1 Free Will PHGA 7457 Course packet Instructor: John Davenport Spring 2008 Fridays 2-4 PM
2 Readings on Eres: 1. John Davenport, "Review of Fischer and Ravizza, Responsibility and Control," Faith and Philosophy, 17 no.3 (July 2000). 2. Keith Wyma, "Moral Responsibility and Leeway for Action," APQ 34 (January 1997) 3. Ishtiyaque Haji, Deontic Morality and Control (Cambridge, 2002), chs David Copp, "Defending the Principle of Alternative Possibilities: Blameworthiness and Moral Responsibility," Noûs 31 (1997). 5. Michael McKenna, "Robustness, Control, and the Demand for Morally Significant Counterexamples," from McKenna and Widerker, eds. Moral Responsibility and Alternative Possibilities (Ashgate, 2004). 6. Michael Della Rocca, "Frankfurt, Fischer, and Flickers," Noûs 32 (March 1998) 7. John Fischer, "Recent Work on Moral Responsibility," Ethics 110 (October 1999). 8. Eleonore Stump, "Alternative Possibilities and Responsibility: The Flicker of Freedom," Journal of Ethics (1999) 9. Linda Zagzebski, "Does Libertarian Freedom Require Alternate Possibilities?" Philosophical Perspectives 14: Action and Freedom (2000) 10. Gary Watson, "Free Action and Free Will," from Mind 96, reprinted in Watson, Agency and Answerability (Oxford University Press, 2004) 11. Davenport, "Liberty of the Higher-Order Will," Faith and Philosophy 19 no.4 (October 2002). 12. Davenport, "The Deliberative Relevance of Refraining from Deciding: Responses to McKenna and Pereboom, in Acta Analytica 21.4 (Fall 2006). 13. Derk Pereboom, Living Without Free Will (Cambridge University Press, 1991), ch Randolph Clarke, selection from Libertarian Accounts of Free Will (Oxford, 2003)
3 Free Will PHGA 7457 Spring 2008 Fridays 2-4 pm Instructor: John Davenport Phone: Office: Rm. 916c Lowenstein; Mailbox in Collins or LC Office Hours: Fridays 4-5 PM after class at RH, and 4-6pm Mondays and Thursdays at LC. I may be available some Wednesdays at RH before dept meetings as well. Précis of the Seminar: Analyzing different conceptions of free will and arguments concerning the requirements for moral responsibility has become a major area of focus in contemporary analytic philosophy, in which ideas from metaphysics and ethics are interwoven. This course will introduce students to the new landscape of positions that has emerged from an explosion of work in this area, surveying the most important positions and arguments for them. They are all proposals concerning what we may call "moral freedom," i.e. the agent-control conditions of moral responsibility, as opposed to its epistemic conditions (though these are sometimes linked). The major positions try to answer two questions: (I) Exactly what kind of freedom or control over our decisions, actions, intentions, omissions, and their consequences is needed for us to be morally responsible for them? (II) Is this kind of freedom (moral freedom) compatible with physical determinism? (A related but arguably distinct question concerns its compatibility with forms of psychological determinism). The traditional libertarian view is that moral responsibility requires alternative possibilities or leeway, that this kind of liberty to do or choose otherwise is not compatible with deterministic natural laws, and that we have moral freedom. During the classical modern period, empiricists such as Hobbes and Hume argued that can do otherwise should be interpreted as conditional upon prior motives and reasons: the agent could have done otherwise if he had chosen otherwise, and could have chosen otherwise if he had different desires and thoughts, etc. This traditional compatibilist view denies that responsibility requires leeway-liberty and maintains that moral freedom can exist in a deterministic world. Both these traditional positions have been dramatically challenged in the last 35 years. In two papers published in 1969 and 1971, Harry Frankfurt critiqued the view that responsibility requires leewayliberty, i.e. the power, starting from a given set of motives, beliefs, and attitudes, to bring about any one out of a significant range of possible decisions or intentions. On the other side, we have Peter van Inwagen's famous "Consequence Argument" (and its newer variants) for the conclusion that libertarian freedom is incompatible with natural determinism. But the Consequence Argument leaves open the question of whether moral responsibility requires freedom in this leeway-sense. This has given rise to at least five new (or reconstructed) positions: (1) "Semi-compatibilists" such as John Fischer have combined the two positions, holding that leeway-liberty is incompatible with determinism, but also that responsibility only requires kinds
4 of control that are compatible with determinism B in particular, dispositions to be receptive and responsive to various kinds of practical reason. Kane calls this group "new compatibilists" since they hold that moral freedom is compatible with determinism. (2) Another camp, the "source-incompatiblists," such as Stump, Hunt, and Zagzebski, hold that the Consequence Argument or similar reasons show that moral freedom is incompatible with determinism even if (or though) it does not require leeway. Some defenders of this view argue, for example, that moral freedom involves "agent-causation," which cannot be determined by events governed by causal laws, but makes the agent a kind of unmoved first mover. (3) Others believers in agent-causation such as Tim O'Connor are leeway-libertarians and think that agent-causal power brings leeway with it. They think that agent-causal leeway cannot be 'Frankfurt-controlled' or refuted by Frankfurt-style counterexamples to leeway-requirements. (4) Other libertarians such as Kane seek to avoid the "luck" problem with indeterminism without postulating agent-causal powers, whose relation to reasons for action is hard to define. (5) Finally, the hard incompatibilists hold that the Consequence Argument is sound but also that no form of libertarian freedom can be made plausible: agent-causal sources are metaphysically mysterious and other versions of libertarianism are unable to solve the luck problem. Hence we lack the freedom that responsibility requires and so we have to give up deontic conceptions of moral obligation. Main Themes in Readings: We will examine some of the most important representatives of these different views as they have developed in the last 35 years, in a natural order that helps reveal how positions developed in response to earlier proposals. In particular, we will focus in particular on three issues: (A) Are Frankfurt-style counterexamples to leeway-libertarian requirements compelling, or are there adequate libertarian defenses of leeway-requirements? (B) Does the concept of agent-causation make sense (in particular, how does one act for reasons in these models?), and if so, does it necessarily involve leeway? (C) Do leeway-libertarians have any satisfaction answer to the famous difficulty (often called the "luck" problem or "arbitrariness" objection) that they cannot explain why an agent choose one accessible option over another? Links to Related Topics: The free will literature is closely linked with (i) work on action theory and accounts of intentionality, (ii) work on personal autonomy or development of one's own practical identity; (iii) issues in metaethics such as moral luck and the internalism/externalism debate regarding moral motivation; (iv) positions on the compatibility of divine foreknowledge and moral freedom; (v) developments in virtue epistemology. Students who are interested in these links, or in historical sources of the contemporary positions (e.g. comparisons of medieval and contemporary positions), will be welcome to develop such connections in final papers. Our supplementary readings will include some articles in these connected areas. However, our primary readings will focus on the main lines of development in the contemporary free will literature itself. Texts: All Required unless otherwise marked. (Books are to college as gas is to cars; buy them all). 1: Free Will, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 2002), edited Gary Watson. Must be 2 nd ed! 2: John Fischer and Mark Ravizza, Responsibility and Control (Cambridge 1998). New pb. ed. 3: Daniel Dennett, Elbow Room (MIT Press, 1984) ISBN:
5 4: Timothy O'Connor, Persons and Causes (Oxford, 2002); New paperback edition. 5: Robert Kane, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will (Oxford University Press, 2005) pb 6. Robert Kane, The Significance of Free Will (Oxford University Press, 1998) Other articles and book chapters will be supplied on Eres and by hardcopy original left in a stack on a shelf in the lounge. I will also leave copies of handouts on the lounge shelf. Assignments: 15% Class participation (readiness and questions; expertise not expected!) 36%: 3 short argument analyses (roughly 2-3 pages each). 15% l oral report to the class on a given reading for the day (along with 3-page written summary for me, and questions for class discussion) 34% Final Research Paper (14 pages +) on a topic agreed in advance with me. Tentative Schedule 1/18: Introduction to concepts involved in free action (1) Historical background on the concepts of responsibility and moral freedom. (2) Preliminaries: the concepts of action, intention, and three levels of voluntariness. (3) Preliminaries: freedom as a condition of responsibility for actions, decisions, and character. (4) Types of freedom: liberty (alternative possibilities) and autonomy (self-determination), etc. (5) A map of compatibilist and incompatibilist positions on free will, responsibility, & determinism (6) Robert Kane, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will, ch.1: Introduction. (7) Robert Kane, The Significance of Free Will, chs. 1-2 on senses of 'willing.' 1/25: Classical Compatibilism and Replies: (1) Dennett, Elbow Room, ch.1, ch.5-6 (especially ch. 6) (2) Kane, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will, ch. 2 on Compatibilism. (3) Recommended: Peter Strawson, "Freedom and Resentment," in Watson, ed., Free Will. 2/1: The Consequence Argument for Incompatibilism about Liberty and Determinism (1) Peter van Inwagen, "An Argument for Incompatibilism," in Watson, Free Will. (2) Timothy O Connor, Persons and Causes, ch.1: "Freedom and Determinism." (3) Kane, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will, ch. 3 on Incompatibilism. (4) From van Inwagen s Argument to Kane s UR principle (in-class discussion) 2/8: Libertarianism, the Luck Problem, and Deontic Arguments for Leeway-Liberty (1) Kane, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will, ch. 4 on Libertarianism. (2) Keith Wyma, "Moral Responsibility and Leeway for Action," APQ 34 (Eres) (3) Ishtiyaque Haji, Deontic Morality and Control, chs. 1-3 (especially ch.3) (Eres) (4) Recommended: David Copp, "Defending the Principle of Alternative Possibilities: Blameworthiness and Moral Responsibility," Noûs 31 (Eres) (5) Recommended: Galen Strawson, "The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility," in Watson, ch.11.
6 2/15: Introduction to Frankfurt s Critique of the PAP [prof returning from Charleston by plane] (1) Harry Frankfurt, "Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility," in Watson, Free Will. (2) Frankfurt, "Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person," in Watson, Free Will (esp. 2). [These papers are also available in Frankfurt, The Importance of What We Care About] (3) First argument analysis due. 2/22: Fischer and Ravizza s Semi-Compatibilist Development of Frankfurt's View (1) Fischer and Ravizza, Responsibility and Control, chs.2-3 on Moderate Reasons-Responsiveness (2) Recommended: Susan Wolf, "Sanity and the Metaphysics of Responsibility," in Watson, ch.10 2/29: Semi-Compatibilism continued. [leap of faith day] (1) Fischer and Ravizza, Responsibility and Control, ch. 4 on Responsibility for Consequences and ch.8 on Taking Responsibility for psychological processes leading to intentions. 3/7: Frankfurt, Flicker-of-Freedom Defenses of PAP, and their Problems (1) David Widerker, "Libertarianism and Frankfurt s Attack on the Principle of Alternative Possibilities," in Watson, Free Will. (2) O Connor, Persons and Causes, pp (3) Fischer, "Recent Work on Moral Responsibility," in Ethics 110 (Eres) (4) Kane, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will, chs. 8-9: Frankfurt-Cases and 'Real Selves' (5) Second argument analysis due. 3/28: The McKenna-Pereboom Limited Blockage Strategy against Flickers of Freedom (1) Michael McKenna, "Robustness, Control, and the Demand for Morally Significant Counterexamples," from McKenna and Widerker, eds. Moral Responsibility and Alternative Possibilities (Eres) (2) Derk Pereboom, Living Without Free Will, ch. 1 (eres) (3) Davenport, "The Deliberative Relevance of Refraining from Deciding," in Acta Analytica 21 (Eres and pdf by ) 3/14: Spring break 3/21: Good Friday 4/4: Flickers vs Incompatibilist Freedom without Leeway (1) Stump, "Alternative Possibilities and Responsibility: The Flicker of Freedom" (Eres) (2) Linda Zagzebski, "Does Libertarian Freedom Require Alternate Possibilities (Eres) (3) Watson, "Free Action and Free Will," from Mind 96 (Eres) 4/11: Kane's Indirect Libertarianism [graduate student conference ongoing] (1) Robert Kane, The Significance of Free Will, chs. 3, 5, and 6. (2) Recommended: Kane, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will, ch.11: Ultimate Responsibility. (5) Third argument analysis due. 4/18: Kane's Libertarianism as a solution to the Luck Problem & Replies [Happy Passover] (1) Robert Kane, The Significance of Free Will, chs. 7-9.
7 (2) Alfred Mele, selection from Free Will and Luck (eres) (3) Recommended: Kane, "Responsibility, Luck, and Chance" in Watson, Free Will, ch.15. 4/25: Agent-Causal Leeway-Libertarianism as a Solution to the Luck Problem (1) Tim O Connor, Persons and Causes, chs.4-5. (2) Kane, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will, ch. 5-6 on Self and Agent-Causation (3) Recommended: Randolph Clarke, "Towards a Credible Agent-Causal Account of Free Will," in Watson, Free Will, ch.14. 5/2: Conclusion (1) overflow or (time and class interest permitting): Kane, A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will, ch.13 on free will and divine foreknowledge and predestination. (2) Final seminar papers due. 5/9: Conclusion/Final class. Topics that would each require another meeting: (1) The "direct argument" for the incompatibility of moral responsibility and determinism (2) Hard Determinism (sometimes called Hard Incompatibilism), skepticism about moral freedom. (3) Free Will and Contemporary Neuroscience (recent 'illusion' arguments and responses to them) (4) Criteria for Coercion, Addiction, and Weakness of Will/Akrasia (5) Indirect Libertarianism involving higher-order will (hierarchical tracing models) (6) Conceptions of moral responsibility (Strawsonian reactive attitude view, ledger view, others) (7) Varieties of moral luck and their possibility or impossibility. (8) "Stalemate" in the argument about F-style counterexamples to PAP and the new contention that the examples support actual-sequence models even if determinism is presupposed. (9) The incompatibility of divine foreknowledge (or eternal knowledge) and leeway-liberty and related questions about causal asymmetry in time vs foreknowledge. (10)Molinist conceptions of free will and divine predestination