Free Will and Determinism

Part of the SpringerBriefs in Ethics book series (BRIEFSETHIC)


In this opening chapter, we begin by outlining ways in which philosophers have sought to resolve the “free will problem”. That is to say, how can the apparent existence of individual free will be reconciled with evidence that suggests the universe (or elements within it) are predetermined? A variety of different models are introduced, including Libertarianism (which holds that life is not determined and we do have free will), Hard determinism (in which life is determined and free will is illusory) and Compatibilism (in which room must be made for the cohabitation of the existence of both free will and determinism). In the context of the rest of the book it is hard determinism, and particularly biological determinism, which presents the greatest challenge to the attribution of moral responsibility and legal recompense. If aspects of my genetics or my brain has determined a course of action, and I was not therefore at liberty to do otherwise, can I be held culpable for that behaviour? This is an issue we will unpack in later chapters.


Alternative possibilities Compatibilism Determinism Folk intuitions Free will Incompatibilism Libertarianism Moral responsibility Self-forming actions Ultimate responsibility 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Molecular and Cell BiologyUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK

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