First Year Seminar


Is Free Will an Illusion?

Douglas C. Long


Schedule of Assignments


All classes will be held on Wednesday, 2-4:30 PM


Aug. 22            Introduction: Read in class
Taylor, Metaphysics, chap. 1 “Persons and Bodies”


Aug. 29            The mind-body problem

Taylor, Metaphysics, chap. 2 “Interactionism”

                                              chap. 3 “The Mind as a Function of the Body”


Sept. 5             Hard Determinism

Metaphysics, chap. 4, pp. 33-42 (top half) “Freedom and Determinism”

                        Holbach, “The Illusion of Free Will” Course pack


Sept. 12           Soft Determinism

Metaphysics, chap. 4, pp. 42-46 “Freedom and Determinism”

                        Ayer, “Freedom and Necessity” Course pack


Sept. 19           Simple Indeterminism

                        Metaphysics, chap. 4, pp. 46-50

                        Campbell, “Is Free Will a Pseudo-Problem?” Course pack


Sept. 26           Agency Theory

Metaphysics, chap. 4, pp. 50-53

                        Chisholm, “Human Freedom and the Self” Course pack


Oct.    3           Psychological Determinism and Unconscious Motivation

                        Hospers, “What Means this Freedom?” Course pack


Oct.   10          Dennet, Elbow Room, chap. 1 “Please Don’t Feed the Bugbears,” 1-19


Oct.   17          Video: “Mind Talk: The Brain’s New Story”


Oct.   24          Dennet, Elbow Room, chap. 2 “Making Reason Pracctical,” 20-49


Oct.   31          Dennet, Elbow Room, chap. 3 “Control and Self-Control,” 50-73


Nov.    7          Dennet, Elbow Room, chap. 4 “Self-made Selves,” 74-100


Nov.  14          Dennet, Elbow Room, chap. 5 “Acting Under the Idea of Freedom,” 101-130


Nov.   21         Thanksgiving break


Nov.   28         Dennet, Elbow Room, chap. 6 “Could Have Done Otherwise,” 131-152


Dec.     5          Dennet, Elbow Room, chap. 7 “Why Do We Want Free Will?” 153-172


You will be writing at least 3 brief papers (2-3 pages) during the term, as well as a 5 page final project.  There will be a Final Examination: Friday, Dec. 14 at 12:00 noon.


My office hours will be Monday 10:00-12:00 and Wed 1:00-2:00 PM.  Take advantage of those times to ask any questions you may have and to get to know the instructor.  You must help me to know of any needs and problems you have.  My office is 201A on the northeast corner of the second floor of Caldwell Hall.  My office phone is (962-3312).





The course has a Blackboard site on which various announcements, assignments, discussion questions, and opportunities for discussion will be posted.  It is also useful for two-way email communications between instructors and students.  The site can be reached at  On that page you will find a search area.  If you type in “hnrs” a list of the honors courses should come up with ours in the list.  Click on the name and you should get to the course site and bookmark it.  Our course should be hnrs006f002f01. 




The Honor Code is in effect at all times in the course.  The first time you hand in an assignment you should include the pledge and sign it.  "On my honor, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this assignment."  After that first assignment, you may subsequently write "Honor Pledge" and sign it.  Keep in mind that it means the same thing ethically as the full statement. All written work that you hand in should represent your own best work.  However, you may study with classmates and discuss your paper ideas with them, or with anyone else who might be of help.  That is an appropriate way for you to learn the material and to think about the issues we cover.  It is useful to discuss and try out philosophical ideas with other people in any case.  However, you should give credit for any ideas that are not your own, whether they come from written sources or from others with whom you have spoken.  (Even as unlikely a source as your roommate.) In such cases you get credit for seeing the relevance of the idea and applying it to your discussion.  Quoting sentences or paragraphs from other books and articles or the Web without giving your source is plagiarism, which is not just an honor code violation.  It represents intellectual dishonesty.  It goes without saying that turning in papers copied from other students or from online is an academic evil and warrants severe penalties.  You may give citations in the text of your paper rather than in footnotes.  For instance, after a quotation from our text you may put the reference in parenthesis.  Examples:  (Taylor, 15) or (Holbach, 319.)