Philosophical Musings by T L Hurst

Philosophical Musings
by T L Hurst


Causation and Free Will

This presentation deals with the relationship between determinism and causal free will. Compatibilism is treated as being allied to soft determinism. I.e. Soft determinism says that both causal determinism and free will are true, and are compatible. Whereas compatibilism merely says that causal determinism and free will are compatible, without making any assertion as to whether either are true.

Free Will Graph 1 Free Will Graph 1

It has been suggested[1] that, put simplistically, the basic philosophical positions on the problem of causal free will can be distinguished by the answers to two questions:

  1. Is determinism true?
  2. Does free will exist?

The positions are:

That categorization will be used as a starting point for this discussion.

Terminology

Free Will - The ability of sentient beings to make choices of their own volition.
Causation - The view that events happen because of specific factors, including random chance.
Determined, determinate or deterministic - A choice where there is only one genuinely realizable option, or an event that will happen or has happened.
Indetermined, indeterminate or indeterministic - A choice where there is more than one genuinely realizable option, or a random event or one that may or may not happen.
Causal determinism - The view that the state of the universe is wholly determined by past states together with the laws of nature.
Indeterminism - The view that events are uncaused, and happen by random chance.
Freewillism - The view that events can be caused by determinate freely willed choices.

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