What’s wrong with the consequence argument: In defence of compatibilist libertarianism
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The most prominent argument for the incompatibility of free will and determinism is Peter van Inwagen’s consequence argument. I offer a new diagnosis of what is wrong with this argument. Both proponents and critics of the argument typically accept the way it is framed and only disagree on whether the argument’s premises and the rules of inference on which it relies are true. I suggest that the argument involves a category mistake: it conflates two different levels of description, namely the physical level at which we describe the world from the perspective of fundamental physics and the agential level at which we describe agents and their actions. My diagnosis is based on an account of free will as a higher-level phenomenon (in a non-reductive physicalist sense). I will call this account 'compatibilist libertarianism', for reasons that will become clear. Although the paper addresses a primarily metaphysical question, it uses tools similar to those employed in philosophy-of-science work on determinism and indeterminism, higher-level phenomena, and dynamical systems.