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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 54, Issue 4, December 2014

A. S. Kleinherenbrink
Pages 429-441

Freedom within Understanding

Current debates on freedom of will disregard that understanding is a necessary presupposition to experience the will as free. Theories of freedom such as those by Frankfurt, Watson, and Wolf are demonstrably incapable of explaining (the absence of) freedom in several quotidian situations because of a lack of a concept of understanding. In explicating why understanding is a necessary (and sufficient) condition for freedom, I present an alternative theory that I call the Understanding View. It proposes that the experience of freedom depends on the degree to which we understand the inner context of our identity and the outer context of a given situation. The Understanding View succeeds in accounting for freedom in those areas where its main rivals fail as well as in those situations to which they can successfully be applied. This makes the Understanding View more useful in addressing the question of the freedom of will.

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