Illogic Primer Quotes Clippings Books and Bibliography Paper Trails Links Film

C. A. Campbell on the Truth of Vulgar Free Will

In Defence of Free Will: With Other Philosophical Essays, Vol. 4, Chap. 2 (Psychology Press: 2004, orig. 1938), p. 35.

The present state of philosophical opinion on free will is, for certain definitely assignable reasons, profoundly unsatisfactory. In my judgment, a thoroughly perverse attitude to the whole problem has  been created by the almost universal acquiescence in the view that free will in what is often called the ‘vulgar’ sense is too obviously nonsensical a notion to deserve serious discussion. Free will in a more ‘refined’ sense — which is apt to mean free will purged of all elements that may cause embarrassment to a Deterministic psychology or a Deterministic metaphysics — is, it is understood, a conception which may be defended by the philosopher without loss of caste. But in its ‘vulgar’ sense, as maintained, for example, by the plain man, who clings to a belief in genuinely open possibilities, it is (we are told) a wild and even obnoxious delusion, long ago discredited for sober thinkers. ¶ Now, as it happens, I myself firmly believe that free will, in something extremely like the ‘vulgar’ sense, is a fact.