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Title: Laws of nature and free will
Author: Merlussi, Pedro
ISNI:       0000 0004 6497 5210
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2017
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This thesis investigates the conceptual relationship between laws of nature and free will. In order to clarify the discussion, I begin by distinguishing several questions with respect to the nature of a law: i) do the laws of nature cover everything that happens? ii) are they deterministic? iii) can there be exceptions to universal and deterministic laws? iv) do the laws of nature govern everything in the world? In order to answer these questions I look at three widely endorsed accounts of laws: "Humean" regularity accounts, laws as relations among universals, and the dispositional essentialist account. I argue that there is nothing in the very nature of a law - in any of the accounts surveyed - that implies a positive answer to questions (i) and (ii). I show that this has important consequences for the free will problem. I then turn to the compatibility of free will and determinism. I focus on the Humean view and the dispositional essentialist account of laws. And the bulk of this discussion concerns the consequence argument, especially the question of whether the laws of nature are "up to us". I show that, on the dispositional conception of laws, there is no sense in which the laws of nature are up to us, contrary to the Humean view. However, this does not mean that there is no room for free will on the dispositional account. I argue that free will requires the laws of nature to be limited in scope, rather than being indeterministic. I conclude by showing that this allows one to resist the claim that indeterminism rules out free will.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available