Table of Contents
- Do People have Free Will?
- Big Picture Graphic
- Nature of Free Will
- Kinds of Determinism (and Probabilities)
- Arguments for Free Will
- Moral Responsibility and the Principle of Alternate Possibilities
- Sorites Argument Against Free Will
Do People have Free Will?
“The most contentious question of metaphysics, the most contentious science” (David Hume)
Big Picture Graphic
Nature of Free Will
- Is Free Will the ability to:
- Choose among alternatives?
- Have done otherwise had you wanted, chosen, or tried to?
- Have done otherwise under the same conditions?
View Nature of Free Will
Kinds of Determinism (and Probabilities)
Classical Determinism is the thesis that every event is determined by laws of nature and antecedent conditions.
Neural Determinism is the view that free will is incompatible with the operation of the brain.
View Neural Determinism
Psychological Determinism is the claim that human actions are determined by psychological laws, e.g. the Law of Strongest Motive.
View Psychological Determinism
Quantum Probability is the claim that free will is incompatible with the probabilities predicted by Quantum Mechanics.
View Quantum Probability
Arguments for Free Will
- As a person deliberates what to do it’s self-evident to them they can choose any option under consideration.
- People are morally responsible for some of their actions.
- A person is morally responsible for an action only if they can act otherwise.
- Therefore, people can sometimes act otherwise.
Making a Virtue of Necessity
- A rational person must be able to believe what’s rational to believe.
- People are unable to believe they don’t have free will.
- Therefore, it’s not rational to believe people don’t have free will.
Moral Responsibility and the Principle of Alternate Possibilities
The Principle of Alternate Possibilities (PAP) is that people are morally responsible only if they could have done otherwise.
View Principle of Alternate Possibilities
Sorites Argument Against Free Will
- People believe they have categorical free will, that they could have done otherwise under conditions at the time.
- Moral responsibility requires categorical free will.
- Being morally responsible for their actions is important to people.
- Thus, having categorical free will matters to people.
- Both Neural Determinism and Quantum Probability are incompatible with categorical free will.
- There is substantial evidence supporting both theories.
- There is no compelling argument for categorical free will.
- Hence there is substantial evidence that a belief that matters to people – that they could have done otherwise under the conditions at the time – is false.