Incompatibilism

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    Clarke, Randolp

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    Incompatibilist (Nondeterministic) Theories of Free Will

    "To have free will is to have what it takes to act freely. When an agent acts freely—when she exercises her free will—what she does is up to her. A plurality of alternatives is open to her, and she determines which she pursues. She is an ultimate source or origin of her action. So runs a familiar conception of free will. Incompatibilists hold that we act freely in this sense only if determinism is false. Many incompatibilists say little more about what, besides the falsehood of determinism, free will requires. And, indeed, the task of providing an incompatibilist account is not an easy one."
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    Fogal, Danial

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    Free Will and Moral Responsibility: A Reply to Fischer

    "...[U]nder the assumption of determinism, Frankfurt-style examples are not successful in their avowed purpose of casting doubt on the strong 'natural' intuition lying being PAP. They lack any sort of persuasive force for the conclusion that alternative possibilities are irrelevant to moral responsibility – attention remains focused (at least partially) on what happens in the alternative sequence. So the debate remains exactly where it was before the introduction of CD-examples like Fischer’s – they have not furthered the debate and, in the absence of further argument, the dialectical stalemate between competing 'intuitions' continues."
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    Lowe, E.J.

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    Rational Action, Freedom, and Choice

    "Is a naturalistic account of rational human action possible? Obviously, we can’t answer this question without being told what the questioner means by a ‘naturalistic account’ of some phenomenon. For most philosophers, however, ‘naturalistic’ just means ‘physicalistic’. For many of these philosophers, a naturalistic account of rational human action would be one which represented human actions as being wholly physical events with wholly physical causes and the rationality of an action could only have something to do with how and by what it was caused...I think that a physicalist account of rational human action along the lines just proposed inevitably falls at an earlier hurdle, in virtue of endeavouring to explain the occurence of such actions in wholly causal terms."
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    Nelson, Michael

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    Breakin' the Law

    "Compatibilists maintain that it is possible that there are free acts in deterministic universes, whereas incompatibilists maintain that, necessarily, if determinism is true, then there are no free acts. The most influential incompatibilist argument has been some version of the consequence argument. Some compatibilists are tempted to respond to this argument by claiming that agents who act freely in deterministic universes have the ability to break laws of nature. I argue that this response is an adequate response to the consequence argument, but offers an inadequate defense against the strongest argument for thinking determinism threatens our freedom by robbing us of the control over what we do necessary for acting freely. I articulate such an argument—what I dub the No Opportunity+ argument —for incompatibilism and show how it is immune to the above described compatibilist strategy."
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    O'Connor, Timothy

     (195K)

    Agent Causation

    "In what follows, I will contend that the commonsense view of ourselves as fundamental causal agents - for which some have used the term 'unmoved movers' but which I think might more accurately be expressed as 'not wholly moved movers' - is theoretically understandable, internally consistent, and consistent with what we have thus far come to know about the nature and workings of the natural world. In the section that follows, I try to show how the concept of ‘agent’ causation can be understood as a distinct species (from ‘event’ causation) of the primitive idea, which I’ll term 'causal production', underlying realist or non-Humean conceptions of event causation."
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    O'Connor, Timothy

     (225K)

    Alternative Possibilities and Responsibility

    "Philosophers who maintain that determinism is incompatible with moral responsibility typically do so on the basis of the following two premises: (i) A person is morally responsible for what he has done only if he could have done otherwise. (ii) A person could have done other than what he in fact did only if determinism is false. Harry Frankfurt has dubbed the first of these claims 'The Principle of Alternate Possibilities' (PAP). Though this principle is widely accepted, Frankfurt has brought to light a range of cases that (to many) appear to provide grounds for rejecting it."
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    O'Connor, Timothy

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    Causality, Mind, and Free Will

    "The radical disparity posited between a nonspatial mind, whose intentional and conscious properties are had by no physical object, and a spatial body, all of whose properties are had by no mind, has prompted some to conclude that, pace Descartes, causal interaction between the two is impossible. Jaegwon Kim has recently given a new twist to this old line of thought.(1) In the present essay, I will use Kim's argument as a springboard for motivating my own favored picture of the metaphysics of mind and body and then discussing how an often vilified account of freedom of the will may be realized within it."
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    O'Connor, Timothy

     (145K)

    Dualist And Agent-Causal Theories

    "This essay will canvass recent philosophical accounts of human agency that deploy a notion of 'self' (or 'agent') causation. Some of these accounts try to explicate this notion, whereas others only hint at its nature by way of contrast with the causality exhibited by impersonal physical systems. In these latter theories, the authors' main argumentative burden is that the apparent fundamental differences between personal and impersonal causal activity strongly suggest mind-body dualism. I begin by noting two distinct, yet not commonly distinguished, philosophical motivations for pursuing an agent-causal account of human agency. In the course of discussing the accounts that some philosophers have developed in response to these considerations, I reconsider both the linkage of agent causation with mind-body dualism and its sharp cleavage from impersonal (or 'event') causation."
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    O'Connor, Timothy

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    Freedom With a Human Face

    "As good a definition as any of a philosophical conundrum is a problem all of whose possible solutions are unsatisfactory. The problem of understanding the springs of action for morally responsible agents is commonly recognized to be such a problem. The origin, nature, and explanation of freely-willed actions puzzle us today as they did the ancients Greeks, and for much the same reasons. However, one can carry this ‘perennial-puzzle’ sentiment too far. The unsatisfactory nature of philosophical theories is a more or less matter, and some of them have admitted of improvement over time. This, at any rate, is what we self-selecting metaphysicians tend to suppose, and I will pursue that high calling by suggesting a few improvements to a theory of metaphysical freedom, or freedom of the will."
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    O'Connor, Timothy

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    Indeterminism and Free Agency: Three Recent Views

    "...I believe, contrary to the firmly entrenched received view, that the concept of agent causation is not dark and impenetrable and it can, furthermore, (for all we currently know) be instantiated in a world of quarks, photons, leptons, and gluons. But making good on these bold claims will have to be reserved for another occasion. Here I must rest content with making a case to my fellow incompatibilists that an acceptable libertarian theory, if one is to be had at all, must lie in the direction of the beleaguered agency theory."
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    O'Connor, Timothy

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    Thomas Reid on Free Agency

    "Reid's invocation of a concept of agent causation as essential to a satisfactory account of free and responsible action is by no means original to him; it is implicit in the thought of medieval philosophers such as Scotus and (perhaps) Aquinas, and (on some readings) it goes all the way back to Aristotle...In this paper, I offer an interpretation of the basic features of Reid's theory, taking account of some helpful discussions by a few recent commentators. Clearly, the most penetrating of these is the book-length treatment in Rowe (1991). Though I disagree with Rowe's account on some important points, my discussion owes much to his. I also defend Reid's position against a couple of basic objections to the agency theory, thereby setting the stage for a fuller defense of the viability of Reid's general approach which I have undertaken elsewhere."
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    O'Connor, Timothy

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    Why Agent Causation?

    "The question of this paper is, what would it be to act with freedom of the will? What kind of control is inchoately in view when we speak, pretheoretically, of being ‘selfdetermining’ beings, of ‘freely making choices in view of consciously considered reasons’ (pro and con) - of its being ‘up to us’ how we shall act? My question here is not whether we have (or have any reason to think we have) such freedom, or what is the most robust account of our freedom compatible with late twentieth-century science. Many contemporary philosophers are all too ready to settle for a deflationary account of freedom and declare victory, with some brief remarks reminding us that we were created a little lower than the angels. I am not so sanguine about the ability of such accounts to leave reasonably intact our judgments about human autonomy, dignity, and responsibility. But, as I’ve said, that’s not my concern here. Instead, I want to revisit the question of what exactly ‘self-determination’, on our ordinary conception, comes to."
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    Pereboom, Derk

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    Defending Hard Incompatibilism

    "I reject a type of incompatibilism according to which the availability of alternative possibilities is crucial to explaining moral responsibility, and accept instead a type of incompatibilism that ascribes the more significant role to an action’s causal history. My view is that an agent’s moral responsibility for an action is explained not by the existence of alternative possibilities available to her, but rather by the action’s having a causal history of a sort that allows the agent to be the source of her action in a specific way. I thus opt for source as opposed to leeway incompatibilism."
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    Pereboom, Derk

     (103K)

    Source Incompatibilism and Alternative Possibilities

    "...I shall argue that the availability of alternative possibilities is in a significant sense irrelevant to explaining an agent's moral responsibility for an action. At the same time I do not want to disavow incompatibilism, but rather to defend a version in which the pivotal explanatory role is assigned to features of the causal history of the action, and not to the availability of alternative possibilities."
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    Pereboom, Derk

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    Meaning in Life without Free Will

    "...[I]t appears that living genuinely meaningful lives is compatible with relinquishing strong accountability -- what incompatibilists have typically thought to be threatened in a deterministic universe. For much of what we care most about in life, if it is dependent on a notion of responsibility, can be secured by responsibility as self-disclosure or by weak accountability. By keeping in mind the distinctions among the aspects of responsibility, we can live in accord with a consistent conception of ourselves as agents whose actions are ultimately produced by factors beyond our control, and therefore are not their originators, but who can be deeply committed to moral values and perform actions that express this commitment, and who can be responsive to self-examination in accord with a confrontation with reasons for moral action."
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    Pettit, Gordon

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    Conditions of Moral Responsibility

    "To be morally responsible is to do something that is good or bad, or right or wrong, and to have had the right kind and amount of control over one’s actions or the outcome of one’s action. The former capacity is primarily a normative notion and the latter is primarily a metaphysical notion. Thus both metaphysical issues and normative concerns are relevant for moral responsibility, and these are extensively intertwined."
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    Pruss, Alexander R.

     (128K)

    Freedom Cancellation and Determinism

    "I will argue that, compatibilist orthodoxy notwithstanding, once one admits that causal control of one person’s actions by another person is freedom canceling, then one should also admit that determinism would be freedom canceling. If the argument is sound, then either one should abandon the general principle that control of one person’s actions by another is always freedom canceling, or else one should become an incompatibilist. I take the latter to be the more attractive option."
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    Pruss, Alexander R.

     (116K)

    Freedom, Determinism and Gale’s Principle

    "In simplified form, the argument that I am defending holds that the incompatibility of our freedom with determinism follows from the conjunction of (1) a plausible supervenience claim which says that whether a human agent is free depends only on what happens during the agent’s life and (2) a freedom-cancellation principle of Richard Gale which says that an agent is not free if all of her actions are intentionally brought about by another agent. Improved versions of (1) and (2) are also considered."
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    Timpe, Kevin

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    Why Christians Might be Libertarians: A Response to Lynne Rudder Baker

    "In a recent article, Lynne Rudder Baker voices her surprise at the number of Christian philosophers who believe that humans have libertarian free will. Baker instead advocates a compatibilist understanding of free will and salvation. Given her desire to affirm traditional Christian theism, in the present paper I raise a methodological worry for Baker’s argument since her own compatibilist account of salvation conflicts with traditional Christian theology. I conclude that Baker has failed to do what she has set out to do: she has failed to give decisive reasons why the Christian philosopher should be a compatibilist rather than a libertarian."
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    Tucker, Chris

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    Agent Causation and the Alleged Impossibility of Rational Free Action

    "One argument, perhaps the argument, which Strawson believes to prove the impossibility of free will and moral responsibility is my focus in this paper. This argument takes the form of an infinite regress which supposedly shows that rational actions can’t be free. In section II, I hope to present Strawson’s argument as clearly and as simply as possible. This will require deviating from the way that Strawson himself summarizes the argument. My ultimate aim in this paper is to show that agent causation theorists need not be troubled by Strawson’s famous argument."
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    Vander Laan, David

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    A Regress Argument For Restrictive Incompatibilism

    "One of Peter van Inwagen's claims in a recent debate among incompatibilists has been that if we never perform actions we have no desire to do, then we are rarely free. (Call the conclusion that we are rarely free `restrictivism' or `restrictive incompatibilism'.) The reason is that in most cases we have no desire to do anything other than what we in fact do, and lacking such a desire we lack a necessary condition of doing other than what we in fact do.' John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza have denied that restrictivism follows from ARD...However, I believe an argument for restrictiivism which settles the disputed point can easily be constructed. I propose we call it `the regress argument'."
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    Vihvelin, Kadri

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    Arguments for Incompatibilism

    "The thesis of determinism says that everything that happens is determined by antecedent conditions together with the laws of nature. Incompatibilism is the philosophical thesis that if determinism is true, then we don't have free will. The denial of incompatibilism is compatibilism; a compatibilist is someone who believes that the truth of determinism does not rule out the existence of free will. The philosophical problem of free will and determinism is the problem of understanding how, if at all, the truth of determinism is compatible with the truth of our commonsense belief that we have free will. That is, it's the problem of deciding who is right: the compatibilist or the incompatibilist."