Graduate studies at Western
|Abstract||In a book I once wrote about free will, I contended that the best and most important argument for the incompatibility of free will and determinism was “the Consequence Argument.” I gave the following brief sketch of the Consequence Argument as a prelude to several more careful and detailed statements of the argument: If determinism is true, then our acts are the consequences of the laws of nature and events in the remote past. But it is not up to us what went on before we were born, and neither is it up to us what the laws of nature are. Therefore, the consequences of these things (including our present acts) are not up to us.[i] The reading that follows this one, Reading 41, “The Mystery of Metaphysical Freedom,” contains a statement of the Consequence Argument. The argument is contained in the paragraph (p. xxx) that starts, “As Carl Ginet has said . . . .” But, as you will see if you compare the “brief sketch” with that paragraph, “The Mystery of Metaphysical Freedom” presents the Consequence Argument in a disguise that is not easy to penetrate. Some teachers of philosophy who have used the first edition of Metaphysics: The Big Questions as a textbook have asked for a more straightforward statement of the Consequence Argument (since much of the recent discussion of the question of the compatibility of free will and determinism in the philosophical literature has taken the form of criticisms of the Consequence Argument that are rather hard to apply to the argument in the form in which it is presented in Reading 41). This essay is an attempt to meet this request.|
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