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Letters to a Doubting Thomas 6: An Argument from Free Will


Have a lot of problems with this one.

if people are morally responsible, it appears they have free will in an incombatibilist sense (146).

I think Carrier does a good job of taking this one down. And at the same time, there is no proof that people are actually morally responsible. This appears to be the fallacy of appeal to final consequences as well. Maybe we aren’t morally responsible, and that’s just the world we live in.

Page 148- This is a possible objection to the definition of free as being able to pursue your desires. If aliens implanted a chip that just made your desires the opposite of what they were going to be, is that still freedom?

. . . given the great plausibility of the case for moral responsibility and free will, we ought to be extremely reluctant to give up these beliefs. We ought to demand very strong- I would say overwhelming- contrary evidence before doing so (155).

If our goal is to find the actual truth, not some practical way to live, then maybe Layman has a point here (but he doesn’t). Especially given Carrier’s take down of incompatibilism as leading to moral responsibility combined with the inherent incoherence of the very idea. It sounds though like this very line of reasoning is just an argument from final consequences.

As of the end of this chapter, I was certainly not convinced of his main points. He is trying to say that free will exists (and dismisses those who disagree) and that only Theism leads us to expect it (which it doesn’t). He makes no headway with me in this chapter.

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