Manipulation arguments for incompatibilism all build upon some example or other in which an agent is covertly manipulated into acquiring a psychic structure on the basis of which she performs an action. The featured agent, it is alleged, is manipulated into satisfying conditions compatibilists would take to be sufficient for acting freely. Such an example used in the context of an argument for incompatibilism is meant to elicit the intuition that, due to the pervasiveness of the manipulation, the agent does (...) not act freely and is not morally responsible for what she does. It is then claimed that any agent's coming to be in the same psychic state through a deterministic process is no different in any relevant respect from the pertinent manner of manipulation. Hence, it is concluded that compatibilists' proposed sufficient conditions for free will and moral responsibility are inadequate, and that free will and moral responsibility are incompatible with determinism. One way for compatibilists to resist certain manipulation arguments is by appealing to historical requirements that, they contend, relevant manipulated agents lack. While a growing number of compatibilists advance an historical thesis, in this paper, I redouble my efforts to show, in defense of nonhistorical compatibilists like Harry Frankfurt, that there is still life left in a nonhistorical view. The historical compatibilists, I contend, have fallen shy of discrediting their nonhistorical compatibilist rivals. (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)
Standard methods in experimental philosophy have sought to measure folk intuitions using experiments, but certain limitations are inherent in experimental methods. Accordingly, we have designed the Free-Will Intuitions Scale to empirically measure folk intuitions relevant to free-will debates using a different method. This method reveals what folk intuitions are like prior to participants' being put in forced-choice experiments. Our results suggest that a central debate in the experimental philosophy of free will—the “natural” compatibilism debate—is mistaken in assuming that folk (...) intuitions are exclusively either compatibilist or incompatibilist. They also identify a number of important new issues in the empirical study of free-will intuitions. (shrink)
In a recent paper I argued that agent causation theorists should be compatibilists. In this paper, I argue that compatibilists should be agent causation theorists. I consider six of the main problems facing compatibilism: (i) the powerful intuition that one can't be responsible for actions that were somehow determined before one was born; (ii) Peter van Inwagen's modal argument, involving the inference rule (β); (iii) the objection to compatibilism that is based on claiming that the ability to do (...) otherwise is a necessary condition for freedom; (iv) "manipulation arguments," involving cases in which an agent is manipulated by some powerful being into doing something that he or she would not normally do, but in such a way that the compatibilist's favorite conditions for a free action are satisfied; (v) the problem of constitutive luck; and (vi) the claim that it is not fair to blame someone for an action if that person was determined by forces outside of his or her control to perform that action. And in the case of each of these problems, I argue that the compatibilist has a much more plausible response to that problem if she endorses the theory of agent causation than she does otherwise. (shrink)
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)
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)
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)
The paper argues that it is possible for an incompatibilist to accept John Martin Fischer’s plausible insistence that the question whether we are morally responsible agents ought not to depend on whether the laws of physics turn out to be deterministic or merely probabilistic. The incompatibilist should do so by rejecting the fundamentalism which entails that the question whether determinism is true is a question merely about the nature of the basic physical laws. It is argued that this is a (...) better option for ensuring the irrelevance of physics than the embrace of semi-compatibilism, since there are reasons for supposing that alternate possibilities are necessary for moral responsibility, despite Fischer’s claims to the contrary. There are two distinct reasons for supposing that alternate possibilities might be necessary for moral responsibility—one of which is to do with fairness, the other to do with agency itself. It is suggested that if one focuses on the second of these reasons, Fischer’s arguments for supposing that alternate possibilities are unnecessary for moral responsibility can be met by the incompatibilist. Some possible reasons for denying that alternate possibilities are necessary for the existence of agency are then raised and rejected. (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)
According to the doxastic compatibilist, compatibilist criteria with respect to the freedom of action rule-in our having free beliefs. In Booth (Philosophical Papers 38:1–12, 2009), I challenged the doxastic compatibilist to either come up with an account of how doxastic attitudes can be intentional in the face of it very much seeming to many of us that they cannot. Or else, in rejecting that doxastic attitudes need to be voluntary in order to be free, to come up with a principled (...) account of how her criteria of doxastic freedom are criteria of freedom. In two recent papers, Steup (Synthese 188:145–163, 2012; Dialectica 65(4):559–576, 2011) takes up the first disjunct of the challenge by proposing that even though beliefs cannot be practically intentional, they can be epistemically intentional. McHugh (McHugh forthcoming) instead takes up the second disjunct by proposing that the freedom of belief be modelled not on the freedom of action but on the freedom of intention. I argue that both Steup’s and McHugh’s strategies are problematic. (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)
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)
The most prominent argument for the incompatibility of free will and determinism is Peter van Inwagen’s consequence argument. In this paper, I offer a new diagnosis of what is wrong with this argument. Both proponents and critics of the argument typically accept the way it is framed and only disagree on whether the argument’s premises and the rules of inference on which it relies are true. I suggest that the argument involves a category mistake: it conflates two different levels of (...) description, namely the physical level at which we describe the state of the world from the perspective of fundamental physics and the agential level at which we describe agents and their actions. My diagnosis is based on an account of free will as a higher-level phenomenon that was developed in List (2014). I will call this account ‘compatibilist libertarianism’, for reasons that will become clear in the discussion. (shrink)
We use recent interventionist theories of causation to develop a compatibilist account of causal sourcehood, which provides a response to Manipulation Arguments for the incompatibility of free will and determinism. Our account explains the difference between manipulation and determinism, against the claim of Manipulation Arguments that there is no relevant difference. Interventionism allows us to see that causal determinism does not mean that variables outside of the agent causally explain her actions better than variables within the agent, whereas the causal (...) source of a manipulated agent’s actions instead lies outside of the agent in the intentions of the manipulator. As a result, determined agents can have free will and be morally responsible in a way that manipulated agents cannot, contrary to what Manipulation Arguments conclude. In this way, our account demonstrates not only how Manipulation Arguments fail but also how compatibilism can be strengthened by means of a plausible account of causal sourcehood. (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)
_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)
According to proponents of the causal exclusion problem, there cannot be a sufficient physical cause and a distinct mental cause of the same piece of behaviour. Increasingly, the causal exclusion problem is circumvented via this compatibilist reasoning: a sufficient physical cause of the behavioural effect necessitates the mental cause of the behavioural effect, so the effect has a sufficient physical cause and a mental cause as well. In this paper, I argue that this compatibilist reply fails to resolve the causal (...) exclusion problem. (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.
In this paper, I try to show that externalist compatibilism in the debate on personal autonomy and manipulated freedom is as yet untenable. I will argue that Alfred R. Mele’s paradigmatic, history-sensitive externalism about psychological autonomy in general and autonomous deliberation in particular faces an insurmountable problem: it cannot satisfy the crucial condition of adequacy “H” for externalist theories that I formulate in the text. Specifically, I will argue that, contrary to first appearances, externalist compatibilism does not resolve (...) the CNC manipulation problem. After briefly reflecting on the present status of responses to the manipulation problem in the debate between compatibilists and incompatibilists of various stripes, I will draw the over-all pessimistic conclusion that no party deals with this problem satisfactorily. (shrink)
This paper argues that ability to do otherwise (in the compatibilist sense) at the moment of initiation of action is a necessary condition of being able to act at all. If the argument is correct, it shows that Harry Frankfurt never provided a genuine counterexample to the 'principles of alternative possibilities' in his 1969 paper ‘Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility’. The paper was written without knowledge of Frankfurt's paper.
In the elaboration of his soul-making theodicy, John Hick agrees with a controversial point made by compatibilists Antony Flew and John Mackie against the free will defense. Namely, Hick grants that God could have created humans such that they would be free to sin but would, in fact, never do so. In this paper, I identify three previously unrecognized problems that arise from his initial concession to, and ultimate rejection of, compatibilism. The first problem stems from the fact that (...) in two important texts, Hick rejects compatibilism for different and seemingly contradictory reasons. His various explanations of soul-making theodicy’s relationship to compatibilism are therefore in conflict. The second problem is closely related to the first. It turns out that when Hick’s concession to compatibilism is closely examined, soul-making theodicy appears unable to explain the existence of moral evil. The final problem consists in understanding why Hick would have made any concessions to compatibilism in the first place given that he ultimately opts for incompatibilist free will. After identifying these three problems, I develop a distinctive way in which to interpret Hick’s soul-making theodicy that solves the first two. This distinctive interpretation, moreover, has the added benefit of solving another, well-recognized problem that has long plagued Hick’s exposition: the problem of the hypnotist metaphor. Finally, I address the third problem by suggesting a rationale for Hick’s initial concession to the compatibilists. (shrink)
In this paper I discuss two kinds of attempts to qualify incompatibilist and compatibilist conceptions of freedom to avoid what have been thought to be incredible commitments of these rival accounts. One attempt -- which I call soft libertarianism -- is represented by Robert Kane''s work. It hopes to defend an incompatibilist conception of freedom without the apparently difficult metaphysical costs traditionally incurred by these views. On the other hand, in response to what I call the robot objection (that if (...)compatibilism is true, human beings could be the products of design), some compatibilists are tempted to soften their position by placing restrictions on the origins of agency. I argue that both of these attempts are misguided. Hard libertarianism and hard compatibilism are the only theoretical options. (shrink)
In the debate on free will and moral responsibility, Saul Smilansky is a hard source-incompatibilist who objects to source-compatibilism for being morally shallow. After criticizing John Martin Fischer’s too optimistic response to this objection, this paper dissipates the charge that compatibilist accounts of ultimate origination are morally shallow by appealing to the seriousness of contingency in the framework of, what Paul Russell calls, compatibilist-fatalism. Responding to the objection from moral shallowness thus drives a wedge between optimists and fatalists within (...) the compatibilist camp. (shrink)
In Book II, chapter xxi of the Essay Concerning Human Understanding, on ‘Power’, Locke presents a radical critique of free will. This is the longest chapter in the Essay, and it is a difficult one, not least since Locke revised it four times without always taking care to ensure that every part cohered with the rest. My interest is to work out a coherent statement of what would today be termed ‘compatibilism’ from this text – namely, a doctrine which (...) seeks to render free will and determinism compatible. By emphasizing the hedonistic dimension of his argument, according to which we are determined by “the most pressing uneasiness” we feel, I show how a deterministic reading is possible. This was seen by Locke’s favorite and also most radical disciple, the deist Anthony Collins, whose treatise A Philosophical Inquiry Concerning Human Liberty (1717) is both a critique of Essay II.xxi and a radicalization of its contents. I argue that Collins articulated a form of determinism which recognizes the specificity of action, thanks in large part to the uniquely ‘volitional’ determinism suggested by Locke. (shrink)
David Lewis has offered a reply to the standard argument for the claim that the truth of determinism is incompatible with anyone’s being able to do otherwise than she in fact does. Helen Beebee has argued that Lewis’s compatibilist strategy is untenable. In this paper I show that one recent attempt to defend Lewis’s view against this argument fails and then go on to offer my own defense of Lewis’s view.
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)
Most philosophers now concede that libertarianism has failed as an account of free will. Assuming the correctness of this concession, that leaves compatibilism and hard determinism as the only remaining choices in the free will debate. In this paper, I will argue that hard determinism turns out to be a form of compatibilism, and therefore, compatibilism is the only remaining position in the free will debate. I will attempt to establish this conclusion by arguing that hard determinists (...) will end up punishing or rewarding the same acts (and omissions) that the compatibilists punish and reward. Next, I will respond to several objections that attempt to pry apart hard determinism and compatibilism. It will emerge not only that hard determinism and compatibilism are identical at the practical level, but also that the key terms employed by the hard determinist have the same meaning as equivalent terms ("free," "morally responsible," and "retributive punishment") employed by the compatibilist. I conclude that hard determinism genuinely is a form of compatibilism. (shrink)
The compatibility of determinism and the ability to do otherwise has been implicitly assumed by many to be irrelevant to the viability of compatibilist responses to the manipulation argument for incompatibilism. I argue that this assumption is mistaken. The manipulation argument may be unsound. But even so, the manipulation argument, at the very least, undermines classical compatibilism, the view that free will requires the ability to do otherwise, and having that ability is compatible with determinism. This is because classical (...)compatibilism, in conjunction with any type of reply to the manipulation argument, has counterintuitive implications. In order to avoid such implications, we need not hold that determinism is incompatible with moral responsibility. But we must hold that determinism is incompatible with the ability to do otherwise. (shrink)
Some argue that libertarianism represents the riskier incompatibilist view when it comes to the free will problem. An ethically cautious incompatibilist should bet that we are not free in the sense required for moral responsibility, these theorists claim, as doing so means that we no longer run the risk of holding the morally innocent responsible. In this paper, I show that the same reasoning also advises us to bet against compatibilism. Supposing that we are unsure about whether or not (...) the causal order of the world is compatible with the kind of freedom that is required for moral responsibility, an ethically cautious approach would once again bet that hard incompatibilism is true. (shrink)
Helen Beebee has recently argued that David Lewis’s account of compatibilism, so-called local miracle compatibilism, allows for the possibility that agents in deterministic worlds have the ability to break or cause the breaking of a law of nature. Because Lewis’s LMC allows for this consequence, Beebee claims that LMC is untenable and subsequently that Lewis’s criticism of van Inwagen’s Consequence Argument for incompatibilism is substantially weakened. I review Beebee’s argument against Lewis’s thesis and argue that Beebee has not (...) refuted LMC and concomitantly has not demonstrated that Lewis’s criticism of the Consequence Argument fails. (shrink)
It is widely believed that (1) if theological determinism were true, in virtue of God’s role in determining created agents to perform evil actions, created agents would be neither free nor morally responsible for their evil actions and God would not be perfectly good; (2) if metaphysical compatibilism were true, the free-will defense against the deductive problem of evil would fail; and (3) on the assumption of metaphysical compatibilism, God could have actualized just any one of those myriad (...) possible worlds that are populated only by compatibilist free creatures. The primary thesis of this essay is that none of these propositions is true. This thesis is defended by appealing to a recently proposed novel, acausal, composite, unified theory of free action – the Theory of Middle Freedom – that evades the central problems plaguing traditional theories of metaphysical compatibilism. (shrink)
This paper 1) argues that libertarians are virtually as badly off as compatibilists in the face of the objection to the Free Will Defence that omnipotent God could have ensured that all free beings always but freely did right, and 2) explores the prospects for an "upgraded" Free Will Defense which takes freedom merely as a necessary condition for a further higher good which logically could not be achieved if God employed any of the available strategies--under both compatibilist and libertarian (...) assumptions--for creating morally free beings without the risk of moral evil. (shrink)
The use of predicate and sentential operators to express the practical modalities -- ability, control, openness, etc. -- has given new life to a fatalistic argument against determinist theories of responsible agency. A familiar version employs the following principle: the consequences of what is unavoidable (beyond one's control) are themselves unavoidable. Accordingly, if determinism is true, whatever happens is the consequence of events in the remote past, or, of such events together with the laws of nature. But laws and the (...) remote past are not under our control and, by the principle, neither are their consequences. Therefore, none of our choices and actions, nor anything that results from them, is under our control.1 Whether refinements of the closure principle underlying this unavoidability argument are acceptable depends upon the precise sense of 'consequence' and 'unavoidable' involved. Roughly, a proposition P is a consequence of a set of propositions M iff it is impossible that P be false when each member of M is true, or, conversely, when M necessitates P. Since P is unavoidable for S when P is true and S is (was) unable to prevent P from being true, it might seem that if P is unavoidable the same should hold of what is necessitated by P. There is, in fact, 1 an easy defense of the principle which utilizes the incompatibilist condition that S is able to do action K only if it is as yet undetermined whether or not S will K. With it, there is no question but that one is unable to accomplish what is already determined by what one was unable to prevent. Of course, this reasoning is unlikely to impress the compatibilist who rejects the condition outright and, expectedly, it is not the procedure of the proponents of the unavoidability argument. The latter might rest content with appeals to intuition, but more significant are defenses of the closure principle and independent derivations of the unavoidability argument that rely upon distinct principles concerning the logic of the practical modalities, for example, closure of ability under entailment (Cross 1986, Brown 1988) or, claims about the "fixity of the past" and the "inescapability of laws" (Ginet 1990).. (shrink)
So-called “manipulation arguments” have played a significant role in recent debates between compatibilists and incompatibilists. Incompatibilists take such arguments to show that agents who lack ultimate control over their characters or actions are not free. Most compatibilists agree that manipulated agents are not free but think this is because certain of the agent’s psychological capacities have been compromised. Chandra Sekhar Sripada has conducted an interesting study in which he applies an array of statistical tools to subjects’ intuitive responses to a (...) manipulation case, and he insists that the results of his study provide compelling evidence that people favor compatibilist views of freedom. I argue that because the case that forms the centerpiece of his study is relevantly different from the sort of cases incompatibilists have developed and because he fails to build deterministic conditions into this case, Sripada’s data cannot help settle the disagreement between compatibilists and incompatibilists. (shrink)
According to what I will call mitigating soft compatibilism, although the truth of determinism is consistent with free action and moral responsibility, determinism nevertheless mitigates praiseworthiness and blameworthiness. In this paper, I take a closer look at this novel brand of compatibilism. My principal aim in doing so is to further explicate the view and to explore ways in which it can be deployed in defense of the more general compatibilist thesis. I also discuss one of the most (...) pressing challenges facing a compatibilist view of this sort, and I offer some suggestions as to how proponents of the view might attempt to address that challenge. (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)
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)
Recently there have been a number of attempts to show that free will is not a necessary condition for moral responsibility. It is argued that moral responsibility can be shown to be compatible with determinism even if free will is not. I assess the two most prominent arguments for this position and conclude that neither is sound. There is, however, an argument which does make a prima facie case for this new form of compatibilism. This argument, however, is not (...) decisive. I maintain that what can be learned from the argument’s short-comings is that the free will problem can only be resolved by appeal to moral theory. We need some method by which competing intuitions about the matter can be adjudicated. (shrink)
Local miracle compatibilists claim that we are sometimes able to do otherwise than we actually do, even if causal determinism obtains. When we can do otherwise, it will often be true that if we were to do otherwise, then an actual law of nature would not have been a law of nature. Nevertheless, it is a compatibilist principle that we cannot do anything that would be or cause an event that violates the laws of nature. Carl Ginet challenges this nomological (...) principle, arguing that it is not always capable of explaining our inability to do otherwise. In response to this challenge, I point out that this principle is part of a defense against the charge that local miracle compatibilists are committed to outlandish claims. Thus it is not surprising that the principle, by itself, will often fail to explain our inability to do otherwise. I then suggest that in many situations in which we are unable to do otherwise, this can be explained by the compatibilist’s analysis of ability, or his criteria for the truth of ability claims. Thus, the failure of his nomological principle to explain the falsity of certain ability claims is no strike against local miracle compatibilism. (shrink)
The compatibilist position on the free will problem tends to be perceived as clear, rather unitary and consistent even by those who oppose it. This notion is mistaken, and is harmful to the recognition of the weaknesses and strengths of compatibilism. By examining the three main compatibilist positions and their interrelationships, I attempt to see whether compatibilists can continue to hold together the different positions; and if they cannot, which position they should remain with. The conclusions reached are that (...) compatibilists ought to opt for one (‘control’) type of compatibilism, but that compatibilism is only partially convincing. (shrink)
Terry Horgan (with D. Henderson and G. Graham) defends a new general metaphilosophical position called postanalytic metaphilosophy (PAM). I raise some critical points connected with the application of PAM to the problem of freedom. I question the distinction between opulent and austere construals of philosophical concepts. According to Horgan compatibilism comports better overall with the relevant data than does incompatibilism. I raise some objections. At the end I argue that contextualism is an inadequate explanation of incompatibilistic intuitions.
In a series of recent papers, Saul Smilansky has argued that compatibilists have no principled way of resisting the view that prepunishment is at least sometimes appropriate, thus revealing compatibilism to be a radical position, out of keeping with our ordinary moral judgments. Recent attempts to resist this conclusion seem to have overlooked the biggest problem with Smilansky’s argument, which is this: Smilanksy argues that the most obvious objection to prepunishment—namely, that it is inappropriate because it involves punishing the (...) innocent for crimes they have not committed—is unavailable to compatibilists. If compatibilism is true, he says, then if it is causally determined that someone is going to commit a crime, the fact that one has not yet done so is a mere temporal matter bearing no moral significance. I argue that there is no reason for compatibilists to accept this point. Compatibilists can (and should) resist Smilansky's claim that one’s not yet having committed a crime is morally insignificant and so resist the temptation to prepunish. (shrink)
Further Thoughts on Counterfactuals, Compatibilism, Conceptual Mismatches, and Choices: Response to Commentaries Content Type Journal Article Pages 31-34 DOI 10.1007/s12152-010-9067-3 Authors Roy F. Baumeister, Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL USA A. William Crescioni, Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL USA Jessica L. Alquist, Department of Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL USA Journal Neuroethics Online ISSN 1874-5504 Print ISSN 1874-5490 Journal Volume Volume 4 Journal Issue Volume 4, Number 1.
Two issues are raised with regard to Ted Honderich's A Theory of Determinism. First, regarding the relation between a token identity theory of mental and physical events and Honderich's ?psychoneural union theory?, it is suggested that a token identity theory would serve Honderich's purposes while securing a simpler ontology. Second, it is argued that there is a substantive philosophical issue dividing compatibilists and incompatibilists on the question of whether persons possess free will, contrary to Honderich's contention that the compatibilist and (...) incompatibilist differ only in responsive attitude. (shrink)
In this paper, I explore some of the motivations behind John Martin Fischer's semi-compatibilism. Particularly, I look at three reasons Fischer gives for preferring semi-compatibilism to libertarianism. I argue that the first two of these motivations are in tension with each other: the more one is m.
Any satisfactory account of freedom must capture, or at least permit, the mysteriousness of freedom—a “sweet” mystery involving a certain kind of ignorance rather than a “sour” mystery of unintelligibility, incoherence, or unjustifiedness. I argue that compatibilism can capture the sweet mystery of freedom. I argue first that an action is free if and only if a certain “rationality constraint” is satisfied, and that nothing in standard libertarian accounts of freedom entails its satisfaction. Satisfaction of this constraint is consistent (...) with the universal causal predetermination of action (UCP). If UCP is true and the rationality constraint satisfied, there’s a sense in which our actions are explanatorily (though not necessarily causally) overdetermined. While it seems plausible (given UCP) that our actions are so overdetermined, it seems utterly mysterious why they should be so overdetermined. Compatibilism’s capacity to accommodate this mystery is a mark in its favor. (shrink)
That is the short title. The long title is: ‘How a deterministic interpretation of quantum theory would, if correct, show that compatibilism is not true; and some implications of this for theodicy’. Let us start with what people think they mean by freedom who, like myself, reject both determinism and compatibilism. Freedom-fans, we might call them. Better, let us start with what they do not mean, since proponents of determinism too frequently saddle them with views they do not (...) hold. Freedom-fans do not doubt causality. (shrink)
We “prepunish” a person if we punish her prior to the commission of her crime. This essay discusses our intuitions about the permissibility of prepunishment and the relationship between prepunishment and compatibilism about free will and determinism. It has recently been argued that compatibilism has particular trouble generating a principled objection to prepunishment. The failure to provide such an objection may be a problem for compatibilism if our moral intuitions strongly favor the prohibition of prepunishment. In defense (...) of compatibilism, I argue that while no objection to prepunishment is entailed by the central tenets of compatibilism, this does not necessarily show that compatibilism conflicts with our moral intuitions. And while there may be no distinctly compatibilist objection to prepunishment, there are common-sense objections to prepunishment of which the compatibilist can make use, at least under actual-world circumstances. And, while these common-sense objections might be inoperative in certain non-actual circumstances, it is not clear that support for prepunishment would be unintuitive in these circumstances. (shrink)
Semi-compatibilism regarding responsibility is the position according to which determinism is compatible with moral responsibility quite apart from whether determinism rules out the sort of freedom that involves access to alternative possibilities. I motivate the view that whether or not semi-compat..