The Common Sense Reply


in The Freedom of the Will

Published in print September 1970 | ISBN: 9780198243434
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680687 | DOI:
The Common Sense Reply

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Many modern philosophers are unconvinced by the suggestion that increasing knowledge may leave no room for freedom. Some offer an alternative analysis of freedom and responsibility. Some argue that whatever the correct analysis of these concepts is, they cannot be shown to be always inapplicable. For after all, we do use them. We do describe some actions as free actions, and ascribe to the agents responsibility for them, and on other occasions we refuse to allow the words to be applied. We thus use the words to pick out some situations in contrast to others, and since the meaning of a word, they say, is given by its use, the meaning of these words is given by their use, and therefore it cannot be the case that they are always incorrectly used. In their use of language, all the people cannot — logically cannot — be fooled all the time. For language is constituted by their use of it.

Keywords: freedom; actions; language; knowledge

Chapter.  1558 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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