Do We Have Freewill?


It seems we are physical organisms entirely in the grip of the laws of nature, so that someone sufficiently knowledgeable of how things stand before our birth could, in principle, predict with complete accuracy everything we will ever say. But then, in what sense, if any, can we still be ‘free’? Surely we are no more free than a falling rock, or a planet circling the sun, for what we say and do is determined by the very same laws. Those who argue that freewill is actually compatible with the truth of determinism often argue that freewill sceptics have misunderstood what ‘free action’ really means. But is that true?

After setting out the prominent versions of the main positions on freewill – libertarianism, compatibilism and freewill scepticism – and outlining the main arguments, we will then explore in more detail issues in the metaphysics of freewill, focusing particularly on the research of Prof. Helen Steward and her book A Metaphysics for Freedom. The day also considers whether animals can be said to possess freewill.

This course will close for enrolment 2 days prior to the start date

Programme details


Introducing the puzzle of freewill
Stephen Law


The metaphysics of freewill
Helen Steward

Lunch break

Freewill and animals
Helen Steward


Panel discussion
Stephen Law and Helen Steward

Course disperses


Description Costs
Tuition fee (includes tea/coffee) £85.00
Baguette £6.10
Hot lunch (three courses) £16.50


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit or are a full-time student in the UK you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees.

Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Stephen Law

Speaker and Director of Studies

Stephen Law is a Departmental Lecturer in Philosophy and Director of the Certificate of Higher Education at OUDCE. His research focuses on the philosophy of mind, language, metaphysics and on philosophy of religion. He also writes many accessible online articles and edits the Royal Institute of Philosophy journal THINK: Philosophy for Everyone.

Prof Helen Steward


Helen Steward is a Professor of Philosophy of Mind and Action at the University of Leeds. Her research interests lie mainly in the philosophy of action and free will, the philosophy of mind, and the metaphysical and ontological issues which bear on these areas (e.g. causation, supervenience, levels of explanation, the event/state distinction, the concepts of process and power).


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please contact us to obtain an application form.


Accommodation is not included in the price, but if you wish to stay with us the night before the course, then please contact our Residential Centre.

Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email for details of availability and discounted prices.