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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter November 2, 2022

Libertarianism in disguise

  • Helen Steward
From the journal Human Affairs


This paper argues that the position on free will which is defended in ‘Freedom: An Impossible Reality’ is not, as Tallis claims, a compatibilist view, but actually a version of libertarianism. While endorsing many aspects of that libertarian view itself, the paper raises questions about how one of the central arguments for Tallis’s view is supposed to work, and queries whether it really follows from the fact that we need to stand apart from nature in a certain sense, in order to develop the kind of abstract knowledge that is constituted by the body of scientific law, that our own actions are not mere manifestations of what Tallis calls the ‘habits of nature’. It is also suggested that while a strong case can be made for many varieties of human exceptionalism, Tallis’s view of animal behaviour may be too simple and that there are examples of animal agency which cannot be explained merely by the associative learning which appears to be the highest grade of animal cognition that Tallis countenances.


Lewis, D. (1986). Philosophical papers, Vol II. Oxford University Press. Steward, H. (2012). A metaphysics for freedom. Oxford University Press.Search in Google Scholar

Steward, H. (2021). What is determinism?: Why we should ditch the entailment definition. In M. Hausmann & H. Noller (Eds.). Free will: Historical and analytical perspectives (pp. 17–43). London: Palgrave Macmillan.10.1007/978-3-030-61136-1_2Search in Google Scholar

Steward, H. (2022). Laws Loosened. In C.J. Austin, A. Marmodoro, & A. Rosselli (Eds.), Powers, time and free will (pp. 161–83). Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature:.10.1007/978-3-030-92486-7_9Search in Google Scholar

Published Online: 2022-11-02
Published in Print: 2022-10-26

© 2022 Institute for Research in Social Communication, Slovak Academy of Sciences

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