Why people believe in indeterminist free will

Oisin Nial Deery

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Recent empirical evidence indicates that (1) people tend to believe that they possess indeterminist free will, and (2) people’s experience of choosing and deciding is that they possess such freedom. Some also maintain that (3) people’s belief in indeterminist free will has its source in their experience of choosing and deciding. Yet there seem to be good reasons to resist endorsing (3). Despite this, I maintain that belief in indeterminist free will really does have its source in experience. I explain how this is so by appeal to the phenomenon of prospection, which is the mental simulation of future possibilities for the purpose of guiding action. Crucially, prospection can be experienced. And because of the way in which prospection models choice, it is easy for agents to experience and to believe that their choice is indeterministic. Yet this belief is not justified; the experience of prospection, and hence of free will as being indeterminist, is actually consistent with determinism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2033-2054
Number of pages22
JournalPhilosophical Studies
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Free will
  • Alternative possibilities
  • Determinism/indeterminism
  • Prospection
  • Causal modeling

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