Why compatibilist intuitions are not mistaken: A reply to Feltz and Millan

James Andow, Florian Cova

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In the past decade, a number of empirical researchers have suggested that laypeople have compatibilist intuitions. In a recent paper, Feltz and Millan (2015 Feltz, A., & Millan, M. (2015). An error theory for compatibilist intuitions. Philosophical Psychology, 28(4), 529–555. [Taylor & Francis Online], [Web of Science ®], [Google Scholar] ) have challenged this conclusion by claiming that most laypeople are only compatibilists in appearance and are in fact willing to attribute free will to people no matter what. As evidence for this claim, they have shown that an important proportion of laypeople still attribute free will to agents in fatalistic universes. In this paper, we first argue that Feltz and Millan’s error-theory rests on a conceptual confusion: it is perfectly acceptable for a certain brand of compatibilist to judge free will and fatalism to be compatible, as long as fatalism does not prevent agents from being the source of their actions. We then present the results of two studies showing that laypeople’s intuitions are best understood as following a certain brand of source compatibilism rather than a “free-will-no-matter-what” strategy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)550-566
Number of pages17
JournalPhilosophical Psychology
Issue number4
Early online date30 Sep 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Compatibilism
  • determinism
  • experimental philosophy
  • fatalism
  • free will
  • moral responsibility

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