Free Will: The Best Introductory Resources

This page features a collection of the best resources on free will. Just to be clear, there is no single best resource on free will. The best one will depend on your preferred learning style and the amount of time you want to spend learning about it.

To get started, simply choose one of the links below:

If you want a comprehensive overview of the idea of free will:

““Free Will” is a philosophical term of art for a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives. Which sort is the free will sort is what all the fuss is about. (And what a fuss it has been: philosophers have debated this question for over two millennia, and just about every major philosopher has had something to say about it.) Most philosophers suppose that the concept of free will is very closely connected to the concept of moral responsibility. Acting with free will, on such views, is just to satisfy the metaphysical requirement on being responsible for one’s action. (Clearly, there will also be epistemic conditions on responsibility as well, such as being aware—or failing that, being culpably unaware—of relevant alternatives to one’s action and of the alternatives’ moral significance.) But the significance of free will is not exhausted by its connection to moral responsibility. Free will also appears to be a condition on desert for one’s accomplishments (why sustained effort and creative work are praiseworthy); on the autonomy and dignity of persons; and on the value we accord to love and friendship.

Philosophers who distinguish freedom of action and freedom of will do so because our success in carrying out our ends depends in part on factors wholly beyond our control. Furthermore, there are always external constraints on the range of options we can meaningfully try to undertake. As the presence or absence of these conditions and constraints are not (usually) our responsibility, it is plausible that the central loci of our responsibility are our choices, or “willings.” . . .”

If you’re looking for a somewhat shorter and more engaging introduction:

If you’d prefer a video introduction:

If you prefer audio and podcasts:

While these resources are a great starting point, there’s only so much you can learn by using free online resources. If you want to learn more, check out this list of the Best Books on Free Will

The Daily Idea was created to help make learning about philosophy as easy as possible by collecting the best philosophy articles, videos, podcasts, and book recommendations from across the internet and organizing them into one place. You can find a collection of links to these resources and recommendations here or try taking the 52 Book Philosophy Challenge.