Free Will: What Is It, and Do We Have It? - A Taster Class from Tufts University Friday 17 Sept 2021



Free Will: What Is It, and Do We Have It? 1:00pm - 2:00pm EDT, Friday, September 17 (6pm-7pm BST)


David Denby, Distinguished Senior Lecturer, Philosophy

Free will makes you a person. Without it, you are not morally responsible for your actions. Indeed, the projects and commitments that your actions express and that give your life meaning would not really be yours at all. At best, you are a mere conduit for events. On the other hand, it is a fundamental presupposition of science, everyday thought, and perhaps rationality itself that every event has a cause. Without causation, the world would not be intelligible, and genuinely rational action would not be possible. The problem is that universal causation seems to be incompatible with freewill, even on the most minimal assumptions about freewill and causation. Being a person means acting freely; an intelligible world in which rational action is possible means universal causation. But we can’t have it both ways! In this talk, we’ll explore this problem and some responses.



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