Date of Award
Dr. Justin Barnard
Libertarians commit themselves to the view that environmental and psychological factors influence our decisions and behavior without determining them. Libertarians hold that, though our desires, our needs, our beliefs, and our communities have a great deal to say about our choices and our behavior, each human being has a free will that can choose which desires and environmental influences ultimately to listen to. This seems a very sensible position. After all, our everyday conversation takes something like it for granted. This view forms the basis for much of our philosophizing about morality, responsibility, and the meaning of life. However, when an attempt is made to explain how environmental and psychological factors influence free decisions without determining them, real difficulties with the libertarian view become evident. Philosophical analysis of the relationship between influence and free will exposes a fundamental incoherence within the libertarian position. Since much of our thinking in other significant areas presently depends on the basic libertarian assumption of influenced but undetermined behavior, it is in our best interest to see what could be done to resolve this incoherence. And, if it cannot be resolved, we must find another basic assumption to replace the libertarian one while still making possible our deep convictions about the truth of morality, responsibility, and the meaning of life.
Hewitt, Sharon A., "Influence and Free Will" (2002). Honors Projects and Presentations: Undergraduate. 242.