Is Agentive Freedom a Secondary Quality?

  • Terence Horgan University of Arizona
  • Mark Timmons University of Arizona
Keywords: agentive freedom, illusionist compatibilism, free-agency phenomenology


The notion of a secondary property is usefully construed this way: sensory-perceptual experiences that present apparent instantiations of such a quality have intentional content—presentational content—that is systematically non-veridical, because the experientially presented quality is never actually instantiated; but judgments that naively seem to attribute instantiations of this very quality really have different content—judgmental content—that is often veridical. Color-presenting experiences and color-attributing judgments, for instance, are plausibly regarded as conforming to such a dual-content secondary-quality account. In this paper we address the comparative theoretical advantages and disadvantages of two alternative versions of compatibilism about agentive freedom. Illusionist compatibilism is a dual-content secondary-quality view asserting that free-agency experience has presentational content that is libertarian and systematically non-veridical, whereas free-agency attributing judgments have non-libertarian, compatibilist, content. Uniform compatibilism instead asserts that free-agency experience and free-agency attributing judgments have uniform, compatibilist, content. We argue that uniform compatibilism fully accommodates the directly introspectable features of free-agency phenomenology, and is more plausible than illusionist compatibilism.

How to Cite
Horgan, T., & Timmons, M. (2022). Is Agentive Freedom a Secondary Quality?. HUMANA.MENTE Journal of Philosophical Studies, 15(42), 63-87. Retrieved from