Vol. 42 No. 2 (2022): New challenges in decision-making processes

Becoming Better Moral Agents by Strengthening Free Will. A Possible Prospect?

Francesca Guma
Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan

Published 2022-12-24


  • moral improvement,
  • moral enhancement,
  • free will,
  • agency,
  • nudging

How to Cite

Guma, F. (2022). Becoming Better Moral Agents by Strengthening Free Will. A Possible Prospect?. Teoria. Rivista Di Filosofia, 42(2), 187–199. https://doi.org/10.4454/teoria.v42i2.165


A relevant challenge in contemporary ethics is to understand whether and how individual moral improvement is feasible. Assuming the ineradicable presence of endogenous and exogenous conditions that make it difficult for the agent to control her action and choice (§1), I argue that theories developed from the observation of the limits of rationality and conscious control that human beings exercise over their decisions and actions are closely related to the question of free will (§2). I present two possible approaches to achieve individual moral improvement, showing their strengths and weaknesses. One proposal advocates nudges and suggestions to enhance people’s moral judgments (§3), whereas the other identifies ways to increase the subject’s agency (§4). I conclude by arguing that developing procedures that can strengthen the subject’s free will makes it possible to think of genuine and stable moral improvements because it generates would be enhancements not in any specific outward behaviors but in the individual’s general moral attitude (§5).