Conflicting Reasons and Freedom of the Will



Incompatibilism is often accused of incoherence because it introduces randomness in support of freedom. I argue that the sort of randomness that's thought to be detrimental to freedom results not from denying causal determinism, so much as denying what we might call ‘rational determinism’: denying that agents' actions are determined by their reasons for acting. Compatibilists argue that introducing the ability to decide differently allows agents to make choices that are irrational, and this undermines rather than furthering freedom. I maintain that this argument neglects scenarios in which reasons are in conflict with one another. In such scenarios, we can preserve rationality without claiming that the agent's choices are rationally determined.