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Terms in this set (20)
given the state of the world at one moment and all the laws of
nature, the next state of the world necessarily follows, the doctrine that all events, including human action, are ultimately determined by causes external to the will.
the true account of free will is incompatible with determinism
the true account of free will is compatible with determinism
"I could have done otherwise."
there is more than one way the world could go (there are more
than one possible futures) and it is up to me which of these
possibilities becomes real, garden of forking paths
Incompatibilism says determinism and free will
can't both be true.
You could deny either one.
Libertarianism (incompatibilist freedom):
incompatibilism is true
and we have free will (so determinism is false)
incompatibilism is true and determinism is
true (so we do not have free will)
it's what freedom feels like, perhaps it is required for deliberation, my choices only make sense if I think multiple options are open to me, perhaps it is required for moral responsibility, the thought: I am only responsible for something if I had some choice in
the matter. If I was forced to do it, then I am not responsible, If there is no incompatibilist freedom, then I am never morally
responsible. But I am morally responsible (at least sometimes). So there
is (incompatibilist) freedom (at least sometimes).
if determinism is true, then there is no free will
and if there is no free will, perhaps there is no moral responsibility
perhaps there is no way to explain how we both control what
happens and the event is not completely determined
maybe only events cause other events - but how do we explain
maybe an agent (person) causes the event - but what does this
mean? how does it work? have we really explained anything?
problem worsened if our world is indeterministic in the wrong
The Principle of Alternative Possibilities
people are responsible for what they have done only if they could
have done otherwise
The PAP is a core component of classic defenses of
incompatibilist theories of free will.
Harry Frankfurt has influentially argued
that the PAP is false:
we think people are sometimes morally responsible even if
they could not have done otherwise.
is consistent with determinism
freedom is the absence of constraints (physical restraints,
if causes run through me, then I am free; if not, then I'm not free
a simple version: I want to do something, so I do it = free
I act freely when I act on my best reasons
Arguing for Compatibilism
Our system of rewards and punishments assumes
There is a good chance that ours is a deterministic world.
Responsibility requires freedom. We are morally responsible
for our actions. Therefore, we are free. Therefore, freedom
must be compatible with determinism (because both are likely
Does it capture what we most care about?
The Consequence Argument
No one has power over the facts of the past and the laws of
No one has power over the fact that the facts of the past and
the laws of nature entail every fact of the future (i.e.,
determinism is true).
Therefore, no one has power over the facts of the future.
A common (but bad) objection to free will
Determinism is true. So there is no free will.
Either they are misusing a term (Stace: "verbal dispute") or making a
faulty assumption (only incompatibilist freedom counts as freedom).
Summary of the debate
The condition of freedom: to be morally responsible, a person must
be a free agent ("an agent, that is, whose actions are under his
Some people worry about the condition of freedom. They worry about
the problem of free will.
The condition of value: to be morally responsible, a person must be
a moral agent ("an agent, that is, to whom moral claims apply")
Some people worry about the condition of value. They worry about the
problem of moral skepticism.
Most people think the condition of value depends upon the
condition of freedom ("moral prescriptions make sense only if the
concept of free will is coherent").
"In what follows, I shall argue that the converse is true—that the
condition of freedom depends on the condition of value."
She is going to argue that you are free only if you are responsible,
not that you are only responsible when you are free.
1. The classic cases which are used to show that our intuitions that
people are not responsible if they are determined are all cases in
which they are shown not to be blameworthy (e.g., heroin addict,
kleptomaniac, hypnosis, deprived childhood).
2. "When we ask whether an agent's action is deserving of praise, it
seems we do not require that he could have done otherwise." (E.g.,
"I cannot tell a lie"; "He couldn't hurt a fly"; buying a present: "I
3. What matters isn't if we were determined, but if we were
determined by the right sort of thing. What we need is to be
"determined by the True and the Good."
Wolf argues that what matters is that we are psychologically
determined by the right reasons.
Because the right kind of determination is being determined by the
True and the Good, the problem of free will must be stated in
ethical (not just metaphysical) terms.
Our goal isn't (as the incompatibilist says) to be undetermined, but
to be determined by the right reasons (what is true and what is
good). So her view is compatibilist.
To be free, we must be able to recognize reasons and interests, to
be able to act on those reasons and interests, and not to be blocked
from using those abilities.
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