Graduate studies at Western
|Abstract||1. Logic, determinism and free will. The determinism-free will debate is perhaps as old as philosophy itself and has been engaged in from a great variety of points of view including those of scientific, theological and logical character; my concern here is to limit attention to two arguments from logic. To begin with, there is an argument in support of determinism that dates back to Aristotle, if not farther. It rests on acceptance of the Law of Excluded Middle, according to which every proposition is either true or false, no matter whether the proposition is about the past, present or future. In particular, the argument goes, whatever one does or does not do in the future is determined in the present by the truth or falsity of the corresponding proposition. Surely no such argument could really establish determinism, but one is hard pressed to explain where it goes wrong. One now classic dismantling of it has been given by Gilbert Ryle, in the chapter ‘What was to be’ of his fine book, Dilemmas (Ryle 1954). We leave it to the interested reader to pursue that and the subsequent literature.|
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