Naturalism and Free Will

Neil Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Most of the philosophers engaged in the free will debate accept some kind of naturalism constraint. In this chapter, I distinguish three different kinds of naturalism. Strong naturalists hold that philosophical theorizing should be actually guided by current science, whereas weak naturalists avoid postulating any entities or processes that conflict with science (but may take bets on how science will evolve). Mid-strength naturalism is agnostic about how future science will evolve, but is not actually guided by the science. I argue that though compatibilism tends to fare better on this scale when we consider its relationship to physics, consideration of neuroscience and psychology complicates the picture: major compatibilists engage in as much speculation and scientifically unmotivated postulation of entities and processes as major libertarians. I end by asking whether philosophers engaged in this debate ought to accept that the stronger a view's naturalist credentials, the better warranted it is.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Blackwell Companion to Naturalism
EditorsKelly James Clark
Place of PublicationWest Sussex, UK
PublisherWiley-Blackwell, Wiley
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781118657775
ISBN (Print)9781118657607
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Free will
  • Neuroscience
  • Physics
  • Psychology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Naturalism and Free Will'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this