Blog Coordinator

« Superorganisms and Skepticism about Free Will | Main | Passing the Torch! »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

On the assumption that plugging one's own work is (at least sort of) okay, I've got four papers hot off the press this summer:

Oisín Deery. (2015) “The Fall from Eden: Why Libertarianism Isn’t Justified by Experience,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 93(2): 319-34.

Libertarians claim that our experience of free choice is indeterministic. They think that when we choose, our choice feels open in a way that would require indeterminism for the experience to be accurate. This claim then functions as a step in an argument in favour of libertarianism, the view that freedom requires indeterminism and we are free. Since, all else being equal, we should take experience at face value, libertarians argue, we should endorse libertarianism. Compatibilists, who think that freedom is consistent with determinism, respond to this argument in a number of ways, none of which is adequate. This paper defends a stronger compatibilist response. Compatibilists should concede, at least for argument’s sake, that our experience of freedom is in a sense libertarian. Yet they should also insist that our experience is in another sense compatibilist. Thus, even if libertarian descriptions of experience are phenomenologically apt, there is still a sense in which the experience might be veridical, assuming determinism. This response undermines a central motivation for libertarianism, since it removes any presumption in favour of libertarianism based on experience.


Oisín Deery. (2015) “Why People Believe in Indeterminist Free Will,” Philosophical Studies, 172(8): 2033-54.

Recent empirical evidence indicates that (1) people tend to believe that they possess indeterminist free will, and (2) people’s experience of choosing and deciding is that they possess such freedom. Some also maintain that (3) people’s belief in indeterminist free will has its source in their experience of choosing and deciding. Yet there seem to be good reasons to resist endorsing (3). Despite this, I maintain that belief in indeterminist free will really does have its source in experience. I explain how this is so by appeal to the phenomenon of prospection, which is the mental simulation of future possibilities for the purpose of guiding action. Crucially, prospection can be experienced. And because of the way in which prospection models choice, it is easy for agents to experience and to believe that their choice is indeterministic. Yet this belief is not justified; the experience of prospection, and hence of free will as being indeterminist, is actually consistent with determinism.


Oisín Deery, Taylor Davis and Jasmine Carey. (2015) “The Free-Will Intuitions Scale and the Question of Natural Compatibilism,” Philosophical Psychology, 28(6): 776-801.

Standard methods in experimental philosophy have sought to measure folk intuitions using experiments, but certain limitations are inherent in experimental methods. Accordingly, we have designed the Free-Will Intuitions Scale to empirically measure folk intuitions relevant to free-will debates using a different method. This method reveals what folk intuitions are like prior to participants’ being put in forced-choice experiments. Our results suggest that a central debate in the experimental philosophy of free will—the ‘natural’ compatibilism debate—is mistaken in assuming that folk intuitions are exclusively either compatibilist or incompatibilist. They also identify a number of important new issues in the empirical study of free-will intuitions.


Oisín Deery, Taylor Davis and Jasmine Carey. (2015). “Defending the Free-Will Intuitions Scale: Reply to Stephen Morris,” Philosophical Psychology, 28(6): 808-14.

In our paper, “The Free-Will Intuitions Scale and the Question of Natural Compatibilism” (this issue), we seek to advance empirical debates about free will by measuring the relevant folk intuitions using the scale methodology of psychology, as a supplement to standard experimental methods. Stephen Morris (this issue) raises a number of concerns about our paper. Here, we respond to Morris’s concerns.

I haven't had much time lately for reading, but I will plug my colleague Josh May's recent paper

"On the very concept of free will"

Synthese 191 (12):2849-2866 (2014)

Determinism seems to rule out a robust sense of options but also prevent our choices from being a matter of luck. In this way, free will seems to require both the truth and falsity of determinism. If the concept of free will is coherent, something must have gone wrong. I offer a diagnosis on which this puzzle is due at least in part to a tension already present in the very idea of free will. I provide various lines of support for this hypothesis, including some experimental data gathered by probing the judgments of non-specialists

With that selflessness out of the way, I can plug my own recent paper on manipulation arguments and the standing to blame in JESP, which also criticizes Patrick Todd's recent paper on the subject.

My paper is here:
Patrick's paper is here:

Readers may be interested to know that PEA Soup will be doing a discussion of the paper, with initial commentary from Patrick, in late August (

The comments to this entry are closed.