Popper and Free Will

  • Danny Frederick None
Keywords: free will, free decision, determinism, indeterminism, intentional action, propensity, self-consciousness


Determinism seems incompatible with free will. However, even indeterminism seems incompatible with free will, since it seems to make free actions random. Popper contends that free agents are not bound by physical laws, even indeterministic ones, and that undetermined actions are not random if they are influenced by abstract entities. I argue that Popper could strengthen his account by drawing upon his theories of propensities and of limited rationality; but that even then his account would not fully explain why free actions are not random. I offer a solution to this problem which draws on Hornsby's analysis of action. I then borrow an idea of Kant about self-consciousness to distinguish free agents from sub-human animals. I make a brief evaluation of Popper's contribution.

Author Biography

Danny Frederick, None
Danny Frederick is an independent researcher. He has degrees from the London School of Economics and Birkbeck College London and has taught philosophy at King’s College London. His primary research interests are in rationality, reasoning, philosophical logic, epistemology, human action, freedom, free will, ethics and markets.
How to Cite
Frederick, D. (2010). Popper and Free Will. Studia Philosophica Estonica, 21-38. https://doi.org/10.12697/spe.2010.3.1.02