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Keith Lehrer

Print publication date: 1990

Print ISBN-13: 9780198248507

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198248507.001.0001

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An Empirical Disproof of Determinism?

An Empirical Disproof of Determinism?

(p.19) 1 An Empirical Disproof of Determinism?

Keith Lehrer

Oxford University Press

According to philosophers, the statement that a person could have done what she did not do lacks the proper epistemic credentials. The reason why this statement has been the bone of philosophical contention is its connection with the problem of free will and determinism. It is usually held that a person acts of her own free will only if she could have acted otherwise. However, both libertarians and determinists have had their doubts about the epistemic qualificiations of such statements. This chapter, however, shows that it is possible to know empirically that a person could have done otherwise. It establishes how it is known what a person can do, and then shows that skeptical doubt concerning knowledge of what people can do is no better grounded than skeptical doubt concerning knowledge of the colour properties of unobserved objects.

Keywords:   free will, determinism, knowledge, consistency, libertarians

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