University of Louisville

Poster Title

Defining and Defending the Incompatibility of Free Will and Determining the Moral and Judicial Implications of the Presence or Lack of Free Will

Institution

University of Louisville

Abstract

The project combines the work of two students who have been pursuing a response to a metaphysical dilemma: is free will compatible with determinism, or rather is it possible to be free in a deterministic universe. The first part of the work examines the debate and lays the foundations for an argument of Incompatibility. To achieve these ends, the argument by Compatibilist philosopher Daniel Dennett is explained, criticized, and challenged. Ultimately, we argue that free will is not compatible with a deterministic type of universe. The second part of the work deals with the implications of this conclusion. Largely, it deals with why it seems fundamentally essential to possess free will and the potential to act freely in order to possess moral responsibility. Moral responsibility, we argue, is an essential component of the type of Judicial system in place in the United States. We argue that without free will, people cannot be held morally accountable for their actions. For this reason, it would not seem logical to hold them legally accountable for their actions. We conclude that for the Judicial System to function requires abandoning the beliefs in factors that would make the Universe deterministic. One such factor that is examined is the “Divine Plan” of the Christian God.

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Defining and Defending the Incompatibility of Free Will and Determining the Moral and Judicial Implications of the Presence or Lack of Free Will

The project combines the work of two students who have been pursuing a response to a metaphysical dilemma: is free will compatible with determinism, or rather is it possible to be free in a deterministic universe. The first part of the work examines the debate and lays the foundations for an argument of Incompatibility. To achieve these ends, the argument by Compatibilist philosopher Daniel Dennett is explained, criticized, and challenged. Ultimately, we argue that free will is not compatible with a deterministic type of universe. The second part of the work deals with the implications of this conclusion. Largely, it deals with why it seems fundamentally essential to possess free will and the potential to act freely in order to possess moral responsibility. Moral responsibility, we argue, is an essential component of the type of Judicial system in place in the United States. We argue that without free will, people cannot be held morally accountable for their actions. For this reason, it would not seem logical to hold them legally accountable for their actions. We conclude that for the Judicial System to function requires abandoning the beliefs in factors that would make the Universe deterministic. One such factor that is examined is the “Divine Plan” of the Christian God.