Thursday, March 06, 2008

The first of Hasker's three arguments for libertarian free will

I. Why should we reject determinism and accept libertarian free will
A. Our experience of choice. “This experience seems to carry with it the strong conviction that the various alternatives were within our power.” Descartes thinks that this demonstrates libertarianism and that it is absurd to doubt what we inwardly experience
1. Hasker thinks this goes too far. What seems to us to be true may not be true. (I could be, for example, deceived by an evil demon. Or just unaware of the determining causes of my action).
2. However, the inner conviction of freedom deserves to be taken seriously. Consider (my example) my seeming to see a tree in front of me. I could have good evidence that my tree-seeing experience is not veridical. But in the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary, I have every reason to believe that I do see a tree. The arguments for determinism are less that persuasive, according to Hasker, so we do have a good reason to take our experience seriously and believe that my will is free in the libertarian sense.

28 comments:

Ilíon said...

All arguments *against* actual free will ... by their very nature as arguments ... must presuppose the very thing being denied by the argument. What could be more absurd than that?

Maul P. said...

Isn't Hasker an open theist?

He understands that the historic, robust, almost universally held view of God's foreknowledge is inconsistent with libertarian freedom.

So, of course those who drop those sorts of beliefs have the pleasure of arm-chairing their way through these questions.

Once analyzed, though, his position won't be satisfying to most orthodox Christians.

Also, it just fits my intuitions, when I think about it, and when I'm presented with the revelational data, that God foreknows the future choices of men.

Hasker just trades one intuition for another. Indeed, I afford the revelational data a robust level of epistemic priority (and this is allowed by men like Moreland, Plantinga, et. al.), and so if someone dismisses one of my warranted beliefs as not being able to play, then he gets dismissed just the same.

At any rate, Hasker had to deny traditional Christian theistic views on the knowledge of God to get to keep his "free will."

Not very persuasive, sorry.

Ilíon said...

Does your knowledge that Aaron Burr shot and killed Alexander Hamilton necessitate/determine that event (i.e. eliminate the free wills of the persons involved)? Why, then, would you imagine that God's "foreknowledge" necessitates/determines that you or I will perform some certain act at some certain time, as though we were a puppets dancing on the strings of his knowledge?

God is "outside" (for lack of a better word) time; he is not time-bound as we are. "The furure" is not determined by God's knowledge of it ... God knows all the possible futures; it is our free choices which actualize a future from among the possibilities.


I've long suspect that one of the main reasons for the Biblical prohibitions on soothsaying is that soothsaying involves the attempt to pre-determine the future, involves the attempt to limit the freedom of ourselves and (especially of) others ... and of God.

Jeff G said...

So what would our experience be like if determinism held true? I have no reason to believe it would "feel" any different.

Anonymous said...

Hello Ilion,

You wrote: “All arguments *against* actual free will ... by their very nature as arguments ... must presuppose the very thing being denied by the argument. What could be more absurd than that?”

That is a good point. Ilion have you ever considered that the determinist who argues against free will/the reality of choice, by engaging in **ordinary language use,** engages in the “very thing being denied by the argument”?

For example: right now I am choosing to use the English language though I could also speak in other languages (that is a choice that I am making). I am also choosing to write sentences involving words (I could also have chosen not to write anything, that is a choice that I am making). The sentences that I use are my choices and I could have used more or less sentences (more choices). And then there are the individual words (there are different ways to say the things I am saying here; these are choices that I am making). So the most ordinary use of language in daily life involves choice after choice after choice.

The moment the determinist opens his mouth to express himself then, he engages in choices, and choices are precluded by his espoused exhaustive determinism (i.e. if our every action is predetermined then I express what I express and it is impossible that I could have done otherwise). The reality is that my words are not necessitated, but freely chosen by me (and this is certainly true of the determinist as well). So I find it a bit humorous to see a determinist express himself in ordinary language attempting to argue against the reality of free will/choices: because he self-refutes himself no matter what he says, how he says it or what he argues.

When the determinists engage in ordinary language use without having any choices with their every word being necessitated, then I might take them more seriously. But until then, I will just laugh every time they open their mouth and express themselves about the non-reality of choices. Because every time they use language they refute themselves.

When Hasker speaks of our experience of choices as evidence for the reality of free will, ordinary language use provides lots and lots of confirmation of Hasker's argument.

Robert

Maul P. said...

Robert, do you believe God knows the free choices of men? All of them?

If so, Hasker disagree with you too.

He thinks your position can't escape the argument from theological fatalism.

He thinks the proper escape is to deny God's knowledge of man's 'free' choices.

Are you an open theist, Robert?

If not, Hasker mitigates against your position just as much as he does the Calvinists.

He doesn't think you can make a real 'choice' given an orthodox view of exhaustive foreknowledge. One which includes the 'free' choices of men as itsems of knowledge.

Anonymous said...

I do not usually respond to anonymous commentators, which is what “Boba” is. Boba is attempting to shift the focus of this thread away from Hasker’s argument for free will to Hasker’s open theism. The issue here is what do people think of Hasker’s argument for free will as presented here? So I suggest we get back to, or stay focused on Hasker’s actual argument not his open theism. I am interested in seeing people’s opinions of **his argument for free will**, his open theism is irrelevant to me and this thread.

Robert

White Goodman said...
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exapologist said...
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exapologist said...

Any Christian account of the compatibility of freedom and essential divine foreknowledge will have to deal with Nelson Pike's classic essay, "Divine Omniscience and Voluntary Action" (reprinted in many philosophy of religion collections), and any such response to that argument strikes me as *at least* as problematic as compatiblist accounts of moral responsibility (Fischer's seems to be the best).

It's interesting that many Christian philosophers who are still libertarians are conceding that Frankfurt examples show that the ability to do otherwise is irrelevant to moral responsibility (cf. the "source incompatibilist" movement).

It's also interesting that perhaps the most prominent specialist in the philosophy of action who is also a Christian is Derk Pereboom, and he's a hard determinist. His essay in the recent anthology, God and the Ethics of Belief (Dole and Chignell, eds.), provides a powerful account of why it wouldn't matter so much if we were neither free nor responsible.

It seems that Victor and others here put a lot of weight on their inuitions, or perhaps introspective appearances, about the epistemic status of libertarian freedom. I'm curious how you (all) would reply to the apparently undercutting considerations of, say, (i) Holbach's classic "competing desires" account of human action, as well as (ii) the very real phenomena of unconscious desires and motivations, and (iii) the fact that if beliefs, desires, genetic, and environmental factors were determining our actions, then even if they *were* introspectible, or at least discoverable in *some* way, such a complicated causal chain would probably be so complex that we would never be able to predict its outcome anyway (another point from Holbach).

Anonymous said...

Exapologist wrote:

“I'm curious how you (all) would reply to the apparently undercutting considerations of, say, (i) Holbach's classic "competing desires" account of human action, as well as”

Could you briefly present Holbach’s account of human action. I have read in the literature of free will and no one cites or speaks about this account. So I am curios about it.

I am also curios about the statement that:

“(iii) the fact that if beliefs, desires, genetic, and environmental factors were determining our actions, then even if they *were* introspectible, or at least discoverable in *some* way, such a complicated causal chain would probably be so complex that we would never be able to predict its outcome anyway (another point from Holbach).”

How do beliefs and desires determine our actions? Or better yet how do beliefs and desires necessitate our actions?

Robert

Maul P. said...

Robert,

As far as I know, you're name isn't Robert.

And, why did you respond to 'ex apologist?' I doub that is his real name. And for that matter, is 'Ilion" his real name? Your double standard might lead some, not me :-), to believe my statements regarding your position and Hasker rattled your cage. It is nice to use libertarian against libertarian, though.

I already responded to why Hasker's argument wasn't convincing. So, I covered that portion.

My response to you was in light of your acting as if you have a friend in Hasker. You clearly don't. Your responses about the Calvinist not being able to choose work equally against you, per Hasker.

That was why I commented.

Mark Frank said...

I have never understood the logic of this argument. Yes we all experience the freedom to choose. Compatabilism doesn't deny this. To point out that this experience happens doesn't move the arguemnt forward. Libertarian views of free will need to show that the freedom to choose is inconsistent with determinism, not that we have the freedom to choose.

Maul P. said...

Ex-A,

"and any such response to that argument strikes me as *at least* as problematic as compatiblist accounts of moral responsibility (Fischer's seems to be the best)."

Fischer is a semi-compatibilist, if I remember correctly.

And since I'm not a libertarian, and since it has been noted (cf. Zabzeski's paper on the SEP) that one out is to deny libertarian free will, and I do, then I have no problem with that argument. The big problem with the argument from theological fatalism is for those who hold a robust view of omniscience (where free actions are knowable, contra Open Theists), libertarian free will, and PAP (though libertarian Dave Hunt denies PAPs and answers the argument differently. In fact, he says rejecting PAPs negates the argument, cf. his paper in he Widerker and McKenna volumeon moral responsibility and PAPs).

(Thank you for noting that many libertarians have denied PAPs requirement for moral responsibility. But, that really gets under some libertarians skin to point that out!)

exapologist said...
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exapologist said...

Hi boba fett,

Thanks for the correction on my sloppiness about Fischer's account! Right, so he's a *semi*-compatibilist, in that he rejects even conditional analyses of the ability to do otherwise (because he's convinced by PvI's Consequence Argument), but he's a semi-*compatibilist*, in that he thinks "guidance control" (which is a souped-up version of the old notion of the "liberty of spontaneity") is sufficient for moral responsibility, correct?

I have the sneaking suspicion that we know each other.... ;-)

Maul P. said...

Hi Ex-A,

You are correct about Fischer.

I wouldn't know about the other thing...:-)

Anonymous said...

Hello Mark,

You wrote:

“I have never understood the logic of this argument. Yes we all experience the freedom to choose. Compatabilism doesn't deny this. To point out that this experience happens doesn't move the arguemnt forward. Libertarian views of free will need to show that the freedom to choose is inconsistent with determinism, not that we have the freedom to choose.”

Actually compatibilism does in fact deny the experience of free will or what I prefer to call “having a choice.” The compatibilist claims that “free will” and determinism are compatible, that both can simultaneously be true. But this is misleading and only true if the compatibilist carefully defines “free will” as doing what you want to do (so your action could be predetermined but since you are doing what you want to do, supposedly you are acting “freely”).

Kant aware of this misleading nature of compatibilism termed it a “wretched subterfuge”. So how is it really misleading? Well most people when talking about “free will” mean having a choice.

So it is dessert time and I am at the cafeteria where various alternative possibilities for dessert are sitting there for me to choose (assuming that I have money, that I am in that cafeteria, that I have accessibility to those desserts). I **have** a choice if I can choose to select the carrot cake or the chocolate cake or the jello or the pie or not even select anything! I **make** a choice when I select from one of these available and accessible alternative possibilities.
Now here is where we can see a real and substantial difference between someone who believes in the reality of choices and someone whose system of beliefs precludes the reality of choices.

Take calvinism the theological determinism which claims that God predetermines every event (so every event flows from exhaustive determinism) as our example of global determinism. If exhaustive determinism is true, then it may be true that I **make** choices (in that I commit to a certain course of action) but I do not **have** choices. Back to the cafeteria to see this. So here I am in line considering and deliberating between the various desserts that I see sitting there waiting for me to select one of them and then purchase it at the end of the line. If I **have** a choice then I could pick the jello in that situation or I could pick the pie in that situation, or I could pick any of the available and accessible alternatives that are present in that situation. So say I pick pie as my actual choice, looking back after I finish off my apple pie, I think to myself: “I could have also picked the jello if I had chosen to do so, instead of the pie.” If my choices were real in that situation, if I had a choice, then it is a true belief that I could have done otherwise.

On the other hand, say all of my actions are predetermined by God as the calvinist wants to believe. If I pick the pie, then the pie is the only selection that I could have chosen in that situation (because in this actual world where every action is predetermined by God he predetermined that I select the pie; and it is impossible that I could have done otherwise in that situation in this actual world). But if pie is the only selection that I could possibly have chosen in this actual world, then it is impossible for me to have selected say the jello or the cake or . . . .

So if exhaustive determinism were true, then I can only make the choice of what I was predetermined to do. And if I can only make that choice, no other choice is possible, I NEVER HAD A CHOICE, though I made a choice.
The calvinist then, or any other exponent of exhaustive determinism cannot believe in the reality of having choices as ordinarily understood.

Most people when they speak of “free will” mean that they really **had** a choice. But if exhaustive determinism is true, then WE NEVER EVER HAVE A CHOICE, WE NEVER EVER EXPERIENCE A CHOICE, as ordinarily understood. If exhaustive determinism is true then our every action is necessitated and we never **have** a choice.

So Mark when you wrote: “Yes we all experience the freedom to choose. Compatibilism doesn't deny this.” That is not quite accurate. If our every action is predetermined then we do not experience the freedom to choose. Then **having** a choice is an illusion: we may believe that we could select the pie or the jello or the whatever, but in reality we could only select the one which we were predetermined to select. Compatibilism which assumes the truth of exhaustive determinism then, denies that we experience the freedom to choose. We may make choices if compatibilism is true, but we never have choices if it is true.

Since we do in fact have choices and experience the having of choices and making of choices all the time, the available evidence suggests exhaustive determinism to be false.

And if you want to have some fun seeing some real clear cases of self refutation just watch those who espouse exhaustive determinism. Listen to their language, observe their actions, and you will see constant evidence that **they** have choices. So their actual practice is constantly denying their espoused philosophy. Or put it another way, you look for and show me someone who espouses exhaustive determinism who never has any choices and lives that way. I will be waiting a long, long time cause they don’t exist.

And when I observe the inconsistencies of these avowed determinists, I chalk it up to the falsity of their philosophy. As I have pointed out already, sometimes it can be quite humorous (remember the waiter talking to my determinist friend about choices?)

Mark you also wrote: “Libertarian views of free will need to show that the freedom to choose is inconsistent with determinism.”

Mark have I demonstrated that **having** a choice (which is what most people mean by having free will) is INCONSISTENT with determinism?

Robert

One Brow said...

Since we do in fact have choices and experience the having of choices and making of choices all the time, the available evidence suggests exhaustive determinism to be false.

Doi we experience having choices, or do we experience weighing alternatives and then acting on the alternative we were fated to make, without having a choice? How could you tell the difference?

Or put it another way, you look for and show me someone who espouses exhaustive determinism who never has any choices and lives that way. I will be waiting a long, long time cause they don’t exist.

After a very long, detailed, and clear exposition on the difference between having a choice and making a choice, why engage in this equivocation? You could never witness someone having a choice (as you describe the situation above), as it would be a purely internal state, you could only withness them making choices, which you acknowldge that compatibilism allows.

Anonymous said...

“One Brow” wrote:

”Do we experience having choices, or do we experience weighing alternatives and then acting on the alternative we were fated to make, without having a choice? How could you tell the difference?”

The answers to your questions here depend upon whether you hold a libertarian or compatibilist conception of free will.
If everything is predetermined then we do not have free will as ordinarily understood (I say ordinarily understood because by this people mean that we have available and accessible alternatives in a particular situation: say me responding to your post or choosing not to respond, both of these alternatives are available and accessible to me if I have libertarian free will; if all things are determined then both alternatives are not accessible to me as some sort of necessitating factor is determining me to make one choice and that is the only choice that I can make).

Regarding how could you tell the difference, if there were some necessitating factor outside your conscious awareness that would be difficult.

You probably are aware of “Frankfurt cases” here is a similar case to make some points: Imagine a neurosurgeon named Frazier who has the ability to place a device in another person which then allows Frazier to control the person’s thoughts, desires, bodily movement, everything. And yet all of this is outside the awareness of the second person. So Frazier implants his device into “Joe” and they play a game of chess. From Joe’s perspective he is making all of the moves in the game freely, doing exactly what he wants in each case, and he is not being coerced against his will as far as he can tell. In reality his every move is determined by Frazier. At a certain point in the “game” (actually I would say the **sham**! :-) ) Frazier has Joe do a really bad move that leads to him losing his queen and then quickly being checkmated.

Who is responsible for Joe’s bad move?

I mean he made the move by his won will, he was not coerced into making the move, as far as he could tell he was acting freely and it was his hand that moved the chess piece when the bad move occurred. A libertarian like myself would have a problem in blaming Joe for his bad move. I would say that Joe was not acting freely and I would blame Frazier for the bad move. Now if Frazier’s activity or the dynamics of the device in Joe were unknown to Joe he would not know that he was under this kind of control (by the way Kane in his book THE SIGNIFICANCE OF FREE WILL describes this kind of control as CNC type control/Covert Nonconstraining Control to distinguish it from coercion and acting freely as conceived by libertarians). Now I have problems with CNC, as I do not believe it is the right thing to do to other people.

The necessitating factor depends upon what type of determinism you subscribe to. It reminds me of the famous Flip Wilson line: “the devil made me do it!” Well if you are going to espouse exhaustive determinism then put whatever you **choose** to put in the slot: “___________ (the devil, God, genes, laws of nature, beliefs and desires, whatever) made me do it!.” I am real big on personal responsibility so I have little patience for people who want to blame everything else but themselves for their behavior. If we intentionally do an action then we are responsible for what we do, and we should not blame the devil, God, whatever.

You also wrote

“After a very long, detailed, and clear exposition on the difference between having a choice and making a choice, why engage in this equivocation?”

It is not an equivocation as it helps to show the difference between the libertarian and compatibilist conceptions of free will (libertarians can believe that we have choices, Compatibilists can believe that we make choices but not that we have choices).

You also wrote:

“You could never witness someone having a choice (as you describe the situation above), as it would be a purely internal state, you could only witness them making choices, which you acknowledge that compatibilism allows.”

And the problem with that is?

Just because something is not visible/observable does not mean that is it not real or must you see something or sense something with your senses for something to be real? I have thoughts as do you, and I also engage in language use which involves **meanings**. I do not observe nor sense with my physical senses, thoughts or meanings. Are you claiming that thoughts and meanings do not exist then?

I also wonder how your criteria (that something must be observable to be real) would play itself out in ordinary situations such as a courtroom. One lawyer: “but the defendant acted according to a premeditated plan which he had developed in his mind months before the day he actually killed Smith, so he should get the death penalty for premeditated murder.” Defense lawyer: “Yeh but, your Honor, no one saw this ‘premeditated plan’, all the witnesses saw was Two Brow killing Smith. And since none of the witnesses **saw** this plan, obviously it is not real, it never existed, so my client Two brow should not be charged with premeditated murder!”

Robert

One Brow said...

“One Brow” wrote:

”Do we experience having choices, or do we experience weighing alternatives and then acting on the alternative we were fated to make, without having a choice? How could you tell the difference?”

The answers to your questions here depend upon whether you hold a libertarian or compatibilist conception of free will.

To the first question, certainly. That was the point. I don’t see how being a libertarian or a compatabilist answers the second question.

Regarding how could you tell the difference, if there were some necessitating factor outside your conscious awareness that would be difficult.

I agree. Thus, the fact that we perceive ourselves as having a choice, when in fact we may be simply weighing alternatives, is not evidence of free will.

You probably are aware of “Frankfurt cases” here is a similar case to make some points: … Now I have problems with CNC, as I do not believe it is the right thing to do to other people.

I agree Joe was not responsible for his move, and with your reservations regarding CNC.

If we intentionally do an action then we are responsible for what we do, and we should not blame the devil, God, whatever.

I agree again. Determinism is not an excuse poor behavior.

“After a very long, detailed, and clear exposition on the difference between having a choice and making a choice, why engage in this equivocation?”

It is not an equivocation as it helps to show the difference between the libertarian and compatibilist conceptions of free will (libertarians can believe that we have choices, Compatibilists can believe that we make choices but not that we have choices).

I accepted your definitions. The equivocation to which I referred was the implication that the witnessing of making choices implied the ability to have choices, when you so carefully defined them to be unrelated.

Just because something is not visible/observable does not mean that is it not real or must you see something or sense something with your senses for something to be real?

I am not claiming that libertarianism is disproved, just that your example does not disprove compatibilism.

I am not making the claim that something must be physical to be real, so I will delete section.

I also wonder how your criteria (that something must be observable to be real) would play itself out in ordinary situations such as a courtroom. One lawyer: “but the defendant acted according to a premeditated plan which he had developed in his mind months before the day he actually killed Smith, so he should get the death penalty for premeditated murder.” Defense lawyer: “Yeh but, your Honor, no one saw this ‘premeditated plan’, all the witnesses saw was Two Brow killing Smith. And since none of the witnesses **saw** this plan, obviously it is not real, it never existed, so my client Two brow should not be charged with premeditated murder!”

In this particular circumstance, I am assuming that the first lawyer has evidence of premeditation, correct? If so, then of course the second lawyer should will not be taken seriously, he has not addressed this evidence. If you are going to assert the existence of an immaterial item beyond reasonable doubt, there needs to be evidence to evaluate.

Anonymous said...

“One Brow” wrote:

”To the first question, certainly. That was the point. I don’t see how being a libertarian or a compatabilist answers the second question.”

The second question presumes that we are acting “on the alternative we were fated to make”. So if we assume the truth of exhaustive determinism, then we are “fated to make” the choice the necessitating factor causes us to make. So we do not have a choice if determinism is true and the second question is how would we know this to be true if in fact we were exhaustively determined? As I said before that would be difficult to figure out. Sort of like Neo in the Matrix finding out about the Matrix, you would need some sort of revelation which shows you that you are being completely controlled. Apart from some sort of revelation how would you know?

What do you think One Brow: if everything was “fated” or completely predetermined, how would you know that to be the case? (I have some theological reasons for believing that everything is not “fated” nor completely predetermined, but I am guessing they would not be interesting or persuasive for you).

”I agree. Thus, the fact that we perceive ourselves as having a choice, when in fact we may be simply weighing alternatives, is not evidence of free will.”

I am not sure that I agree with you here. Because if we are considering the truth or falsity of some proposition then we consider whatever available evidence is at our disposal. The fact that we perceive ourselves as having a choice then would be part of that evidence. Another concern is the old legal maxim: he who asserts must prove. So I assert the reality of having choices/libertarian free will and offer as part of my burden of proof the evidence of our own personal experiences of believing ourselves to have choices and our experiencing of having and making choices.

So it seems reasonable then if you are going to assert exhaustive determinism then what evidence do you offer for your assertion? What would be particularly interesting for me is: what evidence do you have of a necessitating factor that necessitates our actions? Can you identify the necessitating factor and explain the mechanics of how it controls and determines our actions?

I offered my “Joe case” to make some points against compatibilism (as I believe CNC control shows some problems with compatibilism). In response you wrote:

”I agree Joe was not responsible for his move, and with your reservations regarding CNC.”

OK here are some of my points that come out of the “Joe case”. First if Frazier predetermines every one of Joe’s actions, then Joe is in an environment in which his every action is exhaustively predetermined (determinism would be true). Second, when Joe acts he is not being coerced, he cannot do otherwise, and he does exactly what he wants to do (these are the features of compatibilism, the person is not coerced, he cannot do otherwise because determinism is true, and he does exactly what he wants so according to many compatibilists he is acting “freely” as defined by compatibilists if these elements are present).

”I accepted your definitions. The equivocation to which I referred was the implication that the witnessing of making choices implied the ability to have choices, when you so carefully defined them to be unrelated.”

I believe that you may be speaking of choices from the perspective of an external observer (“the witnessing of making choices”) when I am speaking of what is going on internally, in the mind of the person (his deliberation, consideration and awareness of alternatives, and his making a choice in his mind, all which would be in his mind and so inaccessible to an external observer and not directly observable and yet known to the person engaged in the choice). Put another way I believe there is overwhelming evidence that we have all individually experienced in our own minds that we believed that we had choices. If libertarian free will is real and exists then this belief is sometimes true (cf. the man in Locke’s room believed that he could leave the room, but he could not so his belief was false, so sometimes we may believe we can actualize some alternative when in reality we cannot do so, do not have access to that particular alternative). If exhaustive determinism is true, then this belief that we have choices is always false and we never could do otherwise than we do.

”I am not claiming that libertarianism is disproved, just that your example does not disprove compatibilism.”

Which example? If you are referring to the Joe example, I believe that it does show the falsity of compatibilism. Joe experiences all of the elements that Compatibilists use in constructing their definition of free will. And yet Joe is not responsible for the bad chess move, Frazier is. This is what I was trying to show and you agreed that Joe is not responsible. If Joe was experiencing CNC type control which is a form of compatibilism, then compatibilism has some real problems (including eliminating the responsibility of individuals as CNC does). If a person experiences free will in the libertarian sense then they are not simultaneously experiencing CNC control as CNC and libertarian free will are mutually exclusive.

”In this particular circumstance, I am assuming that the first lawyer has evidence of premeditation, correct? If so, then of course the second lawyer should will not be taken seriously, he has not addressed this evidence. If you are going to assert the existence of an immaterial item beyond reasonable doubt, there needs to be evidence to evaluate.”

Evidence for the reality of immaterial realities? I mentioned thoughts and meanings earlier, I repeat again: thoughts and meanings are not observable by an outside observer and yet we all have directly experienced both thoughts and meanings in our own minds and in our use of ordinary language. One of my problems with compatibilism is that if it were true then our thoughts themselves would be predetermined and we could not think otherwise than how we think (cf. Reppert’s argument from reason, or Flew’s essay on choices: “CHOICE AND RATIONALITY”).

Another problem I have with compatibilism is that I believe that we need to seriously consider all of the available evidence. And some of that available evidence is our own personal experience of thoughts and choices (i.e. what philosophers call our intuitions). It also seems to me that some things we know intuitively without using a syllogism (e.g. that I am me/the self; that my thoughts are my thoughts; that my actions are my actions; that I choose which words I use when I engage in ordinary language use, that my body is my body and not some one else’s, etc. etc.). And one of those internal mental realities is our capacity for and experience of having choices.

One Brow are we in the Matrix and just don’t know it? :-)

Robert

Ilíon said...

Robert: "One Brow are we in the Matrix and just don’t know it? :-)"

Nor could you *ever* know it ... even were the Matrix to cause you to assert that you were in the Matrix, you could never *know* it to be true.


The fact is that we can know (and believe) truth(s) only if we are actually free.

One Brow said...

The second question presumes that we are acting “on the alternative we were fated to make”.

The second question addresses both compatibilism and libertarianism as possibilities.

So we do not have a choice if determinism is true and the second question is how would we know this to be true if in fact we were exhaustively determined? As I said before that would be difficult to figure out. Sort of like Neo in the Matrix finding out about the Matrix, you would need some sort of revelation which shows you that you are being completely controlled. Apart from some sort of revelation how would you know?

Exactly so. I doubt the existence of a way to determine this with authority.

What do you think One Brow: if everything was “fated” or completely predetermined, how would you know that to be the case?

I have no idea. Even the ability to implant machinery to control behavior is guarantee that thoughts are controlled. For that matter, you could never prove a thought-reading machine was reading every thought.

I am not sure that I agree with you here. Because if we are considering the truth or falsity of some proposition then we consider whatever available evidence is at our disposal. The fact that we perceive ourselves as having a choice then would be part of that evidence. Another concern is the old legal maxim: he who asserts must prove. So I assert the reality of having choices/libertarian free will and offer as part of my burden of proof the evidence of our own personal experiences of believing ourselves to have choices and our experiencing of having and making choices.

To which, my response is that our experience of having choice is really the weighing of alternatives, and we then select the alternative we find most appealing. Given any sufficiently specific state of the world, the option we find most appealing is predetermined, and thus so is our decision.

So it seems reasonable then if you are going to assert exhaustive determinism then what evidence do you offer for your assertion? What would be particularly interesting for me is: what evidence do you have of a necessitating factor that necessitates our actions? Can you identify the necessitating factor and explain the mechanics of how it controls and determines our actions?

The necessitating factors would be the interpretation of the world by our sense, as processed by our brain.

OK here are some of my points that come out of the “Joe case”. First if Frazier predetermines every one of Joe’s actions, then Joe is in an environment in which his every action is exhaustively predetermined (determinism would be true).

I agree.

Second, when Joe acts he is not being coerced, he cannot do otherwise, and he does exactly what he wants to do (these are the features of compatibilism, the person is not coerced, he cannot do otherwise because determinism is true, and he does exactly what he wants so according to many compatibilists he is acting “freely” as defined by compatibilists if these elements are present).

Except, Joe is not doing what Joe wants to do, in that Joe’s brain is not making an independent evaluation of the surroundings of Joe to arrive at its decisions. Joe is doing what Frazier wants him to do, following the evaluation of the surroundings as made by Frazier’s brain.

I believe that you may be speaking of choices from the perspective of an external observer (“the witnessing of making choices”) when I am speaking of what is going on internally, in the mind of the person (his deliberation, consideration and awareness of alternatives, and his making a choice in his mind, all which would be in his mind and so inaccessible to an external observer and not directly observable and yet known to the person engaged in the choice). Put another way I believe there is overwhelming evidence that we have all individually experienced in our own minds that we believed that we had choices. If libertarian free will is real and exists then this belief is sometimes true (cf. the man in Locke’s room believed that he could leave the room, but he could not so his belief was false, so sometimes we may believe we can actualize some alternative when in reality we cannot do so, do not have access to that particular alternative). If exhaustive determinism is true, then this belief that we have choices is always false and we never could do otherwise than we do.

Which again leads us back to the question of whether weighing alternatives means having a choice.

Which example? If you are referring to the Joe example, I believe that it does show the falsity of compatibilism. Joe experiences all of the elements that Compatibilists use in constructing their definition of free will.

I would certainly hope they are more sophisticated than that. How you can moral responsibility without the ability to act upon alternatives that have been evaluated?

And yet Joe is not responsible for the bad chess move, Frazier is. This is what I was trying to show and you agreed that Joe is not responsible. If Joe was experiencing CNC type control which is a form of compatibilism, then compatibilism has some real problems (including eliminating the responsibility of individuals as CNC does). If a person experiences free will in the libertarian sense then they are not simultaneously experiencing CNC control as CNC and libertarian free will are mutually exclusive.

It is also possible to have neither CNC nor free will. As you say, CNC is merely a form of compatibilism, and in particular one in which Joe’s brain is occasionally preempted from the decision-making process.

Evidence for the reality of immaterial realities? I mentioned thoughts and meanings earlier, I repeat again: thoughts and meanings are not observable by an outside observer and yet we all have directly experienced both thoughts and meanings in our own minds and in our use of ordinary language.

Wind is not directly observable, but it can be measured by its effects, just like premeditation. Wind is also not the result of the behavior of any individual molecule, but the aggregate behavior of a collection of molecule, just as premeditation would be.

One of my problems with compatibilism is that if it were true then our thoughts themselves would be predetermined and we could not think otherwise than how we think (cf. Reppert’s argument from reason, or Flew’s essay on choices: “CHOICE AND RATIONALITY”).

I can see where theists would have a problem with that.

… And one of those internal mental realities is our capacity for and experience of having choices.

That’s one way to describe the experience.

One Brow are we in the Matrix and just don’t know it? :-)

Well, if I get a chance to take the pill, I’ll let you know. :)

One Brow said...

Edit:

"Even the ability to implant machinery to control behavior is *no* guarantee that thoughts are controlled."

Hopefully clear in context, nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

You wrote:

”To which, my response is that our experience of having choice is really the weighing of alternatives, and we then select the alternative we find most appealing. Given any sufficiently specific state of the world, the option we find most appealing is predetermined, and thus so is our decision.”

I would suggest that having a choice is more than just the experience of “weighing of alternatives”, but the experience of considering various possibilities and then making a choice to actualize one possibility while excluding the other possibilities. What is absolutely crucial for the reality of having a choice is that you have access to the differing possibilities. If I do not have access I do not have an available choice.

Say I go to Baskin Robbins 31 flavors ice cream parlor. In order to have a choice as to purchasing a particular flavor of ice cream I need to have access to multiple possibilities (i.e. I need to have sufficient funds to purchase an ice cream cone; I need to be aware of different flavors by say seeing them before me; etc.). Say for some reason that I get to the store and there is a sign that says “ice cream shortage our supplier only brought one flavor to our store”. At first glance this would initially appear to suggest that we do not have a choice, because only one flavor is available. Not quite. We now have the choice of purchasing that ice cream or not buying ice cream at all. Now is when the “weighing of alternatives” comes into the process of decision making/making a choice. So we start considering the two alternatives, say “bubble gum special” or no ice cream. As a believer in free will, I believe in that situation not only do we “weigh the alternatives” in order to make our choice, we also have accessibility to both alternatives (I can choose not to buy that one flavor of ice cream; or I can choose to buy the “bubble gum special”).

One Brow do you really believe that in that situation I do not have access to both possibilities? For me this is where the rubber meets the road. The person who believes every event is necessitated is going to believe that some sort of necessitating factor becomes a limiting factor in that this necessitating factor will make only one alternative possible for you to choose. In my ice cream parlor example, the necessitating factor, if it existed would either cause me to not choose the ice cream or cause me to choose the “bubble gum” special. “Weighing the alternatives” is irrelevant if there is a necessitating factor present that causes me to only go one way.

“Weighing of alternatives” is only useful or practical or helpful if it leads to some actual action that helps us (say a cave man is facing an approaching predator, he can remain standing there and face certain death, or he can run or at least move away from the on coming predator; unless he has access to both alternatives his “weighing of alternatives” is useless and he may become the lunch of that approaching predator, :-)).

The “Weighing of alternatives” is part of the process of making a choice. We weigh alternatives in order to come to a decision (which is itself a choice) and then act in the world. Merely “weighing the alternatives” is insufficient to taking action.

Say I begin deliberating about whether or not I want the “bubble gum flavor ice cream” or no ice cream and I start “weighing the alternatives” and I keep “weighing the alternatives” and I keep going and going never coming to a decision. Would I ever then come to a decision concerning the two alternatives? NO, I would deliberate/keep “weighing the alternatives” until I came to a decision. In daily life I cannot continue to deliberate on and on concerning my actions because daily life circumstances force you to make a choice. Say I am at the restaurant with my wife, deliberating/”weighing the alternatives” considering the alternatives that are available and accessible. At some point I will be pressured to make a decision (and all decisions are choices). My choice of a particular entrée may not be necessitated, but I will be pressured into making a choice. My point in all this is that “weighing the alternatives” alone is insufficient for making a choice. It may be involved in making a choice, but actually making a choice will also involve a person actualizing one possibility and not others that are available. I believe that the reality of having choices is so ingrained that you simply cannot escape it. Every day you are faced with all sorts of choices and in many of them the alternatives are both available and accessible.

”The necessitating factors would be the interpretation of the world by our sense, as processed by our brain.”

Again it seems to me that you are unnecessarily limiting things. Yes our “interpretation of the world by our senses” is part of the deliberative process. But some things that we make choices about do not involve our senses at all. There are certain realities that human persons deal with that sometimes are immaterial, beyond our sense perceptions (e.g. “justice” “right and wrong”, “rationality and logic”; and one of my favorites, negation, you will never perceive a negative via your senses; Bob Dylan has a great song called and about “Dignity” something he says of in the song “Dignity never been photographed”, why is that? If something is perceivable by the senses then we can take a picture of it right?, but the reality is that some things that are real you cannot take a picture of, one of them is having a choice).

I wrote: ”Second, when Joe acts he is not being coerced, he cannot do otherwise, and he does exactly what he wants to do (these are the features of compatibilism, the person is not coerced, he cannot do otherwise because determinism is true, and he does exactly what he wants so according to many compatibilists he is acting “freely” as defined by compatibilists if these elements are present).”

You responded with:

”Except, Joe is not doing what Joe wants to do, in that Joe’s brain is not making an independent evaluation of the surroundings of Joe to arrive at its decisions. Joe is doing what Frazier wants him to do, following the evaluation of the surroundings as made by Frazier’s brain.”

Here you have not taken exhaustive determinism far enough, because if all is predetermined then that includes “Joe’s brain making an independent evaluation of the surroundings”. Frazier would not be just predetermining Joe’s decision but every element that went into his decision as well. So in fact Frazier would cause Joe to want to make the bad chess move. And if CNC control was going on, then Joe would do exactly what he wants to do, and what he wants to do as well as everything involved in him wanting to do what he wants to do, would be predetermined by Frazier as well.

Your comments here remind me of an error made by theological determinists/calvinists: they will argue that those predetermined to not believe, desire only sin and rebellion against God and so God then “justly” condemns them to eternal punishment(but if God had predetermined the nonbelievers to not believe, not desire relationship with God, then God also controlled and predetermined their desires in a CNC sense, so that they engaged in that “bad move” of not believing in God; you believe that Frazier is to blame for Joe’s bad chess move so wouldn’t this also be true of God and his dealing with unbelievers whom he had predetermined not to believe?).

”Which again leads us back to the question of whether weighing alternatives means having a choice.”

I believe that it is clear that having and making a choice involves more than “weighing alternatives” though “weighing alternatives” is part of the process involved in having and making a choice.

”I would certainly hope they are more sophisticated than that. How you can moral responsibility without the ability to act upon alternatives that have been evaluated?”

**Moral**? My senses do not sense any such thing as morality or right and wrong. :-)

One Brow do you sense morality/right/wrong by means of your senses? I don’t and I doubt that you do either. And regarding **evaluating**? Where does that happen? What do our sense perceptions have to do with evaluating alternatives? Seems to me that both thinking about and evaluating takes place in our minds which is an immaterial reality.

”It is also possible to have neither CNC nor free will. As you say, CNC is merely a form of compatibilism, and in particular one in which Joe’s brain is occasionally preempted from the decision-making process.”

Again, when I am talking about CNC control I am speaking of an exhaustive determinism in which all of our actions are necessitated not just some of them. I am not talking about “Joe’s brain is ***occasionally*** [emphasis mine] preempted from the decision-making process”. Frankfurt cases talk about occasional possible preemptions, I am talking about exhaustive determinism which is every event being predetermined not just **some** “preemptions”.

”Wind is not directly observable, but it can be measured by its effects, just like premeditation. Wind is also not the result of the behavior of any individual molecule, but the aggregate behavior of a collection of molecule, just as premeditation would be.”

Again Bob Dylan makes the point that “**dignity” never been photographed”.

One Brow can something be real even though it is incapable of being perceived by means of our sense organs or PHOTOGRAPHED???

I asked you:

”One Brow are we in the Matrix and just don’t know it? :-)”

You answered:

”Well, if I get a chance to take the pill, I’ll let you know. :)”

In the movie, when the point in time came in which Neo was faced with the choice between the two pills, did he have access to both pills? Could he have actualized either possibility in those circumstances? Could he choose either pill or was there a necessitating factor that necessitated that he chose the pill that he in fact chose? I say he had access to both possibilities though he actualized only one possibility (I say that Neo **had** a choice). One Brow do you believe he had access to both pills or not?

Robert

PS – if you get a chance listen to the Dylan song in light of our discussion here. That statement by Dylan “that Dignity never been photographed” is great and provacative philosophy!

One Brow said...

I would suggest that having a choice is more than just the experience of “weighing of alternatives”, but the experience of considering various possibilities and then making a choice to actualize one possibility while excluding the other possibilities.

That description is perfectly compatible with determinism, as far as I can tell. You consider possibilities and make a choice to actualize a possibility based upon the determining criteria. No free will needed.

What is absolutely crucial for the reality of having a choice is that you have access to the differing possibilities. If I do not have access I do not have an available choice.

If by access, you mean that any individual choice might happen in otherwise completely identical situations (as opposed to identical-in-main), this access is not implied by the prior sentence.

… So we start considering the two alternatives, say “bubble gum special” or no ice cream. As a believer in free will, I believe in that situation not only do we “weigh the alternatives” in order to make our choice, we also have accessibility to both alternatives (I can choose not to buy that one flavor of ice cream; or I can choose to buy the “bubble gum special”).

I accept that is your position. I simple feel that the decision you will arrive at is pre-determined.

One Brow do you really believe that in that situation I do not have access to both possibilities?

If by access, you mean that any individual choice might happen in otherwise completely identical situations (as opposed to identical-in-main), then I believe you do not have access to both. If by access, you mean that in situations that are identical-in-main (same amount of money available, same unique flavor, etc. but on different days a week apart), then I believe you do have access to both.

“Weighing the alternatives” is irrelevant if there is a necessitating factor present that causes me to only go one way.

“Weighing the alternatives” is a description of the interplay of varying factors, some cooperating and some opposing, no single one of which may be necessitating, but which aggregate you will follow in a pre-determined fashion.

“Weighing of alternatives” is only useful or practical or helpful if it leads to some actual action that helps us (say a cave man is facing an approaching predator, he can remain standing there and face certain death, or he can run or at least move away from the on coming predator; unless he has access to both alternatives his “weighing of alternatives” is useless and he may become the lunch of that approaching predator, :-)).

Well, I think we know what the result of the weighing process will be, almost all the time, when a man without technology is being chased by a tiger.

The “Weighing of alternatives” is part of the process of making a choice. We weigh alternatives in order to come to a decision (which is itself a choice) and then act in the world. Merely “weighing the alternatives” is insufficient to taking action.

I agree. The action is the result of the final evaluation of those alternatives.

I believe that the reality of having choices is so ingrained that you simply cannot escape it. Every day you are faced with all sorts of choices and in many of them the alternatives are both available and accessible.

I agree with available, but not accessible (by the definition above, please correct me if I am wrong in it).

There are certain realities that human persons deal with that sometimes are immaterial, beyond our sense perceptions (e.g. “justice” “right and wrong”, “rationality and logic”; and one of my favorites, negation, you will never perceive a negative via your senses; Bob Dylan has a great song called and about “Dignity” something he says of in the song “Dignity never been photographed”, why is that? If something is perceivable by the senses then we can take a picture of it right?, but the reality is that some things that are real you cannot take a picture of, one of them is having a choice).

My belief is that many of these abstractions are programmed into us by nature and nuture.

I wrote: ”Second, when Joe acts he is not being coerced, he cannot do otherwise, and he does exactly what he wants to do (these are the features of compatibilism, the person is not coerced, he cannot do otherwise because determinism is true, and he does exactly what he wants so according to many compatibilists he is acting “freely” as defined by compatibilists if these elements are present).”

You responded with:

”Except, Joe is not doing what Joe wants to do, in that Joe’s brain is not making an independent evaluation of the surroundings of Joe to arrive at its decisions. Joe is doing what Frazier wants him to do, following the evaluation of the surroundings as made by Frazier’s brain.”


Here you have not taken exhaustive determinism far enough, because if all is predetermined then that includes “Joe’s brain making an independent evaluation of the surroundings”. Frazier would not be just predetermining Joe’s decision but every element that went into his decision as well. So in fact Frazier would cause Joe to want to make the bad chess move.

So, again you do not have Joe’s brain making an independent evaluation, but Frazier’s brain substituting it’s reasoning for Joe’s. That Frazier’s brain triggers an emotional response in no way makes that response the result of the independent processing of Joe’s brain.

And if CNC control was going on, then Joe would do exactly what he wants to do, and what he wants to do as well as everything involved in him wanting to do what he wants to do, would be predetermined by Frazier as well.

I agree with your analysis. I don’t see what this has to do with Joe being responsible, since Joe is not evaluating the situation.

Your comments here remind me of an error made by theological determinists/calvinists: they will argue that those predetermined to not believe, desire only sin and rebellion against God and so God then “justly” condemns them to eternal punishment(but if God had predetermined the nonbelievers to not believe, not desire relationship with God, then God also controlled and predetermined their desires in a CNC sense, so that they engaged in that “bad move” of not believing in God; you believe that Frazier is to blame for Joe’s bad chess move so wouldn’t this also be true of God and his dealing with unbelievers whom he had predetermined not to believe?).

As I understand you, you are saying that in a Calvinist world-view, God is condemning people who are not responsible for their own behavior. I would agree with that.

”I would certainly hope they are more sophisticated than that. How you can moral responsibility without the ability to act upon alternatives that have been evaluated?”

**Moral**? My senses do not sense any such thing as morality or right and wrong. :-)

One Brow do you sense morality/right/wrong by means of your senses? I don’t and I doubt that you do either.


I agree.

And regarding **evaluating**? Where does that happen?

In the brain.

What do our sense perceptions have to do with evaluating alternatives?

We rely on our sense perceptions to inform us of the available alternatives, I should think. You can’t make a choice to buy ice cream or not unless you sense the presence of ice cream (or conditions that imply there will be ice cream) to buy.

By the way, did I say something about sense perceptions to introduce this into the topic in this fashion? I don’t recall it.

Seems to me that both thinking about and evaluating takes place in our minds which is an immaterial reality.

For me, the mind is a creation of the brain. I think it is real, but not as a separate entity.

Again, when I am talking about CNC control I am speaking of an exhaustive determinism in which all of our actions are necessitated not just some of them. I am not talking about “Joe’s brain is ***occasionally*** [emphasis mine] preempted from the decision-making process”. Frankfurt cases talk about occasional possible preemptions, I am talking about exhaustive determinism which is every event being predetermined not just **some** “preemptions”.

I read up on a couple of Frankfurt cases, but it seems like they deal to a very simplistic notion of determinism.

One Brow can something be real even though it is incapable of being perceived by means of our sense organs or PHOTOGRAPHED???

You mean like the wind? :-)

In the movie, when the point in time came in which Neo was faced with the choice between the two pills, did he have access to both pills?

Within the fiction of the movie? Probably. A real human would not (again, using the understanding of access I mentioned above).

Anonymous said...

On some points we have world view disagreements that are not going to be resolved here. So I am going to focus strictly upon the subject of having and making choices/”free will”.

”That description is perfectly compatible with determinism, as far as I can tell. You consider possibilities and make a choice to actualize a possibility based upon the determining criteria. No free will needed.”

A key distinction to make is between **having** a choice and **making** a choice. Determinism can allow for, or include making a choice. Determinism precludes or excludes **having** a choice. And I submit that most people when referring to “free will” are saying that at least some times, they **have** a choice.
And consider what has to be present for you to have a choice: you have to have accessibility to different alternative possibilities each which you can choose to actualize (I can pick the chocolate or the strawberry ice cream flavors before me; Neo can pick either the red or the blue pill that are present and available and accessible to him).

By access I mean that the person is aware of the differing possibilities, and has the ability to actualize the different possibilities. I may not be able to jump ten feet in the air, but I have the capacity to jump in the air and the ability to both choose to jump in the air or choose not to jump in the air.

”If by access, you mean that any individual choice might happen in otherwise completely identical situations (as opposed to identical-in-main), then I believe you do not have access to both.”

Why not?

A common error made by determinists is to assume that when we say “identical circumstances” we are only talking about external circumstances. What they leave out is the crucial thing: what is going on in the mind when someone is making a choice from available and accessible alternatives. Put another way, choices occur in the mind (or Spirit of a person) and so cannot be seen, though they are very real and experienced by all of us.

Another crucial factor in making choices is that a person when making a choice will be considering what I call “importances” (i.e., a set of criteria we use when making choices, things we consider to be important to us; a very small child will choose a nickel over a dime because his “importance” is size so the nickel is larger than the dime, though another person aware of their differing values, and having worth as their “importance” will choose the dime). When ever we face a choice/decision we will evaluate the differing possibilities which we could actualize by means of our own personal set of importances (different people operate by different sets of importances which partly explains why people in the same external circumstances will make different choices).

So when we talk about “circumstances being identical” those circumstances will include not only the external world but also the internal world, the thoughts we have in our mind including our importances by which we are evaluating a choice. Take **regret** as an example of how this works out in real life situations. Regret is evidence that we have and act according to our importances, because after making a choice, we may experience regret. But how does regret occur? We remember that we were considering between the dime and the nickel and we picked the nickel because it was bigger. But say we were also told afterwards by someone that the dime was worth more. So we deliberated between the dime (worth) the nickel (size) and we picked the nickel as what was important to us was size. But then we find out the dime could buy us more candy, so we regret our decision knowing that we could have picked the dime back when we made the decision and chose the nickel (and we **had** a choice if he could choose either the nickel or the dime in that situation with neither choice being necessitated).

”“Weighing the alternatives” is a description of the interplay of varying factors, some cooperating and some opposing, no single one of which may be necessitating, but which aggregate you will follow in a pre-determined fashion.”

I agree that various factors are involved (including importances) but I disagree that any individual or aggregate of factors **necessitates** our action. This is an assumption, and I have never seen determinists present good evidence for this belief. I also have everyday experiences of choices in which the choices do not seem to be necessitated at all. A good example is our use of ordinary language which involves all sorts of choices. And there is no external to self, or internal to self factor that necessitates what words we use. Instead, **we** make lots and lots of choices from various possibilities when we say words or write words.

Chomsky wrote a famous refutation of Skinner (the deterministic psychologist) which was the death knell of behaviorism in psychology (Skinner argued it is all stimulus and response and that accounts for language use; Chomsky destroyed this notion by showing that between stimulus and response is a mind that makes choices in language use, choices that are not necessitated).

”I agree. The action is the result of the final evaluation of those alternatives.”

And that “final evaluation” isn’t that made in terms of our importances? And WHO is making that “final evaluation”?

”I agree with available, but not accessible (by the definition above, please correct me if I am wrong in it).”

I would say available means the alternative is present in the situation. Accessible means that you personally (as an individual) can access that possibility (cf., Donald Trump and I are at a jewelry story looking for a gift for our wives: while different pieces of jewelry may be available to both of us as we are in that story where those pieces are available; however, assuming we purchase the pieces legally he has access to things in that store that I do not have access to, so something can be available to both of us but accessible only to him).

I wrote: ”Second, when Joe acts he is not being coerced, he cannot do otherwise, and he does exactly what he wants to do (these are the features of compatibilism, the person is not coerced, he cannot do otherwise because determinism is true, and he does exactly what he wants so according to many compatibilists he is acting “freely” as defined by compatibilists if these elements are present).”

You responded with:

”Except, Joe is not doing what Joe wants to do, in that Joe’s brain is not making an independent evaluation of the surroundings of Joe to arrive at its decisions. Joe is doing what Frazier wants him to do, following the evaluation of the surroundings as made by Frazier’s brain.”

Here you have not taken exhaustive determinism far enough, because if all is predetermined then that includes “Joe’s brain making an independent evaluation of the surroundings”. Frazier would not be just predetermining Joe’s decision but every element that went into his decision as well. So in fact Frazier would cause Joe to want to make the bad chess move. CNC control is all about the will of one person being completely controlled by the will of another person.

I had said: “And if CNC control was going on, then Joe would do exactly what he wants to do, and what he wants to do as well as everything involved in him wanting to do what he wants to do, would be predetermined by Frazier as well.”

You responded:

”I agree with your analysis. I don’t see what this has to do with Joe being responsible, since Joe is not evaluating the situation.”
Joe is not evaluating the situation, but **we** as independent observers are. And in our evaluation we note that he could not have done otherwise due to the CNC control exercised by Frazier (though he did exactly what he wanted to do, was not forced to act against his will; his action was not coerced; but it was a case of CNC control). As such in **our** evaluation of the action we conclude that Joe is not responsible for the bad chess move.

I had said: “Your comments here remind me of an error made by theological determinists/calvinists: they will argue that those predetermined to not believe, desire only sin and rebellion against God and so God then “justly” condemns them to eternal punishment(but if God had predetermined the nonbelievers to not believe, not desire relationship with God, then God also controlled and predetermined their desires in a CNC sense, so that they engaged in that “bad move” of not believing in God; you believe that Frazier is to blame for Joe’s bad chess move so wouldn’t this also be true of God and his dealing with unbelievers whom he had predetermined not to believe?).”

And you responded:

”As I understand you, you are saying that in a Calvinist world-view, God is condemning people who are not responsible for their own behavior. I would agree with that.”

You’ve got a problem here and here it is: if theological exhaustive determinism eliminates responsibility (as you agree when you say “people who are not responsible for their own behavior”). Then so does **any** kind of determinism, including **your version**. Again recall the humorous way Flip Wilson put it (i.e., “the devil made me do it”, just put whatever else you believe is the necessitating factor that determines the action, “ ______ made me do it” in the blank and the result is the same, people are no longer responsible for their behavior).

I asked: ”What do our sense perceptions have to do with evaluating alternatives?”

You responded:

”We rely on our sense perceptions to inform us of the available alternatives, I should think. You can’t make a choice to buy ice cream or not unless you sense the presence of ice cream (or conditions that imply there will be ice cream) to buy.”

The senses may be involved in “informing” us of available alternatives when those alternatives involve solely physical realities (the ice cream before us); but not when we are considering immaterial available alternatives. One example would be if we were deliberating about what form of **government** we wanted to implement. Another example would be if we were deliberating about a chess move (the chess move is being considered strategically and according to the rules of chess, but these rules and the logic involved are not material or sensible via our sense organs).

”I read up on a couple of Frankfurt cases, but it seems like they deal to a very simplistic notion of determinism.”

Frankfurt cases are used to show that a person could be responsible though with regard to a **particular action** he could not do otherwise (because if he tried the “intervener” Mr. Black would intervene and ensure that the person cannot make a particular choice). But CNC control is stronger than a mere intervener standing ready to possibly intervene if necessary, CNC control involves the outside and external agent dictating and controlling the actions of the second person. In Frankfurt cases a person is prevented from doing something if he tries; in CNC control the person’s very action is controlled by the external controller.

I asked: “In the movie, when the point in time came in which Neo was faced with the choice between the two pills, did he have access to both pills?”

You answered:

”Within the fiction of the movie? Probably. A real human would not (again, using the understanding of access I mentioned above).”

Probably?

I would say those pills were laying on the table before him, both available and accessible to him. In the “fiction of the movie” as well as in real life, if we **have** choices then we have access to multiple possibilities which we can actualize. If on the other hand, all is determined, then we never have a choice, we do only what the necessitating factor necessitates that we do.

I do not believe that we have much more to say, but I want to thank you One Brow, for a stimulating discussion of these issues.

Robert