Title page for ETD etd-0418102-084838

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Fassbender, Troy Dwayne
Author's Email Address tfassb1@lsu.edu
URN etd-0418102-084838
Title Free Will and Responsibility: Indeterminism and Its Problems
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department Philosophy and Religious Studies
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Husain Sarkar Committee Chair
John Baker Committee Member
Jon Cogburn Committee Member
  • overdetermination
  • action
  • plural rationality
  • quantum indeterminacy
  • character
  • chaos theory
  • folk psychology
Date of Defense 2002-04-08
Availability unrestricted
This work is devoted to criticisms of libertarian philosophers who attempt to provide an account of agent freedom that relies solely upon indeterminism. First, the philosophy of Robert Kane is examined. I argue that Kane's account does not succeed as an intelligible libertarian account of freedom and at best makes compatibilist accounts more intuitive. I next examine objections to indeterminist accounts as lodged by Galen Strawson, Thomas Nagel, Daniel Dennett, and Richard Double before turning to an analysis of a debate among Peter van Inwagen, John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza. Van Inwagen argues that we are seldom able to do other than we do but as long as we are in some way responsible for this inability then this does not entail that we can only rarely be held responsible. Typical cases are those in which an agent's character determines a particular action and the agent is responsible for having the character she has. Fischer and Ravizza argue that van Inwagen's account is empty because the character of an agent is formed at an early age by forces beyond her control.

I conclude by arguing, pace Kane and van Inwagen, that even if an action is determined by an agent's character and the agent is responsible for having that character, we still may not be able to hold the agent responsible in a significant amount of cases. Additionally, I attempt to provide a compatibilist solution to the problem of free will in an attempt to show that the ability to do otherwise is not relevant to the problem of free will.

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