Is Compatibilism True? Essay example

Is Compatibilism True? Essay example

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Free will is the ability for a person to make their own decisions without the constraints of necessity and fate, in other words, their actions are not determined. Determinism is the view that the initial conditions of the universe and all possible worlds are the same, including the laws of nature, causing all events to play out the same. Events are determined by the initial conditions. Two prominent positions advocated concerning the relation between free will and determinism are compatibilism and incompatibilism. In this essay I shall argue that compatibilism is true. Firstly, I shall explain what compatibilism is and consider possible objections and responses to the theory. I shall then examine incompatibilism and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses and argue that compatibilism is a stronger argument and, as a result, show why it is also true.
Compatibilism is the thesis that all events have a cause and are determined but we still have free will or, as Sider states, ‘we can retain both freedom and determinism’ (Sider 2005, 125). Van Inwagen states that ‘we must distinguish between a future’s being “internally” physically possible and its having a physically possible connection with the present’ (van Inwagen 2002, 205). By internally physically possible, van Inwagen means events that can actually happen and are within the laws of nature (van Inwagen 2002, 205). For example, it is internally physically possible that I will buy a packet of crisps for lunch today. By having a physically possible connection with the present, van Inwagen means events that are conceivable and logically possible given the present events (van Inwagen 2002, 206). Van Inwagen argues that the only way in which an internally physically possible future that...


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...m cannot be rejected.
I believe that compatibilism is true because it is a stronger and more convincing argument than the incompatibilist positions. Incompatibilism appears to be illogical as both positions can be seen to be extreme. Libertarianism rejects evidence shown by science and hard determinism appears to go against all of our moral beliefs. As a result it appears that we cannot reject free will or determinism and, therefore, compatibilism must be true.
Word Count: 1484



Works Cited

Plantinga, Alvin, "Religion and Science", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), forthcoming URL = .
Sider, T. & Conee, E. (2005) Riddles of Existence. New York: Oxford University Press.
Van Inwagen, P. (2002) Metaphysics (2nd Edition). Cambridge: Westview Press

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