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Devon
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Hi all, I think that Mark point in the paper is rather simple, and obviously correct if you accept his understanding of what's metaphysically interesting. His point can be put like this: (i) Metaphysically interesting questions are about the nonsemantic part of world, and (ii) the What is free will? question is about the semantic part of the world (e.g. the meaning of English words and the intentions of English speakers), so (iii) the What is free will? question isn't metaphysically interesting. I think that this argument is compelling, and it contributes to our thinking of how the free-will debate should proceed and, more generally, how metaphysical debates should proceed. I think that this is Mark's aim, and one that should be taken seriously to say the least. Philosophers have been worried about what they're doing for some time now. The main problem I have is this: There is a good explanation for why the compatibility question has dominated the free will debate in recent years. The explanation I have in mind is that philosophers (I think) are primarily interested in the ordinary notion of freedom or free will, and so want to clarify THAT concept in order to see if we the power that that concept describes. And a natural assumption to be made is that the empirical results concerning the nature of human decision-making processes won't tell us whether we have the sort of power described by the ordinary concept of free will, even though such results may (or may not) tell us whether we have the powers described by other concepts of freedom. I'm interested in whether or not I have the freedom described by the ordinary concept. I'm not (at least not right now) interested in whether we possess other sorts of freedom, if there are any. Now I think that this is consistent with what Mark says in his paper. But I do think there is a tension between the kinds of freedom Mark is ultimately interested in, and the kinds of freedom that philosophers have been tradionally interested in.