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14 Philosophical Perspectives 203 (2000)


Some kind of freedom-call it "freedom of action"-is undermined by ropes, chains and other physical constraints. And there is something that all of these constraints have in common something that makes them all constraints: they stand as obstacles to the realization of certain choices. Freedom of action, then, is dependency of conduct on choice; the reason that physical constraints undermine this kind of freedom is that they interfere with such dependency. The question needing to be tackled is this: What more does a full-fledged free agent an agent who has all the kinds of freedom that we worry about when we worry about "the free will problem" need beyond this rather limited kind of freedom? Sometimes nothing but fear and apathy, for instance, prevent us from coming to another's rescue; sometimes we are less than full-fledged free agents despite the fact that we are not tied down, our phones lines are not cut. We can be unfree even when nothing interferes with the efficacy of our choices, for things like fear and apathy can perniciously influence what we choose. What we lack in such circumstances is freedom of will. But what, if anything, is freedom of will?

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