The Presupposition of Thought


in The Freedom of the Will

Published in print September 1970 | ISBN: 9780198243434
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680687 | DOI:
The Presupposition of Thought

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Determinism cannot be true because if it was, we should not take the determinists' arguments as being really arguments, but as being only conditioned reflexes. Their statements should not be regarded as really claiming to be true, but only as seeking to cause us to respond in some way desired by them. And equally, if I myself come to believe in determinism, it would be because I had been subject to certain pressures or counterpressures, not because the arguments were valid or the conclusion true. And therefore I cannot take determinism, whether in the mouth of another or believed by myself, seriously; for if it were true, it would destroy the possibility of its being rationally considered and recognised as such. Only a free agent can be a rational one. Reasoning, and hence truth, presupposes freedom just as much as deliberation and moral choice do. This argument, which is felt by many people, is also rejected by many. Two objections are made. It is claimed firstly that the exclusive alternatives between causal explanation and rational justification assumed in the argument are not really exclusive. And it is argued secondly that all self-referential arguments, whether employed against determinists, Freudians, Marxists, or any other philosophers, are at best invalid, and probably meaningless to boot.

Keywords: freedom; determinism; truth; reasoning

Chapter.  1404 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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