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Why the Free Will Debate Never Ends

Many see the compatibilist version of free will as a “watered-down” version of the real thing, as Robert Kane puts it. Others dismiss compatibilist accounts of free will in less temperate terms. For Sam Harris, it amounts to nothing more than the assertion “A puppet is free as long as he loves his strings.” Kant called it a “wretched subterfuge,” James a “quagmire of evasion” and Wallace Matson “the most flabbergasting instance of the fallacy of changing the subject to be encountered anywhere in the complete history of sophistry.” For many, the free will which compatibilism offers is never as attractive as what they set out to look for, and so we are caught between settling for what we can get and holding out for the elusive ideal.

Article in The Philosophers’ Magazine


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