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Excerpt from Freedom and Action
From Freedom and Determinism, ed. by Keith Lehrer, 1966
(adaptation of Chisholm's 1964 Lindley Lecture)
1. The Metaphysical Problem.
The metaphysical problem of human freedom might be summarized in the following way: "Human beings are responsible agents; but this fact appears to conflict with a deterministic view of human action (the view that every event that is involved in an act is caused by some other event); and it also appears to conflict with an indeterministic view of human action (the view that the act, or some event that is essential to the act, is not caused at all)." To solve the problem, I believe, we must make somewhat far-reaching assumptions about the self of the agent — about the man who performs the act. Perhaps it is needless to remark that, in all likelihood, it is impossible to say anything significant about this ancient problem that has not been said before.
2. An Example.
3. Ultimate Responsibility.
4. God as Prime Mover
5. A Standard Objection.
6. Pursuing the Argument.
(a) He could have done otherwise, it is argued, means no more nor less than
(b) If he had chosen to do otherwise, then he would have done otherwise.
(In place of "chosen," one might say "tried," "set out," "decided," "undertaken," or "willed.") The truth of statement (b), it is then pointed out, is consistent with determinism (and with divine providence); for even if all of the man's actions were causally determined, the man could still be such that, if he had chosen otherwise, then he would have done otherwise. What the murderer saw, let us suppose, along with his beliefs and desires, caused him to fire the shot; yet he was such that if, just then, he had chosen or decided not to fire the shot, then he would not have fired it. All of this is certainly possible. Similarly, we could say, of the dam, that the flood caused it to break and also that the dam was such that, if there had been no flood or any similar pressure, then the dam would have remained intact. And therefore, the argument proceeds, if (b) is consistent with determinism, and if (a) and (b) say the same thing, then (a) is also consistent with determinism; hence we can say that the agent could have done otherwise, even though he was caused to do what he did do; and therefore determinism and moral responsibility are compatible.
7. Is the argument sound?
8. Agent Causation.
9. Inanimate Causes.
10. Transeunt vs. Immanent Causation.
11. Moving the Hand.
13. Answering the First Objection.
14. A Useful Distinction.
15. Making the Brain Do Things.
16. The Second Objection.
17. When Agents Cause.
18. What is Causation?
19. The Difference between Happening and Being Caused.
20. Transeunt Causation Gets Meaning from Immanent Causation.
21. The Will.
22. Causa Sui.
23. Prime Movers Unmoved.
24. The Hobbist Approach.
25. The Kantian Approach.
26. Is There a "Science of Man"?.
27. The Role of Desires.
28. Inclining without Necessitating.
29. Do Motives Necessitate.
30. Necessary and Sufficient Causes.
31. Another Example.
32. Looking More Closely at the Example.
33. A Resolution.
St. Anselm noted that (i) and (iii), respectively, may be thought of as forming the upper left and the upper right corners of a square of opposition, and (iv) and (ii) the lower left and the lower right.
Let us think of "inclination without necessitation," then, in such terms as these. First we may contrast the two propositions;
(1) He can resist the temptation to do something in order to make A happen;
(z) He can resist the temptation to allow A to happen (i.e., to do nothing to prevent A from happening).
We may suppose that the man has some desire to have A happen and thus has a motive for making A happen. His motive for making A happen, I suggest, is one that necessitates, provided that, because of the motive, (i) is false: he cannot resist the temptation to do something in order to make A happen. His motive for making A happen is one that inclines, provided that, because of the motive, (2) is false: like our public official, he cannot bring himself to do anything to prevent A from happening. And therefore we can say that his motive for making A happen is one that inclines but does not necessitate, provided that, because of the motive, (i) is true and (2) is false; he can resist the temptation to make it happen but he cannot resist the temptation to allow it to happen...
anonymousRoderick M. Chisholm, & , & , & , & , & , & .
"Freedom and Action"Freedom and Determinism.
(First Edition: .)
Keith Lehrer , & , & , & , & , & , & .Freedom and Determinism. Edition. Volume . Volumes -. (, trans.). Humanities Press. ISBN: 0391005375. .
- Originally published in Lindley Lecture, 1964.
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