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Lecture 23

PHIL-020 Lecture Notes - Lecture 23: Causality

Course Code
Mattingly James

of 2
Discussion 11/18
TA: Omar Talhouk
-the absence of free will: any time you try to isolate a part of a sequence to explain a
sequence, you have to also explain what caused the sequence in the first place
-this is a never-ending sequence
-there indefinite causal—> effects that lead up to that part
-however, there are some things that cannot be explained in terms of other causal
actions (this can be due to free will)
-causal-actions, involving not just humans but all events in the universe are determined by
these relationships:
-types of causal relationships
-biological (EX: my brain made me do this action)
-coercive/local (EX: someone forced someone to do sth)
-physics (EX: physics governs me, and so physics made me do sth)
-When you think of yourself as free-willed, making free choices —> you are speaking of
yourself in analogy with God
Back to Descartes:
-Descartes says that the fact that we can think of ourselves implies that we are not
fundamentally physical things
-he suggests that we are souls—but with a body in the physical world
-the body is part of the physical system, that is governed by laws of nature
-these laws tell us what can and cannot be; these laws are deterministic
-you cannot cheat the laws of nature
-our physical bodies must be determined by these physical and natural law, but since the
soul is not part of the physical system, they do not have to adhere to the physical and
natural laws.
-therefore, in terms of the physical world, we are free
-this however, does not solve the problem of determinism
-the soul’s ability to make decisions is influenced by the physical world
-EX: you can’t think when you’re hungry or on LSD
-we are in a supernatural/spiritual system that is governed by God
-in a physical world, humans are self-caused
-once you introduce God as the creator of the spiritual world, God becomes the
cause of the world (where the soul lives). Therefore, God dethrones humans as the
self-cause that determined all the effects of the world
-God is now the cause —> he can now predict everything that will happen
-the creations of this God must be in align with his omniscience
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If God knows what is going to happen in the world, as he is omniscient (and can predict
everything), then why does he judge you for things you do?
The division of humans into two things: the soul and the body
-the body is part of the physical world
-soul is part of the spiritual world
*Note: the physical and the spiritual world are both governed by two different things
-the physical world is governed by laws of physics and nature
-the spiritual world is governed by God
Leibniz’ solution:
-God gave you the kind of life that you would have led had you been genuinely free
-so the life that you choose for yourself as a free being is identical to the life that God gives
-strictly speaking, God does know what you will do, but at the same time had you been
given the genuine choice, you wouldn’t have done otherwise anyways
Embodied by the 3 Os:
a) Omnipotent: all-powerful
b) Omniscient: all-knowing
c) Omnipotent: everywhere
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