Comity, Domestic Injury, and the Metaphysics of the FTAIA

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Randy Stutz, Sep 17, 2014

In the early 1960s, the British philosopher Richard Taylor famously argued that he could use well-accepted principles of logical reasoning to prove the doctrine of fatalism—the idea that mankind lacks free will and life’s outcomes are pre-determined. A fatalist, explained Taylor, perceives that a person’s actions in the present do not determine outcomes in the future any more than a person’s actions in the present determine outcomes in the past.  To illustrate, Taylor used the example of a man sitting down to breakfast with his morning newspaper, where conditions are such that if a naval battle occurred yesterday, the newspaper will carry a specific headline today, and if a naval battle did not occur yesterday, the paper will carry a different headline today. Everyone understands that the man does not determine whether the naval battle occurred yesterday by opening his newspaper and seeing one headline or the other today. In Taylor’s words, “we all are fatalists with respect to the past.”

Taylor then asked readers to consider a boat at sea, where conditions are such that if the boat captain gives one order, a naval battle will occur, and if the boat captain gives a different order, a naval battle will not occur. The fatalist, explained Taylor, uses the same logical principles to conclude that what kind of order the boat captain gives depends on whether a naval battle


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