Determinism and Its Relevance to the Free-Will Question

Reference work entry

Abstract

This paper begins with an argument for the claim that the compatibilism question (i.e., the question of whether free will is compatible with determinism) is less relevant than it might seem to questions about the metaphysical nature of human decision-making processes. Next, libertarianism (i.e., the view that human beings possess an indeterministic, libertarian sort of free will) is defended against a number of objections, and it is argued that there’s a certain subset of our decisions (which can be called torn decisions) for which the following is true: If these decisions are appropriately undetermined at the moment of choice, then they are also free in a libertarian sort of way. This is an extremely important and surprising result; it entails that the question of whether libertarianism is true reduces to the straightforwardly empirical question of whether our torn decisions are in fact undetermined (in the appropriate way) at the moment of choice. Finally, the paper ends by arguing that as of right now, there is no compelling empirical evidence on either side of this question. In other words, the question of whether our torn decisions are appropriately undetermined is an open empirical question. And from this, it follows that the question of whether libertarianism is true is also an open empirical question.

Keywords

Moral Responsibility Prior Event Readiness Potential Coin Toss Manipulation Argument 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyCalifornia State UniversityLos AngelesUSA

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