Humean compatibilism is the combination of a Humean position on laws of nature and the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism. This article's aim is to situate Humean compatibilism in the current debate among libertarians, traditional compatibilists, and semicompatibilists about free will. We argue that a Humean about laws can hold that there is a sense in which the laws of nature are 'up to us' and hence that the leading style of argument for incompatibilism?the consequence (...) argument?has a false premiss. We also display some striking similarities between Humean compatibilism and libertarianism, an incompatibilist view. For example, standard libertarians face a problem about luck, and we show that Humean compatibilists face a very similar problem. (shrink)
Most philosophers now concede that libertarianism has failed as an account of free will. Assuming the correctness of this concession, that leaves compatibilism and hard determinism as the only remaining choices in the free will debate. In this paper, I will argue that hard determinism turns out to be a form of compatibilism, and therefore, compatibilism is the only remaining position in the free will debate. I will attempt to establish this conclusion by arguing that hard determinists (...) will end up punishing or rewarding the same acts (and omissions) that the compatibilists punish and reward. Next, I will respond to several objections that attempt to pry apart hard determinism and compatibilism. It will emerge not only that hard determinism and compatibilism are identical at the practical level, but also that the key terms employed by the hard determinist have the same meaning as equivalent terms ("free," "morally responsible," and "retributive punishment") employed by the compatibilist. I conclude that hard determinism genuinely is a form of compatibilism. (shrink)
In this essay I shall begin by sketching a "Frankfurt-type example." I shall then lay out a disturbing challenge to the claim I have made above that these examples help us to make significant progress in the debates about the relationship between moral responsibility and causal determinism. I then will provide a reply to this challenge, and the reply will point toward a more refined formulation of the important contribution I believe Frankfurt has made to defending a certain sort of (...)compatibilism. (shrink)
Compatibilism is the thesis that an act may be both free and determined by previous events and the laws of nature. I assume that in normal cases a condition of a person's performing an act freely is that the person is able to refrain from performing the act. Thus, I accept that if determinism entails that agents do not have this ability, we must give up compatibilism. In this paper I try to contribute to the rethinking of (...) class='Hi'>compatibilism by distinguishing between strong and weak accounts of laws and strong and weak accounts of ability. I argue that compatibilism is a tenable position when combined with either a weak account of laws, or a weak account of ability, or both. I shall concentrate on influential arguments for incompatibilism due to Peter van Inwagen, often called collectively the "consequence argument". (shrink)
The problem of freedom and determinism has vexed philosophers for several millennia, and continues to be a topic of lively debate today. One of the proposed solutions to the problem that has received a great deal of attention is the Theory of Agent Causation. While the theory has enjoyed its share of advocates, and perhaps more than its share of critics, the theory’s advocates and critics have always agreed on one thing: the Theory of Agent Causation is an incompatibilist theory. (...) That is, both believers and nonbelievers in the theory have taken it for granted that the most plausible version of the Theory of Agent Causation is one according to which freedom and determinism are incompatible. In fact, so entrenched is this assumption that no one on either side of the debate has ever questioned it. Yet it turns out that this assumption is wrong – the most plausible version of the Theory of Agent Causation is a compatibilist one. (shrink)
_If you were free in doing something and morally responsible for it, you could have done otherwise. That_ _has seemed a pretty firm proposition among the old, new, clear, unclear and other propositions in the_ _philosophical discussion of freedom and determinism. If you were free in what you did, there was an_ _alternative. It is also at least natural to think that if determinism is true, you can never do otherwise than_ _you do. G. E. Moore, that Cambridge reasoner in (...) whose shadow Wittgenstein ought to be standing,_ _considered the matter. He pointed out that even if determinism is true, there remains a sense in which you_ _can still do otherwise than you do: you will do otherwise if you so choose. That, on reflection, is consistent_ _with determinism. The doctrine of the compatibility of freedom and determinism is saved. Joseph Keim_ _Campbell, strong philosopher at Washington State University, provides the latest thinking on this seemingly_ _unavoidable dispute. You do not have to agree that either compatibilism or incompatibilism must be true in_ _order to appreciate the carefulness of his reasoning in this piece of ongoing American philosophy. It_ _requires and repays attention._. (shrink)
A determinism of decisions and actions, despite our experience of deciding and acting and also an interpretation of Quantum Theory, is a reasonable assumption. The doctrines of Compatibilism and Incompatibilism are both false, and demonstrably so. Whole structures of culture and social life refute them, and establish the alternative of Attitudinism. The real problem of determinism has seemed to be that of accomodating ourselves to the frustration of certain attitudes, at bottom certain desires. This project of Affirmation can run (...) up against a conviction owed to reflecting on your own past life. The conviction is that an attitude akin to one tied to indeterminism, a way of holding yourself morally responsible, has some basis despite the truth of determinism. We need to look for radical ideas here, as radical as Consciousness as Existence with the problem of perceptual consciousness. Could that doctrine help with determinism and freedom? Could a problem about causation and explanation do so? (shrink)
This paper argues that ability to do otherwise (in the compatibilist sense) at the moment of initiation of action is a necessary condition of being able to act at all. If the argument is correct, it shows that Harry Frankfurt never provided a genuine counterexample to the 'principles of alternative possibilities' in his 1969 paper ‘Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility’. The paper was written without knowledge of Frankfurt's paper.
I examine the extent to which Dennett’s account in Freedom Evolves might be construed as revisionist about free will or should instead be understood as a more traditional kind of compatibilism. I also consider Dennett’s views about philosophical work on free agency and its relationship to scientiﬁc inquiry, and I argue that extant philosophical work is more relevant to scientiﬁc inquiry than Dennett’s remarks may suggest.
William Alston has argued that the so-called deontological conception of epistemic justification, on which epistemic justification is to be spelled out in terms of blame, responsibility, and obligations, is untenable. The basic idea of the argument is that this conception is untenable because we lack voluntary control over our beliefs and, therefore, cannot have any obligations to hold certain beliefs. If this is convincing, however, the argument threatens the very idea of doxastic responsibility. For, how can we ever be responsible (...) for our beliefs if we lack control over them? Several philosophers have argued that the idea that we bear responsibility for our beliefs can be saved, because absence of voluntary control over our beliefs is perfectly compatible with having obligations to hold particular beliefs. With others, I call this view ‘doxastic compatibilism’. It comes in two varieties. On the first variety, doxastic obligations do not require any kind of doxastic control whatsoever. I argue that this variety of doxastic compatibilism fails because it confuses doxastic responsibility with other closely related phenomena. On the second variety, doxastic obligations do not require voluntary doxastic control, but only compatibilist doxastic control (roughly, reason-responsiveness) and we do in fact have such control. I grant that we have such control, but also argue that having such control is insufficient for bearing doxastic responsibility. The plausibility of the examples put forward by doxastic compatibilists in support of the claim that it is sufficient for doxastic responsibility derives from the fact that in these examples, the subjects have control over factors that influence what they believe rather than control over those beliefs themselves. (shrink)
The compatibility question lies at the center of the free will problem. Compatibilists think that determinism is compatible with moral responsibility and the concomitant notions, while incompatibilists think that it is not. The topic of this paper is a particular form of charge against compatibilism: that it is shallow. This is not the typical sort of argument against compatibilism: most of the debate has attempted to discredit compatibilism completely. The Argument From Shallowness maintains that the compatibilists do (...) have a case. However, this case is only partial, and shallow. This limited aim proves itself more powerful against compatibilists than previous all-or-nothing attempts. It connects to the valid instincts of compatibilists, making room for them, and hence is harder for compatibilists to ignore. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss two kinds of attempts to qualify incompatibilist and compatibilist conceptions of freedom to avoid what have been thought to be incredible commitments of these rival accounts. One attempt -- which I call soft libertarianism -- is represented by Robert Kane''s work. It hopes to defend an incompatibilist conception of freedom without the apparently difficult metaphysical costs traditionally incurred by these views. On the other hand, in response to what I call the robot objection (that if (...)compatibilism is true, human beings could be the products of design), some compatibilists are tempted to soften their position by placing restrictions on the origins of agency. I argue that both of these attempts are misguided. Hard libertarianism and hard compatibilism are the only theoretical options. (shrink)
Helen Beebee has recently argued that David Lewis’s account of compatibilism, so-called local miraclecompatibilism (LMC), allows for the possibility that agents in deterministic worlds have the ability to break or cause the breaking of a law of nature. Because Lewis’s LMC allows for this consequence, Beebee claims that LMC is untenable and subsequently that Lewis’s criticism of van Inwagen’s Consequence Argument for incompatibilism is substantially weakened. I review Beebee’s argument against Lewis’s thesis and argue that Beebee (...) has not refuted LMC and concomitantly has not demonstrated that Lewis’s criticism of the Consequence Argument fails. (shrink)
In Book II, chapter xxi of the Essay Concerning Human Understanding, on ‘Power’, Locke presents a radical critique of free will. This is the longest chapter in the Essay, and it is a difficult one, not least since Locke revised it four times without always taking care to ensure that every part cohered with the rest. My interest is to work out a coherent statement of what would today be termed ‘compatibilism’ from this text – namely, a doctrine which (...) seeks to render free will and determinism compatible. By emphasizing the hedonistic dimension of his argument, according to which we are determined by “the most pressing uneasiness” we feel, I show how a deterministic reading is possible. This was seen by Locke’s favorite and also most radical disciple, the deist Anthony Collins, whose treatise A Philosophical Inquiry Concerning Human Liberty (1717) is both a critique of Essay II.xxi and a radicalization of its contents. I argue that Collins articulated a form of determinism which recognizes the specificity of action, thanks in large part to the uniquely ‘volitional’ determinism suggested by Locke. (shrink)
In this paper, I try to show that externalist compatibilism in the debate on personal autonomy and manipulated freedom is as yet untenable. I will argue that Alfred R. Mele’s paradigmatic, history-sensitive externalism about psychological autonomy in general and autonomous deliberation in particular faces an insurmountable problem: it cannot satisfy the crucial condition of adequacy “H” for externalist theories that I formulate in the text. Specifically, I will argue that, contrary to first appearances, externalist compatibilism does not resolve (...) the CNC manipulation problem. After briefly reflecting on the present status of responses to the manipulation problem in the debate between compatibilists and incompatibilists of various stripes, I will draw the over-all pessimistic conclusion that no party deals with this problem satisfactorily. (shrink)
Terry Horgan (with D. Henderson and G. Graham) defends a new general metaphilosophical position called postanalytic metaphilosophy (PAM). I raise some critical points connected with the application of PAM to the problem of freedom. I question the distinction between opulent and austere construals of philosophical concepts. According to Horgan compatibilism comports better overall with the relevant data than does incompatibilism. I raise some objections. At the end I argue that contextualism is an inadequate explanation of incompatibilistic intuitions.
Two issues are raised with regard to Ted Honderich's A Theory of Determinism. First, regarding the relation between a token identity theory of mental and physical events and Honderich's ?psychoneural union theory?, it is suggested that a token identity theory would serve Honderich's purposes while securing a simpler ontology. Second, it is argued that there is a substantive philosophical issue dividing compatibilists and incompatibilists on the question of whether persons possess free will, contrary to Honderich's contention that the compatibilist and (...) incompatibilist differ only in responsive attitude. (shrink)
The use of predicate and sentential operators to express the practical modalities -- ability, control, openness, etc. -- has given new life to a fatalistic argument against determinist theories of responsible agency. A familiar version employs the following principle: the consequences of what is unavoidable (beyond one's control) are themselves unavoidable. Accordingly, if determinism is true, whatever happens is the consequence of events in the remote past, or, of such events together with the laws of nature. But laws and the (...) remote past are not under our control and, by the principle, neither are their consequences. Therefore, none of our choices and actions, nor anything that results from them, is under our control.1 Whether refinements of the closure principle underlying this unavoidability argument are acceptable depends upon the precise sense of 'consequence' and 'unavoidable' involved. Roughly, a proposition P is a consequence of a set of propositions M iff it is impossible that P be false when each member of M is true, or, conversely, when M necessitates P. Since P is unavoidable for S when P is true and S is (was) unable to prevent P from being true, it might seem that if P is unavoidable the same should hold of what is necessitated by P. There is, in fact, 1 an easy defense of the principle which utilizes the incompatibilist condition that S is able to do action K only if it is as yet undetermined whether or not S will K. With it, there is no question but that one is unable to accomplish what is already determined by what one was unable to prevent. Of course, this reasoning is unlikely to impress the compatibilist who rejects the condition outright and, expectedly, it is not the procedure of the proponents of the unavoidability argument. The latter might rest content with appeals to intuition, but more significant are defenses of the closure principle and independent derivations of the unavoidability argument that rely upon distinct principles concerning the logic of the practical modalities, for example, closure of ability under entailment (Cross 1986, Brown 1988) or, claims about the "fixity of the past" and the "inescapability of laws" (Ginet 1990).. (shrink)
We “prepunish” a person if we punish her prior to the commission of her crime. This essay discusses our intuitions about the permissibility of prepunishment and the relationship between prepunishment and compatibilism about free will and determinism. It has recently been argued that compatibilism has particular trouble generating a principled objection to prepunishment. The failure to provide such an objection may be a problem for compatibilism if our moral intuitions strongly favor the prohibition of prepunishment. In defense (...) of compatibilism, I argue that while no objection to prepunishment is entailed by the central tenets of compatibilism, this does not necessarily show that compatibilism conflicts with our moral intuitions. And while there may be no distinctly compatibilist objection to prepunishment, there are common-sense objections to prepunishment of which the compatibilist can make use, at least under actual-world circumstances. And, while these common-sense objections might be inoperative in certain non-actual circumstances, it is not clear that support for prepunishment would be unintuitive in these circumstances. (shrink)
Recently there have been a number of attempts to show that free will is not a necessary condition for moral responsibility. It is argued that moral responsibility can be shown to be compatible with determinism even if free will is not. I assess the two most prominent arguments for this position and conclude that neither is sound. There is, however, an argument which does make a prima facie case for this new form of compatibilism. This argument, however, is not (...) decisive. I maintain that what can be learned from the argument’s short-comings is that the free will problem can only be resolved by appeal to moral theory. We need some method by which competing intuitions about the matter can be adjudicated. (shrink)
So-called “manipulation arguments” have played a significant role in recent debates between compatibilists and incompatibilists. Incompatibilists take such arguments to show that agents who lack ultimate control over their characters or actions are not free. Most compatibilists agree that manipulated agents are not free but think this is because certain of the agent’s psychological capacities have been compromised. Chandra Sekhar Sripada has conducted an interesting study in which he applies an array of statistical tools to subjects’ intuitive responses to a (...) manipulation case, and he insists that the results of his study provide compelling evidence that people favor compatibilist views of freedom. I argue that because the case that forms the centerpiece of his study is relevantly different from the sort of cases incompatibilists have developed and because he fails to build deterministic conditions into this case, Sripada’s data cannot help settle the disagreement between compatibilists and incompatibilists. (shrink)
The compatibilist position on the free will problem tends to be perceived as clear, rather unitary and consistent even by those who oppose it. This notion is mistaken, and is harmful to the recognition of the weaknesses and strengths of compatibilism. By examining the three main compatibilist positions and their interrelationships, I attempt to see whether compatibilists can continue to hold together the different positions; and if they cannot, which position they should remain with. The conclusions reached are that (...) compatibilists ought to opt for one (‘control’) type of compatibilism, but that compatibilism is only partially convincing. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore a new approach to the problem of determinism and moral responsibility. This approach involves asking when someone has a compelling claim to exemption against other members of the moral community. I argue that it is sometimes fair to reject such claims, even when the agent doesn’t deserve, in the sense of basic desert, to be blamed for her conduct. In particular, when an agent’s conduct reveals that her commitment to comply with the standards of the (...) moral community is deficient, and when her demand for exemption further exemplifies this deficiency, she cannot complain of unfair treatment if her demand is rejected. To support this contention, I argue that we are sometimes justified in rejecting otherwise valid moral appeals on the grounds that they are cynically motivated, especially when an agent merely seeks to exploit our commitment to comply with reasonable interpersonal standards. An advantage of this approach is that it affords compatibilists a middle path, allowing them to defend our practice of blaming on non-consequentialist grounds of fairness, even as they acknowledge the force of arguments for incompatibilism about basic desert. (shrink)
In this paper, I discuss Hud Hudson's compatibilistic interpretation of Kant's theory of free will, which is based on Davidson's anomalous monism. I sketch an alternative interpretation of my own, an incompatibilistic interpretation according to which agents qua noumena are responsible for the particular causal laws which determine the actions of agents qua phenomena. Hudson's interpretation should be attractive to philosophers who value Kant's epistemology and ethics, but insist on a deflationary reading of things in themselves. It is in an (...) incompatibilist interpretation of Kant's theory of free will that a "positive" conception of noumena is at its most important. If a compatibilistic interpretation is acceptable, one might suppose that we can do without a "positive" conception of noumena throughout Kant's philosophy. I demonstrate, however, that there are central elements of Kant's theory of free will that cannot be accommodated within Hudson's interpretation. (shrink)
Terry Horgan University of Memphis In this paper I address the problem of causal exclusion, specifically as it arises for mental properties (although the scope of the discussion is more general, being applicable to other kinds of putatively causal properties that are not identical to narrowly physical causal properties, i.e., causal properties posited by physics). I summarize my own current position on the matter, and I offer a defense of this position. I draw upon and synthesize relevant discussions in various (...) <blockquote>  </blockquote> other papers of mine (some collaborative) that bear on this topic. (shrink)
This paper argues that Sosa’s virtue perspectivism fails to combine satisfactorily internalist and externalist features in a single theory. Internalism and externalism are reconciled at the price of creating a Gettier problem at the level of “reflective” or second-order knowledge. The general lesson to be learned from the critique of virtue perspectivism is that internalism and externalism cannot be combined by bifurcating justification and knowledge into an object-level and a meta-level and assigning externalism and internalism to different levels.
The millionaire’s idle, talentless and self-centered daughter inherits a large sum of money that she does not really deserve. The victim of kidnapping rots in a cell in 1980s Beirut in a captivity that springs not from any wrong he has done but from his ill-fortune in being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The hard-working, brilliant and self-denying Nobel Prize-winning scientist receives a large cheque for his extraordinarily productive labours. The murderer spends decades in jail for the (...) terrible crimes he has freely committed. The first two cases are cases where justice seems ill-served, where someone’s good or ill-fortune reflects not what they deserve but mere luck. The second two are cases where justice seems to be honoured: what befalls Scientist and Murderer reflects not their good or bad luck but their merits and deserts. (shrink)
Orthodox physicalism has a problem with mental causation. If physics is complete and mental events are not identical to physical events (as multiple-realisation arguments imply) it seems as though there is no causal work for the mental to do. This paper examines some recent attempts to overcome this problem by analysing causation in terms of counterfactuals or conditional probabilities. It is argued that these solutions cannot simultaneously capture the force of the completeness of physics and make room for mental causation.
It is quite obvious why the antireductionist picture of mental causation that rests on supervenience is an attractive theory. On the one hand, it secures uniqueness of the mental; on the other hand, it tries to place the mental in our world in a way that is compatible with the physicalist view. However, Kim reminds us that anti-reductionists face the following dilemma: either mental properties have causal powers or they do not. If they have them, we risk a violation of (...) the causal closure of the physical domain; if they do not have them, we embrace epiphenomenalism, which denies any sort of causal powers to the mental. So, either we violate the causal closure of physics, or we end up with epiphenomenalism. The first two sections of the article describe the problem of causal exclusion and Kim’s causal dilemma. The last two introduce Horgan’s antireductionist answer and my objection to that answer. (shrink)
In my paper I am concerned with Peter van Inwagen's Consequence Argument. I focus on its probably best known version. In this form it crucially employs the notion of rendering a proposition false, anotion that has never been made sufficiently clear. The main aim of my paper is to shed light on thisnotion. The explications offered so far in thedebate all are based on modal concepts. Iargue that for sufficient results a ``stronger'', hyper-intensional concept is needed, namely the concept expressed (...) by the word ``because''. I show that my analysis is superior to the prior ones. On the basis of this analysis I further explain why van Inwagen''s argument fails. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that there is an inherent difficulty in Frankfurt’s theory of moral responsibility. After developing Frankfurt’s account of the necessary conditions for moral responsibility complete with its thesis that the causes of our actions are irrelevant for moral responsibility, I discuss his notion of “real want,” “identification,” and personhood in search of his account of the sufficient conditions for moral responsibility. I conclude by arguing that there is a tension betweenFrankfurt’s notion of a person (and thus (...) his notion of moral responsibility) and Frankfurtian causal irrelevance. (shrink)
An object's disposition to A in circumstances C is masked if circumstances C obtain without the object Aing. This paper explores an analogous sense in which abilities can be masked, and it uses the results of this exploration to motivate an analysis of agents' abilities in terms of dispositions. This analysis is then shown to provide the resources to defend a version of the Principle of Alternate Possibilities against Frankfurt-style counterexamples. Although this principle is often taken to be congenial to (...) incompatibilism concerning free action and determinism, the paper concludes by using the dispositional analysis of abilities to argue for compatibilism, and to show why the 'master argument' for incompatibilism is unsound. (shrink)
In a recent paper I argued that agent causation theorists should be compatibilists. In this paper, I argue that compatibilists should be agent causation theorists. I consider six of the main problems facing compatibilism: (i) the powerful intuition that one can’t be responsible for actions that were somehow determined before one was born; (ii) Peter van Inwagen’s modal argument, involving the inference rule (β); (iii) the objection to compatibilism that is based on claiming that the ability to do (...) otherwise is a necessary condition for freedom; (iv) “manipulation arguments,” involving cases in which an agent is manipulated by some powerful being into doing something that he or she would not normally do, but in such a way that the compatibilist’s favorite conditions for a free action are satisfied; (v) the problem of constitutive luck; and (vi) the claim that it is not fair to blame someone for an action if that person was determined by forces outside of his or her control to perform that action. And in the case of each of these problems, I argue that the compatibilist has a much more plausible response to that problem if she endorses the theory of agent causation than she does otherwise. (shrink)
There are generally two controversial issues over Kant's solution to the free will problem. One is over whether he is a compatibilist or an incompatibilist and the other is over whether his solution is a success. In this paper, I will argue, regarding the first controversy, that “compatibilist” and “incompatibilist” are not the right terms to describe Kant for his unique views on freedom and determinism; but that of the two, incompatibilist is the more accurate description. Regarding the second controversy, (...) I will argue that Kant's solution to the free will problem is not a success because his effort in making the effects of freedom part of the field of appearance has made his solution incoherent and ambiguous. Despite this, I argue that Kant's attempt to solve the free will problem is groundbreaking because he at least has separated freedom from the dominance of determinism. (shrink)
Compatibilism is the doctrine that the doctrine of determinism is logically consistent with the doctrine of libertarianism. Determinism is the doctrine that every being and event is brought about by causes other than itself. Libertarianism is the doctrine that some human actions are free. Was Descartes a compatibilist? There is no doubt that he was a libertarian: his works are full of professions of freedom, human as well as divine. And though he held that God has no cause other (...) than himself, Descartes thought that everything apart from God is externally caused: he was a determinist with respect to the created universe. So it appears, assuming him consistent with himself, that Descartes must have been a compatibilist. And indeed, there are passages in his writings in which he appears explicitly to affirm that he is. Since both Descartes’s libertarianism and his determinism are complex doctrines, however, his view of the relation between them is complex as well. (shrink)
It is argued here that the question of whether compatibilism is true is irrelevant to metaphysical questions about the nature of human decision-making processes—for example, the question of whether or not humans have free will—except in a very trivial and metaphysically uninteresting way. In addition, it is argued that two other questions—namely, the conceptual-analysis question of what free will is and the question that asks which kinds of freedom are required for moral responsibility—are also essentially irrelevant to metaphysical questions (...) about the nature of human beings. (shrink)
In this paper I offer from a source compatibilist's perspective a critical discussion of "Four Views on Free Will" by John Martin Fischer, Robert Kane, Derk Pereboom, and Manuel Vargas. Sharing Fischer's semi-compatibilist view, I propose modifications to his arguments while resisting his coauthors' objections. I argue against Kane that he should give up the requirement that a free and morally responsible agent be able to do otherwise (in relevant cases). I argue against Pereboom that his famed manipulation argument be (...) resisted by contending that the agents in it are free and responsible. And I also argue against Vargas by challenging the sense in which his revisionist thesis differs from a position like Fischer's and mine. I close by reflecting on the nature of desert. All seem to assume it is central to the debate, but what is it? (shrink)
P.F. Strawson defends compatibilism by appeal to our natural commitment to the interpersonal community and the reactive attitudes. While Strawson''s compatibilist project has much to recommend it, his account of moral agency appears incomplete. Gary Watson has attempted to fortify Strawson''s theory by appeal to the notion of moral address. Watson then proceeds to argue, however, that Strawson''s theory of moral responsibility (so fortified) would commit Strawson to treating extreme evil as its own excuse. Watson also argues that the (...) reactive attitudes do not lend unequivocal support to Strawsonian compatibilism and that the reactive attitudes are sometimes sensitive to considerations which suggest an incompatibilist or skeptical diagnosis. Watson attempts to provide a Strawsonian defense against these difficulties, but he ultimately concludes that the skeptical threats raised against Strawsonian compatibilism cannot be sufficiently silenced. I believe that Watson has done Strawsonian compatibilism a great service by drawing upon the notion of moral address. In this paper I attempt to defend the Strawsonian compatibilist position, as Watson has cast it, against the problems raised by Watson. I argue against Watson that Strawson''s theory of responsibility, as well as the notion of moral address, does not commit the Strawsonian to treating extreme evil as its own excuse. I also argue that Watson misinterprets the point of certain reactive attitudes and thereby wrongly assumes that these attitudes are evidence against Strawsonian compatibilism. (shrink)
It is widely believed that (1) if theological determinism were true, in virtue of God’s role in determining created agents to perform evil actions, created agents would be neither free nor morally responsible for their evil actions and God would not be perfectly good; (2) if metaphysical compatibilism were true, the free-will defense against the deductive problem of evil would fail; and (3) on the assumption of metaphysical compatibilism, God could have actualized just any one of those myriad (...) possible worlds that are populated only by compatibilist free creatures. The primary thesis of this essay is that none of these propositions is true. This thesis is defended by appealing to a recently proposed novel, acausal, composite, unified theory of free action – the Theory of Middle Freedom – that evades the central problems plaguing traditional theories of metaphysical compatibilism. (shrink)
Recently, there has been an increased interest in folk intuitions about freedom and moral responsibility from both philosophers and psychologists. We aim to extend our understanding of folk intuitions about freedom and moral responsibility using an individual differences approach. Building off previous research suggesting that there are systematic differences in folks’ philosophically relevant intuitions, we present new data indicating that the personality trait extraversion predicts, to a significant extent, those who have compatibilist versus incompatibilist intuitions. We argue that identifying groups (...) of people who have specific and diverse intuitions about freedom and moral responsibility offers the possibility for theoretical advancement in philosophy and psychology, and may in part explain why some perennial philosophical debates have proven intractable. (shrink)
Paleo-compatibilism is the view that the freedom required for moral responsibility is not incompatible with determinism about the factors relevant to moral assessment, since the claim that we are free and the claim that the psychophysical elements are causally determined are true in distinct and incommensurable ways. This is to be accounted for by appealing to the distinction between conventional truth and ultimate truth developed by Buddhist Reductionists. Paleo-compatibilists hold that the illusion of incompatibilism only arises when we illegitimately (...) mix two distinct vocabularies, one concerned with persons, the other concerned with the parts to which persons are reducible. I explore the view, its roots in Buddhist Reductionism, and its prospects. (shrink)
Compatibilists argue, famously, that it is a simple incompatibilist confusion to suppose that determinism implies fatalism. Incompatibilists argue, on the contrary, that determinism implies fatalism, and thus cannot be consistent with the necessary conditions of moral responsibility. Despite their differences, however, both parties are agreed on one important matter: the refutation of fatalism is essential to the success of the compatibilist strategy. In this paper I argue that compatibilism requires a richer conception of fatalistic concern; one that recognizes the (...) _legitimacy_ of (pessimistic) concerns about the origination of character and conduct. On this basis I argue that any plausible compatibilist position must concede that determinism has fatalistic implications of some significant and relevant kind, and thus must allow that agents may be legitimately held responsible in circumstances where they are subject to fate. The position generated by these compatibilist concessions to incompatibilism will be called 'compatibilist-fatalism'. (shrink)
David Lewis has offered a reply to the standard argument for the claim that the truth of determinism is incompatible with anyone’s being able to do otherwise than she in fact does. Helen Beebee has argued that Lewis’s compatibilist strategy is untenable. In this paper I show that one recent attempt to defend Lewis’s view against this argument fails and then go on to offer my own defense of Lewis’s view.
Manipulation arguments for incompatibilism all build upon some example or other in which an agent is covertly manipulated into acquiring a psychic structure on the basis of which she performs an action. The featured agent, it is alleged, is manipulated into satisfying conditions compatibilists would take to be sufficient for acting freely. Such an example used in the context of an argument for incompatibilism is meant to elicit the intuition that, due to the pervasiveness of the manipulation, the agent does (...) not act freely and is not morally responsible for what she does. It is then claimed that any agent's coming to be in the same psychic state through a deterministic process is no different in any relevant respect from the pertinent manner of manipulation. Hence, it is concluded that compatibilists' proposed sufficient conditions for free will and moral responsibility are inadequate, and that free will and moral responsibility are incompatible with determinism. One way for compatibilists to resist certain manipulation arguments is by appealing to historical requirements that, they contend, relevant manipulated agents lack. While a growing number of compatibilists advance an historical thesis, in this paper, I redouble my efforts to show, in defense of nonhistorical compatibilists like Harry Frankfurt, that there is still life left in a nonhistorical view. The historical compatibilists, I contend, have fallen shy of discrediting their nonhistorical compatibilist rivals. (shrink)
The paper argues that it is possible for an incompatibilist to accept John Martin Fischer’s plausible insistence that the question whether we are morally responsible agents ought not to depend on whether the laws of physics turn out to be deterministic or merely probabilistic. The incompatibilist should do so by rejecting the fundamentalism which entails that the question whether determinism is true is a question merely about the nature of the basic physical laws. It is argued that this is a (...) better option for ensuring the irrelevance of physics than the embrace of semi-compatibilism, since there are reasons for supposing that alternate possibilities are necessary for moral responsibility, despite Fischer’s claims to the contrary. There are two distinct reasons for supposing that alternate possibilities might be necessary for moral responsibility—one of which is to do with fairness, the other to do with agency itself. It is suggested that if one focuses on the second of these reasons, Fischer’s arguments for supposing that alternate possibilities are unnecessary for moral responsibility can be met by the incompatibilist. Some possible reasons for denying that alternate possibilities are necessary for the existence of agency are then raised and rejected. (shrink)
The basis of stoic determinism (a) : everything has a cause -- The basis of stoic determinism (b) : causation is necessitating -- The threat of external determination -- Reflection and responsibility -- The three compatibilist theories of Chrysippus -- Epictetus on responsibility for unreflective action.
Libertarianism seems vulnerable to a serious problem concerning present luck, because it requires indeterminism somewhere in the causal chain leading to directly free action. Compatibilism, by contrast, is thought to be free of this problem, as not requiring indeterminism in the causal chain. I argue that this view is false: compatibilism is subject to a problem of present luck. This is less of a problem for compatibilism than for libertarianism. However, its effects are just as devastating for (...) one kind of compatibilism, the kind of compatibilism which is history-sensitive, and therefore must take the problem of constitutive luck seriously. The problem of present luck confronting compatibilism is sufficient to undermine the history-sensitive compatibilist's response to remote – constitutive – luck. (shrink)
Matthias Steup (Steup 2008) has recently argued that our doxastic attitudes are free by (i) drawing an analogy with compatibilism about freedom of action and (ii) denying that it is a necessary condition for believing at will that S's having an intention to believe that p can cause S to believe that p . In this paper, however, I argue that the strategies espoused in (i) and (ii) are incompatible.
In analysing Augustine's views on freedom it is standard to draw two distinctions; one between an earlier emphasis on human freedom and a later insistence that God alone governs human destiny, and another between pre-lapsarian and post-lapsarian freedom. These distinctions are real and important, but underlying them is a more fundamental consistency. Augustine is a compatibilist from his earliest work on freedom through his final anti-Pelagian writings, and the freedom possessed by the un-fallen and the fallen will is a compatibilist (...) freedom. This leaves Augustine open to the charge that he makes God the ultimate cause of sin. (shrink)
The paper offers the outlines of a response to the often-made suggestion that it is impossible to see how indeterminism could possibly provide us with anything that we might want in the way of freedom, anything that could really amount to control, as opposed merely to an openness in the flow of reality that would constitute the injection of chance, or randomness, into the unfolding of the processes which underlie our activity. It is suggested that the best first move for (...) the libertarian is to make a number of important concessions to the compatibilist. It should be conceded, in particular, that certain sorts of alternative possibilities are neither truly available to real, worldly agents nor required in order that those agents act freely; and it should be admitted also that it is the compatibilist who tends to give the most plausible sorts of analyses of many of the 'can' and 'could have' statements which seem to need to be assertible of those agents we regard as free. But these concessions do not bring compatibilism itself in their wake. The most promising version of libertarianism, it is argued, is based on the idea that agency itself (and not merely some special instances of it which we might designate with the honorific appellation 'free') is inconsistent with determinism. This version of libertarianism, it is claimed, can avoid the objection that indeterminism is as difficult to square with true agential control as determinism can sometimes seem to be. (shrink)
This article critically examines Kadri Vihvelin's proposal that to have free will is to have the ability to make choices on the basis of reasons, and to have this ability is to have a bundle of dispositions that can be exercised in more than one way. It is argued that partisans of Frankfurt examples can still make a powerful case for the view that being able to do otherwise, even on Vihvelin's compatibilist explication of ‘could have done otherwise,’ is not (...) required for moral responsibility. (shrink)
Incompatibilists about free will and responsibility often maintain that incompatibilism is the intuitive, commonsense position. Recently, this claim has come under unfavorable scrutiny from naturalistic philosophers who have surveyed philosophically uneducated undergraduates.1 But there is a much older problem for the claim that incompatibilism is intuitive – if incompatibilism is intuitive, why is compatibilism so popular in the history of philosophy? In this paper I will try to answer this question by pursuing a rather different naturalistic methodology. The idea (...) is to look not at the responses of the philosophically naïve, but at the views of the most sophisticated – the philosophers.. (shrink)
I shall argue that compatibilism cannot resist in a principled way the temptation to prepunish people. Compatibilism thus emerges as a much more radical view than it is typically presented and perceived, and is seen to be at odds with fundamental moral intuitions.