D-CUBED Asks: Are We Responsible?

This is a past event

22 people went

Merriam Park Library

1831 Marshall Ave · St Paul, MN

How to find us

We will be in the basement meeting room.

Location image of event venue


"We are all responsible for everything," or so said the Father Zosima character in Dostoevsky's novel, "The Brothers Karamazov." To the contrary, some contemporary philosophers and neuroscientists might reply, "We are not responsible for anything." The issue of responsibility--for our behaviors, for our lives--arises from the long-standing and seemingly irresoluble debate over free will and determinism.

This month's D-Cubed events will resolve the debate, answer the question, and finally put this matter to rest. Actually, not. But it will immerse participants in the topic, introducing them to the libertarian free will position, its deterministic opponent, and compatibilist proposals that try to reconcile our experience of agency with the laws of physics. We will consider the implications of this debate for our views of legal/moral responsibility and for the very American belief that it's up to each of us to determine how our lives turn out.

D-Cubed (Discussion, Debate and Dinner) is a monthly gathering, sponsored by the Humanists of Minnesota, and hosted alternately by Jerry Smith and Mark Thosen. This month it's Jerry's turn to moderate the discussion, which will take place in both Saturday and Sunday sessions. The same topics will be covered on each day, and the discussions should be quite similar, so please sign-up for only one session unless you are wait-listed for the one you most prefer.

As usual, we are assigning "homework" in the belief that preparation will help participants contribute to a thoughtful, informed discussion. Please read/view some or all of the following before the event:

Two videos will introduce you to the topics:

These articles also provide a useful introductory overview:

This article is pro-free will:

Sam Harris weighs in for determinism:

Dennett and Caruso discuss legal and moral responsibility:

And then there's being responsible for one's life:

Assuredly there are many more videos, books, and articles pertinent to our topic. So, if you are aware of other online resources that would enlighten us, feel free to suggest them by posting links in the "Comments" section that follows.

At 4:30 PM or shortly thereafter, we will wrap up our discussion. Those who wish to continue conversing about these and other topics are welcome to join Jerry and Mark for dinner at Pad Thai, 1681 Grand Avenue in St. Paul, not far from the library. We'll provide directions to the restaurant and have tables reserved for our group.

Hope you can join us!