Metaphysical Personalism – Why the Mind Comes First (Part 6: The Argument from Libertarian Free Will)

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Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / Part 4 / Part 5 / Part 6 / Part 7

Arguably, our experience of what it is to act as a free agent tends to naturally lead us to a libertarian conception of freedom. (Very roughly, the libertarian concept of freedom is one that takes the principle “could have done otherwise” as a requirement for freedom. This can be distinguished from the compatibilistic view that only posits that an agent is free if there is no external compulsion – even if the internal states of the agent leave no room for choosing in another way than the agent in fact did.)

The attempts to analyze libertarian freedom in terms of something that is taken to be more fundamental than it, seem to always fail. For example, it is not uncommon for the opponents of libertarian freedom insist that the concept makes no sense, since it would ultimately boil down to either lawlike regularities or chance (or a combination of both). But the fundamental mistake in such criticisms is the assumption that if libertarian freedom exists, it must be analyzable in terms of something that is more fundamental and non-free. While this assumption concerning the concept of freedom is understandable within the presuppositions of materialism, the proponent of personalism can reject this assumption. The concept of freedom belongs to the concept of personhood, and thus, given that the personal is taken as the fundamental category, there is no need to reduce it to non-personal and non-free terms. Therefore, this line of reasoning seems to provide some additional support for metaphysical personalism for anyone who finds him-/herself convinced of the existence of libertarian freedom.

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