Free Will and (In)determinism in Hang the DJ

In Amber Bowen & John Anthony Dunne (eds.), Theology and Black Mirror. Lanham, MD: Fortress Academic. pp. 55-65 (2022)
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Abstract

Like most episodes of Black Mirror, “Hang the DJ” raises a host of philosophical questions. While there is much from this episode to explore, this chapter will explore something that has not yet been addressed in other work, namely the connection between “Hang the DJ” and questions about free will and determinism (or indeterminism, as the case may be). This chapter will proceed as follows: first, I will sketch some reasons for thinking that, if determinism is true, then no one has or exercises free will. One type of response to determinism’s threat to free will is to accept the incompatibility of free will and determinism and to maintain that we nevertheless have free will. Theorists who endorse indeterministic accounts of free will are called libertarians in the free will debate (but please do not confuse them with political libertarians). Second, I will explain a bit more of the mechanics of libertarianism. Third, I will discuss an influential challenge to libertarianism that has come to be known as the “rollback argument.” The mechanics of this challenge will resemble the plot twist of “Hang the DJ.” Fourth, and finally, I will explore the episode’s portrayal of the value of undetermined choice.

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Taylor W. Cyr
Samford University

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