pp 1–14 | Cite as

Free Will and Desire

  • Brian LooperEmail author
Original Research


I make a case for the thesis that no one can refrain from trying to attain the object of his or her currently strongest desire. (More precisely, I argue for this given that our domain of concern doesn’t include desires for things—such as visiting with a deceased relative or flapping one’s arms and flying—that one deems unattainable, but rather is restricted to desires for things one might deliberate about pursuing.) I arrive there by defending an argument by Peter van Inwagen for a relatively mild conclusion about the way desires limit our abilities, and by arguing that if van Inwagen’s conclusion is correct, and correct for his reasons, so is my bolder thesis. I close with replies to objections, such as the objection that it is better to take my argument as a reductio ad absurdum of van Inwagen’s than to take my conclusion seriously.



My thanks to Jeremy Dickinson, John Martin Fischer, Dan Korman, Corey McGrath, Aaron Zimmerman, and three anonymous referees for very helpful suggestions or discussion.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of California, Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA

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