Encyclopedia > Compatibilism

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Compatibilism, also known as "soft determinism" and most famously championed by Hume, is a theory which holds that free will and determinism are compatible. Properly understood, according to Hume, freedom is not an absolute ability to have chosen differently under exactly the same inner and outer circumstances. Rather, it is a hypothetical ability to have chosen differently if one had been differently psychologically disposed by some different beliefs or desires. Alternately, Hume maintains that free acts are not uncaused (or mysteriously self-caused as Kant would have it) but caused in the right way, i.e., by our choices as determined by our our beliefs and desires, by our characters.

See determinism. Contrast: hard determinism[?], libertarianism.

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