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Free Will and Determinism: The Metaphysics Debate

Free Will and Determinism

Sketch out arguments for
(1) incompatibility of determinism and free will
(2) determinism and moral responsibility.

Indicate the various positions one might take in response to these arguments.

Solution Preview

Consider this traditional argument for the incompatibility of free will and determinism.

(1) If determinism is true, then every human action is causally necessitated by events that occurred before the agent's existence.

(2) If every human action is causally necessitated in this way then no one could ever have acted otherwise.

(3) One had free will, only if one could have acted otherwise.

(4) Determinism is true.

5) Therefore, no one has free will.

On accepted terminology, philosophers are labeled
(1) Incompatibilists or (2) Compatibilists depending on how they respond to this argument.

Incompatibilists come in two types:

1. The hard determinist thinks that this argument is sound, and hence accepts the conclusion that no one has free will. That is, the hard determinist thinks that free will and determinism are incompatible and that determinism is true.

2. The libertarian, on the other hand, believes that we do indeed have free will, and that free will and determinism are incompatible. S/He is hence led to deny that determinism is true, rejecting premise 4 of the above argument.

Of the ...

Solution Summary

The solution provides a detailed and comprehensive discussion with regards to the debate between Free Will and determinism. Arguments are laid down and sketched out to assist the student in taking on and understanding the long standing philosophical debate between the validity of either positions in metaphysics. References are provided.