Free will and experimental philosophy

Hoi Yee Chan, Max Deutsch, Shaun Nichols

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


This chapter highlights the common practice of appealing to lay intuitions as evidence for philosophical theories of free will. These arguments often seem to assume that the purported intuitions in question are not results of error, and the purported intuitions are generalizable to some interesting extent. Some empirical investigations of these two assumptions, including some studies that revealed intra-personal variation in compatibilist intuitions are reviewed. The chapter examines two popular error theories, the affect Hypothesis and the Bypassing Hypothesis, which take these findings to challenges. With new empirical results, it argues instead that both compatibilist and incompatibilist intuitions genuinely reflect how people think about free will and moral responsibility. A pluralistic approach of theorizing about free will that allows one to embrace either compatibilism or incompatibilism in different contexts is proposed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationA Companion to Experimental Philosophy
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781118661666
ISBN (Print)9781118661703
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Compatibilist
  • Determinism
  • Experimental philosophy
  • Free will
  • Moral responsibility
  • Philosophical theories

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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