Taylor-FreedomAndDeterminism-1

Taylor-FreedomAndDeterminism-1 - Introduction To Philosophy...

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Introduction To Philosophy Marcello Antosh 2/12/2009 “Freedom And Determinism” Richard Taylor 1 Overall Summary Taylor discusses the problem of free will. This is the problem of trying to understand whether or in what sense agents are free to do anything of there own volition. He begins with the observation that, at every given moment, the world seems to be determinate—everything is in some precise state. And, given the state everything is in at any moment, and given the laws of nature, it seems that at the next moment there is only one possible state for everything to be in—there is only one possible way things could in fact be. This is the principle of determinism. If this is true of everything, it is true of us as well. Nevertheless, it seems that sometimes we freely do things, and this seems to conflict with the principle of determinism. Taylor then considers two possible views about how we might be free: soft determinism, and indeterminism. He rejects soft determinism since he believes it doesn’t seem to allow for us to be genuinely free in the sense that we seem to be. He rejects indeterminism as not providing an adequate explanation of the causal order or structure of events. He proposes a theory of agency according to which agents are sometimes but not always the causes of their own actions. Agents are not themselves caused, since they are substances, not states. Yet, agents can deliberate and initiate causal chains of events in doing so. Agents freely cause things to happen when they act on the basis of reasons, or when they act for some reason. 2 Determinism Taylor begins with the following two observations. First, at any given moment, everything seems to be in some precise state. That is, the state that everything is in is completely determinate. Second, given the state that everything is in at one moment, and given the laws of nature, it seems that there is only one possible state that everything can be in at the next moment. For there to be more than one possible state that everything could be in would be a violation of the laws of nature. (Note: Taylor’s observations might only be true of macroscopic events— events that do not occur at the quantum level. But even if they are not true of these events, consider whether this allows for us to have free will. For example, suppose that at the macroscopical level, there are events which are inherently and irreducibly probabilistic. If so, then given how everything is at one moment, and 1
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Introduction To Philosophy Marcello Antosh 2/12/2009 given the laws of nature, it might be possible for everything to be in more than one state at the next moment. But this does not yet mean that we are in control of the ways in which things might occur. It just means that even given the laws of nature, there is some sense in which things could go in more than one way.) Taylor takes these observations to support the thesis of determinism: Determinism Every event that ever occurs is completely causally determined to
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Taylor-FreedomAndDeterminism-1 - Introduction To Philosophy...

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