AuthorEkstrom, Laura Waddell.
Committee ChairLehrer, Keith
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractA plausible theory of human freedom must give some account of both alternate possibilities and self-determination. Debate over the correct interpretation of the first feature gives rise to the metaphysical problem of whether or not freedom is compatible with the thesis of determinism, according to which, given the actual past and the actual laws of nature, there is at any time only one physically possible future. It is my view that persons act freely only if the thesis of determinism is false. But since a distinction must be made between a free act and a random event, the incompatibilist who affirms the existence of freedom must say more about a free act than that it is indeterministically caused. A free act is one's own: it is authorized by the self. In this dissertation, I propose a conception of the self and a coherence theory of autonomous or self-determined action, modeled after Keith Lehrer's coherence theory of knowledge. I defend the consequence argument for incompatibilism and argue that the compatibilist understanding of freedom is unsatisfactory. Hence, drawing on the coherence account of autonomy, I develop a coherentist libertarian theory of freedom. I respond to challenges to that account and consider, finally, reasons for thinking that we sometimes act and will freely.