Do humans have free will?

In this paper, you will take a stand on the issue of free will, and respond to the question, “do
humans have free will?”. In answering this question, you must take into serious consideration the
various positions one might adopt concerning the concept of “free will”, i.e., hard determinism,
soft determinism, libertarianism, illusionism, and (for lack of better term) Nietzscheanism.
Is the free will just a myth, but one that we ought to believe in? Are we in charge of determining
our actions and our character, or are these determined “without us”? Do we have to believe in
free will to be morally responsible? Are we justified in holding ourselves and others morally
responsible? Would it be better not to believe in free will?
These are just some questions you will want to consider in the process of constructing your
thesis. In preparation for this, you should review the literature presented in class (Charles Cahn’s
“Freedom or Determinism?”, Saint Augustine’s On Free Choice of the Will, Stephen Cave’s
article, “There’s No Such Thing as Free Will” from The Atlantic, and the excerpt from Friedrich
Nietzsche on the freedom of the will). In addition, before beginning the paper, you should watch
a short TedEx video by philosopher Gregg Caruso who discusses the “dark side” of believing in
free will, and the benefit of not believing in it.
There are many ways you could carry out this paper. Essentially you are to produce a thesis on
the topic of free will. Ultimately you will determine what is the right way to respond to the
question of whether or not humans have free will. This paper should be written in the style of
your previous paper (i.e., it should be an argumentative essay) containing the following parts:
1. Introduction
2. Thesis statement (provided in the introduction)
3. Supporting arguments for upholding the thesis
4. Objection(s) to the thesis and reply(s) in defense of the thesis
5. Conclusion/concluding remarks regarding the implications of the thesis
The basic requirements (literature review, thesis, etc.) that were articulated in the instructions for
paper 1 are going to be the same for paper 2 (except for the peer review). You should revisit
these general instructions for paper 1 before you begin the writing process for this paper.
This paper will be due on Friday, 6/26 at 11:59pm EST (via Blackboard dropbox found in
content –> quizzes and papers –> paper 2 materials).
The grading criteria for this paper will be the same as for paper 1 (except there will be no peer
review portion factored). If you would like to discuss a draft, outline, or your ideas in general
about how to go about writing this paper, you may set up a meeting with me (I recommend
sending me whatever work you might want to discuss at least a day ahead of our meeting, so I
can prepare some feedback in advance). The grading grid can be found below on the next page.
Papers are worth 25 points each and will be evaluated on the basis of content and mechanics. If
your paper is not written in accord with the given prompt, the grade will be automatically
reduced to half credit. Always read instructions carefully, and contact me if you have questions.
Content: 22 points
Excellent – A
Good – B
Fair – C
Inadequate – D

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