Document Type

Senior Thesis

Publication Date

Spring 2015


The consensus scientific view holds that our world is indeterministic at the micro level, but practically deterministic at all other levels. In an indeterministic world, live alternative possibilities at the moment of decision render it impossible for agents to guarantee what they will choose; regardless of their personality and deliberative processes. Critics of indeterminist free will argue that this lack of a necessary connection between mental state and choice makes the ultimate decision fundamentally a matter of luck. As such, indeterminism opens free will up to potential problems of present luck. Additionally, large-scale determinism opens up free will to a separate “luck pincer”. Our initial set of beliefs, desires and deliberative patterns (endowment) are settled by luck. Since our initial endowment forms our initial character, only (lucky) factors outside ourselves can modify it. Our decisions and characters are practically determined by either luck in our initial endowment or in the outside circumstances that modify it. In order to defuse these objections, free will defenders must develop an answer to both the problem of present luck and the determinist “luck pincer” presented by Neil Levy. I will argue that the problem of present luck is resolvable by applying a modified version of Frankfurt cases to the actual sequence of decisions. In the majority of these cases, I argue indeterminism plays no significant freedom-endangering role. Additionally, I will argue that the luck pincer is not lethal to free will since our endowments constitute our characters, desires and beliefs. I will argue that decisions that decisions originating from our endowments constitute a direct outpouring of our identities, and such decisions are free. The aim of my paper is to present responses to contemporary luck objections relevant to all views, particularly those aiming to defend free will in the world agents most likely inhabit.

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