• Offered by School of Philosophy
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Course subject Philosophy
  • Areas of interest Philosophy
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Brian Garrett
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in Second Semester 2018
    See Future Offerings

What is Free Will? Does Determinism threaten our Free Will? How should we respond to the arguments of the Fatalist? In this course we will look at various attacks on the idea that we have free will.  Some of these attacks are based on the thesis of Determinism: the thesis that the future is fixed uniquely by the past and laws of nature. This appears to undermine the idea that we freely choose our actions. We will critically examine this thesis as well as the two most prominent  strategies of response: that of Compatibilism and Libertarianism.  Other attacks on free will are based on the thesis of Fatalism: the thesis that future contingent truths or future facts constrain or undermine our freedom. This line of attack has a long and distinguished history, stretching back to Aristotle's sea-battle argument.  We will look at various facets of this famous debate and consider how it applies to contemporary disputes.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
  1. Analyse the central ideas of free will and determinism.
  2. Critically evaluate the argument that free will and determinism are incompatible.
  3. Examine the range of different fatalist arguments against free will and contrast them with arguments based on determinism.
  4. Think about what they have learnt as it relates to the themes of the course.

Indicative Assessment

2 x 2000 word essays (45% each) Learning Outcomes 1-4
Tutorial participation (10%) Learning Outcomes 1-4

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130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 35 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures, and 11 hours of tutorials; and,
b) 95 hours of independent student research, reading and writing

Requisite and Incompatibility

To enrol in this course you must have completed 6 units of Philosophy (PHIL) courses, or with permission of the course convenor.

Prescribed Texts

Readings will be placed on WATTLE.

Preliminary Reading

B Garrett  What is this thing called Metaphysics? (Routledge 2017 3rd ed), esp Chs 7, 8 & 9




Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $2820
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2018 $4320
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9411 23 Jul 2018 30 Jul 2018 31 Aug 2018 17 Nov 2018 In Person N/A

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