Taking Stock on Determinism and Freedom
by Christian Y. Cardall
As several posts have gone by on issues related to free will, and the questions of whether and how to proceed with the discussion have arisen, it might be a good idea to explain more precisely what I am interested in arguing about. I will also use this post as a place to collect links to my posts on this subject.
I am not trying to prove causal determinism as a conclusion. It is true that I have expressed skepticism that a future that is open in the sense required by libertarian free will can avoid luck or randomness. From my skimming of the links Blake provided, my initial sense is that this is deemed, by at least some serious and competent people, an open problem in the technical philosophical literature. I confess that at this point I don’t have much interest in following these technical arguments closely. Until the project I describe below is a demonstrated to my satisfaction to be a failure, for reasons of time and interest it is not a discussion I intend to engage closely here.
Because of my distaste for the notion that randomness would play a material role in individuals’ eternal outcomes, and because of my skepticism that libertarian-style programs will prove successful in avoiding randomness, I am more interested in asking the following: Given causal determinism as a premise, can notions of freedom and responsibility be constructed that are meaningful, reasonable, consistent with our experience, and—on the Mormon track of my thought—consistent with a viable form of Mormonism? In this series of posts I have essayed to argue in the affirmative.
- Agency in Nature, Agency in Humanity
- God’s Garden
- Deterministic Freedom Explained
- Doctrinal Modesty on Varieties of Free Will
- Scenario Formulation and Selection, and the Evolvability of Character
- The Relationship of Consciousness to Rationality, Responsibility, and Will
- Persistent Morality and Praiseworthiness
- Clinging to Deterministic Freedom, Postponing Causal Explanation