Few issues bedevil criminology and criminal justice as much as freewill versus determinism. It goes to the heart of the character of the people they deal with and how we should respond to them. People are held morally responsible for what they do only if we believe that they have the ability to make reasoned choices to act morally. Liberals tend to hold an external locus of control and are skeptical of freewill, and (...) conservatives tend to favor an internal locus of control and embrace freewill. This liberal-conservative divide reveals itself in the theories they favor as the best explanations of criminal behavior. Liberals favor explanations external to criminals such as an unfair economic system or criminal justice bias; conservatives tend to favor internal explanations such as low self-control or lack of empathy. In terms of responding to criminal behavior, there have been calls to abandon the idea of punishment and abolish prisons. Liberals may tend to view this as humanitarian while conservatives will tend to view them as incredibly naïve. The greater tendency of liberals to hold an external locus of control and their skepticism about freewill lead them to view people's behavior as largely beyond their control, which accounts for their punishment abolitionist stance. The greater tendency of conservatives to believe in freewill and an internal locus of control leads to a more punitive stance toward criminals. Many issues that divide liberals and conservatives in criminology-criminal justice may be traced to their beliefs about freewill and determinism. (shrink)
In this introduction we accomplish two things. First, we attempt to get clear about what we mean by the term 'freewill'. Second, we introduce a philosophical puzzle known as the metaphysical problem of freewill.
Progress may be made in resolving the tension between freewill and determinism by analysis of the necessary conditions of freedom. It is of the essence that these conditions include causal and deterministic regularities. Furthermore, the human expression of freewill is informed by understanding some of those regularities, and increments in that understanding have served to enhance freedom. When the possible character of a deterministic system based on physical theory is considered, it is judged (...) that, far from implying the elimination of human freedom, such a theory might simply set parameters for it; indeed knowledge of that system could again prove to be in some respects liberating. On the other hand, it is of the essence that the overarching biological framework is not a deterministic system and it foregrounds the behavioural flexibility of humans in being able to choose within a range of options and react to chance occurrences. Furthermore, an issue for determinism flows from the way in which randomness (e.g. using a true random number generator) and chance events could and do enter human life. Once the implications of that issue are fully understood, other elements fit comfortably together in our understanding of freely undertaken action: the contribution of reasons and causes; the fact that reasons are never sufficient to account for outcomes; the rationale for the attribution of praise and blame. (shrink)
In this paper I shall define a thesis I shall call ' determinism ', and argue that it is incompatible with the thesis that we are able to act otherwise than we do. Other theses, some of them very different from what I shall call ' determinism ', have at least an equal right to this name, and, therefore, I do not claim to show that every thesis that could be called ' determinism ' without historical impropriety (...) is incompatible with freewill. I shall, however, assume without argument that what I call ' determinism ' is legitimately so called. In Part I, I shall explain what I mean by ' determinism '. In Part II, I shall make some remarks about 'can'. In Part III, I shall argue that freewill and determinism are incompatible. In Part IV, I shall examine some possible objections to the argument of Part III. I shall not attempt to establish the truth or falsity of determinism, or the existence or nonexistence of freewill. (shrink)
In this chapter, the author uses the film Minority Report as a means of reflecting on the age‐old topic of freewill. Traditionally, having freewill is thought to require two things: alternate possibilities and self‐control. Soft determinism is the view that determinism is true, and yet we have freewill anyway. It is not rational to embrace hard determinism, since hard determinism, in conjunction with norms implicit in reasoning, leads (...) to a conclusion that rationally undermines hard determinism itself. A determinist (hard or soft) would instead interpret minority reports as evidence of the pre‐cogs’ fallibility ‐ perhaps the future is predetermined, but sometimes one of the pre‐cogs makes a mistake about what is going to happen. One might take this as grounds for abandoning the Precrime system ‐ until one remembers that any criminal justice system is fallible. (shrink)
This book argues two main things: The first is that there is no such thing as freewill—at least not in the sense most ordinary folk take to be central or fundamental; the second is that the strong and pervasive belief in freewill can be accounted for through a careful analysis of our phenomenology and a proper theoretical understanding of consciousness.
This essay begins by dividing the traditional problem of freewill and determinism into a “correlation” problem and an “explanation” problem. I then focus on the explanation problem, and argue that a standard form of abductive (i.e. inference to the best-explanation) reasoning may be useful in solving it. To demonstrate the fruitfulness of the abductive approach, I apply it to three standard accounts of freewill. While each account implies the same solution to the correlation (...) problem, each implies a unique solution to the explanation problem. For example, all libertarian-friendly accounts of freewill imply that it is impossible to act freely when determinism is true. However, only a narrow subset of libertarians have the theoretical resources to defend the incompatibilist claim that deterministic laws (qua being deterministic) undermine freewill, while other libertarians must reject this incompatibilist view. -/- [Version: Nov. 12, 2018]. (shrink)
James's classic article "The Dilemma of Determinism" represents only an early and partial statement on his views of freewill and determinism. James's mature position incorporates the arguments of "The Dilemma of Determinism" into a robust theory of freewill which at once explains the operations of free effort, and delineates the scope of legitimate psychological explanation. Freewill is an issue of fact while being beyond the competence of psychological (...) science. (shrink)
This set reissues a number of classic titles on freewill and determinism. They approach the topic from a range of differing viewpoints, and in so doing, provide an excellent overview and in-depth analysis of this fundamental philosophical problem.
Like most episodes of Black Mirror, “Hang the DJ” raises a host of philosophical questions. While there is much from this episode to explore, this chapter will explore something that has not yet been addressed in other work, namely the connection between “Hang the DJ” and questions about freewill and determinism (or indeterminism, as the case may be). This chapter will proceed as follows: first, I will sketch some reasons for thinking that, if (...)determinism is true, then no one has or exercises freewill. One type of response to determinism’s threat to freewill is to accept the incompatibility of freewill and determinism and to maintain that we nevertheless have freewill. Theorists who endorse indeterministic accounts of freewill are called libertarians in the freewill debate (but please do not confuse them with political libertarians). Second, I will explain a bit more of the mechanics of libertarianism. Third, I will discuss an influential challenge to libertarianism that has come to be known as the “rollback argument.” The mechanics of this challenge will resemble the plot twist of “Hang the DJ.” Fourth, and finally, I will explore the episode’s portrayal of the value of undetermined choice. (shrink)
Of liberty and necessity, by D. Hume.--The doctrine of necessity examined, by C. S. Peirce.--Determinism in history, by E. Nagel.--Some arguments for freewill, by T. Reid.--Has the self freewill? by C. A. Campbell.--Dialogue on freewill, by L. de Valla.--Can the will be caused? by C. Ginet.--Freewill, by G. E. Moore.--A modal muddle, by S. N. Thomas.--Determinism, indeterminism, and libertarianism, by C. D. Broad.--An empirical disproof of (...)determinism? by K. Lehrer.--Freewill, praise and blame, by J. J. C. Smart.--Bibliographical essay. (shrink)
In this article we study the question of freewill from an interdisciplinary angle, drawing on philosophy, neurobiology and physics. We start by reviewing relevant neurobiological findings on the functioning of the brain, notably as presented in (Koch 2009); we assess these against the physics of (in)determinism. These biophysics findings seem to indicate that neuronal processes are not quantum but classical in nature. We conclude from this that there is little support for the existence of an immaterial (...) ‘mind’, capable of ruling over matter independently of the causal past. But what, then, can freewill be ? We propose a compatibilist account that resonates well with neurobiology and physics, and that highlights that freewill comes in degrees – degrees which vary with the conscious grasp the ‘free’ agent has over his actions. Finally, we analyze the well-known Libet experiment on freewill through the lens of our model. We submit this interdisciplinary investigation as a typical case of naturalized philosophy: in our theorizing we privilege assumptions that find evidence in science, but our conceptual work also suggests new avenues for research in a few scientific disciplines. (shrink)
I was led to this clarificatory job initially by some puzzlement from a philosopher's standpoint about just why freewill questions should come up particularly in connection with the genome project, as opposed to the many other scientific research programs that presuppose determinism. The philosophic concept of determinism involves explanation of all events, including human action, by prior causal factors--so that whether or not human behavior has a genetic basis, it ultimately gets traced back to _something_ (...) true of the world before our birth. The philosophic problem of freewill and determinism arises because this seems to undercut moral responsibility: How can we reasonably be held responsible for something whose causes we couldn't control? (shrink)
The debate over whether freewill and determinism are compatible is controversial, and produces wide scholarly discussion. This paper argues that recent studies in experimental philosophy suggest that people are in fact “natural compatibilists”. To support this claim, it surveys the experimental literature bearing directly or indirectly upon this issue, before pointing to three possible limitations of this claim. However, notwithstanding these limitations, the investigation concludes that the existing empirical evidence seems to support the view that most (...) people have compatibilist intuitions. (shrink)