Freedom and Determinism

Cambridge MA: Bradford Book/MIT Press (2004)
Thoughts about freedom and determinism have engaged philosophers since the days of ancient Greece.1 On the one hand, we generally regard ourselves as free and autonomous beings who are responsible for the ac- tions that we perform. But this idea of ourselves appears to conflict with a variety of attitudes that we also have about the inevitable workings of the world around us. For instance, some people believe that strict, universal laws of nature govern the world. Others think that there is an omnipotent God who is the ultimate cause of all things. These more global views sug- gest that each particular event—including each human action—is causally necessitated, and so they suggest a conflict with the claim that we are free. Hence, the problem of freedom and determinism is, at base, a problem about reconciling attitudes we have toward ourselves with our more gen- eral thoughts about the world around us. It is a problem about locating our actions within those streams of events that make up the broader universe.
Keywords Compatibility  Determinism  Freedom  Moral Responsibility  Philosophy
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