Indeterminacy of a Free Choice: Ontic, Epistemic, or Logical?

Helmut Fink


Fink aims at reconstructing the concept of free will within a naturalistic outlook of reality, that is the doctrine that neural processes like all other processes in nature obey to the laws of physics. He considers three features to be salient for the concept of free will: intelligibility, authorship, and alternative possibilities. Fink argues for a clear distinction between different modes of description on the epistemological level: “Mind talk” is not to be confounded with “matter talk.” In addition to modes of description there are also different levels of description: One can either stick to the most elementary building blocks of an entity to be described, or introduce concepts at a more complex level, such as persons. A conceptual reconstruction of “free will” calls for introducing a mental mode and a personal level of description. The bulk of Fink’s paper concerns the analysis of various notions of indeterminacy and their importance for the debate of alternative possibilities as presupposition of free will. From a first-person perspective thinking in alternatives is constitutive for a free choice. Fink discusses ontic, epistemic and logical indeterminacy. Fink concludes that it is only epistemic indeterminacy from a first-person perspective, even if restricted to periods of deliberation, which ultimately saves the intuition of alternate possibilities.


20th century philosophy; philosophy; Wittgenstein Ludwig; alternate possibilities; deliberation; epistemic indeterminacy; free choice; free will; logical indeterminacy; MacKay Donald; Popper Karl

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