That settles it

Hey look! These two recent articles have prompted a couple of prominent bloggers to post about the philosophical problem of Free Will. As Julian points out, it's more or less an orthodoxy among philosophers these days to think that the truth of determinism offers no threat to the notion of responsibility. For those of you who love teh jargon, this position is called compatibilism.

Lots of non-philosophers, not having been conditioned to accept the orthodoxies of the field, find compatibilism to be counter-intuitive. So, consider one of the ways that we often read tragic literature. On the reading I am thinking of, the protagonist's actions, and eventually his fall, arise inexorably from features of his character which are pre-set and beyond his control. Everything that happens is, to put it another way, determined. And yet we don't find that the predictability of it all detracts from our inclination to see the character as responsible for his actions.

Since Jason admitted in comments some time ago that one of his beloved views is that the universe is deterministic, I'm sure this will lead to an exciting comment thread.

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