Topic: Free Will
The problem of free will is often cited as one of philosophy's most difficult problems to resolve. As human beings, it seems that we are subject to laws of nature and to chains of cause and effect. But as personal agents, we feel strongly that we are autonomous beings whose choices and actions are not dictated by external factors. Can we reconcile these two notions? Why do we care?
In this course, we will study the nature of free will and the problems associated with it. We will focus mostly on the debate as it has been developed in the 20th and 21st centuries. We will look at the following questions (among others): is free will compatible with determinism? What about indeterminism? If our actions aren't determined, are they random or arbitrary? How does free will relate to moral responsibility? Do moral responsibility and/or free will require that we are able do otherwise? If so, what does it mean to be able to do otherwise? Can contemporary science tell us anything about whether we have free will? Do we need free will/moral responsibility in order to have meaningful lives? Do we at least need to believe that we have free will?
Satisfies the Philosophy major seminar requirement.
Counts as an elective for the Philosophy minor.
This course can be repeated for credit given sufficiently distinct topics: check with the department chair. (Fall, Spring)