Linda Brakel on Free Will

1. Start with the so-called Frankfurt cases (these are due to Harry Frankfurt (1969), which show elegantly that with regard to the concept of ‘free will’ neither leeway (access to alternatives) nor sourceness (singular agent initiative) are sufficient. Here are two simplified adapted Frankfurt cases: 1) Someone (Person A) believes he/she choses to stay in a room, but unbeknownst to A, the door has been locked locked from outside; 2) Person B can choose to do behavior X, but unbeknownst to B, if some behavior other than X would have been chosen by B, a drug would have been administered to B to ensure that B did do behavior X.

2. So if neither leeway (access to alternatives) nor sourceness (agentinitiation) alone, nor both of them together are sufficient for ‘free will’, are they necessary?

3. This leads to my leap: a) For me there is no fact of the matter (at least none that we can discern) about whether or not there is free will
in a deterministic universe. The ‘is’ here is the ontologic ‘is’. b) But there is an epistemological fact of the matter;and c) For us humans the concept of free will is (and should be) regarded strictly as an epistemological concept. As such our beliefs that we have leeway (access to alternatives) and sourceness (agent initiative) are necessary and sufficient.

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