Experimental Philosophy About the Compatibility Question

Kateřina Šimáčková


One of the important issues concerning free will is so called compatibility question. It explores whether free will and moral responsibility are compatible with determinism. There is a wide variety of positions on that issue. On one hand we have incompatibilists who insist that free will and moral responsibility is not compatible with causal determinism (both libertarians and hard determinists), on the other hand we have compatibilists who do not have a problem with agglutination of these concepts. I am going to focus only on the current debate which has not reached a homogenous answer to the given question so far. One usual way to support one or other position is to refer to its intuitivness. But intuitions can be empirically tested, so why should we not valuate philosophers claims in this way? For this purpose a new field of philosophy developed at the turn of the millennium. It carries a chair in flames in its crest in order to demonstrate its demarcation against the conclusions reached through strictly a priori approach and its pursuit of empirical re-examination of existing philosophical findings. I am talking of course about the experimental philosophy. With the assistance of experimental methods experimental philosophy attempts to map intuitions of folks (non‑philosophers), who are not burdened with theoretical commitments as philosophers are. What I am looking at in this paper is if experimental philosophy is able to contribute to debate about (in)compatibility. To answer this, it is necessary to briefly look at different solutions of the compatibility question. Next, I am going to summarize the most influential experiments so far. I am going to point out that the debate in experimental philosophy soon started to go in its own direction, by which, in my opinion, it has enriched the whole debate.


experimental philosophy, intuitions, free will, moral responsibility, causal determinism, incompatibilism, compatibilism


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Published by the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.
ISSN: 1212-9097