Van Inwagen’s free will


This consequence argument was given by the popular philosopher Peter van Inwagen to show that determinism is incompatible with free will. In his point of view, free will is a mystery since some propositions regarding matters attributed to free will; moral responsibility as well as determinism that appear to us to be apparently true is false. If determinism is true, then human beings’ actions and activities are the outcome of natural laws as well as past events (Inwagen, 2000). In other words, everything including our actions is not at all because we are not able to decide before we are born. Things can’t control the laws of nature. In my perception this is what I propose: regarding matters that relate to free will, moral responsibility, as well as determinism, may be false even though it may appear to us to be absolutely true. In this paper, I will not argue against this proposition in a direct manner but instead, argue that Inwagen has offered no reason to believe this proposition is absolutely true.

Agreement on determinism

A parallel argument can be constructed for the incompatibleness of free will as well as determinism but also the perception that free will as well as determinism are not compatible. Literally, a prime point of argument appears to be based on: if, again, that the truth is that Epimenides will lie during the assembly. Therefore, the proposition that the Epimenides will lie at the assembly abides by the proposition that God believed, long ago before even humans initially came into existence that Epimenides will definitely lie during the assembly that is if we consider God as being omniscient (Inwagen, 2000). Though no one will be capable of doing anything regarding Gods believes before humans came into existence, since no one is capable of doing anything regarding the past. It conforms to the notion that no one including the Epimenides is capable of doing anything regarding the fact that Epimenides will lie during the assembly. In support of this assumption, some philosophers have stated that original nature of the universe is defined and acknowledge through the laws of science.

Regardless of the situation, the laws of science are evolving and still can are decisive for everything within the universe, therefore, it is difficult to assert that that humans are the caretakers of their own individual fate (Griffith, 2005). It was also mentioned by Einstein that according to philosophy, he does not believe that humans have a free will. This is because everything since the beginning are subjected to control by a supreme being and humans themselves are not in control in any way. Power also is exercised inhuman life through religious practices. Due to the belief in God, human beings are not free to behave in the manner the wish since they are governed by moral values set by their religions (Griffith, 2005). Therefore, this is definitely the real law of nature.

With regards to determinism, it can be logical that the past can determine the free will of human beings. For instance, religiously, according to Christianity it is believed that God gave Abram and Eve freedom to wander around the Garden of Eden and do anything, except that they were restricted not to eat the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden. When they disobeyed God, they were deprived off the free will to do anything. This is evident since up to date, human beings do not have the free will to do everything. They are restricted from doing something. This is clear evidence of determinism proving a point that a past determines the free will of humans. However, some scientists and philosophers have criticized this proposition.

Some have argued that the burden of proof should be laid on who support determinism (Hong, 2012). This is because determinism is more of irrational metaphysical speculation which gives us the feeling of free will experience every day. Life determines our fate and humans believe in God , therefore ,with regards to determinism human’s free will is determined by God since He is the one who gave humans life and He is the one who will take it away.

Importance of free will

In essence, free will is a very important value that is applicable and useful in morals, politics as well as religion (Huemer, 2000). For instance, with regards to law, an individual has a free will to either press charges or not to press charges whenever he or she is wronged. Also, the current law and criminal justice system depend on the concept of free will to make judgments.

Conflict between determinism and free will

The main point in the argument appears to be the following: if, for instance, that it is true that Epimenides shall lie at the assembly meeting. Suppose determinism is true then the assumption that Epimenides shall give a lie at the assembly derives from the conjunction of an assumption that expresses the world’s state during the past era and also the conjunction of the law of nature (Inwagen, 2000). Though nobody is capable of doing anything about them regarding the truth of the assumption that expresses the world’s state during the past, no one is capable of doing anything regarding a true account of the past. As well, no one capable of doing anything concerning the truth of the combination of the laws of nature (Inwagen, 2000). It simply follows that suppose determinism is true, nobody is capable of doing anything regarding the fact that Epimenides shall lie at the assembly.

Invalidity of Van Iwagen’s proposition

It is important to consider the way van Inwagen justified his assumption. Van Inwagen attempted to justify his assumption based on the untouchable truth assumption. He argued that his assumption is an untouchable truth just as for the reasons as that of Dinosaurs once existed on earth, which is an untouchable truth; essentially both are true regarding the past and actually true about human past (Inwagen, 2000). However, Inwagen asserts that “nobody is able…” just to make false a true proposition regarding the past. In my view is this argument is not valid. This is because it is not false that the true proposition regarding the past is an untouchable truth. Also, it is acknowledged that the debates regarding the free will as well as determination have some propositions that are not wholly about the past. For instance, the proposition states that yesterday Amos took alcohol for the last time; it is obvious beyond doubt that the proposition is concerning the past. It gives a hint about the past, specifically that Amos took alcohol. Nevertheless, this proposition is obviously not fully regarding the past since it says something regarding the future too, namely, that Amos has stopped taking alcohol and he will never do it again. For the sake of the argument, since Amos is still alive and the fact that yesterday he took alcohol for the last time, it seems to be a true proposition regarding the past which is not an untouchable truth. Suppose Amos will take alcohol again, Amos is without a doubt capable of taking alcohol again and therefore he is capable of doing something regarding the fact that, the previous day, Amos took alcohol for the last time. I, therefore, conclude that not every true proposition regarding the past is absolutely an untouchable truth. This makes Ingrawe’s assumption invalid

It is also important to consider reasons as to why Van Inwagen’s proposition is invalid. Inwagen’s assumption has failed to identify the necessary equivalent propositions. He ought to have fended his theory of proposition based on the necessary equivalent propositions that are identical for instance, he should have used Robert Stalnaker’s and also David Lewis’s theory of propositions (Inwagen, 2000). Essentially, every true proposition actually has to talk about the future in some way suppose the necessarily equivalent propositions tend to be identical. It is obviously known that no true proposition is absolute regarding the past, suppose every true proposition is to some extent concerning the past support the necessarily equivalent propositions tend to be identical.

He also ought to have observed the descriptivism regarding the proper names he used. The invalidity of his proposition is based on his failure to defend the description theory of proper names with regards to sentences such as “John Wick gave a historical lecture at the University of California” or maybe express similar proposition as “Bertrand Russell’s theory of proper names. Naming and necessity are important in making a proposition valid. The prime ideas of a descriptive theory of proper names are basically that names like John Wick are simply abbreviations for certain descriptions like the Naming and Necessity’s author.


In my conclusion, I believe that the principle of the beta rule is true and the interpretation of beta rule promises more than interpreting the explanatory notions using rule beta. My view is that, I believe humanity lacks free will and just depending on determination in life. But his does not imply that there free will has no importance. There is need to control our behavior through establishing laws even though it deprives us the free will. With regards to Van Inwagen’s proposition, it is not sound because his interpretation of the rule better is only based on explanatory notions.