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Contextualizing Free Will

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Hawthorne (2001) toys with the view that ascriptions of free will are context-sensitive. But the way he formulates the view makes freedom contextualism look like a non-starter. I step into the breach for freedom contextualism. My aim is twofold. On the one hand, I argue that freedom contextualism can be motivated on the basis of our ordinary practice of freedom attribution is not ad hoc. The view explains data which cannot be accounted for by an ambiguity hypothesis. On the other hand, I suggest a more plausible freedom contextualist analysis, which emerges naturally once we pair the assumption that freedom requires that the agent could have acted otherwise with a plausible semantics of "can" statements. I'll dub the resulting view Alternate Possibilities Contextualism, or APC, for short. In contrast to Hawthorne's view, APC is well-motivated in its own right, does not beg the question against the incompatibilist and delivers a context parameter which allows for a wide range of context shifts. I conclude that, far from being a non-starter, freedom contextualism sets an agenda worth pursuing.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2020

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  • The journal Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung, appearing since 1946, is among the most important academic German language journals. It is open to all topics, approaches, and positions of philosophical thought. Given the increasing differentiation and specialization of the field, it thus constitutes a forum offering its various disciplines the opportunity for mutual recognition and exchange. The articles published in it are subject to an anonymous peer review in which internationally renowned scholars of all areas of contemporary philosophical research participate.

    Die seit 1946 erscheinende Zeitschrift für philosophische Forschung gehört zu den wichtigsten deutschsprachigen Fachzeitschriften und steht allen Themen, Richtungen und Positionen der philosophischen Forschung offen. Angesichts der zunehmenden Ausdifferenzierung und Spezialisierung des Faches bietet sie damit auch ein Forum, in dem die verschiedenen Teildisziplinen sich gegenseitig wahrnehmen und in ein gemeinsames Gespräch kommen können. Die in ihr publizierten Abhandlungen durchlaufen ein anonymes Begutachtungsverfahren, an dem international anerkannte Forscher aus allen Spezialgebieten der gegenwärtigen philosophischen Forschung beteiligt sind.
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