The question I raise is whether Mark Balaguer’s event-causal libertarianism can withstand the disappearing agent objection. The concern is that with the causal role of the events antecedent to a decision already given, nothing settles whether the decision occurs, and so the agent does not settle whether the decision occurs. Thus it would seem that in this view the agent will not have the control in making decisions required for moral responsibility. I examine whether Balaguer’s position has the resources to (...) answer this objection. (shrink)
Consciousness and the Prospects of Physicalism has three parts. The first (Chapters 1–4) develops a response to the knowledge and conceivability arguments against physicalism, one that features the open possibility that introspective representations represent mental properties as having features they actually lack. The second part (Chapters 5 and 6) proposes a physicalist version of a Russellian Monist answer to these arguments, the core of which is that currently unknown intrinsic physical properties provide categorical bases for known physical properties and also (...) yield an account of consciousness. The third part (Chapters 7 and 8) defends a nonreductive account of physicalism about the mental, according to which the relation between the mental and the microphysical is constitution, where this relation is not explicated by the notion of identity. (shrink)
On Fischer’s Our Stories Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11098-010-9670-5 Authors Derk Pereboom, Sage School of Philosophy, Cornell University, 218 Goldwin Smith Hall, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
In this book, Derk Pereboom explores how physicalism might best be formulated and defended against the best anti-physicalist arguments. Two responses to the knowledge and conceivability arguments are set out and developed. The first exploits the open possibility that introspective representations fail to represent mental properties as they are in themselves; specifically, that introspection represents phenomenal properties as having certain characteristic qualitative natures, which these properties might actually lack. The second response draws on the proposal that currently unknown fundamental intrinsic (...) properties provide categorical bases for known physical properties and would also yield an account of consciousness. While there are non-physicalist versions of this position, some are amenable to physicalism. The book's third theme is a defense of a nonreductive account of physicalism. The type of nonreductivism endorsed departs from others in that it rejects all token identity claims for psychological and microphysical entities. The deepest relation between the mental and the microphysical is constitution, where this relation is not to be explicated by the notion of identity. (shrink)
This critical notice highlights the important contributions that Eric Watkins's writings have made to our understanding of theories about causation developed in eighteenth-century German philosophy and by Kant in particular. Watkins provides a convincing argument that central to Kant's theory of causation is the notion of a real ground or causal power that is non-Humean (since it doesn't reduce to regularities or counterfactual dependencies among events or states) and non-Leibnizean because it doesn't reduce to logical or conceptual relations. However, we (...) raise questions about Watkins's more specific claims that Kant completely rejects a model on which the first relatum of a phenomenal causal relation is an event and that he maintains that real grounds are metaphysically and not just epistemically indeterminate. -/- . (shrink)
I have presented a Frankfurt-style argument (Pereboom 2000, 2001, 2003) against the requirement of robust alternative possibilities for moral responsibility that features an example, Tax Evasion , in which an agent is intuitively morally responsible for a decision, has no robust alternative possibilities, and is clearly not causally determined to make the decision. Here I revise the criterion for robustness in response to suggestions by Dana Nelkin, Jonathan Vance, and Kevin Timpe, and I respond to objections to the argument by (...) Carlos Moya and David Widerker, in the process of which I refine the Tax Evasion example. (shrink)
I have argued we are not free in the sense required for moral responsibility, while at the same time a conception of life without this type of free will would not be devastating to morality or to our sense of meaning in life, and in certain respects it may even be beneficial (cf. Pereboom 2001). In ..
In this article I develop several responses to my co-authors of Four Views on Free Will. In reply to Manuel Vargas, I suggest a way to clarify his claim that our concepts of free will and moral responsibility should be revised, and I question whether he really proposes to revise the notion of basic desert at stake in the debate. In response to Robert Kane, I examine the role the rejection of Frankfurt-style arguments has in his position, and whether his (...) criticism of my version of this argument is sound. In reply to John Fischer, I argue that the reasons-responsiveness central to his account of moral responsibility is not best characterized counterfactually, and I provide a suggestion for revision. (shrink)
A traditional concern for determinists is that the epistemic conditions an agent must satisfy to deliberate about which of a number of distinct actions to perform threaten to conflict with a belief in determinism and its evident consequences. I develop an account of the sort that specifies two epistemic requirements, an epistemic openness condition and a belief in the efficacy of deliberation, whose upshot is that someone who believes in determinism and its evident consequences can deliberate without inconsistent beliefs. I (...) argue that conditions of both types are indispensable, and that they can be formulated so as to withstand the relevant objections. (shrink)
I argue that agent-causal libertarianism has a strong initial rejoinder to Mele's luck argument against it, but that his claim that it has yet to be explained how agent-causation yields responsibility-conferring control has significant force. I suggest an avenue of response. Subsequently, I raise objections to Mele's criticisms of my four-case manipulation argument against compatibilism.
Transcendental freedom consists in the power of agents to produce actions without being causally determined by antecedent conditions, nor by their natures, in exercising this power. Kant contends that we cannot establish whether we are actually or even possibly free in this sense. He claims only that our conception of being transcendentally free involves no inconsistency, but that as a result the belief that we have this freedom meets a pertinent standard of minimal credibility. For the rest, its justification depends (...) on practical reasons. I argue that this belief satisfies an appropriately revised standard of minimal credibility, but that the practical reasons Kant adduces for it are subject to serious challenge. (shrink)
In _Living Without Free Will_, I develop and argue for a view according to which our being morally responsible would be ruled out if determinism were true, and also if indeterminism were true and the causes of our actions were exclusively events.1 Absent agent causation, indeterministic causal histories are as threatening to moral responsibility as deterministic histories are, and a generalization argument from manipulation cases shows that deterministic histories indeed undermine moral responsibility. Agent causation has not been ruled out as (...) a coherent possibility, but it is not credible given our best physical theories. Hence we must take seriously the prospect that we are not free in the sense required for moral responsibility. I call the resulting view _hard incompatibilism_. Furthermore, contrary to widespread belief, a conception of life without free will would not at all be devastating to morality or to our sense of meaning in life, and in certain respects it may even be beneficial. (shrink)
The claim that moral responsibility for an action requires that the agent could have done otherwise is surely attractive. Moreover, it seems reasonable to contend that a requirement of this sort is not merely a necessary condition of little consequence, but that it plays a decisive role in explaining an agent's moral responsibility for an action. For if an agent is to be blameworthy for an action, it seems crucial that she could have done something to avoid this blameworthiness. If (...) she is to be praiseworthy for an action, it seems important that at least she could have done something less admirable. Libertarians, in particular, have often grounded their incompatibilism precisely in such intuitions. By contrast, I shall argue that the availability of alternative possibilities is in a significant sense irrelevant to explaining an agent's moral responsibility for an action. At the same time I do not want to disavow incompatibilism, but rather to defend a version in which the pivotal explanatory role is assigned to features of the causal history of the action, and not to the availability of alternative possibilities.(2). (shrink)
In a recent article Gary Watson instructively distinguishes two faces or aspects of responsibility. The first is the self-disclosing sense, which is concerned centrally with aretaic or excellence-relevant evaluations of agents. An agent is responsible for an action in this respect when it is an action that is inescapably the agent’s own, if, as a declaration of her adopted ends, it expresses what the agent is about, her identity as an agent. An action for which the agent is responsible in (...) this sense expresses what the agent is ready to stand up for, to defend, to affirm, to answer for. (1996: 233-4) . The second face of responsibility has perhaps had a more explicit role in debates about free will — it concerns control and accountability. Watson argues that when one is skeptical about the second "accountability" face, one need not also be skeptical about responsibility as self-disclosure. I agree, and in my view, this helps us see why maintaining that determinism precludes accountability need not also commit one to the view that determinism precludes responsibility in a way that threatens meaning in life. Part of the reason for this is that when responsibility as accountability is undermined, less of what we deem valuable needs to be relinquished than often believed. But in addition, it turns out that the kind of accountability precluded by determinism is not nearly as important to what is most significant in human life as is responsibility as self-disclosure. Indeed, it may be that an unfortunate fusing of these two notions underlies the concern that if determinism imperils accountability, it also threatens what most fundamentally makes our lives meaningful. (shrink)