Philosophy TV Managing Editors

David Killoren (Institute for Religion and Critical Inquiry, Australian Catholic University)

Jonathan Lang (Wisconsin Institute for Sleep and Consciousness, University of Wisconsin-Madison)


Randolph Clarke and Stephen Kearns

Randolph Clarke (left) and Stephen Kearns (right) on the problem of free will.

It’s not easy to find room in the world for free will. In the first part of this exchange, Clarke and Kearns discuss whether free will can have a place in a deterministic universe. Then (starting at 23:22) they discuss problems for free will that are posed by indeterminism. In the course of their conversation, they consider related issues concerning the conditions for moral responsibility and the nature of intention.

Related works

by Clarke:
Intentional Omissions” (2010)
Dispositions, Abilities to Act, and Free Will: The New Dispositionalism” (2009)
Libertarian Accounts of Free Will (2003)

by Kearns:
Responsibility for Necessities” (forthcoming)
Aborting the Zygote Argument” (forthcoming)
Compatibilism Can Resist Prepunishment” (2008)


1 comment to Randolph Clarke and Stephen Kearns

  • Tracy

    Interesting discussion!

    Clarke’s point that if muting the TV is an unlikely consequence of hitting the mute button on the remote, then hitting that button does equal the intention of muting, made me smile. This seems wrong in real life, as any casino and every parent may tell you that gamblers & kids (and so many others!) engage in an action with a low probability of a favorable result, yet they fully intending to illicit that unlikely outcome all the same. Ha!

    More seriously, though: what’s the difference between choice and intention? I can choose to turn right or intend to turn right; either way, I either end up right or left (assume there are only those 2 possible outcomes). If I end up left, isn’t that an error in execution (because I’m clumsy), not because of my choice/intention? My choice or intention is unchanged.