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Lecture Notes: Paul-Henry

Determinism: The view that all human actions are determined by preceding causes and
that we can never act otherwise than we do.

Hard Determinism: The view that denies the existence of free will and moral

Soft Determinism (Compatibilism): The view that maintains that while

determinism is true, actions with a certain kind of internal cause are free.

Libertarianism: The theory that holds determinism to be false and contends that humans
can make free choices.

Indeterminism: The philosophical belief that free will and determinism are
incompatible, and that there are events which do not correspond with
There are generally three types of indeterminists.
One version holds that some events are uncaused,
another holds that there are nondeterministically caused events,
and the third holds that there are agent-caused events (self-determinism).

1) Human beings are purely physical and therefore are subject to the laws of physics.
a) This applies to actions, i.e. our actions are determined by laws of nature.
2) The will is nothing more than a brain state which has the power to cause action.
a) The will is determined by those objects of consciousness which one finds advantageous
and the will is repelled by those objects of consciousness which one finds
b) So, human actions are caused by those sentiments that give rise to certain brain states, i.e.
that affect the will.
i) The agent has no control over those things that determine the will.
ii) The strongest sentiment is that which actually determines the will in a particular
c) Deliberation is nothing more than a stalemate between two competing sentiments.
i) That is there are two sentiments fighting for control over the will.
ii) This happens only when the agent does not completely understand the value of the
two competing sentiments.
(1) This is due to a lack of experience with the results that each sentiment will bring.
iii) Choice, then, is nothing more than the strongest sentiment winning control over the
iv) To make a free choice would be to make a choice without motive, which is not the
agent’s own power.
v) Since humans are never the master of their will, they are never free agents.
(1) Action is always determined by sentiments and sentiments gain power through an
agent’s temperament.
3) Since an agent does not have an experience of the sentiments determining her will, she does
not feel determined by some foreign power. Instead, she feels as though she is the master of
her will for all of her actions appear to be freely chosen.
4) From this perspective, then, we are only conscious of the effects of the will and not the
determinants of the will.
a) Consciousness has no causal power. Consciousness is merely a means for passively
observing what we do.
i) Epiphenomenalism: Belief that consciousness is an incidental side-effect
("epiphenomenon") or by-product of physical or mechanical reality. On this view,
although mental events are in some sense real they have no causal efficacy in the
material realm.