Volume 88, Issue 1/2, January/April 2011
Free Will and Moral Responsibility
Libertarianism, Luck, and Gift
According to libertarianism, free will requires indeterminism. Many opponents of libertarianism have suggested that indeterminism would inject luck or chance into human action in a problematic way. Alfred Mele’s recent “contrast argument” is an especially clear effort to make this kind of objection to libertarianism precise. This paper is response to the contrast argument on behalf of libertarianism. I argue that worries about luck and chance, enshrined in the contrast argument, arise largely from confusion and lack of imagination. I address the confusion by disambiguating various conclusions the contrast argument is supposed to support. In each case, I claim the libertarian turns out to be on solid ground. I address the lack of imagination by developing (rather tentatively) a hint from William James regarding the relationship between chance and gift.