Thursday, March 25, 2010

More on those flickers of freedom

Why not say the "flicker of freedom" is enough for responsibility?

Steven: Because it is "repugnant to the intellect", as Plantinga once said (though about something else).







If you are so set in your ways about PAP, then of course you'd think that a flicker of freedom is robust enough to ground responsibility. You'd rather have that then compatibilism. But I'd say you're just being wild, at that point. Blinded to reason and unable to form sound judgment.






It is hard to see how people in Frankfurt cases are responsible in virtue of that fact they can either X or begin to form an intention to not-X and then be manipulated into X-ing.






That seems outrageous. Like Fischer says, getting responsibility from flickers of freedom is akin to alchemy.




VR: I don't see any arguments here at all. Is my position self-contradictory? Are there any fundamental principles of logic I have violated? My central point is that Frankfurt counterexamples are abnormal cases. We take a principle that we use in ordinary circumstances (I couldn't have finished my assignment, because I was in the hospital because of a car accident), the Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP) and we ask how we are going to apply that principle to bizarro cases where there's a Controller who would have prevented me from carrying out my action if I had started to will it. The "flicker" shows that there WAS an alternative possibility, and comparisons to alchemy and insistence that I can't reason soundly are not going to undermine this fact.



It's a little bit like the Thomsonian intuition pump with the violinist. Someone who is firmly enough convinced of the overriding character of the right to life can simply say "No. you don't have the right to get up and walk away. The violinist has a right to life, you're violating that right if you walk off." If you are prepared to go to the mat for the principle of the right to life, you can resist the violinist argument. No amount of ridicule from the other side will dissuade you, or should dissuade you.



Or consider people who say that we have to give up on the law of non-contradiction because of the liar paradox. If we look at all the things we do with the law of non-contradiction, and its role in making discourse even possible, it looks to me as if, even if I don't have a nice neat solution to the liar paradox, I shouldn't just trash the law of non-contradiction.



Look at what we do with PAP on a daily basis. "I'm sorry, I didn't have a choice. I had to.... so I couldn't...." How many times do we say "I couldn't help it?" Why did Flip Wilson build an entire career out of the phrase "The Devil made me do it." Because if the Devil really did make you do it, you're not responsible, or so we ordinarily think.



In fact, earlier versions of compatibilism prior to Frankfurt, such as those of A. J. Ayer, affirmed PAP but argued that the alternative possibility statements had suppressed "if" clauses. "I would have done otherwise if I had wanted to."



What has always seeemed correct to me is that puppets, including conscious or willing puppets, are not responsible, and this is so whether or not there is a someone pulling the strings. This seems more evident to me that any result that might be generated by the Frankfurtian intuition pump. Because it is a set of intuition pumps, and the cases are deliberately contrived, I have trouble seeing how they can undermine so basic a principle.

33 comments:

Steven said...

I don't see any arguments here at all. Is my position self-contradictory? Are there any fundamental principles of logic I have violated?

No, it isn't any of those things, just really counterintuitive.

My central point is that Frankfurt counterexamples are abnormal cases.

I'm not sure what's so "abnormal" about them. Counterfactual interveners are strange, sure, and maybe a bit sci-fi, but there are lots of strange and wild counterexamples to any number of positions or principles in all of philosophy.

Plantinga gives some very off-the-wall counterexamples to Chisolm's internalism in Warrant: The Current Debate, involving Alpha Centuarian overlords, strange men who force themselves to abstain from believing the appropriate things in response to clear sense experience, etc. What kind of objection is it to his counterexamples to say that they are strange cases? And what kind of objection is it to his counterexamples to say that Chisolm's deontological approach makes a lot of sense of clear cases of irrationality, so we'd better just deny his conclusions in his counterexamples?

Furthermore, it seems like a compatibilist could respond in an identical way to Pereboom's four-case argument: neuroscientists constantly monitoring my brain activity--that sure sounds like a strange case. And jeez, our compatibilist analysis really makes a lot of sense of ordinary every-day free action. So we might as well just bite the bullet?

Is that reasonable? I don't know, I am inclined to think not.

So, my point: the fact that Frankfurt cases are "abnormal" says nothing about them. If we throw out abnormal counterexamples to principles and positions, we'd throw out a whole lot of counterexamples, including libertarian counterexamples to compatibilist accounts of freedom. But should we really throw out the use of a strange or sci-fi counterexample? I don't think so.

Besides that, there can be Frankfurt cases where the alternative possibility is so insignificant as to basically be nothing at all. I came up with on my own blog not too long ago; you can check it out if you want. Just imagine that the time between the agent's starting a process of forming an intention to not-X and the intervener's stepping in is so short as to be phenomenologically undetectable--quicker than an Old West shootout in a spaghetti western. Is that really why we think he is responsible? Because he has that option open to him--beginning to form an intention though he won't know it or be aware of it?

That seems wild to me. Of course, you can stick to your guns, and hold that such an alternate possibility is what grounds his responsibility. I don't know what to say from there except that I don't share your intuitions.

In fact, earlier versions of compatibilism prior to Frankfurt, such as those of A. J. Ayer, affirmed PAP but argued that the alternative possibility statements had suppressed "if" clauses. "I would have done otherwise if I had wanted to."

Well Frankfurt cases apply equally to compatibilisms like Ayer's. Perhaps the fact that there are now compatibilisms that go on without reference to AP says something about the persuasive power of Frankfurt cases, and indirectly thereby they say something about those who insist that flickers of freedom are sufficient for responsibility.

You can stick to your guns about PAP, sure, but Frankfurt cases generally are thought of as intuitive and persuasive, and the flickers of freedom defense seems dogmatic.

bossmanham said...

On my evaluation of the Frankfurt cases, I have concluded that they show the exact opposite of what they are intended to show. As you say, Dr. Reppert, there actually does exist freedom in the Frankfurt examples. As I've told Steven before, in the Frankfurt examples there is no way to show that compatibilism is possible because there actually exists LFW but then it's removed by the determiner. If the individual depicted in these cases has a free process of reasoning then what we actually have is libertarian free will, but with an intervention by an external agent if the free will chooses the wrong way. So we have LFW, but then it is removed at the moment of decision only if the wrong one is made, making the determiner the causal agent and removing Smith's responsibility.

bossmanham said...

And this would defeat the compatibilist's whole point.

Steven said...

Brennon:

Just imagine a Frankfurt case where the counterfactual intervener is God. If S will do anything but X, then God intervenes. But if S will do X, then God doesn't intervene.

VR won't buy it because he's an open theist, or may as well be, but you on the other hand are not. So you'll have to deal with a Frankfurt-style case where there actually are no AP at all.

bossmanham said...

Just imagine a Frankfurt case where the counterfactual intervener is God. If S will do anything but X, then God intervenes. But if S will do X, then God doesn't intervene.

That's primarily what I have in mind here. If God acts in this way then the person has LFW until they choose contrary to what God wants, then God removes all responsibility by causally changing the will of the person. So that person actually wouldn't have chosen that, but God caused him to, stripping all responsibility from that person. God is then the causal agent, and therefore responsible for whatever.

Steven said...


That's primarily what I have in mind here. If God acts in this way then the person has LFW until they choose contrary to what God wants, then God removes all responsibility by causally changing the will of the person. So that person actually wouldn't have chosen that, but God caused him to, stripping all responsibility from that person. God is then the causal agent, and therefore responsible for whatever.


But God has foreknowledge, right, so he could have intervened and caused a causally deterministic process ending in S's X-ing long before S ever existed, not just when he sees S will not-X. In which case it isn't true that S would have LFW or alternate possibilities, because it would not have been possible at all for him to have begun to form an intention to not-X.

bossmanham said...

But God has foreknowledge, right, so he could have intervened and caused a causally deterministic process ending in S's X-ing long before S ever existed, not just when he sees S will not-X. In which case it isn't true that S would have LFW or alternate possibilities, because it would not have been possible at all for him to have begun to form an intention to not-X.

Well I think when God wants to intervene in human events and wants to preserve human freedom then I think He can act in many many ways in order to ensure that His purposes are fulfilled (like pleace people in situations where He knows they will do A if in situation B). I think the proposition that the only thing He can do is to causally change the will of man is constraining God's power.

Steven said...

Well I think when God wants to intervene in human events and wants to preserve human freedom then I think He can act in many many ways in order to ensure that His purposes are fulfilled (like pleace people in situations where He knows they will do A if in situation B). I think the proposition that the only thing He can do is to causally change the will of man is constraining God's power.

I didn't say the only thing God can do to get his purposes met is to causally determine the wills of men. I said imagine some circumstances where those are the options--either he knows they will A and does nothing, or he sees they will not-A and causally determines them to A before they existed. In such circumstances there literally are no AP available to them.

Victor Reppert said...

You have to remember that a lot of people in the philosophical community who are philosophical naturalists, who think that there is no metaphysical basis for free will in the libertarian sense. J. P. Moreland has shown, I believe, that LFW just doesn't comport very well with naturalistic atheism. So it is understandable that a lot of secular philosophers are in the same boat with Calvinists; they want to at least say the believe in free will and moral responsibility even though their world-view doesn't permit LFW.

A lot of philosophers, though, think that Hume had a really great argument against miracles, or that dualism can't possibly can't be true because we don't know how the body and soul interact, or that materialism is obviously true in the philosophy of mind because the progress of science proves it, etc. People want to think that their world-view supports free will and moral responsibility, but I actually think the world view undercuts any robust sense of desert.

There's also one other troubling feature of these counterexamples: they assume that the controller isn't free. Because if he is free, then the examples depend upon the truth of counterfactuals of freedom which, the compatibilist contends, are ungrounded.

What I think you're missing in my analysis of the situation is the ordinary use of the PAP in our daily lives. How do you handle perfectly normal cases where we apply the principle? Before I worry about my view because of your abnormal cases, I want to know how you deal with perfectly normal cases where we excuse someone's action because an alternative course of action wasn't available?

Steven said...

You have to remember that a lot of people in the philosophical community who are philosophical naturalists, who think that there is no metaphysical basis for free will in the libertarian sense. J. P. Moreland has shown, I believe, that LFW just doesn't comport very well with naturalistic atheism. So it is understandable that a lot of secular philosophers are in the same boat with Calvinists; they want to at least say the believe in free will and moral responsibility even though their world-view doesn't permit LFW.

I don't know what you're getting at here, because your original complaint was about Frankfurt cases being strange, and now you are talking about LFW not fitting in well with naturalism. (I'm not sure why it wouldn't fit well with naturalism, but I won't bother about that.) Maybe I'll have to read the relevant Moreland.)

Do you mean to say that the reason Frankfurt cases are so persuasive to some is because they already know PAP doesn't fit well in naturalism, so naturally they'd think PAP is false?

I don't think their considerations about naturalism or whatever affect or inform their intuitions regarding Frankfurt cases, because theists and atheists alike have the same response to Frankfurt cases, and not only theists who are Calvinists. William Lane Craig thinks Frankfurt cases show PAP is false and not required for libertarianism, and Peter van Inwagen thinks that Frankfurt cases have not been successfully responded to by libertarians, which suggests he thinks they have some power. But he is neither a naturalist nor a Calvinist.

A lot of philosophers, though, think that Hume had a really great argument against miracles, or that dualism can't possibly can't be true because we don't know how the body and soul interact, or that materialism is obviously true in the philosophy of mind because the progress of science proves it, etc. People want to think that their world-view supports free will and moral responsibility, but I actually think the world view undercuts any robust sense of desert.

I am not sure what this has to do with flickers of freedom or anything else I wrote.

There's also one other troubling feature of these counterexamples: they assume that the controller isn't free. Because if he is free, then the examples depend upon the truth of counterfactuals of freedom which, the compatibilist contends, are ungrounded.

Are you suggesting that a Frankfurt case where there is an agent controller fails because there'd have to be true statements about what the agent would do if this, or if that, and there are none if the agent is free?

I suggested a Frankfurt case where the controller is not an agent at all on my blog, so mine is immune to such an objection.

What I think you're missing in my analysis of the situation is the ordinary use of the PAP in our daily lives. How do you handle perfectly normal cases where we apply the principle? Before I worry about my view because of your abnormal cases, I want to know how you deal with perfectly normal cases where we excuse someone's action because an alternative course of action wasn't available?

I don't need to have a theory of responsibility worked out in order to show that one is inadequate. I haven't done a tremendous amount of reading on this, but I like Fischer's account of guidance control (which involves what he calls weak reasons-responsiveness), which makes no reference to alternate possibilities but rather to the process of practical reasoning that issued in the action.

J said...

A lot of philosophers, though, think that Hume had a really great argument against miracles or that dualism can't possibly can't be true because we don't know how the body and soul interact, or that materialism is obviously true in the philosophy of mind because the progress of science proves it, etc. People want to think that their world-view supports free will and moral responsibility, but I actually think the world view undercuts any robust sense of desert.

Perhaps the secular compatibilist can't justify the moral responsibility or 'desert" that VR considers important--. But that doesn't mean he's therefore committed to nihilism. VR wants to suggest (as do most fundamentalists) that only a religious grounding for morality (ethics, justice, etc) matters, or suffices. ...Alas the history of the Church (prot. and catholic, and jew and muslim as well)) provides quite a bit of evidence showing how unfeasible that view is...really one might argue that the secular jurisprudence of Jefferson/Madison (not far removed from compatibilism, ala the empiricists, of the "moral" sort such as Locke, Hobbes, etc.) resulted in a more just society than did the puritan theocracy (or the earlier catholic canonical law..Bourbons etc). Sharia's all about moral responsibility....the Constitution on the other hand upholds contractual obligations...

Steven said...

What I think you're missing in my analysis of the situation is the ordinary use of the PAP in our daily lives. How do you handle perfectly normal cases where we apply the principle? Before I worry about my view because of your abnormal cases, I want to know how you deal with perfectly normal cases where we excuse someone's action because an alternative course of action wasn't available?

Also consider if Chisolm or BonJour responded to Plantinga's counterexamples in his book in the above way. Suppose Plantinga never offered an account of what warrant was. Does that invalidate his counterexamples at all, take away from their force, leave his opponents within their rights to remain faithful and devoted internalists, etc.? I'm not so sure that it does.

J said...

Factor Plantinga's ...G*d into the equation, or quasi-equation and the discussion's effectively been terminated. The calvinist does not limit his King-G*d to any human conception of justice--what is the term--unconditional Election. Grace is not earned for the calvinist but given, like a king--or pope, really--extending out his hand to the commoners (and really many catholics are really crypto-calvinists as well, just with the sacred cracker requirement---take brunch at La Misa's, and everything's cool).

So G*d wants to put Mama Theresa in Hell, he does, or rather the calvinist-sunday schooler does, since the calvinist G*d's an invention to help european monarchs....

Victor Reppert said...

The counterexamples don't do their job unless they show responsibility without alternative possibilities. If we say no there are alternative possibilities, the subject is changed and we are told that the alternative possibilities aren't robust enough. But PAP doesn't say anything about how robust the alternative possibilities have to be, it just says there has to be alternative possibilities for responsibility. The counterexamples don't do the job they were set out to do. QED.

In spite of the later misgivings expressed by Bill Hasker about his own response to Fischer on the flicker of freedom strategy, I think his comments on pp. 86-93 of The Emergent Self are right on target.

aletheist said...

Frankfurt cases fail as counterexamples to PAP because the only thing that will (supposedly) trigger the intervention is the agent's non-action; i.e., the very thing that the intervener is supposed to render impossible. Unless determinism is presupposed, which would obviously beg the question, the agent always retains the ability to refrain from performing the action intentionally and voluntarily - which is the requirement for moral responsibility that PAP is meant to express.

Steven said...

The counterexamples don't do their job unless they show responsibility without alternative possibilities. If we say no there are alternative possibilities, the subject is changed and we are told that the alternative possibilities aren't robust enough. But PAP doesn't say anything about how robust the alternative possibilities have to be, it just says there has to be alternative possibilities for responsibility. The counterexamples don't do the job they were set out to do. QED.

It'd be sufficient as a counterexample to PAP to show that someone is responsible yet not because of the available alternative possibilities; you don't need to show that there are none at all.

Formally stated, PAP just says that a person is responsible for an act only if he could have done otherwise. I take that to mean that a person, if he is responsible, is response by virtue of the fact that he had some alternative possibility open to him. It'd be sufficient for a counterexample to point out a case where S is responsible for X-ing yet not because he could not-X.

Also, the only reason you are immune to a Frankfurt-style case really with no AP is because you are an open theist.

Finally, it is just clear to me that merely having alternative possibilities is not sufficient for moral responsibility. Say I have a choice about whether or not I will murder some loved one of yours, and my options are: (a) murder your loved one, or (b) roast a chicken and murder your loved one. Those are the two options open to me at that time, and I choose the former.

Am I really going to be responsible for the action because I have those options open to me? If you don't see anything wrong with that, I don't know what I can say, but it does not bode well with my soul. It seems rather that if I were to be responsible for the act, then it'd be because of something else--maybe my desires, maybe the process of practical reasoning that resulted in the action, whatever--but not because those were my choices.

Steven said...

Besides all that, the Frankfurt case I gave is such that, if there is an AP to be had there, then it is so insignificant as to be virtually nonexistent.

Victor Reppert said...

PAP was never a sufficient condition for responsiblity.

If some other solution to the foreknowledge problem can give choices determined by us, in spite of the fact that God knows those truths, in short if you can defeat the arguments in Hasker's God, Time and Knowledge (end every Molinist, Ockhamist, and eternity solutionist thinks you can do just that), then the analogy to the Frankfurt controller would break down. Hasker has to be right about the problems with these positions in order for your claim to work.

Victor Reppert said...

Does it make sense for an agent to begin a process without being aware of it? If that were true, it wouldn't be a real action, and the agent would not be responsible.

Another significant piece of evidence for me is the fact that if compatibilism were really true, then God could have created the world in such a way that everyone freely does what his right. So either God isn't good, or there is something more to responsible action than compatibilist free will.

Steven said...

PAP was never a sufficient condition for responsiblity.

Well, suppose we have some case (like a Frankfurt case) where an agent is responsible, and there was an AP open to him. We can ask the question: would he still be responsible, intuitively, if we remove this AP? In Frankfurt cases, it seems like the answer to that question is yes, so even if they are not sufficient, neither are they necesssary. He is responsible, but the AP isn't what makes him responsible, and neither does it seem necessary for what does make him responsible. They (AP) don't ground the responsibility of the agent, and they are not necessary for what does ground the responsibility of the agent, so they are not necessary simpliciter.

Does it make sense for an agent to begin a process without being aware of it? If that were true, it wouldn't be a real action, and the agent would not be responsible.

Fine then, good for me, because in my Frankfurt case, there really are no AP. :) Good.

So let's say you read my Frankfurt case. The intuition is that he is responsible. So he can be responsible and have zero AP. In which case PAP is false.

Another significant piece of evidence for me is the fact that if compatibilism were really true, then God could have created the world in such a way that everyone freely does what his right. So either God isn't good, or there is something more to responsible action than compatibilist free will.

God could have good reasons for not creating a world where everyone freely does what is right, despite being able to do so. So that is a false dichotomy.

J said...

"moral responsibility"--according to who? A judge? The agent-person himself? The community? History?...G*d?

Besides, the final results (ie "goodness") of an act might not be known, for years, if ever. Say one Jean Valjean regularly steals some groceries and other necessaries to feed his starving family. Maybe he could do differently--or can he?--he's certainly responding to a situation, poverty--, and they starve, or are forced into the street. Yet at the same time his regular thefts say put small grocery stores out of business...

And they get healthy, and prosper, get an education. One goes on to be a doctor, discovers a new medicine, cures cancer, etc. Even if Valjean was caught, tried, goes to prison for a while--branded a serial shoplifter, his pic posted in local newspapers, etc--his theft helped out his children.

When does the assessment of moral responsibility begin...from whose perspective, etc.

The hypothetical, like most philosophical fictions allows the philosophaster (or theo-businessman) to play G*d hisself, at least for a few minutes a day

bossmanham said...

But Steven, it's been shown here that these Frankfurt cases don't show what you want them to show. There is an AP in actuality, it is just that one is prevented from doing it by a determiner if they are going to choose it.

Steven said...

But Steven, it's been shown here that these Frankfurt cases don't show what you want them to show. There is an AP in actuality, it is just that one is prevented from doing it by a determiner if they are going to choose it.

(i) It is not clear that there is an AP available in my Frankfurt case.

(ii) There definitely are no AP in a Frankfurt case where the intervener is God.

(iii) I argued that even if there is an alternative possibility, it doesn't follow that PAP is not refuted. We should inquire into what exactly makes the agent responsible, and whether or not he'd be responsible if we removed the AP. And it is my intuition that Frankfurt cases do just this: they show us how an agent could responsible, and his responsibility is not grounded in his having an alternate possibility, nor is it necessar for what does ground his responsibility that he has an alternate possibility.

J said...

there may be the appearance of alternatives, but the supposed "freedom" of the agent's another issue, which most of the theo-types are missing.

as with Valjean--he and his family can starve, OR he can rob grocery stores. For many desperate perps, that's a real situation (not hypothetical). It's more like a gambling scenario--tho' Valjean's coerced into making a choice, into betting on his own skills as a thief.....

He's not "perfectly at liberty" or whatever the religious types want to say; he responds to socio-economic conditions, usually (at least in criminal sort of scenarios).

steve said...

[Reppert] "Another significant piece of evidence for me is the fact that if compatibilism were really true, then God could have created the world in such a way that everyone freely does what his right. So either God isn't good, or there is something more to responsible action than compatibilist free will."

But, of course, William Lane Craig has admitted the same thing with respect to libertarianism. Therefore, that objection cuts both ways.

Why do you keep repeating bad arguments? Is it because bad arguments are the only arguments you have at your disposal?

Victor Reppert said...

Remember, Steve, that Bill Craig's scenario is Molinism. And does he reject Plantinga's argument that a world in which everyone freely does what is right might not be in God's power to actualize, in virtue of the fact that every creaturely essence might suffer from Transworld Depravity? In other words, when God looks into his Middlescope to see what worlds are possible, he concludes that there are no worlds in which everyone freely does what is right? Can you give me chapter and verse on where Craig says that the world in which everyone freely does what is right is possible for God to actualize, and that God choose a world with sinners as opposed to a world with no sinners?

Well, of course there's the argument that the Fall is really a good thing overall, because it opens the door for the Incarnation of the Second Person, which Plantinga has endorsed. I don't buy this at all. Interestingly enough, C. S. Lewis's Perelandra a rebuttal to that that theory. As I recall the story, the Un-Man, who is Weston's Body taken over by the Bent Eldil (in other words Satan), uses felix culpa type arguments to persaude the Green Lady (the Venusian Eve) to fall. (It will really do good for you to fall, in fact, it will do so much good that God Himself, in the Second Person, actually came to the Third Planet).

We do have goods that arose as as response to the Fall, involving the Incarnation, but we do not have a basis for comparing what did happen to what would have happened had there been no Fall.

So why do I repeat bad arguments? Because people like yourselves haven't persuaded me that they are bad arguments. Just because you produce a rebuttal doesn't mean that I have to slap my forehead and say "I never thought of that."

Victor Reppert said...

If you really say that there were literally no alternative possiblities, and there wasn't even a flicker of freedom, then as an incompatibilist I have to say "not responsible." At that point the intuition pump doesn't pump.

And it's rather odd for Calvinists to be making intuitive appeals anyway. Look, people are supposed to be damnable for committing sins that God is praiseworthy for predestining. So you can think that the passage of the health care bill was bad, and yet God not only predestined that it would pass, he predestined that it would pass by a 219-213 vote, and that the pro-life Democrats would work out a deal with Obama to get an executive order signed to prevent public funding of abortions as a result of the bill's passage.

bossmanham said...

We should inquire into what exactly makes the agent responsible, and whether or not he'd be responsible if we removed the AP

If the determiner (in this case God) changes the decision of the person by force (ie the person was going to choose otherwise) then it takes responsibility away from that person and lays it on the causal reason for that choice, namely God. Again, the Frankfurt case fails to show that responsibility would remain with the one whose choice was changed. I think it shows the exact opposite.

Steven said...

If you really say that there were literally no alternative possiblities, and there wasn't even a flicker of freedom, then as an incompatibilist I have to say "not responsible." At that point the intuition pump doesn't pump.

This is what I mean when I said that you are blinded to reason and unable to form sound judgment. I didn't mean that literally, you are blinded and deluded, or anything of that sort. But that you are impossible to argue with.

Imagine anyone who offers some sort of principle P for anything whatsoever, and someone else offers a counterexample to P. The defender of P can stick to his guns and just deny that it is a counterexample, sure, but he's being irrational, or else something bad like that, especially when intuitively it is a counterexample.

It is just the consensus, I'd say, that Frankfurt cases are intuitive cases where agents are free and either lack AP or else are not free because they have AP. You can deny that they are responsible, surely, but you are not going where the majority of people's intuitions lie.

Just imagine Roderick Chisolm accepting the fact that the dutiful agent in Plantinga's silly counterexamples really has knowledge in those cases, or really is behaving rationally, etc. Does that seem reasonable? No, not to me. Neither does your position, though.

I'd like to know what it is about the folk in Frankfurt-style cases that makes them responsible, VR, and why you think AP is necessary for that, if it isn't sufficient. I'm going to venture to say that if we come up with a good account, we'll find AP is not necessary.

If the determiner (in this case God) changes the decision of the person by force (ie the person was going to choose otherwise) then it takes responsibility away from that person and lays it on the causal reason for that choice, namely God. Again, the Frankfurt case fails to show that responsibility would remain with the one whose choice was changed. I think it shows the exact opposite.

Frankfurt cases don't try to show that an agent is responsible in the case where he is manipulated. Just that he is responsible in the case where he isn't manipulated, and it isn't because he has AP.

Victor Reppert said...

First, we have to come up with an account of responsiblity that accounts for all the times when we absolve people of responsiblity on the grounds that they couldn't help it. On the face of things, every time we tell a teacher we have good reason not to be penalized for turning a paper in late, we are appealing to the principle of alternate possibilities. So before I start worrying about Frankfurt cases, I want to know what the opponent of PAP's story is on normal, everyday cases. Why does it suffice to say that I couldn't attend class because I was in the hospital and couldn't get out in time to attend? Why don't we say "That's still your fault. Just because you couldn't have attended class because you were in the hospital doesn't mean that you are free of responsiblity for showing up for class?" When people make excuses for failure to perform, we may in fact think that they aren't telling is the truth, or, at least, the whole story. But if Flip Wilson's Geraldine is right that the devil made her buy the dress, then we'd have to say she's not responsible. Otherwise, she wouldn't be even bothering to use that as an excuse. I'd like to tell the compatiblist "You explain our ordinary excuse-making and excuse evaluating practices, before I have to explain what is supposed to be happening in Frankfurt cases. I'm not saying this can't be done; I am saying we need to deal with normal cases before we deal with Frankfurt cases.

Second, I take it that one critical element of a responsible choice is deliberation. It at least has to be possible for the agent to deliberate. Indeed there is a class of actions which are rightly criticized because the agent didn't deliberate before acting, so there is a kind of sub-choice as to whether or not to deliberate. The Murder 1/ Murder 2 distinction suggests that we don't accord the highest level of moral responsibility in the absence of deliberation.

Which brings us to our Frankfurt cases. Let's say the Devil is our controller. Tiger, a married man, is being tempted to commit adultery with a cocktail waitress named Jaimee. As it happens, the Devil intends to make Tiger commit adultery unless he chooses freely to do so. He deliberates on the possibility of committing adultery, and then what? The moment he starts to take the possibility of not committing adultery seriously in the course of his deliberations, the Devil steps in and makes him do it? But the deliberation and serious consideration of the alternative is what might have been required to make him responsible in the first place, or at least fully responsible. So in order stay in keeping with the concept of responsibility embedded in the murder 1-2 distinction, the Devil can't step in until his adulterous action is fully premeditated. So that means the Devil can only step in and make him do it once he begins the process of choosing to refrain from the adultery. But if that has happened, he has already performed an alternative act of will.

Which means, that if Tiger ever figures out about what the Devil was doing, he can't say "The Devil made me do it" unless he starts to refuse, and is then forced to commit adultery even though he was beginning to choose not to commit adultery. If he commits adultery without Satanic assistance, he is responsible because he could have made an alternative choice. If the Devil is an all-determining deity, then we can all say "The Devil Made Me Do It." Ditto for the Calvinistic God.

steve said...

Victor Reppert said...

"Remember, Steve, that Bill Craig's scenario is Molinism. And does he reject Plantinga's argument that a world in which everyone freely does what is right might not be in God's power to actualize, in virtue of the fact that every creaturely essence might suffer from Transworld Depravity?"

And, of course, Plantinga is another Molinist.

More to the point, however, their disagreement highlights differing intuitions between fellow libertarians. So that undermines your facile appeal to intuition.

"Can you give me chapter and verse on where Craig says that the world in which everyone freely does what is right is possible for God to actualize, and that God choose a world with sinners as opposed to a world with no sinners?"

You yourself did a post a while back in which you quoted him to that effect. Have you forgotten that already?

Victor Reppert said...

I've been scrolling through my old posts and I can't find anything like that by Craig. My memory of my own posts isn't the best. Signs of age no doubt.

bossmanham said...

"Can you give me chapter and verse on where Craig says that the world in which everyone freely does what is right is possible for God to actualize, and that God choose a world with sinners as opposed to a world with no sinners?"

You yourself did a post a while back in which you quoted him to that effect. Have you forgotten that already?


Few days late here, but Craig holds that it is not feasible for God to be able to create a world in which everyone freely does good. It's logically possible, sure, but given human freedom it may not be feasible.

"So there are worlds which are intrinsically possible but which God, given the counterfactuals that happen to be true, is not capable of actualizing and which are therefore, in Flint’s terminology, infeasible for God. Notice that because counterfactuals of creaturely freedom are contingently true, which worlds are feasible for God and which are infeasible is also a contingent matter. It all depends on how creatures would freely behave in various circumstances, which is beyond God’s control."

(http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5633)