Freedom-in-the-World: Reconciling Scientific Self-Knowledge with Moral Agency

Booth, Damien Kenneth (2019) Freedom-in-the-World: Reconciling Scientific Self-Knowledge with Moral Agency. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This thesis examines the tension between the notions of free will and determinism, and how such a tension emanates from a view of freedom which is erroneous. The project starts by showing the presentation of the tension in traditional philosophy, before showing why such a presentation is misplaced once we come to see that freedom itself is only comprehensible within the world. Such an observation provides a way of constructing a new and original notion of freedom, which is more than just a matter of being free to choose, but also encompasses the effect these choices have on us in the form of self-disclosure. Thus, our freedom to choose makes possible self-evaluation and re-evaluation in the context of the world within which our choices are made. Such a notion of freedom affords us the benefit of being able to see that determinism, which is taken here to result from our scientific understanding of ourselves and the world around us, itself rests upon, or is only intelligible on the basis of, our being free in the first place. The thesis thus achieves two goals: on the one hand, it provides us with a new and original notion of freedom, which coheres with the sense-making activity of creatures in a world. On the other hand, it demonstrates how such a notion of freedom can defend itself against the traditional determinist criticism.

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