Philosopy colloquium: Helen Steward (online event)

Title: Laws Loosened: How to make Way for Freedom in a Law-Governed World

By Helen Steward (Leeds, Philosophy)

Date: Thursday May 6, 2021

Time: 1530-1700 (GMT+3)

This is an online event. All are welcome. If you would like to listen to the talk please click on the following link when the event is due to begin. 

Zoom link:

Meeting ID: 937 9537 8116 Passcode: 856917

Abstract: In this paper, I shall consider a number of different ways in which philosophers in recent years have attempted to offer conceptions of natural law which in various respects suggest that the grip of law on reality might be less tight than has been traditionally supposed. One such loosening is represented by the suggestion that many laws might be best thought of as probabilistic rather than deterministic. A second kind of loosening has been the admission that certain laws relevant to human behaviour might hold only ceteris paribus. Yet a third is the suggestion that all laws – including even fundamental physical ones – might hold only ceteris paribus (Cartwright, 1999). How, though, are these different suggestions related to one another? Which kinds of loosening might entail which other kinds? And which, if any, might be most promising as regards making room in the universe for free will? In this paper I shall try to suggest that the first and second strategies are far less useful than the third in making the kind of space which would be required to subserve the reality of free will; and that a fourth kind of loosening – compatible with but not entailing any of these other kinds – from laws as world-dictators to laws as world-constrainers might yet be more useful than any of the other three in this respect.

About the speaker: Helen Steward is Professor of Philosophy of Mind and Action at the University of Leeds. She has written on many issues in the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of action, and general metaphysics. Her work has appeared in such venues as Analysis, the Journal of PhilosophyMind, Noûs, and Philosophical Perspectives. She has also published two monographs with Oxford University Press: The Ontology of Mind: Events, Processes, and States (1997); and A Metaphysics for Freedom (2012).



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