Talk summary: One common conception of free will has it that if causal determinism is true, we can’t be free, what’s sometimes called the problem of free will and determinism. As a result, determinism – reliable cause and effect relations – is widely viewed as a threat to autonomy and responsibility. In this talk I aim to rehabilitate the reputation of determinism, showing how a pragmatic (not universal) determinism is not only true, but offers a practical and ethical perspective on human agency. Accepting our complete causal connection to the world can enhance our power and control, while grounding a more compassionate understanding of ourselves and our fellow human beings. We should all be good, pragmatic determinists.
Slides of this talk (PowerPoint) can be downloaded here.
Note: Articles on which this talk was based include Fully caused: coming to terms with determinism and, most recently, What should we tell people about free will? A 2017 talk on pragmatic determinism is linked and described here.