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Read the assigned reading from the chapter. Then choose ONE of the questions below to answer. Answer the question you chose in a response that is a minimum of 1-2 paragraphs.

Be sure to explain your answers and give reasons for your views. You should cite the textbook and use brief quotations and summaries from the textbook in your response. Do NOT use any other sources besides the textbook

  1. Is Sartre exaggerating the extent to which people can define themselves when he says “existence precedes essence”?
  2. Which seems more likely to you: that your path in life is determined before you were born, or that you are born and then you determine how your life will go? Why? Is there a middle ground on this issue?
  3. What is your reaction to Sartre’s perspective on freedom? Do you find his view liberating and inspiring, or do you think it is disheartening and forlorn?

Note: All journal entries must be submitted as attachments (in Microsoft Word format) in order to generate an originality report. 

Chapter 5.4 and 5.5

To be taken seriously by the free will skeptic, libertarians must argue their case on three fronts. Against the compatibilist, they must show that determinism and free will are incompatible (that incompatibilism is true). Against the determinist, they must show that there is good reason to believe that we sometimes act freely. And against all free will skeptics, they must demonstrate that the libertarian concept of free will is coherent and plausible. Often libertarians try to establish incompatibilism by putting forth what is known as the Consequence Argument. Peter van Inwagen crafted the most influential form of it, which he summarizes like this: Peter van Inwagen, An Essay on Free Will If determinism is true, then our acts are the consequences of the laws of nature and events in the remote past. But it is not up to us what went on before we were born, and neither is it up to us what the laws of nature are. Therefore the consequences of these things (including our present acts) are not up to us.6 10 Is our experience good evidence that we have libertarian free will? 11 Do you think the hypothetical interpretation of “could do otherwise” captures our commonsense experience better than the libertarian interpretation? Why or why not? 266 Chapter 5 Free Will and Determinism Science and Free Will Is it possible that your actions are predetermined unconsciously before you are consciously aware of intending to perform those actions? To the consternation of many libertarians, some scientific research seems to suggest just that—and thus to raise doubts about the existence of free will. The experiments that caused all the fuss (and inspired many related scientific studies) were conducted by the University of California researcher Benjamin Libet. He recorded the brain activity of subjects as they randomly flexed their index fingers, and he monitored the accompanying muscle movements. He found that the subjects became aware of their intention to move their fingers about 200 milliseconds before the actual movement occurred— an unsurprising result. The astonishing finding was that the subjects became aware of their intention 350 to 400 milliseconds after the brain activity that initiates muscle movement had already happened. This seems to suggest that the decision to move was an unconscious event, that consciousness came along after the unconscious decision was already made. If so, where does free will enter the picture? Libet thought his research showed that there could be at least a limited kind of free will in human actions. The conscious mind may not be involved in initiating actions, but it might be able to veto actions before they happen. Libet’s studies and similar ones by other investigators have been criticized on several counts. For one, the results of the experiments may apply only to simple movements (such as finger flexing). As one critic says, “Willing a stereotyped, well-rehearsed finger

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