Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Free Will


  • I'm returning the midterms today.  The majority of the class did very well (As or high Bs). There are also quite a few very low grades.
  • You should come talk to me if your grade is under 70.  Before doing so, look at your exam carefully, using the Midterm rubric (above).
  • I can talk to people after class today (until 2:30).

HARD DETERMINISM (e.g. Galen Strawson)
  1. All choices are determined.
  2. Determined --> couldn't do otherwise --> not free --> not responsible --> not blameworthy/praiseworthy (incompatibilism)

LIBERTARIANISM (e.g. Roderick Chisholm)
  1. Some choices are determined, some are not determined; the not-determined aren't simply indeterministic (random) but rather agents have control over them.
  2. Determined --> couldn't do otherwise --> not free --> not responsible --> not blameworthy/praiseworthy (incompatibilism)

    How can a choice be "under the agent's control" and not determined?  See Chisholm for one account.

    SOFT DETERMINISM (e.g. Susan Wolf, Harry Frankfurt)
    Note: some Soft Determinists say that when people make free choices, in some sense they could do otherwise.  

    1. All choices are determined
    2. Some determined choices are free, responsible, blameworthy/praiseworthy (compatibilism)
    The Big Question:  How can a choice be determined and "couldn't do otherwise" yet free, so the agent is responsible and blameworthy/praiseworthy?
    1. Couldn't have done otherwise, yet responsible--you save the child who's about to jump out the window; you refrain from pushing friend out the window; you keep a promise to your mother.  Intuitively, you couldn't do otherwise simply because nothing else was right!  That doesn't seem to rule out responsibility.
    2. Psychologically determined to make a certain choice, yet responsible for it--grew up developing generosity as a character trait, so now must give to the homeless person at Lover's and Central.
    Question:  do Wolf's examples help us vindicate common sense judgments?  For example, common sense says Marco was free when he shot the Shaws, at the end of The Manchurian Candidate.  Has Wolf said anything that would back this up?
    Couldn't have done otherwise, yet responsible*--Black wants Jones4 to do X; he's on standby to make him do X, using hypnosis or a brain implant, just in case he doesn't do X; but he never has to exercise his power to force Jones4 to do X because Jones4 does it of his own accord.  In that case, Jones4 couldn't have done otherwise. Yet doesn't he seem responsible?
    1.  Suppose Marco's chip is programmed to make him shoot Shaw, if he doesn't choose to.  (That German psychologist in New yOrk reprogrammed the chip when Marco was unconscious.)  Then he couldn't have done otherwise, yet he seems responsible!
    2. Suppose you have just learned to drive, and your mother is sitting in the passenger seat.  If you don't see the red light, she will shout "red light!"  But she doesn't have to, because you see the red light. You couldn't have done otherwise but stop, but you are responsible!
    3. Suppose bad guys have invaded Trump Tower.  They have implanted a chip in Melania Trump's brain.  They think she will vote for her husband on November 8, but they're on standby, waiting for the slightest sign of a different vote.  They don't exercise their powers, because she immediately fills in the Trump bubble. Melania couldn't have done otherwise but vote for Trump, but she is responsible!
    Question:  Frankfurt is saying that in principle, it can be true that someone couldn't do otherwise, but is still responsible (and free, and blameworthy/praiseworthy).  But when is this the case?  What about Marco when he shot the Shaws?  Does Frankfurt back up the common sense judgment that Marco was free?
    * If there are examples like this, this would refute what Frankfurt calls The Principle of Alternative Possibilities, which says "a person is morally responsible for what he has done only if he could have done otherwise." (Frankfurt p. 612)

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