In this collection of essays -- a follow up to My Way and Our Stories -- John Martin Fischer defends the contention that moral responsibility is associated with "deep control". Fischer defines deep control as the middle ground between two untenable extreme positions: "superficial control" and "total control". -/- Our freedom consists of the power to add to the given past, holding fixed the laws of nature, and therefore, Fischer contends, we must be able to interpret (...) our actions as extensions of a line that represents the actual past. In "connecting the dots", we engage in a distinctive sort of self-expression. In the first group of essays in this volume, Fischer argues that we do not need genuine access to alterative possibilities in order to be morally responsible. Thus, the line need not branch off at crucial points (where the branches represent genuine metaphysical possibilities). In the remaining essays in the collection he demonstrates that deep control is the freedom condition on moral responsibility. In so arguing, Fischer contends that total control is too much to ask--it is a form of "metaphysical megalomania". So we do not need to "trace back" all the way to the beginning of the line (or even farther) in seeking the relevant kind of freedom or control. Additionally, he contends that various kinds of "superficial control"--such as versions of "conditional freedom" and "judgment-sensitivity" are too shallow; they don't trace back far enough along the line. In short, Fischer argues that, in seeking the freedom that grounds moral responsibility, we need to carve out a middle ground between superficiality and excessive penetration. Deep Control is the "middle way". Fischer presents a new argument that deep control is compatible not just with causal determinism, but also causal indeterminism. He thus tackles the luck problem and shows that the solution to this problem is parallel in important ways to the considerations in favor of the compatibility of causal determinism and moral responsibility. (shrink)
Introduction: "meaning in life and death : our stories" -- John Martin Fischer and Anthony B rueckner, "Why is death bad?", Philosophical studies, vol. 50, no. 2 (September 1986) -- "Death, badness, and the impossibility of experience," Journal of ethics -- John Martin Fischer and Daniel Speak, "Death and the psychological conception of personal identity," Midwest studies in philosophy, vol. 24 -- "Earlier birth and later death : symmetry through thick and thin," Richard Feldman, Kris McDaniel, (...) Jason R. Raibley, eds., The good, the right, life and death (Aldershot : Ashgate Publishing, 2006) -- "Why immortality is not so bad," International journal of philosophical studies, vol. 2, no. 2 (September 1994) -- John Martin Fischer and Ruth Curl, "Philosophical models of immortality in science fiction," in George Slusser et. al., eds., Immortal engines : life extension and immortality in science fiction and fantasy (Athens, Ga. : University of Georgia Press, 1996) -- "Epicureanism about death and immortality," Journal of ethics, vol. 10, no. 4 -- "Stories," Midwest studies in philosophy, vol. 20 -- "Free will, death, and immortality : the role of narrative," Philosophical papers (Special issue : meaning in life) volume 34, number 3, November 2005 -- "Stories and the meaning of life," revised and expanded version of "A reply to Pereboom, Zimmerman, and Smith," part of a book symposium on John Martin Fischer, my way : essays on moral responsibility, philosophical books, vol. 47, no. 3. (shrink)
This is a selection of essays on moral responsibility that represent the major components of John Martin Fischer's overall approach to freedom of the will and moral responsibility. The collection exhibits the overall structure of Fischer's view and shows how the various elements fit together to form a comprehensive framework for analyzing free will and moral responsibility. The topics include deliberation and practical reasoning, freedom of the will, freedom of action, various notions of control, and moral accountability. (...) The essays seek to provide a foundation for our practices of holding each other (and ourselves) morally and legally accountable for our behavior. A crucial move is the distinction between two kinds of control. According to Fischer, "regulative control" involves freedom to choose and do otherwise ("alternative possibilities"), whereas "guidance control" does not. Fischer contends that guidance control is all the freedom we need to be morally responsible agents. Further, he contends that such control is fully compatible with causal determinism. Additionally, Fischer argues that we do not need genuine access to alternative possibilities in order for there to be a legitimate point to practical reasoning. Fischer's overall framework contains an argument for the contention that guidance control, and not regulative control, is associated with moral responsibility, a sketch of a comprehensive theory of moral responsibility (that ties together responsibility for actions, omissions, consequences, and character), and an account of the value of moral responsibility. On this account, the value of exhibiting freedom (of the relevant sort) and thus being morally responsible for one's behavior is a species of the value of artistic self-expression. (shrink)
Introduction: God and Freedom John Martin Fischer Imagine that in some remote part of Connecticut there is a computer that has stored in its memory all truths about your life — past, present, and future. The computer contains all the ...
Introduction to Philosophy, Fourth Edition, is the most comprehensive topically organized collection of classical and contemporary philosophy available. Building on the exceptionally successful tradition of previous editions, this edition for the first time incorporates the insights of a new coeditor, John Martin Fischer, and has been updated and revised to make it more accessible. Ideal for introductory philosophy courses, the text includes sections on the meaning of life, God and evil, knowledge and reality, the philosophy of science, the (...) mind/body problem, freedom of will, consciousness, ethics, and philosophical puzzles and paradoxes. It presents seventy substantial--and in some cases complete--selections from the best and most influential works in philosophy, offering a unique balance between classical and contemporary material. An extensive glossary of philosophical terms is also included. The fourth edition features fifteen new readings, including work by Albert Camus, Roderick M. Chisholm, Daniel Dennett, Harry G. Frankfurt, William Paley, Derek Parfit, John Perry, Richard Taylor, Peter Van Inwagen, Bernard Williams, and Susan Wolf. Part III, Knowledge and Reality, has been restructured and now includes Plato's Thaetetus, selections by Edmund L. Gettier and Robert Nozick, and an essay by Christopher Grau that explores the philosophical concepts presented in the popular film The Matrix. Two new ethics puzzles--"The Trolley Problem" and "Ducking Harm and Sacrificing Others"--are also included. This edition incorporates Study Questions after each reading and is accompanied by an Instructor's CD and a Student Companion Website, both containing helpful resources. (shrink)
In a fascinating recent article, Michael Otsuka seeks to bypass the debates about the Principle of Alternative Possibilities by presenting and defending a different, but related, principle, which he calls the “Principle of Avoidable Blame.” According to this principle, one is blameworthy for performing an act only if one could instead have behaved in an entirely blameless manner. Otsuka claims that although Frankfurt-cases do undermine the Principle of Alternative Possibilities, they do not undermine the Principle of Avoidable Blame. In this (...) brief paper, we offer a critical discussion of the core of Otsuka’s argument, especially the claim that his favored principle cannot be refuted by Frankfurt-cases. We do not believe that Otsuka has offered good reason to suppose that the Principle of Avoidable Blame—and the related incompatibilism—fares any better than the original Principle of Alternative Possibilities. (shrink)
In his recent book on the problem of evil, Peter van Inwagen argues that both the global and local arguments from evil are failures. In this paper, we engagevan Inwagen’s book at two main points. First, we consider his understanding of what it takes for a philosophical argument to succeed. We argue that whilehis criterion for success is interesting and helpful, there is good reason to think it is too stringent. Second, we consider his responses to the global andlocal arguments (...) from evil. We argue that although van Inwagen may have adequately responded to each of these arguments, his discussion points us toa third argument from evil to which he has yet to provide a response. (shrink)
Sympathy for animals is regarded by many thinkers as theoretically disreputable. Against this I argue that sympathy appropriately underlies moral concern for animals. I offer an account of sympathy that distinguishes sympathy with from sympathy for fellow creatures, and I argue that both can be placed on an objective basis, if we differentiate enlightened from folk sympathy. Moreover, I suggest that sympathy for animals is not, as some have claimed, incompatible with environmentalism; on the contrary, it can ground environmental concern. (...) Finally, I show that the traditional concept of anthropomorphism has no coherent basis, and I argue that the attempt to prove that animals lack thoughts is both unsuccessful and irrelevant to sympathy for languageless creatures. (shrink)
I seek to reply to the thoughtful and challenging papers by Helen Steward, Saul Smilansky, and John Perry. Steward argues that agency itself requires access to alternative possibilities; I attempt to motivate my denial of this view. I believe that her view here is no more plausible than the view (which she rejects) that it is unfair to hold someone morally responsible, unless he has genuine access to alternative possibilities. Smilansky contends that compatibilism is morally shallow, and that we (...) can see this from the "ultimate perspective." In reply, I explore the nature of "zooming" arguments, and I contend that even from a somewhat more detached perspective, important features that distinguish us from mere animals can be discerned (even in a causally deterministic universe). Finally, I seek to address Perry's defense of classical compatibilism. My main objection to his form of compatbilism is that agents must be construed as having a certain kind of "baggage"— even on his own account. (shrink)
Replies to critics Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11098-010-9669-y Authors John Martin Fischer, University of California, Riverside, CA USA Journal Philosophical Studies Online ISSN 1573-0883 Print ISSN 0031-8116.
Many biological systems experience a periodic environment. Floquet theory is a mathematical tool to deal with such time periodic systems. It is not often applied in biology, because linkage between the mathematics and the biology is not available. To create this linkage, we derive the Floquet theory for natural systems. We construct a framework, where the rotation of the Earth is causing the periodicity. Within this framework the angular momentum operator is introduced to describe the Earth’s rotation. The Fourier operators (...) and the Fourier states are defined to link the rotation to the biological system. Using these operators, the biological system can be transformed into a rotating frame in which the environment becomes static. In this rotating frame the Floquet solution can be derived. Two examples demonstrate how to apply this natural framework. (shrink)
This book provides a comprehensive, systematic theory of moral responsibility. The authors explore the conditions under which individuals are morally responsible for actions, omissions, consequences, and emotions. The leading idea in the book is that moral responsibility is based on 'guidance control'. This control has two components: the mechanism that issues in the relevant behavior must be the agent's own mechanism, and it must be appropriately responsive to reasons. The book develops an account of both components. The authors go on (...) to offer a sustained defense of the thesis that moral responsibility is compatible with causal determinism. (shrink)
In his recent essay in the Philosophical Review, “Truth and Freedom,” Trenton Merricks contends (among other things) that the basic argument for the incompatibility of God's foreknowledge and human freedom is question-begging. He relies on a “truism” to the effect that truth depends on the world and not the other way around. The present essay argues that mere invocation of this truism does not establish that the basic argument for incompatibilism is question-begging. Further, it seeks to clarify important elements of (...) the debate, including the fixity-of-the-past premise in the incompatibilist's argument and the Ockhamist response. It sketches some potential links between the issues here and recent work on ontological dependence, and it connects the issues raised by Merricks to important work that has appeared in (among other places) the Philosophical Review. (shrink)
In previous work we have defended the deprivation account of death’s badness against worries stemming from the Lucretian point that prenatal and posthumous nonexistence are deprivations of the same sort. In a recent article in this journal, Fred Feldman has offered an insightful critique of our Parfitian strategy for defending the deprivation account of death’s badness. Here we adjust, clarify, and defend our strategy for reply to Lucretian worries on behalf of the deprivation account.
In ancient times--some fifteen years ago--I suggested that Frankfurt-type examples call into question the Principle of Transfer of Non-Responsibility (which I then called, a bit too narrowly, the “Principle of Transfer of Blamelessness,” following John Taurek’s usage in his fascinating Ph.D. dissertation at UCLA in 1972).[i] In the introductory essay to my anthology, Moral Responsibility, I presented a somewhat informal version of Van Inwagen’s modal principle (which he called Principle ‘B’), and (following Van Inwagen) explained how it could be (...) employed as part of a “direct” argument for the incompatibility of causal determinism and moral responsibility (i.e., an argument for the incompatibility claim that does not employ the claim that causal determinism rules out alternative possibilities). (shrink)
Moral development has become an integral part in military training and the importance of moral judgment and behavior in military operations can hardly be overestimated. Many armed forces have integrated military ethics and moral decision-making interventions in their training programs. However, little is known about the effectiveness of these interventions. This study examined the effectiveness of a 1-week training program in moral decision making in the Swiss Armed Forces. The program was based on a strategy-based interactional moral dilemma approach. Results (...) of this quasi-experimental intervention study showed significant improvements in content-related (moral and instrumental awareness, quality of moral information processing, development of compensatory actions) as well as process-related (situational analysis, development and evaluation of alternative solutions, justification of decision) aspects in moral decision making. Results of a follow-up test indicated positive long-term effects with regard to moral and instrumental awareness and process-related aspects. Findings are discussed, and consequences for leadership development programs and further research are explored. (shrink)
For graduate students to succeed as professionals, they must develop a set of general “survival skills”. These include writing research articles, making oral presentations, obtaining employment and funding, supervising, and teaching. Traditionally, graduate programs have offered little training in many of these skills. Our educational model provides individuals with formal instruction in each area, including their ethical dimensions. Infusion of research ethics throughout a professional skills curriculum helps to emphasize that responsible conduct is integral to succeeding as a researcher. It (...) also leads to the consideration of ethical dimensions of professional life not covered in traditional ethics courses. (shrink)
The ability to understand the relation between quantities has been documented in a wide range of species. Such quantity discrimination competences are commonly demonstrated by a choice of the larger quantity or numerosity in a two-choice task. However, despite their overall success, many subjects commit a surprisingly large number of errors even in simple discriminations such as 1 vs. 3. Recently, it had been suggested that this is a result of the testing procedure. When monkeys could choose between different quantities (...) of edible rewards, they showed low-level success. If, however, they chose between inedible items and were rewarded with edible items, their performance increased. The same held true if they choose between edible items but were rewarded with other edible items (Schmitt & Fischer, 2011, Nat. Comm., 2, 257). This led to the suggestion that the monkeys may not have been able to mentally separate between choice- and reward-stimuli in the initial test situation. To investigate if this response pattern can also be found in non-primate species, we replicated the experiment with 12 Icelandic horses kept at a private horse-riding school. Horses are known to discriminate between quantities up to three, but are only very distantly related to primates. Unexpectedly, we found only weak evidence for quantity discrimination skills and no effect of the type of stimuli. Only some subjects reliably selected the larger quantity in some, but not all quantity pairs. These findings are not only in contrast to the previously conducted study on monkeys, but also to other studies on horses. From this, we conclude that quantity discrimination competence may only be of minor importance for horses and highlight the influence of experimental conditions on the outcome of cognitive tests. (shrink)
The reliable covariation between numerosity and spatial extent is considered as a strong constraint for inferring the successor principle in numerical cognition. We suggest that children can derive a general number concept from the (experientially) infinite succession of spatial positions during object manipulation.
In the present article we argue that emotional interactions are not appropriately captured in present emotion research and theorizing. Emotional stimuli or antecedents are dynamic and change over time because they often interact and have a specific relationship with the subject. Earlier emotional interactions may, for example, intensify later emotional reactions to a specific person, or our anger reactions towards powerful or powerless others may differ considerably. Thus, we suggest that such social factors not only affect the intensity, but also (...) the nature of emotional experiences and expressions, and specifically the nature of the social movement (e.g., moving towards, away, or against). We discuss different processes that are implicated in the relation between the social environment and our emotions, describe how emotional expressions shape social behavior, and provide suggestions for incorporating the social dimension of emotion in future research. (shrink)
For a numerical description of multicomponent diffusion processes, the coefficients of the Onsager diffusion matrix are needed. We compare a number of models relating these parameters to experimentally accessible quantities, such as tracer diffusion coefficients. Since these models present different levels of approximation, we investigate the differences in Onsager parameters when they are determined from tracer diffusion. Moreover, we study an ideal solution alloy by Monte Carlo methods to determine the Onsager coefficients directly and using the model assumptions. Measuring atomic (...) fluxes and site fraction gradients, our simulation method is more closely related to a real physical experiment than the usual simulation method of generalized Einstein equations. Onsager's variation principle for the calculation of the kinetic coefficients is extended and it is shown that a reasonable description, even of a simple alloy system, requires consideration of a non-diagonal dissipation matrix in the derivation of the diffusion equations. (shrink)
Pragmatist philosopher John Dewey famously stated that man is a creature of habit, and not of reason or instinct. In this paper, I will assess Dewey’s explication of the habituated self and the potential it holds for radical transformative processes. In particular, I will examine the process of coming to feminist consciousness, and will show that a feminist-pragmatist reading of change can accommodate a view of the self as responsible agent. Following the elucidation of the changing self, I will (...) appraise key pragmatist concepts of inquiry, such as doubt and self-reflexivity, with regard to their treatment of deep-seated internalisations of oppressive norms and the initiation of change. Ultimately, I will argue that a feminist-pragmatist understanding of transformation is conducive not only to the project of personal transformation, but also to social and political change more generally. (shrink)
Similarities between pragmatist models of democracy and deliberative models have been explored over recent years, most notably in this journal ( Talisse 2004). However, the work of Iris Marion Young has, thus far, not figured in such comparative analyses and historical weighing of pragmatist antecedents in deliberativist work. In what follows, I wish to redress this oversight by placing Young in conversation with John Dewey and Jane Addams. Young's particular brand of deliberative theorizing focuses on the inclusion of women (...) and all those deemed Other in our democracies. She identifies a significant shortcoming in standard expositions of deliberative thought, pointing out that communicative style, structured by oppressive norms of gender, race, and class, to name but a few, may serve to undermine our full participation in political decision making. While this forms a valuable insight for those seeking to redress the exclusion of Others in democracies, it also draws attention to the centrality of differences of communication in deliberative settings. In what follows, I will highlight the integral role played by communication in Young's and Dewey's expositions of democracy while showing that Addams foreshadows Young's principal insight through an appreciation of communicative difference and its attendant political implications. (shrink)
In this brief concluding chapter we first wish to present the overall argument of the book in a concise, nontechnical way. We hope this will provide a clear view of the argument. We shall then point to some of the distinctive--and attractive--features of our approach. Finally, we shall offer some preliminary thoughts about extending the account of moral responsibility to apply to emotions.
Much has been written recently about free will and moral responsibility. In this paper I will focus on the relationship between free will, on the one hand, and various notions that fall under the rubric of “morality,” broadly construed, on the other: deliberation and practical reasoning, moral responsibility, and ethical notions such as “ought,” “right,” “wrong,” “good,” and “bad.” I shall begin by laying out a natural understanding of freedom of the will. Next I develop some challenges to the common-sense (...) view that we have this sort of freedom. I will go on to explore the implications of this challenge for deliberation, moral responsibility, and the central ethical notions. (shrink)
The Frankfurt cases have been thought by some philosophers to show that moral responsibility does not require genuine metaphysical access to alternative possibilities. But various philosophers have rejected this putative "lesson" of the cases, and they have put forward a powerful "Dilemma Defense." In the last decade or so, many philosophers have been persuaded by the Dilemma Defense that the Frankfurt cases do not show what Frankfurt (and others) thought they show. This essay presents a template for a general strategy (...) of response to the Dilemma Defense. It thus seeks to provide further support for the author's view that the Frankfurt cases help to establish that moral responsibility does not require alternative possibilities. (shrink)
Focusing on the concepts and interactions of free will, moral responsibility, and determinism, this text represents the most up-to-date account of the four major positions in the free will debate. Four serious and well-known philosophers explore the opposing viewpoints of libertarianism, compatibilism, hard incompatibilism, and revisionism The first half of the book contains each philosopher’s explanation of his particular view; the second half allows them to directly respond to each other’s arguments, in a lively and engaging conversation Offers the reader (...) a one of a kind, interactive discussion Forms part of the acclaimed Great Debates in Philosophy series. (shrink)
In this paper I seek to identify different sorts of freedom putatively linked to moral responsibility; I then explore the relationship between such notions of freedom and the Consequence Argument, on the one hand, and the Frankfurt-examples, on the other. I focus (in part) on a dilemma: if a compatibilist adopts a broadly speaking "conditional" understanding of freedom in reply to the Consequence Argument, such a theorist becomes vulnerable in a salient way to the Frankfurt-examples.
In this essay I shall begin by sketching a "Frankfurt-type example." I shall then lay out a disturbing challenge to the claim I have made above that these examples help us to make significant progress in the debates about the relationship between moral responsibility and causal determinism. I then will provide a reply to this challenge, and the reply will point toward a more refined formulation of the important contribution I believe Frankfurt has made to defending a certain sort of (...) compatibilism. (shrink)