Free Will: New Twists in the Old Discussion

Dmitry   Volkov.  Codirector.

Keywords:
Free will, determinism, compatibilism, incompatibilism, moral responsibility, free action, Frankfurt’s examples, manipulative argument by D. Pereboom, thought experiment
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The problem of free will – a classical philosophical problem with a long, rich history – during the last several decades became one of the key subjects in the analytic philosophy of mind. These discussions lead to the appearance of new ideas and arguments. On 21st April 2016 at Moscow Dostoevsky Public Library, Vadim Vasilyev and Dmitry Volkov delivered on this subject a talk as part of the Remarks lecture course within the Anatomy of Philosophy Colloquium Series of the Institute of Philosophy of the Russian Academy, hosted by Julia Sineokaya. The speakers delineated the framework of contemporary debate on the freedom of will, examined the currently preferred definitions of the problem and discussed the key issues, arguments and thought experiments which form the core of the subject area. Among the most important things they addressed were the problems of determinism, of free action, of the ability to do otherwise, the problem of moral responsibility, as well as thought experiments by H. Frankfurt and counterexamples by J. Fischer, the manipulative argument of D. Pereboom and the ‘antimanipulative’ argument by V. Vasileyv (presented for the first time on this occasion and thus contributing to the general interest of the event). The validity of the method of thought experiments in general was brought under consideration as well. The discussion allowed to evaluate the real extent of the progress made by philosophers in their recent work on free will and to assess the prospects of the problem to ever get a satisfactory solution.

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