Responding to the Free Will Problem in Judaism

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Few Jewish thinkers have explicitly responded to the problems of genetic and psychological determinism. However, most Jewish thinkers would reject any theory that strips humans of all responsibility, but would likely not deny the possibility that our physical and psychological constitution inclines us toward certain behaviors.

Elliot Dorff, a Conservative rabbi and theologian, has indirectly responded to the relationship between genetic determinism and free will. He has suggested that homosexuality should be permissible because it is biologically determined and therefore un-chosen. Dorff's position is based on a traditional Jewish legal concept--that of the ones, a person under compulsion--that excuses people for actions they were forced to do.

Dorff's position that this concept applies to genetically determined inclinations, however, is innovative.

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