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Res Publica

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 219–235 | Cite as

Betting Against Hard Determinism

  • Göran Duus-Otterström
Article

Abstract

The perennial fear associated with the free will problem is the prospect of hard determinism being true. Unlike prevalent attempts to reject hard determinism by defending compatibilist analyses of freedom and responsibility, this article outlines a pragmatic argument to the effect that we are justified in betting that determinism is false even though we may retain the idea that free will and determinism are incompatible. The basic argument is that as long as we accept that libertarian free will is worth wanting, there is a defensible rationale, given the uncertainty which remains as to whether determinism is true or false, to refrain from acting on hard determinism, and thus to bet that libertarian free will exists. The article closes by discussing two potentially decisive objections to this pragmatic argument.

Keywords

Determinism Free will Moral responsibility Practical reason Uncertainty 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I am grateful to the participants at the seminar for political theory in the Department of Political Science at the University of Gothenburg, Raino Malnes, Karl Persson, and two anonymous referees for comments on earlier versions of this paper.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of GothenburgGothenburgSweden

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