Determinism and Inevitability
Author: Steward, H.
Source: Philosophical Studies, Volume 130, Number 3, September 2006 , pp. 535-563(29)
Abstract:The paper discusses one of the central arguments in Dennett’s Freedom Evolves, an argument designed to show that a deterministic universe would not necessarily be a universe of which it could truly be said that everything that occurs in it is inevitable. It suggests that on its most natural interpretation, the argument is vulnerable to a serious objection. A second interpretation is then developed, but it is argued that without placing more weight on etymological considerations than they can really bear, it can deliver only a significantly qualified version of the conclusion that Dennett is seeking. Moreover, the new argument depends upon an intermediate conclusion which, on the face of it, looks to be self-contradictory. Dennett is able to avoid the appearance of self-contradiction only by utilising a possible-worlds framework for the understanding of “could have done otherwise” judgements which is argued to be unsatisfactory. It is suggested that a different framework might hold the key to understanding how better to defend these same judgements from purported threats from determinism.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Email: email@example.com
Publication date: 2006-09-01