Central Problems of Philosophy

Prof. Stephen Schiffer

Fall `98

 

Handout 1

 

  1. The paradox of free will:
    1. Free Will: We have free will; i.e., we sometimes act freely, of our own free will.
    2. Determinism: Every one of our actions was caused by events that occurred even before we were born.
    3. Incompatibilism: (1) and (2) are incompatible; i.e., if every one of our actions was caused by events that occurred before we were born, then none of those actions was done of ones own free will.
  2. An argument for Determinism:
    1. Every action was caused by a decision or intention to do that action.
    2. Every decision and intention to do an action was determined by an underlying physical state.
    3. Every such determining physical state is a final link in a chain of causes of that state which extends backwards to before the agent was born.
    4. If x caused y and y determined z, then x caused z.
    5. Therefore, Determinism is true; i.e., every one of our actions was caused by events that occurred even before we were born.
  3. Libertarianism:
    1. FW: yes
    2. D: no
    3. I: yes
  4. Pessimism:
    1. FW: no
    2. D: yes
    3. I: yes
  5. Compatibilism:
    1. FW: yes
    2. D: yes
    3. I: no
  6. Necessarily, A is free to X iff whether or not A Xs is determined by what A decides to do: if A decides to X, A will X, and if A decides not to X, A wont X.
  7. Necessarily, A did X freely iff A did X because A decided to do X, and A wouldnt have done X if A had decided not to do X.
  8. Necessarily, A could have acted otherwise iff A would have acted otherwise if A had chosen to.
  9. Necessarily, A did X freely iff A did X but A could have acted otherwise.
  10.  

  11. Humes argument for Determinism from commonsense psychology:
    1. All actions are caused by a persons beliefs and desires.
    2. Beliefs and desires are ultimately caused by external factors that were in turn caused by events that preceded ones birth.
    3. Therefore, Determinism is true.
  12. A did X of As own free will iff A did X, and As will to X was the will A desired to be his will; i.e., As will satisfied As second-order volition.