The claim that common sense regards free will and moral responsibility as compatible with determinism has played a central role in both analytic and experimental philosophy. In this paper, we show that evidence in favor of this “natural compatibilism” is undermined by the role that indeterministic metaphysical views play in how people construe deterministic scenarios. To demonstrate this, we re-examine two classic studies that have been used to support natural compatibilism. We find that although people give apparently compatibilist (...) responses, this is largely explained by the fact that people import an indeterministic metaphysics into deterministic scenarios when making judgments about freedom and responsibility. We conclude that judgments based on these scenarios are not reliable evidence for natural compatibilism. (shrink)
In the past decade, a number of empirical researchers have suggested that laypeople have compatibilist intuitions. In a recent paper, Feltz and Millan have challenged this conclusion by claiming that most laypeople are only compatibilists in appearance and are in fact willing to attribute free will to people no matter what. As evidence for this claim, they have shown that an important proportion of laypeople still attribute free will to agents in fatalistic universes. In this paper, we first argue that (...) Feltz and Millan’s error-theory rests on a conceptual confusion: it is perfectly acceptable for a certain brand of compatibilist to judge free will and fatalism to be compatible, as long as fatalism does not prevent agents from being the source of their actions. We then present the results of two studies showing that laypeople’s intuitions are best understood as following a certain brand of source compatibilism rather than a “free-will-no-matter-what” strategy. (shrink)
Humean compatibilism is the combination of a Humean position on laws of nature and the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism. This article's aim is to situate Humean compatibilism in the current debate among libertarians, traditional compatibilists, and semicompatibilists about free will. We argue that a Humean about laws can hold that there is a sense in which the laws of nature are 'up to us' and hence that the leading style of argument for incompatibilism?the consequence (...) argument?has a false premiss. We also display some striking similarities between Humean compatibilism and libertarianism, an incompatibilist view. For example, standard libertarians face a problem about luck, and we show that Humean compatibilists face a very similar problem. (shrink)
Much of the recent philosophical discussion about free will has been focused on whether compatibilists can adequately defend how a determined agent could exercise the type of free will that would enable the agent to be morally responsible in what has been called the basic desert sense :5–24, 1994; Fischer in Four views on free will, Wiley, Hoboken, 2007; Vargas in Four views on free will, Wiley, Hoboken, 2007; Vargas in Philos Stud, 144:45–62, 2009). While we agree with Derk Pereboom (...) and others that the compatibilist’s burden should be properly understood as providing a compelling account of how a determined agent could be morally responsible in the basic desert sense, the exact nature of this burden has been rendered somewhat unclear by the fact that there has been no definitive account given as to what the basic desert sense of moral responsibility amounts to. In Sect. 1 we set out to clarify the compatibilist’s burden by presenting our account of basic desert moral responsibility—which we call retributivist desert moral responsibility for purposes of clarity—and explain why it is of central philosophical and practical importance to the free will debate. In Sect. 2 we employ a thought experiment to illustrate the kind of difficulty that compatibilists of any stripe are likely to encounter in attempting to explain how determined agents can exercise the kind of free will needed for retributivist desert moral responsibility. (shrink)
The problem of freedom and determinism has vexed philosophers for several millennia, and continues to be a topic of lively debate today. One of the proposed solutions to the problem that has received a great deal of attention is the Theory of Agent Causation. While the theory has enjoyed its share of advocates, and perhaps more than its share of critics, the theory’s advocates and critics have always agreed on one thing: the Theory of Agent Causation is an incompatibilist theory. (...) That is, both believers and nonbelievers in the theory have taken it for granted that the most plausible version of the Theory of Agent Causation is one according to which freedom and determinism are incompatible. In fact, so entrenched is this assumption that no one on either side of the debate has ever questioned it. Yet it turns out that this assumption is wrong – the most plausible version of the Theory of Agent Causation is a compatibilist one. (shrink)
This article distinguishes among and examines three different kinds of argument for the thesis that moral responsibility and free action are each incompatible with the truth of determinism: straight manipulation arguments; manipulation arguments to the best explanation; and original-design arguments. Structural and methodological matters are the primary focus.
Paleo-compatibilism is the view that the freedom required for moral responsibility is not incompatible with determinism about the factors relevant to moral assessment, since the claim that we are free and the claim that the psychophysical elements are causally determined are true in distinct and incommensurable ways. This is to be accounted for by appealing to the distinction between conventional truth and ultimate truth developed by Buddhist Reductionists. Paleo-compatibilists hold that the illusion of incompatibilism only arises when we illegitimately (...) mix two distinct vocabularies, one concerned with persons, the other concerned with the parts to which persons are reducible. I explore the view, its roots in Buddhist Reductionism, and its prospects. (shrink)
Compatibilism is the view that moral responsibility is compatible with determinism. Natural compatibilism is the view that in ordinary social cognition, people are compatibilists. Researchers have recently debated whether natural compatibilism is true. This paper presents six experiments (N = 909) that advance this debate. The results provide the best evidence to date for natural compatibilism, avoiding the main methodological problems faced by previous work supporting the view. In response to simple scenarios about familiar activities, people (...) judged that agents had moral responsibilities to perform actions that they were unable to perform (Experiment 1), were morally responsible for unavoidable outcomes (Experiment 2), were to blame for unavoidable outcomes (Experiments 3-4), deserved blame for unavoidable outcomes (Experiment 5), and should suffer consequences for unavoidable outcomes (Experiment 6). These findings advance our understanding of moral psychology and philosophical debates that depend partly on patterns in commonsense morality. (shrink)
Compatibilists disagree over whether there are historical conditions on moral responsibility. Historicists claim there are, whilst structuralists deny this. Historicists motivate their position by claiming to avoid the counter-intuitive implications of structuralism. I do two things in this paper. First, I argue that historicism has just as counter-intuitive implications as structuralism when faced with thought experiments inspired by those found in the personal identity literature. Hence, historicism is not automatically preferable to structuralism. Second, I argue that structuralism is much more (...) plausible once we accept that personal identity is irrelevant to moral responsibility. This paves the way for a new structuralist account that makes clear what it takes to be the diachronic ownership condition (which is normally taken to be personal identity) and the locus of moral responsibility (which is normally taken to be ‘whole’ person), and helps to alleviate the intuitive unease many have with respect to structuralism. (shrink)
In this thesis, I will defend a new kind of compatibilist account of free action, indirect conscious control compatibilism (or indirect compatibilism for short), and argue that some of our actions are free according to it. My argument has three components, and involves the development of a brand new tool for experimental philosophy, and the use of cognitive neuroscience. The first component of the argument shows that compatibilism (of some kind) is a conceptual truth. Contrary to the (...) current orthodoxy in the free will literature, which is that our concept of free will is an incompatibilist concept - a concept according to which we have free will only if determinism is false - I will show that our concept of free will is in fact a compatibilist concept - a concept according to which we can have free will even if determinism is true - and I do so using a new experimental philosophy methodology inspired by two-dimensional semantics. -/- Of course, even if our concept of free will is a compatibilist concept, this does not mean that there are any free actions in the world: the current empirical evidence from the brain sciences appears to show that there might be no, or very few, free actions in the world, even on many compatibilist understandings of what it would take for there to be free will. The second component of the argument addresses this concern by extending our understanding of compatibilism. Agents act freely either when their actions are caused by compatibilistically acceptable psychological processes, or are indirectly caused by those same processes. Hence the name of my account: indirect compatibilism. -/- The final component of the argument defends my new account against some interesting objections and provides evidence from cognitive neuroscience that some of our actions count as free by the lights of indirect compatibilism. (shrink)
Compatibilism is the view that determinism is compatible with acting freely and being morally responsible. Incompatibilism is the opposite view. It is often claimed that compatibilism or incompatibilism is a natural part of ordinary social cognition. That is, it is often claimed that patterns in our everyday social judgments reveal an implicit commitment to either compatibilism or incompatibilism. This paper reports five experiments designed to identify such patterns. The results support a nuanced hybrid account: The central tendencies (...) in ordinary social cognition are compatibilism about moral responsibility, compatibilism about positive moral accountability, neither compatibilism nor incompatibilism about negative moral accountability, compatibilism about choice for actions with positive outcomes, and incompatibilism about choice for actions with negative or neutral outcomes. (shrink)
_If you were free in doing something and morally responsible for it, you could have done otherwise. That_ _has seemed a pretty firm proposition among the old, new, clear, unclear and other propositions in the_ _philosophical discussion of freedom and determinism. If you were free in what you did, there was an_ _alternative. It is also at least natural to think that if determinism is true, you can never do otherwise than_ _you do. G. E. Moore, that Cambridge reasoner in (...) whose shadow Wittgenstein ought to be standing,_ _considered the matter. He pointed out that even if determinism is true, there remains a sense in which you_ _can still do otherwise than you do: you will do otherwise if you so choose. That, on reflection, is consistent_ _with determinism. The doctrine of the compatibility of freedom and determinism is saved. Joseph Keim_ _Campbell, strong philosopher at Washington State University, provides the latest thinking on this seemingly_ _unavoidable dispute. You do not have to agree that either compatibilism or incompatibilism must be true in_ _order to appreciate the carefulness of his reasoning in this piece of ongoing American philosophy. It_ _requires and repays attention._. (shrink)
Compatibilist libertarianism claims that alternate possibilities for action at the agential level are consistent with determinism at the physical level. Unlike traditional compatibilism about alternate possibilities, involving conditional or dispositional accounts of the ability to act, compatibilist libertarianism offers us unqualified modalities at the agential level, consistent with physical determinism, a potentially big advance. However, I argue that the account runs up against two problems. Firstly, the way in which the agential modalities are generated talks past the worries of (...) the incompatibilist in the traditional free will problem. As such, it fails to dispel the worries that determinism generates for the incompatibilist. Secondly, in spite of the ingenious use of the supervenience thesis and multiple realizability, the position still allows us to generate the old worry that determinism at the physical level would mean no alternate possibilities at the level of agency. In particular, I develop a new example, the ‘atomic slit case’ that demonstrates how physical level information is salient to what is possible at the agential level, motivating incompatibilism. (shrink)
The compatibility question lies at the center of the free will problem. Compatibilists think that determinism is compatible with moral responsibility and the concomitant notions, while incompatibilists think that it is not. The topic of this paper is a particular form of charge against compatibilism: that it is shallow. This is not the typical sort of argument against compatibilism: most of the debate has attempted to discredit compatibilism completely. The Argument From Shallowness maintains that the compatibilists do (...) have a case. However, this case is only partial, and shallow. This limited aim proves itself more powerful against compatibilists than previous all-or-nothing attempts. It connects to the valid instincts of compatibilists, making room for them, and hence is harder for compatibilists to ignore. (shrink)
The “problem of present luck” targets a standard libertarian thesis about free will. It has been argued that there is an analogous problem about luck for compatibilists. This article explores similarities and differences between the alleged problems.
Eddy Nahmias, with various collaborators, has used experimental data to argue for the claim that folk intuition is generally compatibilist. We try to undermine this claim in two ways. First, we argue that the various formulations of determinism he uses are not conceptually equivalent, jeopardizing the kinds of conclusions that can be drawn from the resulting data. Second, prompted by these conceptual worries we supplement the typical quantitative surveys that dominate the extant literature with short qualitative interviews. This, in turn, (...) guides us to make a minor modification to the quantitative survey that provides better access to the relevant folk intuitions. (shrink)
In the free will literature, some compatibilists and some incompatibilists claim that their views best capture ordinary intuitions concerning free will and moral responsibility. One goal of researchers working in the field of experimental philosophy has been to probe ordinary intuitions in a controlled and systematic way to help resolve these kinds of intuitional stalemates. We contribute to this debate by presenting new data about folk intuitions concerning freedom and responsibility that correct for some of the shortcomings of previous studies. (...) These studies also illustrate some problems that pertain to all of the studies that have been run thus far. (shrink)
In this paper I offer from a source compatibilist's perspective a critical discussion of "Four Views on Free Will" by John Martin Fischer, Robert Kane, Derk Pereboom, and Manuel Vargas. Sharing Fischer's semi-compatibilist view, I propose modifications to his arguments while resisting his coauthors' objections. I argue against Kane that he should give up the requirement that a free and morally responsible agent be able to do otherwise (in relevant cases). I argue against Pereboom that his famed manipulation argument be (...) resisted by contending that the agents in it are free and responsible. And I also argue against Vargas by challenging the sense in which his revisionist thesis differs from a position like Fischer's and mine. I close by reflecting on the nature of desert. All seem to assume it is central to the debate, but what is it? (shrink)
This paper tries to summarize the main lines of discussion at the conference "Compatibilist Libertarianism: Advantages and Challenges" (October 29, 2021). This conference, organised by Alexander Gebharter and Maria Sekatskaya, served the discussion of Christian List's account of compatibilist libertarianism. Speakers were Taylor W. Cyr, Nadine Elzein, Alexander Gebharter, Christian List, Alfred R. Mele, Leonhard Menges, Tuomas K. Pernu, and Maria Sekatskaya.
Traditional compatibilism about free will is widely considered to be untenable. In particular, the conditional analysis of the ability to do otherwise appears to be subject to clear counterexamples. I will propose a new version of traditional compatibilism that provides a conditional account of both the ability to do otherwise and the ability to choose to do otherwise, and I will argue that this view withstands the standard objections to traditional compatibilism. For this, I will assume with (...) incompatibilists that the mere possession of a general ability to do otherwise is not sufficient for having the ability that is required for free will. This concession distinguishes the view from the traditional conditional analysis and from recent dispositional accounts of the ability to do otherwise, and we will see that this concession enables a straightforward response to the counterexamples. This, in turn, will play a crucial role in my response to the strongest version of the consequence argument for incompatibilism. (shrink)
The terms ‘compatibilism’ and ‘incompatibilism’ were introduced in the mid-20th century to name conflicting views about the in-principle relationship between the thesis of determinism and the thesis that someone has free will. These technical terms were originally introduced within a specific research paradigm, the classical analytic paradigm, but few free-will theorists still work within that paradigm (i.e. using its methods, granting its substantive background assumptions, etc.). This chapter discusses how the ambiguity of the terms ‘incompatibilism’ and ‘compatibilism’ took (...) root. I also explain why the ambiguity of these anachronistic terms, though relatively innocuous when they were first introduced, is now keeping us from clearly identifying the major positions and battle lines in the contemporary free-will debate. -/- For a copy of the penultimate draft, please gmail me at: kristin.mickelson.42. (shrink)
Some compatibilists are internalists. On their view, whether an agent is morally responsible for an action depends only on her psychological structure at that time. Other compatibilists are externalists. On their view, an agent’s history can make a difference as to whether or not she is morally responsible. In response to worries about manipulation, some internalists have claimed that compatibilism requires internalism. Recently, Alfred Mele has argued that this internalist response is untenable. The aim of this paper is to (...) vindicate the claim that compatibilism requires internalism, showing where Mele’s argument goes wrong along the way. (shrink)
…those who accept that responsibility for a situation implies an ability to bring it about and, perhaps, an ability to prevent it, must explain how agents are able to do other than they are caused to do. Without it, they can give no defense of their counterexamples. With it, they can be confident that.
Causal compatibilism claims that even though physics is causally closed, and even though mental properties are multiply realizable and are not identical to physical causal properties, mental properties are causal properties nonetheless. This position asserts that there is genuine causation at multiple descriptive/ontological levels; physics-level causal claims are not really incompatible with mentalistic causal claims. I articulate and defend a version of causal compatibilism that incorporates three key contentions. First, causation crucially involves robust patterns of counterfactual dependence among (...) properties.Second, often several distinct such patterns, all subsuming a single phenomenon, exist at different descriptive/ontological levels. Third, the concept of causation is governed by an implicit contextual parameter that normally determines a specific descriptive/ontological level as the contextually relevant level, for the context-sensitive semantic evaluation of causal statements. (shrink)
Terry Horgan University of Memphis In this paper I address the problem of causal exclusion, specifically as it arises for mental properties (although the scope of the discussion is more general, being applicable to other kinds of putatively causal properties that are not identical to narrowly physical causal properties, i.e., causal properties posited by physics). I summarize my own current position on the matter, and I offer a defense of this position. I draw upon and synthesize relevant discussions in various (...) <blockquote>  </blockquote> other papers of mine (some collaborative) that bear on this topic. (shrink)
William Alston has argued that the so-called deontological conception of epistemic justification, on which epistemic justification is to be spelled out in terms of blame, responsibility, and obligations, is untenable. The basic idea of the argument is that this conception is untenable because we lack voluntary control over our beliefs and, therefore, cannot have any obligations to hold certain beliefs. If this is convincing, however, the argument threatens the very idea of doxastic responsibility. For, how can we ever be responsible (...) for our beliefs if we lack control over them? Several philosophers have argued that the idea that we bear responsibility for our beliefs can be saved, because absence of voluntary control over our beliefs is perfectly compatible with having obligations to hold particular beliefs. With others, I call this view ‘doxastic compatibilism’. It comes in two varieties. On the first variety, doxastic obligations do not require any kind of doxastic control whatsoever. I argue that this variety of doxastic compatibilism fails because it confuses doxastic responsibility with other closely related phenomena. On the second variety, doxastic obligations do not require voluntary doxastic control, but only compatibilist doxastic control (roughly, reason-responsiveness) and we do in fact have such control. I grant that we have such control, but also argue that having such control is insufficient for bearing doxastic responsibility. The plausibility of the examples put forward by doxastic compatibilists in support of the claim that it is sufficient for doxastic responsibility derives from the fact that in these examples, the subjects have control over factors that influence what they believe rather than control over those beliefs themselves. (shrink)
A traditional concern for determinists is that the epistemic conditions an agent must satisfy to deliberate about which of a number of distinct actions to perform threaten to conflict with a belief in determinism and its evident consequences. I develop an account of the sort that specifies two epistemic requirements, an epistemic openness condition and a belief in the efficacy of deliberation, whose upshot is that someone who believes in determinism and its evident consequences can deliberate without inconsistent beliefs. I (...) argue that conditions of both types are indispensable, and that they can be formulated so as to withstand the relevant objections. (shrink)
Compatibilists argue, famously, that it is a simple incompatibilist confusion to suppose that determinism implies fatalism. Incompatibilists argue, on the contrary, that determinism implies fatalism, and thus cannot be consistent with the necessary conditions of moral responsibility. Despite their differences, however, both parties are agreed on one important matter: the refutation of fatalism is essential to the success of the compatibilist strategy. In this paper I argue that compatibilism requires a richer conception of fatalistic concern; one that recognizes the (...) _legitimacy_ of (pessimistic) concerns about the origination of character and conduct. On this basis I argue that any plausible compatibilist position must concede that determinism has fatalistic implications of some significant and relevant kind, and thus must allow that agents may be legitimately held responsible in circumstances where they are subject to fate. The position generated by these compatibilist concessions to incompatibilism will be called 'compatibilist-fatalism'. (shrink)
The Theory of Agent Causation has always been formulated as an incompatibilist view, but I think that this has been a mistake. The aim of this paper is to argue that, contrary to what agent causation theorists and their opponents have always believed, the most plausible version of the Theory of Agent Causation is actually a compatibilist version of that theory. I formulate the traditional version of the Theory of Agent Causation, and consider a series of objections to it and (...) related views. With each objection comes a corresponding revision of the theory that is motivated by that objection, and with each revision the theory becomes increasingly compatibilistic until, finally, we arrive at a completely compatibilistic version of the Theory of Agent Causation, which I take to be the most plausible version of that theory. (shrink)
I examine the extent to which Dennett’s account in Freedom Evolves might be construed as revisionist about free will or should instead be understood as a more traditional kind of compatibilism. I also consider Dennett’s views about philosophical work on free agency and its relationship to scientiﬁc inquiry, and I argue that extant philosophical work is more relevant to scientiﬁc inquiry than Dennett’s remarks may suggest.
An object's disposition to A in circumstances C is masked if circumstances C obtain without the object Aing. This paper explores an analogous sense in which abilities can be masked, and it uses the results of this exploration to motivate an analysis of agents' abilities in terms of dispositions. This analysis is then shown to provide the resources to defend a version of the Principle of Alternate Possibilities against Frankfurt-style counterexamples. Although this principle is often taken to be congenial to (...) incompatibilism concerning free action and determinism, the paper concludes by using the dispositional analysis of abilities to argue for compatibilism, and to show why the 'master argument' for incompatibilism is unsound. (shrink)
In my paper I am concerned with Peter van Inwagen's Consequence Argument. I focus on its probably best known version. In this form it crucially employs the notion of rendering a proposition false, anotion that has never been made sufficiently clear. The main aim of my paper is to shed light on thisnotion. The explications offered so far in thedebate all are based on modal concepts. Iargue that for sufficient results a ``stronger'', hyper-intensional concept is needed, namely the concept expressed (...) by the word ``because''. I show that my analysis is superior to the prior ones. On the basis of this analysis I further explain why van Inwagen''s argument fails. (shrink)
Recently, there has been an increased interest in folk intuitions about freedom and moral responsibility from both philosophers and psychologists. We aim to extend our understanding of folk intuitions about freedom and moral responsibility using an individual differences approach. Building off previous research suggesting that there are systematic differences in folks’ philosophically relevant intuitions, we present new data indicating that the personality trait extraversion predicts, to a significant extent, those who have compatibilist versus incompatibilist intuitions. We argue that identifying groups (...) of people who have specific and diverse intuitions about freedom and moral responsibility offers the possibility for theoretical advancement in philosophy and psychology, and may in part explain why some perennial philosophical debates have proven intractable. (shrink)
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)
Matthias Steup (Steup 2008) has recently argued that our doxastic attitudes are free by (i) drawing an analogy with compatibilism about freedom of action and (ii) denying that it is a necessary condition for believing at will that S's having an intention to believe that p can cause S to believe that p . In this paper, however, I argue that the strategies espoused in (i) and (ii) are incompatible.
Philosophical compatibilism reconciles moral responsibility with determinism, and some neurolaw scholars think that it can also reconcile legal views about responsibility with scientific findings about the neurophysiological basis of human action. Although I too am a compatibilist, this paper argues that philosophical compatibilism cannot be transplanted “as-is” from philosophy into law. Rather, before compatibilism can be re-deployed, it must first be modified to take account of differences between legal and moral responsibility, and between a scientific and a (...) deterministic world view, and to address a range of conceptual, normative, empirical and doctrinal problems that orbit its capacitarian core. (shrink)
A determinism of decisions and actions, despite our experience of deciding and acting and also an interpretation of Quantum Theory, is a reasonable assumption. The doctrines of Compatibilism and Incompatibilism are both false, and demonstrably so. Whole structures of culture and social life refute them, and establish the alternative of Attitudinism. The real problem of determinism has seemed to be that of accomodating ourselves to the frustration of certain attitudes, at bottom certain desires. This project of Affirmation can run (...) up against a conviction owed to reflecting on your own past life. The conviction is that an attitude akin to one tied to indeterminism, a way of holding yourself morally responsible, has some basis despite the truth of determinism. We need to look for radical ideas here, as radical as Consciousness as Existence with the problem of perceptual consciousness. Could that doctrine help with determinism and freedom? Could a problem about causation and explanation do so? (shrink)
In a recent issue of Faith and Philosophy, Timothy Pawl and Kevin Timpe seek to respond to the so-called “Problem of Heavenly Freedom,” the problem ofexplaining how the redeemed in heaven can be free yet incapable of sinning. In the course of offering their solution, they argue that compatibilism is inadequateas a solution because it (1) undermines the free will defense against the logical problem of evil, and (2) exacerbates the problem of evil by making God the “author of (...) sin.” In this paper, I respond to these charges and argue that compatibilism can offer a satisfactory explanation for the sinlessness of the redeemed in heaven. I also raise some problems for Pawl’s and Timpe’s incompatibilist solution. (shrink)