Haas Scholars

Pei (Tony) Zhao

Moral Responsibility and Determinism

On one hand, determinism claims the necessity of physical laws, together with the state of the universe at any moment, entails that what happens next must happen. On the other hand, when a person acts wrongly and gets blamed for his action, we seem to presuppose that he could have acted differently. Does determinism, or the objective view of science in general, threaten the notion of moral responsibility? Is our practice of holding people responsible ultimately unjustifiable? Incompatibilists say yes; compatibilists say no. In the summer of 2008, Tony will dive right into the gripping debate between these two camps of thought, in the hope of offering some fresh insights on this age-old philosophical inquiry..

  • Major: Philosophy
  • Mentor: Professor Jay Wallace, Philosophy