Freedom, power and causation

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Freedom or control of how we act is often understood as a kind of power - a power to determine for ourselves how we act. Is freedom so conceived possible, and what kind of power must it be? The paper argues that power takes many forms, of which ordinary causation is only one; and that if freedom is indeed a kind of power, it cannot be ordinary causation. Scepticism about the reality of freedom as a power can take two forms. One, found in Hume, assumes incompatibilism, and concludes from incompatibilism that freedom cannot exist, as indistinguishable from chance. But another scepticism, found in Hobbes, assumes instead that the only possible form of power is ordinary causation, concluding that freedom cannot for this reason exist as a form of power. This scepticism is more profound - it is in fact presupposed by Hume's scepticism - and far more interesting, just because freedom cannot plausibly be modelled as ordinary causation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-28
Number of pages28
JournalOrganon F
Issue number1
Early online date2018
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2018


  • Scepticism
  • Free will
  • Causation
  • Hobbes
  • Laws of Nature
  • Hume
  • Francisco Suarez
  • Chance
  • power


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