Defend Hard Determinism against a form of Libertarianism or Compatibilism.

In this paper you will argue for a thesis in the Free Will debate and defend it against a strong objection.

We have framed the main positions as responses to the seeming incompatibility between free will and determinism.

You can argue for:

· Hard Determinism

· Libertarianism

· Incompatibilism

· Compatibilism

· Other

If you want to frame the problem differently, especially after we read Wolf’s essays, and take a different position, this is fine but you need to run it by me

For example:

· Defend Ayer’s form of Compatibilism against the objection that his definition of free will cannot account for a case where we hold someone morally responsible but they are not free on his definition. Do this by modifying his definition of free will.

· Defend Strawson’s Incompatibilism against Compatibilism. Do this by critiquing Ayer’s account of free will and “I could have done otherwise”.

· Defend Hard Determinism against a form of Libertarianism or Compatibilism.

· Feel free to put the papers in dialogue with each other.

· Also feel free to make up either your own position or own objection.

The paper needs to have the following pieces:


Briefly state the problem

For example, we want both free will and determinism, but they seem to conflict

State your thesis

Determinism is true and we do not ever have free will.

Statement of the Problem of Free Will

Explain the problem

Explain key terms, how they fit together

By ‘determinism’, ‘free will’, etc. I mean …. They are in conflict because …

Explanation of your position on the problem

Explain why your position is attractive and reasonable

Hard Determinism is the best because the world is just atoms and the void.

We know this because science tells us science is the best guide to knowledge.

Strong challenge to your position

Explain why a reasonable person might disagree with your position.

But, it really seems like we have free will. And this is a problem for my view because …

Defense of your position against the challenge

Explain how you can meet the challenge raised

Do not be dogmatic here.

This will not be a conclusive refutation of the objection, but it should be strong.

Seeming to have free will does not imply having free will. We know that incompatibilism is true because Y. So we need to ask whether science or phenomenology should be believed when they are in conflict. Science wins because Z.


Restate your thesis and summarize.

Even though we seem to have free will, it is just an illusion because of X.

Thoughts to keep in mind:

· We want to see you engaging with the debate.

· Write for a friend who is not in the class.

· This paper builds upon the skills you exercised in the first and second paper, exposition of a problem and analysis of an argument for a position.

· You are just dealing with one small piece of this issue.

· What objection you raise determines which piece you are dealing with.

· We value strong objections with weaker responses more than weak objections with strong responses to them.

· A good place to find objections is the papers we read.

· You are not giving the last word in anything here.