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PH1102E Week 1 Introductory themes Plan for today: I. Administrative matters A. Workload & assessment B.

Readings & other material C. IVLE forum & contacting me II. Background on free will and responsibility A. Moral responsibility 1. Definition 2. Not always a bad thing 3. Illustrative examples a. The Canteen b. The Gestapo c. The Drowning Child B. Free will 1. Definition 2. Contrasted with freedom from constraint C. The philosophical question about freedom and responsibility 1. Determinism a. Definition b. Contrasted with fatalism 2. Four theories a. Radical Will Theory (Jean-Paul Sartre) b. Compatibilism (David Hume) c. Deterministic Moral Nihilism (Friedrich Nietzsche) d. Radical Nihilism (Galen Strawson)

I. ADMINISTRATIVE MATTERS A. Workload and assesment 1. Requirements = 10% tutorial attendance, 50% weekly summaries, 40% final exam 2. Weekly summaries Summary task announced at the end of each lecture, starting next week Summary to be uploaded to your tutorial group submission folder by 11:00pm the following Tuesday ( NO LATE SUBMISSIONS Maximum of 200 words File in Word or plain text File name: W[#] Week[#] [your name] Summaries will be marked by your tutor (on a scale of 1 to 10) and returned to you in tutorial MCQ Closed book Comprehensive Preparation: keep up with readings and lectures, attend tutorials, review material posted on IVLE

3. Final exam

B. Readings, notes, etc. 1. Required readings All readings are available as Library E-Reserves, accessible through IVLE Caveat: the readings for weeks 6 and 11 are not posted yet, but will be next week Plan to read each assigned text at least twice before writing your summary Ill post my lecture notes the week after each lecture, so, put down your pens... Ive set this up for you to use or not, according to your preference. 3. Contacting me Office hours: Thursdays, 10:00 - noon. I welcome your email, subject to two rules: Rule #1: the subject line must be PH1102E STUDENT INQUIRY (in all caps) Rule #2: if I dont reply to your message within 3 business days, resend your message, letting me know youre still awaiting a response

2. IVLE forum

II. BACKGROUND ON FREE WILL AND RESPONSIBILITY A. Moral responsibility Moral responsibility is the jargon that philosophers use to talk about what normal people call personal responsibility. 1. Definition Generally speaking, you are morally responsible for those of your actions that give other people a good reason to think well or badly of you. This will serve as a good working definition: So-and-so is morally responsible for doing such-and-such means: The fact that So-and-so has done such-and-such gives us a good reason to think well or badly of So-and-so. 2. Not always a bad thing! In day to day life, the word responsibility tends to carry a negative connotation. Its always: Who is responsible for this mess? rather than: Whos responsible for this beautiful flower arrangement? But the fact is that moral responsibility can be a good thing. A tyrant can be responsible for ending hundreds of lives, but a doctor can be responsible for saving hundreds of lives. So dont be misled by the negative connotations of responsibility-talk in everyday life. 3. Illustrative examples Just to make sure we are all on the same page, here are a few examples contrasting scenarios in which moral responsibility is present with similar cases in which it is absent. Ill be referring back to these scenarios in next weeks lecture. a. The Canteen Case A: You buy a plate of fruit from the fruit stall, sit down at your table, only to remember that you meant to buy mango juice as well. You leave your plate on the table, get your juice, and come back to discover a bird eating your fruit. In this case, you feel annoyed, but you have no reason to think badly of the bird. Its only a bird, after all. So, we wouldnt say that the bird is morally responsible for eating your lunch. Case B: Same as Case A, except that when you return to your table, you find another student eating your fruit. In this case, you are likely to feel outraged, and you will definitely think badly of the student, and rightly so, unless he has some good excuse. If he does not have an excuse, we will judge him morally responsible for having eaten your lunch.

b. The Gestapo Case A: It is 1942, and Franz is letting his Jewish neighbors hide in his house to avoid being caught by the Gestapo and sent to a concentration camp. In the middle of the night, there is a knock at Franzs front door. It is the Gestapo, asking whether you know the whereabouts of your neighbors. Even though it is a cool autumn night, Franz begin to sweat profusely during the leading officers interrogation. This raises the officers suspicions, leading him to search the house thoroughly and discover the Jewish family, which he promptly sends to Auschwitz. In this case, the family Franz were harboring will regret that he broke into a sweat, and perhaps be annoyed that he did so, but they have no good reason to think badly of Franz. He is not morally responsible for revealing the Jewish familys whereabouts to the Gestapo. Case B: Same as Case A, except for that when the officer asks Franz about his neighbors, Franz tell him that they are hiding in a secret room in his basement. The officer promptly arrests them and sends them to Auschwitz. In this case, the family Franz was harboring will definitely have a good reason to think badly of him. They, and we, deem him morally responsible for divulging their location to the Gestapo. Of course, there might be mitigating circumstances. Perhaps the Gestapo has a policy of killing anyone who is caught harboring Jews. Under these circumstances, one might do something that one later regrets. The point is that even in this case, we have some good reason to think badly of Franz, at least to the extent of regarding him as having done something cowardly. c. The Drowning Child Case A: While going for a walk along the beach, I notice a child struggling out beyond the surf. Although there have been reports of sharks in the area, I jump into the ocean and save the child, fortunately without being attacked by sharks. In this case, you have a good reason to think well of me. I am morally responsible for my action, in a good, praiseworthy way. Case B: I am walking along the beach lost in deep thought, and dont notice the child struggling out beyond the surf. However, I happen to bump into a beach ball, which rolls into the sea, and floats out to the child just in time for her to grab onto it and paddle to safety. In this case, we dont have any good reason to think well or badly of me. I am neither morally responsible for saving the child, or for having failed to try to save the child. My role is morally neutral, like that of the wind, if it had blown the ball into the sea. Case C: I am walking down the beach after a successful day of fishing, with a bucket full of fresh fish. Suddenly I notice a child struggling out in the water. Knowing that there have been reports of sharks in the area, and always having wanted to witness a shark attack first hand, I begin to throw my fish into the sea, hoping to attract sharks to the area. However, I only succeed in attracting a friendly pod of dolphins, one of whom allows the child to climb on its back and ride it safely to shore. In this case, we do 4

have a good reason to think badly of me. I am morally responsible for trying to instigate a shark attack on the child. B. Free will As youll soon learn, some philosophers think that there is no such thing as free will. But we can still give a definition for it. (Likewise, we can define a unicorn as a horse with a horn growing out of its head, without implying that there are creatures satisfying this definition.) 1. Definition Generally speaking, to say that someone (or, something) has free will is to say that it has a capacity for moral responsibility. Here is a working definition: So-and-so has free will means: So-and-so is capable of doing things for which he or she is morally responsible. If you put this definition together with the definition of moral responsibility, you can see that to deny that a person has free will is to say that he is incapable of doing anything that would justify us in thinking well or badly of him. 2. Contrasted with freedom from constraint Suppose an armed robber puts a gun to your head and says: Your money or your life. Wisely, you give him your wallet. If we later ask you why you gave the man your money, you might say that you had no choice. But this is not true. You did have a choice: your money OR your life. (Practically speaking, the choice was really between life and death, since presumably the thief would also have taken your wallet if he had killed you. But this is still a choice: life OR death.) If you had refused to give the thief your money, your widow, upon learning the details of the case, would have wondered why you made such a poor choice. She would be justified in thinking badly of you for throwing your life away so carelessly when others cared about and depended on you. The point is that the thief does not rob you of your freedom of will. He just restricts its scope of operation. He imposes constraints on how you can exercise your freedom, but he doesnt deprive you of the freedom to choose among the highly constrained options he is offering you. In fact, you can have freedom of will even if you literally have only one option. That follows from the fact that we have defined freedom of will as the capacity to do something for which you are morally responsible. You can have this general capacity, even if you find yourself in a situation in which you have 5

no opportunity to exercise it. But in order to exercise your freedom of will, you do need to have at least two options available to you. C. The philosophical question about freedom and responsibility Do you have free will? More generally: are people capable of doing things for which they are morally responsible? In other words: can a person ever do something that gives us a good reason to think well or badly of him? 1. Determinism Historically, debates over the existence of free will have centered on the question of whether we live in a deterministic universe. The view that we do live in such a universe is called determinism. The view that we dont is called indeterminism. a. Definition Determinism is the view that everything that ever happens -- every event or occurrence, no matter how large or small, and no matter how grand or trivial -- has some prior cause. At least, this is one version of determinism. A more cautious version says that everything that happens has a prior cause, unless there is a first event (like the Big Bang), in which case that one (and that one only) does not have a cause. Well define determinism as follows: Determinism is true means: Every event, except the very first event to take place (if there was such an event) has a cause that precedes it in time. So if we live in a deterministic world, then everything that is happening now-- including everything that anyone is doing -- is a result of things that happened just a moment ago. And everything that happened just a moment ago resulted from things that happened just a moment before that. And so everything that is happening now is the culmination of a chain of events that extends far into the past -- either infinitely far back, or at least back to the Big Bang. One thing led to another, and to another, and to another, until we come to the present moment, whose events give rise to the next event, and so on, and so forth, either forever or at least until the Big Crunch. b. Contrasted with fatalism Determinism is not to be confused with fatalism. Fatalism is the view that our present actions have no influence on the future. 6

In other words, fatalism says that there is a certain path that your life is going to follow, regardless of which choices or decisions you make. (This path is your fate. Think of Oedipus.) 2. Four theories There are four main theories of freedom and responsibility. Ill discuss these in detail next week. For now, Ill just give you a very brief preview of them. a. Radical Will Theory According to this, we have free will, but only because we are capable of making spontaneous choices -choices that are literally uncaused. So we have free will, but we wouldnt have it, if we lived in a deterministic world. (And so our world is not, on this theory, deterministic.) The radical will theory is associated with Jean-Paul Sartre, the French existentialist. b. Deterministic Moral Nihilism This is the view that we lack free will because we live in a deterministic universe. In other words, freedom and determinism cannot coexist, and yet determinism is true; so, we are not free, and cannot be held morally responsible for anything we do. This view is associated with Friedrich Nietzsche, a 19th century German philosopher. c. Compatibilism According to compatibilism, we have free will even if we live in a deterministic universe. Even if all of our actions and choices result from events that occurred before we were born, we are still morally responsible for much of what we do. Compatibilism is associated with the great 18th century British philosopher, David Hume. d. Radical Nihilism According to radical nihilists, we lack free will regardless of whether our universe is deterministic or indeterministic. So, if determinism is true, we arent morally responsible for anything we do, and if determinism is false, we arent morally responsible for anything we do. Freedom is not just something 7

that human beings happen to lack: it is something that no being could possibly have, no matter how intelligent, powerful, or magical. This is the theory that Galen Strawson argues for in the reading for next week.