Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …


International Journal for Ontology and Metaphysics

Managing Editor: Koridze, Georg

Ed. by Hüntelmann, Rafael / Meixner, Uwe / Tegtmeier, Erwin

Editorial Board: Addis, Laird / Davies, Brian / Hochberg, Herbert / Johansson, Ingvar / Kanzian, Christian / Klima, Gyula / Koons, Robert C / Künne, Wolfgang / Löffler, Winfried / Mulligan, Kevin / Nef, Frederic / Oaklander, Nathan / Oderberg, David / Orilia, Francesco / Plantinga, Alvin / Potrc, Matjaz / Rapp, Christof / Reicher-Marek, Maria Elisabeth / Schantz, Richard / Scholz, Oliver R. / Seibt, Johanna / Simons, Peter / Smith, Barry / Strobach, Niko / Trettin, Käthe / Wachter, Daniel

CiteScore 2018: 0.29

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.257
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.369

See all formats and pricing
More options …

Time, Leeway, and the Laws of Nature: Why Humean Compatibilists Cannot Be Eternalists

Andrei A. Buckareff
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Marist College, 3399 North Road, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601, USA
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2019-02-01 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mp-2019-2001


Humean compatibilism combines a Humean conception of laws of nature with a strong dual-ability condition for free will that requires that agents possess the ability to decide differently when they make a free decision. On the Humean view of laws of nature, laws of nature are taken to be contingent non-governing descriptions of significant regularities that obtain in the entire history of the universe. On Humean compatibilism, agents are taken to possess dual ability when making free decisions because what the laws of nature will finally be is (at least partially) dependent upon how an agent decides. In this paper, I argue that the tenability of Humean compatibilism depends in part upon what theory of time is correct. More specifically, I argue that Humean compatibilism is untenable in a deterministic universe if eternalism is true.

Keywords: free will; compatibilism; humean supervenience; laws of nature; time; eternalism


  • Armstrong, D. 1983. What Is a Law of Nature? New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Armstrong, D. 1993. “A World of States of Affairs.” Philosophical Perspectives 7: 429–40.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Armstrong, D. 1997. A World of States of Affairs. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Armstrong, D. 2004. Truth and Truthmakers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Armstrong, D. 2010. Sketch for a Systematic Metaphysics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Balashov, Y. 2000. “Persistence and Space-Time: Philosophical Lessons of the Pole and the Barn.” The Monist 83: 321–40.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Beebee, H. 2000. “The Non-Governing Conception of Laws of Nature.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 61: 571–94.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Beebee, H. 2003. “Local Miracle Compatibilism.” Noûs 37: 258–77.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Beebee, H., and A. Mele. 2002. “Humean compatibilism.” Mind 111: 201–23.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Belnap, N. 1992. “Branching Space-Time.” Synthese 92: 385–434.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Berofsky, B. 2012. Natures’s Challenge to Free Will. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Broad, C. 1923. Scientific Thought. London: Kegan Paul.Google Scholar

  • Campbell, J. 2005. “Compatibilist Alternatives.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 35: 387–406.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Chakravartty, A. 2007. A Metaphysics for Scientific Realism. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Clancy, S. 2013. “A Strong Compatibilist Account of Settling.” Inquiry 56: 653–65.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Clarke, R. 2014. “Agency and Incompatibilism.” Res Philosophica 91: 519–25.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Crisp, T. 2005. “Presentism.” In The Oxford Handbook of Metaphysics, edited by M. Loux, and D. Zimmerman, 211–45. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Davidson, D. 1963. “Actions, Reasons, and Causes.” Journal of Philosophy 60: 685–700.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Dretske, F. 1977. “Laws of Nature.” Philosophy of Science 44: 248–68.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Dyke, H. 2002. “McTaggart and the Truth about Time.” In Time, Reality, and Experience, edited by C. Callender, 137–52. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar

  • Earman, J., and J. Roberts. 2005. “Contact with the Nomic: A Challenge for Deniers of Humean Supervenience about Laws of Nature, Part I: Humean Supervenience and Part II: The Epistemological Argument for Humean Supervenience.” Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 71: 1–22 and 253–286.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Ellis, B. 2009. The Metaphysics of Scientific Realism. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar

  • Fara, M. 2008. “Masked Abilities and Compatibilism.” Mind 117: 843–65.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Finch, A., and T. Warfield. 1998. “The Mind Argument and Libertarianism.” Mind 107: 515–28.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Hazlett, A. 2011. “How the past Depends upon the Future.” Ratio 24: 167–75.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Heil, J. 2003. From an Ontological Point of View. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Heil, J. 2006. “The Legacy of Linguisticism.” Australasian Journal of Philosophy 84: 233–44.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Heil, J. 2012. The Universe as We Find It. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Hinchliff, M. 1996. “The Puzzle of Change.” Philosophical Perspectives 10: 119–36.Google Scholar

  • Hinchliff, M. 2000. “A Defense of Presentism in A Relativistic Setting.” Philosophy of Science 67: S575–S586.Google Scholar

  • Hume, D. 1777/1975. Enquires Concerning Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals, 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Hüttemann, A. 2014. “Scientific Practice and Necessary Connections.” Theoria: an International Journal for Theory, History, and Foundations of Science 79: 29–39.Google Scholar

  • Lehrer, K. 1980. “Preferences, Conditionals, and Freedom.” In Time and Cause: Essays Presented to Richard Taylor, edited by P. van Inwagen, 187–202. Dordrecht: D. Reidel.Google Scholar

  • Lewis, D. 2003. “Are We Free to Break the Laws?” In Free Will, 2nd ed, edited by G. Watson, 122–29. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Loewer, B. 1996. “Humean supervenience.” Philosophical Topics 24: 101–27.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Lombard, L. 1979. “Events.” Canadian Journal of Philosophy 9: 425–60.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Markosian, N. 2004. “A Defense of Presentism.” Oxford Studies in Metaphysics 1: 47–82.Google Scholar

  • Martin, C. 2007. The Mind in Nature. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Martin, C., and J. Heil. 1999. “The Ontological Turn.” Midwest Studies in Philosophy 23: 34–60.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • McCall, S. 1994. A Model of the Universe. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • McKay, T., and D. Johnson. 1996. “A Reconsideration of an Argument against Compatibilism.” Philosophical Topics 24: 113–22.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • McTaggart, J. 1908. “The Unreality of Time.” Mind 17: 457–74.Google Scholar

  • Molnar, G. 2003. Powers: A Study in Metaphysics. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Parsons, J. 2005. “Truthmakers, the Past, and the Future.” In Truthmakers: The Contemporary Debate, edited by H. Beebee, and J. Dodd, 161–74. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Perry, J. 2004. “Compatibilist Options.” In Freedom and Determinism, edited by J. Campbell, M. O’Rourke, and D. Shier, 231–54. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar

  • Rea, M. 2001. “How to Be an Eleatic Monist.” Philosophical Perspectives 15: 129–51.Google Scholar

  • Read, R., and K. Richman, eds. 2000. The New Hume Debate. London: Routledge.Google Scholar

  • Richard, M. 1981. “Temporalism and Eternalism.” Philosophical Studies 39: 1–13.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Russell, P. 2008. “Hume on Free Will.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2008 Edition), edited by E. Zalta. URL <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2016/entries/hume-freewill/>.

  • Savitt, S. 2000. “There’s No Time like the Present (In Minkowski Spacetime).” Philosophy of Science 67: S563–S574.Google Scholar

  • Savitt, S. 2006. “Being and Becoming in Modern Physics.” In The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2008 Edition), edited by E. Zalta. URL <http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2008/entries/spacetime-bebecome/>.

  • Sellars, W. 1966. “Fatalism and Determinism.” In Freedom and Determinism, edited by K. Lehrer, 141–74. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Random House.Google Scholar

  • Sider, T. 1999. “Presentism and Ontological Commitment.” The Journal of Philosophy 96: 325–47.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Sider, T. 2001. Four-Dimensionalism: An Ontology of Persistence and Time. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Sider, T. 2005. “Traveling in A- and B-Time.” The Monist 88: 329–35.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Steward, H. 2012. A Metaphysics for Freedom. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Stoneham, T. 2009. “Time and Truth: The Presentism-Eternalism Debate.” Philosophy 84: 201–18.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Stout, R. 2002. “The Right Structure for a Causal Theory of Action.” Facta Philosophica 4: 11–24.Google Scholar

  • Tooley, M. 1997. Time, Tense, and Causation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Van Inwagen, P. 1983. An Essay on Free Will. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Van Inwagen, P. 2000. “Free Will Remains a Mystery.” Philosophical Perspectives 14: 1–19.Google Scholar

  • Vihvelin, K. 1988. “The Modal Argument for Incompatibilism.” Philosophical Studies 53: 227–44.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Vihvelin, K. 2004. “Free Will Demystified: A Dispositional Account.” Philosophical Topics 32: 427–50.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

  • Vihvelin, K. 2013. Causes, Laws, and Free Will: Why Determinism Doesn’t Matter. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar

  • Widerker, D. 1987. “On an Argument for Incompatibilism.” Analysis 47: 37–41.CrossrefGoogle Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2019-02-01

Published in Print: 2019-04-24

Citation Information: Metaphysica, Volume 20, Issue 1, Pages 51–71, ISSN (Online) 1874-6373, ISSN (Print) 1437-2053, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/mp-2019-2001.

Export Citation

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in