Quantum indeterminism may make available the option of an interactionism that does not have to pay the price of a force over and above those forces that are acknowledged in physics in order to explain how intentions can be physically effective. I show how this option might work in concrete terms and offer a criticism of it.
This paper responds to three critical essays on my book, The Significance of Free Will(Oxford, 1996) by Randolph Clarke, Istiyaque Haji and Alfred Mele (which essays appear in this issue and an earlier issue of this journal). This response first explains crucial features of the theory of free will of the book, including the notion of ultimate responsibility.The paper then answers objections of Haji and Mele that the occurrence of undetermined choices would be matters of luck or chance, and so (...) could not be responsible actions. It then responds to concerns of Clarke that indeterminism provides no greater degree of control for defenders of incompatibilist free will and to concerns Clarke has about the notions of "effort" and "willing" in the book. Finally, the paper addresses objections of Haji concerning Frankfurt type-examples and the relation of moral responsibility to the power to act otherwise, and it addresses a concern of Mele's about why we should want a free will that is incompatible with determinism. (shrink)
It is a commonplace of philosophy that the notion of free will is a hard nut to crack. A simple, compelling argument can be made to show that behavior for which an agent is morally responsible cannot be the outcome of prior determining causal factors.1 Yet the smug satisfaction with which we incompatibilists are prone to trot out this argument has a tendency to turn to embarrassment when we're asked to explain just how it is that morally responsible action might (...) obtain under the assumption of indeterminism. Despair over the prospect of giving a satisfactory answer to this question has led some contemporary philosophers to a position rarely, if ever, held in the history of philosophy: free, responsible action is an incoherent concept.2. (shrink)
I assess Robert Kane's view that global Frankfurt-type cases don't show that freedom to do otherwise is never required for moral responsibility. I first adumbrate Kane's indeterminist account of free will.This will help us grasp Kane's notion of ultimate responsibility, and his claim that in a global Frankfurt-type case, the counterfactual intervener could not control all of the relevant agent's actions in the Frankfurt manner, and some of those actions would be such that the agent could have done otherwise. Appealing (...) to considerations of responsibility and luck, I then show that the global cases survive Kane's objections. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that Robert Kane’s defense of event-causal libertarianism, as presented in Responsibility, Luck, and Chance: Reflections on Free Will and Indeterminism, fails because his event-causal reconstruction is incoherent. I focus on the notions of efforts and self-forming actions essential to his defense.
A suspicion about libertarian free will is that freedom is undermined, rather than supported, by the positing of indeterminism within processes of volition. In response, this paper presents a way in which moments of indeterminism can enhance freedom, by showing how such moments can genuinely belong to the agent. The key idea is that of putting the imagination to work in the service of free agency. The suggestion is that indeterministic processes of imaginative generativity can both belong to (...) an agent, and provide a ground for claims of freedom. In contrast to Robert Kane’s libertarian proposal of locating critical self-forming actions in special moments of rational choice, freedom-friendly indeterministic moments of self-shaping are instead posited within processes of imaginative generativity in which our future possibilities are imagined. This incompatibilist alternative to traditional libertarianism is briefly compared to Mele’s modest libertarianism, and defended against a selection of likely criticisms. (shrink)
I first adumbrate pertinent aspectsof Robert Kane''s libertarian theory of free choice oraction and an objection of luck that has been levelledagainst the theory. I then consider Kane''s recentresponses to this objection. To meet these responses,I argue that the view that undetermined choices (ofthe sort implied by Kane''s theory) are a matter ofluck is associated with a view about actionexplanation, to wit: when Jones does A and hisdoing of A is undetermined, and when hiscounterpart, Jones*, in the nearest possibleworld in (...) which the past and the laws are held constantuntil the moment of choice does B instead, thereis no explanation (deterministic or indeterministic)of the difference in outcome – Jones''s A-ing butJones*''s B-ing – in terms of prior reasonsor motives of either agent. Absence of such anexplanation is one crucial factor that underliesthe charge that Jones''s A-ing and Jones*''sB-ing are matters of luck. I argue that thissort of luck is incompatible with responsibility. (shrink)
We offer a review of some of the most influential views on the status of Reichenbach’s Principle of the Common Cause (RPCC) for genuinely indeterministic systems. We first argue that the RPCC is properly a conjunction of two distinct claims, one metaphysical and another methodological. Both claims can and have been contested in the literature, but here we simply assume that the metaphysical claim is correct, in order to focus our analysis on the status of the methodological claim. We briefly (...) review the most entrenched or classical positions, including Salmon’s ‘interactive forks’, van Fraassen’s scepticism, and Cartwright’s generalisation of the fork criterion. We then go on to review the results of the ‘Budapest school’ on the existence of formally defined screening off events for any correlation —by means of the ideas of probability space extensibility and (Reichenbachian common cause) completability. We distinguish the Budapest doctrine clearly from any of the classical conceptions, and thus present an overall framework for discussions of causal inference in quantum mechanics. We argue that this review is preliminary essential work for a thorough assessment of the conditions under which RCCP may be a reliable tool for causal inference in a genuinely probabilistic (indeterministic) context. (shrink)
Drawing on Aristotle’s notion of “ultimate responsibility,” Robert Kane argues that to be exercising a free will an agent must have taken some character forming decisions for which there were no sufficient conditions or decisive reasons.1 That is, an agent whose will is free not only had the ability to develop other dispositions, but could have exercised that ability without being irrational. To say it again, a person has a free will just in case her character is the product of (...) decisions that she could have rationally avoided making. That one’s character is the product of such decisions entails ultimate responsibility for its manifestations, engendering a free will. (shrink)
One of the fundamental questions of life sciences is one of whether there are genuinely random biological processes. An affirmative or negative answer to this question may have important methodological consequences. It appears that a number of biological processes are explicitly classified as random. One of them is the so-called somatic hypermutation. However, closer analysis of somatic hypermutation reveals that it is not a genuinely random process. Somatic hypermutation is called random because the exact outcome of this process is difficult (...) to predict in practice. The case of somatic hypermutation suggests that there may be no scientific evidence of a single case of ontologically random process in the biological world. (shrink)
An informal sketch is offered of some chief ideas of the (formal) ``branching histories'' theory of objective possibility, free will and indeterminism. Reference is made to ``branching time'' and to ``branching space-times,'' with emphasis on a theme that they share: Objective possibilities are in Our World, organized by the relation of causal order.
_One summary of the great Kant's view, to the extent that it can be summed up, is_ _that he takes determinism to be a kind of fact, and indeterminism to be another kind_ _of fact, and our freedom to be a fact too -- but takes this situation to have nothing to_ _do with the kind of compatibility of determinism and freedom proclaimed by such_ _Compatibilists as Hobbes and Hume. Thus Kant does not make freedom consistent_ _with determinism by (...) taking up a definition of freedom as voluntariness -- at bottom,_ _being able to do what you want. This he dismisses as a wretched subterfuge,_ _quibbling about words. Rather, the freedom he seeks to make consistent with_ _determinism does indeed seem to be the freedom of the Incompatibilists --_ _origination. Is he then an Incompatibilist? Well, against that, it can be said he does_ _not allow the existence of origination in what can be called the world we know, as_ _Incompatibilists certainly do._. (shrink)
A set of axioms implicitly defining the standard, though not instant-based but interval-based, time topology is used as a basis to build a temporal modal logic of events. The whole apparatus contains neither past, present, and future operators nor indexicals, but only B-series relations and modal operators interpreted in the standard way. Determinism and indeterminism are then introduced into the logic of events via corresponding axioms. It is shown that, if determinism and indeterminism are understood in accordance with (...) their core meaning, the way in which they are formally introduced here represents the only right way to do this, given that we restrict ourselves to one real world and make no use of the many real worlds assumption. But then the result is that the very truth conditions for sentences about indeterministic events imply the existence of tensed truths, in spite of the fact that these conditions are formulated (in the indeterministic axiom) in terms of tenseless language. The tenseless theory of time implies determinism, while indeterminism requires the flow of time assumption. (shrink)
In "The Indeterministic Character of Evolutionary Theory: No 'Hidden Variables Proof' But No Room for Determinism Either," Brandon and Carson (1996) argue that evolutionary theory is statistical because the processes it describes are fundamentally statistical. In "Is Indeterminism the Source of the Statistical Character of Evolutionary Theory?" Graves, Horan, and Rosenberg (1999) argue in reply that the processes of evolutionary biology are fundamentally deterministic and that the statistical character of evolutionary theory is explained by epistemological rather than ontological considerations. (...) In this paper I focus on the topic of mutation. By focusing on some of the theory and research on this topic from early to late, I show how quantum indeterminism hooks up to point mutations (via tautomeric shifts, proton tunneling, and aqueous thermal motion). I conclude with a few thoughts on some of the wider implications of this topic. (shrink)
The singularity arising from the violation of the Lipschitz condition in the simple Newtonian system proposed recently by Norton (2003) is so fragile as to be completely and irreparably destroyed by slightly relaxing certain (infinite) idealizations pertaining to elastic phenomena in this model. I demonstrate that this is also true for several other Lipschitz-indeterministic systems, which, unlike Norton's example, have no surface curvature singularities. As a result, indeterminism in these systems should rather be viewed as an artefact of certain (...) infinite idealizations essential for these models, depriving them of much of their intended metaphysical import. (shrink)
I examine different arguments that could be used to establish indeterminism of neurological processes. Even though scenarios where single events at the molecular level make the difference in the outcome of such processes are realistic, this falls short of establishing indeterminism, because it is not clear that these molecular events are subject to quantum mechanical uncertainty. Furthermore, attempts to argue for indeterminism autonomously (i.e., independently of quantum mechanics) fail, because both deterministic and indeterministic models can account for (...) the empirically observed behavior of ion channels. (shrink)
Branching space-times (BST; Belnap, Synthese 92:385–434, 1992 ) is the most advanced formal framework for representing indeterminism. BST is however based on continuous partial orderings, while our natural way of describing indeterministic scenarios may be called discrete. This paper establishes a theorem providing a discrete data format for BST: it is proved that a discrete representation of indeterministic scenarios leading to BST models is possible in an important subclass of cases. This result enables the representation of limited indeterminism (...) in BST and hopefully paves the way for the representation of substances with capacities in that framework. (shrink)
The paper defends an Aristotelian notion of indeterminism, as rigorously formulated in the framework of branching space-times (BST) of Belnap (1992), against the model-theoretic characterization of indeterminism that Montague (1962) introduced into the philosophy of science. It delineates BST branching against the background provided by Earman's (2008) distinction between individual vs. ensemble branching. It describes a construction of physically-motivated BST models, in which histories are isomorphic to Minkowski spacetime. Finally it responds to criticism leveled against BST by addressing (...) some semantical questions, a topological issue, and the past/future asymmetry. (shrink)
The present paper studies a specific way of addressing the question whether the laws involving the basic constituents of nature are statistical. While most German physicists, above all Planck, treated the issues of determinism and causality within a Kantian framework, the tradition which I call Vienna Indeterminism began from Mach’s reinterpretation of causality as functional dependence. This severed the bond between causality and realism because one could no longer avail oneself of a priori categories as a criterion for empirical (...) reality. Hence, an independent reality criterion had to be sought, a problem which all three physicists to be studied solved in different ways that were mainly conditioned by their different concepts of probability. In order to prevent a dissipation of intuited facts, Mach had to resort to a principle of unique determination as his reality criterion, especially when discussing the Principle of Least Action. Giving theories more independence, Boltzmann understood atomism as property reduction to precisely defined theoretical entities and their interactions. While this served as a relative reality criterion, he also advocated a constructivist one because atomism was already implied by our finitary reasoning power. Finally, Exner contemplated the idea that all apparently deterministic laws are only a macroscopic limit of an irreducible indeterminism, because by adopting the frequency interpretation, observable collectives could be considered as the real basic entities. (shrink)
Mathematically, gauge theories are extraordinarily rich --- so rich, in fact, that it can become all too easy to lose track of the connections between results, and become lost in a mass of beautiful theorems and properties: indeterminism, constraints, Noether identities, local and global symmetries, and so on. -/- One purpose of this short article is to provide some sort of a guide through the mathematics, to the conceptual core of what is actually going on. Its focus is on (...) the Lagrangian, variational-problem description of classical mechanics, from which the link between gauge symmetry and the apparent violation of determinism is easy to understand; only towards the end will the Hamiltonian description be considered. -/- The other purpose is to warn against adopting too unified a perspective on gauge theories. It will be argued that the meaning of the gauge freedom in a theory like general relativity is (at least from the Lagrangian viewpoint) significantly different from its meaning in theories like electromagnetism. The Hamiltonian framework blurs this distinction, and orthodox methods of quantization obliterate it; this may, in fact, be genuine progress, but it is dangerous to be guided by mathematics into conflating two conceptually distinct notions without appreciating the physical consequences. (shrink)
We argue that Brandon and Carson's (1996) "The Indeterministic Character of Evolutionary Theory" fails to identify any indeterminism that would require evolutionary theory to be a statistical or probabilistic theory. Specifically, we argue that (1) their demonstration of a mechanism by which quantum indeterminism might "percolate up" to the biological level is irrelevant; (2) their argument that natural selection is indeterministic because it is inextricably connected with drift fails to join the issue with determinism; and (3) their view (...) that experimental methodology in botany assumes indeterminism is both false and incompatible with the commitment to discoverable causal mechanisms underlying biological processes. We remain convinced that the probabilism of the theory of evolution is epistemically, not ontologically, motivated. (shrink)
In this paper I argue that Robert Kane’s defense of event-causal libertarianism, as presented in Responsibility, Luck, and Chance: Reflections on Free Will and Indeterminism, fails because his event-causal reconstruction is incoherent. I focus on the notions of efforts and self-forming actions essential to his defense.
My goal is to defend the indeterminist approach to vagueness, according to which a borderline vague utterance is neither true nor false. Indeterminism appears to contradict bivalence and the disquotational schema for truth. I agree that indeterminism compels us to modify each of these principles. Kit Fine has defended indeterminism by claiming that ordinary ambiguous sentences are neither true nor false when one disambiguation is true and the other is false. But even if Fine is right about (...) sentences, his point does not seem to generalize to utterances. What the indeterminist needs -- and what ordinary ambiguity does not provide -- is an ambiguous utterance where what is being said is indeterminate between two different propositions. I will show that such cases exist. These cases imply that the modifications that indeterminism makes to bivalence and the disquotational schema are required independently of indeterminism, in fact independently of vagueness. (shrink)
Carl G. Hempel's doctrine of essential epistemic relativization of inductive-statistical explanation seems to entail the unintelligibility of the notion of objective homogeneity of reference classes. This discussion note explores the question of whether, as a consequence, essential epistemic relativization also entails the unintelligibility of the doctrine of indeterminism.
“Branching space-times” (BST) is intended as a representation of objective, event-based indeterminism. As such, BST exhibits both a spatio-temporal aspect and an indeterministic “modal” aspect of alternative possible historical courses of events. An essential feature of BST is that it can also represent spatial or space-like relationships as part of its (more or less) relativistic theory of spatio-temporal relations; this ability is essential for the representation of local (in contrast with “global”) indeterminism. This essay indicates how BST might (...) be seen to grow out of Newton’s deterministic and non-relativistic theory by two independent moves: (1) Taking account of indeterminism, and (2) attending to spatio-temporal relationships in a spirit derived from Einstein’s theory of special relativity. Since (1) and (2) are independent, one can see that there is room for four theories: Newtonian determinism, branching time indeterminism, relativistic determinism, and (finally) branching space-times indeterminism. (shrink)
The causal Markov condition (CMC) plays an important role in much recent work on the problem of causal inference from statistical data. It is commonly thought that the CMC is a more problematic assumption for genuinely indeterministic systems than for deterministic ones. In this essay, I critically examine this proposition. I show how the usual motivation for the CMC—that it is true of any acyclic, deterministic causal system in which the exogenous variables are independent—can be extended to the indeterministic case. (...) In light of this result, I consider several arguments for supposing indeterminism a particularly hostile environment for the CMC, but conclude that none are persuasive. Introduction Functional models and directed graphs The causal Markov theorem The causal Markov theorem and genuine indeterminism Are the exogenous variables independent? EPR Conclusion. (shrink)
We discuss two supertasks invented recently by Laraudogoitia [1996, 1997]. Both involve an infinite number of particle collisions within a finite amount of time and both compromise determinism. We point out that the sources of the indeterminism are rather different in the two cases—one involves unbounded particle velocities, the other involves particles with no lower bound to their sizes—and consequently that the implications for determinism are rather different—one form of indeterminism affects Newtonian but not relativistic physics, while the (...) other form is insensitive to the classical vs relativistic distinction. We also note some interesting linkages among supertasks, indeterminism and foundations problems in the general theory of relativity. (shrink)
The concepts in the title refer to properties of physical theories (which are given, in this paper, a model-theoretic formulation and appropriate idealizations) and this paper investigates their nature and relations. The first three concepts, especially gauge invariance and indeterminism, have been widely discussed in connection to spacetime theories and the hole argument. Since the gauge invariance principle is at the crux of the issue, this paper aims at clarifying the nature of gauge invariance (either in general or as (...) general covariance). I first explore the following chain of relations: gauge invariance $\Rightarrow $ the conservation laws $\Rightarrow $ the Cauchy problem $\Rightarrow $ indeterminism. Then I discuss gauge invariance in light of our understanding of the above relations and the possibility of spontaneous symmetry breaking. (shrink)
This paper examines Fichte's conception of the freedom of choice in Das System der Sittenlehre of 1798 as a solution to the dilemma posed by determinism and indeterminism. It show that Fichte does not simply affirm an indifferent power of voluntary choice, but demonstrates how such a power might co-exist with the measure of regularity and lawfulness we normally admit of human choices. Particular choices do not occur at random, but are based on general reasons. These reasons are in (...) turn based on the extent to which we have freely reflected on our original drive. Thus our choices can be comprehended and predicted from the point of reflection from which we choose. This does not lead to the denial of the freedom of choice, but only to rethinking it in terms of the freedom of reflection: Though we cannot choose other than what we choose from the point of reflection we occupy, we can choose other than what we choose by raising or lowering ourselves through reflection to a higher or lower point of reflection. (shrink)
I examine recent debates in the philosophy of biology over the determinism or indeterminism of the evolutionary process, focusing on two papers in particular: Glymour 2001 and Stamos 2001. I argue that neither of these papers succeeds in making the case for the indeterminism of the evolutionary process, and suggest that what is needed is a detailed analysis of the causal processes at every level from the quantum mechanical to the evolutionary.
I examine some philosophical arguments as well as current empirical research in molecular neurobiology in order to throw some new light on the question of whether neurological processes are deterministic or indeterministic. I begin by showing that the idea of an autonomous biological indeterminism violates the principle of the supervenience of biological properties on physical properties. If supervenience is accepted, quantum mechanics is the only hope for the neuro-indeterminist. But this would require that indeterministic quantum-mechanical effects play a role (...) in the functioning of the nervous system. I examine several candidates of molecular processes where this could, in theory, be the case. It turns out that there is good news from recent work on ion channels. Unfortunately (for the indeterminist), this good news is neutralised at once by bad news. (shrink)
Quantum mechanics, and the micro level indeterminacy it implies, is generally accepted by philosophers. So too naturalism on which macro states are held to supervene on micro states is now orthodox in the philosophy of mind and science. Still, in both fields it is frequently assumed that macro systems evolve deterministically. This assumption is commonly implicit and undefended, though at times it is made explicit and given minimal defense. In neither case is the incompatability of quantum indeterminacy, macro-micro dependence, and (...) macro level determinism fully acknowledged. Even when incompatability is recognized, it is held that there is hope that quantum indeterminacy might be confined to micro levels. We argue that this is a vain hope. For certain standard quantum mechanical systems, micro indeterminism entails macro indeterminism unless macro states are effectively independent from micro states. This result obtains whether the relationship between supervenient and subvenient states is deterministic or indeterministic. (shrink)
Two initially different arguments for indeterminism are often based either upon the Uncertainty Relations or the statistical interpretation of the wave equation of quantum mechanics. Both arguments ultimately involve three factors: (1) the assumption that elementary entities are enough like classical particles for it to make sense to say they are either determined or indetermined, (2) the fact that no exact measurements are possible of quantities supposed to characterize elementary entities, (3) the pragmatic supposition that determinism is false unless (...) exact predictions are theoretically possible. If it is legitimate to use (3) to prove indeterminism, then an equally legitimate argument can be based upon (2) which denies (1). Thus, it is doubtful that quantum mechanics supports indeterminism, though it may show that the concepts of 'determined' and 'indetermined' are inapplicable to the world. (shrink)
Libertarianism has, seemingly, always been in disrepute among philosophers. While throughout history philosophers have offered different reasons for their dissatisfaction with libertarianism, one worry is recurring: namely a worry about luck. To many, it seems that if our choices and actions are undetermined, then we cannot control them in a way that allows for freedom and responsibility. My fundamental aim in this paper is to place libertarians on a more promising track for formulating a defensible libertarian theory. I begin by (...) arguing that Robert Kane's influential formulation of libertarianism actually generates an acute worry about luck, showing specifically that Kane's recipe for solving the problem of luck and his attendant conception of the location and role of indeterminism derived from it are deeply problematic. I then offer a reformulation of libertarianism ? particularly a new conception of the location and role of indeterminism ? that is capable of avoiding the problems that beset Kane's theory and that, I argue, places libertarians on a more promising track for formulating a defensible theory. (shrink)
In this paper, I criticize a common misinterpretation of Hans Reichenbach’s argument that indeterminism is both necessary and sufficient for temporal becoming. I show that Reichenbach’s argument rests on the assumption of a particular variety of verificationism (which I call ‘Weak Probabilistic Verificationism’) and that Reichenbach’s critics have failed to notice this premise. The purpose of the paper is not to defend Reichenbach’s thesis—I offer no argument in support of this verificationist premise. My aim is simply to set the (...) historical record straight by correcting a prevalent misinterpretation of Reichenbach’s argument. The argument, as I reconstruct it, is not only valid but also far more ingenious than is commonly allowed. Correct or not, I believe it remains worthy of study. (shrink)
Indeterminism, understood as a notion that an event may be continued in a few alternative ways, invokes the question what a region of chanciness looks like. We concern ourselves with its topological and spatiotemporal aspects, abstracting from the nature or mechanism of chancy processes. We first argue that the question arises in Montague-Lewis-Earman conceptualization of indeterminism as well as in the branching tradition of Prior, Thomason and Belnap. As the resources of the former school are not rich enough (...) to study topological issues, we investigate the question in the framework of branching space-times of Belnap (Synthese 92:385–434, 1992). We introduce a topology on a branching model as well as a topology on a history in a branching model. We define light-cones and assume four conditions that guarantee the light-cones so defined behave like light-cones of physical space-times. From among various topological separation properties that are relevant to our question, we investigate the Hausdorff property. We prove that each history in a branching model satisfies the Hausdorff property. As for the satisfaction of the Hausdorff property in the entire branching model, we prove that it is related to the phenomenon of passive indeterminism, which we describe in detail. (shrink)
One of the most profound insights of the dynamic systems perspective is that new structures resulting from the developmental process do not need to be planned in advance, nor is it necessary to have these structures represented in genetic or neurological templates prior to their emergence. Rather, new structures can emerge as components of the individual and the environment self-organize; that is, as they mutually constrain each other's actions, new patterns and structures may arise. This theoretical possibility brings into developmental (...) theory the important concept of indeterminism--the possibility that developmental outcomes may not be predictable in any simple linear causal way from their antecedents. This is the first book to take a critical and serious look at the role of indeterminism in psychological and behavioral development. * What is the source of this indeterminism? * What is its role in developmental change? * Is it merely the result of incomplete observational data or error in measurement? It reviews the concepts of indeterminism and determinism in their historical, philosophical, and theoretical perspectives--particularly in relation to dynamic systems thinking--and applies these general ideas to systems of nonverbal communication. Stressing the indeterminacy inherent to symbols and meaning making in social systems, several chapters address the issue of indeterminism from metaphorical, modeling, and narrative perspectives. Others discuss those indeterministic processes within the individual related to emotional, social, and cognitive development. (shrink)
Many philosophers are persuaded by familiar arguments that free will is incompatible with causal determinism. Yet, notoriously, past attempts to articulate how the right type of indeterminism might secure the capacity for autonomous action have generally been regarded as either demonstrably inadequate or irremediably obscure. This volume gathers together the most significant recent discussions concerning the prospects for devising a satisfactory indeterministic account of freedom of action. These essays give greater precision to traditional formulations of the problems associated with (...) indeterministic accounts and to the range of theoretical avenues for pursuing resolutions. The first four essays set out different challenges (from both compatibilists and those skeptical of the possibility of free will) to the adequacy of standard indeterministic theories. The next seven essays meet one or more of these challenges. Each of the fundamental types of approach--simple indeterminism, causal indeterminism, and agent causation--is represented in these novel and sophisticated proposals. The collection finishes with two essays that debate whether compatibilism entails that freedom of choice is a comparatively rare phenomenon within an individual's life. Eloquently presenting some of the most compelling and accessible arguments surrounding this central philosophical issue, Agents, Causes, and Events makes a valuable contribution to courses in free will/action theory and metaphysics. (shrink)
The aim of the paper is to prove the consistency of libertarianism. We examine the example of Jane, who deliberates at length over whether to vacation in Colorado (C) or Hawaii (H), weighing the costs and benefits, consulting travel brochures, etc. Underlying phenomenological deliberation is an indeterministic neural process in which nonactual motor neural states n(C) and n(H) corresponding to alternatives C and H remain physically possible up until the moment of decision. The neurophysiological probabilities pr(n(C)) and pr(n(H)) evolve continuously (...) according to the different weights Jane's judgement attaches to C and H at different times during the deliberation. The overall process is indeterministic, since Jane's exact judgemental weighting would vary slightly were the process to be repeated from the same initial conditions. The weighting is however rational, and entirely under Jane's control. This controlled, rational, indeterministic process shows that libertarianism is a consistent philosophical thesis. (shrink)
Determinism is a rich and varied concept. At an abstract level of analysis, Jordan Howard Sobel (1998) identifies at least ninety varieties of what determinism could be like. When it comes to thinking about what deterministic laws and theories in physical sciences might be like, the situation is much clearer. There is a criterion by which to judge whether a law–expressed as some form of equation–is deterministic. A theory would then be deterministic just in case all its laws taken as (...) a whole were deterministic. In contrast, if a law fails this criterion, then it is indeterministic and any theory whose laws taken as a whole fail this criterion must also be indeterministic. Although it is widely believed that classical physics is deterministic and quantum mechanics is indeterministic, application of this criterion yields some surprises for these standard judgments. (shrink)
In this paper I wish to argue that counterfactual analyses of causation are inadequate. I believe the counterfactuals that are involved in counterfactual analyses of causation are often false, and thus the theories do not provide an adequate account of causation. This is demonstrated by the presentation of a counterexample to the counterfactual analyses of causation. I then present a unified theory of causation that is based upon probability and counterfactuals. This theory accounts for both deterministic and indeterministic causation, and (...) is not subject to many of the traditional problems facing theories of causation. (shrink)
I shall argue that there is no such property of an event as its “probability.” This is why standard interpretations cannot give a sound deﬁnition in empirical terms of what “probability” is, and this is why empirical sciences like physics can manage without such a deﬁnition. “Probability” is a collective term, the meaning of which varies from context to context: it means diﬀerent — dimensionless [0, 1]-valued — physical quantities characterising the diﬀerent particular situations. In other words, probability is a (...) reducible concept, supervening on physical quantities characterising the state of aﬀairs corresponding to the event in question. On the other hand, however, these “probability-like” physical quantities correspond to objective features of the physical world, and are objectively related to measurable quantities like relative frequencies of physical events based on ﬁnite samples — no matter whether the world is objectively deterministic or indeterministic. (shrink)
In a remarkable series of Critical-period Reflexionen (5611-4, 5616-9), Kant sketches a defense of the possibility of freedom that differs radically from his usual compatibilism by incorporating an indeterministic account of the phenomena. Anticipating Łukasiewicz, Kant reconciles universal causal determination with an open future by positing a lower temporal bound for the infinite regress of prior determining causes issuing in a contingent action. On this account, Kant however concedes, the unity of experience "cannot fully obtain in the case of free (...) beings." The fact that Kant even contemplated the indeterministic theory may carry implications for interpreting the Second Analogy. (shrink)
I argue that results from foraging theory give us good reason to think some evolutionary phenomena are indeterministic and hence that evolutionary theory must be probabilistic. Foraging theory implies that random search is sometimes selectively advantageous, and experimental work suggests that it is employed by a variety of organisms. There are reasons to think such search will sometimes be genuinely indeterministic. If it is, then individual reproductive success will also be indeterministic, and so too will frequency change in populations of (...) organisms employing such search. (shrink)
Until the present, the Newtonian theory of gravitation has only been studied in any detail through the usual, presupposed ontology of point particles. This paper shows that changing our ontology into one which makes use of continuous bodies (non-point particles) allows us to obtain in a simple way two important results relevant to the theory: (a) The Newtonian theory of gravitation is indeterministic in a way apparently unparalleled when non-point particle models of it are used. (b) In the Newtonian theory (...) of gravitation it is possible to find non-collision singularities qualitatively different from the ones presented in point particle models. (shrink)
The historical origin and the experimental basis of the concept of physical determinism indicate that this basis was removed with the acceptance of the kinetic theory of matter, while its difficulties are increased by the admission that human nature, in its entirety, is a product of natural causation. An indeterministic view of causation has the advantages (a) of unifying the concept of natural law in different spheres of human experience and (b) of a greater generality, which precludes the acceptance of (...) the special case of completely deterministic causation, so long as this is an unproved assumption. It is not inconsistent with the orderliness of the world, or with the fruitful pursuit of natural knowledge. It enriches rather than weakens the concept of of causation. It possesses definite advantages with respect to the one-sidedness of human memory, and to the phenomena of aiming and striving observable in man and other animals. Among biological theories it appears to be most completely in harmony with the theory of natural selection, which in its statistical nature resembles the second law of thermo-dynamics. In an indeterministic world natural causation has a creative element, and science is interested in locating the original causes of effects of special interest, and not merely in pushing a chain of causation backwards ad infinitum. These contrasting tendencies are illustrated by a critique of the mutation theory, and by an attempt more closely to define the sense in which indeterministic causation should be thought of as creative. (shrink)
It can be shown that certain kinds of classical deterministic and indeterministic descriptions are observationally equivalent. Then the question arises: which description is preferable relative to evidence? This paper looks at the main argument in the literature for the deterministic description by Winnie (The cosmos of science—essays of exploration. Pittsburgh University Press, Pittsburgh, pp 299–324, 1998). It is shown that this argument yields the desired conclusion relative to in principle possible observations where there are no limits, in principle, on observational (...) accuracy. Yet relative to the currently possible observations (of relevance in practice), relative to the actual observations, or relative to in principle observations where there are limits, in principle, on observational accuracy the argument fails. Then Winnie’s analogy between his argument for the deterministic description and his argument against the prevalence of Bernoulli randomness in deterministic descriptions is considered. It is argued that while the arguments are indeed analogous, it is also important to see they are disanalogous in another sense. (shrink)
The present work sets out to discuss in three main steps the roots of the indeterministic paradigm for quantum mechanics as against a causal explanation of reality. The first step is to present the fundamental role played by non-local Fourier analysis in the Copenhagen paradigm. The second is to present wavelet local analysis, a recent formalism that will perhaps allow the development of a new causal paradigm for physics. The third is to present the Heisenberg-Bohr uncertainty relations as a direct (...) mathematical consequence of Fourier non-local analysis. Finally, experimental evidence violating these relations is presented. These results imply that the indeterministic approach has reached its limits. However, they can be explained within a causal framework allowing a more general mathematical formulation for uncertainty relations. (shrink)
_Some say there is no progress in philosophy, and certainly there is one sense in_ _which they are wrong. There are at least significant developments in philosophical_ _doctrines that have been persistently advocated in the past. With confidence I leave_ _you to arrive at a satisfactory understanding of 'significant'. There is no doubt that_ _Robert Kane has made some progress, probably more than any other contemporary_ _philosopher, in the laying out and defending of the doctrine that an understandable_ _freedom is (...) importantly inconsistent with determinism, and that we do have this_ _freedom. If the past is any guide to the present, I myself, with the aid of further_ _study, will come to disagree. But certainly this summation of Kane's views, put_ _together for the Determinism and Freedom Philosophy Website, is strongly_ _commended to you._. (shrink)
This paper proposes a reconciliation between libertarian freedomand causal indeterminism, without relying on agent-causation asa primitive notion. I closely examine Peter van Inwagen''s recentcase for free will mysterianism, which is based in part on thewidespread worry that undetermined acts are too chancy to befree. I distinguish three senses of the term chance I thenargue that van Inwagen''s case for free will mystrianism fails,since there is no single construal of the term change on whichall of the premises of his argument (...) for free will–causalindeterminism incompatibilism are true. By use of a particularevent-causal indeterminist account of free action, I support thecase for free will–indeterminism compatibilism. (shrink)
The ‘rollback argument,’ pioneered by Peter van Inwagen, purports to show that indeterminism in any form is incompatible with free will. The argument has two major premises: the first claims that certain facts about chances obtain in a certain kind of hypothetical situation, and the second that these facts entail that some actual act is not free. Since the publication of the rollback argument, the second claim has been vehemently debated, but everyone seems to have taken the first claim (...) for granted. Nevertheless, the first claim is totally unjustified. Even if we accept the second claim, therefore, the argument gives us no reason to think that free will and indeterminism are incompatible. Furthermore, seeing where the rollback argument goes wrong illuminates how a certain kind of incompatibilist, the ‘chance-incompatibilist,’ ought to think about free will and chance, and points to a possibility for free will that has remained largely unexplored. (shrink)
Many phenomena in the world display a striking time-asymmetry: the forwards transition frequencies are approximately invariant while the backwards ones are not. I argue in this paper that theories of such phenomena will entail that time has a direction, and that quantum mechanics in particular entails that the future is objectively different from the past.
Incompatibilism about freedom and causal determinism is commonly supported by appeal to versions of the well known Consequence argument. Critics of the Consequence argument have presented counterexamples to the Consequence argument's central inference principle. The thesis of this article is that proponents of the Consequence argument can easily bypass even the best of these counterexamples.
A recent proposal by Norton (2003) to show that a simple Newtonian system can exhibit stochastic acausal behavior by giving rise to spontaneous movements of a mass on the dome of a certain shape is examined. We discuss the physical significance of an often overlooked and yet important Lipschitz condition the violation of which leads to the existence of anomalous nontrivial solutions in this and similar cases. We show that the Lipschitz condition is closely linked with the time reversibility of (...) certain solutions in Newtonian mechanics and the failure to incorporate this condition within Newtonian mechanics may unsurprisingly lead to physically impossible solutions that have no serious metaphysical implications. ‡I thank Steven Savitt of the Philosophy Department at the University of British Columbia for drawing my attention to the Lipschitz condition, and Alexei Cheviakov of the Mathematics Department at the University of British Columbia for useful discussions. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z1, Canada; e-mail: email@example.com. (shrink)
Social science employs teleological explanations which depend upon the rationality principle, according to which people exhibit instrumental rationality. Popper points out that people also exhibit critical rationality, the tendency to stand back from, and to question or criticise, their views. I explain how our critical rationality impugns the explanatory value of the rationality principle and thereby threatens the very possibility of social science. I discuss the relationship between instrumental and critical rationality and show how we can reconcile our critical rationality (...) with the possibility of social science if we invoke Popper’s conception of limited rationality and his indeterminism. (shrink)
Determinism seems incompatible with free will. However, even indeterminism seems incompatible with free will, since it seems to make free actions random. Popper contends that free agents are not bound by physical laws, even indeterministic ones, and that undetermined actions are not random if they are influenced by abstract entities. I argue that Popper could strengthen his account by drawing upon his theories of propensities and of limited rationality; but that even then his account would not fully explain why (...) free actions are not random. I offer a solution to this problem which draws on Hornsby’s analysis of action. I then borrow an idea of Kant about self-consciousness to distinguish free agents from sub-human animals. I make a brief evaluation of Popper’s contribution. (shrink)
1. E.J. Lowe claims that quantum physics provides examples of ontic indeterminacy, of vagueness in the world. Any such claim must confront the Evans-Salmon argument to the effect that the notion of ontic indeterminacy is simply incoherent (Evans 1978, Salmon 1981: 243-46). Lowe argues that a standard version of the Evans-Salmon argument fails quite generally (Lowe 1994). Harold Noonan (1995) has outlined a non-standard version of the argument, but Lowe argues that this non-standard version fails for specifically quantum mechanical (...) reasons (Lowe 1997). He claims that it is perfectly coherent to suppose that his quantum case is an example of ontic indeterminacy. (shrink)
Libertarians like Robert Kane believe that indeterminism is necessaryfor free will. They think this in part because they hold both (1) thatmy being the ultimate cause of at least part of myself is necessary forfree will and (2) that indeterminism is necessary for this ``ultimateself-causation''. But seductive and intuitive as this ``USCLibertarianism'' may sound, it is untenable. In the end, nometaphysically coherent (not to mention empirically valid) conception ofultimate self-causation is available. So the basic intuition motivatingthe USC Libertarian (...) is ultimately impossible to fulfill. (shrink)
The present text comments on Steel 2005 , in which the author claims to extend from the deterministic to the general case, the result according to which the causal Markov condition is satisfied by systems with jointly independent exogenous variables. I show that Steel’s claim cannot be accepted unless one is prepared to abandon standard causal modeling terminology. Correlatively, I argue that the most fruitful aspect of Steel 2005 consists in a realist conception of error terms, and I show how (...) this conception sheds new light on the relationship between determinism and the causal Markov condition. †To contact the author, please write to: Institut Supérieur de Philosophie, Université Catholique de Louvain, Place du Cardinal Mercier 14, 1348 Louvain la Neuve, Belgium; e‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
The inference from statistical data to causal hypotheses is of great importance in both the natural and social sciences. On the basis of such causal inferences, it is claimed, for example, that the statistical correlation between smoking and contracting cancer is due to the fact that smoking causes cancer: Other things being equal, smoking raises the chance of contracting various types of cancer. Furthermore, we are surrounded by statistical data that, if properly analyzed, can significantly enrich our knowledge of the (...) causal relations between various factors. Consider the Bureau of Statistics. It accumulates an enormous amount of statistical data about various quantities. If we could decipher the causal relations among these quantities, statistical data would be invaluable for policy-making in governmental and public organizations and provide very efficient means for policy monitoring. (shrink)