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Philosophy General

Naturally Free Action

by (author) Oisin Deery

Oxford University Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2021
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2021
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In Naturally Free Action, Oisin Deery argues that free will exists, where free will is understood as the ability to act freely, and free actions as exercises of that ability. This conclusion is supported by showing how the concept of free will plausibly refers to many actual human behaviors, and how these behaviors count as a natural category or kind. Deery also addresses the role of phenomenology in fixing the reference of the concept, arguing that our phenomenology as of deciding or acting freely is typically accurate, even if determinism is true. The result is a realist, naturalistic framework for theorizing about free will, according to which free will almost certainly exists and we act freely. This verdict mostly sidesteps the compatibility question, which asks whether free will is compatible with determinism. Even so, Deery maintains that the natural-kind view about free will supports compatibilism and provides compatibilists with an attractive way to be realists about free will. Additionally, the book argues that this view has the resources to respond to recent empirical threats to free will, including those posed by findings about behaviors caused by implicit biases. Finally, Deery demonstrates how the natural-kind view has the resources to address emerging questions about whether artificially intelligent agents might ever act freely or be responsible for their behaviors, and if so in what sense.

About the author

Contributor Notes

Oisin Deery is a continuing Lecturer and ARC DECRA Research Fellow in the Department of Philosophy, Macquarie University, Sydney, and also Assistant Professor of Philosophy at York University, Toronto. His research interests lie at the intersection of philosophy of mind and action, metaphysics, and ethics. He also works on issues related to artificial intelligence. He attended the National University of Ireland, Galway (BA), University College Cork (MA), and the University of British Columbia (PhD). He has previously taught at Florida State University and the University of Arizona, he held a postdoctoral research position at the Universite de Montreal.