The causally undetermined choice

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Transcript The causally undetermined choice

The causally
undetermined choice
To know if we can make sense
of an indeterminate free will
lesson 11
 Because causation is a fact of the universe it
is hard to disprove.
 Therefore libertarians attempt to side step the
issues involved.
 They do this in two ways:
1.Either show that causation is not applicable
to everything in the universe
2.Identify human actions as unique and show
how they are exempt from causation
lesson 11
• There are two ways to demonstrate how
causation does not apply to everything in the
• Chaos theory
• Quantum mechanics
• These theories attempt to prove that nature is
• Meaning that not everything is determined.
lesson 11
 CHAOS THEORY: this theory proposes that there is
apparently random behaviour within a deterministic
system. This is not due to a lack of laws but to
immeasurable variations in the initial conditions
affecting the outcome of an event.
 The classic example is a butterfly flapping its wings
in Africa and causing a Hurricane in America.
 QUANTUM MECHANICS: quantum physics
proposes that at the sub-atomic level you can only
predict the speed or the position of an atom.
Therefore, there is an indeterminism that cannot be
predicted built into nature. Physical determinism is
therefore, not necessarily complete.
 Schrodinger’ s cat: put a cat in a box with poison.
Quantum determinism predicts that the cat could be
both dead and alive therefore, you can never know
unless you open the box.
lesson 11
• There are two ways to demonstrate how
human actions are unique.
• Descartes and Mind Body dualism
• Kant and the noumenal realm
• These theories attempt to prove that human
actions are unique and are causally
• Meaning that choices are not determined.
lesson 11
 For libertarians what matters is that choices
are causally undetermined. Agents
genuinely choose, themselves what to do.
 We are free to act and morally responsible
for those actions.
 When we act we have an idea that we are
acting and as ourselves as free agents.
 Sometimes we are torn between two
decisions both we feel equally uncertain
about before making a decision.
lesson 11
 In order for us to have true freedom
of the will that action must be
causally undetermined.
 The agent being the sole cause of
the action.
 However this presents another
lesson 11
 If determinism is false then our actions are not
 Science allows for uncaused events however
these are random occurrences which happen
merely by chance.
 So if free actions must be undetermined, as
libertarians claim, it seems that they too would
happen by chance.
 But how can chance events be free and
responsible actions?
 To solve the Libertarian Dilemma, libertarians
must not only show that free will is incompatible
with determinism, they must also show how free
will can be compatible with indeterminism.
lesson 11
Free will
Free will
Incompatiblist mountain
Freedom of action vs.
Freedom of will
To understand the type of
freedom libertarians want.
lesson 12
 “A free agent is he that can do as he will,
and forbear as he will, and that liberty is the
absence of external impediments.” Hume
 I am free to choose as long as nothing gets
in my way.
 “here liberty is defined as the power of
acting or not acting, according to how I will
something to be.
 “if we choose to remain at rest, we may; if
we choose to move, we also may...” Hume.
 Everyone who is not a prisoner has
lesson 12
• FREEDOM of action is not freedom
of will.
• Remember Walden two – the
citizens were able to choose
whatever they wanted, it is just that
everything they wanted was
behaviourally engineered.
• Freedom of action does not give us
moral responsibility. lesson 12
Solutions to the
libertarian dilemma
To understand three solutions
to the libertarian dilemma
lesson 13
 René Descartes believed that the “mind” or “soul” was distinct
from the body. The mind is outside the physical world and its
activity would not be governed by laws of nature that govern
physical events.
 If, in addition, a disembodied mind or soul could interact with
the physical world by influencing the brain, as Descartes
imagined, then the mind or soul would be the “extra factor”
libertarians need to explain free choice.
 Whatever could not be fully explained by the activity of brain or
body might be explained by the activity of the mind or soul.
 For such a dualist solution to the Free will problem to work, the
physical world would have to cooperate, allowing some
indeterminism in nature, perhaps in the brain. It may be true
that quantum jumps or other undetermined events in the brain
would not by themselves amount to free choices. But
undetermined events in the brain might provide the “leeway” or
“causal gaps” in nature through which an extra factor, such as
an immaterial mind or soul, might intervene in the physical
world to influence physical events.
 But the activity of the agent’s mind or soul would not be among
the physical circumstances and would not be governed by laws
of nature; and the activity of an immaterial mind or soul could
account for why one choice was made rather than another.
Thus free choices would not be arbitrary, random, or
inexplicable after all;
lesson 13
• You have to create a new substance
unlike any other detectable by
science and never heard of in order
to justify Free will.
• It seems more likely that Free will
doesn't exist!
• How exactly does a physical and non
physical substance interact?
• “At the price of mystery you can have
anything”... Schrödinger
lesson 13
1596 -1650
•Research yourself
lesson 13
 Something's have to stay mysterious!
 Immanuel Kant thought libertarian freedom was necessary to make
sense of morality and true responsibility.
 But Kant also held that a libertarian freedom could not be
understood in theoretical or scientific terms.
 Science and reason, said Kant, can tell us only the way things
appear to us in space and time—the world of phenomena. But
science and reason cannot tell us about the way things are in
themselves—the noumena.
 thus, when scientists try to explain why an agent makes one free
choice rather than another, if they are biochemists or neurologists,
they will appeal to prior states and processes of agent’s brain and
body, which appear to us in space and time. If the scientists are
psychologists, they will appeal to prior states and processes of the
agent’s mind
 free choices are beyond scientific explanation. Our reason and
moral responsibility necessitates it
 we must presuppose we can keep the promise or break it and that
it is “up to us” what we do. If we did not believe this, deliberating
would make no sense.
 Our real or noumenal selves can be free, he argues, because they
are not subject to the constraints of space and time or the laws of
lesson 13
1724 –1804
 But when science and reason try to explain how
the noumenal self can be free, they inevitably
look for physical, psychological, or social causes
of our behaviour; and then the scientists are
describing only the self as it appears to us, the
phenomenal self, not the noumenal or real self.
 Indeed, anything we might say about this
noumenal self—about its states or activities—
would be describing its physical, psychological, or
social circumstances, hence would be describing
the phenomenal, not the real, self.
 The noumenal self is thus the “extra factor” in
Kant’s theory that is supposed to account for free
will. But we cannot say how it does so.
lesson 13
 Through mans freedom we understand what it
means to be human.
 First man exists and then he defines himself by his
choices. People are born as morally empty slates.
 It is by our free acts that we gain our self definition.
 Because God does not exist our freedom makes us
responsible for every decision we make.
 This freedom is too much for some people to take
and try to avoid their responsibility in the world.
 These people are not fulfilling their true potential.
 Human life involves choice ... So take control of your
choices and live by them.
 “Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown
into the world, he is responsible for everything he
lesson 13
• Read through all of your notes, make sure you understand
• Write a list of questions or anything you do not understand.
We will be having a ‘broken down’ lesson where you will be put into two
classes for one week and you only attend one lesson and complete a
set task in the other.
lesson 13