University of Pittsburgh, Fall Term 1997
Philosophy 0080: Introduction to Philosophical Problems
Tuesday/Thursday writing recitations
Ben Eggleston, recitation instructor

Paper Assignment no. 4

Write an essay of 3–5 pages on the following topic. Your essay should make ample use of the relevant text, not only representing the author’s views accurately, but also citing and interpreting specific passages where appropriate. It should also go into as much depth and detail as an essay of 3–5 pages can. Finally, your essay should conform to the instructions provided in “Guidelines for Writing a Philosophy Paper.” No rough draft is due; the final draft will be due at the beginning of your recitation section on Tuesday, November 25.

One prominent position towards the problem of free will is the doctrine of determinism, a specific version of which is propounded by Baron D’Holbach. Defend or dispute this doctrine by writing a paper that answers the following questions in an organized and coherent way:

  1. What does the doctrine of determinism claim?
  2. According to D’Holbach, why does determinism pose a threat to most religions and to most systems of punishment?
  3. One of the main objections to determinism is the argument from deliberation. What does this argument say, and what does D’Holbach say in reply to this argument? Is D’Holbach’s reply sound?
  4. According to D’Holbach, what (aside from the bare fact that people sense that they are deliberating from time to time) has led people to make the mistake of thinking that they’re free? Is this part of D’Holbach’s story plausible?