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Essayplan Fatalism Notes

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Essay plan Since it is a tautology that what will be will be, fatalism is obviously correct. Fatalism is the thesis that it is a logical or conceptual truth that no-one is able to act otherwise than they in fact do. Sometimes fatalism is said to imply that we do not have free will, but people disagree about what free will consists in, so this will depend. In any case, fatalism has more far-ranging consequences. 'What obtains, obtains' is also a tautology, so on fatalistic reasoning it renders false all statements that attribute possibility to events or states of affairs that do not in fact obtain - which throws most of our modal talk out of the window. There is a form of fatalism which I will call 'pragmatic fatalism' which is easy to refute. This fallacy is to think that one should respond pragmatically to 'what will be will be' by not doing anything. But the future depends on your decision. There is no reason not to go about as usual shaping that future in accordance with your wants - otherwise all that will happen is that you may not get what you want. Hidden premise in the argument: 'nothing you do will influence the future'. False. Plain fatalism is that it is logically impossible to make the other decision. I will examine two arguments for fatalism, which both make use of extra concepts - one uses the notion of timeless truth and the other uses the notion of necessary conditions. But I will show that each of them boils down to the claim that the tautology 'what obtains, obtains' makes all falsehoods logical impossibilities. Then I will discuss whether this is so. You do not have it within your power to render false what was already true yesterday. Certainly the idea that you do not have the power to change what happened yesterday is correct. But 'yesterday' is being used in a strange way. It was only true 'yesterday' because it is timelessly true. What will make my going out in the rain today true is still a future event. Rendering a timelessly true proposition timelessly false by committing a future action - this is the very power that the fatalist denies we possess, because it is necessarily always unrealised. It has nothing to do with changing the past, it has to do with changing the truth: since it is just true that x, you do not possess the ability to render x false. Some think that the solution is to not give future-statements truth-values. This seems mad. Second argument: Taylor. He bases his argument on the principle that you cannot do something in the absence of a necessary condition for doing it. The principle leads straight to the collapse of the distinction between what you can do and what you do. A necessary condition for doing something is that you do it: you cannot do something in the absence of doing it. I can only do what I do.

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