Philosophy in Film

 Notes  Part I

 Philosophy in Film


 Part I



I. Introduction: What is philosophy and why should we do it?

A. Love of wisdom

1. Asks basic questions; Is there a God? Is there life after death?  What am I doing here?  What am I supposed to be doing here?

2. Rigorous approach; evidence available to everybody, but move from premises to conclusions based on rational arguments.  In method rather like science.

3. eg. Systematic; how do things fit together?

a. Should I axe murder my roommate?  No, because it's wrong to kill an innocent person except in certain extraordinary circumstances.

b. Numerous underlying assumptions to sort out and fit together.

-There's such a thing as right and wrong.
-We can know (have an educated opinion) on what's right and wrong.
-Your roommate is a person.
-You have free will.
-You should bother to do what's right.

B. Why do philosophy? Philosophy is the most practical of disciplines.  It has an enormous impact on your life.

1. Karl Marx.  "You Americans don't know what freedom is."  We are living in an experiment in political philosophy.

2. Personally; What you do depends on what you believe and what you value. (Dishonest, money-grubbing...and can't understand why they're not happy.)  God? Immortality?

3. You can't opt out.  So you might as well try to do it the best you can.

II. Subject matter

A. Some basic questions of philosophy.  Readings classic and contemporary.

B. Movies
1. See how ideas work in action (eg. How do I know I wasn't created yesterday with a set of false memories? Blade Runner.)

2. Vivid illustration of how ideas fit together.  Sceptic problem of memory.  The problem of personal identity, How do I know I'm really me?  And what does it take to be person in the moral sense anyway?

3. We're approaching the films as illustrations, not as "art".

III. Syllabus; You're welcome to bring your friends to see the movies.

A. Regular Class from 1:15 to 2:45

B. Format, combination of lecture and discussion. (Take good notes so you really grasp the key ideas and arguments.  And, of course, feel free to raise your hand and ask for clarification or repetition.)

C. Texts; do the reading before class.  The readings can be hard.  Allow plenty of time to read slowly and cogitate as you go along.

D. Midterm essay test (5 out of 6 questions, I'll say more as test time approaches.) And a test at the end on the second half of the material.  2, 2-page papers.  The former will test whether or not you got the info, on the latter you can be more creative and use what you're learning.  Every day for which a reading is assigned there'll be a quiz.

E. Office...I'll be in after class every day.


I. (1596-1650) The father of modern philosophy. Attempt to distinguish between mere belief and genuine knowledge.  To know is to be certain.  I know something is true if I can't doubt it.

II. The project: to build an epistemic edifice of certainty.  Start with indubitable premises, and move through indubitable arguments to indubitable conclusions...then I'll be able to trust my beliefs.  I'll be justified in accepting them.  A moral issue.

-- Know through intuition and deduction --

III.  So...what can I know for certain?

A. History?  Who killed JFK? Who was the first man on the moon?

B. Memory? Did you ever forget something?

C. Other minds? (Robo prof)

D. The external world, i.e. the world you are experiencing?  There are alternate explanations.  Maybe it's there, but're dreaming, you're in the Recall chair, there's this evil genius... Not that Descartes thinks any of this is likely, there's no evidence for it, but if it's remotely possible then you can't just rule it out.

E. Truths of mathematics and logic?

IV. Cogito ergo sum.  Can you doubt that you're thinking? No, because if you doubted, you'd still be thinking.

V. God

A. I've got all sorts of ideas of all sorts of things.  Most of these ideas I could have generated myself.  I could have made them up.  There's one idea that I, the limited creature, could not have produced.

B. The idea of a perfect, unlimited being.  I'm limited and I couldn't have made it up.  It must have come from God.

C. Q: Couldn't I have negated my limitations? A: No.  In order to recognize that I'm a limited being I must already have the idea of perfection.  Otherwise I wouldn't even recognize myself as limited.

VI. God, as perfect, would not allow me to be systematically deceived.  Mistaken from time to time, precisely because I haven't made the effort to justify my belief, but...We can rule out the hypothesis of the evil genius.  I can trust the things that seem the most clear and certain to, there's an external world, and I have a past.


Both The Matrix and Total Recall raise the question about the external world.  In the former our hero learns the difference between the real world and the world of the evil genius, how? Can he really be sure he knows what's real?  What about Descartes' argument that a good God wouldn't let us be deceived?  In both movies we have characters that choose deception. Is Total Recall a dream or not?

---Review: I have these clear and distinct ideas.  I cannot trust them unless I have ruled out the hypothesis of the evil genius.  I can do this by showing that there is a God who....---

Problems with Descartes' argument: Note that he's set himself an impossibly difficult task.  Each step in the argument has to be more than plausible or persuasive.  It has to be certain.

1. If he's serious about doubting logic, that's the end of the discussion.  Have to assume truth of logical rules in order to proceed with the argument.

2. Proof for God?  Surely not indubitable.

3. God wouldn't allow me to be systematically deceived because it's such a great evil.  Well, isn't it possible that systematic deception might be good under some circumstances?

4. A perfectly good God wouldn't allow me to be systematically deceived because it's such a great evil.  Well doesn't God allow great evils to occur?  God allows Auschwitz, but He's going to draw the line at deceiving Descartes?  I think not.  And the movies prove it.


I. Neo (New)

A. Christ figure 1.) Guy at the door "You're my saviour, man.  Jesus Christ" 2.) He dies and comes back. And of course, he is the savior of the human race.  The truth will set them free.

B. He's not happy.  Looking for an answer.  Feels like something is wrong with the world.

II. Morpheus: The greek god of dreams.

III. Neo wakes up.  (So what's the real world like?  Computers (AI) using humans for batteries, correspond to the evil genius. And what's the Matrix? Why does it include suffering?)

---From a Cartesian perspective, is Neo really justified in believing he can tell the real world from the Matrix?---

IV. Cipher: (from Arabic sifr meaning empty)  Zero, one that has no weight, worth, or influence: nonentity...also a message in code, to cipher is to do arithmetic computation.  What does Cipher want?  Just to be happy.  "Ignorance is bliss."  He wants to return to the Matrix and forget the real world.  Nothing inconceivable about this.  Descartes is disproven. A. Not indubitable that systematic deception is a bad thing B. Surely if God allows all sorts of terrible things He'd allow someone to choose deception.


I. Is it a dream?

Yes: He gets exactly what he paid for.

No: We (audience) see events which he doesn't know about.

II. Evil genius?  Recall Corp.  Maybe Cohagen, if it's real.

III. Can he tell?  Scene with the psychiatrist sweating.

Conclusion from the movies: If we are to subscribe to Descartes' standard for when it is legitimate to believe we must doubt everything after "I think therefore I am".


Pragmatic solution: start again from the beginning and ask why it is that we are bothering to do philosophy.  Is it to achieve certainty?  Then we're doomed.  Is it to help us lead the good and happy life?  Then we need to adopt a pragmatic approach.


1. You can't prove everything. A. Infinite regress B. In case of laws of logic: Circular reasoning (begging the question) i.e. assuming what you're trying to prove.

2. Only worry about issues that you really have doubts about.  E.g. the external world.  The behavior of the would-be skeptic shows that he doesn't really doubt.

3. Must allow assumptions that help you get on with the business of living, even if they can't be proved (assuming there's no reason to doubt). External world again.

Augustine: It's just as bad to fail to commit to the truth as it is to commit to falsehood.  And so we have to believe some things that can't be proven, including some things on reliable testimony.

Pierce: For a question to be worth bothering with, 1. We've got to already be worried and 2. The answer has got to make a difference in our lives.

What would Pierce say to--

Neo? At the beginning?  When he's on the Nebuchadnezzer?
Quaid (e.g. in the hotel room)?


I. Importance: Immortality, Personal Identity

II. Two major positions:

A. Materialism: just body (brain is body).

B. Dualism: mind and body which somehow interact

1. Real you is mind (Plato and Descartes)

2. You are the combination of the two (Aristotle (?) Augustine, most medieval thinkers)

III. Hobbes (1588-1679) (The very concept of a separable, immaterial "mind" is just incoherent.  Follows from his epistemology.)

A. Empiricist (radical empiricist!)

B. All there is is body

C. Soul?

D. Scripture speaks of "body and soul", this just means the body alive.  Not two things.  Just like body walking. (Hobbes does not deny immortality...resurrection of the body.)

E. Underlying assumption at work here, the principle of parsimony (Ockham's razor).  We can explain everything that needs explaining without adding an extra entity, the soul.

[All of Me: Is it just incoherent?]

V. Descartes: dualism

A. Critique of empiricism.  Absurd to say that you know everything you know through the senses.  There are things that you know through reason alone (rationalism).  There are degrees of rationalism.  Descartes is radical.  Even sensible things are known better through reason than through whatever the senses give us.  Eg. the piece of wax.

[Proofs summed up on pp. 31-32.]

B. Proof from knowledge.

1. I know with absolute certainty that I am a thinking thing (a mind).

2. I also know that I have a body.

3. But...the two must be distinct because the way I know each is very different.  Immediate and indubitable intuition vs. justification through God.

4. The real me is mind.  I can know that I exist while I'm doubting that my body exists.  My body can't be a necessary constituent of my self.

C. What goes on in the mind is just not the same kind of thing as what goes on in the body.  Mental phenomena do not have the same characteristics as physical phenomena. (You can't explain everything by talking about body.)

1. n.b. He's not saying body is unimportant, or unrelated to mind.  The two interract causally.

2. Public observability.

3. Divisibility

4. etc....color, speed...

5. Therefore: There must be a mind, a thinking part, a ground of consciousness, where the mental phenomena occur, which is different from the brain where the physical phenomena occur.

D. The big problem.  How can mind and body interact?  At the pineal gland?  No!!!


I. Plot

II. Dualism of the your-soul-is-the-real-you variety.

III. So is Hobbes wrong?  Can we conceptualize a disembodied soul?

A. Is Edwina ever really disembodied?

B. How do we know it's her?

C. Could you have a character in a movie which was really immaterial?

IV. In fact, doesn't the plot of the movie itself contradict the idea that the real you is just your soul and your body is unimportant?

A. Why is Edwina the way she is?

B. Could you really be you without your body?  Suppose you'd been born a pitcher of water?


I.  What is it that makes you you over time?  I think therefore I am, great, but what does that "I" refer to?    Is it possible for you to change so much that you literally turn into somebody else?

II. Importance

A. Personal survival after death.

B. Moral responsibility, praise and blame.  eg. a policeman walks in...  The insanity least one aspect.

C. Membership in the moral community.

III. Method

A. Assume that we are the same person over time.  eg. When were you born?

B. Assume that we are usually able to make a reasonable determination about what counts as the same person over time.  On some level we do seem to recognize whatever it is that gives you personal identity.

C. Hypothesize different criteria for personal identity.  Look at advantages and disadvantages of each.  If adopting a given criterion leads to conclusions that strike us as absurd, that will be good evidence that that criterion is, at best, insufficient.

IV. Four possibilites: Body, consciousness, soul, some or all of the above.

A. Body

1. Advantage; it's what we usually use because it's publicly observable.

2. These here atoms? No, they all get replaced over time.

3. This whole continuous living, corporeal organism?

a. You can lose some and still be you. How much?

b. Brain?

4.  Problems

a.  Seems odd to say that if you have same body, but none of the same mental characteristics...memories,'d be the same person.

        E.g. Who is that blond woman Roger Cobbs is dancing with at the end of All of Me?   Or, Assume that Total Recall is not a dream, who is Quaid?

        Note the moral implications!

b. If you thought the arguments for dualism at all persuasive, you'll want to say that the thinking part is important.

B. Consciousness, Locke (1632-1704); ie. thinking part with its memories.  You are you, the same person, based upon the continuous stream of your memories. Memories give you identity over time. "Person" is mainly a moral term, and we can only make sense of your moral identity (responsibility) if we locate it in consciousness.

1. "man" (human being) = living organism, this animal.  (Quaid and Hauser are the same "man", not the same person.)

2. "immaterial substance" = soul. Immaterial thing that does the thinking and has the memories...that underlies consciousness, but is still there even if you're unconscious and don't remember.  Locke: that can't be right because then you'd get reincarnation nonsense (p.40).  (Quaid and Hauser still the same person.)

3. The cobbler and the prince (Only they know who's who, nonetheless, the one with the cobbler's consciousness is the cobbler, the one with the prince's consciousness...

4. Problems:

a. Infant

b. Amnesiac ( is different person, though same man) (p.42)

c. Sleep  (p.42)

d. Drunkard  who really doesn't remember (p.43)

1. You're really not responsible.

2. We should punish you anyway. (We can't tell...)

3. God will know.

e.  Emma, or Rachel (p.40)

1. Rachel is Tyrell's least up to a point.  Emma is responsible for committing adultery.  She is genuinely blameworthy!

2. God wouldn't let it happen.

[Possible problem with Locke stems from initial identifying question of when you are the same person, with when it is legitimate to praise and blame you.  The questions are related, but there might be many reasons why we might hold that someone is not responsible, even though they really did the deed.]

C. Soul (immaterial substance) Butler (1692-1752)

1. A person has not done a single action, or lived a single moment except for those he remembers. (p.46)

2. If I recognize that I am a self existing over time through consciousness (memory) nonetheless, what I am remembering is my self, therefore there must be a self, as the object of which the consciousness is conscious and which the memory remembers.  Consciousness cannot equal self. (p.46)

3. Consciousness is constantly changing.  (p.48)

a. you couldn't be responsible from one minute to the next.

b. you wouldn't be concerned about the future.

4. Identity requires something constant.  A river bed underlying the stream of consciousness.

5. Problem with using soul all by itself.  Simply implausible to think that your body is not a necessary component of who you are.

V. A viable position (Rogers). Augustinian Dualism. Body and soul.

A. Rachel? Not Tyrell's niece.

B. Emma/Anna?  The same person.  Did Emma commit adultery?  (No.  It didn't happen)

C. Quaid/Hauser? Assuming he's got the same soul...which is reasonable to assume.  Kwato can access the memories, they're there somehow. So he's same guy with amnesia and a complete change of heart.

1. So should we punish Quaid for what he did when he was Hauser?  Maybe not, but maybe it's because if people change radically they don't deserve to be punished, even if they're still the same person.

D. All of Me just couldn't happen (note I'm not denying personal immortality. Traditional Christian position: Soul survives death of body, but whole person is incomplete until resurrection of the body.)

VI. You are what you do (The Kwato thesis, Hollywood existentialism).  The problem is there'd be no personal identity.  How could you do this or that without having certain abilities, knowledge, etc.


I. Replicants

-What are they? What are they for?  Why did they give them such short life spans?

-Why did they escape?

-How does the Voight-Kampf test work?

II. Rachel

-How is she different from the others?

-Why does Tyrell give her memories?

-How does Deckard convince her that she's a replicant?

-Would that convince you?  What would it take? (Dupont project in basement of Smith...let's go.)

-Rachel already suspects. (She works for the company.  Feelings?)

III. Deckard? Did you ever take the test? Feelings? Photos? Glowing eyes? "Show me what you're made of." "You've done a man's job."

IV. Tyrell, the evil genius. Similar? Different?

-evil? Slave trader. "I think therefore I am" show him why. Playing God (chess pieces). Roy's confession...Tyrell has no moral standards.

V. Christ symbolism

-nails, dove, son of God

-Makes sense! Forgives and saves his worst enemy...becomes "more human than human"


I. What are the aliens after?

II. What do they think constitutes your self?  (Locke's view)

III. What is the point of view of the movie?  It's soul that makes you, you.



I. Determinism

A. Everything, including your choices, are the effects of preceding causes in a chain which ultimately reaches outside of you.  Why did you do x?  Heredity, environment, or some combination of the two.  (God, but we're going to be mostly concerned with naturalistic determinism.)

B. In the final analysis you could not have done otherwise.  Given these causes at work, this effect is inevitable.

II. Practical consequences.

A. (advantage) In principle human behavior is explicable and open to a "hard" scientific explanation.


B. Fatalism

C. No moral responsibility.

    1. "Ought implies can."  Blame entails, "You ought to have done otherwise", but that makes no sense if you could not possibly do other than you actually do.

    2. Ultimately, it wasn't really you that did this thing, in the sense that its causes lie outside of you.

III.  Libertarianism ...

A. Indeterminism. Not all your thoughts, choices and actions are determined.  At least one isn't.  You could have done other than you did.

But note that indeterminism alone will not do the job for moral responsibility.  E.g. the indeteministic particle in your brain. You need to add that...

B. The choice really originates with your self, you as the agent.

C. Libertarianism does not say your freedom is unlimited.

1.  Many or even most of your choices may not be free.

2. And causal factors like heredity and environment have may have a profound impact on which choices are open to you.

IV. Practical consequences


A. Moral responsibility

-- disadvantage--

B. some human choices ultimately inexplicable

1. no "hard" science of human behavior

2. conceptually problematic...unique phenomenon in that it has no preceding cause.

-- Are either of these views proven scientifically? What would it take to prove determinism?  Libertarianism? James will argue that neither is or could be proven. --

V. Compatibilism  (Soft determinism)

A. Determinism is true, but compatible with moral responsibility.

B. For example (one standard brand of compatibilism) :  You are free if you can do what you want. (You're not tied up, you don't have a piece of bone pressing on your brain, etc.)  And this freedom is sufficient for moral responsibility.

    1. You could do otherwise...if you wanted to.

    2. Choice comes from you in that it's what you want.

C. Rogers, Boooooo! Just determinism by another name.


1. Pre-cogs "see" a murder before it happens.  How?

2. They can't actually be seeing the future murder-- it never happens.

3. Must be reading the causes in the present that will produce the murder, unless it's prevented by the Pre-crime unit.  Like the ball that the Colin Farrell character catches.

-- So why are there no premeditated murders? Only crimes of passion (time factor).

4. Technically they're arresting folks for murder who never commit a murder.

    But they will commit them. I.e. they're causally determined to.

    But still responsible.  They are punished as if they deserved to be.


5. There's a glitch in the system that the Head of Pre-crime has been hiding -- the fact of the occasional minority report.

-- Alternate possible futures. Libertarianism You can still choose.

6. Plot: Head of Pre-crime has killed Agatha's mom to prevent her from demanding custody of Agatha.  Arranged for another almost identical would-be murder to be staged, and then prevented, then goes back and commits the murder knowing that the tecnicians will think it's an echo.

HOLBACH (1723-1789)

I. Everything obeys the laws of nature.  Things respond to causes as their natures determine.  No reason to make an exception of human beings.

Why say this?

A. Science can deal with everything...some people either like, or just assume, this.

B. Principle of Parsimony.

(Examples of being determined: the ambitious man, the miser, the voluptuary)

II. What does real freedom mean?  People are the genuine originators of their choices.

III. Why have people wrongly believed they were free? (with possible responses, which aren't in your reading)

A. Religion -- but Religion is false

B. Social control -- but we can reward and punish, it's just not a matter of justice, but rather one of getting results.

IV. Q: But don't I choose?  Don't I deliberate between A and B?

A: Yes, but you're determined to debate, and you're determined to come to whatever conclusion you do in fact come to.

B. The jumping out the window example. 1. Not an act of freedom  2. no difference between man who jumps and one who is pushed.

C. What does this say about actual moral responsibility?

V. Q. But am I not free so long as I am unrestrained and can do what I want? (Compatibilism)

A:  Well, no. Not if freedom means your choices really come from yourself.

VI. Q: I can't possibly trace choices back to any necessary causes, nor can I predict them.

A: Yes, but that's because the causes which produce human behaviour are so complex, not because there are no necessitating causes.

What would Holbach think of the underlying assumptions (compatiblism) of the Pre-crime Unit? He'd certainly accept the determinism.  He might not accept the idea that the would-be murders are really responsible such that they ought to be punished.

JAMES (1842-1910) (Pragmatist)

I. Indeterminism (explained)

A. Just non-determinism

B. Not: We can choose anything physically possible.  Heredity and environment may be vital in narrowing which options are open to a given individual.  You choose between A and B, somebody else chooses between X and Y.

C. Not: We don't act from motives or reasons.  There can be competing motives which are not necessitating.

II. Competing faiths

A. Neither indeterminism nor determinism can be proven.

B. So we just ask which view makes more sense to us...which view can we live with better.

III. Indeterminism = open possibilites, "chance"

A. Chance does not mean chaos and irrationality

B. eg. Oxford Street and Divinity Avenue (South College and Elkton Road.)

IV. The judgement of regret

A. If this shouldn't have happened, then the whole universe with necessarily produced it shouldn't have happened.

B. Determinist can escape radical pessimism only by saying that the "evil" wasn't really evil.  It really should have happend.

1.  But then the judgement of regret shouldn't have happened.

2.  And we have to say that Auschwitz, the Gulag, Jeffrey Daumer, etc. etc. are really OK.

3. No moral values, no praise or blame.

What would James think of the assumptions of the Pre-crime Unit? Just wrong!


Study Guide

This is a very sketchy outline.  Be sure you can answer the questions and, where answers are given, be sure that you can explain and fill out the claims.



How does Descartes distinguish between knowledge and mere belief?

How does Descartes introduce the hypothesis of the evil genius to motivate doubt?

At the outset, what can you doubt?  What can you NOT doubt?

What is Descartes' proof for the existence of God?  Why couldn't a limited being have invented the idea of God by negating its own limitations, according to Descartes?

How does belief in God supposedly solve the problem of radical skepticism? (Note the difference between systematic deception and just making the occasional mistake.)

Four problems with Descartes' solution to the problem of skepticism.

    1. He doubted logic, so he ends up begging the question.
    2. Proof for God is open to question (explain).

--as the movies illustrate....

    3. Possible to imagine an instance of systematic deception which might possibly not be evil.  Cypher, Quaid both want it!
    4. Possible to imagine scenario in which  God permits the evil of systematic deception...for the same reason He permits any other
        evil, a problem to be addressed later.



1. You can't prove everything -- infinite regress.

2. Can't prove the laws of logic without begging the question.

3. You don't really believe in these skeptical scenarios, so don't pretend to.


Should we adopt the epistemic principle that we will only believe what we can prove, or what we have witnessed ourselves?  The advantage would be that we would rarely be deceived.  But, although believing what's false is a bad thing, so is failing to believe what's true.  We can't believe very much on this epistemic principle, so it ought to be rejected.  We should believe some things on the testimony of others. E.g. Our parents are our parent.


Three basic principles: 2 on when a question is worth asking and 1 on what sort of an answer to look for.

1. Ask if you're worried.

2. Ask if it will make a difference.

3. Find an answer that you're satisfied with.

Should you worry about whether or not the external world is a dream you're having?  Should Neo worry at the beginning of the Matrix?  Should Quaid worry when he's confronted by the psychiatrist in the hotel on Mars?  Should Rachel worry about whether or not her past is real (i.e. that she might be a replicant)?



How does his radical empiricism lead to materialism? (Note radical claim about what's conceivable.)

What does Scripture mean when it talks about body and soul?  Can there be personal immortality?

How does materialism (claim to) satisfy the principle of parsimony (Ockham's razor)?

Does "All of Me" show that Hobbes is wrong about our ability to imagine an immaterial soul? Explain.  (Note importance of body in the movie.)


How does Descartes argue against empiricism?  (or defend rationalism?)  E.g. the wax.

Two arguments for an immaterial mind:

1. I must think body and soul as distinct since I come to have justified knowledge concerning their existence in entirely different ways.  How does the way in which I recognize my soul show that I am essentially soul? (Platonic or Cartesian dualism).

2. Mental phenomena have completely different properties from physical phenomena--

a. divisible vs. indivisible
b. public vs. private


Possible criteria for identity...

Body (alone): advantage is that that's what we (society) does recognize you by.  Disadvantage is that seem to get result that body, even with different memories, is just you.  Seems odd. Quaid is Hauser.  Woman at the end of All of Me is Terry.

Locke: "Person" ( as opposed to "man" or "substance") is mainly a moral term related to establishing responsibility.  What makes you the same person over time is your consciousness which holds your memories.

Advantage: Seems plausible to think that memories are at least important in making you who you are.  It makes sense to that Quaid's new memories make him a new person and no longer Hauser.

Disadvantages:  Numerous odd consequences.  Whatever you've forgotton YOU didn't do...e.g. the drunkard, the amnesiac.  And whatever you remember doing, YOU are responsible for, even if it never happened. (Emma in Dark City, Rachel in Bladerunner).

Butler: Soul

Why won't Locke's view do the job? (3 reasons)

1. Every moment you don't remember isn't part of you.

2. Self must already exist as an object to be remembered if you remember yourself.

3. On Locke's view you couldn't be the same from moment to moment since consciousness changes.

Why need soul in addition to consciousness?

Disadvantages: Soul without content could not be recognized as an individual. (Dark City qualifier: Soul has distinct characteristics that make you who you are.  Value committments. Love.)

Rogers:  Augustinian Dualism (What would this view say about Emma?  Rachel? Quaid?  Edweena at end of All of Me?

Kwato: You are what you do.  Problem: there's really no identity over time.


Determinism: Definition, advantages and disadvantages

Libertrianism: Definition (2 aspects), advantages and disadvantages

Compatibilism: Definition, advantages and disadvantages

Holbach:  (Determinist) No reason to add anything to the universe beyond the mechanistic causal system which we see at work.

What causes me to choose as I choose?

Why did people make up the idea of freedom? (2 reasons)

Isn't the fact of choosing evidence of free will?

What is Holbach's opinion of compatibilism?

Isn't the fact that I cannot uncover all the causes of every choice evidence of free will?

James: (Libertarian and Pragmatist)

The argument...

I. Competing faiths neither of which is scientifically provable, therefore make the pragmatic move of accepting the view that is most subjectively satisfying.

II. Indeterminism does not mean "chaos."

III. Determinism leads to unpalatable consequences due to judgement of regret.

A. Either radical pessimism:  If I regret that x happened and x was necessitated by the way things are, then I regret the whole universe.

B. Or vapid optimism:  If I decide that my judgement of regret was mistaken and say that it shouldn't have happened, then,

1. morally absurd consequences that everything is okay

And the optimism is illogical since...

2. the judgment itself was necessitated by the way things are, so if it shouldn't have happened, then I should still regret that the whole universe happened.

Add to this that...

3. Plus, no praise and blame.

Therefore: Determinism is a really uncomfortable view to adopt.


How is the Pre-crime detection supposed to work?  Why are the underlying assumptions of the Pre-crime Unit compatibilist.  Determinist, yet you are responsible. Explain.

How does the fact of the "minority report" show that the film is actually set in a libertarian universe?