Responsibility and Historical Inevitability

This article is more than 21 years old.

Karl Marx believed that historical events could have occurred only in the precise way they did. Political scientist Isaiah Berlin thought that historical events took place the way they did because historical figures acted freely and therefore should be accountable for them. If there exists free will, can there also be such a thing as historical inevitability? Are we the unwitting tools of historical forces or masters of our fate or both?

This week, we presented a debate from a conference held at Boston University on "Responsibility and Historical Inevitability." First, author Andrew Roberts delivered a lecture entitled "Historical Inevitability Refuted: The Absurd Career Path of Winston Churchill." Boston University Associate Professor of History and International Relations, Igor Lukes, responded to Mr. Roberts's lecture with his own thoughts on the subject. Afterwards, there were questions and statements from a participating audience and answers from Andrew Roberts and professor Lukas.

This program aired on January 13, 2002.

Robin Lubbock Twitter Videographer, Photographer
Robin Lubbock is a videographer and photographer for WBUR.



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