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Published March 28, 2012 | Submitted
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Protean Free Will

Clegg, Liam F.


This paper argues that free will is a purely theological issue, and offers an error theory for the free will debates in analytic philosophy in terms of evolutionary naturalism. I introduce 'protean free will' (PFW) as the ability to play mixed strategies effectively in noncooperative interactions. Thence, I argue that traditional worries about divine foreknowledge, Frankfurt controllers, moral responsibility, and determinism are side effects of selective pressures for unpredictability in our evolutionary past. Finally, I interpret the Libet experiments as showing an adaptive response to such pressures. I conclude that PFW does most things most philosophers want free will to do, conditional on the nonexistence of God.

Additional Information

Special thanks to Daniel Dennett and the participants in his Free Will seminar at Tufts University. Thanks also to Kenyon Bradt, Tristan Chambers, Simon Reid, and Margaret Smith for helpful feedback on earlier drafts.

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