Monday, December 08, 2008

Should incompatibilists be libertarians

This is to be found in Hasker's book Metaphysics.

1. If determinism is true, then human beings are not responsible for their actions.
2. But it is clear that human beings are responsible for their actions.
3. Therefore determinism is false.

1. If determinism is true, then human beings are not responsible for their actions.
2. But is is clear that we ought to believe that human beings are responsible for their actions.
3. Therefore, we ought to believe that determinism is false.

Let us assume that a person is persuaded that incompatibilism is true. If that is so, then do we accept, in the absence of overwhelming evidence that determinism is true, that it is false.

11 comments:

unkle e said...

The atheists I know would say:

1. If determinism is true then human beings are not responsible for their actions.
2. But human society cannot survive if people don't believe they are responsible for their actions.
3. Therefore human beings are not responsible for their actions but most will believe that they are.

The only response to that may be John Polkinghorne's:

"there is an implausibility in those who seek to reduce parts of such experience to the status of epiphenomenal, an implausibility repeatedly exemplified by our inability outside our studies to live other than as people endowed with free agency and reason."

One Brow said...

Apparently, you don't know what atheists would say.

For example, I happen to think accept both determinism and that I am responsible for my actions. Determinism is means that the exercise of your free will have a determined result.

Steven Carr said...

God created the world in which he knew that Unkle E would freely write the post he did.

God could have chosen to create the world in which he knew that Unkle E would freely choose not to write that post.

God chooses which world to create, and , hey presto, it is pre-determined which way Unkle E will freely choose.

William Lane Craig expresses it better than I can.


'In virtue of His knowledge of counterfactuals of creaturely freedom and His freedom to decree that certain circumstances exist and certain free creatures be placed in those circumstances, God is able to bring about indirectly that events occur which He knew would happen as a direct result of the particular decisions which those creatures would freely make in those circumstances.'

God simply placed Unkle E in those circumstances in which Unkle E would freely choose to write a post, and God let events unfold.

God decreed the circumstances, and Unkle then did what God knew he would do in those circumstances.

If God had decreed different circumstances, Unkle would have done something different.

God pulls the string and Unkle dances.

Gordon Knight said...

Yes Molinism is not that different from determinism.

In fact, according to Molinism there is a dual cause for each free action. God and the creature. Some people think this is somehow a good idea (God places the nazis in that very place so they can exercise their free will and kill and torture0

Its prima facie absurd to me

Steven Carr said...

But granted an omniscient being (not necessarily God) , and an omnipotent God, and libertarian free will, then Molinism is trivially true.

Which is a problem for libertarians who think people should be responsible for what happens, when they also believe in a God who decides what world to create.

Gordon Knight said...

Molinism is not trivially true if it is impossible. Omniscience does not imply that God can know propositions are true if it turns out that none of them are true or that they don't have a truth value at all.

Here is the grounding objection in a nutshell: What would make a counterfactual of freedom true?

Well you could say its the character of the agent, or laws of nature, or God's will. Maybe God perceives that there is something aobut the essence of the yet to be created being that makes it such that the person would act in this way.

But all of these alternatives conflict with libertarian freedom.

Molina himself said that Molinism involves the claim that God can "supercomprehend"--that is know with certainty something that is in itself uncertain. But that is impossible.

Steven Carr said...

'Molinism is not trivially true if it is impossible. Omniscience does not imply that God can know propositions are true if it turns out that none of them are true or that they don't have a truth value at all.'

Molinism is the doctrine that in certain circumstances X, a free agent will choose one particular way, A.

But the circumstances X necessarily include an omniscient being who knows what A will choose, with simple foresight.

So all we have to do to find out the 'counterfactual of freedom' of that agent in those exact circumstances is to interrogate the content of the omniscient being who exists in those circumstances.

If there is no 'truth of the matter' about how an agent will choose in circumstances X, then those circumstances cannot include a being who knows what X will choose.

But it is Christian dogma that in all logically possible circumstances there necessarily exists a being who necessarily knows what will happen.

Gordon Knight said...

Steven,

You give the traditional Christian view but there are alternatives,e.g open theism.

The whole point of the critique is that, assuming libertarian freedom, there is no way for anyone (you, me, God, whoever) to know what that person will choose before they choose it.
Perhaps the criticism is wrong, but to address it you need to show how counterfactuals of freedom can possibly have a truth value.

Steven Carr said...

'The whole point of the critique is that, assuming libertarian freedom, there is no way for anyone (you, me, God, whoever) to know what that person will choose before they choose it.'

That does imply an omniscient being that does not know the future.

Which makes a god prone to embarrassment.

If somebody prays to this God for guidance, and this god then says they should follow course of action X, then course of action X could lead to catastrophe.

God could only turn around and say that he just didn't expect that to happen. He thought his advice was good, but he is not a fortune-teller.

If libertarian freedom means that you literally cannot know what you are going to do next, then life would be a nightmare.

You could kill people , having no idea that you were going to do that. It just happened out of the blue.

At least you could never be charged with premeditated murder....

Gordon Knight said...

Lib. free will does not deny that people act in accordance with their character, usually. It does not deny probability judgements about how a person will behave. To categorize it that way is ludicrous. But it does involve the claim that, in case of a free choice, i have it in my power to choose otherwise--i may usually act in accord with my character, but it is not a certainty.

This may not be true. but in that case God determines the child rapist's actions--as God does according to Molinism (there are two causes, the free choice of the rapist, and God's free choice of placing the rapist in that situation).

Colloquially, the free will defense is used to try to show that God is "off the hook" with respect to human evil. But paradoxically Molinism, while allowing free will, also insists that God is a concommittant cause of all evil. I know this is the tradition, but, as the esteemed gov. of Illinois might put it, its bleeping crazy.

Bert said...

We ought to accept responsibility and hold others responsible for moral and practical reasons regardless of physics or the existence or non-existence of libertarian freewill.

Conversely, we may certainly reject determinism on rational grounds but having a well-meaning moral agenda to justify potential scientific untruths is ironic.