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The Problem of Free Will. First, you tell me: What is the problem (roughly)?

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Presentation on theme: "The Problem of Free Will. First, you tell me: What is the problem (roughly)?"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Problem of Free Will

2 First, you tell me: What is the problem (roughly)?

3 The Computer Analogy: A computer can only do what it’s been programmed to do. Its a ctivities are completely caused by its programming. A person can only do what her beliefs and desires cause her to do. Her actions are completely caused by her beliefs and desires.

4 Beliefs + Desires Genes Environment Actions

5 Beliefs + Desires Genes Environment Actions The Program The Programmers

6 Beliefs + Desires Genes Environment Actions The Program The Programmers Two different problems

7 Creates the problem just mentioned: computers aren’t free to do anything other than what’s specified in their programming. The Programmers Two different problems The Program

8 A different problem: The causes of the computer’s actions lie outside the computer itself, so it has no control over its actions. The computer isn’t the source of its own actions. (The programmers are.) The Programmers Two different problems The Program

9 Two Different Problems for Freedom: 1)The Problem of Sourcehood (Sober: “Distant Causation Argument”) 2)The Problem of the Ability To Do Otherwise (Sober: “Could-Not-Have-Done-Otherwise Argument”)

10 Beliefs + Desires Genes Environment Actions The Sourcehood Problem (Distant Causation) The Programmers

11 The Sourcehood Problem (Distant Causation) The programmers completely cause the program, which completely causes the action. Genes and environment completely cause beliefs and desires, which completely cause actions.

12 The Sourcehood Problem (Distant Causation) The agent doesn’t control her own actions. The real causes of action are in the distant past, and this puts them outside the agent’s control.

13 Beliefs + Desires Genes Environment Actions The real causes of action lie outside the agent.

14 P1) Your genes and environment determine what your actions are. P2) Your genes and environment are causes outside your control. P3) If your actions are determined by causes outside your control, then you don’t act freely. The Problem of Sourcehood You don’t act freely.

15 P1) Your genes and environment determine what your actions are. P2) Your genes and environment are causes outside your control. P3) If your actions are determined by causes outside your control, then you don’t act freely. Imagine looking at a menu and trying to decide between two dishes you really want to order. Now, consider each of these premises in light of that situation. You don’t act freely.

16 Two Different Problems for Freedom: 1)The Problem of Sourcehood (Sober: “Distant Causation Argument”) 2)The Problem of the Ability To Do Otherwise (Sober: “Could-Not-Have-Done-Otherwise Argument”)

17 The Problem of the Ability to Do Otherwise The programmers completely cause the program, which completely causes the action. Genes and environment completely cause beliefs and desires, which completely cause actions.

18 Beliefs + Desires Genes Environment Actions The Program The Programmers

19 For a choice to be free, it must at least be possible to choose more than one thing. If there’s only one thing you can possibly do, then you don’t have freedom to choose. The Problem of the Ability to Do Otherwise

20 Given the input ‘5 + 7’, a computer must output ‘12’. It has no ability to do otherwise. Given her beliefs and desires, a person must do what they specify. Once your beliefs and desires are fixed, you have no ability to do otherwise. The Problem of the Ability to Do Otherwise

21 Another way to look at it: If you had done otherwise, it wouldn’t show that you were able do things that aren’t specified by your beliefs and desires. It would just show that you had different beliefs and desires. The Problem of the Ability to Do Otherwise

22 P1) Your beliefs and desires determine what your actions are. P2) If your beliefs and desires determine what your actions are, then you have no ability to do otherwise. P3) If you have no ability to do otherwise, then you don’t act freely. The Problem of the Ability to Do Otherwise You don’t act freely.

23 The Puzzle of Locke’s Locked Room A man chooses to stay in a room, talking with a friend. Before he makes this choice, but while he’s still in the room, someone locks the door from the outside without his knowing it. So the man makes a choice, but at the time of the choice he isn’t able to do otherwise. Does the man choose freely?

24 Two Different Problems for Freedom: 1)The Problem of Sourcehood (Sober: “Distant Causation Argument”) 2)The Problem of the Ability To Do Otherwise (Sober: “Could-Not-Have-Done-Otherwise Argument”)

25 These two arguments both say that determinism and freedom are incompatible...

26 P1) Your beliefs and desires determine what your actions are. P2) If your beliefs and desires determine what your actions are, then you have no ability to do otherwise. P3) If you have no ability to do otherwise, then you don’t act freely. You don’t act freely. P1) Your genes and environment determine what your actions are. P2) Your genes and environment are causes outside your control. P3) If your actions are determined by causes outside your control, then you don’t act freely. You don’t act freely.

27 The difference between them: different reasons for incompatibilism

28 P1) Your beliefs and desires determine what your actions are. P2) If your beliefs and desires determine what your actions are, then you have no ability to do otherwise. P3) If you have no ability to do otherwise, then you don’t act freely. You don’t act freely. P1) Your genes and environment determine what your actions are. P2) Your genes and environment are causes outside your control. P3) If your actions are determined by causes outside your control, then you don’t act freely. You don’t act freely.

29 Incompatibilism : Determinism (of actions) is incompatible with free will.

30 Note the difference: Incompatibilism : Determinism and freedom are incompatible. Determinism: Actions are determined.

31 Note the difference: Incompatibilism : Determinism and freedom are incompatible. If determinism is true, we don’t have free will. Determinism: Actions are determined. Determinism is true.

32 Note the difference: Incompatibilism : Determinism and freedom are incompatible. If determinism is true, we don’t have free will. Philosophers haven’t paid much attention to this question. Traditionally, determinism seemed more likely, so the classic debate focuses on incompatibilism. Determinism: Actions are determined. Determinism is true.

33 Note the difference: Incompatibilism : Determinism and freedom are incompatible. If determinism is true, we don’t have free will. Determinism: Actions are determined. Determinism is true. Note: you can be an incompatiblist whether you believe in determinism or not.

34 Incompatibilism says you can’t have both determinism and freedom. It doesn’t say which one to keep.

35 Incompatibilism says you can’t have both determinism and freedom. It doesn’t say which one to keep. DeterminismFree Will DeterminismFree Will

36 Incompatibilism says you can’t have both determinism and freedom. It doesn’t say which one to keep. DeterminismFree Will Libertarianism Determinism Hard Determinism Free Will

37 CompatibilismIncompatibilism Determinism Free Will Soft Determinism Hard Determinism Libertarianism Determinism Free Will Determinism Free Will

38 CompatibilismIncompatibilism Determinism Free Will Soft Determinism Hard Determinism Libertarianism Determinism Free Will Determinism Free Will Take a minute to consider these three options. Which box would you place yourself in?

39 What is determinism? The events of the past, along with the laws of nature, completely “fix” the course of the future. Given the past and the laws of nature, there is only one way the future can possibly unfold.

40 What is determinism? The state of the universe at one time The laws of nature += Given past events and the laws of nature, everything that does happen must happen. No alternative futures are possible.

41 What is determinism? Given past events and the laws of nature, everything that does happen must happen. No alternative futures are possible. Notice that this is a possibility claim.

42 What is determinism? Given past events and the laws of nature, everything that does happen must happen. No alternative futures are possible. Notice that this is a possibility claim. This makes it something more than just a causal claim. Compare: A caused B A caused B, and made B necessary.

43 What is determinism? Sometimes causes are just contributing factors—they don’t necessitate what they cause. Notice that this is a possibility claim. This makes it something more than just a causal claim. Compare: A caused B A caused B, and made B necessary.

44 What is determinism? The torpedoes cause the drowning, but they don’t make it necessary. Without the storm, rescue was still possible. In a book I’m reading, a boat sinks and an important character drowns. There are two contributing factors: 1)A submarine torpedoes the boat 2)A storm prevents the rescue operation

45 What is determinism? The torpedoes cause the drowning, but they don’t make it necessary. Without the storm, rescue was still possible. Compare: A caused B A caused B, and made B necessary.

46 What is determinism? Not fatalism. What’s the difference?

47 What is determinism? Not fatalism. What’s the difference? If an event is fated, it will happen no matter what— regardless of the events that lead up to it (or the laws of nature). Determinism says that events depend on the events that lead up to them (and the laws of nature).

48 What is determinism? With regard to free will, what’s important is determinism about actions, in particular. Genes and environment necessitate actions. or Beliefs and desires necessitate actions.

49 Would indeterminism be better? Suppose determinism is false. Actions are not necessitated by prior causes. Discuss in groups. Consider both problems: 1)Sourcehood 2)Ability To Do Otherwise

50 Would indeterminism be better? This helps with the ability to do otherwise... It’s clearly possible for the agent to do more than one thing. Suppose determinism is false. Actions are not necessitated by prior causes.

51 But it doesn’t help with sourcehood. If the agent’s beliefs & desires don’t determine what’s going to happen, then the agent doesn’t have control of what’s going to happen. The agent can’t control her own actions. Would indeterminism be better? Suppose determinism is false. Actions are not necessitated by prior causes.

52 Even if your beliefs and desires do determine your actions, you can still act freely. Hume’s Compatibilism: (Soft Determinism)

53 Even if your beliefs and desires do determine your actions, you can still act freely. Hume’s Compatibilism: (Soft Determinism) Freedom: ability to do otherwise if you desire. In order to do otherwise, your beliefs and desires would have be otherwise. Still, they’re your beliefs and desires.

54 Hume’s Compatibilism: (Soft Determinism) Freedom: ability to do otherwise if you desire. In order to do otherwise, your beliefs and desires would have be otherwise. Still, they’re your beliefs and desires. Your actions are determined by your beliefs and desires, but you still get to do what you want, so you still have free will.

55 Should we accept Hume’s redefinition of the word “free”? Hume’s Compatibilism: (Soft Determinism) How does this new definition affect the two problems we’ve identified for free will? -The Sourcehood Problem -The Problem of the Ability To Do Otherwise


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