Compatibilism

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Compatibilism is the belief that free will and determinism are mutually compatible and that it is possible to believe in both without being logically inconsistent. [1] Compatibilists believe freedom can be present or absent in situations for reasons that have nothing to do with metaphysics. [2] They define free will as freedom to act according to one's motives.[ citation needed ]

Free will Ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints

Free will is the ability to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded.

Determinism is the philosophical belief that all events are determined completely by previously existing causes. Deterministic theories throughout the history of philosophy have sprung from diverse and sometimes overlapping motives and considerations. The opposite of determinism is some kind of indeterminism. Determinism is often contrasted with free will.

Metaphysics Branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of reality

Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that examines the fundamental nature of reality, including the relationship between mind and matter, between substance and attribute, and between potentiality and actuality. The word "metaphysics" comes from two Greek words that, together, literally mean "after or behind or among [the study of] the natural". It has been suggested that the term might have been coined by a first century CE editor who assembled various small selections of Aristotle’s works into the treatise we now know by the name Metaphysics.

Contents

Similarly, political liberty is a non-metaphysical concept. [3] Statements of political liberty, such as the United States Bill of Rights, assume moral liberty: the ability to choose to do otherwise than one does.[ citation needed ]

United States Bill of Rights the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution

The United States Bill of Rights comprises the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution. Proposed following the often bitter 1787–88 debate over the ratification of the Constitution, and written to address the objections raised by Anti-Federalists, the Bill of Rights amendments add to the Constitution specific guarantees of personal freedoms and rights, clear limitations on the government's power in judicial and other proceedings, and explicit declarations that all powers not specifically granted to the U.S. Congress by the Constitution are reserved for the states or the people. The concepts codified in these amendments are built upon those found in earlier documents, especially the Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776), as well as the English Bill of Rights (1689) and the Magna Carta (1215).

History

Compatibilism was championed by the ancient Stoics [4] and medieval scholastics (such as Thomas Aquinas), [5] and by Enlightenment philosophers (like David Hume and Thomas Hobbes). [6] More specifically, the scholastics, including Thomas Aquinas, rejected what would now be called "incompatibilism"—they held that humans could do otherwise than they do, otherwise the concept of sin is meaningless. As for the Jesuits, their concern was to reconcile the claim of God's foreknowledge of who would be saved with moral agency. The term "compatibilism" itself was coined as late as the 20th century.

Scholasticism A method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics ("scholastics", or "schoolmen") of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100 to 1700

Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100 to 1700, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending dogma in an increasingly pluralistic context. It originated as an outgrowth of and a departure from Christian theology within the monastic schools at the earliest European universities. The rise of scholasticism was closely associated with the rise of the 12th and 13th century schools that developed into the earliest modern universities, including those in Italy, France, Spain and England.

Thomas Aquinas Dominican scholastic philosopher of the Roman Catholic Church

Saint Thomas Aquinas was an Italian Dominican friar, Philosopher, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church. He is an immensely influential philosopher, theologian, and jurist in the tradition of scholasticism, within which he is also known as the Doctor Angelicus and the Doctor Communis. The name Aquinas identifies his ancestral origins in the county of Aquino in present-day Lazio, Italy. He was the foremost classical proponent of natural theology and the father of Thomism; of which he argued that reason is found in God. His influence on Western thought is considerable, and much of modern philosophy developed or opposed his ideas, particularly in the areas of ethics, natural law, metaphysics, and political theory.

Age of Enlightenment European cultural movement of the 18th century

The Age of Enlightenment was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century, the "Century of Philosophy".

During the 20th century, compatibilists presented novel arguments that differed from the classical arguments of Hume, Hobbes, and John Stuart Mill. [7] Importantly, Harry Frankfurt popularized what are now known as Frankfurt counterexamples to argue against incompatibilism, [8] and developed a positive account of compatibilist free will based on higher-order volitions. [9] Other "new compatibilists" include Gary Watson, Susan R. Wolf, P. F. Strawson, and R. Jay Wallace. [10]

John Stuart Mill British philosopher and political economist

John Stuart Mill, usually cited as J. S. Mill, was a British philosopher, political economist, and civil servant. One of the most influential thinkers in the history of classical liberalism, he contributed widely to social theory, political theory, and political economy. Dubbed "the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century", Mill's conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state and social control.

Harry Frankfurt philosopher

Harry Gordon Frankfurt is an American philosopher. He is professor emeritus of philosophy at Princeton University, where he taught from 1990 until 2002, and previously taught at Yale University, Rockefeller University, and Ohio State University.

Frankfurt cases were presented by philosopher Harry Frankfurt in 1969 as counterexamples to the principle of alternate possibilities (PAP), which holds that an agent is morally responsible for an action only if that person could have done otherwise.

Contemporary compatibilists range from the philosopher and cognitive scientist Daniel Dennett, particularly in his works Elbow Room (1984) and Freedom Evolves (2003), to the existentialist philosopher Frithjof Bergmann. Perhaps the most renowned contemporary defender of compatibilism is John Martin Fischer.

Daniel Dennett American philosopher

Daniel Clement Dennett III is an American philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist whose research centers on the philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and philosophy of biology, particularly as those fields relate to evolutionary biology and cognitive science.

<i>Elbow Room</i> (book)

Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting is a 1984 book by the American philosopher Daniel Dennett, in which Dennett discusses the philosophical issues of free will and determinism.

<i>Freedom Evolves</i>

Freedom Evolves is a 2003 popular science and philosophy book by Daniel C. Dennett. Dennett describes the book as an installment of a lifelong philosophical project, earlier parts of which were The Intentional Stance, Consciousness Explained and Elbow Room. It attempts to give an account of free will and moral responsibility which is complementary to Dennett's other views on consciousness and personhood.

Defining free will

Arthur Schopenhauer Schopenhauer.jpg
Arthur Schopenhauer

Compatibilists often define an instance of "free will" as one in which the agent had freedom to act according to their own motivation . That is, the agent was not coerced or restrained. Arthur Schopenhauer famously said, "Man can do what he wills but he cannot will what he wills." [11]

Motivation is the reason for people's actions, willingness and goals. Motivation is derived from the word motive which is defined as a need that requires satisfaction. These needs could be wants or desires that are acquired through influence of culture, society, lifestyle, etc. or generally innate. Motivation is one's direction to behaviour, or what causes a person to want to repeat a behaviour, a set of force that acts behind the motives. An individual's motivation may be inspired by others or events or it may come from within the individual. Motivation has been considered as one of the most important reasons that inspires a person to move forward in life. Motivation results from the interaction of both conscious and unconscious factors. Mastering motivation to allow sustained and deliberate practice is central to high levels of achievement e.g. in the worlds of elite sport, medicine or music.

Arthur Schopenhauer German philosopher

Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher. He is best known for his 1818 work The World as Will and Representation, wherein he characterizes the phenomenal world as the product of a blind and insatiable metaphysical will. Proceeding from the transcendental idealism of Immanuel Kant, Schopenhauer developed an atheistic metaphysical and ethical system that has been described as an exemplary manifestation of philosophical pessimism, rejecting the contemporaneous post-Kantian philosophies of German idealism. Schopenhauer was among the first thinkers in Western philosophy to share and affirm significant tenets of Eastern philosophy, having initially arrived at similar conclusions as the result of his own philosophical work.

In other words, although an agent may often be free to act according to a motive, the nature of that motive is determined. Also note that this definition of free will does not rely on the truth or falsity of causal determinism. [2] This view also makes free will close to autonomy , the ability to live according to one's own rules, as opposed to being submitted to external domination.

Alternatives as imaginary

Saying "there may be a person behind that door" merely expresses ignorance about the one, determined reality Gotland-Froejel-Kirche 03.jpg
Saying "there may be a person behind that door" merely expresses ignorance about the one, determined reality

Some compatibilists will hold both causal determinism (all effects have causes) and logical determinism (the future is already determined) to be true. Thus statements about the future (e.g., "it will rain tomorrow") are either true or false when spoken today. This compatibilist free will should not be understood as some kind of ability to have actually chosen differently in an identical situation. A compatibilist can believe that a person can choose between many choices, but the choice is always determined by external factors. [12] If the compatibilist says "I may visit tomorrow, or I may not", he is saying that he does not know what he will choose—if he will choose to follow the subconscious urge to go or not.

Non-naturalism

Alternatives to strictly naturalist physics, such as mind–body dualism positing a mind or soul existing apart from one's body while perceiving, thinking, choosing freely, and as a result acting independently on the body, include both traditional religious metaphysics and less common newer compatibilist concepts. [13] Also consistent with both autonomy and Darwinism, [14] they allow for free personal agency based on practical reasons within the laws of physics. [15] While less popular among 21st century philosophers, non-naturalist compatibilism is present in most if not almost all religions. [16]

Criticism

Compatibilism has much in common with so-called 'Hard Determinism', including moral systems and a belief in Determinism itself Prim clockwork.jpg
Compatibilism has much in common with so-called 'Hard Determinism', including moral systems and a belief in Determinism itself

Critics of compatibilism often focus on the definition(s) of free will: incompatibilists may agree that the compatibilists are showing something to be compatible with determinism, but they think that this something ought not to be called "free will". Incompatibilists might accept the "freedom to act" as a necessary criterion for free will, but doubt that it is sufficient. Basically, they demand more of "free will". The incompatibilists believe free will refers to genuine (e.g., absolute, ultimate) alternate possibilities for beliefs, desires, or actions, rather than merely counterfactual ones.

Compatibilism is sometimes called soft determinism pejoratively (William James's term). [17] James accused them of creating a "quagmire of evasion" by stealing the name of freedom to mask their underlying determinism. [17] Immanuel Kant called it a "wretched subterfuge" and "word jugglery". [18] Kant's argument turns on the view that, while all empirical phenomena must result from determining causes, human thought introduces something seemingly not found elsewhere in nature—the ability to conceive of the world in terms of how it ought to be, or how it might otherwise be. For Kant, subjective reasoning is necessarily distinct from how the world is empirically. Because of its capacity to distinguish is from ought, reasoning can 'spontaneously' originate new events without being itself determined by what already exists. [19] It is on this basis that Kant argues against a version of compatibilism in which, for instance, the actions of the criminal are comprehended as a blend of determining forces and free choice, which Kant regards as misusing the word "free". Kant proposes that taking the compatibilist view involves denying the distinctly subjective capacity to re-think an intended course of action in terms of what ought to happen. [18] Ted Honderich explains his view that the mistake of compatibilism is to assert that nothing changes as a consequence of determinism, when clearly we have lost the life-hope of origination. [20]

A prominent criticism of compatibilism is Peter van Inwagen's consequence argument.

See also

Related Research Articles

Immanuel Kant Prussian philosopher

Immanuel Kant was an influential German philosopher in the Age of Enlightenment. In his doctrine of transcendental idealism, he argued that space, time, and causation are mere sensibilities; "things-in-themselves" exist, but their nature is unknowable. In his view, the mind shapes and structures experience, with all human experience sharing certain structural features. He drew a parallel to the Copernican revolution in his proposition that worldly objects can be intuited a priori ('beforehand'), and that intuition is therefore independent from objective reality. Kant believed that reason is the source of morality, and that aesthetics arise from a faculty of disinterested judgment. Kant's views continue to have a major influence on contemporary philosophy, especially the fields of epistemology, ethics, political theory, and post-modern aesthetics.

Categorical imperative concept of Kantian philosophy

The categorical imperative is the central philosophical concept in the deontological moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant. Introduced in Kant's 1785 Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, it may be defined as a way of evaluating motivations for action.

Incompatibilism view that a deterministic universe is completely at odds with the notion that persons have a free will; that there is a dichotomy between determinism and free will where philosophers must choose one or the other

Incompatibilism is the view that a deterministic universe is completely at odds with the notion that persons have a free will; that there is a dichotomy between determinism and free will where philosophers must choose one or the other. This view is pursued in at least three ways: libertarians deny that the universe is deterministic, the hard determinists deny that any free will exists, and pessimistic incompatibilists deny both that the universe is determined and that free will exists.

Libertarianism (metaphysics)

Libertarianism is one of the main philosophical positions related to the problems of free will and determinism, which are part of the larger domain of metaphysics. In particular, libertarianism, which is an incompatibilist position, argues that free will is logically incompatible with a deterministic universe and that agents have free will, and that, therefore, determinism is false. One of the first clear formulations of libertarianism is found in John Duns Scotus; in theological context metaphysical libertarianism was notably defended by Jesuit authors like Luis de Molina and Francisco Suárez against rather compatibilist Thomist Báñezianism. Other important metaphysical libertarians in the early modern period were René Descartes, George Berkeley, Immanuel Kant, and Thomas Reid. Roderick Chisholm was a prominent defender of libertarianism in the 20th century, and contemporary libertarians include Robert Kane, Peter van Inwagen and Robert Nozick.

Hard determinism

Hard determinism is a view on free will which holds that determinism is true, and that it is incompatible with free will, and, therefore, that free will does not exist. Although hard determinism generally refers to nomological determinism, it can also be a position taken with respect to other forms of determinism that necessitate the future in its entirety. Hard determinism is contrasted with soft determinism, which is a compatibilist form of determinism, holding that free will may exist despite determinism. It is also contrasted with metaphysical libertarianism, the other major form of incompatibilism which holds that free will exists and determinism is false.

<i>Critique of Judgment</i> 1790 book by Immanuel Kant

The Critique of Judgment, also translated as the Critique of the Power of Judgment, is a 1790 book by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. Sometimes referred to as the "third critique," the Critique of Judgment follows the Critique of Pure Reason (1781) and the Critique of Practical Reason (1788).

Ted Honderich

Ted Honderich is a Canadian-born British philosopher, Grote Professor Emeritus of the Philosophy of Mind and Logic, University College London. His work has been mainly about five things: consciousness and mind, including the consciousness–brain relation; right and wrong in the contemporary world particularly with democracy, terrorism and war; advocacy of the Principle of Humanity; determinism and freedom; particular problems in logical analysis and metaphysics; the supposed justification of punishment by the state; the political tradition of conservatism. He has given lectures and talks in British, continental European, Irish, American, Canadian, Asian, Russian, and African universities.

Peter van Inwagen is an American analytic philosopher and the John Cardinal O'Hara Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He is also a Research Professor of Philosophy at Duke University each Spring. He previously taught at Syracuse University and earned his PhD from the University of Rochester in 1969 under the direction of Richard Taylor. Van Inwagen is one of the leading figures in contemporary metaphysics, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of action. He was the president of the Society of Christian Philosophers from 2010 to 2013.

Robert Hilary Kane is an American philosopher. He is Distinguished Teaching Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin, and is currently on phased retirement.

Theological determinism is a form of predeterminism which states that all events that happen are pre-ordained, or/and predestined to happen, by a God/gods, or that they are destined to occur given its omniscience. Theological determinism exists in a number of religions, including Jainism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is also supported by proponents of Classical pantheism such as the Stoics and Baruch Spinoza.

In philosophy, moral responsibility is the status of morally deserving praise, blame, reward, or punishment for an act or omission performed or neglected in accordance with one's moral obligations. Deciding what counts as "morally obligatory" is a principal concern of ethics.

Kantian ethics Ethical theory of Immanuel Kant

Kantian ethics refers to a deontological ethical theory ascribed to the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. The theory, developed as a result of Enlightenment rationalism, is based on the view that the only intrinsically good thing is a good will; an action can only be good if its maxim – the principle behind it – is duty to the moral law. Central to Kant's construction of the moral law is the categorical imperative, which acts on all people, regardless of their interests or desires. Kant formulated the categorical imperative in various ways. His principle of universalizability requires that, for an action to be permissible, it must be possible to apply it to all people without a contradiction occurring. If a contradiction occurs the act violates Aristotle's "Non-contradiction" concept which states that just actions cannot lead to contradictions. Kant's formulation of humanity, the second section of the Categorical Imperative, states that as an end in itself humans are required never to treat others merely as a means to an end, but always, additionally, as ends in themselves. The formulation of autonomy concludes that rational agents are bound to the moral law by their own will, while Kant's concept of the Kingdom of Ends requires that people act as if the principles of their actions establish a law for a hypothetical kingdom. Kant also distinguished between perfect and imperfect duties. A perfect duty, such as the duty not to lie, always holds true; an imperfect duty, such as the duty to give to charity, can be made flexible and applied in particular time and place.

John Martin Fischer is an American philosopher. He is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Riverside and a leading contributor to the philosophy of free will and moral responsibility.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to metaphysics:

Alvin Plantingas free-will defense

Alvin Plantinga's free-will defense is a logical argument developed by the American analytic philosopher Alvin Plantinga and published in its final version in his 1977 book God, Freedom, and Evil. Plantinga's argument is a defense against the logical problem of evil as formulated by the philosopher J. L. Mackie beginning in 1955. Mackie's formulation of the logical problem of evil argued that three attributes of God, omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence, in orthodox Christian theism are logically incompatible with the existence of evil. In 1982, Mackie conceded that Plantinga's defense successfully refuted his argument in The Miracle of Theism, though he did not claim that the problem of evil had been put to rest.

Illusionism is a metaphysical theory first propounded by professor Saul Smilansky of the University of Haifa. It holds that people have illusory beliefs about free will. Furthermore, it holds that it is both of key importance and morally right that people not be disabused of these beliefs, because the illusion has benefits both to individuals and to society. Belief in hard incompatibilism, argues Smilansky, removes an individual's basis for a sense of self-worth in his or her own achievements. It is "extremely damaging to our view of ourselves, to our sense of achievement, worth, and self-respect".

The consequence argument is an argument against compatibilism popularised by Peter van Inwagen. The argument claims that if agents have no control over the facts of the past then the agent has no control of the consequences of those facts.

References

  1. Coates, D. Justin; McKenna, Michael (February 25, 2015). "Compatibilism". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  2. 1 2 Podgorski, Daniel (October 16, 2015). "Free Will Twice Defined: On the Linguistic Conflict of Compatibilism and Incompatibilism". The Gemsbok. Retrieved March 7, 2016.
  3. Locke, John (1690). The Second Treatise of Civil Government.
  4. Ricardo Salles, "Compatibilism: Stoic and modern." Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 83.1 (2001): 1-23.
  5. As long as determinism is here understood as the principle that "nothing happens without a cause". Cf. e.g. Summa contra gentiles, the part about Providence, c. 88-91. See also Free will#Free will as a psychological state. In times of the Counter-Reformation views which were close to compatibilism were held openly by at least two Catholic orders: the Jesuits (molinism) and the Dominicans.
  6. Michael McKenna: Compatibilism. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edward N. Zalta (ed.). 2009.
  7. Kane, Robert (2005). A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will. Oxford University Press. p. 93. ISBN   978-0-19-514970-8.
  8. Kane 2005, p. 83
  9. Kane 2005, p. 94
  10. Kane 2005, pp. 98, 101, 107, 109.
  11. Schopenhauer, Arthur (1945). "On the Freedom of the Will". The Philosophy of American History : The Historical Field Theory. Translated by Morris Zucker. p. 531.
  12. Harry G. Frankfurt (1969). "Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility," Journal of Philosophy 66 (3):829-39.
  13. Ridge, Michael (3 February 2014). "Moral Non-Naturalism". The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  14. Lemos, John (2002). "Evolution and Free Will: A Defense of Darwinian Non–naturalism". Metaphilosophy. 33 (4): 468–482. doi:10.1111/1467-9973.00240. ISSN   1467-9973.
  15. Nida-Rümelin, Julian (1 January 2019). "The Reasons Account of Free Will A Libertarian-Compatibilist Hybrid". Archiv fuer Rechts- und Sozialphilosphie. 105 (1): 3–10. doi:10.25162/arsp-2019-0001 . Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  16. Stump, Eleonore (1996). "Libertarian Freedom and the Principle of Alternative Possibilities". In Howard-Snyder, Daniel; Jordan, Jeff (eds.). Faith, Freedom, and Rationality. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield. pp. 73–88.
  17. 1 2 James, William. 1884 "The Dilemma of Determinism", Unitarian Review, September, 1884. Reprinted in The Will to Believe, Dover, 1956, p.149
  18. 1 2 Kant, Immanuel 1788 (1952).The Critique of Practical Reason, in Great Books of the Western World, vol. 42, Kant, Univ. of Chicago, p. 332
  19. Kant, Immanuel 1781 (1949).The Critique of Pure Reason, trans. Max Mueller, p. 448
  20. Honderich, Ted 1988 The Consequences of Determinism, p.169