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Law and NeuroscienceCurrent Legal Issues Volume 13$
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Michael Freeman

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199599844

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199599844.001.0001

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Indeterminism and Control: An Approach to the Problem of Luck

Indeterminism and Control: An Approach to the Problem of Luck

Chapter:
(p.41) 4 Indeterminism and Control: An Approach to the Problem of Luck
Source:
Law and Neuroscience
Author(s):

John Martin Fischer (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199599844.003.0004

This chapter begins by outlining William James' famous ‘Dilemma of Determinism’. It then focuses on the ‘indeterministic horn’, that is, the following premises: (i) if causal determinism is false (in a relevant way), then how I act is a matter of luck, and thus I am not morally responsible for my actions; and (ii) if causal determinism is false (in a relevant way, i.e., in the sequences leading to my behaviour), then my actions are not appropriately connected to my prior states (that is ‘my actions’ are not in a genuine sense my actions), and thus I am not morally responsible for my actions. The proper analysis of the deterministic horn is illuminated in this chapter with respect to the indeterministic horn. It is argued that neither the second premises of the parallel arguments nor the third premises are true, and thus the argument is unsound for two separate reasons. It further argues that similar considerations help to establish the failure of both the deterministic and indeterministic horns of the dilemma. Not only are the worries similar at a deep level, but the appropriate replies are also based on similar insights.

Keywords:   eterminism, deterministic horn, indeterministic horn, luck

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