I know David Hume in the 18th century had a critical position against the traditional view of free will or at least he is cited as a compatibilist. I wonder who were the first compatibilists and also who were the first incompatibilists against free will.

  • Try Plato or Aristotle -- neither of whom believe people have wills (as in a faculty that wills). Or put it another way, can you define "traditional view of free will" so we can know what we're opposing it to?
    – virmaior
    Jul 9, 2014 at 12:03
  • Closely related: philosophy.stackexchange.com/questions/14031/…. As Mauro ALLEGRANZA cited, A Free Will : Origins of the Notion in Ancient Thought is a pretty thorough treatment of the history of thought on free will. Jul 9, 2014 at 14:04
  • In Plato's Laws they discuss the idea of "free will" as problematic, since it causes people to think not everyone desires the good.
    – yters
    Aug 1, 2014 at 22:32

1 Answer 1


Well, Zeno and Chrysippus argued that everything is fated, as follows. “When a dog is tied to a cart, if it wants to follow it is pulled and follows, making its spontaneous act coincide with necessity, but if it does not want to follow it will be compelled in any case. So it is with men too: even if they do not want to, they will be compelled in any case to follow what is destined”. Diodorus Cronus also formulated an enigmatic argument (known as the Master Argument) as follows. It is clear, he says, that the following three propositions cannot all be true. 1. Everything true about the past is now necessary. (I.e. you can’t do anything about the past, it’s done).

(2) The impossible does not follow from the possible.

(3) There is something that is possible, and yet neither is nor will be true. (i.e. there are some possibilities that will never be realized, no matter how long you wait)

Diodorus accepted 1 and 2, and so rejected 3: whatever is possible either is true or is going to be true, he thought. So you can’t do anything about the future. The argument is entirely unclear, probably because key parts of it have been lost.

  • Your answer made me find this Wikipedia article, which is what I was looking for and includes part of your infos: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_will_in_antiquity Thanks
    – lePenseur
    Aug 2, 2014 at 16:58
  • If someone committed a crime could they just say 'DETERMINISM made me do it!' If there is no free will should he be punished?
    – user128932
    Oct 1, 2014 at 4:49

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