Oslo Mind Group Seminar: Filippos Stamatiou, The Worry about Mental Luck

We will be discussing a draft of ‘The Worry about Mental Luck’ by Filippos Stamatiou of the University of Copenhagen.

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I argue for an epistemic, metaphysically independent, and generalisable version of Alfred Mele’s “worry about present luck”. Mele introduces present luck as a challenge for libertarian theories of free will. Present luck suggests that it is possible for an indeterministically free decision to be a matter of luck. Several philosophers have attempted to provide replies to the challenge posed by present luck, or to generalise the worry beyond libertarianism and into compatibilism.

Here, I take a different route. I present a version of the worry about present luck that focuses on the perspective of the agent. In this version, the physical world may differ, but the epistemic perspective of the agent remains unaffected. I call this the worry about mental luck. I argue that in cases of mental luck, agents are susceptible to a degree of epistemic luck about their own mental states, such that decisions are the outcome of a lottery from their perspective. Mental states that lay outside the perspective of consciousness, such as implicit biases, may be responsible for cases of mental luck. Importantly, the worry about mental luck does not depend on the metaphysical structure of the world, but rather, on the epistemic constraints of human psychology.

I finish the paper with a discussion about the importance of the worry about mental luck. The probability that any decision is subject to mental luck is low. However, its existence has alarming implications that undermine prominent theories of free will and moral responsibility.

How to attend

This ‘read-ahead’ seminar will take place via Zoom. All are welcome to attend.

A copy of the paper for discussion will be made available in advance via the Oslo Mind Group Team, which is open to all University of Oslo members, or upon request from the organizer for non-UiO users (see below).


Keith Wilson
Published Jan. 27, 2021 10:49 AM - Last modified Sep. 11, 2022 9:44 AM