Is hard determinism a form of compatibilism?

Philosophical Forum 33 (1):81-99 (2002)
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Most philosophers now concede that libertarianism has failed as an account of free will. Assuming the correctness of this concession, that leaves compatibilism and hard determinism as the only remaining choices in the free will debate. In this paper, I will argue that hard determinism turns out to be a form of compatibilism, and therefore, compatibilism is the only remaining position in the free will debate. I will attempt to establish this conclusion by arguing that hard determinists will end up punishing or rewarding the same acts (and omissions) that the compatibilists punish and reward. Next, I will respond to several objections that attempt to pry apart hard determinism and compatibilism. It will emerge not only that hard determinism and compatibilism are identical at the practical level, but also that the key terms employed by the hard determinist have the same meaning as equivalent terms ("free," "morally responsible," and "retributive punishment") employed by the compatibilist. I conclude that hard determinism genuinely is a form of compatibilism.

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Jeremy Koons
Georgetown University


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