Thursday, July 2, 2020

Supererogation and determinism

  1. If at most one action is possible for one, that action is not supererogatory.

  2. If determinism is true, then there is never more than one action possible for one.

  3. So, if any action is supererogatory, determinism is false.

There is controversy over (2), but I don’t want to get into that in this post. What about (1)? Well, the standard story about supererogation is something like this: A supererogatory action is one that is better than, or perhaps more burdensome, that some permissible alternative. In any case, supererogatory actions are defined in contrast to a permissible alternative. But that permissible alternative has got to be possible for one to count as a genuine alternative. For instance, suppose I stay up all night with a sick friend. That’s better than going to sleep. But if there is loud music playing which would make it impossible for me to go to sleep and I am tied up so I can’t go elsewhere, then my staying up all night with the friend is not supererogatory.


Priscilla said...
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Alexander R Pruss said...

Well, there is no determinism in contemporary physics.

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