ProblemsFirst, what about things that I know to be impossible? Isn’t it true that I act freely when I decide not to fly by flapping my arms? As it happens I don’t want to fly by flapping my arms. But suppose though that I did want to fly by flapping my arms. Would I do so? No. I know it wouldn’t work. But then the analysis suggests that my decision not to flap my arms is not a free one, because it’s not true that I would have acted otherwise if I had desired to do otherwise. (This is a general problem with any account that understands being free in terms of being able to get what we want. We don’t think that the fact that certain things are impossible to get is a restriction on our free will.) Hobbes avoids this problem by limiting the account to those things that the agent ‘by his strength and wit is able to do’; but this risks making the account circular. For what is the talk of ability here if it isn’t talk of what one is free to do? Perhaps Hobbes can, and
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