Dr. Alexander Gebharter (HHU Düsseldorf): Freedom and Causality

Date / Time:
16.01.18   /  18:30 - 20:00

Institut für Theoretische Philosophie

24.53.01 Raum 81



Free will is still one of the most heavily discussed issues within philosophy. Free will is intimately connected to a number of other philosophical concepts such as responsibility, causation, law of nature, etc. which are typically used in a more informal way in the literature about free will. In this talk I will explore some issues concerning free will from the viewpoint of the empirically informed theory of causal Bayes nets. In particular, I investigate how a notion of free will committed to the possibility to do otherwise as well as to an agent's ability to causally influence her environment via her decisions controlling her actions relates to different views of the world such as non-reductive physicalism or determinism. I argue that from a causal modeler's perspective the only possibility to get this kind of freedom consists in subscribing to reductive physicalism and indeterminism. I also provide a response to an argument recently put forward by List (2014) that aims at supporting the view that free will in the sense described above is possible as a higher-level phenomenon even if determinism were true.


Alexander Gebharter is a postdoctoral researcher at the Düsseldorf Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science (DCLPS) and a member of the DFG funded research unit Inductive Metaphysics (FOR 2495). He obtained his PhD from the University of Düsseldorf in 2016 and an MA from the University of Salzburg in 2010. His research interests lie in philosophy of science and its intersection with epistemology, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind. He is especially interested in causation and related topics.


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