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Wolf's "Asymmetrical Freedom"
Terms in this set (7)
The Condition of Freedom and the Condition of Value
- The condition of freedom: The agent must be free. The agent's actions must be under her control
- The condition of value: the agent must be a moral agent. She must be an agent, "to whom moral claims apply"
- People who think the first condition can never be met worry about free will. Those who think the second cannot be met and are in the throws of moral skepticism
- Many people think the condition of value (whether there are moral agents) depends on the condition for freedom
- An agent's action is psychologically determined if his action is determined by his values or desires, and his interests (values and desires) are determined by his heredity or environment
Psychological Determinism and Freedom
- Many people believe that psychologically determined actions are not free (getting at incompatibilism)
- Two ways psychological determinism can fail:
1) Actions are not determined by your values/desires (Problematic: actions do not seem free but like "spasms" on this picture)
2) Interests (values/desires) are not determined by heredity or the environment
- We cannot ask why the agent has certain values or desires, Wolf thinks
- So it looks like, if an agent is psychologically UNdetermined, we cannot expect them to be a moral agent
- Should we then understand the condition of freedom as being compatible with our actions' being psychologically determined? Not really. Wolf thinks thus us insufficient for freedom
The Asymmetry of Blame and Praise
Two analyses of the condition of freedom (for praiseworthy ad blameworthy actions)
- Freedom to perform a good action X: If an agent was free to perform X then if there had been a good and sufficient reason to perform an action other than X, the agent could have performed the other action
- Freedom to perform a bad action Y: If an agent was free to perform Y, then the agent could have not performed Y (full stop)
- Thus, in order to know whether an action is free (for good and bad actions, anyway), we have to analyze the praiseworthiness and blameworthiness of the actions. This is how we arrived at two conditions of freedom
The true and the good
Is psychological determinism false?
- Wold thinks so
- "It seems that some of our actions are not determined at all. That is it seem that some of actions are such that no set of psychological facts are sufficient to explain them. There are occasions on which a person takes one action, but there seems to be no reason why didn't take the other"
- typically, we think we need to know whether a person is free in order to determine whether the person is a moral agent
- wolf thinks this situation is reversed
- Our characterization of freedom should be "value-laden", she thinks. We must understand moral praiseworthiness and blameworthiness in order to understand human freedom. Moreover, moral praise and blame should be treated differently and provide distinct conditions on freedom
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