The Epistemological Argument

Helen Steward

in A Metaphysics for Freedom

Published in print March 2012 | ISBN: 9780199552054
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738838 | DOI:
The Epistemological Argument

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This chapter diverts a little from the main line of argument of the book to meet a particular sort of objection to the general idea that agency is inconsistent with determinism, stemming from the worry that determinism might one day be shown to be true by physics. This objection is labelled the Epistemological Argument. It is argued that this objection already presupposes what must not be taken for granted—that is to say, the assumption that physics settles everything else. It is claimed that determinism, properly understood, is a doctrine not of physics but of metaphysics and that we must distinguish between the theses (i) P1: The question whether determinism is true is a question which can only be answered by physics; and (ii) P2: The question whether determinism is true is a question which may (one day) be settled by physics. Only (P2) is acceptable—but (P2) will not sustain the relevant objection.

Keywords: agency; determinism; physics; metaphysics; Epistemological Argument

Chapter.  5612 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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