Mystery of Free Will and Moral Responsibility

Topics: Free will, Determinism, Peter van Inwagen Pages: 2 (814 words) Published: March 26, 2013
The Mystery of Free Will and Moral Responsibility
We all seem to think that we make decisions on our own and have the ability to choose from making different decisions. We do what we want to do because it seems as if we have many options to choose from to be in control of our own destiny. The basic question of the mystery of free will is that, “Are we able to really make our own decisions or are the decisions we make already predetermined (with it being inevitable of us making that certain decision)?” Our futures seem to be undetermined and have an infinite amount of possibilities of which we are able to choose freely among. Think of your life as a garden of forking paths with each path being a certain decision you make that affects your future. However, many philosophers believe that the thesis of determinism threatens this model of free will. If you may know, determinism is the theory that the universe at any point in time is entirely fixed by the state of the universe at a prior time, in combination with the laws of nature. So the reason why this threatens the ‘garden of forking paths’ model of free will is that how can we have so many options to choose when determinism has already chosen one for us? This leads us to another central issue, which is: “Can free will and determinism co-exist?” The two ways philosophers go about considering this question is either with a ‘yes, they can co-exist’ or ‘no, they cannot.’ If you were to believe that, yes, free will and determinism can co-exist, then you would be considered a compatibilist. Answering no, free will and determinism cannot co-exist, you would be considered an incompatibalist.

Peter Van Inwagen, a prominent figure in the philosophy world, created the consequence argument. In his argument, Van Inwagen explains that if determinism is true, then our acts are just a consequence of the laws of nature and events in the remote past. And since it’s not up to us what went on before we were born nor what the laws...
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