The Bounds of Freedom

Galen Strawson

in The Oxford Handbook of Free Will

Published in print March 2005 | ISBN: 9780195178548
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

The Bounds of Freedom


This article focuses on a different line of argument for incompatibilism. Recall the two features of traditional free will that seem to imply its incompatibility with determinism: (a) it must be “up to us” what we choose from an array of alternative possibilities; and (b) the origin or source of our choices and actions must be “in us” and not in anyone or anything else over which we have no control. Most arguments for incompatibilism have proceeded from feature (a). But another noteworthy feature of recent free will debates, especially of the past two decades, is that more attention has been directed toward the comparatively neglected condition (b), the idea that agents must be the “ultimate sources” of their own wills and actions in a sense that entails that they, and they alone, are ultimately responsible for being the kinds of persons they are. The article subjects this so-called “ultimacy” or “ultimate responsibility” condition to searching examination.

Keywords: incompatibilism; free will; determinism; ultimate responsibility; ultimacy

Article.  8849 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Metaphysics

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