The Rational Human Condition 3, Deep Freedom and Real Persons: A Study in Metaphysics, Section 4.4–Three Arguments for Classical Incompatibilism, and In-the-Zone Compatibilism.

“The Human Condition,” by Thomas Whitaker/Prison Arts Coalition

THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION is a five-part, four-book series, including:

PART 1: Preface and General Introduction

PART 2: Cognition, Content, and the A Priori: A Study in the Philosophy of Mind and Knowledge

PART 3:  Deep Freedom and Real Persons: A Study in Metaphysics

PART 4: Kantian Ethics and Human Existence: A Study in Moral Philosophy

PART 5:  Kant, Agnosticism, and Anarchism: A Theological-Political Treatise

Its author is ROBERT HANNA:


THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 1

PREFACE AND GENERAL INTRODUCTION

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Section 1.0  What It Is

Section 1.1  Bounded in a Nutshell

Section 1.2  Rational Anthropology vs. Analytic Metaphysics, the Standard Picture, and Scientific Naturalism

Section 1.3  Philosophy and Its History: No Deep Difference

Section 1.4  Works of Philosophy vs. Philosophical Theories: Presentational Hylomorphism and Polymorphism

Section 1.5  Analytic Philosophy, Continental Philosophy, and Rational Anthropology

Section 1.6  What is a Rational Human Animal?

Section 1.7  An Important Worry and a Preliminary Reply

Section 1.8  The Biggest Windmills


The Complete, Downloadable Text of THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 1


THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 2 

COGNITION, CONTENT, AND THE A PRIORI: A STUDY IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF MIND AND KNOWLEDGE

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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

2.0 Introduction

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 Life Does Not Strongly Supervene on the Physical, and Why

2.7 Conclusion                                                                                                                  

3.  From Biology to Agency          

3.0 Introduction

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

3.5 Conclusion                                                                                                       

4.  Neither/Nor: The Negative Case for Natural Libertarianism

4.0 Introduction                                                                                                                 

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

4.9 Conclusion                                                                                                        

5.  Either/Or: Deep Freedom and Principled Authenticity          

5.0 Introduction

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

5.4 Conclusion                                                                                                       

6.  Minded Animalism I: What Real Persons Really Are

6.0 Introduction

6.1 From Deep Freedom to Real Persons

6.2 Real Persons

6.3 Necessary and Sufficient Conditions for Real Personhood

6.4 Conclusion                                                                                                       

7.  Minded Animalism II: From Parfit to Real Personal Identity          

7.0 Introduction

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

7.4 Conclusion    


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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.


THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION, PART 3

DEEP FREEDOM AND REAL PERSONS: A STUDY IN METAPHYSICS

CHAPTER 4  Neither Nor: The Negative Case for Natural Libertarianism

Section 4.4  Three Arguments for Classical Incompatibilism, and In-the-Zone Compatibilism

“Now, my excellent friend,” said my companion, “you are in possession of all you need to follow my argument. We see that in the organic world, as thought grows dimmer and weaker, grace emerges more brilliantly and decisively. But just as a section drawn through two lines suddenly reappears on the other side after passing through infinity, or as the image in a concave mirror turns up again right in front of us after dwindling into the distance, so grace itself returns when knowledge has as it were gone through an infinity. Grace appears most purely in that human form which either has no consciousness or an infinite consciousness. That is, in the puppet or in the god.”

“Does that mean,” I said in some bewilderment, “that we must eat again of the tree of knowledge in order to return to the state of innocence?”

“Of course,” he said, “but that’s the final chapter in the history of the world.”

                                                                        –H. von Kleist[i]

Now for Step 1 of the negative case for Natural Libertarianism. In the recent and contemporary philosophical literature on free will and moral responsibility, there are two widely-used arguments against classical Compatibilism and in favor of classical Incompatibilism:

(i) The Consequence Argument, and

(ii) The Source Incompatibilist Argument.

I will now look at these two arguments in turn, and then at a third somewhat less well known argument:

(iii) The Causal-Explanatory Exclusion Argument.

The Consequence Argument.  The Consequence Argument says this:  Assuming that Universal Natural Determinism is true, if we cannot change what is necessarily the case, and we cannot change the past, and we cannot change what is logically entailed by what is necessarily the case, then we cannot change the way we are now or in the future. So we have no alternative possibilities, and if Universal Natural Determinism is true, then free will is impossible. Therefore, classical Compatibilism is false.

More precisely, however, here is the classical version of The Consequence Argument, as formulated by Peter Van Inwagen.[ii]  We start by adopting the following conventions, where lower-case ‘p’ and ‘q’ stand for arbitrarily chosen propositions to the effect that p and that q about the natural world:

L-NEC: It is logically necessary that

Pa: All settled past events are taken together as a complete series

Ln: All the general causal laws of nature are conjoined

Fp: Every fact that p about every present and future event is fixed

(N)p: It is a fact that p and no one has or ever had any choice about whether p

Then we adopt these two inference rules:

rule α: (L-NEC)p (N)p

rule β: (N)p, (N)(p → q) (N)q

Then the overall strategy of the Consequence Argument is two-step. First, it assumes Universal Natural Determinism as a premise, where Universal Natural Determinism is to be understood specifically as

 (L-NEC) [(Pa & Ln) → Fp]

which I will dub

UNDPVI

in order to indicate that it is specifically Peter Van Inwagen’s formulation of Universal Natural Determinism. And then, second, it derives (N)FEp using only classical propositional logic and the two inference rules α and rule β, as follows:

(1) (L-NEC) [(Pa & Ln) → Fp]        premise, UNDPVI

(2) (L-NEC) [(Pa → (Ln → Fp)]      1, propositional logic

(3) (N) [Pa → (Ln → Fp)]                2, rule α        

(4) (N)Pa                                            premise, Unchangeability of the Past

(5) (N) (Ln → Fp)                             3, 4 rule β

(6) (N)Ln                                            premise, Inviolability of the Laws of Nature

(7) (N)Fp                                            5, 6  rule β

Defenders of classical Compatibilism have replied to The Consequence Argument in various ways.[iii] Most of the objections have concentrated on rule β, looking for possible counterexamples to it.[iv] In response, defenders of The Consequence Argument have usually replied by refining the characterization of Np and ruling out the counterexamples, thereby re-establishing the soundness of rule β.

Another sort of reply is to challenge (4) or (6), thereby challenging either The Unchangeability of the Past, i.e., (N)Pa, or The Inviolability of the Laws of Nature, i.e., (N)Ln. The challenge is that there is at least one intelligible and therefore metaphysically possible sense in which we can change the past or violate the laws of nature, consistently with the truth of Universal Natural Determinism, hence classical Compatibilism is defensible.[v] If a “local miracle” happens just before I choose or act, and if causation is the same as “counterfactual influence” (sidebar note: according to the counterfactual influence theory of causation, X causes Y if and only if, necessarily, had some fact about X been different from the way it actually was, then Y would have been correspondingly different, right up to and including X’s non-occurrence determining Y’s non-occurrence), then if the miracle had happened differently, I would have chosen or acted differently and the laws of nature would have been different. Correspondingly, there is at least one intelligible and therefore (weakly) metaphysically possible sense in which we can change the past (and the present and the future), since the possible world in which the laws of nature are different will also be a world with a different past (and present and future).

There are two obvious counter-replies to this critical reply to The Consequence Argument.

The first is to provide a new defense of (4), The Unchangeability of the Past. That has been tried, e.g., by Wesley Holliday,[vi] but still fails. [vii]

The second obvious counter-reply is to deny that causation is the same as counterfactual influence. There are three basic sorts of objections here:

(i) there are “trumping preemption” cases, in which by hypothesis there is counterfactual influence between event E1 and event E2, yet a deviant causal chain constituting an independent event E3 intervenes so as to be the actual cause of E2, thereby “trumping” and “pre-empting” the causal powers of E1e.g., if the starter’s gun had not gone off, then the sprinter would not have started running, yet the actual cause of the sprinter’s starting to run is his being so nervous about the gun going off that he jerks forward just as the gun goes off,

(ii) causal counterfactuals can hold true in cases that are clearly not cases of causation—e.g., if 3 + 4 had not equaled 7, then I would not have raised my hand, but 3 + 4’s equalling 7 is not clearly the cause of my hand’s being raised, and

(iii) causal counterfactuals fail to hold true in cases of  “standard causal overdetermination”— e.g., Joe’s suspenders cause his trousers to stay up, and Joe’s belt causes his trousers to stay up, but it is not the case that if Joe’s suspenders had been removed, then his trousers would not have stayed up.

These sorts of worries, in turn, shift the focal point of the debate about The Consequence Argument over to a distinct issue: the acceptability of the counterfactual influence theory of causation.

One possible counter-counter-reply is to these sorts of worries is that some sort of counterfactual influence is at least a necessary condition of causation, even if it is not also a sufficient condition. For example, in the case of standard causal overdetermination I used just above, it remains true that if Joe’s suspenders had been removed and also at the same time Joe’s belt had been removed, then Joe’s trousers would not have stayed up. And it does seem to generalize that in every genuine case of causation, there is an earlier singular or complex event such that had it not happened, then the effect also would not have happened. If that is so, then there still remains at least one intelligible and therefore metaphysically possible sense in which we can change the past (and the present and the future) or violate the laws of nature.

OK, fair enough, as far as this line of reasoning goes—but that, ultimately, is not far enough. I can see some good reasons for thinking that The Consequence Argument is sound, and some other good reasons for thinking that The Consequence Argument is not sound. Nevertheless, it is clear to me, and others, that the recent and contemporary debate about The Consequence Argument is in a vicious dialectical loop, indeed at stalemate, with critics and defenders replying, then counter-replying, and then counter-counter replying pretty much along the lines sketched in the last few paragraphs.[viii]

Moreover, in my opinion, the source of this stalemate can be metaphysically diagnosed, and lies in the fact that all standard formulations of The Consequence Argument use the modal operator ‘necessarily’ or the box □ without any careful attention to the different types of necessity. But something that is quite evident, when we look back at my initial formulation of Universal Natural Determinism—which, we will remember, is the doctrine that the complete series of settled past events, together with all the general causal laws of nature, causally necessitate the existence and specific character of all present and future events, including all the choosings and doings of persons, or more explicitly formulated,

(C-NEC)  [(Pa & Ln) Fp]

—is that Van Inwagen’s classical formulation of The Consequence Argument more or less implicitly construes Universal Natural Determinism as UNDPVI, i.e., as ordinary Fatalism, or

(L-NEC) [(Pa & Ln) → Fp].

Now the defender of classical Compatibilism can then easily argue that it is perfectly possible to defend Universal Natural Determinism while rejecting Fatalism. Hence even if The Consequence Argument is sound on some appropriate construal of (N)p for the purposes of defending rule β, nevertheless classical Compatibilism is still possible.

Indeed, this point is also perfectly consistent with the classical Compatibilist argument for the possibility of changing the past or violating the general causal laws of nature. This is because, if Universal Natural Determinism is the doctrine that the complete series of settled past events, together with all the general causal laws of nature, causally necessitate the existence and specific character of all present and future events, then since causal necessitation is obviously of narrower modal scope than logical necessitation, it follows that The Unchangeability of the Past and The Inviolability of the Laws of Nature are both implicitly taken to be necessarily true relative to the general causal laws of nature only, not relative to the laws of logic. From there, it seems an entirely natural step for the defender of classical Compatibilism to interpret the premises (N)Pa and (N)Ln as necessarily true relative to the general causal laws of nature only. After all, the defender of classical Compatibilism might reasonably ask the following rhetorical question:

“Short of accepting Wittgenstein’s Tractarian ultra-Fatalism, how could anyone seriously take either (N)Pa or (N)Ln to be logically necessary?”

Then it is obviously logically possible for (N)Pa or (N)Ln to be false, and the classical Compatibilist has won the day.

On the other hand, however, if the defender of The Consequence Argument gets his opponent to agree that Universal Natural Determinism is to be construed as UNDPVI, or Fatalism, and then he can also find some reading of (N)p that approximates as closely as possible to implicitly saying, in effect, that

it is a fact that p and no one has or ever had any choice about whether p, as a matter of logical necessity,

without thereby explicitly announcing that he has turned Universal Natural Determinism into Fatalism, then on the contrary the defender of The Consequence Argument will have won the day.

So for these reasons, I think that the stalemate in the debate about The Consequence Argument is permanent, with the defenders of The Consequence Argument always more or less implicitly construing Universal Natural Determinism as Fatalism, while the opponents of The Consequence Argument and defenders of classical Compatibilism always more or less implicitly construing Universal Natural Determinism as a significantly modally weaker thesis than Fatalism. And never the twain shall meet.

The Source Incompatibilist Argument. An importantly different sort of argument strategy, much favored by contemporary post-Frankfurt defenders of classical Compatibilism, is either to concede the soundness of The Consequence Argument, or remain neutral about the stalemated Consequence Argument, and then also argue that both moral responsibility and free will alike do not require alternative possibilities.[ix] (I will come back to this crucial issue about alternative possibilities later.) So, according to these contemporary post-Frankfurtians, it is the compatibility of moral responsibility and Universal Natural Determinism that really matters, not the compatibility of free will and Universal Natural Determinism.

Let us suppose for the purposes of argument that these contemporary post-Frankfurt defenders of classical Compatibilism are right that neither moral responsibility nor free will requires alternative possibilities; and let us also suppose for the purposes of argument that the Semi-Compatibilists are right that moral responsibility and Universal Natural Determinism are mutually consistent even if free will does indeed require alternative possibilities and is incompatible with Universal Natural Determinism. Then, on logically independent grounds, The Source Incompatibilist Argument[x] says this:  Assuming that Universal Natural Determinism is true, it follows that all my choices and actions are causally necessitated by a series of antecedent events together with the general causal laws of nature. But every such series of antecedent events begins long before I was born, and indeed ultimately begins in The Big Bang. So if Universal Natural Determinism is true, then I am never the ultimate source of my choices or acts, I am never deeply free, and nothing is ever really and truly up to me, hence free will is impossible. Therefore, classical Compatibilism and Semi-Compatibilism are both false.

In my opinion, The Source Incompatibilist Argument is sound. One way of displaying the philosophical power of this argument is as follows. It is rationally intuitive that deep (non-)moral responsibility exists, and also that free will understood as deep freedom, ultimate sourcehood, or up-to-me-ness a priori necessitates deep

(non-)moral responsibility. But if Universal Natural Determinism is true, then free will as deep freedom, ultimate sourcehood, or up-to-me-ness is impossible, and nothing else in the world metaphysically suffices to bring deep (non-)moral responsibility into existence. Or in other words, if you take deep (non-)moral responsibility seriously, then it is very difficult to see how you could consistently be anything but a source incompatibilist.

This remains true even if we fully concede, as I will do later, what contemporary post-Frankfurtians and other “Non-Voluntarists”[xi] would have us believe, namely that it is possible to have moral responsibility (whether shallow or deep) in the absence of a free will that requires alternative possibilities. Now Source Incompatibilism, as I am construing it, locates the metaphysical ground of free will in deep freedom, and not in alternative possibilities. But by sharp contrast, the contemporary post-Frankfurtians and other Non-Voluntarists have not provided an account of what constitutes the metaphysical ground of moral responsibility (again, whether shallow or deep) in the absence of a free will that requires alternative possibilities. Rather, they have argued only that (shallow or deep) moral responsibility in this sense is possible and also that, if it exists, then it necessarily involves a suitably-sophisticated moral psychology, complete with the “reactive attitudes” and “reasons-responsive mechanisms.”[xii] But a sophisticated moral psychology, on its own, does not a metaphysical power-source make. Correspondingly, what Fischer calls “deep control” is at most epistemically deep, and at the same time it is metaphysically shallow, and deflationary, because if Universal Natural Determinism is true, then there are no real minded animal agents existing in the world, and no deep freedom or deep (non-)moral responsibility either.

Seemingly, then, the only prima facie reasonable move left open for the contemporary post-Frankfurt Compatibilist or Semi-Compatibilist to make at this point in the debate, is to propose an “error-theory” or eliminativism about the ordinary concept of moral responsibility.[xiii] Then this ersatz brand of moral responsibility can still be brought into existence, even in the absence of free will as deep freedom, aka ultimate sourcehood and up-to-me-ness. But, for the contemporary post-Frankfurt Compatibilist or Semi-Compatibilist, that seems wholly self-stultifying. For it is in effect to concede the incompatibility of Universal Natural Determinism and free will as deep freedom, and implicitly accept either Hard Determinism or Hard Incompatibilism.

Of course, it is possible to (try to) be an eliminativist free will skeptic, just as it is possible to (try to) be an eliminativist consciousness skeptic, or an eliminativist moral skeptic.

Elsewhere, I explicitly argue against eliminativist consciousness skepticism and eliminativist moral skepticism.[xiv] And the very idea of free will, as I spelled it out earlier, presupposes consciousness and morality. So it seems highly unlikely, from that metaphysical vantage point, that eliminativism would hold up for free will. But in any case, eliminativism about free will would also be wholly self-stultifying for post-Frankfurt Compatibilists or Semi-Compatibilists, since they are all also Soft Determinists who think that either free will or moral responsibility, no matter how deflationary and shallow their conceptions of these may be, actually exists, along with Universal Natural Determinism. Indeed, although it is a minimally self-consistent position, it is hard to see what the philosophical point of being a Compatibilist or Semi-Compatibilist and also an eliminativist free will skeptic would truly be.

The Causal-Explanatory Exclusion Argument. But let us imagine for a moment that contemporary post-Frankfurt defenders of classical Compatibilism and Semi-Compatibilism have somehow responded to The Source Incompatibilist Argument in a way that forces at least a tie between Compatibilism or Semi-Compatibilism on the one hand, and classical Incompatibilism on the other. Even so, there is still at least one other powerful argument left in the classical Incompatibilist’s repertoire, although this one is somewhat less well-known, because it derives primarily from recent work in the philosophy of mind. This is what is known as The Causal-Explanatory Exclusion Problem for Mental Causation, developed by Jaegwon  Kim.[xv]

Kim starts with the assumption that the following principle is undeniably true:

The Causal Closure of the Physical aka CCP: Only physical things can cause physical things.

Unfortunately, CCP in this version is crucially ambiguous in several respects. [xvi] So, as I indicated in passing in chapter 1, this is the disambiguated and “precisified” interpretation that I am using:

CCP: Necessarily, all caused physical events have only event-causes that are consistent with (but not necessarily entailed, or otherwise necessitated, by[xvii]) all the deterministic or indeterministic general causal laws of nature, especially including the Conservation Laws, together with all the settled quantity-of-matter-and/or energy facts about the past, especially including The Big Bang.

So understood, CCP rules out any supernatural or non-spatiotemporal causes, and it also tells us what a thing’s physicality is:

Something X is physical if and only if X has efficacious causal powers that are consistent with (but not necessarily entailed, or otherwise necessitated, by) all the deterministic or indeterministic general causal laws of nature, especially including the Conservation Laws, together with all the settled quantity-of-matter-and/or energy facts about the past, especially including The Big Bang.

Granting CCP in this disambiguated and precisified sense, then The Exclusion Problem arises directly from the following principle:

Since two or more complete and independent causal explanations for the same physical thing cannot exist,[xviii] there can be only one complete and independent causal explanation of any given physical thing.

This is The Explanatory Exclusion Principle. Now “complete” explanations are self-contained and require no other concepts to apply to the relevant physical thing. By contrast, “independent” explanations are complete and also rule out certain other concepts from applying to the relevant physical thing at the same time and in the same respects. To motivate our acceptance of The Explanatory Exclusion Principle, Kim asks us to consider all the possible cases in which there might be two causal explanations respectively invoking C (the dualistic mental cause[xix]) and C* (the fundamental physical cause[xx]) of the same event E:

(case 1) identity of C and C*  (= either reductive materialist type-type identity theory or non-reductive materialist token-token identity theory), 

(case 2) strong supervenience of C on C* (= either reductive functionalism or non-reductive materialism),  

(case 3) C and C* are distinct individually insufficient, individually necessary, and jointly sufficient causes of E (= the jointly sufficient mental-and-physical cause theory), 

(case 4) C and C* are different links in the same causal chain leading to E (= substance dualist causal interactionism), and  

(case 5) C and C* are distinct individually sufficient causes of E (= causal overdeterminationism). 

Kim persuasively argues that all the putative cases of dual explanation are either non-independent because the two causal explanations collapse into a single complete and independent causal explanation of E (cases 1 and 3), or else they are incomplete because either C violates CCP (case 4), or else C* explanatorily excludes C (cases 2 and 5). So The Causal-Explanatory Exclusion Problem is this: Given both CCP and The Explanatory Exclusion Principle, the availability of a physical causal explanation for any physical event effectively excludes any other explanation for that event, and in particular it effectively excludes any dualistic mental causal explanation for that event; so efficacious dualistic mental causation of physical events is explanatorily ruled out of court, because the dualistic mental properties of physical events are purely epiphenomenal.

This makes possible a corresponding Causal-Explanatory Exclusion Argument for classical Incompatibilism.[xxi] That argument says the following. Supposing that Universal Natural Determinism is true, then since by hypothesis each of my choices and actions already has a complete and independent deterministic physical causal explanation, and since both CCP and The Explanatory Exclusion Principle are true, then it follows necessarily that all my dualistic mental choices are purely epiphenomenal and without causal efficacy. So if Universal Natural Determinism is true, and furthermore my free will requires dualistic mental choices, then I am never the sufficient efficacious cause of my choices or actions, hence I am never deeply free or the ultimate source of my choices or acts, nothing is ever up to me, deep (non-)moral responsibility is impossible, and free will is also impossible. Or as Kim aptly puts it:

Epiphenomenalism strikes most of us as obviously wrong, if not incoherent…. It is the kind of doctrine… that, even if we had to acknowledge it as true, could not serve as a guide to life; it cannot serve as a premise in our practical reasoning, and it is not possible for us to live as though it is true.[xxii]

In-the-Zone Compatibilism. It is clear that the only possible way a defender of classical Compatibilism can get around both the Source Incompatibilist worry and also the epiphenomenalism worry, is to take the philosophical offensive and argue that non-sourcehood and epiphenomenalism are not only perfectly consistent with free will and the ordinary concept of moral responsibility, but also jointly provide us with exactly the right metaphysics for free will and the ordinary concept of moral responsibility. In short, you take the bull by the horns and flip it over onto its back, so that the seeming big loser in the free will debate is actually the big winner. That could rightly be called new wave Compatibilism.

For example, the new wave Compatibilist can argue that the best of all possible rational human lives would be to be naturally determined to be happy, i.e., to be such that our irreducibly conscious and animal lives fully contain the natural flow of deterministic neurobiological processes towards the very things we both rationally and emotionally need and want most. So the best of all possible rational human animal or real human personal lives would be to be naturally determined and in the zone for life.  If this were true, then further rational reflection, deep freedom, deep (non-)moral responsibility, and the autonomous causal efficacy of the consciously mental would only serve to mess things up and make them worse, perhaps even radically worse. Taking your life into your own hands in this metaphysically super-robust sense is just too risky, filled with anxiety, uncertainty, and possible suffering, and therefore precisely not the “good life” of in-the-zone-for-life happiness, in-the-zone-for-life free will, and in-the-zone-for-life moral responsibility. Therefore, odd as it may at first seem, non-sourcehood and epiphenomenalism are crucial necessary conditions for just the right kind of happiness, free will, and the ordinary concept of moral responsibility. Let us call this view In-the-Zone Compatibilism,[xxiii] or In-the-Zone-ism for short.

I think that In-the-Zone-ism is an extremely interesting view, for all sorts of reasons, and also that it is importantly related to R.E. Hobart’s famous argument for the conceptual necessity of Universal Natural Determinism in order to have metaphysically and psychologically robust free will.[xxiv] Even so, I think that there is something profoundly philosophically mistaken in the very idea of In-the-Zone-ism. This profound mistake can be brought out by recognizing that, looked at historically, In-the-Zone-ism’s new wave Compatibilism is actually an implicit recurrence to a view originally presented in literary form by the 18th century writer Heinrich von Kleist, in his equally brilliant and strange short story, “On the Marionette Theater.”

The historical back-story is that Kleist had been thrown into a serious depression—commonly known as his “Kant-crisis”[xxv]—by encountering Kant’s Critical philosophy, and in particular by encountering Kant’s “incompatibilistic compatibilism,” according to which we are, at once, phenomenally universally naturally determined and also noumenally free. Kleist fixated on the phenomenal universal natural determinism component, which convinced him that his life was meaningless. In “On the Marionette Theater,” he attempted to face up to this meaning-destroying compatibilism by affirming the flawless, superhuman character of life as a puppet in an ideal marionette theater, i.e., as a natural automaton, thereby presenting and defending an early-modern version of In-the-Zone-ism. But his attempt at philosophical self-medication failed, and, tragically, he committed suicide a year later.

The metaphysical moral of the tragic Kleist back-story, I think, is that In-the-Zone-ism, along with every other form of classical Compatibilism, can be shown to be false by arguments for what I call local incompatibilism with respect to Natural Mechanism. Local incompatibilist, anti-natural-mechanist arguments exploit the profound point I noted in section 4.2 above, which is that it is possible for a creature that has a spatiotemporal coincidence with me, and is even made of human flesh, to be a naturally mechanized causal source of what may seem to be my choosings and doings, without its also being an ultimate causal source of my choosings and doings. As naturally mechanized, it is nothing but a biochemical puppet and moist robot, a “hollow man,” and a “man without qualities.” Kleist vividly shows us, however, that this In-the-Zone-ist conception can carry an intensely self-medicating aesthetic impact: a life without any risk, a life without the (at times, and especially during a personal crisis) almost unbearable existential anxiety of choice and deep moral responsibility, a life without having to be “human, all too human.” The metaphysical point is that causal sourcehood on its own is not sufficient for free will—what is needed for free will is real agentive causal sourcehood and real person-centered causal sourcehood. And that is just as true when a naturally mechanized causal source is “in the zone for life,” as when it is not. Indeed, it simply does not really matter to a fleshy deterministic or indeterministic Turing machine whether it is in the zone or not in the zone. That is because nothing ever really matters to a fleshy deterministic or indeterministic Turing machine, one way or the other.

Now moving from 18th century “high” art to 20th century “transgressive” art:  Even if it is indeed causally efficacious on its own, a creature that was “in the zone for life” might just as well be one of the flesh-eating zombies from George Romero’s horror cult classic, Night of the Living Dead.[xxvi] The horror we naturally feel, and that Romero’s film so brilliantly evokes, when we imagine, or visually represent, a human body that has been galvanized, motorized, and then well-programmed into efficacious movement from unliving flesh, can be directly aesthetically transferred to In-the-Zone-ism and used to prime our capacity for reliable rational intuition. What, ultimately, leaving aside obvious aesthetic differences, is the deep metaphysical difference between Romero’s flesh-eating zombie, Kleist’s metaphysically-comforting perfect puppet, Harris’s biochemical puppet, and Dennett’s moist robot? (None.) Are we ever even rationally tempted to think that a flesh-eating zombie is also a real intentional agent? (No.) If not, then why should we ever even be so much as even rationally tempted to think that In-the-Zone-ism, or any other kind of classical Compatibilism, no matter how aesthetically self-medicating its conception might be, is a metaphysically adequate doctrine? (We shouldn’t, because even the rational temptation is ultimately rationally self-defeating.)

NOTES

[i] H. von Kleist, “On the Marionette Theater,” trans. I. Parry, available online at URL = <http://southerncrossreview.org/9/kleist.htm>.

[ii] See, e.g., P. Van Inwagen, “The Incompatibility of Free Will and Determinism,” Philosophical Studies 27 (1975): 185-199; P. Van Inwagen, An Essay on Free Will (Oxford: Clarendon/Oxford Univ. Press, 1983); and P. Van Inwagen, “Free Will Remains a Mystery,” in Kane (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Free Will, pp. 158-177. See also T. Kapitan, “A Master Argument for Incompatibilism,” in Kane (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Free Will, pp. 127-157.

[iii] See, e.g., Kane (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Free Will, chs. 8-11.

[iv] See, e.g., M. Fara, “Masked Abilities and Compatibilism,” Mind 117 (2008): 843-865.

[v] See, e.g., D. Lewis, “Are We Free to Break the Laws?,” in Watson (ed)., Free Will, pp. 122-129. See also H. Beebee, “Local Miracle Compatibilism,” Noûs 37 (2003) : 258–277; P. Graham, “A Defense of Local Miracle Compatibilism,” Philosophical Studies 140 (2008): 65-82; and S. Oakley, “Defending Lewis’s Local Miracle Compatibilism,” Philosophical Studies 138 (2006): 337-349.

[vi] W. Holliday, “Freedom and the Fixity of the Past,” Philosophical Review 121 (2012): 179-207.

[vii] N. Tognazzini and J.M. Fischer, “Incompatibilism and the Past,” in J. Keller (ed.), Being, Freedom, and Method: Themes from van Inwagen (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, forthcoming), available online at URL = < http://philpapers.org/rec/TOGIAT>.

[viii] Tognazzini and Fischer, “Incompatibilism and the Past.”

[ix] See H. Frankfurt, “Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility” in Frankfurt, The Importance of What We Care About,  pp. 1-10; and Frankfurt, “Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person.” See also N. Levy and M. McKenna, “Recent Work on Free Will and Moral Responsibility,”Philosophy Compass 4 (2009): 96-133.

[x] See, e.g., R. Kane, “Some Neglected Pathways in the Free Will Labyrinth,” in Kane (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Free Will, pp. 406-437.

[xi] See, e.g., R. Adams, “Involuntary Sins,” Philosophical Review, 94 (1985): 3–31.

[xii]  See, e.g., Fischer, Deep Control; Fischer, “Frankfurt-type Examples and Semi-Compatibilism”;  Fischer, My Way; Fischer and Ravizza, Responsibility and Control; McKenna, Conversation and Responsibility; and Strawson, “Freedom and Resentment.”

[xiii] See, e.g.,  J.J.C. Smart, “Free Will, Praise, and Blame,” Mind, 70 (1963): 291–306. The ordinary concept of moral responsibility doesn’t seem to track either the concept of deep moral responsibility or the concept of shallow moral responsibility uniquely so, correspondingly, it seems best interpreted as a more-or-less confused mixture of both.

[xiv] See Hanna and Maiese, Embodied Minds in Action, chs. 1-2; and Hanna, Kantian Ethics and Human Existence, ch. 1.

[xv] See Kim, “Mechanism, Purpose, and Explanatory Exclusion,” ,” in J. Kim, Supervenience and Mind (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1993), 237-264, esp. at 250.

[xvi] For a thorough critical discussion of the crucial ambiguities, see Dolch, “A Defense and Interpretation of the Causal Closure of the Physical.”

[xvii] This qualification is crucial to CCP. Consistency yields the criterion of physicality, but entailment or necessitation yields natural mechanization.

[xviii] This clause rules out non-standard causal overdetermination.

[xix] This assumption, aka “Funda-Mentalism,” is essential for generating The Exclusion Problem. So The Essential Embodiment Theory has no causal-explanatory exclusion worry, and correspondingly, Natural Libertarianism has no exclusion worry either. See Hanna and Maiese, Embodied Minds in Action, chs. 6-8.

[xx] Kim’s own conception of physicality is significantly narrower than mine, arguably begs the the question in favor of reductive physicalism, and above all is clearly committed to a highly questionable assumption that Maiese and I call “Fundamentalism”: fundamental physical properties are essentially non-mental, and no substance can have two essences. Fundamentalism is the flip side of Funda-Mentalism, and both are ultimately Cartesian in provenance. See Hanna and Maiese, Embodied Minds in Action, section 7.1.

[xxi] See Kim, “Mechanism, Purpose, and Explanatory Exclusion,”;  J. Kim, Mind in a Physical World (Cambridge: MIT, 1998), esp. ch. 2; J. Kim, The Philosophy of Mind (2nd edn.; Cambridge, MA: Westview Press, 2006), ch. 7; and Kim, Physicalism, or Something Near Enough (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press 2007). This extension of Kim’s causal-exclusion argument to a new and  powerful argument for Incompatibilism was first pointed out to me by Kristin Mickelson. For a non-dualist, non-materialist response to Kim’s causal-exclusion argument, see Hanna and Maiese, Embodied Minds in Action, chs. 7-8.

[xxii] J. Kim, Physicalism, or Something Near Enough, pp. 70-71.

[xxiii] In-the-Zone Compatibilism is also the philosophical brain child of Kristin Mickelson. I’m very grateful to her for getting me to me see the intelligibility of this ingenious view; but I don’t know whether or not she still defends it.

[xxiv] See R.E. Hobart, “Free Will as Involving Determinism and Inconceivable Without It,” Mind, 43 (1934): 1-27.

[xxv] See, e.g., D.F.S. Scott, “Heinrich von Kleist’s Kant Crisis,” Modern Language Review 42 (1947): 474-484; and J. Philips, The Equivocation of Reason: Kleist Reading Kant (Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press, 2007).

[xxvi] See Night of the Living Dead (Dir. G. Romero, 1968, Image Ten Laurel Group Market Square Productions). 


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