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Semester 1

Free Will and Moral Responsibility (PHIL10090)







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**Spaces on Philosophy Honours courses are extremely limited, and so priority is given to visiting students coming through a direct exchange with the Philosophy department (including Erasmus students on a Philosophy Exchange). Exchange students outside of Philosophy and independent study abroad students cannot be guaranteed enrolment in ANY 3rd/4th year Philosophy courses** Please note that 3rd year Philosophy courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces. These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces. If there is sufficient space for other visiting students to enrol at the start of the semester, visiting students must have completed at least 3 Philosophy courses at grade B or above to qualify for this course; we will only consider University/College level courses.

Course Summary

The course covers the main issues in the philosophical debates about freedom, determinism, and moral responsibility. Among the more specific topics that may be addressed: Formulations of determinism; historical responses; Frankfurt style examples (designed to show that moral responsibility for an action does not require the ability to act differently); Strawson's account of the reactive emotions; compatibilist theories about the nature of responsibility and freedom; moral luck; the difference between excuses and justifications; the relevance of ignorance; collective responsibility.

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the problems of free will and moral responsibility - some of the deepest and hardest (and most discussed) problems in all of philosophy. Broadly speaking, the problems arise through reflection on what William James called 'the dilemma of determinism': if determinism is true, then it can seem that nothing we do is genuinely 'up to us', and accordingly that no one is fairly blamed or praised. On the other hand, how does indeterminism help with free will and moral responsibility? Wouldn't indeterminism simply imply that everything we do is a matter of chance or luck? In short, the thought that we are free, responsible agents is arguably a fundamental aspect of our conception of ourselves and our place in the universe. But is this conception indeed justified? We will investigate the main contemporary theories regarding the relationships between free will, moral responsibility, and determinism. In this course, we will approach these problems through two key texts: Four Views on Free Will (edited by Manuel Vargas), and Susan Wolf's book, Freedom Within Reason.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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