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)
What place does consciousness have in the natural world? If we reject materialism, could there be a credible alternative? In one classic example, philosophers ask whether we can ever know what is it is like for bats to sense the world using sonar. It seems obvious to many that any amount of information about a bat's physical structure and information processing leaves us guessing about the central questions concerning the character of its experience. A Place for Consciousness begins with reflections (...) on the existence of this gap. Is it just a psychological shortcoming in our merely human understanding of the physical world? Is it a trivial consequence of the simple fact that we just cannot be bats? Or does it mean there really are facts about consciousness over and above the physical facts? If so, what does consciousness do? Why does it exist? Rosenberg sorts out these problems, especially those centering on the causal role of consciousness. He introduces a new paradigm called Liberal Naturalism for thinking about what causation is, about the natural world, and about how to create a detailed model to go along with the new paradigm. Arguing that experience is part of the categorical foundations of causality, he shows that within this new paradigm there is a place for something essentially like consciousness in all its traditional mysterious respects. A striking feature of Liberal Naturalism is that its central tenets are motivated independently of the mind-body problem, by analyzing causation itself. Because of this approach, when consciousness shows up in the picture it is not introduced in an ad hoc way, and its most puzzling features can be explained from first principles. Ultimately, Rosenberg's final solution gives consciousness a causally important role without supposing either that it is physical or that it interacts with the physical. (shrink)
Skepticism about moral responsibility, or what is more commonly referred to as moral responsibility skepticism, refers to a family of views that all take seriously the possibility that human beings are never morally responsible for their actions in a particular but pervasive sense. This sense is typically set apart by the notion of basic desert and is defined in terms of the control in action needed for an agent to be truly deserving of blame and praise. Some moral responsibility skeptics (...) wholly reject this notion of moral responsibility because they believe it to be incoherent or impossible. Others maintain that, though possible, our best philosophical and scientific theories about the world provide strong and compelling reasons for adopting skepticism about moral responsibility. What all varieties of moral responsibility skepticism share, however, is the belief that the justification needed to ground basic desert moral responsibility and the practices associated with it—such as backward-looking praise and blame, punishment and reward (including retributive punishment), and the reactive attitudes of resentment and indignation—is not met. Versions of moral responsibility skepticism have historically been defended by Spinoza, Voltaire, Diderot, d’Holbach, Priestley, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Clarence Darrow, B.F. Skinner, and Paul Edwards, and more recently by Galen Strawson, Derk Pereboom, Bruce Waller, Neil Levy, Tamler Sommers, and Gregg D. Caruso. -/- Critics of these views tend to focus both on the arguments for skepticism about moral responsibility and on the implications of such views. They worry that adopting such a view would have dire consequences for our interpersonal relationships, society, morality, meaning, and the law. They fear, for instance, that relinquishing belief in moral responsibility would undermine morality, leave us unable to adequately deal with criminal behavior, increase anti-social conduct, and destroy meaning in life. Optimistic skeptics, however, respond by arguing that life without free will and basic desert moral responsibility would not be as destructive as many people believe. These optimistic skeptics argue that prospects of finding meaning in life or of sustaining good interpersonal relationships, for instance, would not be threatened. They further maintain that morality and moral judgments would remain intact. And although retributivism and severe punishment, such as the death penalty, would be ruled out, they argue that the imposition of sanctions could serve purposes other than the punishment of the guilty—e.g., it can also be justified by its role in incapacitating, rehabilitating, and deterring offenders. (shrink)
As philosophical and scientific arguments for free will skepticism continue to gain traction, we are likely to see a fundamental shift in the way people think about free will and moral responsibility. Such shifts raise important practical and existential concerns: What if we came to disbelieve in free will? What would this mean for our interpersonal relationships, society, morality, meaning, and the law? What would it do to our standing as human beings? Would it cause nihilism and despair as some (...) maintain or would it rather have a humanizing effect on our practices and policies, freeing us from the negative effects of belief in free will? In this chapter we consider the practical implications of free will skepticism and argue that life without free will and basic desert moral responsibility would not be as destructive as many people believe. We argue that prospects of finding meaning in life or of sustaining good interpersonal relationships, for example, would not be threatened. On treatment of criminals, we argue that although retributivism and severe punishment, such as the death penalty, would be ruled out, preventive detention and rehabilitation programs would still be justified. While we will touch on all these issues below, our focus will be primarily on this last issue. -/- We begin in section I by considering two different routes to free will skepticism. The first denies the causal efficacy of the types of willing required for free will and receives its contemporary impetus from pioneering work in neuroscience by Benjamin Libet, Daniel Wegner, and John-Dylan Haynes. The second, which is more common in the philosophical literature, does not deny the causal efficacy of the will but instead claims that whether this causal efficacy is deterministic or indeterministic, it does not achieve the level of control to count as free will by the standards of the historical debate. We argue that while there are compelling objections to the first route—e.g., Al Mele (2009), Eddy Nahmias (2002, 2011), and Neil Levy (2005)—the second route to free will skepticism remains intact. In section II we argue that free will skepticism allows for a workable morality, and, rather than negatively impacting our personal relationships and meaning in life, may well improve our well-being and our relationships to others since it would tend to eradicate an often destructive form of moral anger. In section III we argue that free will skepticism allows for adequate ways of responding to criminal behavior—in particular, incapacitation, rehabilitation, and alternation of relevant social conditions—and that these methods are both morally justified and sufficient for good social policy. We present and defend our own preferred model for dealing with dangerous criminals, an incapacitation account built on the right to self-protection analogous to the justification for quarantine (see Pereboom 2001, 2013, 2014a; Caruso 2016a), and we respond to recent objections to it by Michael Corrado and John Lemos. (shrink)
One of the most frequently voiced criticisms of free will skepticism is that it is unable to adequately deal with criminal behavior and that the responses it would permit as justified are insufficient for acceptable social policy. This concern is fueled by two factors. The first is that one of the most prominent justifications for punishing criminals, retributivism, is incompatible with free will skepticism. The second concern is that alternative justifications that are not ruled out by the skeptical view per (...) se face significant independent moral objections (Pereboom 2014: 153). Despite these concerns, I maintain that free will skepticism leaves intact other ways to respond to criminal behavior—in particular incapacitation, rehabilitation, and alteration of relevant social conditions—and that these methods are both morally justifiable and sufficient for good social policy. The position I defend is similar to Derk Pereboom’s (2001, 2013, 2014), taking as its starting point his quarantine analogy, but it sets out to develop the quarantine model within a broader justificatory framework drawn from public health ethics. The resulting model—which I call the public health-quarantine model (Caruso 2016, 2017a)—provides a framework for justifying quarantine and criminal sanctions that is more humane than retributivism and preferable to other non-retributive alternatives. It also provides a broader approach to criminal behavior than Pereboom’s quarantine analogy does on its own since it prioritizes prevention and social justice. -/- In Section 1, I begin by (very) briefly summarizing my arguments against free will and basic desert moral responsibility. In Section 2, I then introduce and defend my public health-quarantine model, which is a non-retributive alternative to criminal punishment that prioritizes prevention and social justice. In Sections 3 and 4, I take up and respond to two general objections to the public health-quarantine model. Since objections by Michael Corrado (2016), John Lemos (2016), Saul Smilanksy (2011, 2017), and Victor Tadros (2017) have been addressed in detail elsewhere (see Pereboom 2017a; Pereboom and Caruso 2018), I will here focus on objections that have not yet been addressed. In particular, I will respond to concerns about proportionality, human dignity, and victims’ rights. I will argue that each of these concerns can be met and that in the end the public health-quarantine model offers a superior alternative to retributive punishment and other non-retributive accounts. (shrink)
Within the United States, the most prominent justification for criminal punishment is retributivism. This retributivist justification for punishment maintains that punishment of a wrongdoer is justified for the reason that she deserves something bad to happen to her just because she has knowingly done wrong—this could include pain, deprivation, or death. For the retributivist, it is the basic desert attached to the criminal’s immoral action alone that provides the justification for punishment. This means that the retributivist position is not reducible (...) to consequentialist considerations nor in justifying punishment does it appeal to wider goods such as the safety of society or the moral improvement of those being punished. A number of sentencing guidelines in the U.S. have adopted desert as their distributive principle, and it is increasingly given deference in the “purposes” section of state criminal codes, where it can be the guiding principle in the interpretation and application of the code’s provisions. Indeed, the American Law Institute recently revised the Model Penal Code so as to set desert as the official dominate principle for sentencing. And courts have identified desert as the guiding principle in a variety of contexts, as with the Supreme Court’s enthroning retributivism as the “primary justification for the death penalty.” While retributivism provides one of the main sources of justification for punishment within the criminal justice system, there are good philosophical and practical reasons for rejecting it. One such reason is that it is unclear that agents truly deserve to suffer for the wrongs they have done in the sense required by retributivism. In the first section, I explore the retributivist justification of punishment and explain why it is inconsistent with free will skepticism. In the second section, I then argue that even if one is not convinced by the arguments for free will skepticism, there remains a strong epistemic argument against causing harm on retributivist grounds that undermines both libertarian and compatibilist attempts to justify it. I maintain that this argument provides sufficient reason for rejecting the retributive justification of criminal punishment. I conclude in the third section by briefly sketching my public health-quarantine model, a non-retributive alternative for addressing criminal behavior that draws on the public health framework and prioritizes prevention and social justice. I argue that the model is not only consistent with free will skepticism and the epistemic argument against retributivism, it also provides the most justified, humane, and effective way of dealing with criminal behavior. (shrink)
One of the most frequently voiced criticisms of free will skepticism is that it is unable to adequately deal with criminal behavior and that the responses it would permit as justified are insufficient for acceptable social policy. This concern is fueled by two factors. The first is that one of the most prominent justifications for punishing criminals, retributivism, is incompatible with free will skepticism. The second concern is that alternative justifications that are not ruled out by the skeptical view per (...) se face significant independent moral objections. Yet despite these concerns, I maintain that free will skepticism leaves intact other ways to respond to criminal behavior—in particular preventive detention, rehabilitation, and alteration of relevant social conditions—and that these methods are both morally justifiable and sufficient for good social policy. The position I defend is similar to Derk Pereboom’s, taking as its starting point his quarantine analogy, but it sets out to develop the quarantine model within a broader justificatory framework drawn from public health ethics. The resulting model—which I call the public health -quarantine model—provides a framework for justifying quarantine and criminal sanctions that is more humane than retributivism and preferable to other non-retributive alternatives. It also provides a broader approach to criminal behavior than Pereboom’s quarantine analogy does on its own. (shrink)
Some thinkers argue that our best scientific theories about the world prove that free will is an illusion. Others disagree. The concept of free will is profoundly important to our self-understanding, our interpersonal relationships, and our moral and legal practices. If it turns out that no one is ever free and morally responsible, what would that mean for society, morality, meaning, and the law? Just Deserts brings together two philosophers – Daniel C. Dennett and Gregg D. Caruso – to (...) debate their respective views on free will, moral responsibility, and legal punishment. In three extended conversations, Dennett and Caruso present their arguments for and against the existence of free will and debate their implications. Dennett argues that the kind of free will required for moral responsibility is compatible with determinism – for him, self-control is key; we are not responsible for becoming responsible, but are responsible for staying responsible, for keeping would-be puppeteers at bay. Caruso takes the opposite view, arguing that who we are and what we do is ultimately the result of factors beyond our control, and because of this we are never morally responsible for our actions in the sense that would make us truly deserving of blame and praise, punishment and reward. These two leading thinkers introduce the concepts central to the debate about free will and moral responsibility by way of an entertaining, rigorous and sometimes heated philosophical dialogue. What emerges is a clear account of the latest thinking on free will, and what is at stake for our moral and legal practices. (shrink)
Within the criminal justice system, one of the most prominent justifications for legal punishment is retributivism. The retributive justification of legal punishment maintains that wrongdoers are morally responsible for their actions and deserve to be punished in proportion to their wrongdoing. This book argues against retributivism and develops a viable alternative that is both ethically defensible and practical. Introducing six distinct reasons for rejecting retributivism, Gregg D. Caruso contends that it is unclear that agents possess the kind of free (...) will and moral responsibility needed to justify this view of punishment. While a number of alternatives to retributivism exist - including consequentialist deterrence, educational, and communicative theories - they have ethical problems of their own. Moving beyond existing theories, Caruso presents a new non-retributive approach called the public health-quarantine model. In stark contrast to retributivism, the public health-quarantine model provides a more human, holistic, and effective approach to dealing with criminal behavior. (shrink)
There are a number of important links and similarities between public health and safety. In this extended essay, Gregg D. Caruso defends and expands his public health-quarantine model, which is a non-retributive alternative for addressing criminal behavior that draws on the public health framework and prioritizes prevention and social justice. In developing his account, he explores the relationship between public health and safety, focusing on how social inequalities and systemic injustices affect health outcomes and crime rates, how poverty affects (...) brain development, how offenders often have pre-existing medical conditions (especially mental health issues), how involvement in the criminal justice system itself can lead to or worsen health and cognitive problems, how treatment and rehabilitation methods can best be employed to reduce recidivism and reintegrate offenders back into society, and how a public health approach could be successfully applied within the criminal justice system. Caruso's approach draws on research from the health sciences, social sciences, public policy, law, psychiatry, medical ethics, neuroscience, and philosophy, and he delivers a set of ethically defensible and practically workable proposals for implementing the public health-quarantine model. The essay begins by discussing recent empirical findings in psychology, neuroscience, and the social sciences that provide us with an increased understanding of the social and neurological determinants of health and criminal behavior. It then turns to Caruso's public health-quarantine model and argues that the model provides the most justified, humane, and effective approach for addressing criminal behavior. Caruso concludes by proposing a capability approach to social justice grounded in six key features of human well-being. He argues that we cannot successfully address concerns over public health and safety without simultaneously addressing issues of social justice—including the social determinants of health (SDH) and the social determinants of criminal behavior (SDCB)—and he recommends eight general policy proposals consistent with his model. (shrink)
This book argues two main things: The first is that there is no such thing as free will—at least not in the sense most ordinary folk take to be central or fundamental; the second is that the strong and pervasive belief in free will can be accounted for through a careful analysis of our phenomenology and a proper theoretical understanding of consciousness.
Advocacy of an indigenous right to isolation in the Latin American context responds to multiple depredations, above all to plundering by extractivists. Two prominent international instruments declare a human right to indigenous self-isolation and articulate a principle of no contact between indigenous peoples and the non-indigenous majority population: Indigenous Peoples in Voluntary Isolation and Initial Contact in the Americas and Guidelines on the Protection of Indigenous Peoples. In analyzing both, I argue against the notion of a human right to indigenous (...) isolation and for limited, controlled contact between the indigenous peoples and a narrow segment of the larger society. I propose relational human rights as rights that connect people, as rights-bearers, across borders and differences. They would allow for limited outside observation for possible human rights violations within indigenous communities. I then articulate relational human rights of indigenous peoples in voluntary isolation as rights to agency, health, territory, and identity. (shrink)
The current essay introduces the guidance theory of representation, according to which the content and intentionality of representations can be accounted for in terms of the way they provide guidance for action. The guidance theory offers a way of fixing representational content that gives the causal and evolutionary history of the subject only an indirect role, and an account of representational error, based on failure of action, that does not rely on any such notions as proper functions, ideal conditions, or (...) normal circumstances. Moreover, because the notion of error is defined in terms of failure of action, the guidance theory meets the “meta-epistemological requirement” that representational error should be potentially detectable by the representing system itself. In this essay, we offer a brief account of the biological origins of representation, a formal characterization of the guidance theory, some examples of its use, and show how the guidance theory handles some traditional problem cases for representation: the representation of fictional and abstract entities. Being both representational and actiongrounded, the guidance theory may provide some common ground between embodied and cognitivist approaches to the study of the mind. (shrink)
Gregg Lambert demonstrates that since the publication of _Proust and Signs_ in 1964 Gilles Deleuze’s search for a new means of philosophical expression became a central theme of all of his oeuvre, including those written with psychoanalyst Félix Guattari. Lambert, like Deleuze, calls this “the image of thought.” Lambert’s exploration begins with Deleuze’s earliest exposition of the Proustian image of thought and then follows the “tangled history” of the image that runs through subsequent works, such as _Kafka: Toward a (...) Minor Literature_, _The Rhizome_, and several later writings from the 1980s collected in _Essays Critical and Clinical._ Lambert shows how this topic underlies Deleuze’s studies of modern cinema, where the image of thought is predominant in the analysis of the cinematic image—particularly in _The Time-Image_. Lambert finds it to be the fundamental concern of the brain proposed by Deleuze in the conclusion of _What Is Philosophy? _By connecting the various appearances of the image of thought that permeate Deleuze’s entire corpus, Lambert reveals how thinking first assumes an image, how the images of thought become identified with the problem of expression early in the works, and how this issue turns into a primary motive for the more experimental works of philosophy written with Guattari. The study traces a distinctly modern relationship between philosophy and non-philosophy that has developed into a hallmark of the term “Deleuzian.” However, Lambert argues, this aspect of the philosopher’s vision has not been fully appreciated in terms of its significance for philosophy: “not only ‘for today’ but, to quote Nietzsche, meaning also ‘for tomorrow, and for the day after tomorrow.’”. (shrink)
This article begins the task of assessing polygamy as a moral ideal. The structure of traditional polygamy, in which only one central spouse may marry multiple partners, necessarily yields two inequalities. The central spouse has greater rights and expectations within each marriage and greater control over the wider family. However, two alternative structures for polygamy can remove these inequalities. In polyfidelity, each spouse marries every other spouse in the family. In “molecular” polygamy, any spouses may marry a new spouse outside (...) the family. These new models of polygamy face additional difficulties, but they can be egalitarian in principle. (shrink)
This book explores the philosophical and scientific arguments for free will skepticism and their implications. Skepticism about free will and moral responsibility has been on the rise in recent years. In fact, a significant number of philosophers, psychologists, and neuroscientists now either doubt or outright deny the existence of free will and/or moral responsibility—and the list of prominent skeptics appears to grow by the day. Given the profound importance that the concepts of free will and moral responsibility play in our (...) lives—in understanding ourselves, society, and the law—it is important that we explore what is behind this new wave of skepticism. It is also important that we explore the potential consequences of skepticism for ourselves and society. This edited collection of new essays brings together an internationally recognized line-up of contributors, most of whom hold skeptical positions of some sort, to display and explore the leading arguments for free will skepticism and to debate their implications. It includes original contributions by Derk Pereboom, Galen Strawson, Ted Honderich, Bruce Waller, Neil Levy, Saul Smilansky, Thomas Nadelhoffer and Daniela Goya Tocchetto, Benjamin Vilhauer, Susan Blackmore, Manuel Vargas, Shaun Nichols, John-Dylan Haynes and Michael Pauen, Thomas Clark, Mark Hallett, Susan Pockett, and Maureen Sie. (shrink)
Exploring the Illusion of Free Will and Moral Responsibility is an edited collection of new essays by an internationally recognized line-up of contributors. It is aimed at readers who wish to explore the philosophical and scientific arguments for free will skepticism and their implications.
Neuroexistentialism brings together some of the world's leading philosophers, neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, and legal scholars to tackle our neuroexistentialist predicament and explore what the mind sciences can tell us about morality, love, emotion, autonomy, consciousness, selfhood, free will, moral responsibility, criminal punishment, meaning in life, and purpose.
This introductory chapter discusses the philosophical and scientific arguments for free will skepticism and their implications--including the debate between Saul Smilansky's "illusionism," Thomas Nadelhoffer's "disillusionism," Shaun Nichols' "anti-revolution," and the "optimistic skepticism" of Derk Pereboom, Bruce Waller, Tamler Sommers, and others.
In the paper, I defend the skeptical view that no one is ever morally responsible in the basic desert sense since luck universally undermines responsibility-level control. I begin in Section 1 by defining a number of different varieties of luck and examining their relevance to moral responsibility. I then turn, in Section 2, to outlining and defending what I consider to be the best argument for the skeptical view--the luck pincer (Levy 2011). I conclude in Section 3 by addressing Robert (...) Hartman's (2017) numerous objections to the luck pincer. I argue that the luck pincer emerges unscathed and the pervasiveness of luck (still) undermines moral responsibility. (shrink)
Recent trends in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science can be fruitfully characterized as part of the ongoing attempt to come to grips with the very idea of homo sapiens--an intelligent, evolved, biological agent--and its signature contribution is the emergence of a philosophical anthropology which, contra Descartes and his thinking thing, instead puts doing at the center of human being. Applying this agency-oriented line of thinking to the problem of representation, this paper introduces the Guidance Theory, according to which (...) the content and intentionality of representations can be accounted for in terms of the way they provide guidance for action. We offer a brief account of the motivation for the theory, and a formal characterization. (shrink)
Free will skepticism maintains that what we do, and the way we are, is ultimately the result of factors beyond our control and because of this we are never morally responsible for our actions in the basic desert sense—the sense that would make us truly deserving of praise and blame. In recent years, a number of contemporary philosophers have advanced and defended versions of free will skepticism, including Derk Pereboom (2001, 2014), Galen Strawson (2010), Neil Levy (2011), Bruce Waller (2011, (...) 2015), and myself (Caruso 2012, 2013, forthcoming). Critics, however, often complain that adopting such views would have dire consequences for ourselves, society, morality, meaning, and the law. They fear, for instance, that relinquishing belief in free will and basic desert moral responsibility would leave us unable to adequately deal with criminal behavior, increase anti-social conduct, and undermine meaning in life. -/- In response, free will skeptics argue that life without free will and basic desert moral responsibility would not be as destructive as many people believe (see, e.g., Pereboom 2001, 2014; Waller 2011, 2015; Caruso 2016, forthcoming). According to optimistic skeptics, prospects of finding meaning in life or of sustaining good interpersonal relationships, for instance, would not be threatened. And although retributivism and severe punishment, such as the death penalty, would be ruled out, incapacitation and rehabilitation programs would still be justified (see Pereboom 2001, 2013, 2014; Levy 2012; Caruso 2016; Pereboom and Caruso, forthcoming). In this paper, I attempt to extend this general optimism about the practical implications of free will skepticism to the question of creativity. -/- In Section I, I spell out the question of creativity and explain why it’s relevant to the problem of free will. In Section II, I identify three different conceptions of creativity and explain the practical concerns critics have with free will skepticism. In Section III, I distinguish between three different conceptions of moral responsibility and argue that at least two of them are consistent with free will skepticism. I further contend that forward-looking accounts of moral responsibility, which are perfectly consistent with free will skepticism, can justify calling agents to account for immoral behavior as well as providing encouragement for creative activities since these are important for moral and creative formation and development. I conclude in Section IV by arguing that relinquishing belief in free will and basic desert would not mean the death of creativity or our sense of achievement since important and realistic conceptions of both remain in place. (shrink)
Libertarian Quandaries is a slim volume of tight reasoning that makes a resolute case for libertarianism. Libertarianism is “the social philosophy that identifies individual liberty as the most fundamental social value, and by extension treats moral cooperation as the only morally permissible form of social interaction.” More specifically, the book is a compendium of concise rebuttals to commonplace counterarguments advanced against libertarianism. It attempts to show that libertarianism withstands wide-ranging criticisms in principle, but also that it can be implemented in (...) practice. It does an admirable job in this regard. The book is not, however, aimed at lightweight lovers of liberty. The content—conveyed in carefully crafted phrases—makes non-trivial intellectual demands on the reader. (shrink)
Shaun Nichols has recently argued that while the folk notion of free will is associated with error, a question still remains whether the concept of free will should be eliminated or preserved. He maintains that like other eliminativist arguments in philosophy, arguments that free will is an illusion seem to depend on substantive assumptions about reference. According to free will eliminativists, people have deeply mistaken beliefs about free will and this entails that free will does not exist. However, an alternative (...) reaction is that free will does exist, we just have some deeply mistaken beliefs about it. According to Nichols, all such debates boil down to whether or not the erroneous folk term in question successfully refers or not. Since Nichols adopts the view that reference is systematically ambiguous, he maintains that in some contexts it’s appropriate to take a restrictivist view about whether a term embedded in a false theory refers, while in other contexts it’s appropriate to take a liberal view about whether a token of the very same term refers. This, according to Nichols, affords the possibility of saying that the sentence “free will exists” is false in some contexts and true in others. In this paper I argue that even if we grant Nichols his pluralistic approach to reference, there is still good reason to prefer eliminativism to preservationism with regard to free will. My argument focuses on one important difference between the concept of “free will” and other theoretical terms embedded in false theories—i.e., the role that the phenomenology of free agency plays in reference fixing. (shrink)
What would be the consequence of embracing skepticism about free will and/or desert-based moral responsibility? What if we came to disbelieve in moral responsibility? What would this mean for our interpersonal relationships, society, morality, meaning, and the law? What would it do to our standing as human beings? Would it cause nihilism and despair as some maintain? Or perhaps increase anti-social behavior as some recent studies have suggested (Vohs and Schooler 2008; Baumeister, Masicampo, and DeWall 2009)? Or would it rather (...) have a humanizing effect on our practices and policies, freeing us from the negative effects of what Bruce Waller calls the “moral responsibility system” (2014, p. 4)? These questions are of profound pragmatic importance and should be of interest independent of the metaphysical debate over free will. As public proclamations of skepticism continue to rise, and as the mass media continues to run headlines announcing free will and moral responsibility are illusions, we need to ask what effects this will have on the general public and what the responsibility is of professionals. (shrink)
Existentialism is a concern about the foundation of meaning, morals, and purpose. Existentialisms arise when some foundation for these elements of being is under assault. In the past, first-wave existentialism concerned the increasingly apparent inability of religion, and religious tradition, to provide such a foundation, as typified in the writings of Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, and Nietzsche. Second-wave existentialism, personified philosophically by Sartre, Camus, and de Beauvoir, developed in response to the inability of an overly optimistic Enlightenment vision of reason and the (...) common good to provide such a foundation. There is a third-wave existentialism, a new existentialism, developing in response to advances in the neurosciences that threaten the last vestiges of an immaterial soul or self. With the increasing explanatory and therapeutic power of neuroscience, the mind no longer stands apart from the world to serve as a foundation of meaning. This produces foundational anxiety. This collection of new essays explores the anxiety caused by this third-wave existentialism and some responses to it. It brings together some of the world’s leading philosophers, neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, and legal scholars to tackle our neuroexistentialist predicament and explore what the mind sciences can tell us about morality, love, emotion, autonomy, consciousness, selfhood, free will, moral responsibility, law, the nature of criminal punishment, meaning in life, and purpose. (shrink)
The second analogy of experience is one of the most famous and crucial parts of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. Despite 220 years of intense scrutiny and debate, however, no consensus has emerged as to the precise nature of its argument. A main source of disagreement in recent years has been the following question: With what is Kant concerned in this section? Is he concerned with necessary conditions of our believing in the first place that there has been a case (...) of objective as opposed to merely subjective succession? Is he concerned, in other words, with necessary conditions of our at least seeming to be aware or having any representation at all of an event? Or is he concerned merely with conditions under which alone beliefs of some sort can be verified or confirmed? The second of these possibilities has found its most eloquent champion in Paul Guyer; the first has been defended with great ingenuity by Beatrice Longuenesse. (shrink)
Entanglement was initially thought by some to be an oddity restricted to the realm of thought experiments. However, Bell’s inequality delimiting local - behavior and the experimental demonstration of its violation more than 25 years ago made it entirely clear that non-local properties of pure quantum states are more than an intellectual curiosity. Entanglement and non-locality are now understood to figure prominently in the microphysical world, a realm into which technology is rapidly hurtling. Information theory is also increasingly recognized by (...) physicists and philosophers as intimately related to the foundations of mechanics. The clearest indicator of this relationship is that between quantum information and entanglement. To some degree, a deep relationship between information and mechanics in the quantum context was already there to be seen upon the introduction by Max Born and Wolfgang Pauli of the idea that the essence of pure quantum states lies in their provision of probabilities regarding the behavior of quantum systems, via what has come to be known as the Born rule. The significance of the relationship between mechanics and information became even clearer with Leo Szilard’s analysis of James Clerk Maxwell’s infamous demon thought experiment. Here, in addition to examining both entanglement and quantum information and their relationship, I endeavor to critically assess the influence of the study of these subjects on the interpretation of quantum theory. (shrink)
The positive operator (valued) measures (POMs) allow one to generalize the notion of observable beyond the traditional one based on projection valued measures (PVMs). Here, we argue that this generalized conception of observable enables a consistent notion of unsharp reality and with it an adequate concept of joint properties. A sharp or unsharp property manifests itself as an element of sharp or unsharp reality by its tendency to become actual or to actualize a specific measurement outcome. This actualization tendency—or potentiality—of (...) a property is quantified by the associated quantum probability. The resulting single-case interpretation of probability as a degree of reality will be explained in detail and its role in addressing the tensions between quantum and classical accounts of the physical world will be elucidated. It will be shown that potentiality can be viewed as a causal agency that evolves in a well-defined way. (shrink)
The modern corporation offers significant potential to contribute to the human rights project, in part because it is free from the challenges posed by national sovereignty. That promise has begun to be realized in businesses practicing corporate due diligence with regard to the human rights of persons involved in or affected by those enterprises. Yet due diligence preserves the self-seeking orientation of the conventional corporation and seeks only to protect itself from committing human rights abuses. This approach, typified by the (...) UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, does not address background conditions for and root causes of vulnerability to human rights abuses. My alternative, the human rights corporation, takes an other-regarding orientation that advances human rights within the corporation and in its human, social, economic, and natural environments. It moves beyond the due diligence carrot-and-stick model to a model in which the corporation produces not only goods and services but also human rights consciousness and practice as well. (shrink)
Alternative dispute resolution occurs outside the litigation process. The alternative dispute resolution (ADR) movement in North America has emphasized viable alternatives to the litigation framework, such as arbitration, mediation, med-arb, multi-party facilitation, non-legal negotiation, mini-trials, administrative hearings, private judging (“renta-judge”), fact finding, and moderated settlement conferences. This essay addresses argument in the dominant alternatives: arbitration, mediation, and multi-party facilitation. Prior to comparing argument in these ADR systems, each will be briefly described.
If experience cannot be explained reductively, then we must embrace a revised understanding of nature to explain it. What kind of revision is required? A minimal revision would merely append a theory of experience onto an otherwise adequate theory of cognition, without going far beyond considerations peculiar to the study of the mind. I argue that we will need a more expansive revision, requiring us to rethink the natural order quite generally. If this is right, we will view the mind (...) as a special context in which something new to our understanding of the world, and much more general, is being manifested. (shrink)
A genealogical excavation of the pre transpersonal movement uncovers a hitherto unrecognized process of hybridity and syncretism occurring in the 1960s U.S. counter culture. The presence of hybridity in the movement's prehistory has serious repercussions for current maps in transpersonalism (and religious enactments in general). It is argued here that current transpersonal theories have built themselves on an unexamined foundation of magic, sorcery, and cosmological hybridization. Ken Wilber's neoperennialist cosmos will be construed as an assimilationist strain of hybridity. Jorge Ferrer's (...) more culture-friendly postulate of an "Ocean with Many Shores" suggests a kind of cosmological multiculturalism. However, what appear to be fixities in his cosmology lend themselves to critical reevaluation of this aspect of his revision of transpersonal psychology. (shrink)