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Hume's mistake

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Hume claimed that anything that happens must either be causally determined or a matter of chance, and that a person is responsible only for choices caused by the person's character; so that if any sense is to made of free will and responsibility, it must be on the basis that they are compatible with determinism. In this paper I argue that Hume's claim depends on a covert assumption that whatever happens to any system in the world must be either the only development of the system which is consistent with causal laws, or else a development which is random. I argue that it is a serious mistake to make such an assumption covertly; and that without this assumption, good sense can be made of a concept of free will and responsibility as being indeterministic, thereby providing a viable alternative to compatibilist views

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Supreme Court of New South Wales, Queens Square, Sydney, NSW 2000, Australia.

Publication date: August 1, 1999


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