Brandeis University, Philosophy Department
Fall 2003
Brandeis University Web Stite


Professor Andreas Teuber
Prof. Teuber

Freedom of the Will

1. Determinism or Hard-Determinism

  • Environment ----- plus ---->Genetic Make-Up ----- plus -----> Past Experience and History ----- plus ----->Stimulii ----- lead to -----> Brain Processes and Nerve Firings ----- which give rise to -----> Desires and Beliefs ------ which cause ------> Action
  • If every event and/or human action is completely caused, where is there room for free will?

    2. Determinism (Again)

  • Determinism is that theory that clams that all events, all happenings, including all human actions, thoughts, choices, inventions, acts of creativity and choices are fully and completely determined. What does it mean to say, for instance, that an event, call it "E," is totally determined?
      (1) E was completely caused.
      (2) There were a set of sufficient conditions antecednet to E's occurrence, such that given the occurrence of these conditions, E had to happen.
      (3) It was causally necessary that E happened.
      (4) Given what preceded E, it was inevitable that E happened.
      (5) E can be subsumed under a universal law of nature, i.e., the occurrence of E was deducible from a description of the conditions that preceded it plus some universal laws.
      (6) E's occurrence is open, in principle, to scientific explanation.
      (7) E's occurrence was, in principle, predictable.
      (8) There are circumstances and laws which, if they had been known prior to E's occurrence, the occurrence and exact nature of E would have been predicted.(Feinberg)

    3. Indeterminism

  • Can it be explained by the random event? By quantum events and quantum physics? Why not?
  • By probability? Why not?
  • By lack of information? Why not?
  • 4. Compatibilism or Soft-Determinism

  • What I do as opposed to what is done to me.
  • My lack orf awareness of underlying causes and their absence
  • Being in Control of your actions
  • Your throwing my dog out the window
  • Causation, control and the Sources of the Cause
  • What you can and cannot change about your behavior:
    (The "Sine Qua Non" or "The could have done otherwise" test)
  • What excuses count?
  • The inside-out model
  • Acts of G-d and the problems of knowing in advance
  • The golfer, the seagull and the sudden gust of wind
  • Martians and parasites
  • Social causes, obsessiove compulsive behaviors, drug-induced offenses, hypnotic suggestion, the Menendez brothers' (Rtoseanne Barr) defense
  • Suggesitbility, conforming to the opinions of others, L.A Gear, first and second order desires, deeper selves and the sanity condition (Harry Frankfurt and Susan Wolf
  • 5. The Interventionist Model

  • The Unpredictable, Creative Intervention of the Will (Kant)
  • Human dignity and Respect
  • Treating people as things v. treating them as ends-in-themselves
  • What is lost in being managed, handled, cured or trained? (Strawson)
  • 6. Fate and Fatalism and Free Will

  • The Oedipus Story
  • "Your name is on the list"
  • "Your number is up."
  • G-d knows; you don't
  • The future is already written.


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