The Focus Of This Essay Will Be An Argument By Peter Van

1902 WordsApr 17, 20178 Pages
The focus of this essay will be an argument by Peter Van Inwagen known as the “Consequence Argument.” The argument’s main goal is to refute compatibilism, or the idea that free will and determinism are reconcilable. Van Inwagen’s argument can be expressed as follows: 1. Assume determinism, the idea that the laws of nature and the state of the past are consistent with exactly one future outcome, is true. 2. A person p has no choice about what happened in the past. 3. P also has no choice about what the laws of nature are. 4. From premises 2 and 3, it can be assumed that p has no choice about either what happened in the past or over what the laws of nature are. 5. Because determinism is true, it is a necessary truth that if 4 is true, then…show more content…
Combining this with the fact that humans cannot change important constants and laws that govern the current state of the universe, the conclusion that must be reached, with determinism being true, is that there is only one path of action at any time that is available to an agent. If an agent cannot change the conditions around him or behind him so that he could choose another path, then, per the determinist, it is necessarily true that the agent could not have any power over their future actions. The compatibilist, on the other hand, would reject the argument. While the compatibilist would say that the first premise asserting the truth of determinism is true, they would likely attack the fifth and sixth premises. According to them, the fifth premise is assuming something that may not be necessarily true: because determinism is true, if someone does not have control over the laws of nature or the past, then it is logically entailed (in other words, necessary with the given premises) that they have no control over their future actions. Because they would reject premise five, they would have to reject premise 6, as it follows from premise 5. The compatibilist’s rejection of premise five is rooted in his issue with how, in his view, Van Inwagen combines physical determinism and agent determinism, even though the two concepts are, in the
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