• [Required] Conee and Sider (2005) Riddles of Existence: A Guided Tour of Metaphysics. Oxford University Press. Chapter 6. ebook: hkulib:b3967363

The importance of freewill

  • Feeling and conception of human agency
  • Values and virtues
  • Moral responsibility

Basic philosophical positions

  • Determinism - "Every event is necessitated by antecedent events and conditions together with the laws of nature."
    • Why determinism? Newtonian physics, theology
  • Indeterminism - Determinism is false.
    • Why indeterminism? Quantum physics.
  • Compatibilism - Freewill is compatible with determinism.
    • Example: X decided to do Y freely = (1) X decided to do Y, and (2) X could have decided otherwise if X wanted to.
      • Big bang 1 → X wants to do Y → X decides to do Y.
      • Big bang 2 → X does not want to do Y → X decides not to do Y.
  • Libertarianism
    • Freewill exists.
    • Freewill is incompatible with determinism.
    • (Therefore) determinism is false.

Does indeterminism help?

  1. It has to be shown that low-level indeterminism makes a difference at the level of mental processes.
  2. Not clear how there can be freewill if our actions are not due to us but some random events.
    • "X decides to do Y freely" requires: the decision to do Y is up to X.
    • If it is a random matter whether X decides to do Y, then the decision is not up to X.
    • For the physicalist, nothing explains why X decides to do Y rather than something else.
    • Not a problem for the substance dualist.