Sartre famously argued that we are inescapably free. The summed up argument can be found in the book Just the Arguments: 100 of the Most Important Arguments in Western Philosophy:

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Couple this with a definition of freedom that states we are free when we do as we choose. It is then no longer an issue that states of affairs can affect our choices, since even if they do affect it, it is us who choose them anyway. It seems to me that Sartre entirely solved the issue regarding free will, but many modern philosophical debates on compatibilism vs incompatibilism no longer even acknowledge his position, or mention his name. Why is this? Is there an inherent problem in his position that led to modern debates entirely sidestepping it? How has metaphysics of will "dealt away" with Sartre's position?

  • 1
    Everything hinges on the validity of P4.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Mar 3, 2022 at 18:46
  • 1
    @PhilipKlöcking I personally don't find it particularly disagreeable, but would appreciate it if you elaborated what you have against it.
    – Nick Doe
    Mar 3, 2022 at 18:57
  • Under the "unity of laws" hypothesis discussed by Putnam and Oppenheim here, the behavioral of all physical systems is in principle derivable from physics, but there may be higher-level laws and explanations for the behavior of higher-level categories in the macro world, even if you could in principle do without them for making predictions about the behavior of the system, given precise knowledge of the system's microstate and the laws of physics governing it.
    – Hypnosifl
    Mar 3, 2022 at 20:07
  • Explaining a person's actions in terms of the "meaning" they have for them could be just a specific case of the more general notion of high-level explanations using terms that aren't defined directly in terms of microphysics--there can be multiple levels of "causal" explanation for something which don't really conflict with each other, this is not specific to the human world but could also be said about causal explanations in geology, for example (like the idea that an earthquake was caused by stresses at the fault between tectonic plates, terms that aren't defined in terms of microphysics)
    – Hypnosifl
    Mar 3, 2022 at 20:14
  • One might similarly argue that a given physical microstate doesn't have attributes like "tectonic plates" in itself, that these are just properties of certain heuristic high-level descriptions of them which are useful in practice, and that the same could go for "meaning". Alternately one could challenge the vagueness of "in itself" here and say the physical state does have these properties in itself, in the sense that there may be some complicated implicit rules that determine which microstates correspond to which high-level descriptions.
    – Hypnosifl
    Mar 3, 2022 at 20:20


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