Publication Date

2013-04-29

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2013-04-29

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

Philosophy (Arts and Sciences)

Date of Defense

2013-04-12

First Committee Member

Michael Slote

Second Committee Member

Bradford Cokelet

Third Committee Member

Risto Hilpinen

Fourth Committee Member

Keith Lehrer

Abstract

In this dissertation I explore the question of the compatibility of freedom and moral responsibility with causal determinism. A number of philosophers and thinkers have argued that if causal determinism were true, that our ordinary attributions of free will and responsibility would be completely undermined. I argue that this claim is ultimately mistaken, and that there are robust and common sense notions of freedom and responsibility that are applicable even if everything we do is ultimately causally determined. I start by building a general framework for understanding freedom and moral responsibility from the standpoint of practical reason that incorporates moral reactive attitudes, and in part by using this framework, I develop detailed replies to the most compelling and powerful arguments in favor of incompatibilism that have been developed in recent decades, most notably in the work of philosophers like Derk Pereboom and Bruce Waller.

Keywords

free will; moral responsibility; determinism; compatibilism; freedom; libertarianism

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