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PHIL U282: Free Will and Determinism

Loyola University of New Orleans


Ben Bayer
Fall 2014
Course description
Many think that human beings are distinguished by their ability to craft their own destinies, by their possession of
free will, and many find it deeply disconcerting to deny this power. And yet there are facts about humanity's place in
nature that suggest to some philosophers that we do not possess it. Ideas arising in both religious and scientific
traditions are sometimes taken to imply that human beings lack meaningful control over their lives. This course
surveys the problem of freedom vs. determinism in the broadest of terms. It examines the major schools of thought
across philosophic traditions, and explores how central ideas arise, are recapitulated and refined across the course of
history. We begin with the ancient Greeks, work our way through early and Reformation Christianity, pause to
witness the formation of the modern debate during the scientific revolution, and culminate with a quick survey of
twentieth century debates.
Required texts
Course pack, available exclusively at the Loyola Bookstore
Derk Pereboom (editor), Free Will2nd edition, 2009, ISBN 9781603841290 ($24 new, $18 used, $18
rental new, $14.40 rental used at the Loyola Bookstore; used copies from $11.50 on Amazon.com)
Introduction to the problem of freedom
Monday, August 25th
Introduction
Wednesday, August 27th
Freedom and moral responsibility
Sam Harris, from Free Will. Read pp. 1-14 online at Google Books: http://goo.gl/7j8QsR
Monday, September 1stNO CLASSLABOR DAY HOLIDAY
Wednesday, September 3rd
Freedom and science
John Searle, Free Will as a Problem in Neurobiology (CP 16)
Monday, September 8th
The problem of fate and divine foreknowledge
Homer, from The Illiad (CP 78)
Lucian of Samosata, Zeus Answers a Few Awkward Questions (CP 911)

The ancient roots of the problem of freedom


Wednesday, September 10th
Choice, virtue, and character
Aristotle, from Nicomachean Ethics (PFW 14)
Aristotle, from Nicomachean Ethics (CP 1213)
Monday, September 15th
The first compatibilism: Stoics on the will
Alexander of Aphrodisias on the Stoics, from On Fate (CP 14)
Cicero and Aulus Gellius on Chrysippus, from On Fate and Attic Nights (CP 1517)
Epictetus, from The Handbook (Enchiridion), (CP 1820)

Wednesday, September 17th


Critics of Stoic compatibilism
Alexander of Aphrodisias, from On Fate (CP 2124)
Epicurus, from On Nature (CP 2527)

The problem of freedom in early and reformed Christianity


Monday, September 22nd
Gods foreknowledge and his omnipotence
St. Augustine, from On Free Choice of the Will (PFW 24 33)
[Begin at the first line from Evodius I agree]
Wednesday, September 24th
Freedom and original sin
Pelagius, Letter to Demetrias (CP 2732: 12.0 [not 2.1], 3.13.3, 7.09.3)
St. Augustine, from On Grace and Free Will (CP 33-35)
Friday, September 26th
PAPER #1 DUE
Monday, September 29th
Freedom and good works in the Reformation
Erasmus, from Discourse on Free Will (CP 3640)
Freedom and faith in the Reformation
Luther, Bondage of the Will (CP 4145)
Wednesday, October 1st
Using Gods middle knowledge to reconcile divine foreknowledge and human freedom
Molina, from Concordia (CP 4647)
Craig, Commentary on Molina (CP 4753)

The problem of freedom in the Age of Reason and the Scientific Revolution
Monday, October 6th
Materialistic determinism
dHolbach, from System of Nature (CP 5460)
Wednesday, October 8th
Classical compatibilism: freedom as absence of compulsion
Hume, from Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (PFW 87104)
Monday, October 13thNO CLASSFALL BREAK HOLIDAYS
Wednesday, October 15th
Reconceptualizing causality: the agency theory
Reid, from Essays on the Active Powers of Man (PFW, 13038)

Monday, October 20th


Metaphysically dualistic compatibilism: freedom from beyond the physical world
Kant, from Review of Schultz (CP 6162 )
Kant, from Critique of Practical Reason (PFW 10519, or for a shortened read:
105-106; 108 [from section labeled Possibility of Causality through Freedom]-110 (until section
labeled Elucidation of the Cosmological idea]; 111 [from paragraph beginning But if effects are
appearances, is it indeed.]-114 [until paragraph beginning Let us now remain with this point];
115 [from paragraph beginning Now supposing one could say]-118 [until paragraph beginning It
must be noted carefully]
Wednesday, October 22nd
EXAM #1
Monday, October 27th
Hard determinism
Schopenhauer, from Prize Essay on the Freedom of the Will (CP 6374)
Social and psychological perspectives on freedom in the 19th century and beyond
Wednesday, October 29th
Materialist psychological egoism
Chernyshevsky, from The Anthropological Principle in Philosophy (CP 75 78)
Monday, November 3rd
The proto-existentialist rebellion against determinism
Dostoevsky, from Notes from Underground (CP 7984)
Wednesday, November 5th
Determinism via the psychology of the unconscious
Freud, from The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (CP 8588)
Friday, November 7th
PAPER #2 DUE
Monday, November 10th
Psychological indeterminism
James, from The Dilemma of Determinism (CP 8996)
Contemporary perspectives on freedom
Wednesday, November 12th
Radical existentialist indeterminism
Sartre, from Existentialism and Humanism (CP 97100)
Monday, November 17th
Neocompatibilism
Ayer, Freedom and Necessity (PFW 13947)
Wednesday, November 19th
Critique of compatibilism, and the agency theory
Chisholm, Human Freedom and the Self (PFW 17284)

Monday, November 24th


Reevaluating the principle of alternative possibilities
Frankfurt, Alternative Possibilities and Moral Responsibility (PFW 18595)
Wednesday, November 26th NO CLASSTHANKSGIVING HOLIDAYS
Monday, December 1st
The contradiction of determinism
James Jordan, Determinisms Dilemma (CP 101104)
Wednesday, December 3rd
Freedom as the fundamental alternative to think or not
Binswanger, Volition as Cognitive Self-Regulation (CP 105112)
Monday, December 8th
Freedom and neurobiology, revisited
Searle, Free Will as a Problem in Neurobiology (II) (CP 113123)
FINAL EXAM
Friday, December 12th, 4:306:30PM
See your final exam schedule here: http://goo.gl/OqqdXl