Philosophical Studies

, Volume 172, Issue 8, pp 2033–2054

Why people believe in indeterminist free will


DOI: 10.1007/s11098-014-0396-7

Cite this article as:
Deery, O. Philos Stud (2015) 172: 2033. doi:10.1007/s11098-014-0396-7


Recent empirical evidence indicates that (1) people tend to believe that they possess indeterminist free will, and (2) people’s experience of choosing and deciding is that they possess such freedom. Some also maintain that (3) people’s belief in indeterminist free will has its source in their experience of choosing and deciding. Yet there seem to be good reasons to resist endorsing (3). Despite this, I maintain that belief in indeterminist free will really does have its source in experience. I explain how this is so by appeal to the phenomenon of prospection, which is the mental simulation of future possibilities for the purpose of guiding action. Crucially, prospection can be experienced. And because of the way in which prospection models choice, it is easy for agents to experience and to believe that their choice is indeterministic. Yet this belief is not justified; the experience of prospection, and hence of free will as being indeterminist, is actually consistent with determinism.


Free will Alternative possibilities Determinism/indeterminism Prospection Causal modeling 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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