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Lecture#5: An Aid to Understanding the Free Will/Determinism Debate
Instructor: Scott Dixon

From our readings in Epictetus, we know that some things are up to us or under our control, and some
things are not up to us, or not under our control. Translating this into the terminology of the Free Will
handout would result in something like the following:

If every single thing is not under our control, we call that causal determinism.

If every single thing is under our control, we call that libertarianism.

If some things are under our control and some things are not, we call that compatibilism.

If some things are under our control or some things are not, we call that incompatibilism.
    One or the other must be true or they must both be false.
 

The Paradise Island Scenario

One of the main implications of this scenario is to show that we may have an appearance of free will,
yet all of our actions are determined. Notice the shift in perspectives: from the first person perspective
you wouldn’t know but from a third person perspective, i.e. a God’s eye view, you would know.

A few questions:

1. Do you think it is possible to have an illusion of free will, yet be determined much like the
    Paradise Island scenario?

2. If lacking free will on PI bothers you, what value is missing? Choice, the ability to be self-directed or ?

3. Is there something defective in the relationships on PI? For example, what would it mean for someone
    to be your ‘friend’ if all of the relationships are determined?

4. How would your conception of yourself change if you knew you had no free will? Or would it? For
    example, if you were not free to choose your spouse what would that say about what you want?

5. Does Epictetus’ general idea that some things are up to us and others are not convince you that
    compatibilism might be true or the correct formulation?