Freedom and Responsibility

The Assignment: Consider each the following three cases, involving Caleb, Ellen, and Jesse, and answer these questions:
1) Did each of the agents freely commit the acts?
2) Did extenuating circumstances limit the amount of freedom each of the agents had?
3) Should the agents be held morally responsible for their acts?
4) Should anyone else be held morally responsible (or partly morally responsible) for the acts?
Your paper should demonstrate a clear understanding of the issues on both sides of the debate between free will and determinism, making reference to the authors we have studied in this section when appropriate.
Case 1: Caleb goes to a party and gets drunk. When it is time to leave, he refuses to give the keys to his girlfriend, who has not been drinking. On the way home, Caleb is crossing a narrow bridge when the car slides on a patch of ice. Caleb tries very hard to control the car but cannot, and the car falls into the river below. His girlfriend drowns. The act is Caleb driving the car into the river.
Case 2: Throughout her childhood, Ellen was frequently beaten by her mother. Fifteen years later, Ellen has a daughter, and to her horror she finds herself repeating her mother’s behavior. She feels a strong impulse to hit her daughter for trivial reasons. Usually, she can resist the impulse, but on one occasion she does not. One day, she hits her daughter with a heavy iron pot for disturbing her while she watches television. The act is Ellen hitting her daughter with the pot.
Case 3: Jesse is a law-abiding person. He is walking downtown with his little brother when a man jumps out of a car and puts a gun to his brother’s head. He commands Jesse to drive the car to a bank while he robs it, and then to drive away down the highway. They come to a police roadblock and the robber tells Jesse to drive through it, or he will shoot his little brother. Jesse drives through the roadblock, inadvertently killing a police
officer. The act is Jesse running down the police officer.

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