Lunchtime Lecture Series: Are we truly free?

Lunchtime Lecture Series: Are we truly free?

Lunchtime Lecture Series: Are we truly free?

PUBLISHED 13 March 2023

Our Lunchtime Lecture Series continued today with Mr Donovan, Head of Religious Studies, using the case of convicted killer, Hannah Bonser, to explore the question, ‘Are we truly free?’.

Mr Donovan introduced the concept of free will and the paradox of complete freedom (possessing the right to freedom does not mean that we have that freedom). He provided examples of Libertarianism to bring to life Descartes’ belief that we have free will (‘I think therefore I am’), including how following orders was not deemed to be a valid defence in the Nuremberg Trials.

Determinism (‘free will is an illusion’) was explained using the locked room analogy from John Locke and examples provided of Phineas Gage and responses to school shootings in America.

Finally, Mr Donovan explained how Compatibilism provided a middle ground, guided by the work of David Hume who believed in the liberty of spontaneity which recognises that both freedom and determinism are logically compatible and that events are often the result of a combination of  factors we can and cannot control. Hannah Bonser’s case was subsequently discussed with these different frames of reference in mind, with students discussing their views in small groups.

Our lunchtime lectures take place each half term and focus on thinking which extends beyond the curriculum. They are part of our wider scholars programme, which is compulsory for Academic Scholars. All students in Years 7 to 13 are welcome. Find out more online here.

AUTHOR: Alex Brown
CATEGORIES: News, Senior School
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