Much of chapters 2 to 6 is in agreement with publications from the last twenty years (including those of the reviewer); so for example Frede’s points that neither Aristotle nor the Stoics had a notion of free-will; that in Epictetus (for the first time) the notions of freedom and will were combined; that an indeterminist notion of free-will occurs first in Alexander. The achievement of these chapters lies in the way Frede carefully joins them together and uses them (...) as a basis for some substantive criticism and rewriting of the history of free-will regarding late antique Pagan and Christian authors, in particular Plotinus, Origen and Augustine. (shrink)
John Stuart Mill is the philosopher of liberalism. Or so some people think. Others disagree; they may give that status to Locke, or (perhaps) to Kant. Or they may think the question frivolous and insist – boringly but, I cannot deny, sensibly – that no one thinker is the philosopher of liberalism.
Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise (1670) is one of the most important philosophical works of the early modern period. In it Spinoza discusses at length the historical circumstances of the composition and transmission of the Bible, demonstrating the fallibility of both its authors and its interpreters. He argues that free enquiry is not only consistent with the security and prosperity of a state but actually essential to them, and that such freedom flourishes best in a democratic and republican state in which (...) individuals are left free while religious organizations are subordinated to the secular power. His Treatise has profoundly influenced the subsequent history of political thought, Enlightenment 'clandestine' or radical philosophy, Bible hermeneutics, and textual criticism more generally. It is presented here in a new translation of great clarity and accuracy by Michael Silverthorne and Jonathan Israel, with a substantial historical and philosophical introduction by Jonathan Israel. (shrink)
Two important works by one of philosophy's most original and penetrating thinkers appear in this volume. Spinoza's "A Theologico-Political Treatise" presents an eloquent plea for religious liberty, demonstrating that true religion consists of the practice of simple piety, independent of philosophical speculation. He examines the Bible at length to show that freedom of thought and speech are consistent with the religious life. In the unfinished "A Political Treatise," the author develops a theory of government founded on common consent.
Machine generated contents note: List of contributors; Acknowledgements; List of abbreviations; Introduction Yitzhak Y. Melamed and Michael Rosenthal; Spinoza's exchange with Albert Burgh Edwin Curley; The text of Spinoza's Tractatus Theologico-Politicus Piet Steenbakkers; Spinoza on Ibn Ezra's Secret of the Twelve Warren Zev Harvey; Reflections of the medieval Jewish-Christian debate in the Theological-Political Treatise and the Epistles Daniel J. Lasker; The early Dutch and German reaction to the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus: foreshadowing the Enlightenment's more general Spinoza reception? Jonathan Israel; G. W. (...) Leibniz's two readings of the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus Mogens Laerke; The metaphysics of the Theological-Political Treatise Yitzhak Y. Melamed; Spinoza's conception of law: metaphysics and ethics Donald Rutherford; Getting his hands dirty: Spinoza's criticism of the rebel Michael Della Rocca; 'Promising' ideas: Hobbes and contract in Spinoza's political philosophy Don Garrett; Spinoza's curious defense of toleration Justin Steinberg; Miracles, wonder, and the state in Spinoza's Theological-Political Treatise Michael A. Rosenthal; Narrative as the means to freedom: Spinoza on the uses of imagination Susan James; Bibliography. (shrink)
This essay suggests that common themes in recent feminist ethical thought can dislodge the guiding assumptions of traditional theories of free agency and thereby foster an account of freedom which might be more fruitful for feminist discussion of moral and political agency. The essay proposes constructing that account around a condition of normative-competence. It argues that this view permits insight into why women's labor of reclaiming and augmenting their agency is both difficult and possible in a sexist society.
"This is an important book, and no one interested in issues which touch on the free will will want to ignore it."--Ethics. In this stimulating and thought-provoking book, the author defends the thesis that free will is incompatible with determinism. He disputes the view that determinism is necessary for moral responsbility. Finding no good reason for accepting determinism, but believing moral responsiblity to be indubitable, he concludes that determinism should be rejected.
Accessible to students with no background in the subject, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will provides an extensive and up-to-date overview of all the latest views on this central problem of philosophy. Opening with a concise introduction to the history of the problem of free will--and its place in the history of philosophy--the book then turns to contemporary debates and theories about free will, determinism, and related subjects like moral responsibility, coercion, compulsion, autonomy, agency, rationality, freedom, and (...) more. Classical compatibilist and new compatibilist theories of free will are considered along with the latest incompatibilist or libertarian theories and the most recent skeptical challenges to free will. Separate chapters are devoted to the relation of free will to moral responsibility and ethics; to modern science; and to religious questions about predestination, divine foreknowledge, and human freedom. Numerous down-to-earth examples and challenging thought experiments enliven the text. The book is an ideal addition to introduction to philosophy, metaphysics, and free will courses. (shrink)
In recent decades, with advances in the behavioral, cognitive, and neurosciences, the idea that patterns of human behavior may ultimately be due to factors beyond our conscious control has increasingly gained traction and renewed interest in the age-old problem of free will. In this book I examine both the traditional philosophical problems long associated with the question of free will, such as the relationship between determinism and free will, as well as recent experimental and theoretical work directly (...) related to consciousness and human agency. I argue that our best scientific theories indeed have the consequence that factors beyond our control produce all of the actions we perform and that because of this we do not possess the kind of free will required for genuine or ultimate responsibility. I further argue that the strong and pervasive belief in free will, which I consider an illusion, can be accounted for through a careful analysis of our phenomenology and a proper theoretical understanding of consciousness. Indeed, the primary goal of this book is to argue that our subjective feeling of freedom, as reflected in the first-person phenomenology of agentive experience, is an illusion created by certain aspects of our consciousness. So after working to establish that free will is an illusion in the early chapters, I then proceed to give a novel account of just how that illusion is created in the later chapters. I present my illusionist account using one leading theory of consciousness—the higher-order thought (or HOT) theory of consciousness. I maintain that by combining the theoretical framework of the HOT theory with empirical findings in the behavioral, cognitive, and neurosciences, we can come to see that the illusion of free will is created by the particular way our higher-order thoughts make us conscious of our mental states and how our sense of self is constructed within consciousness. (shrink)
Introduction -- The nature of free will -- Requirements of freedom : preeminently deliberation -- Free will requires the absence of thought-external -- Determination over choices and decisions -- Choice and decision are crucial -- Doing and trying -- Free action and agent causality -- Modes of freedom -- Metaphysical and moral freedom -- Moral freedom is removed by manipulation and especially -- Compulsion -- Intention and moral standing -- Moral freedom of the will involves agent (...) intent and motivation -- Ramifications of freedom -- Free will requires up-to-the-end revisability but this does not gainsay probabilistic predictability -- Issues of revision and control -- The counterfactual dimension : "could have done otherwise" -- Problem cases : machines and lunatics -- Free will as outside causality but compatible with it -- Averting the zenonic fallacy of casual regression -- Averting predetermination (contrasting pre-determination with precedence determination) -- The crucial contrast between events and eventuations -- Choices and decisions as terminating eventuations -- Free will stands outside the stream of natural causality -- On freedom and causality -- Free will excludes pre-determinism but not motive determinism -- Motivational determinism vs. casual necessitation -- Motivations and motives -- Freedom from what? : certainly not from one's own motives -- And reasons: freedom demands motivational determination -- Free will requires motivational determinism -- Determination by one's autonomous motives is the crux of moral freedom -- Compulsion is impulsion -- Objections to motive determinism can be met -- Freedom and motivation -- Must an agent choose his motives for a decision to qualify (morally) as free? -- Freedom does not require motivational self-construction -- Does freedom require self-understanding? -- Willing to will : does freedom require the will to be self-endorsing? -- Does freedom require the approval of intellect and reason? -- Does freedom require self-approved motives? -- Buridan's ass : a random willfulness is not freedom -- Compatibilism regains : what free will excludes is not agent -- Determination but gant-bypassing nature determination -- The explanation of free acts via agent determination -- Freedom, responsibility, and "could have done otherwise" -- Reasons and motives impel but do not compel -- Compatibilism again -- Mind-matter partnership -- A two-sided coin -- The issue of initiative -- A salient duality -- Mind-brain interaction works by coordination not by causality -- Does free will exist? deliberations -- Pro and con -- On evidentiating free will -- Is free will unscientific? -- So does science counter-indicate free will -- Free-will naturalism and evolution. (shrink)
It is sometimes said that Augustine discovered the faculty of the will, and as a result inaugurated philosophy’s fascination with issues related to free will. While philosophers prior to Augustine clearly discussed related issues of, for example, voluntariness and agency, one finds in Augustine a focus on a faculty distinct from reason which is necessary for praise and blame that one would be hard-pressed to find in earlier thinkers. Augustine addressed the importance of free will in many of (...) his works; But he never seems to question whether or not humans have free will. That is, the following question is one that Augustine never seems to raise because he thought the answer was an obvious yes: The Existence Question: Do humans have free will?ii In recent years, the Existence Question has come to be at the forefront of many of the debates concerning free will as an increasing number of scholars are skeptical about the existence of free will. My aim in this chapter is not so much to answer the Existence Question, but to provide a framework for understanding how the question should be answered. I also provide a taxonomical overview of aspects of the contemporary literature in order to show how one’s answer to the Existence Question depends on other issues pertaining to the nature of free will. (shrink)
ABSTRACT: In this paper I argue that the ‘discovery’ of the problem of causal determinism and freedom of decision in Greek philosophy is the result of a combination and mix-up of Aristotelian and Stoic thought in later antiquity; more precisely, a (mis-)interpretation of Aristotle’s philosophy of deliberate choice and action in the light of Stoic theory of determinism and moral responsibility. The (con-)fusion originates with the beginnings of Aristotle scholarship, at the latest in the early 2nd century AD. It (...) undergoes several developments, absorbing Epictetan, Middle-Platonist, and Peripatetic ideas; and it leads eventually to a concept of freedom of decision and an exposition of the ‘free-will problem’ in Alexander of Aphrodisias’ On Fate and in the Mantissa ascribed to him. (shrink)
In 1962, the philosopher Richard Taylor used six commonly accepted presuppositions to imply that human beings have no control over the future. David Foster Wallace not only took issue with Taylor's method, which, according to him, scrambled the relations of logic, language, and the physical world, but also noted a semantic trick at the heart of Taylor's argument. -/- Fate, Time, and Language presents Wallace's brilliant critique of Taylor's work. Written long before the publication of his fiction and essays, Wallace's (...) thesis reveals his great skepticism of abstract thinking made to function as a negation of something more genuine and real. He was especially suspicious of certain paradigms of thought-the cerebral aestheticism of modernism, the clever gimmickry of postmodernism-that abandoned "the very old traditional human verities that have to do with spirituality and emotion and community." As Wallace rises to meet the challenge to free will presented by Taylor, we witness the developing perspective of this major novelist, along with his struggle to establish solid logical ground for his convictions. This volume, edited by Steven M. Cahn and Maureen Eckert, reproduces Taylor's original article and other works on fatalism cited by Wallace. James Ryerson's introduction connects Wallace's early philosophical work to the themes and explorations of his later fiction, and Jay Garfield supplies a critical biographical epilogue. (shrink)
Consideration of the German philosophy and political history of the past century might well give the impression, and often does give foreign observers the impression, that liberalism, including in particular commitment to the ideal of freethought and expression, is only skin-deep in Germany. Were not Heidegger's disgust at Gerede (which of course really meant the free speech of the Weimar Republic) and Gadamer's defense of "prejudice" and "tradition" more reflective of the true instincts of German philosophy (...) than, say, the Frankfurt School's heavily Anglophone-influenced championing of freethought and expression? Were not the Kaiser and Nazism more telling of Germany's real political nature than the liberalism of the Weimar Republic (a desperate, ephemeral experiment undertaken in reaction to Germany's disastrous defeat in World War I) or the liberalism of (West) Germany since 1945 (in effect forced on the country by the victorious Allies after World War II)? (shrink)
The notion of a constitutive lack, which formed the ambivalent initial framework of Western metaphysics, marks the contemporary attempt to think anew the social and the subject. While metaphysics had difficulties to justify ontologically the event of sociality and was tempted to construct a closed subjectivity, post-metaphysical thought by contrast justifies often the sociality of a non-identity. The presuppositions of Orthodox-Christian theology allow us to think of subjectivity and sociality in terms of a different ontology, elaborating a new synthesis (...) between anthropology and eschatology, within which the subject can emerge as radical sociality and natal receptivity, as free and true in its very relationality. The most profound and acute intellectual demands of our present time could then meet central notions of the Orthodox-Christian heritage and point at the perspective of a new historical encounter, which enriches both traditions by mutually engaging to each others fundamental experiences. (shrink)
Dialogue, unconstrained truth-seeking discussion, is nothing but the social expression of freethought. Given the distortions and manipulations to which freethought is subject, only continued full exposure to free discussion can give us continued rational warrant for our beliefs. Socially possessed truth and disinterested, rational qualities of mind among citizens are public goods.
In this essay I present what is, I contend, the free-will problem properly thought through, or at least presented in a form in which it is possible to think about it without being constantly led astray by bad terminology and confused ideas. Bad terminology and confused ideas are not uncommon in current discussions of the problem. The worst such pieces of terminology are "libertarian free will" and "compatibilist free will." The essay consists partly of a defense (...) of the thesis that the use of these phrases by writers on the problem of free will can only generate conceptual confusion and partly of a formulation of the problem that does not make use of them. I contend that this formulation is neutral with respect to the historically important positions on free will (e. g., compatibilism and incompatibilism). (shrink)
Do people have free will, or this universal belief an illusion? If free will is more than an illusion, what kind of free will do people have? How can free will influence behavior? Can free will be studied, verified, and understood scientifically? How and why might a sense of free will have evolved? These are a few of the questions this book attempts to answer. People generally act as though they believe in their own (...)free will: they don't feel like automatons, and they don't treat one another as they might treat robots. While acknowledging many constraints and influences on behavior, people nonetheless act as if they (and their neighbors) are largely in control of many if not most of the decisions they make. Belief in free will also underpins the sense that people are responsible for their actions. Psychological explanations of behavior rarely mention free will as a factor, however. Can psychological science find room for free will? How do leading psychologists conceptualize free will, and what role do they believe free will plays in shaping behavior? In recent years a number of psychologists have tried to solve one or more of the puzzles surrounding free will. This book looks both at recent experimental and theoretical work directly related to free will and at ways leading psychologists from all branches of psychology deal with the philosophical problems long associated with the question of free will, such as the relationship between determinism and free will and the importance of consciousness in free will. It also includes commentaries by leading philosophers on what psychologists can contribute to long-running philosophical struggles with this most distinctly human belief. These essays should be of interest not only to social scientists, but to intelligent and thoughtful readers everywhere. (shrink)
This paper outlines one way of thinking about the problem of free will, some general reasons for dissatisfactions with traditional approaches to solving it, and some considerations in favor of pursuing a broadly revisionist solution to it. If you are looking for a student-friendly introduction to revisionist theorizing about free will, this is probably the thing to look at.
Thought experiments have a mysterious way of informing us about the world, apparently without examining it, yet with a great degree of certainty. It is tempting to try to explain this capacity by making use of the idea that in thought experiments, the mind somehow simulates the processes about which it reaches conclusions. Here, I test this idea. I argue that when they predict the outcomes of hypothetical physical situations, thought experiments cannot simulate physical processes. They use (...) mental models, which should not be confused with process-driven simulations. A convincing case can be made that thought experiments about hypothetical mental processes are mental simulations. Concerning moral thought experiments, I argue that construing them as simulations of mental processes favours certain moral theories over others. The scope of mental simulation in thought experiments is primarily limited by the constraint of relevant similarity on source and target processes: on one hand, this constraint disqualifies thought from simulating external natural processes; on the other hand, it is a source of epistemic bias in moral thought experiments. In view of these results, I conclude that thought experiments and mental simulations cannot be assimilated as means of acquiring knowledge. (shrink)
Over the past three decades, I have been developing a distinctive view of free will motivated by a desire to reconcile a non-determinist (incompatibilistor libertarian) view of free will with modern science as well as with recent developments in philosophy. A view of free will of the kind I defend (called a “causalindeterminist” or “event-causal” view in the current literature) did not exist in a developed form before the 1980s, but is now discussed in the philosophical literature (...) as one of three chief options an incompatibilist or libertarian view of free will might take. As such, this view has been the subject of much recent discussion. In this paper, I explain and defend my view of free will, and answer recent criticisms of it. Some of these criticisms are made by Robert Allen in his paper “Self-forming Actions,” a contribution to the seminar of which the present paper is a part. I also respond to Katherin Rogers’ contribution to this seminar “Libertarianism in Kane and Anselm.” Her book, Anselm on Freedom (forthcoming from Oxford), argues that Anselm defended a unique libertarian view of free will, avoiding both Pelagianism and Augustine’s later compatibilism, a view that she argues has affinities to my view of free will. I also discuss these affinities to Anselm in my paper and their theological and well as philosophical implications. (shrink)
Free will sceptics claim that we do not possess free will—or at least, that we do not possess nearly as much free will as we think we do. Some free will sceptics hold that the very notion of free will is incoherent, and that no being could possibly possess free will (Strawson this volume). Others allow that the notion of free will is coherent, but hold that features of our cognitive architecture prevent us (...) from possessing free will. My concern in this chapter is with views of the second kind. According to an increasingly influential line of thought, our common-sense commitment to the existence of free will is threatened in unique ways by what we are learning from the sciences of human agency. (shrink)
Book description: Much contemporary philosophical debate centres on the topics of logic, thought and language, and on the connections between these topics. This collection of articles is based on the Royal Institute of Philosophy’s annual lecture series for 2000–2001. Its contributors include a number of those working at the forefront of the field, and in their papers they reflect their own current pre-occupations. As such, the volume will be of interest to all philosophers, whether their own work is within (...) the areas of language and thought or not. (shrink)
What does free will mean to laypersons? The present investigation sought to address this question by identifying how laypersons distinguish between free and unfree actions. We elicited autobiographical narratives in which participants described either free or unfree actions, and the narratives were subsequently subjected to impartial analysis. Results indicate that free actions were associated with reaching goals, high levels of conscious thought and deliberation, positive outcomes, and moral behavior (among other things). These findings suggest that (...) lay conceptions of free will fit well with the view that free will is a form of action control. (shrink)
Against Norton's claim that all thought experiments can be reduced to explicit arguments, I defend Brown's position that certain thought experiments yield a priori knowledge. They do this, I argue, not by allowing us to perceive “Platonic universals” (Brown), even though they may contain non-propositional components that are epistemically indispensable, but by helping to identify certain tacit presuppositions or “natural interpretations” (Feyerabend's term) that lead to a contradiction when the phenomenon is described in terms of them, and by (...) suggesting a new natural interpretation in terms of which the phenomenon can be redescribed free of contradiction. (shrink)
Hylomorphism offers a third way between animalist approaches to personal identity that maintain psychology is irrelevant to our persistence and neo-Lockean accounts that deny we are animals. A Thomistic-inspired account is provided that explains the intuitive responses to thought experiments involving brain transplants and the transformation of organic bodies into inorganic ones without having to follow the animalist in abandoning the claim that it is our identity that matters in survival nor countenance the puzzles of spatially coincident entities that (...) plague the neo-Lockean. The key is to understand the human being as only contingently an animal. This approach to our animality is one that Catholics have additional reason to hold given certain views about Purgatory, our uniqueness as free and rational creatures, and our having once existed as zygotes. (shrink)
The present chapter is concerned with revisionism about free will. It begins by offering a new characterization of revisionist accounts and the way such accounts fit (or do not) in the familiar framework of compatibilism and incompatibilism. It then traces some of the recent history of the development of revisionist accounts, and concludes by remarking on some challenges for them.
In this fully revised and up-to-date edition of Ted Honderich's modern classic, he offers a concise and lively introduction to free will and the problem of determinism, advancing the debate on this key area of moral philosophy. Honderich sets out a determinist philosophy of mind, in response to the question, "Is there a really clear, consistent and complete version of determinism?" and asks instead if there is such a clear version of free will. He goes on to address (...) the question of whether determinism is true and finally asks, "What can we conclude about our lives if determinism is true?". (shrink)
Introduction. Whatever its underlying causes, even the description of the phenomenon of thought insertion, of the content of the delusion, presents difficulty. It may seem that the best hope of a description comes from a broadly cognitivist approach to the mind which construes content-laden mental states as internal mental representations within what is literally an inner space: the space of the brain or nervous system. Such an approach objectifies thoughts in a way which might seem to hold out the (...) prospect of describing the ''alienated'' relation to one's own thoughts that seems to be present in thought insertion.1 Method. Firstly, I examine the general structure of cognitivist accounts of intentional or content-laden mental states. I raise the general difficulty of explaining how free-standing, and thus world-independent, inner states can still have bearing on the outer world. Secondly, I briefly examine Frith's model for explaining thought insertion and other passivity phenomena by postulating a failure of an internal monitoring mechanism of inner states. I question what account can be given of non-pathological cases and raise two specific objects. Results. Cognitivist accounts of the mind face a general, and possibly insuperable, challenge: explaining the intentionality of mental states in non-intentional, non- question-begging terms. There have so far been no satisfactory solutions. Cognitivist accounts of passivity phenomena in terms of a failure of internal monitoring face two objections. Firstly, accounting for non-pathological cases generates an infinite regress. Secondly, no account can be given of the paradoxical nature of utterances of the form of Moore's paradox: ''it is raining but I do not believe it''. Conclusions. A cognitivist approach presents an alienated account of thought in normal, non-pathological cases and is no help in accounting for thought insertion. (shrink)
It has long been thought that science is our best hope for realizing objective knowledge, but that, to deliver on this promise, it must be value free. Things are not so simple, however, as recent work in science studies makes clear. The contributors to this volume investigate where and how values are involved in science, and examine the implications of this involvement for ideals of objectivity.
Philosophers have a way of making the obvious seem absurd, the pervasive seem problematic, and the actual seem impossible. They deny, or at least raise grave doubts about or else render paradoxical, such things as causality and change, consciousness and free will, and knowledge of material objects. They use smoke and mirrors, I mean powerful arguments, to do this. Take the case of singular thought.
Many philosophical problems are rooted in everyday thought, and experimental philosophy uses social scientific techniques to study the psychological underpinnings of such problems. In the case of free will, research suggests that people in a diverse range of cultures reject determinism, but people give conflicting responses on whether determinism would undermine moral responsibility. When presented with abstract questions, people tend to maintain that determinism would undermine responsibility, but when presented with concrete cases of wrongdoing, people tend to say (...) that determinism is consistent with moral responsibility. It remains unclear why people reject determinism and what drives people’s conflicted attitudes about responsibility. Experimental philosophy aims to address these issues and thereby illuminate the philosophical problem of free will. (shrink)
F.W.J. Schelling, one of the essential thinkers in the development of German Idealism, formed his own thought not only in a critical dialogue with Kant's and Fichte's transcendentalism and Hegel's earlier conception of thinking, but also in an intensive discussion with Plato and Aristotle. Over and above that, Neoplatonism - especially Plotinus, Proclus and the Christian Dionysius the Areopagite - played a decisive role in Schelling's reception and transformation of ancient philosophy.Selecting the manifold aspects which could be reflected on (...) in this field, I want to make plausible as a transcendental analogy to Plotinus' concept of self-knowledge Schelling's requirement for a raising-up and transformation of the finite 'I' into the form of the Absolute, whose central features converge with the goal of the Plotinian self - transformation of thought into a timeless self-thinking and its ground.A main part of this paper discusses Schelling's and Plotinus' concept of nature as a dynamic process constituted by an immanent 'creating theoria'. Furthermore we find in Schelling's theory of the Absolute as the 'utterly One' a union of Plotinus' notion of a pure One beyond Being with that of the reflexive self-presence of nous, so that this Absolute can be understood as an All-Unity which grounds and embraces all actuality - because it is in itself the most unifying self-affirmation or self-mediation. What follows is a reflection on the anagogical function of art, especially from the viewpoint of Plotinus' non-Platonic rehabilitation of art as an imitation of nature. The last perspectives focus on Schelling's concept of matter and emanation - as different from and at the same time coherent with that of Plotinus - and on Schelling's theory of an absolute self - willing will in connection with Plotinus' Enneads VI.8, 'On free will and the will of the One' as a causa sui. (shrink)
The authors undertake a thought experiment the purpose of which is to explore possibilities for understanding moral principles in analogy with cosmic order. The experiment is based on three proposals, which are described in detail: an ontological, a neurological, and a moral proposal. The ontological proposal accepts from the phenomena of quantum physics that there is a nonempirical domain of physical reality that consists not of material things but of what is philosophically conceptualized as a realm of nonmaterial forms. (...) This realm of forms is the realm of potentiality in physical reality that quantum physics posits as an indivisible Wholeness—the One. It is the ultimate reality because everything empirical is the actualization of its forms. The neurological proposal is the hypothesis that the brain is sensitive to the potentiality waves in the cosmic field, as ordinary measuring instruments in physics are sensitive to potentiality waves at the quantum level, so that the cosmic field can communicate with the human brain. The third proposal assumes that the communication with the cosmic field can translate into moral ideas and actions. Even though the three proposals underlying the thought experiment are highly speculative, they lead to definite implications that make sense in their own right and can be applied in a useful way. From the order of reality some simple rules of conduct follow that are identical with traditional moral rules but have the character of rules of well-ness, leading to new aspects of Aristotle's concept of eudaimonia and Kant's concept of the highest good. In analogy with the structure of physical reality, where all empirical phenomena are actualizations of nonempirical forms, it is suggested that the structure of morality, too, is that of a tacit, nonempirical form that actualizes in explicit principles and moral acts through our consciousness. The tacit form is thought to exist in the realm of cosmic potentiality, together with all the other forms that the empirical world actualizes. It can appear spontaneously in our consciousness when needed, offering its guidance to our judgment and free will. Because it does not appear in the form of commandments accompanied by threats, the actions of the tacit moral form define a higher level of morality, similar to that offered by some aspects of the Christian teaching, where one acts not out of fear but on the desire to do things right. (shrink)
There has been much controversy over whether the claims of evolutionary psychologists, if true, imply that we humans are significantly less free than has traditionally been thought. This in turn gives rise to the concern that excuses are being given to philanderers and other ne’er-do-wells for their behaviour. Evolutionary psychologists themselves often respond to this concern by claiming that it presupposes that they believe in genetic determinism, which they do not. Philosophers, such as Janet Radcliffe Richards in Human (...) Nature after Darwin, respond by appealing to compatibilist accounts of free will. The thought is that whether or not our behaviour is caused by evolved mental mechanisms, has no bearing on whether or not it is free. The present paper takes issue with this use of compatibilist arguments. Compatibilist accounts of free will do not just say that an action can be determined and still free; they also distinguish between situations where we are free and ones where we are not. The latter includes not just situations of external coercion, but also situations where there are internal obstacles such as compulsion, addiction or self-deception. While not attempting to outline a full account of what it is to be free, this paper will outline one set of conditions which are sufficient for our freedom to be said to be restricted – conditions which are shared by situations of addiction, self-deception, etc. But a central pillar of evolutionary psychology is that the mind consists wholly or largely of modules whose operation is mandatory. The outputs of these modules are often characterised as desires or goals. It will be argued that this implies internal obstacles to free will that are relevantly similar to the obstacles of addiction, self-deception, etc. It is ultimately a scientific question, and hence outside the scope of this paper, whether the relevant evolutionary-psychological claims are true or not. However, they are central to the discipline, and this paper will argue that if they are true that has negative consequences for how free we are. Hence, the view that evolutionary psychology implies that we are less free than has traditionally been thought is not without foundation. (shrink)
Recently, some contradictory statements have been made concerning whether or not the Buddha taught free will. Here, a comparative method is used to examine what exactly is meant by free will, and to determine to what extent this meaning is applicable to early Buddhist thought as recorded in the Pāli Nikāyas. The comparative method reveals parallels between contemporary criticisms of Cartesian philosophy and Buddhist criticisms of Brahmanical and Jain doctrines. Although in Cartesian terms Buddhism promotes no recognizable (...) theory of free will, it does promote a primitive theory of compatibilism which shares some keyfeatures with Daniel Dennett's position on this issue. It is argued that the implicit Buddhist stance on freedom of the will allows the existence of choice and responsibility without calling upon an ultimate controlling agency that transcends the causal nexus of mind and body. (shrink)
The Consequence Argument is a staple in the defense of libertarianism, the view that free will is incompatible with determinism and that humans have free will. It is often thought that libertarianism is consistent with a certain naturalistic view of the world — that is, that libertarian free will can be had without metaphysical commitments beyond those pro- vided by our best (indeterministic) physics. In this paper, I argue that libertarians who endorse the Consequence Argument are (...) forced to reject this naturalistic worldview, since the Consequence Argument has a sis- ter argument — I call it the Supervenience Argument — which cannot be rejected without threatening either the Consequence Argument or the naturalistic worldview in question. (shrink)
I seek to reply to the thoughtful and penetrating comments by William Rowe, Alfred Mele, Carl Ginet, and Ishtiyaque Haji. In the process, I hope that my overall approach to free will and moral responsibility is thrown into clearer relief. I make some suggestions as to future directions of research in these areas.
Evans envisaged a language containing both Russellian and descriptive names. A language with descriptive names, which can contribute to truth conditions even if they have no bearer, needs a free logical truth theory. But a metalanguage with this logic threatens to emasculate Russellian names. The paper details this problem and shows, on Evans's behalf, how it might be resolved.
In this essay I attempt a philosophical analysis of the Chinese Buddhist thought of linguistic reference to shed light on how the Buddhist understands the way language refers to an ineffable reality. For this purpose, the essay proceeds in two directions: an enquiry into the linguistic thoughts of Sengzhao (374-414 CE) and Jizang (549-623 CE), two leading Chinese Madhyamika thinkers, and an analysis of the Buddhist simile of a moon-pointing finger. The two approaches respectively constitute the horizontal and vertical (...) axes of this essay. The simile of a moon-pointing finger originated in Indian Buddhism and later received much attention in Chinese Buddhism. In light of the Chinese Buddhist interpretations of the simile, I set forth six theses to make explicit the philosophic implications there involved. They are: (1) words in no way correspond with the ineffable Real and cannot say or properly express the Real; (2) words can point toward the Real by means of the forms meant or properly expressed by them; (3) the forms are plainly different from the Real and so are to be negated; (4) one who takes the forms for the Real not only misunderstands the Real but is also ignorant of the function of language; (5) the forgetting of words and their forms can dissolve the entanglement of language and thought and even lead to the intuition of the Real; (6) the intuition of the Real depends upon extra-linguistic factors as well as language. In elaborating the theses, I resort to passages in Sengzhao’s and Jizang’s works to disclose their linguistic thoughts in relation to the theses. A main concern here is to show how one can speak the unspeakable, how one can refer to an ineffable reality without committing self-contradiction. This is done in relation to their views, the theses as well as a free interpretive analysis. I construe the notion of indication as involving the imposition-cum-negation method and argue that one can use words to indicate the ineffable without at the same time describing it. The ineffable is indescribable, but it can be intimated through indication. Meanwhile, I also discuss Zhuangzi’s notion of word-forgetting as it plays a role in the simile and in Jizang’s philosophy of language. One of the purposes of this essay is to show that while valuing the therapeutic and evocative functions of religious language, Chinese Buddhist thinkers also understand the language indicatively. Without taking note of the indicative function of religious language, one cannot form an adequate picture of the Chinese Buddhist -- especially, the Chinese Madhyamaka -- philosophy of language. (shrink)
Two intuitions lie at the heart of our conception of free will. One intuition locates free will in our ability to deliberate effectively and control our actions accordingly: the ‘Deliberation and Control’ (DC) condition. The other intuition is that free will requires the existence of alternative possibilities for choice: the AP condition. These intuitions seem to conflict when, for instance, we deliberate well to decide what to do, and we do not want it to be possible to (...) act in some other way. I suggest that intuitions about the AP condition arise when we face ‘close calls,’ situations in which, after deliberating, we still do not know what we really want to do. Indeed, several incompatibilists suggest such close calls are necessary for free will. I challenge this suggestion by describing a ‘confident agent’ who, after deliberating, always feels confident about what to do (and can then control her actions accordingly). Because she maximally satisfies the DC condition, she does not face close calls, and the intuition that the AP condition is essential for free will does not seem to apply to her. I conclude that intuitions about the importance of the AP condition rest on our experiences of close calls and arise precisely to the extent that our deliberations fail to arrive at a clear decision. I then raise and respond to several objections to this thought experiment and its relevance to the free will debate. (shrink)
This introductory chapter discusses the philosophical and scientific arguments for free will skepticism and their implications--including the debate between Saul Smilansky's "illusionism," Thomas Nadelhoffer's "disillusionism," Shaun Nichols' "anti-revolution," and the "optimistic skepticism" of Derk Pereboom, Bruce Waller, Tamler Sommers, and others.
In this paper, we put forward a position we call “situationalism” (or “situated minimalism”), which is a middle-ground view between minimalism and contextualism in recent philosophy of language. We focus on the notion of free enrichment, which first arose within contextualism as underlying the claim that what is said is typically enriched relative to the logical form of the uttered sentence. However, minimalism also acknowledges some process of pragmatic intrusion in its claim that what is thought and communicated (...) is typically enriched relative to what is said. We show that situationalism dispenses with free enrichment both at the level of what is said (proposition expressed) and of what is thought (mental level). According to situationalism, an alleged underdetermined utterance can, pace minimalism, be true in one situation while false in another, and two people using the same alleged underdetermined sentence can be characterized, pace contextualism, as having said the same thing. (shrink)
It seems clear that the vast majority of citizens in democratic regimes are willing to accept some state-imposed limits on their liberty.Â Â But while we hardly balk at laws against murder and theft, we tend to believe that the state inherits a particularly heavy burden of proof when it seeks to intervene in the expressive areas of our lives, for example, by prohibiting the publication or distribution of some book, newspaper, or film.Â In short, we seem to believe there (...) is something rather special about speech and expression that warrants its stringent protection. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â This attitude is reflected in and reinforced by the existence of explicitly stated rights to free speech.Â The First Amendment to the United States Constitution reads, in part, â€œCongress shall make no law . . . abridging freedom of speech, or of the press.â€Â Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms grants people â€œfreedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.â€Â Section 77 of the Danish Constitution states, â€œAny person shall be entitled to publish his thoughts in printing, in writing, and in speech, provided that he may be held answerable in a court of justice.Â Censorship and other preventive measures shall never again be introduced.â€Â Section E, Article 100 of the Norwegian Constitution and Chapter 2, Articles 1 and 13 of the Swedish Constitution similarly attest to the central importance of free speech.Â Finally, the right to free speech is recognized in transnational statements of rights like the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â This paper is about the reasons for thinking that free speech is extremely valuable and so, by extension, about the justification of the right to free speech.Â Relative to most other parts of the world, North Americans and Scandinavians enjoy expansive liberties of expression, and this can make us complacent.Â We generally take it for granted that we are able to read and publish what we please.Â But it is important to think about why we have a right to free speech.Â For if we cannot defend it in sober moments, what will we say when that right is threatened?Â And how can we speak out for others whose governments currently do not respect that right? Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â I do not mean to imply that no one has attempted to provide a defense of free speech.Â On the contrary, free speech theory has developed into a minor cottage industry for legal scholars and philosophers, whom we may divide roughly into two camps.Â Consequentialists argue for the protection of speech by claiming that the good effects of allowing maximally unfettered speech generally outweigh the bad effects of restricting speech.Â Nonconsequentialists, on the other hand, contend that speech deserves protection because of its intrinsic features, and that the rightness or wrongness of suppressing speech cannot be determined merely by calculating the probable overall effects of doing so. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Of these two positions, consequentialism is by far the preferred strategy among contemporary free speech theorists.Â But my aim in this paper is to outline and defend a nonconsequentialist justification of free speech which, for reasons that will become clear below, I call direct nonconsequentialism.Â Â Direct nonconsequentialism, I shall argue, does not suffer from the defects of traditional consequentialist justifications of free speech.Â More importantly, since it focuses on what it is about speech itself that warrants its stringent protection, direct nonconsequentialism makes better sense of our pretheoretic intuitions regarding the importance of free speech than other apparently nonconsequentialist positions.. (shrink)
The distinction between persons and things reflects the opposition between reason and nature that is characteristic of modern thought: persons are constituted by rationality, self-consciousness, free will, and moral agency; things are taken to be merely natural or material beings, devoid of reason and the products of entirely mechanistic forces. Persons, as ends in themselves, alone deserve moral consideration; things (including all plants and animals) deserve no moral consideration. Accordingly in much modern thought, nature, including the human (...) body, becomes a mere object to be manipulated for human use. This paper challenges this narrowly anthropocentric idea by outlining a view, grounded in classical philosophical and Christian thought, called the “analogy of personhood.” This view offers a hierarchical but non-dichotomous approach to reality that rejects any radical opposition between reason and nature. The philosophical basis of this approach is developed as found in Aristotle, Plotinus, Proclus, and finally, the Christian Neoplatonist Pseudo-Dionysius. (shrink)
An explorative contribution to the ongoing discussion of thought experiments. While endorsing the majority view that skepticism about thought experiments is not well justified, in what follows we attempt to show that there is a kind of “bodiliness” missing from current accounts of thought experiments. That is, we suggest a phenomenological addition to the literature. First, we contextualize our claim that the importance of the body in thought experiments has been widely underestimated. Then we discuss David (...) Gooding's work, which contains the only explicit recognition of the importance of the body to understanding thought experiments. Finally, we introduce a phenomenological perspective of the body, which will give us the opportunity to sketch the power and promise of a phenomenological approach to thought experiments. (shrink)
The subject of this paper is Malebranche’s relation to Descartes on the question of method. Using recent commentary as a springboard, it examines whether Malebranche advances a nonpsychologistic account of method, in contrast to the psychologism typically thought to characterize the Cartesian view. I explore this question with respect to two issues of central importance to method generally: doubt and free will. My argument is that, despite superficial differences of emphasis, Descartes and Malebranche adopt positions on doubt and (...)free will that effectively ensure that their respective accounts of method aresubstantially the same. (shrink)
There is an important family of semantic notions that are applied to thoughts and to the conceptual constituents of thoughts--as when one says that the thought that the Universe is expanding is true. Christopher Hill presents a theory of the content of such notions. That theory is largely deflationary in spirit. It represents a broad range of semantic notions free from substantive metaphysical and empirical presuppositions. He also explains the relationship of mirroring or semantic correspondence linking thoughts to (...) reality. (shrink)
In this paper I further the discussion on the adequacy of free will theodicies initiated by Joel Tierno. Tierno’s principal claim is that free will theodicies fail to account for the wide distribution of moral evil. I attempt to show that, even if Tierno need not rely on a compatibilist conception of free will in order to substantiate the aforementioned claim, there remains good reason to think that free will theodicies are not explanatorily inadequate in the (...) way suggested by Tierno. (shrink)
Hylomorphism offers a third way between animalist approaches to personal identity, which maintain that psychology is irrelevant to our persistence, andneo-Lockean accounts, which deny that humans are animals. This paper provides a Thomistic account that explains the intuitive responses to thought experiments involving brain transplants and the transformation of organic bodies into inorganic ones. This account does not have to follow the animalist in abandoning the claim that it is our identity which matters in survival, or countenance the puzzles (...) of spatially coincident entities that plague the neo-Lockean. The key is to understand the human being as only contingently an animal. This approach to our animality is one that Catholics have additional reason to hold given certain views about purgatory, our uniqueness as free and rational creatures, and our having once existed as zygotes. (shrink)
'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it' This slogan, attributed to Voltaire, is frequently quoted by defenders of free speech. Yet it is rare to find anyone prepared to defend all expression in every circumstance, especially if the views expressed incite violence. So where do the limits lie? What is the real value of free speech? Here, Nigel Warburton offers a concise guide to important questions facing modern (...) society about the value and limits of free speech: Where should a civilized society draw the line? Should we be free to offend other people's religion? Are there good grounds for censoring pornography? Has the Internet changed everything? This Very Short Introduction is a thought-provoking, accessible, and up-to-date examination of the liberal assumption that free speech is worth preserving at any cost. (shrink)
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and other psychiatric disorders can interfere with a person’s capacity to control the nature of his mental states and how they issue in his decisions and actions. Insofar as this sort of control is identified with free will, and psychiatric disorders can impair this control, these disorders can impair free will. The will can be compromised by dysregulated neural networks that disable the mental mechanisms necessary to regulate thought, motivation, and action. Neural and mental (...) dys-function result in the maladaptive and pathological behaviors associated with these disorders. In “Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Free Will, and Control,” Gerben Meynen (2012) rightly .. (shrink)
If language and thought are to be taken as objective, they must respond to how the world is. I propose to explain this responsiveness in terms of conditions of correction, more precisely, by taking thoughts and linguistic utterances to be assessible as true or false. Furthermore, the paper is committed to a form of quietism according to which the very same thing that can be (truly) thought or expressed is the case: ‘soft facts’ as opposed to hard, (...) class='Hi'>free-standing facts, independent of any possible rational activity of grasping them. (shrink)
My dissertation develops a novel theory of free will and moral responsibility, Strawsonian libertarianism, which combines Strawsonianism about the concept of moral responsibility with event-causal libertarianism concerning its conditions of application. I construct this theory in light of and response to the three main objections to libertarianism: the moral shallowness objection, the intelligibility objection, and the empirical plausibility objection.The moral shallowness objection contends that libertarianism seems plausible only in the absence of a robust understanding of the nature of moral (...) responsibility. P.F. Strawson's work is the fount of this objection. In response I argue, surprisingly, that Strawson's account of the nature of responsibility, according to which the essence of responsibility is defined in terms of the reactive attitudes (such as gratitude and resentment), actually leads to libertarianism about its conditions of application. In defense of this contention I offer a theory of the normative force of excuse which shows that moral responsibility requires that agents have free will. I then construct the No Opportunity Argument which demonstrates that free will, and thus moral responsibility, is incompatible with determinism.In the remainder of the dissertation I develop and defend this account of moral responsibility against the intelligibility and empirical objections, both of which focus on my contention that indeterminism is necessary for freedom and responsibility. The intelligibility objection contends that libertarians cannot provide an intelligible account of freedom and responsibility because indeterminism is either (at best) irrelevant or (at worst) inimical to control. I respond to these objections by showing that if we locate indeterminism at the moment of free choice, libertarianism can explain both why indeterminism does not diminish control and also how it is relevant to enhancing it.Finally, I turn to the empirical plausibility objection which contends that libertarianism is scientifically implausible. This objection centers on my contention that humans must be indeterministic systems in order to be free and responsible. I argue that my commitment to neuronal indeterminism fares well in light of current physical and neurobiological findings and, therefore, that Strawsonian libertarianism is not as scientifically demanding as many have thought. (shrink)
'Working Memory, Thought, and Action' is the magnum opus of one of the most influential cognitive psychologists of the past 50 years. This new volume on the model he created (with Graham Hitch) discusses the developments that have occurred within the model in the past twenty years, and places it within a broader context. -/- Working memory is a temporary storage system that underpins our capacity for coherent thought. Some 30 years ago, Baddeley and Hitch proposed a way (...) of thinking about working memory that has proved to be both valuable and influential in its application to practical problems. This book updates the theory, discussing both the evidence in its favour, and alternative approaches. In addition, it discusses the implications of the model for understanding social and emotional behaviour, concluding with an attempt to place working memory in a broader biological and philosophical context. Inside are chapters on the phonological loop, the visuo-spatial sketchpad, the central executive and the episodic buffer. There are also chapters on the relevance to working memory of studies of the recency effect, of work based on individual differences, and of neuroimaging research. -/- The broader implications of the concept of working memory are discussed in the chapters on social psychology, anxiety, depression, consciousness and on the control of action. Finally, Baddeley discusses the relevance of a concept of working memory to the classic problems of consciousness and free will. -/- This new volume from one of the pioneers in memory research will doubtless emulate the success of its predecessor, and be a major publication within the psychological literature. (shrink)
A BELIEF IN FREE WILL touches nearly everything that human beings value. It is difficult to think about law, politics, religion, public policy, intimate relationships, morality—as well as feelings of remorse or personal achievement—without first imagining that every person is the true source of his or her thoughts and actions. And yet the facts tell us that free will is an illusion. In this enlightening book, Sam Harris argues that this truth about the human mind does not undermine (...) morality or diminish the importance of social and political freedom, but it can and should change the way we think about some of the most important questions in life. (shrink)
The core principles of 7th century Korean Buddhist thinker and practitioner Wŏnhyo’s harmonization in non-obstruction thought and Wilberian Integral Theory may help us to understand ourselves and the world better and thus act and live well together accordingly in this contemporary world facing global crises. Whatare particularly noteworthy in Wŏnhyo’s thought and life is that as much as reality is unobstructed (無礙) in its profound calm so can our mode of being and relationships be awakened to its natural (...) harmony free of conflicts (和諍會通). This ideal can be optimally pursued by coming back to the source of One Mind (一心) while extensively benefiting sentient beings. Wŏnhyo consistently pursued and realized this soteriological project through his practice, works, and expediently dedicated life. The most recent version of Wilber’ Integral Theory consists of Integral Approach, Integral Methodological Pluralism, and Integral Post-Metaphysics. Their core principles consist of the AQAL (all quadrants, all levels, all lines, all states, and all types) and holons with their twenty tenets (holonic laws). Extensively utilizing scientific achievements Wilber attempted to map the whole developmental territory of occasions ranging from matter to Spirit or Emptiness and to formulate the Theory of Everything and then apply it to various fields including business, spirituality, and ecology. Within this framework, however, MarkEdwards tried to add an integral epistemology with its interpretive part and to complement Wilber’s more evolutionary ranking ascent with involutionary egalitarian descent. By also critiquing representational—and thus somewhat reifying—tendency of the AQAL framework and proposing to read it as an interpretive lens hesaves Integral Theory from internal conflicts and rendered it more consistent. Being based on experience and vast scholarship both Wŏnhyo’s and Wilberian visions have an integral nature. Whereas Wŏnhyo’s Enlightenment-anchored high vision-logic enabled him to actualize harmonization unobstructedly, backed by scientific achievements as well as his practice Wilber pioneered the AQAL Integral Theory, and then by adding an interpretive dimension Wilber has made it more balanced and consistent system. Now facing the human-caused threats of various global crises as well as the usual complexities of our ordinary life, we need to draw on mankind’s cultural resources including these two spectacular achievements. We may then further develop these soteriological visions in such a way as to satisfy hopefully all justifiable needs of men as well as the world in a futuristic perspective. (shrink)
Automation may be able to completely eliminate the need for labour. But how should we use the freed-up time? In his proposal for a future urbanism, New Babylon, Constant Nieuwenhuys thought people would engage in nonstop free play, remaking surroundings. I argue that at the core of New Babylon is an intuition about a satisfying life, that of Homo ludens. This intuition had a broad appeal in the 1960s. New Babylon is an intuition pump, not a utopia, and (...) Constant wants Homo ludens to be possible and desirable. Possibility can today be most urgently equated with sustainability.I will argue that New Babylon is not sustainable. I will also argue Homo ludens is not desirable, and 1960s intuitions about the good life have dated. Constant forecloses on creative activity such as we might find in improving science and technology. (shrink)
Revered by some as the most important twentieth century theorist of free society, Friedrich A. Hayek has been reviled by others as a mere reactionary. Impartial throughout, the author offers a clear exposition and balanced assessment that judges Hayek's theory by its own lights. The author argues that the key to understanding Hayek lies in an appreciation of the proper link between descriptive social science and normative political theory. He probes the idea of a spontaneous order and other notions (...) central to Hayek's thought, and concludes that they are unable to provide the "scientific" foundation Hayek seeks for his liberalism. By drawing out the distinctive character of Hayek's thought, the author presents a new and more accurate picture of this important social and political theorist. (shrink)
It is often said that if free speech means anything it means freedom for the thought we hate. This core idea is generally referred to as “viewpoint neutrality” and is consistent with the liberal intuition that governments should remain neutral with regard to conceptions of the good life. None of the traditional defenses of free speech seem to secure viewpoint neutrality, however. Instead, each justification leaves room to censor some viewpoints. Ironically my defense of viewpoint neutrality does (...) not come from the liberal assumption that governments should remain neutral about the good life. I defend a version of the virtue argument for free speech that is explicitly perfectionist—-government does not have to remain neutral when promoting good lives for its citizens. Free speech is not just a means to promote virtue but is part and parcel of intellectual virtue—-a decidedly perfectionist value. (shrink)