But let us imagine the simplest case: I shall argue that free will is incompatible with determinism. From the beginning of life, reactions occur between the psyche and the external world, through the medium of atomic eidola which flow from all objects and may reach the psyche through the sense organs and the mind.
Actions caused by chance are simply random and we cannot feel responsible for them. But we do feel responsible. Despite more than twenty-three centuries of philosophizing, most modern thinkers have not moved significantly beyond this core problem of randomness and free will for libertarians - the confused idea that free actions are caused directly by a random event.
In a large number of atoms compounded as a "mind," the swerve of many atoms becomes the free volition of an undetermined consciousness. Giussani's two elements look like a temporal sequence - free spontaneous thoughts illuminate the subsequent decision of the will to act. Epicurus did not identify freedom of the will with chance. Multiple random events can average out to produce an adequate determinism. Swerves allow psychological character development cf.
Robert Kane 's "self-forming actions". In his conclusion, Furley seems comfortable with modern compatibilism. This is a misreading of Epicurus by his opponents that is still popular today.
This is not an interpretation that would have been acceptable to Epicurus. Epicurus would not want actions that are " up to us " to be randomly caused. For Furley, Epicurus' clinamen is only an occasional event which breaks the chain of causation. So voluntas might be an agent-causal will that is " up to us ".
Long and Sedley agree with Pamela Huby that Epicurus was first to see the free will problem. Randomness is no better than necessity in the standard argument against free will.
Epicurus's reaction to skepticism is similar to David Hume 's " naturalism " or "realism. Long and Sedley here arrive at our Cogito model , speculating that randomness provides the alternative possibilities from which an adequately determined volition can choose. Random swerves provide alternative possibilities for an adequately determined will to choose from.
Purinton makes the all-too-common common error of translating Lucretius' libera as 'free volition'. Purinton is wrong here. As Long and Sedley argued, our thoughts and alternative possibilities can be free, and our willed actions adequately determined. Furley merely de-emphasized the direct involvement of the random swerve in volition, as had Bailey before him, to avoid the standard argument against free will. Freedom to do otherwise, freedom of decision, and extreme freedom of the will Bobzien now labels "two-sided" freedom.
Epicurus did not make actions directly the result of random atomic swerves , but he and Aristotle did think volitions were " up to us. If the swerve caused the action, it would be random. This extreme form of libertarianism, in which chance is the direct cause of action , developed by Epicurus critics to attack him, is unlikely to have been what he had in mind.
Alexander sees chance as limiting strict determinism , but so did Aristotle and Epicurus. For Alexander, Stoic claims of responsibility are mere words.
For Alexander, free action requires genuine alternative possibilities. The First Determinist was Democritus. The First Indeterminist was Aristotle. The First Incompatibilist was Epicurus. The First Compatibilist was Chrysippus. Candidates for the first thinkers to form these views, as well as the idea of a non-physical " agent-causal " libertarianism, include Democritus , Aristotle , Epicurus , Chrysippus , and Carneades After a brief review of the history, we will also look at the arguments of modern classicists and historians of philosophy who have scrutinized the textual evidence for each of these philosophers.
Sharples , Don Fowler , A. All of these modern analyses make implicit or explicit comparisons to sophisticated modern ideas of determinism and libertarianism. Since these ideas are quite complex, we need to identify and separate the original problems from their modern counterparts. And we need to separate the distinct ideas of logical necessity , physical determinism , fatalism , future contingency denied on the basis of the principle of bivalence , and divine foreknowledge that are often scrambled together in the work of the ancient thinkers.
The very first free will "problem" was whether freedom was compatible with intervention and foreknowledge of the gods. Before there was anything called philosophy, religious accounts of man's fate explored the degree of human freedom permitted by superhuman gods. Creation myths often end in adventures of the first humans making choices and being held responsible. But a strong fatalism is present in those tales that foretell the future, based on the idea that the gods have foreknowledge of future events.
Anxious not to annoy the gods, the myth-makers rarely challenged the implausible view that the gods' foreknowledge is compatible with human freedom. This was an early form of today's compatibilism , the idea that causal determinism and logical necessity are compatible with free will. Aristotle knew that many of our decisions are quite predictable based on habit and character, but they are no less free nor we less responsible if our character itself and predictable habits were developed freely in the past and are changeable in the future.
The tertium quid is agent autonomy Everything in the material universe is made of atoms in unstoppable perpetual motion. Deterministic paths are only the case for very large objects, where the statistical laws of atomic physics average to become nearly certain dynamical laws for billiard balls and planets.
This goes beyond Epicurus and leads to the mistaken conclusion that the swerves directly cause actions. The complete conception of the will according to Epicurus comprises two elements, a complex atomic movement which has the characteristic of spontaneity, that is, is withdrawn from the necessity of mechanical causation: Cyril Bailey translation Cyril Bailey In Bailey agreed with Giussani that the atoms of the mind-soul provide a break in the continuity of atomic motions, otherwise actions would be necessitated.
It is a commonplace to state that Epicurus, like his follower Lucretius, intended primarily to combat the 'myths' of the orthodox religion, to show by his demonstration of the unfailing laws of nature the falseness of the old notions of the arbitrary action of the gods and so to relieve humanity from the terrors of superstition.
But it is sometimes forgotten that Epicurus viewed with almost greater horror the conception of irresistible 'destiny' or 'necessity', which is the logical outcome of the notion of natural law pressed to its conclusion. This conclusion had been accepted in its fulness by Democritus, but Epicurus conspicuously broke away from him: Diogenes of Oenoanda brings out the close connexion with moral teaching: If any ethical system is to be effective it must postulate the freedom of the will.
If in the sphere of human action too 'destiny' is master, if every action is the direct and inevitable outcome of all preceding conditions and man's belief in his own freedom of choice is a mere delusion, then a moral system is useless: Here at all events 'destiny' must be eliminated.
It is a more fatal enemy than superstition, for it means complete paralysis: But why, in order to secure this very remote object, should a protest against 'inexorable necessity' be made at this point in the physical system? It would have been easy, one might think, to accomplish the immediate purpose of securing the meeting of the atoms in their fall through space by some device, such as the Stoic notion that all things tend to the centre,' which should not be a breach of the fundamental law of causality, instead of this sporadic spontaneous deviation.
And in what sense can this 'swerve' be said to be vital for the freedom of the will, with which Lucretius so emphatically connects it? The answer must be looked for in the very material notions of Epicurus' psychology, which may be briefly anticipated here. Suppose, for instance, that in this way there comes before my mind the image of myself walking: But before this can happen another process must take place, the process of volitional choice.
We can choose to do otherwise When the image is presented to the mind it does not of itself immediately and inevitably start the chain of motions which results in the physical movement; I can at will either accept or reject the idea which it suggests, I can decide either to walk or not to walk. This is a matter of universal experience and it must I not be denied or rejected. Bailey identifies one swerve with volition But how is this process of choice to be explained on purely material lines?
It is due, said Epicurus, to the spontaneous swerving of the atoms: The fortuitous indeterminate movement of the individual atoms in the void 'is in the conscious complex concilium of the mind transformed into an act of deliberate will.
The vital connexion, indeed the identity of the two processes is clearly brought out by Lucretius at the close of his exposition of the theory: It is not merely, as has been suggested, that Epicurus decided to get over two difficult problems in his system economically by adopting a single solution, but that he perceived an essential connexion between them: The 'swerve' of the atoms is, no doubt, as the critics have always pointed out, a breach of the fundamental laws of cause and effect, for it is the assertion of a force for which no cause can be given and no explanation offered.
For if it be said that the atom swerves because it is its nature to do so, that is merely to put 'nature' as a deus ex machina on a level with 'necessity' as it was conceived by some of the early physicists, a force which came in to do what could not otherwise be explained.
But it was no slip or oversight on Epicurus' part which a more careful consideration of his principles might have rectified. On the contrary it was a very deliberate breach in the creed of 'necessity' and is in a sense the hinge on which the whole of his system turns. He wished to secure 'freedom' as an occasional breach of 'natural law'. If criticism is to be brought against him, it must not be on the technical ground of inconsistency in this detail, but on the broader ground that in his system as a whole he was attempting the impossible.
To escape from the old notion of the divine guidance of the world, the Atomists had set up a materialist philosophy directed solely by uniform laws of cause and effect. Democritus saw that this, if pursued to its logical conclusion, must lead to an unflinching determinism, which with more scientific insight perhaps, but less care for his ethical precepts, he had wholly accepted.
Epicurus, unwilling in this way to risk his moral system, tried to escape from the impasse without abandoning a materialist position. Bailey says some metaphysical agency is necessary to explain freedom Such a compromise is in reality impossible: From the point of view of ultimate consistency, the 'swerve' is a flaw in Epicureanism, but it is not to be treated as a petty expedient to get over a temporary difficulty, or an unintelligent mistake which betrays the superficial thinker.
It may not be uninteresting to notice that a parallel difficulty arises for modern thinkers and that a solution not unlike that of Epicurus' atomic swerve has sometimes been propounded.
Bailey, The Greek Atomists and Epicurus , pp. In the individual atom it is automatic, spontaneous, and wholly undetermined in occasion or direction. Is the movement of the mind in will merely the result of such a movement in one of its component atoms, or even the sum of many such movements?
If so it too must be automatic and undetermined. When the image of action is presented to the mind, it is impossible to foretell in what way the movement will occur, or even whether it will occur at all.
In other words the mind is not really self-determined, but is at the mercy of wholly undetermined movements inside itself, and freewill after all its careful preservation turns out to be nothing better than chance. This is indeed the conclusion reached by one modern critic, and it is not to be wondered at that he is unwilling to believe that Epicurus himself can have rested the claim for freewill on the atomic 'swerve'.
But the solution of this difficulty lies once again to the Epicurean conception of a compound body concilium, conciliatus. The compound is more than a mere aggregate of independent atoms: The soul or mind is a compound body of such peculiar constitution in the nature of its component atoms and their motions among themselves, that it acquires the power of sensation or consciousness.
The automatic swerve of the individual atoms then is translated in the complex of the mind into a consciously spontaneous movement, in other words into a movement of volition. Giussani's two elements look like a temporal sequence - free spontaneous thoughts illuminate the subsequent decision of the will to act 'The complete conception of the will according to Epicurus, Giussani argues in an admirable summary of his position, 'comprises two elements, a complex atomic movement which has the characteristic of spontaneity, that is, is withdrawn from the necessity of mechanical causation: It may be that this account presses the Epicurean doctrine slightly beyond the point to which the master had thought it out for himself, but it is a direct deduction from undoubted Epicurean conceptions and is a satisfactory explanation of what Epicurus meant: Epicurus did not identify freedom of the will with chance that he should have thought that the freedom of the will was chance, and fought hard to maintain it as chance and no more, is inconceivable.
And if the further question is asked how can a complex of blind spontaneous movements of atoms become the conscious act of volition of the mind, we are only thrown back once more on the ultimate difficulty, which has made itself felt all through this account of the soul. For indeed, if we look back over it, we find that here and there crudities of thought or incoherences in the connexion of ideas have been noted, yet as a whole the general theory is self-consistent and complete; but at the back of it always lies the difficulty which must beset Epicureanism or any other form of materialism: That all forms of consciousness have their physical counterpart, that sensation, thought, will are accompanied by material movements of parts of the physical organism is credible, and indeed scientific investigation seems to be revealing this parallelism more and more clearly to us.
The more material thinkers of our own time are content to say that consciousness 'supervenes' as an 'epiphenomenon' on the movements of matter: Epicurus went the step farther and was prepared to say that consciousness, sensation, thought, and will are the movements of the soul-atoms.
Such an idea is to most modern minds, as it was to the majority of philosophers in Epicurus' day, unthinkable: If we accept a purely materialistic system in any form, its conclusions will have to be mutatis mutandis something like those of Epicurus: Consequitur sensus, inde voluntas fit , his pupil says glibly, but each time rouses in us the same feeling that this is just what can never be understood.
And if it is impossible to accept his account of the nature of the soul and its workings, so the inference from it cannot be admitted.
If the soul is a mere atomic complex, a 'body', then no doubt like the body it perishes and cannot have any sort of existence after death. But if that account be unsatisfactory, then the problem of survival remains open: It is impossible in dealing with a material system to refrain from pointing out its fundamental weakness, but in an attempt to estimate Epicurus as a thinker, it is less profitable to quarrel with his base-principles than to think of the superstructure he has built upon them.
And once again in examining the account of the soul, for all its weaknesses, we are conscious of the workings of a great mind, capable of grasping alike broad ideas and minute details of elaboration. We are certainly not left with the picture of a moral teacher, who merely patched together any kind of physics and metaphysics to back up his ethical preaching. Bailey had also denied this "traditional interpretation. Aristotle's criterion of the voluntary was a negative one: Lucretius says that voluntas must be saved from a succession of causes which can be traced back to infinity.
All he needs to satisfy the Aristotelian criterion is a break in the succession of causes , so that the source of an action cannot be traced back to something occurring before the birth of the agent. A single swerve of a single atom in the individual's psyche would be enough for this purpose, if all actions are to be referred to the whole of the psyche. Multiple random events can average out to produce an adequate determinism But there is no evidence about the number of swerves.
One would be enough, and there must not be so many that the psyche exhibits no order at all; between these limits any number would satisfy the requirements of the theory.
The swerve, then, plays a purely negative part in Epicurean psychology. It saves voluntas from necessity, as Lucretius says it does, but it does not feature in every act of voluntas. There is no need to scrutinize the psychology of a voluntary action to find an uncaused or spontaneous element in it. The peculiar vulnerability of Epicurean freedom — that it seemed to fit random actions, rather than deliberate and purposive ones — is a myth, if this explanation is correct.
We can now understand why the swerve gets no mention in Lucretius' account of voluntary action. It gets no mention because it plays no direct part in it. The theory of the swerve asserts merely that our actions are not caused conjointly by the environment and our parentage.
There was no need for Lucretius to mention this in his account of the psychology of action, any more than there was for Aristotle to insist on his negative criterion of the voluntary in De Motu Animalium. It may be objected that a swerve in the psyche must have been supposed to produce some observable effect. But not even this is true. We have already glanced at Lucretius' doctrine that the mind has before it innumerable simulacra which never reach the level of consciousness, because the time interval during which they are present is imperceptibly small.
But if the impact of those complicated atomic configurations which constitute simulacra could have no observable effect, it is a safe inference that the minute swerve of a single atom would be undetectable. So we can, after all, make use of the Epicurean concept of the concilium in our explanation.
I argued previously against Bailey's use of it in saying that "what in the individual atom is a matter of chance, in the conscious complex of the animus is 'conscious chance. It is perfectly reasonable, however, that the random motion of a single atom should be concealed by the fact that it is just one element in a complex. The Epicurean psychology of action, if I am right, was in outline as follows. Each person is born with a psyche of a particular character, determined by the proportions of atoms of the four different kinds which constitute a psyche.
From the beginning of life, reactions occur between the psyche and the external world, through the medium of atomic eidola which flow from all objects and may reach the psyche through the sense organs and the mind. From the beginning, the child experiences feelings of pleasure and pain; in atomic terms, pain is a disturbance of the motions of the psyche atoms caused by a lack of something, and pleasure is either the restoration of the undisturbed motions which constitute tranquillity, or else the state of tranquillity itself.
The child learns to associate external objects with one or other of these feelings. A feeling of something lacking constitutes a motive to make good the lack, and so creates an impulse towards an object in the external world which the child has learned will supply the deficiency. A person's feelings, and therefore his motives and his behavior, are to some extent determined by his genetic inheritance of a psyche of such and such a constitution.
Robert Kane 's "self-forming actions" But the motions of the psyche and it is in its motions that all its character and action consists are not determined ab initio , because a discontinuity is brought about by the atomic swerve. The swerve of an atom or atoms in the psyche means that the inherited motions are disturbed, and this allows new patterns of motion to be established which cannot be explained by the initial constitution of the psyche. There is both continuity and discontinuity.
The character of the person is to some extent still determined by the initial constitution of his psyche, because the proportions of atoms of different types in it remain the same. But to a much greater extent his character is adaptable, because the motions of the atoms are not determined and can be changed by learning. A person learns by experience. He learns what desires must be satisfied, and what objects satisfy them, simply by constant repetition of the experience of desire and satisfaction.
He can learn by individual trial and error, or by precept and example from others. If he is indoctrinated in the Epicurean philosophy, he learns to distinguish desires which arise from nature and must be satisfied from those which arise from nature but need not be satisfied and from those which do not arise from nature and are best eliminated.
He learns that the limit of pleasure is the absence of pain, and so ceases to feel pain through desire for some extra pleasure. His feelings become disciplined, so that an improper object—one that brings more pain than pleasure in the long run—no longer arouses desire in him. He learns not so much to reject some of the things he desires as to cease to desire the things he ought to reject. The wise Epicurean is not to be pictured as asserting himself by repeated "acts of volition" against the temptations of the world, but as having learned not to be tempted.
His "freedom" does not consist in being presented with possible alternatives, and in choosing one when he might have chosen the other. It consists rather in the fact that his psyche is the product of his own actions and is not unalterably shaped by some "destiny" from the time before his birth. The weakness of this theory of "freedom," both in its Epicurean and in its Aristotelian form, is to be found chiefly in its refusal to consider the processes of character formation.
When Aristotle says that children should be brought up from the beginning to feel pleasure and pain in the right objects, he obviously does not consider such education to be equivalent to compulsion. He stresses that educators and lawgivers use punishments and other incentives to make people behave in the right way, and at the same time insists that the acts which create virtuous dispositions are not to be referred to causes outside ourselves.
It might well have arisen, too, from a consideration of Democritus' ethical opinions. Part of the explanation is probably that persuasion was commonly seen as an antithesis to compulsion?
But Aristotle should have seen the need to reestablish this antithesis, since he had to some extent broken it down himself in talking of a class of actions which were a mixture of the voluntary and the involuntary.
If Aristotle had seriously examined the reasons why he took the results of education to be "in our own power," he would have been compelled to specify more exactly what he meant by saying "the source is in us. If he had stressed this, then I think Epicurus might after all have thought the swerve unnecessary unnecessary, that is to say, in his psychology; it was still needed in his cosmology.
For in his theory, the effects of persuasion would be similarly explained whether the swerve were there or not. Persuasion is by words, and words, in the crude atomism of the time, do their work by collisions, through the medium of the sense organs. The swerve is not needed for them to have this effect. In his conclusion, Furley seems comfortable with modern compatibilism I leave it to others to decide whether the Epicurean theory, without the swerve, would have been "determinist" as opposed to "libertarian," because I do not yet see how to define this particular antithesis.
But if it would be determinist, I think it would be a sort of determinism that is compatible with morality. Furley, Two Studies in the Greek Atomists , pp. It is unfortunate that our knowledge of the early history of the Stoics is so fragmentary, and that we have no agreed account of the relations between them and Epicurus. On the evidence we have, however, it seems to me more probable that Epicurus was the originator of the freewill controversy, and that it was only taken up with enthusiasm among the Stoics by Chrysippus, the third head of the school.
The outlines of Epicurus' approach are familiar enough. He took over the atomic theory of Democritus almost unchanged, but introduced one significant new point, the swerve of the atoms, a slight change of direction that could occur without any cause. According to tradition this was to solve two problems for him: In spite of the poverty of our evidence, it is quite clear that one main reason Epicurus had for introducing the swerve, or rather the swerve as a random, uncaused event, was as a solution to the problem of freewill.
Unlike Aristotle, he fully appreciated that there was a problem. He believed in free will, because it seemed to him manifestly clear that men could originate action, but he could not, like Aristotle, regard this as the end of the matter. We may not think much of the solution he offers, but he deserves full credit for appreciating the problem.
There are now two main points to be cleared up: The answer must surely lie, in part at least, in their differing attitudes to Democritus. Aristotle was indeed steeped in Democritus, and had a considerable admiration for him, but at the same time found his system quite unacceptable. We can see why this was so. Aristotle's thought was dominated by a teleological view of causality, in which the paradigm of what guides change is the tendency of an organism to develop into a certain kind of thing.
This made the idea of a causal chain in which the future is entirely determined by the past strange and irrelevant. What happens kata symbebekos is, then, undetermined. Aristotle then had two reasons for rejecting determinism, i that some things obviously happened kata symbebekos , and ii that men had free will [Aristotle only says some actions are " up to us. This is clearly in sharp contrast to the views of Epicurus and the Stoics, both of whom made valiant if unsuccessful attempts to reconcile freedom and determinism.
How exactly he did this remains a mystery. The philosophical, as distinct from the historical, conclusion of my argument is twofold, first that it was possible for men like Plato and Aristotle to hold many educational and psychological beliefs in common with us without being aware of any freewill problem because they had no notion of thorough-going psychological determinism, and, second, that once the problem had been formulated it was appreciated by philosophers of many different schools throughout later antiquity as if it were indeed a natural problem.
Sorabji argues that Aristotle was an indeterminist , that real chance and uncaused events exist, but never that human actions are uncaused in the extreme libertarian sense that some commentators mistakenly attribute to Epicurus. Aristotle accepted the past as fixed, in the sense that past events were irrevocable.
But future events cannot be necessitated by claims about the present truth value of statements about the future. Aristotle does not deny the excluded middle either p or not p , only that the truth value of p does not exist yet.
Indeed, although the past is fixed, the truth value of past statements about the future can be changed by the outcome of future events. This book centres on Aristotle's treatment of determinism and culpability. One of the advantages of studying Aristotle's treatment of determinism is that we get a sense of what a multiform thesis it is. Arguments from causation are by no means the only ones that have been used to support it, and Aristotle is the grandfather, even if not the father, of many of these arguments.
I am not myself convinced by any of the arguments for determinism, nor by the arguments that it would be compatible with moral responsibility. But in order to discuss the question, I shall have to consider some very diverse topics: These are all subjects of intense controversy today, and time and again Aristotle's discussions are intimately bound up with modern ones.
Often, I believe and shall argue, we can benefit from going back to the views of another period, views which are sometimes refreshingly different from our own. I shall try to explain, when necessary, where those differences lie.
The discussion will not be confined to Aristotle. I shall try to supply a historical perspective and a sense of continuity, by seeing how the views of his successors and predecessors fit on to his own. But at the same time it will remain a central aim to build up a picture of Aristotle's own position on determinism and culpability, by tracing it through the many areas of his thought.
By determinism I shall mean the view that whatever happens has all along been necessary, that is, fixed or inevitable. I say 'whatever happens', meaning to cover not merely every event, but every aspect of every event — every state of affairs, one might say.
I shall make no further attempt to define necessity , although various kinds of necessity will come to be distinguished as we go along. I have deliberately defined determinism by reference, not to causation, but to necessity. I have not defined determinism as a view which denies us moral responsibility.
Many determinists have tried to argue that it is not a consequence of their position. I believe that it is a consequence, but not usually an intended one. I have spoken of things as having 'all along' been necessary, because there would be little moral interest in a view which declared that things became necessary at the last moment, or irrevocable once they had happened.
Indeed, Aristotle admits the point about irrevocability; what he denies is that everything has been necessary all along. I shall be representing Aristotle as an indeterminist ; but opinions on this issue have been diverse since the earliest times It is not always recognised that Aristotle gave any consideration to causal determinism, that is, to determinism based on causal considerations.
But I shall argue that in a little-understood passage he maintains that coincidences lack causes. To understand why he thinks so; we must recall his view that a cause is one of four kinds of explanation. On both counts, I think he is right. His account of cause, I believe, is more promising than any of those current today, and also justifies the denial that coincidences have causes.
There is another strut in the causal determinist's case. Besides the view that everything has a cause, he holds that whatever is caused or explicable is necessitated. If this idea is once accepted, he has a powerful argument, already wielded by the Stoics, against the indeterminist: On this issue, regrettably, Aristotle is less firm; he wavers on whether what is caused is necessitated.
But insofar as he sometimes implies that it is not, we will be better placed, later in the book, to understand the argument of Nicomachean Ethics III 5. In denying that voluntary actions have been necessary all along, Aristotle need not be implying that something is uncaused. The best-known arguments in Aristotle on determinism have to do with time rather than cause. I shall distinguish certain further deterministic arguments based on the necessity of the past, or on divine foreknowledge.
The only one of these arguments articulated by Aristotle and opposed by him is the sea battle argument. But he is a more or less remote ancestor of many of the others, and of some of the answers to them. I shall have shown by the end of Chapter Eight why I think Aristotle an indeterminist. I do not believe that he came close to the determinism of Diodorus Cronus, or of the author of the sea battle, nor that he treated coincidences as necessary.
In a later chapter Fourteen , I shall further deny that he treated all human action as necessary. But it will be time in Chapter Nine to guard against the ascription to him of too extreme an indeterminism. His occasional denials that natural events can ever occur of necessity seem to be contradicted elsewhere. Certainly, his belief that there is purpose in nature does not require, and is not thought by to require, the denial of causal necessitation. To show why such a denial is not required, I shall have to try to show how Aristotle's purposive explanations in biology work.
It will be argued that they work in several different ways, and that most of these ways leave Aristotle immune to modern criticisms of purposive explanation in biology. Criticism of Aristotle here has been widepread and vitriolic; I hope to show that it is largely mistaken. Necessity, Cause, and Blame , pp. In particular, he defends indeterminists against the charge that libertarian decisions are unintelligible. If this is correct, it should answer the causal determinist's argument that, if some of our decisions are not necessary in advance, they will be inexplicable and mysterious happenings of which we cannot be held responsible.
The answer suggested here is that from our decisions being unnecessitated it would not follow that they were inexplicable, or uncaused. The above reflections have implications not only for the common charge against the indeterminist - that he renders decisions inexplicable, but also for some of the premises that are typically used for establishing the determinist's case. For we have been led to doubt the premises that every state of affairs has a cause and that whatever is caused is necessitated.
Even these two premises together would not be enough to yield the determinist's view that whatever happens is necessary in advance. To obtain that result, he may appeal to the idea of a sequence of causes: If this seems implausible, because the dent in a springy cushion is caused by the contemporary presence of a weight, it will suffice if in any causal chain a proportion of the causes are prior.
On the other hand, if the determinist allows that a cause is only a part of some necessitating conditions, he will have to be willing to argue that the complete set of necessitating conditions commonly exists in advance of its effect.
The appeal to the totality of laws and of initial conditions brings us closer to the classic formulation of causal determinism by Laplace. By an ambitious extrapolation from the successes of Newtonian mechanics in the field of astronomy, Laplace was able to think of science as on the determinist's side. But the majority" of quantum physicists now maintain that their science actually contradicts determinism.
Sometimes an attempt is made to admit this conclusion, but reduce its interest, by maintaining that indeterminacy at the level of micro-events will not lead to indeterminacy at the level of the large-scale events that concern us in real life. But against this we have already noticed examples of a small-scale indeterminacy being amplified into a large-scale indeterminacy through radio-active material being connected to a bomb or a living organ. I do not know how to do that.
But it is meant to place an onus on him to argue for his case, if he wants it to seem at all plausible. I cannot say that I think of it at the moment as having any plausibility. And I should certainly hope that it was false. For I believe it is determinism that rules out moral responsibility and other things we believe in. I believe it is a necessary, though a sufficient, condition of our being morally responsible agents that actions should not all along have been necessary.
I do not think the indeterminacies of quantum physics help in any direct way to preserve moral responsibility. What is important is that, in the different sphere of human conduct, there should be actions which are explicable without being necessitated. Voluntariness is too important to fall before theoretical arguments about necessity and determinism. I come now to the question of how determinism is related to involuntariness. Many commentators nowadays hold one or more parts of the following view.
Determinism creates a problem for belief in the voluntariness of actions. Regrettably, but inevitably, Aristotle was unaware of this problem, and so failed to cope with it. Indeed, the problem was not discovered until Hellenistic times, perhaps by Epicurus, who was over forty years junior to Aristotle, and who reached Athens just too late to hear his lectures.
In Aristotle's time no one had yet propounded a universal determinism, so that he knew of no such theory. His inevitable failure to see the threat to voluntariness is all the more regrettable in that he himself entertained a deterministic account of actions, which exacerbated the problem of how any could be voluntary.
I shall argue that this account misrepresents the situation. First, Aristotle is aware of the idea that everything is determined, whether causally or non-causally.
He considers a non-causal determinism in Int. VI 3 , but also in Phys. II 4 , where he remarks that some people had denied that there was such a thing as chance, on the grounds that a cause could always be found for everything b36 — a Admittedly, he takes the falsity of determinism as fairly obvious in Metaph. Indeed, in the last passage he asks whether all coming to be is necessary, but whether any is. None the less, he does sometimes produce arguments against determinism Int.
And he also thinks that in the light of its falsity, he needs to do some explaining, and to show how there can be events without a cause accidental conjunctions, Metaph.
VI 3 , or how some predictions can avoid being already true Int. What Aristotle failed to discuss was not determinism, but something that William James was later to call 'hard' determinism,' the view not only is determinism true, but that also, because of it, there is no thing as moral responsibility or voluntary action. The commentators mentioned above are right insofar as they only want to say this. Determinists in antiquity did not make it a triumphant conclusion that all actions are involuntary.
Rather, they would have thought it an objection to their view, if they had to banish voluntariness. There is a whole battery of arguments, which turn up in treatise after treatise, urging against determinism, that it would do away with many of our conceptions about conduct and morality.
In the De Fato of Alexander of Aphrodisias fl. Most ancients would have said, and so would Aristotle, that, if there is a genuine incompatibility between determinism and voluntariness, this is so much the worse for determinism, not for voluntariness; and even in modern times, 'hard' determinism is much rarer than 'soft'.
Aristotle himself, so far from failing to observe any incompatibility between determinism and our ordinary ways of thinking about conduct, actually tended to see such incompatibilities too readily. Moreover, so far from his successors starting a new tradition, they are often simply echoing Aristotle's own comments, when they argue that there is an incompatibility, and that it counts against determinism.
We have seen that Aristotle thinks voluntariness incompatible with an action's having all along been necessary, and further that he goes so far as to argue wrongly against determinism that it is incompatible with the efficacy of effort or deliberation Int. This latter was echoed in one of the famous named arguments of antiquity, the Lazy Argument, according to which belief in determinism would make us lazy.
A related argument, which we have already noticed, appears in NE II 5 b , where Aristotle claims again wrongly that since punishment and honours influence conduct, good and bad conduct must be up to us. Aristotle may here have been ignoring, rather than answering, the idea that wicked conduct is determined, and may have been concentrating instead on the point that our conduct is in some way dependent on us.
But his successors used arguments like this one in order to attack determinism, and he too might have been willing to use the argument against a determinist, if he had felt himself to be confronted by one. I 2, a8 , and only once comes at all close to adding the desirable qualification 'unless we do not realise that such and such a course is necessary'.
If determinism is incompatible with deliberation, it will also be incompatible with praxis , the distinctively human kind of action, and with moral virtue, both of which presuppose deliberation.
Similar views on the relation of deliberation to determinism reappeared among Aristotle's ancient and modern successors. And they also turned against determinism the comment, which Aristotle makes in another context, that we cannot bestow praise and blame for what happens of necessity NE III 5, a; EE II 6, a10; II 11 a5 , although we can bestow honour, e. Those who think that determinism endangers voluntariness have every right to disagree with Aristotle's view that our ways of thinking about conduct endanger determinism.
But they should recognise it as an alternative view. It misrepresents the situation to suggest that Aristotle was merely not yet in a position to appreciate the problem; he would not have agreed that the problem was one for believers in voluntariness. And the succeeding age would have supported him. Sharples Sharples' great translation and commentary Alexander of Aphrodisias On Fate appeared in It especially shed a great deal of light on Aristotle's position on free will and on the Stoic attempt to make responsibility compatible with determinism.
Sharples thinks that the problem of determinism and responsibility was not realised, in the form in which it was eventually passed on to post-classical thinkers, until relatively late in the history of Greek thought - at least not until after Aristotle.
Although there are passages in which it is recognised that there is something problematic in holding someone responsible for an action that a god has foretold he will perform, it is generally misleading in the interpretation of the literature of the fifth century B. The mechanistic atomism of Democritus born B. The question of the relation between destiny and human choice is raised, in mythical form, at the end of the Republic of Plato c.
The classic notion of determinism — of a system in which every state of affairs is a necessary consequence of any and every preceding state of affairs — is almost entirely absent from the approach to the physical world of Aristotle B. Aristotle's picture of the consequences of an event is not one of chains of cause and effect interwoven in a nexus extending to infinity Aristotle can assert that there are fresh beginnings archai , not confined to human agency, without supposing that there is a deterministic causal nexus occasionally interrupted by undetermined events; he simply does not see the question in these terms.
He does discuss the question whether all events are determined by necessary chains of causation at Metaphysics E 3 a30 — b14, and there denies this possibility insisting that not everything is necessary; but here as elsewhere it is not clear that he distinguishes between i the claim that there are events which are not predetermined, and ii the lesser claim that there are some things that do not always happen in the same way — which does not exclude their being predetermined by different factors on each occasion.
He certainly holds that there are events which result from chance rather than necessity; but as has often been pointed out his treatment of chance events in terms of coincidence is not incompatible with determinism. He is in fact interested in a different question, that of explanation ; it may well be that chance events have no scientific explanation, without their thereby involving indeterminism.
It would indeed be rash to claim that there are no passages where Aristotle intends to assert freedom from determinism as later philosophers would understand it; but this is not, in dealing with the universe as a whole, his main concern. And Aristotle's emphasis on other questions, particularly that of the presence or absence of a variation which may well be entirely predetermined, was highly influential on later thinkers, Alexander among them, who were concerned with the problem of determinism.
Aristotle did however discuss the issue of the analysis of responsible human action in a way which, although it does not form part of a treatment of determinism in the world as a whole, was nevertheless to be influential when this topic was later discussed. In this chapter he is concerned with the practical, quasi-legal problem of the imputability of actions to their agents, rather than with a philosophical analysis of freedom of choice, but the question of the presence or absence of external compulsion was to be important in later discussion.
He then meets the objection that a man's character may be such that he cannot choose other than actions of a particular sort by arguing that, since dispositions develop as a result of actions, even if a man cannot now choose not to act in a certain way, it is his responsibility that he came to be like this in the first place a This argument, however, only pushes the problem back into the past, till one comes to influences in our childhood — natural endowment, training and education — for which we can hardly be regarded as responsible.
Aristotle is not indeed arguing against the background of a determinist system, and it would be a mistake to press his argument too closely so as to extract deterministic implications from it. It seems that he is operating with basically libertarian assumptions, starting from the position that responsibility involves freedom to choose between different courses of action, and dealing with difficulties arising from the determination of action by character only as a subordinate issue.
It is true that 'the possibility of choosing otherwise' could be interpreted in a qualified sense which would make it acceptable to a determinist, but there is no explicit indication of this in Aristotle's text, and it seems likely that such ,attempts to reconcile determinism and responsibility only arose later as a reaction to the explicit assertion of the necessity of choosing between determinism and indeterminism.
However, Aristotle's treatment is not entirely satisfactory, and its limitations and difficulties do become apparent when later thinkers, and above all Alexander, use it as a basis from which to argue against determinism. It is with Epicurus and the Stoics that clearly indeterministic and deterministic positions are first formulated. This is a misreading of Epicurus by his opponents that is still popular today The problems of this position, which seems to reduce responsible human choice to pure randomness, have often been pointed out; however, analogous problems seem involved in any attempt to treat responsibility in terms of the possibility of choosing otherwise, if this is to be combined with a rational explanation of why men do, or should, choose in a particular way.
The Stoic position, given definitive expression by Chrysippus c. Their theory of the universe is indeed a completely deterministic one; everything is governed by fate, identified with the sequence of causes; nothing could happen otherwise than it does, and in any given set of circumstances one and only one result can follow — otherwise an uncaused motion would occur. Fate is also identified with providence and with god, and thus with pneuma or spirit, the divine active principle — or perhaps better the instrument or vehicle of the divine will — which penetrates the entire universe, bringing about and governing all processes within it and giving each thing its character.
Chrysippus was however concerned to preserve human responsibility in the context of his determinist system. His position was thus one of 'soft determinism', as opposed on the one hand to that of the 'hard determinist' who claims that determinism excludes responsibility, and on the other to that of the libertarian who agrees on the incompatibility but responsibility by determinism.
The Greek to eph' hemin, 'what depends on us ', like the English ' responsibility ', was used both by libertarians and by soft determinists, though they differed as to what it involved; thus he occurrence of the expression is not a safe guide to the type of position involved. The situation is complicated by the fact that the debate is in Greek philosophy conducted entirely in terms of responsibility to eph' hemin rather than of freedom or free will; nevertheless it can be shown that some thinkers, Alexander among them, have a libertarian rather than a soft-determinist conception of responsibility, and in such cases I have not hesitated to use expressions like 'freedom'.
The expression 'free will' is employed in discussions of the problem in ancient Latin writers. Chrysippus argued that we are responsible for those actions which, even though they are predetermined, depend chiefly on ourselves rather than on external factors. Again the misinterpretation of Epicurus Epicurus, by contrast, insisted that free actions must be free not only from external necessity but also from necessitation by factors internal to the agent.
Certain ancient authors put forward arguments for praise, blame, punishment and reward in a determinist system with no appeal to responsbility — arguments which may therefore be classified as hard determinist. The wrongdoer should be punished for the protection of others whether or not he is responsible for his actions, just as noxious plants or animals are destroyed.
A Stoic source for these arguments cannot be ruled out, for the Stoics may well have reinforced soft-determinist arguments justifying praise, blame, punishment and reward by others not referring to responsibility. In addition to physical, causal determinism one may also speak of 'logical' determinism. In chapter 9 of his De Interpretatione , the famous 'Sea-Battle' passage, Aristotle poses the problem that, if a prediction is either true or false, it seems that what is predicted must in the one case necessarily occur and in the other necessarily not occur.
Aristotle's own solution to the problem is obscure. Both Epicurus and the Stoics accepted a connection between the truth or falsity of the prediction and the eventual outcome's being predetermined, Epicurus rejecting determinism and consequently denying that all future-tense propositions are true or false, the Stoics arguing that all propositions are true or false and using this as an argument to support determinism.
The predominant interpretation of Aristotle's own position in later antiquity was that a prediction of a future contingent event does have a truth value — it is true or false — but not a 'definite' one," this position first appears in the last section of quaestio 1.
My use of the term is not meant to imply that I think there is such a "faculty" as "the will". When I say of a man that he "has free will" I mean that very often, if not always, when he has to choose between two or more mutually incompatible courses of action—that is, courses of action that it is impossible for him to carry out more than one of—each of these courses of action is such that he can, or is able to, or has it within his power to carry it out.
A man has free will if he is often in positions like these: But how is 'can' to be defined? I am afraid I do not know how to define 'can', any more than I know how to define 'law of nature'. Nevertheless, I think that the concept expressed by 'can' in the examples given in the preceding paragraph—the concept of the power or ability of an agent to act—is as clear as any philosophically interesting concept is likely to be. In fact, I doubt very much whether there are any simpler or better understood concepts in terms of which this concept might be explained.
There are, however, concepts with which the concept of human power or ability might be confused, either because they really are similar to the concept of power, or because they are sometimes expressed by similar words.
Perhaps what I say in the sequel will be clearer if I explicitly distinguish the concept of power or ability from those concepts with which it might be improperly conflated. I might say to a hard-hearted landlord, "You can't simply turn them out into the street", knowing full well that, in the sense of 'can' that is our present concern, he very well can.
The popular retort, "Oh, can't I? And in some few cases, cases typified by the use of words like 'I can't go through with it', it may be that no one, either agent or spectator, can say with any confidence whether can is being used to express the idea of power or the idea of permissibility. This can be shown by a simple example. Suppose I have been locked in a certain room and suppose that the lock on the door of that room is a device whose behaviour is physically undetermined; it may come unlocked and it may not: Then it is physically possible that I shall leave the room.
But it does not follow that in any relevant sense I can leave the room. Consider the sentence, 'Castro could have arranged for Kennedy's assassination'. Clearly there are at least two things that someone who spoke these words might mean by them. He might mean, 'For all we know, Castro did arrange for Kennedy's assassination', or he might mean, 'Castro had it within his power to arrange for Kennedy's assassination'.
These senses are obviously quite different and the first is of no particular interest to us. We say that penicillin has the power to kill certain bacteria, that a hydrogen bomb is capable of destroying a large city, and that a certain computer can perform a thousand calculations per second. These are statements about capacities that may be unrealized. The vocabulary of our talk about the realization of causal capacities and the vocabulary of agency similarly overlap: But this sort of talk is really very different from talk of the power of an agent to act, despite their common origin in the technical terminology of medieval Aristotelianism.
Perhaps the best way to appreciate this difference is to examine some ascriptions of causal capacity to human agents and to contrast them with ascriptions of ability to human agents.
We ascribe a capacity, rather than an ability, to an agent when we say he: We ascribe an ability, rather than a capacity, to an agent when we say he: Despite their superficial similarity, there is all the difference in the world between the sort of property that the predicates in the first list ascribe to an agent and the sort of property that those in the second list ascribe to an agent.
Consider, for example, the last item in each list. For a man to have the capacity to understand French is for him to be such that if he were placed in certain circumstances, which wouldn't be very hard to delimit, and if he were to hear French spoken, then, willy-nilly, he would understand what was being said.
But if a man can speak French , it certainly does not follow that there are any circumstances in which he would, willy-nilly, speak French. The concept of a causal power or capacity would seem to be the concept of an invariable disposition to react to certain determinate changes in the environment in certain determinate ways, whereas the concept of an agent's power to act would seem not to be the concept of a power that is dispositional or reactive, but rather the concept of a power to originate changes in the environment.
First, it does not pretend to be an analysis of the distinction between capacities and abilities. It is, rather, an argument by example for the existence of this distinction. I do not know how to give a general account of it.
The reader may have noticed that I rarely attempt to give any general account or analysis of a concept, being content, in problematical cases, to try to show that we have a concept answering to a certain description and to try to distinguish it from other, similar concepts. In general, I am suspicious of philosophers' "analyses" of concepts, which seem to me to be only rarely correct and almost always tendentious.
In the course of this book, I shall frequently appeal to our understanding of various unanalysed concepts — such as the concept of an agent's power to act — in order to convince the reader that one of my premisses is true. But note that if I were to offer a philosophical analysis of these concepts, I should have to appeal to our pre-analytical understanding of them as part of my argument for the correctness of my analysis. The appeal to intuition must turn up at some level of discourse.
I prefer making "nonce" appeals to intuition at specific points in the argument to making the very abstract and general appeals to intuition that are inevitable when one is defending a philosophical analysis.
This rationale for my procedure is, of course, self-serving, since I almost never know of any plausible analysis of the concepts I employ. I should add that my definitions of terms — such as 'determinism' — are not supposed to be analyses of concepts but explanations of my own technical terminology.
Secondly, I do not mean to imply that this distinction is, at least in any very straightforward way, supported by ordinary usage. There is certainly nothing wrong with saying that someone is able to understand French, and probably nothing wrong with saying that a certain king lacks the capacity to rule. Thirdly, I have been making a conceptual distinction.
No ontological conclusions should be drawn from the existence of this distinction. Nothing I have said entails that the abilities of agents are not in some sense "reducible to" or do not "supervene upon" the causal capacities of the agents—or of some parts of agents, such as organs, cells, or atoms—and their environment. Here are two analogous cases that may make this point clearer: It is this sense, of course, that these words bear in the above definition of free will.
And it is free will as defined in the present section that I shall argue is incompatible with determinism as defined in the previous section.
In the preceding discussion of abilities and causal capacities, I used the predicate 'can speak French' as an example of a predicate that expresses the power of an agent to act.
I did this because 'can speak French' stands in instructive opposition to the capacity-predicate 'can understand French'. But there is more to be said about 'can speak French'. Suppose that Jean-Paul, a valiant member of the Resistance, has been captured by the Germans and bound and gagged. Can he speak French? Well, to be able to speak French is to be able to speak, and.
On the other hand, if the German commander ordered all prisoners who could speak French brought before him, he would be unlikely to look approvingly on the action of the subordinate who produced only the ungagged French-speaking prisoners "For the others, Herr Oberst , cannot speak simpliciter , and, a fortiori , cannot speak French".
Clearly there is a distinction to be made between a skill, accomplishment, or general ability, on the one hand, and, on the other, the power to exercise it on a given occasion. That is not to say that there may not be a close conceptual connection between the two. I should think, - in fact, that a statement ascribing a skill or other general ability to an agent is probably equivalent to some statement asserting that, under certain conditions, that agent has the power to perform acts that fall under certain descriptions.
But I shall not pursue this question, since it is not relevant to our present concerns. Soft determinism is the conjunction of determinism and compatibilism; hard determinism is the conjunction of determinism and incompatibilism; libertarianism is the conjunction of incompatibilism and the thesis that we have free will. I object to these terms because they lump together theses that should be discussed and analysed separately.
Even having them on hand is a permanent temptation to conflate the Traditional Problem and the Compatibility Problem. They are therefore worse than useless and ought to be dropped from the working vocabulary of philosophers.
There is one other term that commonly figures in discussions of free will and determinism that I shall avoid: This term is highly ambiguous and, moreover, in accepting incompatibilism the believer in free will commits himself to accepting none of the things it might mean.
But, as we shall see in Chapter IV, that someone's acts are undetermined does not entail that they are uncaused. This point was briefly touched on in Section 1. Now I am not one of those philosophers who think that miracles are conceptually impossible. It seems to me that if God created ex nihilo a spinning object, then the proposition we call 'the law of the conservation of angular momentum' would be false. Yet, it seems to me, it might be a law of nature for all that. I think I understand the notion of a supernatural being, that is, the notion of an agent who is superior to and not a part of Nature this enormous object that the natural sciences investigate , and I think that the falsity of a proposition counts against its being a law of nature if and only if that falsity is due entirely to the mutual operations of natural things, and not if it is due to the action of such an "external" agent upon Nature.
But it does not follow from this perhaps rather quaint thesis about the concept of miracle that we can perform miracles, for there is no reason to suppose we are supernatural beings. And even if we are supernatural beings, that we are is not a consequence of the joint truth of the freewill thesis and incompatibilism. If these two theses are true, then determinism is false, and, moreover, one's free choices are undetermined: Incompatibilism, therefore, entails that neither my freely doing A nor my freely doing B would "violate" a law of nature.
It follows that it is sheer confusion to attribute a belief in contra-causal freedom, in the present sense, to the incompatibilist who believes in free will. Finally, "contra-causal freedom" might be attributed to an agent if that agent has it within his power to act contrary to the laws of nature; that is, if the agent is able to perform certain acts whose performance would be sufficient for the falsity of certain propositions that are in fact laws of nature.
But the incompatibilist, whether or not he accepts the free-will thesis, does not believe in contra-causal freedom in this sense. The precise sense in which this is true will be evident from an inspection of the arguments for incompatibilism that will be presented in Chapter III. Incompatibilism, therefore, may perhaps be described as the thesis that free action is "extra-causal"; to say it is the doctrine that free action is "contra-causal" can only lead to confusion.
Yet it has its adherents and has had more of them in the past. It is, however, surprisingly hard to find any arguments for it. That many philosophers have believed something controversial without giving any arguments for it is perhaps not surprising; what is surprising is that no arguments have been given when arguments are so easy to give.
Perhaps the explanation is simply that the arguments are so obvious that no one has thought them worth stating. If that is so, let us not be afraid of being obvious. Here is an argument that I think is obvious I don't mean it's obviously right; I mean it's one that should occur pretty quickly to any philosopher who asked himself what arguments could be found to support incompatibilism: If determinism is true, then our acts are the consequences of the laws of nature and events in the remote past.
I shall call this argument the Consequence Argument. Or, if you like—how does one count arguments, anyway? In Chapter IV, I shall examine three arguments for compatibilism: The Conditional Analysis Argument maintains that statements ascribing to human agents the power or ability to act otherwise are to be analysed as disguised conditionals, which, when their disguise is removed, can be seen to be compatible with determinism.
The Mind Argument proceeds by identifying indeterminism with chance and by arguing that an act that occurs by chance, if an event that occurs by chance can be called an act, cannot be under the control of its alleged agent and hence cannot have been performed freely. Proponents of the Mind Argument conclude, therefore, that free will is not only compatible with determinism but entails determinism. I shall argue in Chapter IV that these arguments fail. There are, I think, no other arguments for compatibilism that need be taken seriously.
Let me give just one example of an argument that need not be taken seriously. Some philosophers have urged that to suppose that free will and determinism are in conflict is to confuse compulsion with determination by causal laws. For, these philosophers argue, to do something of one's own free will is to do that thing without being compelled to do it, and to behave in accordance with a deterministic set of causal laws is not to be compelled.
I reply that this argument confuses doing things of one's own free will with having free will about what one does. These are not the same thing. The following case shows this. Suppose a certain man is in a certain room and is quite content to be there; suppose, in fact, that he wants very much to. Then, I should think, he remains in the room of his own free will. But we can with perfect consistency go on to suppose that he has no free will about whether he leaves the room: Now someone might want to say that our imaginary agent did not remain in the room "of his own free will".
I don't think this is right, but I will not argue the point. For if it is true that our agent did not remain in the room "of his own free will", then we cannot establish that a person does something "of his own free will" by establishing that his doing it is uncompelled.
But the "compulsion" argument we have been considering certainly does depend on the premiss that one can so establish that a person has acted "of his own free will".
Let us grant this premiss. The example of the man locked in the room shows that it does not follow from a person's doing something "of his own free will" that he can do otherwise. And thus it does not follow from the undoubted fact that we often do things of our own free will that what I have called the free-will thesis is true. And, therefore, the Compatibility Problem is not going to be solved by jejune reflections on compulsion.
These arguments have premisses. Some of the premisses are more controversial than others. That is, some of the premisses of Chapter III will be accepted without question by the compatibilist and others he will want to argue about.
Let us call the conjunction of these "controversial" premisses P. Suppose I am willing to grant that if any of my premisses are false, the false ones are conjuncts of P. The compatibilist and I will thus agree that if compatibilism is true, then P is false. One compatibilist has actually argued in effect that this proposition on which he and I agree entails that I am begging the question against compatibilism by assuming the truth of P.
It should suffice to point out that the situation in which this argument places the compatibilist and me is a perfectly symmetrical one: I am in a position to employ the same argument, mutatis mutandis, to prove the conclusion that his choice of premisses begs the question, and I should be as well justified in employing the argument against him as he is in employing it against me.
Now why, I have asked myself uneasily, would anyone say something that can be so easily refuted? I think there are two possible answers. When a philosopher says, "The burden of the proof lies on you", he means, "You must deduce your conclusion from the truths of immediate sensory experience by means of an argument that is formally valid according to the rules of elementary logic, I on the other hand may employ any dialectical tactic I find expedient".
As to the first of these possibilities, I deny that compatibilism is prima facie right and incompatibilism prima facie wrong. Quite the other way round, if you ask me. But I shall not assume that either of these propositions is prima facie right. I shall treat them as philosophical theses of equal initial plausibility, and this, it seems to me, is the only reasonable way to approach the Compatibility Problem.
I think that the unprejudiced reader—if such can be found: Suppose I am right. Suppose these theses are incompatible. Which, if either, ought we to accept? As a first step towards answering this question, I shall, in Chapter V, address the question, "What would it mean to reject free will? First, anyone who rejected free will could not consistently deliberate about future courses of action. This is so, I shall argue, owing simply to the fact that one cannot deliberate without believing that the things about which one is deliberating are things it is possible for one to do.
How important one takes this consequence to be will, of course, depend on how important one thinks consistency is. Secondly, and, I think, much more importantly, to deny the existence of free will commits one to denying the existence of moral responsibility. Until a short while ago, most philosophers would have taken this to be obvious.
But if any of these philosophers had been asked to defend this obvious thesis, he would almost certainly have appealed to the following principle: In a recent remarkable article, however, Harry Frankfurt has presented convincing counter-examples to this principle.
I shall devote the bulk of Chapter V to showing that even if Frankfurt is right, it is none the less true that moral responsibility is possible only if we have free will. Now some philosophers will perhaps want to protest at this point in the argument that while I may indeed have shown that in some sense free will is incompatible with determinism, and while I may have shown that free will in some sense is logically necessary for moral responsibility, I have not shown that there is any single notion of free will that has both these features.
Therefore, these philosophers may allege, I am not in a position to say that considerations having to do with moral responsibility can be used to show that we ought to accept the doctrine called 'free will' in Chapters III and IV and there shown to be incompatible with determinism.
I shall meet this possible objection in two ways. First, I shall ask the reader to examine the premisses of the arguments of Chapter III after they have been rewritten according to the following rule: I contend that the reader will find that the rewritten premisses are no less plausible than the original ones.
Secondly, I shall present an argument for the incompatibility of moral responsibility and determinism that makes no mention whatever of free will, though it will be structurally identical with one of the arguments for the incompatibility of free will and determinism that occurs in Chapter III. I think this "direct" argument for the incompatibility of responsibility and determinism will have the following feature: But if this is true, then it seems very unlikely that it is only some sort of "free will" that has nothing to do with moral responsibility that is shown in Chapter III to be incompatible with determinism.
The principal conclusion of Chapter V will therefore be that to reject free will—in just that sense of 'free will' in which we have earlier argued that free will is incompatible with determinism—is to reject moral responsibility. In Chapter VI, I shall discuss the Traditional Problem, that is, the problem of finding out whether determinism is true, or whether the free-will thesis is true, or whether neither is true.
I shall proceed by asking what reasons we have for thinking that determinism is true and what reasons we have for thinking that the free-will thesis is true. There are two sorts of reason for believing in determinism. First, one might believe in determinism because one believes that science has shown determinism to be true. I shall argue at length that science has, if anything, shown determinism to be false. Secondly, one might believe that determinism is a truth of reason, on the ground that it is a logical consequence of the Principle of Sufficient Reason.
I shall show that, whether or not determinism is a consequence of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, the Principle of Sufficient Reason must be rejected, since it entails the collapse of all modal distinctions. In addition to asking what reasons might be brought in support of determinism, we shall also ask what reasons might be brought in support of a certain closely related but weaker thesis: It is important to consider this thesis because: I shall argue that this common contention is sheer bluff.
The conclusion of the argument whose course is summarized in the last few paragraphs is that neither physics nor pure reason supports determinism, and, moreover, that the scientific study of human beings does not support the thesis that the behaviour of human beings is "for all practical purposes" determined. What reasons can be brought in support of the free-will thesis? It cannot, I think, be seriously maintained that we can know by some sort of introspection that we have or that we do not have free will.
And neither can it be maintained that the empirical study of human beings is likely to show us that we have or that we do not have free will. The only relevant argument would seem to be this: Moreover, since free will is incompatible with determinism, determinism is false.
The first premiss of this argument is defended in Chapter V in the way outlined above. In Chapter VI, we shall examine its second premiss, and I shall defend my use of this argument against the charge that for an incompatibilist so to argue amounts to his claiming to be able to prove that determinism — a thesis about the motion of matter in the void — can be shown to be false by a priori reflection on moral responsibility.
I shall also examine a condition of certain philosophers their having fallen under the spell of "scientism" that makes it psychologically very difficult for them to believe that such "tender-minded" arguments as this could possibly provide one with good reason to reject determinism. I shall finally address the question, "What would you say if, after all, the progress of science did show that indeterminism was untenable?
Incompatibilism Van Inwagen made a significant reputation for himself by bucking the trend among philosophers in most of the twentieth century to accept compatibilism , the idea that free will is compatible with a strict causal determinism. Indeed, van Inwagen has been given credit for rehabilitating the idea of incompatibilism in the last few decades.
He explains that the old problem of whether we have free will or whether determinism is true is no longer being debated. Essay on Free Will, p. Strawson in changed the subject from the existence of free will, from the question of whether determinism or indeterminism is true, and just as Harry Frankfurt changed the debate to the question of the existence of alternative possibilities , so Peter van Inwagen made a major change, at least in the terminology, to the question of whether free will and determinism are compatible, indeed whether free will entails determinism, as he says above.
Van Inwagen replaces the Traditional Problem of "liberty and necessity," finding out whether determinism is true or false, and thus whether or not we have free will, with a new problem that he calls the Compatibility Problem. Essay on Free Will , p. And the new framing introduced a new jargon term that is in major use today, the position of " Incompatibilism.
But that was simply the original position of all libertarians, in opposition to both the determinists and the compatibilists William James' "soft' determinists , who were following what Sellars called the traditional Hume-Mill solution, which "reconciled" free will with determinism.
Before van Inwagen then, incompatibilists were libertarians, opposing the idea that free will is compatible with determinism. But after van Inwagen, the new emphasis on "incompatibilism" drew attention to the idea that that James' "hard" determinists were also incompatibilist in the sense of denying compatibilism. Unfortunately for the clarity of the dialectic, this new category of incompatibilism is very confusing, because it now contains two opposing concepts, libertarian free will and hard determinism!
And like determinism versus indeterminism, compatibilism versus incompatibilism is a false and unhelpful dichotomy. Smart once claimed he had an exhaustive description of the possibilities, determinism or indeterminism, and that neither one neither allowed for free will.
Since Smart, dozens of others have repeated this standard logical argument against free will. The Consequence Argument and Mind Argument Van Inwagen developed his own terminology for the two-part standard argument, dividing it into the Consequence Argument and the Mind Argument.
Van Inwagen defines determinism very simply. The Consequence Argument has proved very popular in philosophy courses taught by professors with little knowledge of the history of the free will problem. Van Inwagen does not seem to mind that "incompatibilism" lumps together opposite schools - hard determinists and libertarians Soft determinism is the conjunction of determinism and compatibilism; hard determinism is the conjunction of determinism and incompatibilism; libertarianism is the conjunction of incompatibilism and the thesis that we have free will.
But that someone's acts are undetermined does not entail that they are uncaused. Incompatibilism can hardly be said to be a popular thesis among present-day philosophers the "analytic" ones, at any rate. We call his Mind Argument the " Randomness Objection " [What van Inwagen calls] The Mind argument proceeds by identifying indeterminism with chance and by arguing that an act that occurs by chance, if an event that occurs by chance can be called an act, cannot be under the control of its alleged agent and hence cannot have been performed freely.
Proponents of [this argument] conclude, therefore, that free will is not only compatible with determinism but entails determinism. He named it the Mind Argument after the philosophical journal Mind where objections to chance were often published. Thus van Inwagen's Consequence and Mind Arguments are the two parts of the standard argument against free will. Although van Inwagen is famous for the first horn of the dilemma, the Determinism Objection to free will also known as the Direct Argument , he has also contributed significantly to the second - and much more difficult to reconcile - Randomness Objection.
Free Will Remains a Mystery for van Inwagen Van Inwagen dramatized his understanding of the indeterministic brain events needed for agent causation by imagining God "replaying" a situation to create exactly the same circumstances and then arguing that decisions would reflect the indeterministic probabilities. Here he mistakenly assumes that possibilities translate directly into probabilities.
He also mistakenly assumes that random possibilities directly cause human actions. Now let us suppose that God a thousand times caused the universe to revert to exactly the state it was in at t 1 and let us suppose that we are somehow suitably placed, metaphysically speaking, to observe the whole sequence of "replays".
What would have happened? What should we expect to observe? Well, again, we can't say what would have happened, but we can say what would probably have happened: As the number of "replays" increases, we observers shall — almost certainly — observe the ratio of the outcome "truth" to the outcome "lie" settling down to, converging on, some value.
We may, for example, observe that, after a fairly large number of replays, Alice lies in thirty percent of the replays and tells the truth in seventy percent of them—and that the figures 'thirty percent' and 'seventy percent' become more and more accurate as the number of replays increases. But let us imagine the simplest case: If, after one hundred replays, Alice has told the truth fifty-three times and has lied forty-eight times, we'd begin strongly to suspect that the figures after a thousand replays would look something like this: Alice has told the truth four hundred and ninety-three times and has lied five hundred and eight times.
Let us suppose that these are indeed the figures after a thousand  replays. Is it not true that as we watch the number of replays increase we shall become convinced that what will happen in the next replay is a matter of chance.
Van Inwagen reveals that he clearly thinks that indeterminism directly results in actions. No wonder on his account that "free will remains a mystery! If God caused Marie's decision to be replayed a very large number of times, sometimes in thirty percent of the replays, let us say Marie would have agent-caused the crucial brain event and sometimes in seventy percent of the replays, let us say she would not have I conclude that even if an episode of agent causation is among the causal antecedents of every voluntary human action, these episodes do nothing to undermine the prima facie impossibility of an undetermined free act.