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XII—What’s wrong with the consequence argument: a compatibilist libertarian response

List, Christian ORCID: 0000-0003-1627-800X (2019) XII—What’s wrong with the consequence argument: a compatibilist libertarian response. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 119 (3). pp. 253-274. ISSN 0066-7374

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Identification Number: 10.1093/arisoc/aoz018


The most prominent argument for the incompatibility of free will and determinism is Peter van Inwagen’s consequence argument. I offer a new diagnosis of what is wrong with this argument. Proponents and critics typically accept the way the argument is framed, and only disagree on whether the premisses and rules of inference are true. I suggest that the argument involves a category mistake: it conflates two different levels of description, namely, the physical level at which we describe the world from the perspective of fundamental physics and the agential level at which we describe agents and their actions. My diagnosis is based on an account of free will as a higher-level phenomenon. I call this account ‘compatibilist libertarianism’, for reasons that will become clear. Although the paper addresses a primarily metaphysical question, it uses tools similar to those employed in philosophy-of-science work on determinism and indeterminism, higher-level phenomena, and dynamical systems.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2019 The Aristotelian Society
Divisions: CPNSS
Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BC Logic
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2019 14:39
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2024 18:57

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