Freedom and Normativity – Varieties of Free Will

  • Barbara Merker
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series book series (PSSP, volume 118)


The paper takes up a general conceptual discussion and, favoring a compatibilist framework, asks whether the manifold conceptions of free will may lead to the question of which of the enduring disputes are substantial ones about the same issue and which are perhaps only terminological ones due, for instance, to equivocal use of concepts. Firstly, five competing views on how to approach the problem of free will are discussed: 1) presupposition of a fixed reference of freedom of the will which has to be explained adequately; 2) formulation of a list of necessary and sufficient conditions for free will; 3) conceptual analysis of our intuitions on free will; 4) analysis of our social practice of attributing responsibility from a pragmatic point of view; and, finally, 5) criticism of other approaches in order to pinpoint the most plausible aspects to be used in any attempt to conceptualize the notion of free will. The paper then argues for an evaluative and substantive approach regarding those aspects of freedom of the will which matter in our practical disputes and a number of these aspects are discussed in detail, thereby presenting a complex account of what is (really) at stake in discussions on freedom of the will and autonomy.


Social Practice Alternative Possibility Free Action Folk Conception Ordinary Conception 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Aristoteles. 1986. Über die Seele, Aristoteles Werke in dt. Übersetzung, vol. 13. Berlin: Akademie.Google Scholar
  2. Baumann, Holger (Ms.). Die Frage nach personaler Autonomie.Google Scholar
  3. Bayertz, Kurt. 1995. Eine kurze Geschichte der Herkunft der Verantwortung. In Verantwortung – Prinzip oder Problem, ed. K. Bayertz. Darmstadt: WBG.Google Scholar
  4. Berofsky, Bernard. 1995. Liberation from the self. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bieri, Peter. 2001. Das Handwerk der Freiheit. München/Wien: Hanser.Google Scholar
  6. Brandom, R.B. 2004. Hegels Erbe. In Hegels Erbe und die theoretische Philosophie der Gegenwart, ed. Ch Halbig et al., 46–77. Frankfurt/M: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  7. Demandt, Alexander. 1999. Hände in Unschuld – Pontius Pilatus in der Geschichte. Köln: Böhlau.Google Scholar
  8. Evans, E.P. 1906. The criminal prosecution and capital punishment of animals, the lost history of Europe’s animals trials. New York: E. P. Dutton.Google Scholar
  9. Frankfurt, Harry. 1988. The importance of what we care about. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Frankfurt, Harry. 1999. Autonomy, necessity, and love. In Necessity, volition and love, ed. H. Frankfurt, 129–141. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Frankfurt, Harry. 2006. Taking ourselves seriously, getting it right. Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Hegel, G.W.F. 1970. Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechts, Auf der Grundlage der Werke von 1832–1845, newly edited by E. Moldenhauer and K. M. Michel. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp.Google Scholar
  13. Jackson, Frank. 1998. From metaphysics to ethics, a defence of conceptual analysis. Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  14. Kant, Immanuel. 1787. Kritik der reinen Vernunft. In Kants Werke, Akademie text ed, vol. 3. Berlin: De Gruyter (1968).Google Scholar
  15. Kant, Immanuel. 1990. Eine Vorlesung über Ethik, ed. G. Gerhardt. Frankfurt/M: Fischer.Google Scholar
  16. Kelsen, Hans. 1941. Vergeltung und Kausalität, Eine soziologische Untersuchung, Library of Unified Science Book Series, Vol. II, ed. O. Neurath. The Hague: W. P. van Stockum & Zoon N.V.Google Scholar
  17. Kristinsson, Sigurdur. 2000. The limits of neutrality, toward a weakly substantive account of autonomy. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 30(2): 257–286.Google Scholar
  18. Kusser, Anna. 2000. Zwei-Stufen-Theorie und praktische Überlegung. In Autonomes Handeln. Beiträge zur Philosophie von Harry G. Frankfurt, ed. M. Betzler and B. Guckes, 85–99. Berlin: Akademie.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Nietzsche, Friedrich. 1887. Zur Genealogie der Moral, Eine Streitschrift. In Sämtliche Werke, Kritische Studienausgabe Bd. 5, ed. G. Colli and M. Montinari, 245–412. München: dtv; Berlin/New York: De Gruyter (1980).Google Scholar
  20. Oshana, Marina. 1998. Personal autonomy and society. Journal of Social Philosophy 29: 81–102.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Pippin, Robert B. 2008. Hegel’s practical philosophy, rational agency as ethical life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Platon. 1959. Nomoi. In Platon, Sämtliche Werke, vol. 6. Hamburg: Rowohlt.Google Scholar
  23. Rheinwald, Rosemarie. 2003. Eine konditionale Analyse von Freiheit – Bündel von kontrafaktischen Aussagen. In Auf Freigang, ed. S. Mischer et al., 175–198. Münster: LIT.Google Scholar
  24. Richardson, Henry. 2001. Autonomy’s many normative presuppositions. American Philosophical Quarterly 38: 287–303.Google Scholar
  25. Stoecker, Ralf. 2007. Das Pilatus-Problem und die Vorzüge eines dynamischen Verantwortungs­begriffs. In Autonomie durch Verantwortung, ed. J. Berendes, 147–160. Paderborn: mentis.Google Scholar
  26. Strawson, Peter. 1963. Freedom and resentment. Proceedings of the British Academy 48: 1–25.Google Scholar
  27. Velleman, J.D. 2002. Identification and identity. In Contours of agency, essays on themes from Harry Frankfurt, ed. S. Buss and L. Overton, 91–123. Cambridge: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  28. Wallace, R.J. 1994. Responsibility and the moral sentiments. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Wallace, R.J. 2000. Caring, reflexivity, and the structure of the volition. In Autonomes Handeln. Beiträge zur Philosophie von Harry G. Frankfurt, ed. M. Betzler and B. Guckes, 215–236. Berlin: Akademie.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Wolf, Susan. 1990. Freedom within reason. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyJohann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am MainFrankfurtGermany

Personalised recommendations