1. What is the problem of free will? What are the two commonsense ideas that seem to conflict and thus give rise to the free will problem?
  2. According to James, what are the unpleasant implications of determinism? Do you agree that the implications are as menacing as James thinks they are? Explain.
  3. Consider the theory about free will known as libertarianism. It is based on the premises that determinism is false and that determinism and free will are incompatible. Do you accept these premises? Why or why not?
  4. Imagine someone who always acts according to his or her desires—but the desires have been secretly created by a mad scientist using advanced technology. Can he or she really be said to act freely? Would Locke say that he or she acts freely? Explain.
  5. What is d'Holbach's argument that we do not have free will? Do you think the argument is sound? Explain. Why does d'Holbach maintain that choice does not prove the free agency of man?
  6. If scientists proved once and for all that determinism is true, how do you think most people would react? Do you think most people would continue to hold each other responsible? What does that show, if anything, about our intuitive ideas about freedom?
Back to top