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Philosophers have long disagreed about whether or not we are in charge of our own destinies.
- Is there such a thing as free will and if so, how do we argue for or against it?
- Can our lives be predetermined and if so, what form does this take?
Science Extended Investigation | Keywords
Free will and determinism | Introduction
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Freedom and determinism (Thompson, 2010, pp. 187-190)
"What is the human mind? Can it make a difference? If everything is causally conditioned, then even the electrical impulses in my brain are part of a closed mechanical system and my freedom is an illusion. I may feel sure that I have made a free choice, but in fact everything that has happened to me since my birth, and everything that has made the world the way it is since the beginning of time, has contributed to that decision." (Thompson, 2010, pp. 187-190)
Free will and determinism | Free will
Free will (Britannica High, n.d.)
"Free will, in humans, the power or capacity to choose among alternatives or to act in certain situations independently of natural, social, or divine restraints. " ("Free will", n.d.)
Philosophy of mind: free will (Britannica High, n.d.)
"A problem that dates to at least the Middle Ages is that of whether a person’s moral responsibility for an action is undermined by an omniscient God’s foreknowledge of his performance of that action." ("Philosophy of mind: free will", n.d.)
Free Will (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
"Most of us are certain that we have free will, though what exactly this amounts to is much less certain.... Let us then understand free will as the capacity unique to persons that allows them to control their actions. It is controversial whether this minimal understanding of what it means to have a free will actually requires an agent to have a specific faculty of will, whether the term "free will" is simply shorthand for other features of persons, and whether there really is such a thing as free will at all." (Timpe, n.d.)
Foreknowledge and Free Will (Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
"Historically, the tension between foreknowledge and the exercise of free will was addressed in a religious context. According to orthodox views in the West, God was claimed to be omniscient (and hence in possession of perfect foreknowledge) and yet God was supposed to have given humankind free will. Attempts to solve the apparent contradiction often involved attributing to God special properties, for example, being "outside" of time." (Swartz, n.d.)
Utilitarianism theory of ethics is important to understand as it forms the basis of many ethical decisions made today.
Free will and determinism | Determinism
Determinism (Britannica High, n.d.)
" Determinism, in philosophy, theory that all events, including moral choices, are completely determined by previously existing causes." ("Determinism", n.d.)
Problem of moral responsibility (Britannica High, n.d.)
"Problem of moral responsibility, the problem of reconciling the belief that people are morally responsible for what they do with the apparent fact that humans do not have free will because their actions are causally determined." ("Problem of moral responsibility", n.d.)
Free will and determinism | Onlne resources
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP)
Use the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) to familiarise yourself with the keywords and terms as well as thinkers and their thoughts relating to free will and determinism.
Free will and determinism | Curriculum Alignment and Metadata
This Mentone Girls' Grammar School LibGuide supports the following Victorian curriculum outcomes. Click on the links to explore more.