Chapter

Indeterminism and Control: An Approach to the Problem of Luck

John Martin Fischer

in Law and Neuroscience

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199599844
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725227 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199599844.003.0004

Series: Current Legal Issues

Indeterminism and Control: An Approach to the Problem of Luck

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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

Chapter.  11012 words. 

Subjects: Medical and Healthcare Law

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