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The so-called Mind argument aims at the conclusion that agents act freely only if determinism is true. The soundness of this argument entails the falsity of libertarianism, the two-part thesis that agents act freely, and free action and determinism are incompatible. In this paper, I offer a new formulation of the Mind argument. I argue that it is true by definition that if an agent acts freely, either (i) nothing nomologically grounds an agent’s acting freely, or (ii) the consequence argument for incompatibilism is unsound. I define the notion of nomological grounding, and argue that unless an agent’s acting freely is nomologically grounded, unacceptable consequences follow. I then argue that if agents act freely and the consequence argument is sound, a vicious regress ensues. I conclude by considering the libertarian’s dialectical options.
KeywordsFree will Libertarianism Incompatibilism Mind argument Consequence argument Grounding
I am grateful to Andrew Bailey, David Buller, Mylan Engel, Mary Beth Finch, Tomis Kapitan, Jennifer Lackey, Sam Newlands, Baron Reed, Peter van Elswyk, an anonymous referee for this journal, and especially Mike Rea for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this paper. I also thank audience members at the 2011 meeting of the Illinois Philosophical Association, and, in particular, my commentator, John Lemos.
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