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on Free Will - University of St Andrews

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Metaphysics
The Problem of Free Will
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
What is freedom?
 “surface freedom”
 Being able to �do
what you want’
п‚Є Being free to act,
and choose, as you
will
 BUT: what if �what
you will’ is not
under your control?
 “free will”
п‚Є Being an agent
capable of
influencing the
world
п‚Є Source of ones own
actions
п‚Є Actions and choices
are “up-to-us”
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Why is freedom important?
 We �feel’ that we are free; that we are
the originators of our own actions
п‚Є We need to be free in order to be
responsible for our actions; our
practices of praise and blame
presuppose that we are free (compare
the kleptomaniac to the ordinary thief)
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Could we be mistaken about
�feeling free’?
п‚Є Let us imagine a man who, while standing on the street, would
say to himself: �It is six o’clock in the evening, the working day
is over. Now I can go for a walk, or I can go to the club; I can
also climb up the tower to see the sun set; I can go to the
theatre; I can visit this friend or that one; indeed, I also can run
out of the gate, into the wide world and never return. All this is
strictly up to me; in this I have complete freedom. But still, I shall
do none of these things now, but with just as free a will I shall go
home to my wife.’ This is exactly as if water spoke to itself: �I
can make high waves (yes! in the sea during a storm), I can
rush down hill (yes! in the river bed), I can plunge down foaming
and gushing (yes! in the fountain) I can, finally, boil away and
disappear (yes! at certain temperature); but I am doing none of
these things now, and am voluntarily remaining quiet and clear
in the reflecting pond.
п‚Є (Schopenhauer, On the Freedom of The Will)
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Causal determinism
п‚Є (Roughly): the view that the state of
the world at a given time determines
the state of the world at the next
moment
п‚Є Every event that occurs, including
human action, is entirely the result of
earlier causes [event causation]
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Determinism: types
п‚ЄCausal determinism*
п‚ЄTheological determinism
п‚ЄPsychological determinism
п‚ЄSociological determinism
п‚ЄBiological determinism
п‚ЄEnvironmental determinism
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
So, determinism and free will would
appear to be in tension with one another
п‚Є This raises two big questions
1. The determinist question - is
determinism true or false?
2. The compatibility question - is free will
compatible with determinism?
п‚Є The combination of answers that can be
given form the standard positions in the
debate
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Incompatibilism
п‚Є Incompatibilists believe freedom is not
compatible with determinism; if
determinism is true, then one cannot
be held truly free and responsible for
one’s actions
п‚Є Incompatibilists may be divided into
two groups …
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Incompatibilism: Hard Determinism
a) Free will is not compatible with
determinism
b) Determinism is true
c) So, we do not have free will
HARD DETERMINISTS are incompatibilists
who hold that determinism is true
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Incompatibilism: libertarianism
п‚Є Libertarians believe
a) We do have free will
b) Free will is not compatible with
determinism
c) Determinism is therefore false
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Compatibilism
п‚Є COMPATIBILISTS believe that freedom and
responsibility are in every significant sense
compatible with determinism; thus there is
no conflict between determinism and free
will
п‚Є SOFT DETERMINISTS are compatibilists who
believe determinism is true
п‚Є Classical Compatibilists: Hobbes, Hume, Mill
п‚Є Modern Compatibilists: Ayer, Dennett, Frankfurt
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Hard Determinism
Free will is not compatible with
determinism
b) Determinism is true
c) Therefore, free will is an illusion
a)
Support?
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Hard Determinism
п‚Є CONSEQUENCE ARGUMENT (informal)
If determinism is true, then our acts are the
consequences of the laws of nature and
events in the remote past. But it is not up
to us what went on before we were born,
and neither is it up to us what the laws of
nature are. Therefore the consequences of
these things (including our present acts) are
not up to us.
Peter van Inwagen, An Essay on Free Will (p. 56)
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Hard Determinism
п‚Є Problems:
п‚ЄHow can the HD explain our behaviour of
praising and blaming agents for their
actions, and ascribing responsibility?
п‚ЄWhat happens to morality? If nobody can
ever �do otherwise’ than they in fact do,
then notions of responsibility, desert,
praise, and blame are redundant.
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Soft Determinism (compatibilism)
a) Determinism is true
b) Free will exists
c) There is no tension between these
claims

If some people see a tension here, it is
because they are misunderstanding the
notions of freedom and determinism, of
�free-choice’ and �causal necessity’
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Challenge for the compatibilist:
п‚Є Incompatibilists say:
For our actions to be free, it must be the
case that, when we act, we could do
otherwise than we actually do
This insistence on the ability to do
otherwise is often referred to as the
“principle of alternate possibilities”
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Compatibilist responses:
1. Interpret the CDO-condition of
freedom as having a hypothetical or
conditional meaning, i.e.
To say one �could have done otherwise’ is to
say that one would have done otherwise
had things been different (given a
different set of beliefs, desires, etc.)
[classical compatibilist response]
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Compatibilist responses:
2. So what if I couldn’t �do otherwise’?
The ability to do otherwise is not in fact
required for moral responsibility, and so
determinism is no threat to free will
3. The proper contrast to freedom is not
determinism, but constraint/coercion
As long as we are not constrained, coerced
or forced in our actions then we do what
we will, and it doesn’t matter whether
our wills are determined or not
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Compatibilism: problems
 compatibilist freedom is only �surface’
freedom - it is not free will in the full,
proper sense
 Compatibilism is a “wretched
subterfuge” (Kant), a “quagmire of
evasion” (William James)
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Libertarian (free will) position
п‚Є
Libertarians believe
a) Free will is not compatible with
determinism
b) Free will exists
c) Determinism is therefore false
Support?
Criticism?
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Libertarian (free will) position
п‚Є Criticism: our sense of free will is just
an illusion, as Schopenhauer shows
with his water example
Also, “leaf” example
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Libertarian (free will) position
п‚Є More serious problem:
п‚ЄIf determinism is false, then events are
not subject to chain of cause-and-effect
п‚ЄSo events occur randomly, by chance
(indeterminism)
п‚ЄIf events occur by chance, then they are
not under our control
п‚ЄSo, how can we be free and responsible?
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Libertarian (free will) position
 This is known as the “Intelligibility
Question” - how do we make sense of a
non-determined free will?
п‚Є 3 common responses:
п‚ЄAgent-causal theory (self-determination)
п‚ЄSimple indeterminism
п‚ЄCausal indeterminism
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Agent causation
п‚Є Not only events can be causes; agents
themselves can be causes too (distinction
between event-causation and agentcausation)
п‚Є Agent-causation is not reducible to causation
by events (agent-causes are not explainable
by reference to other events)
A STAFF MOVES A STONE, AND IS MOVED BY A HAND,
WHICH IS MOVED BY A MAN - Aristotle, Physics 256a
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Agent causation
п‚Є Problems:
п‚ЄMany people, including many libertarians,
find the notion of �agent-causation’ far
too mysterious and problematic
п‚ЄRequires agents to be the uncaused cause of
their actions, to be “prime movers unmoved”
п‚ЄProblem of economy - positing a second,
additional, category of causation
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
So…
… are you free?
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Positions in the �Free Will Debate’
Diagram taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_will
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Film resource:
п‚Є Minority Report
Psychic creatures called �pre-cogs’ can “see”
crimes before they happen, so murderers are
apprehended and tried before they commit
their crimes (this is done under the “Pre-crime
Programme)
п‚Є Would you support the pre-crime
programme?
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
Causal determinism
п‚Є We ought then to regard the present state of the universe as the
effect of its anterior state and as the cause of the one which is to
follow. Given for one instant an intelligence which could
comprehend all the forces by which nature is animated and the
respective situation of the beings who compose it - an
intelligence sufficiently vast to submit these data to analysis - it
would embrace in the same formula the movements of the
greatest bodies of the universe and those of the lightest atom;
for it, nothing would be uncertain and the future, as the past,
would be present to its eyes. The human mind offers, in the
perfection which it has been able to give to astronomy, a feeble
idea of such an intelligence.
п‚Є (Laplace, A Philosophical Essay on Probabilities [1820] 1951: 4)
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
1. Is Determinism true?
2. Can there be Free Will?
п‚Є Determinists
п‚Є Libertarians
п‚Є 1. YES
п‚Є 2. YES
 2. Depends …
п‚Є 1. NO (since FW
exists)
п‚Є Compatibilists (Soft
Determinists)
п‚Є (Another position)
п‚Є 2. YES
п‚Є Hard Determinists
п‚Є 2. NO
 1. Maybe …
 2. No (doesn’t matter
whether Determinism
is true or not)
Dr Lisa Jones University of St
Andrews
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