## Life, the Universe, and Everything

### A Course Blog for GET1029/GEK1067

#### Category: Free Will and Responsibility (page 1 of 2)

A student from my other class alerted me to this:

Trooper 1: Let me ask you something. Do you think you have free will or do you believe in fatalism?

Trooper 2: That kind of thinking is a little bit above my pay grade…

Simulation Argument involved as well.

Compatibilism and Semi-Compatibilism. (This was actually recorded much earlier–together with Episode #05. Now finally released.)

The median dropped back to 5 but not too bad overall. Click through to see…

About the infinite regress. We actually recorded quite a bit more, but the remaining material will likely make up two additional episodes, if I find time to do the editing…

make sure to be absolutely clear about the difference between a sufficient and a necessary condition from “A Short Lesson”, and the ways that can be used to express those conditions (e.g., “if…then…” vs. “only if…”, etc.)

• Question 1

Please do read “X implies Y” as saying “X is a sufficient condition for Y”. I’ve included a clarificatory note. Big hint: Please revise what it means for something to be a necessary condition for something else. Another big hint–this is actually meant to be a simpler question than many of you seem to be taking it. Everything you need is already in the question itself!

• Question 3

Small clarificatory note added for Dave’s statement. When we say that “given P, Q, R, it can still be X”, we are basically saying that {P, Q, R} does not rule out X.

Here goes. I have also published several (longish) posts relating to the topic–they were created in response to recurring student queries from previous batches. So do browse them if you have a chance. These include–a taxonomy of the main positions in the so-called “free will and determinism debate”, a post distinguishing causal determinism from two other ideas (foreknowledge, and fatalism) that are often confused with it, and a recap of the Strawson-Hurley debate. I also added a few questions (marked with #) that came from previous years.

This post comes in two parts, plus an appendix. Part 1 is mainly a revision of what’s already in the lecture, talking through Strawson’s Basic Argument and the “Hurley Response” to make sure that you are up to speed. Part 2 goes beyond and is meant for those with deeper interest. The Appendix explains why I structured the Hurley response the way I did. Ok, here goes.

It’s one of those things that often confuse people–and not just students. Causal Determinism of the sort we talked about in class has several close-by cousins and relations which conceivably pose problems for free will and moral responsibility. But they are all different from each other, and so the the problems they pose to free will and moral responsibility aren’t the same either. Therefore, they should not be confused with each other. In this post, I will focus on just three–Causal Determinism, Predictability (or Foreknowledge), and Fatalism.

When thinking about the topic of free will and moral responsibility, it’s critically important that you keep your concepts straight and not allow yourself to jump from one idea to another too quickly. So here are three distinct issues–phrased as three yes/no questions. (Note that this is slightly different from but closely related to the version in W07 Slide #22 because the post was originally written for a different cohort.)

• Is the universe causally deterministic?
• Is free will compatible with determinism?
• Does moral responsibility require free will?

In principle, you can answer either “yes” or “no” to each without reference to the others.

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