Presentation on theme: "Determinism, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Traditional threats to free will: Fatalism (every event was meant). Predestination (every event is willed."— Presentation transcript:
Determinism, Free Will, and Moral Responsibility Traditional threats to free will: Fatalism (every event was meant). Predestination (every event is willed by God). Divine foreknowledge (every event is eternally known by God). Determinism: Every event is caused by a sequence of antecedent events.
Does determinism make free will an illusion? Libertarianism: We are free, determinism is false. Hard determinism: “Free will” is an illusion, our behavior is determined by genes and environment. Compatibilism (soft determinism): Our behavior is causally determined but we are responsible for what we do. Our capacity to restrain present impulse to avoid predictable harm does not depend on escaping causal determination.
Obstacles to Incompatibilism Libertarianism (incompatibilist indeterminism): Introduces a mysterious sort of agency that transcends physical laws. Implies that there can be no science of human behavior. Dualism (the belief that the self is immaterial) is no longer a viable position (no explanatory power, inconsistent with evolutionary theory,….) Hard determinism (incompatibilist determinism): By regarding belief in free will as illusory, hard determinism eliminates moral responsibility and makes deliberation futile. But, the ability to deliberate is an evolutionary advantage, not an illusion.
The dilemma of determinism Determinism seems to imply a causal nexus of necessity such that every event which occurs implies and is implied by every other event. (William James) A man murders his wife. To have regret for that event implies having regret for every event in the history of the universe. Regret all, or regret nothing. Aristotle on independent causal chains and chance events.
The Evolution of Agency The human brain is the product of six million years of evolution. The complexity of our brains provides us with the unique capacity for language. Linguistic ability enables us to anticipate future events and to deliberate about how to realize or avoid possible outcomes. A rational agent is a utility maximizer. A UM deliberates about alternative outcomes, assigns an expected utility to each, and then attempts to realize the outcome with the highest expected utility. A UMs actions are caused and free.
Compatibilist Deliberation Free action: An uncompelled action that an agent chooses to perform as the result of a process of rational deliberation. Free choices are caused by a process of deliberation. Here I stand, I can do no other.” Luther