Christian List

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Free will, determinism, and chance | go back to projects

I defend a view on free will that I have tentatively called "compatibilist libertarianism". According to this view, free will requires three things:

(i) intentional agency,

(ii) the possibility of doing otherwise, and

(iii) an agent's causal control over his or her actions.

The view is libertarian insofar as it entails that free will requires indeterminism at the agential level; and it is compatibilist insofar as it asserts that agential-level indeterminism is compatible with physical-level determinism.


Media coverage

For some coverage of my work on free will in the media or social media, see Scientific American, George Musser's blog, Philosophical Disquisitions (Part 1), (Part 2), and also (Part 1), (Part 2).

Highlighted papers

What's wrong with the consequence argument: In defence of compatibilist libertarianism

Emergent Chance (with M. Pivato), The Philosophical Review 124(1): 119-152

My brain made me do it: The exclusion argument against free will, and what’s wrong with it (with P. Menzies), in H. Beebee, C. Hitchcock, and H. Price (eds.), Making a Difference, Oxford (Oxford University) (forthcoming)

Two Intuitions about Free Will: Alternative Possibilities and Intentional Endorsement (with W. Rabinowicz), Philosophical Perspectives 28: 155-172

Free Will, Determinism, and the Possibility of Doing Otherwise, Nous 48(1): 156-178, 2014

Free will in a deterministic world (public lecture at the LSE)

Lecture podcast, December 2012


Science, especially the idea that everything in the universe is physically determined, is often thought to challenge the notion that we, humans, have free will and are capable of choosing our own actions. The aim of this lecture is to argue that there is room for free will in a world governed by the laws of physics.


Last modified February 2016

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