Spring 2011

Freedom and Responsibility

Listed in: Philosophy, as PHIL-51


Nishiten Shah (Section 01)


Are we free? An absence of external constraint seems to be necessary for freedom, but is it enough? Can obsessions, addictions, or certain types of ignorance threaten our freedom? Some philosophers have argued that if actions are causally determined, then freedom is impossible. Others have argued that freedom does not depend on the truth or falsity of causal determinism. Is freedom compatible with determinism? Are there different kinds of freedom? Are all kinds of freedom equally worthwhile? Must we act freely in order to be responsible for our actions? Is freedom of action sufficient for responsibility? Are the social institutions of reward and punishment dependent for their justification upon the existence of responsible, free agents? In what sort of society are humans most likely to get the sort(s) of freedom most worth wanting? We will attempt to determine the nature of persons, action, freedom, and responsibility in an effort to answer these questions.

Requisite: One course in Philosophy. Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Professor Shah.


2017-18: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2010, Spring 2011, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2016