Source: p 83, Philosophy: A Complete Introduction (2012) by Prof Sharon Kaye (MA PhD in Philosophy, U. Toronto)

Likewise, if I tie you to a chair, we say that you are unfree because there is an external impediment preventing you from acting in accordance with your nature.

[1.] Suppose, on the other hand, you are unable to get up from the chair because you are lame. We don't call you 'unfree' in that case, since the impediment is internal to you.

1 appears to blame the victim. Does not a finding of (whether an action constitutes) Compatibilism depend on an action's causes? Suppose the external impediment that caused lameness (in the legs) as:

  1. a rock that injured a hiker without correct footwear. Then the victim's negligence contributed to the injury; so the victim can be blamed.

  2. totally unforeseeable space debris that injures a pedestrian. Then the victim must not be blamed.

  • 6
    This seems like a bad example, but I think I know what the author is getting at. Another example that might be clearer: Imagine that Superman has been tied down with kryptonite ropes so that he cannot fly. He is not free in that case. Now consider yourself, and own inability to fly: you are not unfree even though you can't fly, because nothing is restricting you from flying-- you simply don't possess that ability.
    – Era
    Mar 7, 2016 at 19:18

1 Answer 1


Being lame and restricted to chair shows that the person is not free to act. But in general, the person is free in her will and decisions like a non lame person.

One has to discriminate between free action and free will. The hard problem is the problem of free will. Libertarian view, determinism, and compatibilism refer to the problem of free will.

Hence the example of a lame person does not seem relevant to this issue.

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