Thomas Nagel's Argument on the Incompatibility of Determinism With Free Will

Topics: Determinism

Thomas Nagel states that determinism and free will are two incompatible with one another as they completely contradict one another. Thomas Nagel states that in determinism, people do not have free will as the universe brings out the totality of circumstance that leads you to do certain actions, such as eating a cake instead f  of a peach. As free will is an act where you, yourself choose what to do and carefree to act differently, dedeterminingwhere you could,t is not compatible with free will.

Compatibilism is a state where both free will and determination can coexist at the same time, but Nagel rejects this notion. Free statutes that it is an open possibility that you could choose either peach or cake, but compatibilism states that although you could, you would have still chosen cake as it was pre-determined. As the choice of cake or peach was not determined in advance or inevitable the like rising of the sun, it could not be anything not but the free will to do so.

Nagel argues that the principle of determinism undermines the whole moresponsibilityties as the person responsible wasn’t at fault, but that it was determined to do so from the very birth of the human being. Because responsibilities rely on people having free will, the whole concept will crumble. It is a desire that drives you to choose otherwise which gives you free will to choose between opposing choices. If compatibilism is true, people would not responsible for any of their actions as much as a tool would have been in failing to complete their action.

Get quality help now
Sweet V

Proficient in: Determinism

4.9 (984)

“ Ok, let me say I’m extremely satisfy with the result while it was a last minute thing. I really enjoy the effort put in. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

I do agree with Nagel that free will and determinism are completely separate concepts. As determinism is something entirely out of grasp and compatibilism is a compromise between the two, it would by definition fail free will as free will in compatibilism is completely contradictory and only results in an illusion of choice.

I have experienced something like compatibilism and determinism with my involvement in the church where pre-destination was commonly believed in. I found it very disturbing the thought of God pre-planning people for their actions and as consequence, will be denied entrance into heaven. Everything the person had done in their life would not matter if the person was not chosen before birth to be gained entrance into heaven and is merely given the illusion of free will to live through their life. I thought that if this was true, God must not be a benevolent god as he would control a person’s actions and consequences at his fingertips and would punish the people outside of their actions. Just like Nagel said, people should not be punished for something that is doing merely as God had planned as they did no wrong other than to perform the job that God asked them to.

Cite this page

Thomas Nagel's Argument on the Incompatibility of Determinism With Free Will. (2022, Jun 15). Retrieved from

Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7