In his A Treatise of Freewill, Ralph Cudworth argues against Stoic determinism by drawing on what he takes to be other concepts found in Stoicism, notably the claim that some things are ?up to us? and that these things are the product of our choice. These concepts are central to the late Stoic Epictetus and it appears at first glance as if Cudworth is opposing late Stoic voluntarism against early Stoic determinism. This paper argues that in fact, despite his (...) claim to be drawing on Stoic doctrine, Cudworth uses these terms with a meaning first articulated only later, by the Peripatetic commentator Alexander of Aphrodisias. (shrink)
I describe recent developments of Conway and Kochen on the physical meaning of freewill and their theorem that the assertion of freewill for human beings, in their specific sense, implies the same for elementary particles. This description is given in simplified metaphorical terms that nonetheless address the key physical axioms and essential analytic content of their argument. I then give points of contact of our metaphor with the full technical analysis of the cited authors and conclude with some (...) associated metaphysical speculations. These include the implications of the freewill theorem for dual aspect theories and, in particular, for process metaphysics. (shrink)
A central argument for the view that God's necessary omniscience [( Bgf p )] precludes freewill is unsound, because the necessity of the consequence is not the necessity of the consequent, and nor is Bgf true. God's belief in some particular proposition f about what I will do is not necessary, as I might do something that makes ~ f true. Fischer and Tognazzini claim that this counterargument argument assumes that I must freely do the something that makes f (...) true. But plainly it doesn't. All that it assumes is that I will do the something that makes f true. It makes no difference whether I do that thing unfreely, or "deterministicall". The argument does not assume the existence of a case of freewill in the face of divine foreknowledge, but instead considers the necessity of God's belief in some particular designated proposition f. The argument does not depend, as Fischer and Tognazzini suppose, on whether God's knowledge is a function of the facts (omniscience) or vice versa (infallibility). (shrink)
Tribe, David In reviewing Bill Cooke's Wealth of Insights (2011) (AH, Autumn 2012), I said that the age-old debate on freewill versus determinism is 'a major issue for neurophysiology, philosophy, jurisprudence and criminology'. I could have added religion, but here the debate takes on a slightly different form of freewill versus predestination (worth considering later) and appears to have divided on peaceful sectarian lines.
Brian Garrett (Analysis (2012), 293–5) comments on McCall's paper (Analysis (2011), 501–6). McCall had claimed that since the truth of true empirical propositions supervenes on, and depends upon, empirical fact, what God knows and does not know also depends upon being, i.e. upon facts. Consequently God's foreknowing what I freely decide to do depends upon what I freely do. Garrett objects that the dependence of truth on being seems to play no essential role in McCall's argument. McCall replies that his (...) argument is an up-to-date version of Luis de Molina's 16th century reconciliation of freewill with omniscience, in which the dependence of God's knowledge on what humans do is crucial. (shrink)
During my childhood I was fascinated by videogames. One game that stands out in my memory is Pacman. It wasn’t the gameplay that interested me so much as the behavior of the ghosts. As you watch them roam around the maze, you get the feeling that they are intelligent. They seem to be making decisions about how best to catch Pacman. But how free are their decisions? One of the interesting things I noticed was that I could play exactly the (...) same game over and over if I moved Pacman in precisely the same way each time. The ghosts always followed the same behavioral pattern and didn’t deviate from that pattern until I changed my pattern. Experimenting with Pacman in this way revealed to me something about the ghosts’ behavior. True, they make decisions, but their decisions are firmly and predictably determined by the way I move around the maze. (shrink)
According to Arnauld, if we cannot help acting in some way, that is either (1) because external forces or obstacles leave no alternative, or (2) because we cannot help wanting to act that way; and that may be (2a) because we have absolutely no power to want anything else, or (2b) because the power we have is quite insufficient to overcome the inclination to act that way. This gives three kinds of necessity, corresponding to (1), (2a) and (2b).[.
The discussion below could be extended by pointing out that there is a fifth notion of freedom which refers to what you are free to do within a context of a game, a system of laws, a moral regime etc. This notion of freedom is close to the notion of permission. It is worth noting that the law may forbid something without enforcing that proscription. So many people constantly do what they are not free to do in this sense.
Suppose it were known, by someone else, what you are going to choose to do tomorrow. Wouldn't that entail that tomorrow you must do what it was known in advance that you would do? In spite of your deliberating and planning, in the end, all is futile: you must choose exactly as it was earlier known that you would. The supposed exercise of your free will is ultimately an illusion. Historically, the tension between foreknowledge and the exercise of free will (...) was addressed in a religious context. According to orthodox views in the West, God was claimed to be omniscient (and hence in possession of perfect foreknowledge) and yet God was supposed to have given humankind free will. Attempts to solve the apparent contradiction often involved attributing to God special properties, e.g. being 'outside' of time. However, the trouble with such solutions is that they are generally unsatisfactory on their own terms. Even more serious is the fact that they leave untouched the problem posed not by God's foreknowledge but that of any human being. Do human beings have foreknowledge? Certainly, of at least some events and behaviors. Thus we have a secular counterpart of the original problem. A human being's foreknowledge, exactly as would God's, of another's choices would seem to preclude the exercise of human free will. Various ways of trying to solve the problem – e.g. by putting constraints on the truth-conditions for statements, or by 'tightening' the conditions necessary for knowledge – are examined and shown not to work. Ultimately the alleged incompatibility of foreknowledge and free will is shown to rest on a subtle logical error. When the error, a modal fallacy, is recognized, and remedied, the problem evaporates. (shrink)
I discuss the quantum mechanical theory of consciousness and freewill offered by Stapp (1993, 1995, 2000, 2004). First I show that decoherence-based arguments do not work against this theory. Then discuss a number of problems with the theory: Stapp's separate accounts of consciousness and freewill are incompatible, the interpretations of QM they are tied to are questionable, the Zeno effect could not enable freewill as he suggests because weakness of will would then be ubiquitous, and the holism (...) of measurement in QM is not a good explanation of the unity of consciousness for essentially the same reason that local interactions may seem incapable to account for it. (shrink)
THE FREEWILL DEFENCE IS DESIGNED TO SHOW THAT THE EXISTENCE OF MORAL EVIL (I.E., EVIL PRODUCED BY MEN) IS COMPATIBLE WITH THE EXISTENCE OF GOD. TO DO THIS IT MUST CLAIM THAT IT IS GOOD THAT MEN HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO BRING ABOUT EITHER GOOD OR EVIL. TO HAVE THIS OPPORTUNITY, THEY MUST KNOW HOW TO BRING ABOUT EVIL. GOD COULD TELL THEM, BUT THAT WOULD MAKE HIS PRESENCE SO MANIFEST AS TO IMPAIR THEIR FREEDOM. THE ONLY OTHER WAY (...) IN WHICH THEY COULD ACQUIRE THAT KNOWLEDGE IS BY SEEING THAT CERTAIN NATURAL PROCESSES BRING ABOUT EVIL EFFECTS. BUT THAT MEANS THAT THERE MUST BE NATURAL EVIL IF MEN ARE TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO BRING ABOUT MORAL EVIL. (shrink)
The debate over free will has pittedlibertarian insistence on open alternativesagainst the compatibilist view that authenticcommitments can preserve free will in adetermined world. A second schism in the freewill debate sets rationalist belief in thecentrality of reason against nonrationalistswho regard reason as inessential or even animpediment to free will. By looking deeperinto what motivates each of these perspectivesit is possible to find common ground thataccommodates insights from all those competingviews. The resulting metacompatibilist view offree will bridges some of the (...) differencesbetween compatibilists and incompatibilists aswell as between rationalists andnonrationalists, and results in a free willtheory that is both more philosophicallyinclusive and more firmly connected tocontemporary research in psychology andbiology. (shrink)
Philosophical Propositions provides a fresh and lucid introduction to key philosophical problems in a classic style. Designed for students coming to philosophy for the first time, Jonathan Westphal introduces readers to the key problems in philosophy, encouraging them to work through those problems themselves. Each chapter considers a key philosophical problem: The Nature of a Philosophical Problem; Basic Concepts of Logic and Philosophy; The Problem of Evil; The Existence of God; Reality; Certainty; Time; Personal Identity; The Mind-Body Problem; Freewill (...) and Determinism; The Meaning of Life? By asking students to consider key philosophical questions such as "are people free?", "can God's existence be proved?" and "how is the mind related to the body", this book provides a firm grounding in essential philosophical problems for students at any level. (shrink)
In this essay, I answer Nick Trakakis’ second critique of my argument against the adequacy of traditional free will theodicy. I argue, first, that Trakakis errs in his implicit assertion that my argument relies upon our being strongly malevolent by nature. I argue, second, that Trakakis errs in thinking that our being weakly benevolent, morally bivalent, or weakly malevolent by nature is sufficient to refute my critique of the traditional freewill theodicy. I still maintain that the argument from freedom (...) of the will offers an explanation of moral evil that is, in the final analysis, manifestly inadequate. (shrink)
This essay examines some of the arguments in David Deutsch's book The Fabric of Reality , chief among them its case for the so-called many-universe interpretation of quantum mechanics (QM), presented as the only physically and logically consistent solution to the QM paradoxes of wave/particle dualism, remote simultaneous interaction, the observer-induced 'collapse of the wave-packet', etc. The hypothesis assumes that all possible outcomes are realized in every such momentary 'collapse', since the observer splits off into so many parallel, coexisting, but (...) epistemically non-interaccessible 'worlds' whose subsequent branchings constitute the lifeline-or experiential world-series- for each of those proliferating centres of consciousness. Although Deutsch concedes that his 'multiverse' theory is counter-intuitive, he none the less takes it to be borne out beyond question by the sheer observational/predictive success of QM and the conceptual dilemmas that supposedly arise with alternative (single-universe) accounts. Moreover, he claims the theory resolves a range of longstanding philosophical problems, notably those of mind/body dualism, the various traditional paradoxes of time, and the freewill/determinism issue. The essay suggests on the contrary, that Deutsch unwittingly transposes into the framework of presentday quantum debate speculative themes from the history of rationalist metaphysics, often with bizarre or philosophically dubious results, and that he rules out at least one promising rival account, namely Bohm's 'hidden variables' theory. It goes on to consider reasons for resistance to that theory among proponents of the 'orthodox' (Copenhagen) doctrine, and for the strong anti-realist, at times even irrationalist bias that has characterized much of this discussion since Bohr's debates with Einstein about quantum non-locality, observer-intervention, and the limits of precise measurement. Finally, the contrast is pointed out between Deutsch's ontologically extravagant use of the many-worlds hypothesis (akin to certain ideas advanced by speculative metaphysicians from Leibniz down) and those realist modes of counterfactual reasoning- e.g. in Kripke and the early Putnam- which deploy similar arguments to very different causal-explanatory ends. (shrink)