Scholars on Free will


Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

Key Ideas: Libertarianism

.Events are not determined

.Biblical idea of divine providnce over human detiny does not remove freedom but gives meaning to it

.God respects and honours our freedom even though there are consequence

.Quote: "It is a mistake to say that events were determined because they were inevitable"  

1 of 6

Ted Honderich (1933-...)

Key Ideas: Hard Determinism

Everything is determined, there is no choice or moral responsibility

You cannot blame or punish someone as they are not morally to blame.

Quote: "I can see no room for moral blame and subsequently no point in punishing someone for the sake of punishing them. I argue against both compatibilism and incompatibilism; to me they incoherent and by definition meaningles"

2 of 6

Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

Key Ideas: Soft Determinism

He believed acts were impeded (so no obstructed or held back)

However he believed anything that the object of knowledge was determined.

Qoute: "I taught that we are free within our own will to perform impeded acts..."

3 of 6

John Locke (1632-1704)

Key Ideas: Hard Determinism

Free will to a certain extent is an illusion.

You can pause and reflect when making a choice thus making you aware of the consequences

Example: A man wakes up in a locked room, but is not aware the room is locked. However he chooses to stay in the room. This is an illusion as in reality he is trapped in the room.

Qoutes: "'Free will' did not make any sense and that to a certain extent it was an illusion

4 of 6

John-paul Sartre (1905-80)

Key Ideas: Libertarianism

We are free to make our own choices

We take 100% moral responsiblity for our actions

It dosen't matter what we feel our moral responsibility is, we still have free will

Qoute: "Man is not free, not to be free'

5 of 6

David Hume (1711-76)

Key Ideas: Soft Determinism

We  can choose to do something or not to do something

His idea was that if Act B always followed Act A, then it is not correct to say that Act A causes Act B. We cannot say this as we just simply observe and interpret things in our own way.

 Any sense of moral blame can only come if something we do is the result of our character

Quote: "We can choose to do something, or we can choose not to do this something"

6 of 6


No comments have yet been made

Similar Philosophy resources:

See all Philosophy resources »See all Free Will resources »