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Chapter 9: Are We Free or Determined?

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Chapter 9: Are We Free
or Determined?
Introduction
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Determinism – all events are caused
Fatalism – events are predetermined by
some impersonal cosmic force or power
Predestination – events are
predetermined by some personal power
Problem of freedom and determinism
– If all events are caused, then how can
any human action be free?
Introduction
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The dilemma
• Human choice is either free or not free
• If it is free, then the law of causality is
false
• If it is not free, then people are not
responsible for their actions
• Therefore, either the law of causality is
false, or people are not responsible for
their actions
The Case of Dr. Svengali
Jonathan Harrison
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Uses science fiction to explore issues
of freedom and determinism
Dr. Svengali is able to determine the
actions of the housekeeper, but he is
unable to successfully control her will
without unwanted consequences
We Are Determined
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Hard determinism – every event
has a cause that is incompatible with
free will
Simple determinism is not
necessarily incompatible with free
will
Not Guilty
Robert Blatchford
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Blatchford denies that humans are
free to rise above heredity and
environment
Rewards and punishments cannot be
based on human responsibility
A man is free to act as he chooses to
act, but what causes him to choose?
We Are Free
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Libertarianism – some human
choices, such as moral choices for
which we are responsible, are not
determined by antecedent events
Existentialism
Jean-Paul Sartre
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Existentialism – existence precedes
essence. Man defines himself after
he exists
If human nature is not
predetermined but is something that
we create as we make decisions,
then we are radically free
Karma and Freedom
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The law of karma states that as each
sows, he shall reap. Past and
present actions determine future
spiritual, moral, and physical
conditions
The perfect law of moral justice
operates automatically in the
universe
Karma and Freedom
Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan
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Radhakrishnan supports a type of
libertarianism
Agent causation – when your whole
self is the agent that causes you to
choose and act, then you are free
What is the self?
We Are Both Free and Determined
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Soft determinism – every event
has a cause, and this fact is
compatible with human freedom.
Compatibilism – even if
determinism is true, people ought to
be held responsible for those actions
they do voluntarily
Chanelle, Sabrina, and the Oboe
Bruce N. Waller
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Explores the soft determinist position
Rejects the idea of moral
responsibility
Distinguishes between taking (or
“taken”) responsibility and moral
responsibility
• Taken responsibility does not
necessitate rewards and punishment
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