A Pragmatic and Empirical Approach to Free Will

Andrea Lavazza


Abstract: The long dispute between incompatibilists (namely, the advocates of the contemporary version of the illusory nature of freedom) and compatibilists is further exemplified in the discussion between Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett. In this article I try to add to the discussion by outlining a concept of free will linked to five operating conditions and proposing its operationalization and quantification. The idea is to empirically and pragmatically define free will as we need it for moral blame and legal liability, while separating it from the debate on global determinism, local determinism, automatisms and priming phenomena on a psychological level. This is made possible by weakening the claims of determinisms and psychological automatisms, based on the latest research, and by giving a well-outlined definition of free will as I want to defend it.

Keywords: Compatibilism; Daniel Dennett; Free Will Quantification; Global Determinism; Local Determinism


Un approccio pragmatico ed empirico al libero arbitrio

Riassunto: La lunga disputa tra incompatibilisti (vale a dire i sostenitori della versione contemporanea dell’illusorietà del libero arbitrio) e compatibilisti trova un’esemplificazione nel dibattito tra Sam Harris e Daniel Dennett. In questo articolo cerco di contribuire alla discussione delineando un concetto di libero arbitrio legato a cinque condizioni operative e proponendo la sua operazionalizzazione e quantificazione. L’idea è di definire empiricamente e pragmaticamente il libero arbitrio di cui abbiamo bisogno per trattare di colpa morale e di responsabilità legale, separandolo dal dibattito su determinismo globale, determinismo locale, automatismi e fenomeni di innesco a livello psicologico. Ciò è reso possibile indebolendo le pretese di determinismi e automatismi psicologici, che si basano su recenti ricerche empiriche, e dando una precisa definizione di libero arbitrio per come voglio difenderlo.

Parole chiave: Compatibilismo; Daniel Dennett; Quantificazione del libero arbitrio; Determinismo globale; Determinismo locale


Compatibilism; Daniel Dennett; Free Will Quantification; Global Determinism; Local Determinism

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4453/rifp.2017.0020

Copyright (c) 2017 Andrea Lavazza

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