THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 1
PREFACE AND GENERAL INTRODUCTION
TABLE OF CONTENTS
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 2
COGNITION, CONTENT, AND THE A PRIORI: A STUDY IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF MIND AND KNOWLEDGE
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 3
DEEP FREEDOM AND REAL PERSONS: A STUDY IN METAPHYSICS
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A Note on References
1. Introduction: Freedom, Life, and Persons’ Lives
1.0 Natural Libertarianism and Minded Animalism
1.1 Incompatibilistic Compatibilism
1.2 Deep Freedom and Principled Authenticity
1.3 The Central Claim of this Book, and Previews
2. Beyond Mechanism: The Dynamics of Life
2.1 Immanent Structuralism
2.2 Natural Mechanism, Computability, and Anti-Mechanism
2.3 Kant’s Anti-Mechanism, Kantian Anti-Mechanism, Vitalism, and Emergentism
2.4 On the Representation of Life
2.5 Kantian Non-Conceptualism and the Dynamicist Model of Life
2.6 Inverted Life, Suspended Life, and Non-Local Life: How LifeDoes Not Strongly Supervene on the Physical, and Why
3. From Biology to Agency
3.1 Two-Dimensional Rational Normativity
3.2 Kant’s Biological Theory of Freedom
3.3 Practical-Freedom-in-Life: Kantian Non-Intellectualism
3.4 The Rationality of the Heart: Principled Authenticity
4. Neither/Nor: The Negative Case for Natural Libertarianism
4.1 The Intuitive Definition of Free Will
4.2 The Four Metaphysical Horsemen of the Apocalypse
4.3 The Three Standard Options, Natural Mechanism, and The Fourfold Knot of Free Agency
4.4 Three Arguments for Classical Incompatibilism, and In-the-Zone Compatibilism
4.5 Three Arguments for Local Incompatibilism with Respect to Natural Mechanism
4.6 Sympathy for the Devil: Compatibilism Reconsidered
4.7 Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death?
4.8 Too Hard to Live With: Strawson’s Basic Argument, Hard Determinism, and Hard Incompatibilism
5. Either/Or: Deep Freedom and Principled Authenticity
5.1 The Internal Structure of Deep Freedom
5.2 From Frankfurt Back to Kierkegaard: How to Have a Live Option, or Kierkegaardian Either/Or, Without Alternative Possibilities
5.3 Psychological Freedom, Deep Freedom, and Principled Authenticity
6. Minded Animalism I: What Real Persons Really Are
6.1 From Deep Freedom to Real Persons
6.2 Real Persons
6.3 Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Real Personhood
7. Minded Animalism II: From Parfit to Real Personal Identity
7.1 Parfit’s Theory: Six Basic Claims
7.2 Against and Beyond Parfit 1: Two Reasons, and The Minded Animalist Criterion of Personal Identity
7.3 Against and Beyond Parfit 2: Four More Reasons
A NOTE ON REFERENCES
For convenience, throughout the five-part four book series, The Rational Human Condition—comprising 1. the Preface and General Introduction, 2. Cognition, Content, and the A Priori, 3. Deep Freedom and Real Persons, 4. Kantian Ethics and Human Existence, and 5. Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism—I refer to Kant’s works infratextually in parentheses. The citations include both an abbreviation of the English title and the corresponding volume and page numbers in the standard “Akademie” edition of Kant’s works: Kants gesammelte Schriften, edited by the Königlich Preussischen (now Deutschen) Akademie der Wissenschaften (Berlin: G. Reimer [now de Gruyter], 1902-). I generally follow the standard English translations, but have occasionally modified them where appropriate. For references to the first Critique, I follow the common practice of giving page numbers from the A (1781) and B (1787) German editions only. Here is a list of the relevant abbreviations and English translations:
BL “The Blomberg Logic.” In Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Logic. Trans. J.M. Young. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992. Pp. 5-246.
C Immanuel Kant: Correspondence, 1759-99. Trans. A. Zweig. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1999.
CPJ Critique of the Power of Judgment. Trans. P. Guyer and E. Matthews. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2000.
CPR Critique of Pure Reason. Trans. P. Guyer and A. Wood. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997.
CPrR Critique of Practical Reason. Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996. Pp. 139-271.
DiS “Concerning the Ultimate Ground of the Differentiation of Directions in Space.” Trans. D. Walford and R. Meerbote. In Immanuel Kant: Theoretical Philosophy: 1755-1770. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1992. Pp. 365-372.
DSS “Dreams of a Spirit-Seer Elucidated by Dreams of Metaphysics.” Trans. D. Walford and R. Meerbote. In Immanuel Kant: Theoretical Philosophy: 1755-1770. Pp. 301-359.
EAT “The End of All Things.” Trans. A. Wood and G. Di Giovanni. In Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1996. Pp. 221-231.
GMM Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 43-108.
ID “On the Form and Principles of the Sensible and Intelligible World (Inaugural Dissertation).” Trans. D. Walford and R. Meerbote. In Immanuel Kant: Theoretical Philosophy: 1755-1770. Pp. 373-416.
IUH “Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Aim.” Trans. A. Wood. In Immanuel Kant: Anthropology, History, and Eduction. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007. Pp. 107-120.
JL “The Jäsche Logic.” Trans. J.M. Young. In Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Logic. Pp. 519-640.
LE Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Ethics. Trans. P. Heath. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997.
MFNS Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science. Trans. M. Friedman. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004.
MM Metaphysics of Morals. Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 365-603.
OP Immanuel Kant: Opus postumum. Trans. E. Förster and M. Rosen. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1993.
OT “What Does It Mean to Orient Oneself in Thinking?” Trans. A. Wood. In Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology. Pp. 7-18.
Prol Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. Trans. G. Hatfield. Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2004.
PP “Toward Perpetual Peace.” Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 317-351.
Rel Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. Trans. A. Wood and G. Di Giovanni. In Immanuel Kant: Religion and Rational Theology. Pp. 57-215.
RTL “On a Supposed Right to Lie from Philanthropy.” Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 611-615.
VL “The Vienna Logic,” Trans. J.M. Young. In Immanuel Kant: Lectures on Logic. Pp. 251-377.
WE “An Answer to the Question: ‘What is Enlightenment?’” Trans. M. Gregor. In Immanuel Kant: Practical Philosophy. Pp. 17-22.
In the fullness of time, The Rational Human Condition will also appear as a series of five e-books published by Rounded Globe, each of which, in turn, will be available in hard copy, on demand, from Out of House Publishing.
THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 3
DEEP FREEDOM AND REAL PERSONS: A STUDY IN METAPHYSICS
Chapter 1 Introduction: Freedom, Life, and Persons’ Lives
We … cognize practical freedom through experience as one of the natural causes, namely a causality of reason in the determination of the will, whereas transcendental freedom requires an independence of this reason itself (with regard to its causality in initiating a series of appearances) from all determining causes of the world, and to this extent seems to be contrary to the law of nature, thus to all possible experience, and so remains a problem. (CPR A803/B831)
Therein is contained the whole wisdom of life, but no one has ever rendered them as impressively—as if he were a god in the shape of a scarecrow who spoke to suffering humanity—as that great thinker and genuine philosopher of life who said to a man who had hurled his hat to the floor: Pick it up, and you will get a beating; leave it there and you will also get a beating; now you may choose. You have your great joy “comforting” people when they turn to you in crucial situations; you listen to their expositions and then say: Yes, now I see it all perfectly; there are two possible situations—one can do either this or that. My honest opinion and my friendly advice is this: Do it or do not do it—you will regret both….[Your] view of life is concentrated in one single sentence: I say simply Either/Or.
What has to be accepted, the given, is—so one could say—forms of life.
There is an absolute contradiction between the freedom we all presuppose in practice and the implications of ideas that are widely accepted as established scientific fact. Philosophy has no higher calling than to try to resolve this contradiction at the heart of contemporary culture.
If one accepts classical physics, free will must apparently be explained as being compatible with determinism. The only alternative to compatibilism, if sense is to be made of free will, would be to postulate that the laws of physics do not have universal application and the human free will can cause things to happen contrary to those laws. It might be suggested that Kant found a third alternative, but if so it is one I am unable to understand.
I am convinced that to solve the problems surrrounding animal agency simply it is not enough to cast off mistaken theories of causation…. It needs also to be shown that real, biological processes might enable us to sustain the idea that an animal may be truly in charge of what it does, so that its actions are more than merely the byproduct of its innards and parts. The task requires some reflection on the organizational principles of living creatures, for it is only through such reflection … that we can start to understand where the difference really lies between, on the one hand those things that are true agents, and, on the other, mere machines, entities that nothing will ever be up to, however impressive they may be…. I am exceedingly hopeful that the next few years will see the beginnings of a revolution in our conception of the human person, as philosophical and everyday conceptions of the scientific picture of the world are freed from outdated Newtonian ideas and begin to take more note, both of the complexities of science as it really is and of the undeniable fact of our animal nature.
What is free will? What is practical agency? What is human personhood? And how are human free will, practical agency, and human personhood really possible in the natural world as it is correctly characterized by the modern natural sciences, especially physics, chemistry, biology, and cognitive neuroscience? Or more compactly put: given the truth of modern science, how is human free agency really possible? Let us call this the freedom question. In this book, I provide what I think is a rationally decisive and true answer to the freedom question.
But in order to formulate this answer clearly and distinctly, I will need some precisely-defined terminology. Correspondingly, I will say that free will is a conscious subject’s power to choose or do what he or she wants to, or to refrain from so choosing or so doing, without preventative constraints and without internal or external compulsion, with at least causal responsibility; that practical agency is a conscious subject’s power to choose or do things freely in the light of principles or reasons, including moral principles or reasons, on the basis of self-conscious processes of deliberation and decision; and that a person is an animal that is capable of free will, practical agency, and moral responsibility. So the freedom question is asking how human free will, human practical agency, and human personhood really exist, and how we truly have them, in the natural world as correctly described by modern science.
Or, on the contrary, given the truth of modern science, are we really nothing but “biochemical puppets”[vi] or “moist robots,”[vii] i.e., nothing but natural automata, or natural machines, whose evolutionary and neurobiological mechanisms continually generate the cognitive illusion that we are free agents? If so, then we would be in an even worse cognitive place than Pinocchio, a wooden puppet who longed to be a real boy. We would be nothing but “meat puppets,”[viii] dreaming that we are real human persons.
The issue being raised here, then, is how we should understand the implications of the modern natural sciences for our classical conception of ourselves as rational and moral animals, in the face of the possibility that we are under a serious cognitive illusion about this. Indeed, some contemporary philosophers even think that once we are liberated from this serious cognitive illusion, we will see finally clearly see that we are nothing but highly complex “biochemical puppets” and that “physics makes us free” in a deterministic, block universe.[ix]
But quite frankly, in my opinion, any philosophical doctrine which holds (i) that we are nothing but “biochemical puppets,” no matter how highly complex and amazing these puppets are, and (ii) that “physics makes us free” in a deterministic, block universe, is something straight out of George Orwell’s 1984.[x] How politically expedient it would be for any 21st century equivalent of “Big Brother” to be able to convince us that our being nothing but highly complex decision-theoretic, deterministic automata and our being “free” are the same thing. On the contrary, then, it is a direct implication of my view that it is precisely those who believe and want to convince us that we are deterministic (or indeterministic) natural automata who are in the grip of a serious cognitive myth, not we who conceive of ourselves as purposive, living, essentially embodied, conscious, intentional, caring, really free rational and moral animals. Furthermore, critically resisting and truly liberating ourselves from this deeply-entrenched natural-mechanistic illusion about ourselves will have deep and radical ethical, sociocultural, and political implications. As D.R. Griffin and Helen Steward so rightly say in the fourth and sixth epigraphs for this chapter:
There is an absolute contradiction between the freedom we all presuppose in practice and the implications of ideas that are widely accepted as established scientific fact. Philosophy has no higher calling than to try to resolve this contradiction at the heart of contemporary culture.
The task [of understanding free will and agency] requires some reflection on the organizational principles of living creatures, for it is only through such reflection … that we can start to understand where the difference really lies between, on the one hand those things that are true agents, and, on the other, mere machines, entities that nothing will ever be up to, however impressive they may be…. I am exceedingly hopeful that the next few years will see the beginnings of a revolution in our conception of the human person, as philosophical and everyday conceptions of the scientific picture of the world are freed from outdated Newtonian ideas and begin to take more note, both of the complexities of science as it really is and of the undeniable fact of our animal nature.
Re-stated, then, my aim in this book is to provide a rationally decisive and true answer to the freedom question, with heavy-duty practical implications down the line,[xi] by working out and defending what I call a real metaphysics of human free will, practical agency, and persons in a fully natural world.
Now “real metaphysics,” as I am using this phrase, must be evidentially grounded on human experience. Furthermore, and more radically, real metaphysics in this sense rejects the idea of any theoretically fully meaningful, non-paradoxical ontic commitment or cognitive access to non-apparent, non-manifest, “really real” entities that are constituted by intrinsic non-relational properties, i.e., to “noumena” or “things-in-themselves.”[xii] Such entities are logically, conceptually, or “weakly metaphysically” possible, but strictly unknowable by minded animals like us, both as to their nature, and as to their actual existence or non-existence. In this sense, real metaphysics is methodologically eliminativist about noumena.
As such, real metaphysics sharply contrasts, e.g., with contemporary Analytic metaphysics,[xiii] given the latter’s commitments to noumenal realism, to Conceptualism about the nature of mental representation, to a heavy reliance on modal logic as providing direct insight into the ultimate structure of noumenal reality, usually combined with scientific essentialism, and to the unargued assumption that metaphysics is inherently non-normative and value-neutral. As an almost textbook-example of all this, in Writing the Book of the World, Ted Sider says:
The central theme of this book is: realism about structure. The world has a distinguished structure, a privileged description. For a representation to be fully successful, truth is not enough; the representation must also use the right concepts, so that its conceptual structure matches reality’s structure. There is an objectively correct way to “write the book of the world.”… I connect structure to fundamentality. The joint-carving notions are the fundamental notions; a fact is fundamental when it is stated in joint-carving terms. A central task of metaphysics has always been to discern the ultimate or fundamental reality underlying the appearances. I think of this task as the investigation of reality’s structure.[xiv]
Therefore, real metaphysics rejects all noumenal realist metaphysics, especially including contemporary Analytic metaphysics.
In the first half of the 20th century, the new and revolutionary anti-(neo)Kantian, anti-(neo)Hegelian philosophical programs were Gottlob Frege’s and Bertrand Russell’s logicism, G.E. Moore’s platonic atomism, and the “linguistic turn” initiated by Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, which yielded Russell’s logical atomism and The Vienna Circle’s logical empiricism, and finally its nemesis, W.V.O. Quine’s critique of the analytic-synthetic distinction.[xv] Logical empiricism also produced a domestic reaction, ordinary language philosophy. Powered by the work of H.P. Grice and Peter Strawson, ordinary language philosophy became conceptual analysis. In turn, Strawson created a new “connective,” i.e., holistic, version of conceptual analysis, that also constituted a “descriptive metaphysics.”[xvi] Strawson’s connective conceptual analysis gradually fused with John Rawls’s holistic method of “reflective equilibrium” and Noam Chomsky’s psycholinguistic appeals to intuitions-as-evidence, and ultimately became the current Standard Picture of mainstream analytic philosophical methodology.[xvii]
Coexisting in mainstream contemporary philosophy, alongside the Standard Picture, is the classical Lockean idea that philosophy should be nothing but an “underlaborer” for the natural sciences, especially as this idea was developed in the second half of the 20th century by Quine and Wilfrid Sellars, as the reductive or eliminativist, physicalist, and scientistic doctrine of scientific naturalism, and again in the early 21st century in even more sophisticated versions, as “experimental philosophy” aka “X-Phi,” and by Penelope Maddy, as the doctrine of second philosophy.[xviii]
From the standpoint of real metaphysics, what is wrong with scientific naturalism/X-Phi/second philosophy is its reduction or elimination of the primitive, irreducible fact of human experience. In turn, what is more subtle, but in some ways philosophically even more problematic, is when scientific naturalism/X-Phi/second philosophy takes on the seemingly philosophically more acceptable guise of non-reductive physicalism, and then quietly substitutes the fully ersatz causally inert, logically private or solipsistic, infallible, and ineffable epistemic and metaphysical pseudo-fact of epiphenomenal qualia for the primitive, irreducible, fully-causally-empowered fact of human experience.[xix]
Again from the standpoint of real metaphysics, what is fundamentally wrong with the Standard Picture is its intellectualist, coherentist reliance on networks of potentially semantically empty, non-substantive concepts,[xx] and above all, its avoidance of the sensible, essentially non-conceptual side of human experience and human cognition, which alone connects it directly to what is manifestly real.[xxi]
A further, and perhaps ultimately even more important problem with the Standard Picture, in view of the downstream deep and radical practical implications of real metaphysics, is the Standard Picture’s striking lack of self-critical political awareness. For example, aside from Derek Parfit’s Reasons and Persons, which I will critically address in chapter 7 below, certainly the other most brilliant and influential examples of philosophy done according to the Standard Picture are Rawls’s Theory of Justice and Robert Nozick’s Anarchy, State, and Utopia. But as many feminist and neo-Marxist critics have pointed out, Rawls’s social-contractualist “veil of ignorance” methodology and Nozick’s political libertarianism, alike, uncritically and questionably presuppose that late 20th century USA-style neo-Hobbesian, neo-Millian individualist political liberalism, or neoliberalism, are the alpha and omega of all serious political philosophy.
Real metaphysics is all about the rational human condition, and not about noumenal entities, fundamentally physical, essentially non-mental facts, or coherent networks of potentially semantically empty and/or “ideologically overdetermined” concepts.[xxii]
By sharp contrast, then, real metaphysics starts with the primitive, irreducible fact of purposive, living, essentially embodied, conscious, intentional, caring, rational and moral human experience, and reverse-engineers its basic metaphysical theses and explanations in order to conform strictly to all and only what is phenomenologically self-evident in human experience. By “phenomenologically self-evident,” I mean this:
A claim C is phenomenologically self-evident for a rational human subject S if and only if (i) S’s belief in C relies on directly-given conscious or self-conscious manifest evidence about human experience, and (ii) C’s denial is either logically or conceptually self-contradictory (i.e., it is a logical, conceptual, analytic, or “weak metaphysical” self-contradiction), really metaphysically impossible (i.e., it is a non-logical, essentually non-conceptual, synthetic a priori, or “strong metaphysical” impossibility), or pragmatically self-stultifying for S.
This leads directly to what I call the criterion of phenomenological adequacy for metaphysical theories:
A metaphysical theory MT is phenomenologically adequate if and only if MT is evidentially grounded on all and only phenomenologically self-evident theses.
Re-re-stated now, another equivalent way of describing my aim in this book, is to say that it is an attempt to provide a rationally decisive and true answer to the freedom question, with heavy-duty practical implications down the line, by working out and defending a contemporary Kantian real metaphysics of human free will, practical agency, and persons in a fully natural world. Like Kant, I hold that we directly experience practical agency, or what he calls “practical freedom,” and also that practical agency requires metaphysically robust human free will or deep freedom—what he calls “transcendental freedom”—which really exists in the natural world. And I also fully agree with Kant that this kind of freedom “seems to be contrary to the law of nature, thus to all possible experience, and so remains a problem.” In Kantian terminology, I am trying to solve Kant’s problem by developing a real metaphysics according to which “transcendental freedom,” and “practical freedom” or “autonomy,” are themselves fully natural facts. But in my own terminology, I am trying to solve Kant’s problem by developing a real metaphysics according to which deep freedom and practical agency are themselves fully natural facts.
(From here on in, unless otherwise specified, and apart from a few places where I use the phrase “real metaphysics” for special emphasis, by using the term “metaphysics” I will always mean real metaphysics in the anti-noumenal-realist, anti-Analytic-metaphysics, anti-Standard Picture, anti-scientific naturalist/X-Phi/second philosophy, contemporary Kantian sense I have just spelled out.)
On the view I am proposing, our double capacity for free will and practical agency—which, for convenience, I will call free agency—is an irreducible fact. At the same time, our irreducible capacity for free agency does not exist over and above the rest of the physical world—it is categorically not a mysterious dualistic, extra-physical fact. On the contrary, it is a fully natural, biological and neurobiological fact—a natural fact of life. So the key to our free agency is not that we possess mysterious, non-natural, atemporal causal powers to choose or act in violation of the causal laws of nature. On the contrary, it is simply that, insofar as we are minded living organisms,
(i) all of our intentional activities—by which I mean the things that we ourselves do, and do not merely happen to us—are inherently vital and non-mechanical,
(ii) some of our intentional activities are naturally creative and authentically original, in just the way that a work created by a “human, all too human” artistic genius is authentically original, but not in any god-like or magical way, and
(iii) none of the general causal laws of nature is ever violated by us.
These three natural facts, i.e.,
(i*) vital, non-mechanical sourcehood
(ii*) natural creativity, and
(iii*) living in bounded natural open space (having non-equilibrium-thermodynamic “degrees of freedom”),
are all strongly supported by the self-evident, veridical phenomenology of rational human minded animal agency.[xxiii]
More precisely, the realization of our capacity for free agency, exactly as we consciously experience it, is identical to the form of our own lives as rational human minded animals, that is, as life-forms of a certain kind. Indeed, our consciously experienced and thereby realized capacity for free agency exists fully within the causally efficacious biological and neurobiological facts that constitute the existence and specific character of our own organismic lives. And this is because our consciously experienced and thereby realized capacity for free agency is nothing more and nothing less than an immanent structure of those causally efficacious biological and neurobiological facts themselves. And these facts are, in turn, immanent structures of causally efficacious far-from-equilibrium, spatially orientable, temporally forward-directed, complex, self-organizing thermodynamic processes. According to this non-reductive, immanent structuralist, dynamicist metaphysical conception, then, free agency is an immanent structure of conscious, intentional mind; conscious, intentional mind is an immanent structure of organismic life; and organismic life is an immanent structure of spatiotemporally asymmetric matter and/or energy flows. Each more complex structure is metaphysically continuous with, and embeds, all of the less complex structures. Here is a simple diagram of the basic metaphysical continuities and structural embeddings:
free agency –> conscious, intentional mind –> organismic life –> asymmetric matter/energy flows
In view of this metaphysical conception, to borrow an apt phrase from the later Wittgenstein, my own free agency is just my own “form of life,” and free agency, as such, grows naturally in certain minded animal species or life-forms. Correspondingly, freedom grows naturally and evolves in certain species of minded animals, including the human species, precisely because minds like ours grow naturally and evolve in certain species of animals, including the human species.[xxiv] This thesis, which I will call The Freedom-in-Life Thesis, is a central part of the doctrine I call Natural Libertarianism. Freedom is dynamically inherent in and dynamically emerges from mind, and mind is dynamically inherent in and dynamically emerges from life; hence freedom is dynamically inherent in and dynamically emerges from life. Life is dynamically inherent in and dynamically emerges from asymmetric matter and/or energy flows. So freedom, mind, and life are all dynamically inherent in and dynamically emerge from asymmetric matter and/or energy flows.[xxv]
But the “inherent in” here is not a reductive “inherent in,” and the “emerges from” is not a supervenient or dualistic “emerges from.” Freedom, mind, and life are all “dynamically inherent in” and “dynamically emerge from” asymmetric matter and/or energy flows only in the same basic metaphysical sense that transfinite numbers, complex numbers, and real numbers are all non-dynamically “inherent in” and non-dynamically “emerge from” the self-same dense mathematical structural continuum that also fully embeds the progressively simpler sub-structures consisting of the rational numbers or fractions, the integers, and the natural numbers. Inside this structural continuum, the transfinite, complex, and real numbers are not Turing-computable functions of the natural numbers, integers, or rational numbers. And yet, given the existence of the natural numbers, integers, and rational numbers, necessarily the real, complex, and transfinite numbers are all potentially there, most of them existing between the rationals, integers, and naturals, holding them all together within progressively more complex forms of unity, waiting to emerge by mathematical discovery.
In short, the dynamic inherence of freedom, mind, and life is nothing more and nothing less than causally efficacious immanent structural inherence, and the dynamic emergence of freedom, mind, and life is nothing more and nothing less than causally efficacious immanent structural emergence. So just as it would be mathematically absurd to try to reduce transfinite, complex, or real numbers to recursive functions of the rationals, integers, or naturals, so too it would be metaphysically absurd to try to reduce freedom, mind, and life to Conservation-Laws-governed causal functions of inert, mechanical matter or material processes. Yet that is precisely what defenders of reductive physicalism try to do. And just as it would be mathematically absurd to think of the transfinite, complex, or real numbers as existing “over and above” the rationals, integers, or naturals—on the contrary, the number designated by ‘2’, e.g., is a distinct position or role inside the system of natural numbers, inside the system of positive integers, inside the system of rational numbers, inside the system of real numbers, inside the system of complex numbers, and inside the system of of transfinite cardinals—so too it would be metaphysically absurd to think of freedom, mind, and life as existing “over and above” asymmetric matter/energy flows. Yet this is precisely what non-reductive physicalists and ontological dualists about freedom, mind, and life try to do. I will have much more to say about these fundamental metaphysical points later.
If Natural Libertarianism is correct, then it also directly entails biologically-oriented theories of what I call real personhood and real personal identity, which I call, collectively, Minded Animalism. According to Minded Animalism, you and I and the folks living next door are all real persons who are each literally identical—by which I mean numerically identical, or token-identical, and also personally identical—one-to-one, with the complete, finite, and unique life of some individual minded animal in the class of all minded animals. Then real personal identity is not an identity relation between a mind and a mind, or between a body and a body, or even between an animal and an animal. On the contrary, real personal identity is an identity relation between an animal’s life-process and an animal’s life-process.[xxvi]
What kinds of animal lives am I talking about? Some animals are minded, like us, and some animals are not minded, e.g., human babies born with anencephaly, human beings in persistent vegetative states, and perhaps also insects and reptiles. In any case, by a minded animal, I mean any living organism with inherent capacities or powers for:
(i) consciousness, i.e., a capacity for embodied subjective experience,[xxvii]
(ii) intentionality, i.e., a capacity for conscious mental representation and mental directedness to objects, events, processes, facts, acts, other animals, or the subject herself (so in general, a capacity for mental directedness to intentional targets), and also for
(iii) caring, a capacity for conscious affect, desiring, and emotion, whether directed to objects, events, processes, facts, acts, other animals, or the subject herself.
Over and above consciousness, intentionality, and caring, in some but not all minded animals, there is also a further inherent capacity for
(iv) rationality, i.e., a capacity for self-conscious thinking according to principles, responsiveness to reasons, and reasons-seeking, hence poised for justification, whether logical thinking (including inference and theory-construction) or practical thinking (including deliberation and decision-making).
In chapters 6 and 7, I will argue that it is the fourth capacity (rationality), naturally built on top of the other three capacities (consciousness, intentionality, and caring), that sufficiently constitute the real personhood of a minded animal. Now some minded animals are human, like us, and some minded animals are non-human, and also, arguably, are rational minded animals and real persons—e.g., Great apes (by which I mean non-human members of the biological family Hominidae, including bonobos, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans) and dolphins. Furthermore, some real persons, like us, who are capable of reading and understanding these words, are fully self-conscious and reflective, fully capable of doing creative art, science, and philosophy, fully capable of practical agency, and fully capable being morally responsible for our freely-willed choices and acts, for better or worse. Perhaps some of these “higher-level” or “Kantian” real persons are also non-human! But at the very least, we do know some human ones intimately: ourselves. All human beings are animals, but some human animals are not minded animals—e.g., again, anencephalic babies, normal human fetuses prior to 25 weeks after conception, and humans in persistent vegetative states. Moreover, all rational animals, including of course rational human animals, like us, are minded animals, but some human animals are not rational, including of course all the non-minded human animals, but also the incurably insane. And all rational animals, including of course rational human animals, are real persons, but not all minded animals, including some human animals, are real persons, including normal cats, dogs, horses, and mice, human beings in the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease, and again the incurably insane.
So I am saying that free agency is an inherently “onboard” biological and neurobiological guidance system in any rational minded animal, or real person, including of course any rational human minded animal, or real human person, like us. Even more precisely stated, I am saying that free agency is an infra-organismic, desire-based and emotive, more or less rationally principled, more or less wholehearted, active guidance system that can effectively initiate, coherently maintain, and intimately control the movements of our own living animal bodies under favorable local environmental conditions. But I am also saying that some non-rational minded animals, including some human animals and some non-human animals, are possessed of the power of what I call free volition,[xxviii] by virtue of their also possessing an infra-organismic biological and neurobiological active guidance system that can effectively initiate, coherently maintain, and intimately control the movements of their own living organismic bodies under favorable local environmental conditions.
Correspondingly, free agency and free volition alike are primitively guided by what contemporary philosophers of mind and knowledge call “non-conceptual mental content,” and more specifically, it is guided by what I call essentially non-conceptual content.[xxix] So the basic cognitive capacity for knowing our own free choices and basic acts, as trying-initiated and actively-guided intentional body-movements, is the capacity for essentially non-conceptual cognition. That is the key link between the first book in The Rational Human Condition series, Cognition, Content, and the A Priori, and this book, the second in the series. Freedom and essentially non-conceptual cognition are vital powers that extend significantly more widely across the domain of minded animals than do specifically rational human free agency and specifically human real personhood.
Nevertheless, specifically rational human free agency and specifically human real personhood are my primary philosophical targets in this book. This is not only because I want to answer the freedom question, but also because I want to use them to provide the basic metaphysical framework for the new version of contemporary Kantian moral theory that I develop in the third book in the series, Kantian Ethics and Human Existence,[xxx] and, in turn, for the new version of contemporary Kantian philosophical theology and political philosophy that I develop in the fourth book in the series, Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism.[xxxi] At the same time, rational human free agency and human real personhood alike, as epistemic facts, are grounded on what, in Cognition, Content, and the A Priori I call non-conceptual knowledge; and, as ontological facts, they are also both metaphysically grounded on what, in Embodied Minds in Action,[xxxii] Michelle Maiese and I called essentially embodied agency, or minded animal agency.
Natural Libertarianism therefore builds directly on the unified account of consciousness, the mind-body relation, mental causation, and intentional action that Maiese and I worked out in Embodied Minds in Action—The Essential Embodiment Theory. Here are the six central theses of that theory:
(1) The Essential Embodiment Thesis: Creatures with conscious, intentional minds are necessarily and completely neurobiologically embodied.
(2) The Essentially Embodied Agency Thesis: Basic acts (e.g., raising one’s arm) are intentional body movements caused by an essentially embodied mind’s synchronous trying to make those very movements and its active guidance of them.
(3) The Emotive Causation Thesis: Trying and its active guidance, as the cause of basic intentional actions, is primarily a pre-reflective, desire-based emotive mental activity and only derivatively a self-conscious or self-reflective, deliberative intellectual mental activity.
(4) The Mind-Body Animalism Thesis: The fundamental mental properties of conscious, intentional minds are (a) non-logically or strongly metaphysically (i.e., synthetically) a priori necessarily reciprocally intrinsically connected to corresponding fundamental physical properties in a living animal’s body (mental-physical property fusion), and (b) irreducible truly global or inherently dominating intrinsic structures of motile, suitably neurobiologically complex, egocentrically-centered and spatially-oriented, thermodynamically irreversible living organisms (neo-Aristotelian hylomorphism).
(5) The Dynamic Emergence Thesis: The natural world itself is neither fundamentally physical nor fundamentally mental, but is instead essentially a causal-dynamic totality of forces, processes, and patterned movements and changes in real space and real time, all of which exemplify fundamental physical properties (e.g., molecular, atomic, and quantum properties). Some but not all of those physical events also exemplify irreducible biological properties (e.g., being a living organism), and some but not all of those biological events also exemplify irreducible fundamental mental properties (e.g., consciousness or intentionality). And both biological properties and fundamental mental properties are dynamically emergent properties of those events.
(6) The Intentional Causation Thesis: A mental cause is an event or process involving both consciousness and intentionality, such that it is a necessary proper part of a nomologically jointly sufficient essentially mental-and-physical cause of intentional body movements. In so doing, it is a dynamically emergent structuring cause of those movements. Then, under the appropriate endogenous and exogenous conditions, by virtue of synchronous trying and its active guidance, conscious, intentional essentially embodied minds are mental causes of basic acts from their inception in neurobiological processes to their completion in overt intentional body movements.
In this way, The Essential Embodiment Theory says that our dynamically emergent, irreducible, sentient and sapient minds are also necessarily interdependent with our own living organismic animal bodies and not essentially distinct from them; that we are far-from-equilibrium, asymmetric, complex, self-organizing thermodynamic systems; that we act by intentionally moving our bodies by means of our desire-based emotions and trying; and that our conscious, intentional, caring, and rational necessarily and completely neurobiologically embodied minds are basically causally efficacious precisely because they are metaphysically continuous with our biological lives, and life is basically causally efficacious in physical nature. The simple upshots of The Essential Embodiment Theory, then, are:
(i) in thinking about the mind-body problem we should decisively replace the early modern Cartesian and Newtonian ghost-in-the-machine metaphysics with a post-Cartesian and post-Newtonian but also at the same time neo-Aristotelian immanent-structure-in-the-non-equilibrium-thermodynamics metaphysics, and
(ii) the irreducible conscious, intentional, caring minds of cognizers and agents grow naturally in suitably complex living organisms, as irreducible, non-dualistic, non-supervenient, asymmetric thermodynamic structures of those organisms.
For obvious reasons of space-economy, and also simply in order to avoid redundancy across books, I will not undertake to re-present or re-defend The Essential Embodiment Theory here. At the same time, I will presuppose the truth of its six central theses, as having already been sufficiently elaborated and justified in Embodied Minds in Action, in order to use them for my present philosophical purposes. To orient critical readers looking specifically for that elaboration and justification, however, I will also indicate the relevant corresponding chapters or sections of Embodied Minds in Action whenever I am drawing or relying on that material.
Most simply described, Natural Libertarianism is The Essential Embodiment Theory insofar as it has been explicitly extended to free volition and minded animal agency in general, and also to free agency, i.e., to free will and practical agency, i.e., to rational human minded animal agency, in particular. Other things being equal, and within certain natural limits, as rational human animals, we can move our own bodies just because we want to, and just as we want to, more or less from rational principles, and more or less wholeheartedly. We are then free agents by virtue of the fully natural fact that each rational human minded animal like us is a unique life-form that self-determines her own unique form of life, in a more or less principled and wholehearted way, under or within various larger-scale and smaller-scale pre-existing physical, chemical, biological, and neurobiological causal-law-determined constraints or parameters, which necessarily in turn are also natural dynamic “enablers” for making our choices and actions causally possible. So our agential or agentive autonomy[xxxiii] is nothing more and nothing less than a suitably complex natural development and outgrowth of our causal-nomological autonomy and our biological autonomy.
[i] S. Kierkegaard, “Either/Or, A Fragment of Life” in The Essential Kierkegaard, trans. H. Hong and E. Hong (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 2000), pp. 37-83, at p. 72.
[ii] L. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, trans. G.E.M. Anscombe (New York: Macmillan, 1953), p. 226e.
[iii] D.R. Griffin, Unsnarling the World-Knot: Consciousness, Freedom, and the Mind-Body Problem (Berkeley, CA: Univ. of California Press, 1998), p. 171.
[iv] D. Hodgson, “Quantum Physics, Consciousness, and Free Will,” in R. Kane (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Free Will (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2002), pp. 85-110, at p. 86.
[v] H. Steward, A Metaphysics for Freedom (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2012), pp. 198-199.
[vii] See J. See J. Schuessler, “Philosophy That Stirs the Waters,” New York Times, 29 April 2013, available online at URL = <http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/30/books/daniel-dennett-author-of-intuition-pumps-and-other-tools-for-thinking.html?emc=eta1&_r=0>.
[viii] See, e.g., the edgy 90s rock band, The Meat Puppets, “We Don’t Exist,” available online at URL = <https://search.yahoo.com/yhs/search?p=the+meat+puppets+we+don%27t+exist+youtube&ei=UTF-8&hspart=mozilla&hsimp=yhs-003.>
[ix] See, e.g., J. Ismael, How Physics Makes Us Free (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2016).
[x] Indeed, am I the only one to have noticed the stomach-turning unintentional similarity between the scientistic slogan “physics makes us free,” and the hideously sanctimonious slogan posted over the gates of Auschwitz, Dachau, and other Nazi concentration camps, Arbeit macht frei?
[xi] See, e.g., R. Hanna, “A World With Persons But Without States,” Oxford University Press Blog, 3 January 2016, available online at URL = <http://blog.oup.com/2016/01/world-without-states/>; and R. Hanna, “Radical Enlightenment: Existential Kantian Cosmopolitan Anarchism, With a Concluding Quasi-Federalist Postscript,” in in D. Heidemann and K. Stoppenbrink (eds.), Join, Or Die: Philosophical Foundations of Federalism (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016), pp. 63-90.
[xii] See, e.g., R. Hanna, “Kant, the Copernican Devolution, and Real Metaphysics,” in M. Altman (ed.), Kant Handbook (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017).
[xiii] The leading figures of Analytic metaphysics include David Lewis, David Chalmers, Kit Fine, John Hawthorne, Ted Sider, and Timothy Williamson; and some of its canonical texts are Lewis’s On the Plurality of Worlds (Oxford: Blackwell, 1986); Sider’s Writing the Book of the World (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2011); Chalmers’s Constructing the World (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2012); and Williamson’s Modal Logic as Metaphysics (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2013).
[xv] See R. Hanna, Kant and the Foundations of Analytic Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2001).
[xvi] See P.F. Strawson, Individuals: An Essay in Descriptive Metaphysics (London: Methuen, 1959); and P.F. Strawson, Analysis and Metaphysics: An Introduction to Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford Univ.Press, 1992).
[xvii] See, e.g., F. Jackson, From Metaphysics to Ethics: A Defense of Conceptual Analysis (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1998).
[xviii] See, e.g., W.V.O. Quine, “Epistemology Naturalized,” in W.V.O. Quine, Ontological Relativity and Other Essays. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1969), pp. 69-90; W. Sellars, Science, Perception, and Reality (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963); and P. Maddy, Second Philosophy: A Naturalistic Method (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2007). And for a detailed critique of experimental philosophy/X-Phi, see R. Hanna, Cognition, Content, and the A Priori: A Study in the Philosophy of Mind and Knowledge (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2015), ch. 7.
[xix] See R. Hanna and M. Maiese, Embodied Minds in Action (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2009), esp. chs. 1-2; and R. Hanna, “Minding the Body,” Philosophical Topics 39 (2011): 15-40; then compare and contrast those with, e.g., F. Jackson’s highly influential “Epiphenomenal Qualia,” Philosophical Quarterly 32 (1982): 127-136.
[xx] See also P. Unger, Empty Ideas: A Critique of Analytic Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2014).
[xxi] See Hanna, Cognition, Content, and the A Prior, esp. chs. 1-3.
[xxii] See also R. Hanna, “Life-Changing Metaphysics: Rational Anthropology and its Kantian Methodology,” in G. D’Oro and S. Overgaard (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Philosophical Methodology, (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2016).
[xxiii] See also T. Horgan, The Phenomenology of Agency and Freedom: Lessons from Introspection and Lessons from Its Limits,” available online at URL = http://www.humanamente.eu/PDF/Issue15_Paper_Horgan.pdf. The crucial difference between the self-evident agentive phenomenolology I am talking about, and Horgan’s agentive phenomenology, is that my agentive phenomenology is veridical, and therefore what I call “locally incompatibilist,” whereas Horgan’s phenomenology is non-veridical, and indeed nothing but a classical-compatibilist/soft-determinist cognitive illusion. See also section 5.3 below.
[xxiv] For detailed developments, defenses, and elaborations of the “mind-in-life” thesis, see E. Thompson, Mind in Life (Cambridge: Harvard Univ. Press, 2007); and Hanna and Maiese, Embodied Minds in Action.
[xxv] In chapter 2, I trace the origins of these non-reductive, immanent structuralist, dynamicist ideas back to Kant. But for some recent anticipations of basic aspects of this overall metaphysical conception, see I. Prigogine, The End of Certainty (New York; Free Press, 1997); Griffin, Unsnarling the World-Knot: Consciousness, Freedom, and the Mind-Body Problem; and Timothy Dolch, “A Defense and Interpretation of the Causal Closure of the Physical,” (PhD Dissertation, Univ. of Dallas, 2016).
[xxvi] See also R. Wollheim, The Thread of Life (Cambridge. MA: Harvard Univ. Press, 1984).
[xxvii] In Embodied Minds in Action, Maiese and I distinguish carefully between (1) “consciousness like ours” (or consciousnesslo), which is directly experienced by sentient living organisms like us, and (2) an unconstrained, unqualified notion of consciousness, which may include disembodied minds, angelic minds, divine minds, etc. In that book we focused almost exclusively on consciousnesslo for various methodological reasons. In the present book I will focus my notion of consciousness in exactly the same way, but dispense with the slightly awkward subscripting convention.
[xxviii] By free volition, or minded animal agency, I mean essentially the same thing that Helen Steward means by animal agency—see her A Metaphysics for Freedom, esp. chs. 1-2, 4, and 8. More generally, there are many significant parallels between Steward’s metaphysics of freedom and mine, although it is free will and practical agency, that is, specifically rational animal agency, that I am specifically focusing on here. But at the same time, it is a core feature of the metaphysics of freedom I am presenting, that the “locally incompatibilistic” fact of deep freedom, the “up-to-me-ness” or “ultimate sourcehood” of choices and acts, flows from the nature of essentially embodied, conscious, intentional, minded animal life itself. And that is the core of Steward’s theory too, even despite its being rather unfortunately self-packaged and self-labeled by her as a new version of agent-causal Classical Libertarianism. In fact, her view is much closer to Natural Libertarianism than it is to agent-causal Classical Libertarianism.
[xxix] See Hanna, Cognition, Content, and the A Priori, esp. chs 2-3.
[xxx] In turn, the ethical theory developed in Kantian Ethics and Human Existence provides a crucial premise in the core argument for philosophical and political anarchism. See note [x] above.
[xxxi] See note [xi] above.
[xxxii] See note [xix] above.
[xxxiii] The neologisms “agential” and “agentive” both mean the same thing, namely, “directly concerned with, or characteristic of, intentional agents or intentional agency.” Both terms are currently in use in the relevant philosophical literature; so I will use them interchangeably.