Shaky Ground


  • William Simkulet University of Wisconsin Marshfield/Wood County, USA



Free Will, Moral Responsibility, Compatibilism, Libertarianism, Alternate Possibilities


The debate surrounding free will and moral responsibility is one of the most intransigent debates in contemporary philosophy - but it does not have to be. At its heart, the free will debate is a metaethical debate - a debate about the meaning of certain moral terms - free will, moral responsibility, blameworthiness, praiseworthiness. Compatibilists argue that these concepts are compatible with wholly deterministic world, while incompatibilists argue that these concepts require indeterminism, or multiple possible futures. However, compatibilists and incompatibilists do not disagree on everything - both parties agree that free will and moral responsibility require control - the kind of control that we believe we have over the majority of our everyday actions. Over the course of any given day each of us makes countless choices, and in most situations as we make these choices we cannot help but believe that we are in control of them - that our actions are free and we are morally responsible for them. Here I argue that our concepts of free will and moral responsibility are inexorably tied to this experience of apparent liberty.


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How to Cite

Simkulet, W. (2014) “Shaky Ground”, De Ethica, 1(3), pp. 5–18. doi: 10.3384/de-ethica.2001-8819.14135.