Discussion HW 1

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You are not morally responsible for something you did if you had no other choice. For example, you are not to blame for missing class if this was caused by your train derailing on the way to the university and you being hospitalized. You have no moral responsibility, because you did not have the option of not missing the class. Your missing the class was determined by events beyond your control.


There are some philosophers who expand the above reasoning. They believe that every single thing a person does is pre-determined, and so the person never has any other option besides what in fact happens. This view is called Determinism. Determinism tells us that according to science, every event that happens in the universe is a consequence of the preceding state of the universe, just like a billiard ball must move when hit by another billiard ball. In other words, a chain of causality, going back in time, explains every event. All the goings-on in the universe, from the galaxies to the neurons in your brain, are governed by scientific laws of cause and effect. This means that at any given instant there is only one physically-possible future. Since human actions are just events in the universe, it follows that every human action is already fixed or settled by previous events that were in turn determined by earlier events. When we think that we are choosing between several options, this is just an illusion, because what “choice” we make is determined by the state of the universe right before that moment, which includes the state of our own brain (where “choices” happen). That means we are not morally responsible for what we do. Because we could not have acted otherwise.

How would you reply to this argument?

– If you think that sometimes people are morally responsible for what they do, then give a critique of the argument – see IMPORTANT NOTE below — do not just say it is wrong or that we are morally responsible. Also, dispute the reasoning of someone in the class who disagrees with you.

– If you don’t think people are ever morally responsible, provide an expansion/defense of the argument, and dispute the reasoning of someone in the class who disagrees with you.

IMPORTANT NOTE: When you reply to an argument, you must focus on the premises of the argument. (Are they true? Do they adequately support the conclusion?) Which premise or premises do you think are not doing the job? Do not merely focus on the conclusion of the argument – we want you to demonstrate your ability to critique reasoning, not merely to hold opinions.

When you respond to a fellow student’s response, you need to dispute some point that another student made, and to give reasons for your response. Don’t just say something like “I disagree with his or her response.” Be respectful: the goal is to have an enlightening debate

The other students post is in the file to respond toPlease answer the questions above for the discussion question then respond to the other student from in the file upload