Teaching Philosophy 41 (4):337-347 (2018)

Galen Barry
Iona College
The concept of determinism proves to be a persistent stumbling block to student comprehension of issues surrounding free will. Students tend to commit two main errors. First, they often confuse determinism with the related but importantly different idea of fatalism. Second, students often do not adequately understand that mental states, such as desires or beliefs, can function as deterministic causes. This paper outlines a straightforward in-class exercise modeled after John Horton Conway’s “Game of Life” computer simulation. The exercise aims to address the two main obstacles to understanding determinism and, as a result, improve student understanding of free will topics.
Keywords Free will  Teaching  Game of Life  Determinism
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ISBN(s) 0145-5788
DOI 10.5840/teachphil201811595
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