Reply to Dr. Holowka

  • Stephan Körner
Part of the Nijhoff International Philosophy Series book series (NIPS, volume 28)


The main task which Dr.Holowka sets himself in his clear and admirably unpretentious essay is to compare what he calls two “self-sustaining prejudices” and what I should call two theses of “transcendent” or “speculative” philosophy, namely a deterministic view of the world and one which allows for moral freedom. Holowka holds that the two theses are incompatible, but that, if the deterministic thesis is given a certain form then “the chasm between these two positions is not as deep as is often thought” and “material predetermination is not so devastating for moral theory and common moral practices as it is often assumed”. In the following remarks I shall make some comments on Holowka’s discussion of logical indeterminism and on his conception of man as a moral automaton. I shall then argue that a conception of man as morally free is no less a thought-possibility than Holowka’s conception of man as a suitably programmed computer or Leibniz’s conception of man as a monad whose actions are predictable and predetermined by its divine programmer. I shall conclude by recalling a pragmatic argument in favour of the transcendent or speculative thesis of human freedom. Since I have no quarrel with Holowka’s interpretation of my Eddington Memorial Lecture to which he refers in his paper, I shall feel free to make my points without reference to it.1


Moral Theory Open Future Master Program Human Freedom Minimal Core 
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  1. 1.
    Cambridge University Press, 1997.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    “Je sals l’avenir, mais je ne le fais„, Theodicée 409.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    See Metaphysics: Its Structure and function (Cambridge, 1984) Ch. 17 Section 4.Google Scholar

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© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht 1987

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  • Stephan Körner

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