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Grayling’s question

By AC Grayling   May 2008

Our behaviour is genetically and socially determined, so we aren’t responsible for what we do. Is punishment thus morally acceptable?

One of the most important of all philosophical questions concerns what looks like a direct opposition between a deterministic conception of the world and the idea of human free will. Put briefly, determinism is the thesis that everything an individual does is determined by antecedent circumstances, for example causal conditions describable in terms of the laws of nature, while free will is the intentional power to make genuinely unconstrained choices about what to think and believe and how to act.

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