Coming to Terms with Determinism

This talk on pragmatic determinism was recorded on December 7, 2021, one of a series of lectures sponsored by Keele University and the Royal Institute of Philosophy in the UK.

Talk summary: One common conception of free will has it that if causal determinism is true, we can’t be free, what’s sometimes called the problem of free will and determinism. As a result, determinism – reliable cause and effect relations – is widely viewed as a threat to autonomy and responsibility. In this talk I aim to rehabilitate the reputation of determinism, showing how a pragmatic (not universal) determinism is not only true, but offers a practical and ethical perspective on human agency. Accepting our complete causal connection to the world can enhance our power and control, while grounding a more compassionate understanding of ourselves and our fellow human beings. We should all be good, pragmatic determinists.

Link to video.

Slides of this talk (PowerPoint) can be downloaded here.

Note: Articles on which this talk was based include Fully caused: coming to terms with determinism and, most recently, What should we tell people about free will?  A 2017 talk on pragmatic determinism is linked and described here.