A Possible Worlds Analysis of Freedom

Keith Lehrer

in Metamind

Published in print June 1990 | ISBN: 9780198248507
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191681141 | DOI:
A Possible Worlds Analysis of Freedom

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The word ‘can’ stands at the intersection of people's theoretical and practical interests. In science and rational enquiry, people seek to explain human behavior and assume there to be natural laws to be discovered in this domain as in others. Given such laws and suitable antecedent conditions, every human action may be explained in such a way that it appears that the agent could have performed no other action other than the one she did. People's legal and moral concerns, on the other hand, lead people to assume that people sometimes could have fulfilled their obligations, when, in fact, they did not do so. The present moment is a propitious one for reconsideration because of recent research on conditionals using possible world semantics.

Keywords: action; inaction; freedom; determinism; conditionals; theory; practice

Chapter.  14894 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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