This lecture is about free will and determinism. The plan for the lecture is that I'm going to start by explaining what determinism is and why it's a problem and then I'm going to talk about the three main responses that philosophers have given. The first response is libertarianism, which is to say that we do have free will. Second response is compatibilism, which says that we don't have free will, but it doesn't matter. The third response is called hard determinism, and it says we don't have free will and it does matter. So, I'll come back to that. Let's start by talking about what determinism is. Determinism is sometimes called mechanism and it's the idea that everything that happens is determined, that is to say, fixed completely by the physical conditions that preceded it. So, think about an example. Imagine that I throw something across the room, the exact way that I throw it, determines the exact way that it's going to land. Everything about the way that the object moves is fixed by the physical conditions that preceded the motion. So, there isn't anything random. It's random in one sense, it's random in the sense that I can't tell where it's going to land. So, from my point of view it's random, but it isn't random from the point of view of the universe if you like. So, here's a useful distinction. We can think of uncertainty about the way things are as being uncertainty from our point of view. There's all kinds of things that I don't know, but that doesn't mean that there isn't a way that they are and a way that they're going to be. There's also what we might call metaphysical uncertainty. So, metaphysical uncertainty is uncertainty that's in some way in the fabric of the universe, a genuine chanciness or randomness that's in the world, not just in my lack of knowledge of the world. What determinists say is that there's no genuine chanciness in the world, that the way things are going to happen is determined by everything that's happened before. Now of course, we didn't know it, but it nonetheless is the case that there's a certain way that things are going to happen. Now this applies to us too, so I think it's fairly easy to see how it applies to physical objects. Think about baking a cake. If your cake doesn't rise, you know there's some explanation and if your cake does rise, you know there's some explanation. There's always an explanation for why things happen in the physical world. It's slightly less easy to see how it applies to us. So, I'm going to talk for a minute about determinism applied to people in particular. So, think about the nature of human action, when I do something. So, when I raise my hands like this, I've caused that action in some sense. In this particular case I caused it by making a decision, I decided I'm going to raise my arm and I'm going to raise my arm in order to make a point in a lecture that I'm giving about free will and determinism. So, that's the cause of my action, but then we can think about that further reaching background causes and how this came to happen. My decision was caused by lots of background conditions. So, starting with the very close ones, I decided to raise my arm in order to make a point because I'm in the middle of giving this lecture. But of course I'm in the middle of giving this lecture for reasons that had to do with my job and my personality and the situation that I'm in now, and all of those things have causes too. So, the situation that I'm in now and my job are of course caused by past decisions. My past decisions are caused by the kind of person that I am and the kind of person that I am is a very complicated thing caused by genes, the environment, my upbringing, my parents decisions, and so on. So, these are external circumstances, these are things outside of me, so I'm a determined being too. In the end, a simple decision like to raise my arms comes from things that are completely outside me and causal chains that started a long, long time ago. I'll come back to the way in which we might think that persons are different. But for now, let's think of persons as part of the physical world, as being caused like other things and decisions and psychologies are very, very complicated, but determinists say they are part of that enormous causal chain. So, if I'm determined, if my decisions are caused by past decisions which are caused by my personality which is caused by my genes, by the environment, by my upbringing and so on, then it seems like there's an important sense in which I'm not free. I'm not a free agent, I'm not making my own decisions. Okay, before I go on I want to make a couple of clarifications. So, here are some possible confusions that it's very important to avoid. So, first of all, you might have heard of the idea of fate or fatalism. It's really important to distinguish determinism from the idea of fate. So, here's a few differences. First, when we think about fate, we think about one unavoidable outcome. So, for example in Macbeth, the witches say that Macbeth will be killed by someone not born of woman. So, that's one big thing that's going to happen to Macbeth. But that's compatible with him being free in other ways making his own decision in other ways, with his freely trying to avoid the fate, so the only bit that's fixed in this story is the fate. Whereas what determinism says is that every micro-detail is fixed, everything is fixed. Not at the level of description that we're generally interested in which is the big things, everything is fixed at the micro-level, the tiniest thing because all these things are part of a massive chain of cause and effect, nothing escapes that chain. A second difference between fate and determinism is that fate is usually thought of as being brought about by a conscious agent like the witches in Macbeth for example. Whereas determinism is just the blind forces of nature. The idea behind determinism is just, we live in a natural world, a world with nothing metaphysical or magical in it. It's a physical world and in that physical world, everything happens on strict causal lines. So, there's no plan behind determinism, it's just that what's going to happen is going to happen, there's no meaning or conscious decision. A third clarification is that fate seems to be able to happen in different ways. So, you might be able to avoid meeting your fate in one way only to meet it in a different way, but determinism is absolutely fixed. There's only one future, there's only one way that things can go. So, why worry about determinism? Why does it matter? Well, it matters because it seems as though if what we do is determined, then in a sense we're not free, we're not making our own decisions. Everything that happens is what was always going to happen, including the things that I decide to do, including the efforts that I make, including the things that we think of ourselves as deserving. There are things that were always going to happen. So, ideas like desert, praise, blame, moral responsibility in general, seem to dissolve. It seems as if none of this stuff is worth thinking about anymore because we're just part of this massive causal chain. We're just dominoes waiting to be knocked over by the next domino in the chain. Before I get on to talking about the responses that philosophers have given, it might be worth pausing just to summarize where we are so far. So, here's what I've said, causes work in a deterministic way. Everything about the effect is explained by the nature of the cause, that something that we accept about the physical world. It seems that if we're part of the physical world, it applies to us too. In that case, we're not free and if we're not free, it seems hard to make sense of moral responsibility. In the next section of the lecture, I'll talk about how philosophers have tried to make sense of moral responsibility.