The phenomenology of free agency

Authored by: Galen Strawson

The Routledge Handbook of Phenomenology of Agency

Print publication date:  October  2020
Online publication date:  October  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138098978
eBook ISBN: 9781315104249
Adobe ISBN:


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You set off for a shop on the evening of a national holiday. You intend to buy a cake with your last ten-pound note in order to supplement the good supply of food you already have. When you get to the shop it’s about to close, along with all the other shops. As it happens, there’s one cake left; it costs ten pounds. On the steps of the shop someone is holding out an Oxfam tin, collecting money for Famine Relief. You stop. It is absolutely clear to you—it seems absolutely clear to you—that it’s entirely up to you what you do next. It is (it seems) perfectly clear to you that you are truly, radically free to choose what to do, in such a way that you’ll be wholly responsible for whatever you do choose. What could be more plain? You can put the money in the Oxfam tin, or go in and buy the cake, or just walk away. You’re not only completely free to choose. You’re not free not to choose.

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