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Laws, Mind, and Free Will$
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Steven Horst

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262015257

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: August 2013

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262015257.001.0001

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Laws and Freedom

Laws and Freedom

(p.88) (p.89) 7 Laws and Freedom
Laws, Mind, and Free Will

Steven Horst

The MIT Press

This chapter discusses the relevant notions of freedom and determinism, and then explains why belief in laws of nature is sometimes thought to entail determinism and hence threaten freedom. It attempts to address the question of whether our actions are all causally determined by natural laws and prior events, or whether at least some of our actions involve free will. The chapter argues that our commitment to scientific laws does not entail a commitment to determinism, and hence that acknowledging that there are such laws does not give us reason to doubt the existence of free will. No arguments for free will, however, will be presented here, nor shall it be argued that determinism is false. The conclusion is that the prima facie reason for the belief in free will is not incompatible with the existence of natural laws, and that the sciences provide no reason to give up any existing commitment to the thesis that we are capable of acting freely.

Keywords:   freedom, determinism, laws of nature, free will, scientific laws

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