A Simple but Powerful Idea: Actual Sequences and Free Will

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


One of Fischer's main contributions to the free will literature has been the development of his highly influential actual-sequence view of freedom. The view is originally motivated by a classical paper by Frankfurt. In that paper, Frankfurt identified actual explanations of actions (not the ability to do otherwise or alternative possibilities) as what's relevant to our freedom and moral responsibility. As Fischer notes, Frankfurt's insight is, at the same time, simple and powerful. Basically, it's the thought that all that matters is why people do what they do. But it has proven hard to respect that simple and powerful idea. For a theory to fully respect it, it must strike a very delicate balance between simplicity and explanatory power. In this chapter, Carolina Sartorio critically examines Fischer's actual-sequence view in light of this standard. Sartorio argues that Fischer's view is a considerable improvement over Frankfurt's own view in this respect, but that one can do even better.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFreedom, Responsibility, and Value
Subtitle of host publicationEssays in Honor of John Martin Fischer
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781003802952
ISBN (Print)9781032288628
StatePublished - Jan 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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