So Bruce Waller and Justin Capes are pleading for something to discuss in the month of March, and they've asked me to start early (I am not slated to begin until April). Sorry, I cannot do much right now, but figured I could pose a question about our use of terminology.
Here is a simple question: How ought we to make use of the term 'free will'? Is it merely a term of art? Does it pick out something philosophically interesting in folk usage, something that x-phi-ers can test? Does it gain content by reflection upon the phenomenology of agency, as my colleague Terry Horgan contends? Should we just forgo use of it and speak in terms of free action, or acts issuing from a relevant sort of control? What's at issue? Nothing? Is this mere bookkeeping? Or is there something substantive at stake? Can we unproblematically move from arguments of those like John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza to counter-arguments of those like Robert Kane? Recall, Fischer and Mark Ravizza write in terms of control and avoid altogether use of the expression 'free will', whereas Kane insists that there's something important lost if we do not attend to a special faculty picked out by the expression 'free will'.
My own opinion is that 'free will' is merely a term of art whose content is fixed by philosophical tradition(s). This, combined with the fact that there is not just one traditional philosophical problem which is "the" free will problem, suggests that we philosophers can have some latitude in how we use the term, so long as we are clear about how we are using it.
I myself define 'free will' as the unique ability of persons to exercise control over their actions in the strongest manner necessary for moral responsibility. I then understand free actions as those actions issuing from an exercise of that ability. (Of course, we need to talk about non-deviance, and so forth.)
But others might say I'm smokin' crack (and I'm not necessarily denying that I am). They might object that free will just is the ability to do otherwise, and that it is folly to begin with a definition that is normatively charged as mine is. Now, my reaction to this objection is just to allow that we can use the term that way (that is, as the ability to do otherwise), since there is a distinct philosphical puzzle here understood as "the" free will problem--a problem that is just about the relation between determinism (or indeterminism) and the ability to do otherwise. But I deny that we must use it that way.
What do all of you think? Joe Campbell, you gave a nice paper at Arizona last year arguing that we should understand 'free will' in terms of what is up to a person at a time. Are you still committed to that? Others, what do you think? Bruce? Justin? Have at it!