Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Eddy Nahmias

Second Advisor

Jessica N. Berry

Third Advisor

Neil Van Leeuwen


A naturalist wanting to understand our conscious experience of free will may find it difficult to judge exactly what content is present in that experience. I provide an approach for how naturalistic theories of consciousness can be used to go about that, and then I apply David Rosenthal’s HOT theory to that approach. After explaining HOT theory’s framework, I review the literature on the experience of free will in order to identify which items of content of the experience are libertarian and which are compatibilist. I then use HOT theory to show how various mental states interact to produce content associated with the experience of libertarian free will. Since the naturalist can’t accept libertarian metaphysics, the conclusion is that the experience of free will is illusory. I end by addressing concerns with that conclusion, including the question of why it is that we still feel free.

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