Non-Relativist Contextualism about Free Will



Abstract: Contextualist accounts of free will recently proposed by Hawthorne and Rieber imply that the same action can be both free and unfree (depending on the attributor's context). This paradoxical consequence can be avoided by thinking of contexts not as constituted by arbitrary moves in a conversation, but rather by (relatively stable) social practices (such as the practices of attributing responsibility or of giving scientific explanations). The following two conditions are suggested as each necessary and jointly sufficient for free will: (i) the agent is able to form considered practical judgements and to act accordingly, and (ii) the agent (or some agent-involving event) is the original cause of her actions. A contextualist reformulation of the second condition is developed according to which only contexts in which responsibility is attributed are relevant for the kind of original causation required for free will, which allows for a non-relativist contextualism about free will.