. It gave rise to the idea of agent-causality.

Enlightment thinkers who held a libertarian view, such as Immanuel Kant, and the Scottish Naturalists following Thomas Reid, had a metaphysical view of free will. The tertium quid was non-physical, outside of science. Few modern agent-causalist libertarians now accept the idea of a non-physical substance like Kant's noumenal world, and some have given up their agent-causal libertarian views as a result (Randolph Clarke, for example).

For theologians, the tertium quid is a gift from God and inexplicable in the purely physical terms of chance and necessity. In recent years, religious libertarians like Peter van Inwagen say that "Free Will Remains A Mystery" and inexplicable because of his Consequence Argument and Mind Argument. The "New Mysterians" following Colin McGinn share this view.

The Tertium Quid in Antiquity
The Tertium Quid in antiquity was something other than chance or necessity, usually identified as a kind of autonomous (αὐτόματος) or spontaneous agency. Aristotle called it what depends on us, as opposed to what depends on chance (τύχη) or on necessity (ᾶνάγκη).

Aristotle was the first major philosopher to argue convincingly for some indeterminism. First he described a causal chain (ἄλυσις) back to a prime mover or first cause, and he elaborated the four possible causes (material, efficient, formal, and final). Aristotle's word for these causes was ἀιτία, which translates as causes (or explanations) in the sense of the multiple factors responsible for an event. Aristotle did not subscribe to the simplistic "every event has a (single) cause" idea that was to come later.

Then, in his Physics and Metaphysics, Aristotle also said there were "accidents" caused by "chance (τύχη)." In his Physics, he clearly reckoned chance among the causes. Aristotle might have added chance as a fifth cause - an uncaused or self-caused cause - one he thought happens when two causal chains come together by accident (συμβεβεκός). He noted that the early physicists had found no place for chance among their causes.

Aristotle opposed his accidental chance to necessity:

Nor is there any definite cause for an accident, but only chance (τυχόν), namely an indefinite (ἀόριστον) cause.
(Metaphysics, Book V, 1025a25)2a

It is obvious that there are principles and causes which are generable and destructible apart from the actual processes of generation and destruction; for if this is not true, everything will be of necessity: that is, if there must necessarily be some cause, other than accidental, of that which is generated and destroyed. Will this be, or not? Yes, if this happens; otherwise not.
(Metaphysics, Book VI, 1027a29)

Tracing any particular sequence of events back in time will usually come to an accidental event - a "starting point" or "fresh start" (Aristotle calls it an origin or arche (ἀρχῆ) - whose major contributing cause (or causes) was itself uncaused, e.g., it involved quantum indeterminacy.

Whether a particular thing happens, says Aristotle, may depend on a series of causes that

goes back to some starting-point, which does not go back to something else. This, therefore, will be the starting-point of the fortuitous, and nothing else is the cause of its generation.
(Metaphysics Book VI 1027b12-14)
In general, many such causal sequences contribute to any event, including human decisions. Each sequence has a different time of origin, some going back before we were born, some originating during our deliberations.

Beyond causal sequences that are the result of chance or necessity, Aristotle felt that some breaks in the causal chain allow us to feel our actions "depend on us" (ἐφ' ἡμῖν). These are the causal chains that originate within us (ἐv ἡμῖν).

Aristotle was the first philosopher to identify the tertium quid beyond chance and necessity as an autonomous agent power.

Aristotle knew that many of our decisions are quite predictable based on habit and character, but they are no less free nor we less responsible if our character itself and predictable habits were developed freely in the past and are changeable in the future.

One generation after Aristotle, Epicurus argued that as atoms moved through the void, there were occasions when they would "swerve" from their otherwise determined paths, thus initiating new causal chains. Epicurus argued that these swerves would allow us to be more responsible for our actions, something impossible if every action was deterministically caused. For Epicurus, the occasional interventions of arbitrary gods would be preferable to strict determinism.

Epicurus did not say the swerve was directly involved in decisions. His critics, ancient and modern, have claimed mistakenly that Epicurus did assume "one swerve - one decision" and that "free " actions are uncaused. But following Aristotle, Epicurus thought human agents have the autonomous ability to transcend necessity and chance (both of which destroy responsibility), so that praise and blame are appropriate.

...some things happen of necessity, others by chance, others through our own agency. ...necessity destroys responsibility and chance is inconstant; whereas our own actions are autonomous, and it is to them that praise and blame naturally attach.

Parenthetically, we now know that atoms do not occasionally swerve, they move unpredictably whenever they are in close contact with other atoms. Everything in the material universe is made of atoms in unstoppable perpetual motion. Deterministic paths are only the case for very large objects, where the statistical laws of atomic physics average to become nearly certain dynamical laws for billiard balls and planets.

So Epicurus' intuition of a fundamental randomness in nature was correct. And he agreed with Aristotle that there is another basic kind of causes (a tertium quid) beyond necessity (άνάyκη) and chance (τύχη). They both said that our actions are "up to us" (ἐφ' ἡμῖν or παρ’ ῆμᾶς). How exactly determinism and chance relate to autonomous agent causality is not made clear by either of them, and it remains a challenge for theories of free will.

This challenge can be met by two-stage models of free will.

The Tertium Quid in Two-Stage Models
In two-stage models of free will like the Cogito model, the tertium quid is not metaphysical and beyond chance and necessity, but an artful combination of physical indeterminism and an adequate determinism.

Conservative Libertarians believe that one's actions are adequately determined by events prior to a decision, including one's character and values, and one's feelings and desires, in short, one's reasons and motives. Their model of free will is "reasons responsive."

The role of pure chance, irreducible randomness, or quantum indeterminacy, is limited to generating alternative possibilities for action. Chance events are not direct causes of our thoughts and actions, as "radical" libertarians believe.

"Conservative" - or "Adequate" or "Modest" - Libertarians believe that humans are free from strict physical determinism - or pre-determinism, and all the other diverse forms of determinism. They accept the existence of chance, but believe that if chance were the direct cause of actions, it would preclude control of the agent's actions and deny moral responsibility.

Note that information philosophy and its value theory separate free will from moral responsibilty.

The existence of free will is a scientific question for physics, biology, and psychology.
Moral responsibility is a cultural question for sociology and the law.

Information philosophy also separates responsibility from the ideas of retributive punishment, which is still another social and cultural question.

Libertarians in general believe that determinism and freedom are incompatible. Freedom requires some form of indeterminism. But the two-stage models of free will favored by conservative libertarians also require determination of the action by the agent's motives and reasons, following deliberation and evaluation of the alternative possibilities for action provided by that indeterminism.

Critics of libertarianism (determinists and compatibilists) attack the view of radical libertarians that chance is the direct cause of actions. If an agent's decisions are not connected in any way with character and other personal properties, they rightly claim that the agent can hardly be held responsible for them.

Many determinists and compatibilists now accept the idea that there is real indeterminism in the universe. Conservative libertarians can agree with them that if indeterministic chance were the direct direct cause of our actions, that would not be freedom with responsibility.

But determinists and compatibilists might also agree that if chance is not a direct cause of our actions, it would do no harm to responsibility. In which case, conservative libertarians should be able to convince some determinists of their position. Galen Strawson agrees that conservative libertarianism is a "kind of freedom that is available" to us.

If chance is limited to providing real alternative possibilities to be considered by the adequately determined will, it provides an intelligible freedom and can explain both freedom and creativity.

Conservative libertarians can give the determinists, at least the compatibilists, the kind of freedom they say they want, one that provides an adequately determined will and actions for which we can take responsibility

Even the current chief spokesman for libertarianism, Robert Kane, admits that "radical" libertarian accounts of free will are unintelligible. No coherent idea can be provided for the role of indeterminism and chance, he says.

But Kane's radical libertarianism doggedly insists that "something more" is needed beyond simple determination of our thoughts and actions by our desires and feelings, our character and values, and our motives and reasons.

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