Hilary Kornblith

in On Reflection

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199563005
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191745263 | DOI:

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Human beings, it seems, have freedom of the will. What does this amount to? Some have argued that free-willed action is nothing more than bodily behavior which is caused in a certain way by beliefs and desires. Others, however, have argued for a more stringent requirement. Freedom of the will, some hold, requires that we reflectively survey our desires and decide which of them we wish to act upon. Without such reflective evaluation, it may be held, we are merely pushed around by our first-order preferences. It is argued that this view leads to an infinite regress, and that the problem which motivates the second-order requirement could not possibly be solved by appealing to higher-order mental states. The discussion then turns to the topic of epistemic agency. Some have argued that our beliefs are the product of a special kind of agency, and that such agency is crucially tied to reflection. This suggestion is examined in detail and found wanting.

Keywords: freedom; agency; epistemic agency; deliberation; Harry Frankfurt; Richard Moran

Chapter.  15553 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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