Tag Archives: Mark Balaguer

Mark Balaguer

Whenever you’re trying to discover something about the nature of the world, you can always proceed straight to the point at hand, without having to determine the meaning of some folk expression, by simply introducing some theoretical terms and defining them by stipulation. Thus, for example, if you just want to know what the solar system is like, you can forget about folk terms like ‘planet’ and introduce some new terms with clearly defined meanings. And if you just want to know what human decision-making processes are like, you can simply use terms of art like ‘Humean freedom’ and ‘L-freedom’ and so on and proceed straight to the point at hand, trying to determine which of the various kinds of freedom (or “freedom”) human beings actually possess without first determining the ordinary-language meaning of the folk term ‘free will’. And if you’re in a situation where you already know all the relevant metaphysical facts but don’t know what some folk term means, then you can describe the metaphysical facts using technical terms with stipulated definitions, and so your lack of knowledge of the meaning of the folk term shouldn’t be treated as a genuine ignorance of (nonsemantic) metaphysical facts.

Mark Balaguer, Free Will as an Open Scientific Problem, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2010, pp. 34-35