Teaching Resources

Short writing prompts that pair with individual episodes.

Season 1

Episode 0: Who Are We, and What Is This Podcast?

  • Having listened to Taylor and Matt’s explanation of what philosophy is, describe in your own words what philosophers do.

Episode 1: Introduction to Debates About Free Will

  • Explain three different conceptions of “free will” that Taylor and Matt discuss.
  • How is free will typically thought to be related to moral responsibility, and what does it mean to be morally responsible for an action?
  • What are three different reasons that someone might think it is important that we have free will? Which do you think is most significant, and why?

Episode 2: Fatalism, Foreknowledge, and Determinism with John Martin Fischer

  • Briefly describe the three threats to free will that John explains in the episode.
  • What is the “engine” driving all three of these challenges to free will? Explain its role in all three challenges.
  • How is John’s conception of freedom (introduced briefly at the end) different from the conception of freedom discussed earlier in the episode?

Episode 3: Logical Fatalism with Alicia Finch

  • Briefly describe what Alicia means by the term ‘fatalism’.
  • The argument for logical fatalism depends on the principle of bivalence, the immutability principle, the principle of the fixity of the past, and the transfer of necessity principle. Explain each of these principles.
  • Think of an action you performed yesterday. In your own words, explain how the logical fatalist would argue that your action was not free.
  • Choose one of the responses to logical fatalism that Alicia discusses in the episode. Briefly explain how the response is supposed to work.

Episode 4: Divine Foreknowledge with Linda Zagzebski

  • Explain each of the following components of the argument for theological fatalism: God’s infallibility, temporal necessity, and the transfer of necessity principle. 
  • Choose one of the historically significant responses to the argument for theological fatalism that Linda discusses and explain how the response is supposed to work.
  • What are some reasons one might take the debate about divine foreknowledge and human free will to be important even if God does not exist?

Episode 5: The Consequence Argument with Peter van Inwagen

  • What is determinism? Explain how the consequence argument tries to show that determinism is incompatible with free will.
  • What does the “Mind argument” attempt to show (i.e., what is the conclusion of that argument)?
  • The consequence argument and the Mind argument are two parts of what Peter calls “the problem of free will.” Briefly explain the other two parts of that problem.

Episode 6: The Problem of Luck with Alfred Mele

  • Why does Al think that uncaused actions are impossible?
  • Explain the “neural roulette wheel” and “rollback” scenarios. How are these scenarios used to challenge libertarianism about free will?
  • What is Al’s proposed solution to the problem of luck?

Episode 7: Frankfurt Cases with Carolina Sartorio

  • Explain the main features of a Frankfurt case. How are these types of cases used to show that the principle of alternative possibilities is false?
  • Explain an objection to the argument from Frankfurt Cases.
  • According to Carolina, what is the significance of Frankfurt Cases besides their role in arguments against the principle of alternative possibilities?

Episode 8: Manipulation Arguments with Derk Pereboom

  • What is Derk’s “Four-Case Argument” supposed to show? How do the differences from case to case help to advance the argument?
  • Mele’s “Zygote Argument” is sometimes called an original design argument. How is it different from a manipulation argument like Pereboom’s? 
  • Explain the difference between hard-line and soft-line replies to manipulation arguments.

Episode 9: Moral Luck with Dana Kay Nelkin

  • What is moral luck? In answering, explain each of the following: resultant luck, circumstantial luck, constitutive luck, and causal luck.
  • What are the major implications of moral luck? In other words, what is at stake?
  • Dana discussed three different responses to moral luck. Choose one and explain how that response is supposed to resolve the difficulty.

Coming soon!

Season 2: Positions in the debate about free will and causal determinism.

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