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The Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy and Law will welcome Professor Carolina Sartorio (Rutgers University) to King's in November to deliver the second lecture of the 2023/24 Lecture Series in Practical Agency.



A Simple but Powerful Idea



In a now classical paper, Harry Frankfurt identified actual explanations of actions as what’s relevant to our freedom and moral responsibility. Frankfurt argued that it’s simply why we do what we do—not what we could have done in its place, or whether we had the ability to do otherwise—that determines whether we act freely. This insight is, at the same time, simple and powerful—or, as John Fischer put it, “remarkably pedestrian and extraordinarily important.” In this paper I examine that simple but powerful idea. As simple as the idea is, it’s surprisingly easy to misconstrue it; in fact, I argue that it’s been misconstrued, in different ways, by both advocates and critics. It’s also surprisingly easy to fail to respect it; in fact, I argue that both Frankfurt’s and Fischer’s theories have trouble doing that. I discuss, first, how the idea should be articulated, and then, how to respect it.


Author Bio

Carolina Sartorio is Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University. Her work lies at the intersection of metaphysics, the philosophy of action, and moral theory. She is the author of Causation and Free Will (Oxford University Press, 2016) and Causalism: Unifying Action and Free Action (Oxford University Press, 2023). She is also co-author (with Robert Kane) of Do We Have Free Will? A Debate (Routledge, Little Debates about Big Questions, 2021).

At this event

Massimo Renzo

Professor of Politics, Philosophy & Law

Event details

Room SW 1.17, The Dickson Poon School of Law, First Floor, Somerset House East Wing, King's College London, Strand WC2R 2LS
Strand Building
Strand Campus, Strand, London, WC2R 2LS