Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy

In this essay I present Hegel’s philosophy of free will. Although free will plays a crucial role in Hegel’s practical philosophy, freedom is also part of his philosophy of mind, his philosophy of nature, and his Science of Logic. After examining the philosophical motivations that led Hegel to create his system of philosophy, I will outline the basic concept of free will presented in the introduction to his Elements of the Philosophy of Right. This concept, however, still allows for free will skepticism, which motivates me to reconstruct the metaphysical underpinnings of Hegel’s understanding of free will in his Science of Logic, which I will call his metaphysics of free will. In doing so, I will show that Hegel attempted to deal with the problem of the (in)compatibility of free will and the causal determination of the world. Finally, I present what I call Hegelian libertarianism, a form of an incompatibilist and indeterminist position on free will.

Free will undoubtedly plays a significant role in Hegel’s practical philosophy as a whole. The intricate connection between free will and practical normativity is widely accepted such that free will is often taken to be a necessary condition for all practical normativity. It seems to make no sense to claim that we should or should not perform certain actions if we are (in principle) incapable of acting or refraining from acting otherwise. What’s more interesting is the fact that the concept of freedom also plays a key role in parts of Hegel’s philosophical system that are less frequently associated with the concept of free will—at least in his Science of Logic and the whole Philosophy of Mind, that is, in parts of his system that do not deal with questions of…


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