Syllabus: Free Will

PHIL 497 - Dr. Keith Korcz - Fall 2006

How To Reach Professor Keith Korcz:
My office is in H. L. Griffin Hall, rm. 563. My office hours are MW 12:00-1:30 and 3:00-4:00,TR 12:00-2:30, and F 12:00-12:30. We can also meet at other times by arrangement - just ask. My office phone no. is 482-6806. You can also contact me (or ask questions) by e-mail at

Required Texts:
1. Robert Kane, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will, (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005).


2. Gary Watson, ed., Free Will, Second Ed., (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2003).


3. Course Pack (I will provide this to you).

Assignments & Grading:
You will complete a term paper at least 20 pages in length in two drafts. The first draft will be worth 20% of your course grade, and the final draft worth 60% of your course grade. There will be two assignments (each worth 5% of your course grade) in which you each (a) find an article on free will, (b) get it approved by the instructor, and then (c) a copy will be provided to other class members and discussed in class. The remaining 10% of your course grade will be based on session attendance and participation.
The course grades will initially be determined according to the standard scale, i.e., 90-100% = A, 80-89% = B, 70-79% = C, 60-69% = D, 59% and below = F. You must complete all course assignments (namely all exams and both drafts of the paper) to receive a passing grade (i.e., a grade other than F, NC or U).

Internet Resources:
I strongly recommend taking advantage of the following resources!
The home page for this class contains links to an on-line syllabus (which contains numerous links to home pages of authors we'll be reading, readings available on-line, etc.), and links other resources you will find helpful. The web address is:
My home page contains links to all my course home pages, extensive links pages on philosophy, general research, fun sites, and lots of other information. The web address is:

Class Policies:
If you miss class, for whatever reason, it is your responsibility to get class notes from another student. If you miss an assignment due date, you must notify me within one week of either the due date of the assignment or the cessation of a medically documented persistent vegetative state in order to make up the assignment. Missed exams or other assignments can be made up for full credit  only if an appropriate excuse, e.g., illness requiring medical attention, participation in certain official university events, etc., is provided. An unexcused late assignment will be dropped 2/3 of a letter grade per day it is late.  If you have a disability and require assistance with fulfilling class assignments, don't hesitate to notify the instructor and the Office for Services to Students with Disabilities at 482-5252. Finally, be sure you are familiar with all university policies described in the UL Undergraduate Bulletin. All assignments for this class must be completed individually (i.e., without the help of anyone except the instructor), and any instance of academic dishonesty on any assignment will be sufficient to fail the course.

Emergency Evacuation Procedures:
A map of this floor is posted near the elevator marking the evacuation route and the Designated Rescue Area. This is an area where emergency service personnel will go first to look for individuals who need assistance in exiting the building. Students who may need assistance should identify themselves to the teaching faculty.

Course Calendar & Planned Reading Assignments*

You should complete each of the readings before they are discussed in class. Some of the readings are difficult, and you may find that you need to re-read them after they have been gone over in class in order to fully understand them.

*NOTE: All planned topics, readings, assignments and due dates are tentative and may be altered or deleted.

(K) = Robert Kane, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will
(W) = Gary Watson, ed., Free Will, Second Ed.
(CP) = Course Pack

I. Why It Is Essential That We Have Free Will (Week of Aug. 21)

(CP) "The Significance of Free Will" by Laura Waddell Ekstrom; "What Our Not Having Free Will Would Mean" by Peter van Inwagen.

Monday, September 4 - Labor Day - No Classes

II. Overview of the Issues

(K) Chapter 1, "The Free Will Problem."

III. Theories of Free Will

A. Classical Compatibilism
(K) Chapter 2, "Compatibilism."

B. Incompatibilism
(K) Chapter 3, "Incompatibilism"; (W) Chapter 2, "An Argument For Incompatibilism" by Peter van Inwagen, Chapter 6, "Are We Free to Break the Laws?" by David Lewis.

C. Libertarianism
(K) Chapter 4, "Libertarianism, Indeterminism and Chance"; (W) Chapter 3, "Free Will, Praise and Blame" by J. J. C. Smart and Chapter 15, "Responsibility, Luck and Chance: Reflections on Free Will and Indeterminism" by Robert Kane.

D. Agent Causation Theories
(K) Chapter 5, "Minds, Selves and Agent Causes" and Chapter 6, "Actions, Reasons and Causes"; (W) Chapter 1, "Human Freedom and the Self" by Roderick Chisholm, Chapter 11, "The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility" by Galen Strawson and Chapter 14, "Toward a Credible Agent-Causal Account of Free Will" by Randolph Clarke.

E. Skepticism About Free Will
(K) Chapter 7, "Is Free Will Possible? Hard Determinists and Other Skeptics."

F. New Compatibilism
(K) Chapter 8, "Moral Responsibility and Alternative Possibilities" and Chapter 9, "Higher-Order Desires, Real Selves and New Compatibilists"; (W) Chapter 8, "Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility" by Harry Frankfurt, Chapter 9, "Libertarianism and Frankfurt's Attack on the Principle of Alternative Possibilities" by David Widerker, Chapter 16, "Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person" by Harry Frankfurt and "Chapter 17 "Free Agency" by Gary Watson.

Thursday & Friday, Oct. 5-6 - Fall Holiday - No Classes

G. Reactive Attitude Theories
(K) Chapter 10, "Reactive Attitude Theories"; (W) Chapter 4, "Freedom and Resentment" by Peter Strawson.


IV. Free Will and the Ethics of Belief

(CP) "The Ethics of Belief" by W. K. Clifford, "The Ethics of Belief" by Richard Feldman"; (W) Chapter 20, "Freedom in Belief and Desire" by Philip Pettit and Michael Smith.

V. Free Will and Divine Foreknowledge

(K) Chapter 13, "Predestination, Divine Foreknowledge and Free Will."

Thursday And Friday, November 23-24: Thanksgiving Holiday, No Classes.