The article analyzes recent Western interpretations of the Theravāda Buddhist position on free will in order to reveal how differences in worldview and methodology impact claims about agency—exposing assumptions about the meaning of will, cause, and self—and how commonalities across traditions enable us to discover what may be at stake, more generally, in the philosophical problem of free will. Embedded in different ontologies and expressed by disparate means are similar intuitions about consciousness, coercion, and the transformative power of wisdom as well as deeply human concerns about what we can and cannot change and with whom we should or should not find fault. Ultimately, this study of cross-cultural conversations aims to demonstrate how careful attention to assumptions underlying the concepts of will, causation, selfhood, and desert can prove both edifying and liberating.

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