Announcements by gjjur4356


• On Thursday we will be covering
  Frankfurt‟s „Freedom of the Will and the
  Concept of a Person‟ and Nagel‟s „Moral
• Tutorial discussion questions will be posted
  tomorrow night
 Richard Taylor, „A Defense of
Libertarian Freedom of the Will‟
         Incontrovertible Facts
• (1) „that my behavior is sometimes the outcome of
  my deliberation‟ (342)
• (2) „that in these and other cases it s sometimes
  up to me what I do‟ (342)
• Thesis: The debate over determinism verses
  freedom, and what model of causality we adopt
  MUST accommodate these facts. It will not do for
  Taylor to state that they are fictions or illusions in
  the name of a philosophical theory.
          Incontrovertible Facts
• For Taylor such facts are more „real‟ than any
  metaphysical theory could be. They are the data
  that a theory is to explicate: the theory is to fit this
  data and not vice-versa.
• Point of Debate: if our philosophical theories
  conflicts with „common sense‟ or our experience
  what goes? For example, did the problem of the
  „external world‟ really trouble or disturb people‟s
  robust realism?
        A Look at Deliberation
• Since this is the data, the „truths, that our theories
  must respect‟, lets take a little closer look at
• 4 Characteristics
• (1) I deliberate only about my own behaviour, not
  others (342): We may try to control another
  person or speculate on what they will do but we
  can never deliberate for them.
        A Look at Deliberation
• (2) I can deliberate only about future actions
  (343): the past is no longer, the present is just
  what we are actually doing now. It‟s the future
  that we deliberate about.
• (3) Deliberation involves decision and decision
  involves that I don‟t already know what I am
  going to do (343): no point deliberating about the
  inevitable. Interesting aside: can we imagine an
  advanced science that will make deliberation
  redundant if we believe in determinism?
       A Look at Deliberation
• (3) Presumably such a science would also
  make science redundant since it will be able
  to predict all future theories.
• (4) To deliberate implies „it is up to me‟: it
  is under my control (342)
• Now that we have our theoretical
  constraints in place lets take a look at some
         A Reconciliation: soft
• Three Theses
• (1) „that the thesis of determinism is true, and that
  accordingly all human behavior, voluntary or
  not…arises from antecedent conditions, given
  which no other behavior is possible - …that all
  human behavior is caused and determined‟ (339)
• (2) „that voluntary behavior is nonetheless free to
  the extent that it is not externally constrained or
  impeded‟ (339)
        A reconciliation: soft
• Three Theses continued
• (3) „that, in the absence of such obstacles
  and constraints, the causes of voluntary
  behavior are certain states, events, or
  conditions within the agent himself;
  namely, his own acts of will or volitions,
  choices, decisions, desires and so on‟ (339-
        A reconciliation: soft
• Thus, we are causally determined to act –
  respecting the causal laws of nature – and
  also free and morally responsible for what
  we do: a compatibility
• Some Background: the version of
  „compatibilism‟ that Taylor considers is one
  made famous in this century by G.E. Moore
    The Compatibilist Argument
• „For to say that I could have done otherwise, he
  says, means, only that I would have done
  otherwise if those inner states that determined my
  action had been different; if that is, I had decided
  or chosen differently‟(340)
• The argument
• (1) She could have done otherwise.
• Just means:
• (2) If she had chose to do otherwise then she
  would have done otherwise.
   The Compatibilist Argument
• As Moore states from his Ethics:
• „There are certainly good reasons for thinking that
  we very often mean by „could‟ merely „would, if
  so and so had chosen.‟ And if so, then we have a
  sense of the word „could‟ in which the fact that we
  often could have done what we did not do, is
  perfectly compatible with the principle that
  everything has a cause: for to say that, if I had
  performed a certain act of will, I should have done
  something which I did not do, in no way
  contradicts this principle‟
    The Compatibilist Argument
• For Moore, this view differentiates freewill from
  fatalism for fatalism states that no matter what we
  have chosen the same end results which is what
  (2) denies.
• (2) is consistent with determinism: even if all of a
  person‟s actions were causally determined the
  person could still be such that IF she had chosen
  otherwise, then she would have done otherwise
     The Compatibilist Argument
•   (1) = (2)
•   (2) is compatible with the determinist thesis
•   Therefore, (1) is compatible with determinism
•   Since the cause of one‟s actions comes from one‟s
    own internal motives, beliefs and desires she is
    responsible. They are YOUR inner states;
    therefore, YOU must be responsible for them
          A Refutation of This
• The problem: inner states – volitions, desires and
   beliefs – are themselves caused on the soft
   determinist position: given just these states this
   action MUST have happened. We can logically
   deduce given the complete data of such inner
   states what will happen. However, we want to be
   in control – think of our primary data - of these
   inner states. What we want for freedom is for (1)
   to read:
 (3) She COULD HAVE done otherwise
           A Refutation of This
• If (3) is false, then so is (1) above. However, (2)
  in the soft determinist argument could be true
  while (1) is false: it could still be the case that she
  could not have done otherwise and it would yet
  still be true that if she had chosen to do otherwise
  then she would have done otherwise. The
  hypothetical „if‟ in (2) represents logical
  possibility – IF beliefs/desires were different then
  action would be – but that is little comfort when
  we wish to consider ontological possibility.
          A Refutation of This
• Therefore, contra Moore and soft determinism, (2)
  is not a proper analysis of (1). Given the
  determinist position with respect to such inner
  states we are led to : „Indeed, if determinism is
  true, as the theory of soft determinism holds it to
  be, all those inner states which cause my body to
  behave in whatever ways it behaves must arise
  from circumstances that existed before I was born;
  for the chain of causes and effects is infinite, and
  none could have been the least different, given
  those that preceded.‟ (341)
          A Refutation of This
• According to soft determinism I have been born
  into a chain of causes and effects, without my
  permission or any choice/say on my part. Such a
  chain includes what I take to be „my volitions‟ and
  inner states: again without any control or say on
  my part.
• Is this freedom? Taylor: No
• The supporting thought experiment; the
  „ingenious physiologist‟ – doesn‟t the exact same
  point apply to an „impersonal‟ causal chain?
       Simple Indeterminism
• We can be brief here
• Indeterminism = randomness
• This won‟t due – random acts are not „up to
  me either‟
• They just happen – a scary thought with
  respect to ourselves
        A Question Concerning
• Taylor argues (343) that if determinism were true
  we could not deliberate „for there is nothing left to
  decide…I can wait and see; but I cannot
  deliberate. I deliberate in order to decide what to
  do, not to discover what it is that I am going to
  do.‟ (343)
• Is this true? What if determinism were true but
  yet with – as it will have to be – an ineliminable
  „epistemic gap‟ making all such „discovering‟
  impossible? Are we not forced to „deliberate‟?
       Taylor‟s solution: Agent
• I – the agent – am the cause of my action. There
  are some events that are not caused by other
  events or states of affairs which would place us
  back into the infinite causal chain, but by the agent
  who is not himself an event or state of affairs – an
  immanent cause.
• We are – in Aristotle‟s terms defining God – the
  prime mover unmoved. Nothing causes us to
  cause those acts.
             Agent Causation
• But here is the strange position: we cause the
  event – via activating brain states say – but there
  was nothing that we did to cause the event – „ an
  agent is sometimes a cause without being an
  antecedent sufficient condition „(344)
• Why?
• If there was something we did to cause the event
  then that thing would be an event and therefore we
  can ask what caused it as well: that event would
  be part of the infinite causal chain
           Agent Causation
• However, this chain stops with the agent
  himself; in fact, he inaugurates a new causal
  chain with his act. He was not caused to
  make this chain happen. We just perform
  the event without being able to specify
  antecedent causal conditions other than to
  say that we did it.
   Two metaphysical corollaries
• (1) A substantial view of the self, the agent.
• The self is a substance that causes events.
  Only so, can the event/event causal chain be
• (2) An „extraordinary conception of
  causation‟ – some philosophers would say
    Extraordinary Conception of
• How so? What is meant by the statement that
  being a cause „just means “being an antecedent
  sufficient condition or set of conditions‟ (344)?
• Some Examples – on board
• The accusation of mysteriousness: an
  „explanatory gap‟ with agent causation that we do
  not have with the traditional account of cause.
  Can we accept such an explanatory gap? How is
  such an explanatory gap fundamentally different
  from indeterminism?
           Taylor Concedes
• Taylor concedes the mysteriousness here: „
  No one seems able, as we have noted, to
  describe deliberation without metaphors,
  and the conception of a thing‟s being
  “within‟s one‟s power” or “up to him”
  seems to defy analysis or definition
  altogether, if taken in a sense which the
  theory of agency appears to require‟ (345)
        Substance view of Self
• I am causing my action
• I as „a substance and a self-moving being‟ (344)
• As self-moving, I initiate a new causal chain
• Once again, unusual model of causation:
  substance causation
• Unusual – think of the explanatory gap and the
  mysteriousness this involves
• To refresh: Can‟t I say definitively what reasons,
  beliefs and desires caused my action?
• Taylor: NO! That would appeal to inner states
  that again immerses us in determinism and the
  causal chain. Such „inner states‟ becomes
  „antecedent conditions‟ that are caused.
• Our reasons, beliefs and desires can partially
  explain why we did the action by telling us what
  led us to the action but it does not take us all the
  way. It is still „up to me‟ – my DECISION
• Ultimately, all I can say is „I did it‟ with the partial
  explanation mentioned earlier.
• Can we accept this?
• Taylor‟s concessions
• 1. This conception of ourselves and how we act is
  „strange indeed, if not positively mysterious‟ (345)
• 2. Our theoretical constraints, our „data‟ could be
  doubted – we may not be free or „really‟
  deliberate: „these data might simply be illusions‟
         Taylor‟s Concessions
• We may only think that we are deliberating.
• However, for Taylor such data is more secure
  than any metaphysical theory and/or doubt. Thus,
  if agent causation is the only theory that can
  accommodate and explain such data, then no
  matter how strange some of its tenets may be, it is
  still to be preferred.
• Do we agree?

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