Abstract for Holton’s Talk

If compatibilists aim to defend the thesis that we could have chosen to do otherwise, (and then done it), the defence may seem either too easy or too hard. Possibility claims are generally understood as relative to (conversationally provided) background considerations. With too few considerations in play, compatibilism becomes trivial; with too many, it becomes becomes untenable. How can we decide on considerations that do not trivialize the issue in one direction or the other? Some recent psychological studies suggest that children get the idea of free will at the same time that they get that idea that they are not determined to act by their desires; and that these two ideas are tightly connected. I investigate the hypothesis that the relevant considerations might be given by such ideas; and investigate the plausibility of developing an account along lines sketched by Kenny, Dennett, and, more recently, Christian List.