G Strawson and Free Will

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In this essay, I will outline Galen Strawson's skeptical view of free will as presented in Robert Kane's book A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will. I will attempt to show Strawson's reasoning behind his arguments, and how he believes that his argument holds fast regardless which side of the fence you fall on in the debate about the truth of determinism. I will define the concept of ultimate moral responsibility (UMR) and show how it plays a fundamental role in Strawson's argument. Finally, I will offer my own criticism of Galen Strawson's view of free will and UMR, and suggest a solution to the problem I bring up.

Galen Strawson is considered a modern skeptic regarding the question of free will. His view is a modified version of a hard determinist claim. Traditional hard determinism is defined by the three theses, "(1) free will is incompatible with determinism, (2) free will does not exist because (3) determinism is true." One main difference between Strawson's thought and the traditional hard deterministic view is that Strawson does not necessarily believe that determinism is true. As a result, Strawson is unconcerned by the first thesis, and non-committal about the third thesis. Unlike many other philosophers, Strawson does not view the question of the truth of determinism as the determining factor in the debate about free will. Hence, Strawson's formulation that the fact that free will does not exist does not depend on the answer to the question of whether the universe is deterministic or not. Strawson's argument regarding free will can be summarized in the following manner. In order to be morally responsible for an action, the fact that you have done that action must emanate from something that is apart of you – in short, if you do an action, you did it because of who you are. If it is hypothesized that an individual is responsible for her or his actions in this case, it must equally be hypothesized that an individual is responsible for the way they...
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