“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
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
2. Beyond Mechanism: The Dynamics of Life
3. From Biology to Agency
4. Neither/Nor: The Negative Case for Natural Libertarianism
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
In the fullness of time, the complete, downloadable text of each part of THE RATIONAL HUMAN CONDITION will also be made available on APP.
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 4.8 Too Hard to Live With: Strawson’s Basic Argument, Hard Determinism, and Hard Incompatibilism
That leaves Hard Determinism and Hard Incompatibilism. Bracketing for the moment the six arguments against classical Compatibilism that I offered in section 4.4 and section 4.5 above, and bracketing in advance the fourth argument for local incompatibilism with respect to Natural Mechanism that I will describe in chapter 7 below, and also bracketting the worries I have just rehearsed about Classical Libertarianism, there is at least one prima facie powerful argument in direct support of Hard Determinism, and thereby also directly against Classical Libertarianism. This is what Galen Strawson calls The Basic Argument.[i]
The Basic Argument says that in order to be really causally or (deeply) (non-)morally responsible for any event e1 occurring after time t1, hence ocurring at time t2, in addition to e1 (at t2)’s being the causal result of the way you are—i.e., your nature, character, reasons, and desires—at t1, you also have to be really and truly causally or (deeply) (non-)morally responsible for a second, prior event e2 that causes the way you are at t1, which then leads to a vicious regress, and thus causal responsibility and (deep[ii]) (non-)moral responsibility are both impossible. If causal and (deep) (non-)moral responsibility are both impossible, then free will is impossible, Classical Libertarianism is false—indeed any sort of Libertarianism, whether Classical or non-Classical (e.g., Natural Libertarianism), is false—Soft Determinism and In-the-Zone Compatibilism are also both false, and even Hard Incompatibilism is false, to the extent that it holds free will to be possible (although not actual). And Hard Determinism is true.
Nevertheless, Strawson’s Basic Argument is unsound, and the error occurs in the second step of the argument. It is simply not true that in order to be really causally responsible or (deeply) (non-)morally responsible for any event e1 occurring after t1, hence occurring at t2, then you have to be really causally or (deeply) (non-)morally responsible for an event e2 that causes the way you are at t1. To prove this, consider the following analogy between causal or deep moral responsibility on the one hand, and artistic creation, together with its deep non-moral responsibility, on the other. Everyone will agree that Van Gogh really and truly created some works of art. Indeed, that is precisely what makes those works “authentic Van Goghs.” Now suppose that Van Gogh creates a work of art, an “authentic Van Gogh,” at t1. What Van Gogh creates is the result of the way he is just then, in the act of creation. So the way he is at t1 creatively brings about some work of art, an “authentic Van Gogh,” at t2. Then one might assert that in order to be really and truly a creative artist, Van Gogh must also create the way he is at t1. But that is clearly false. Van Gogh can be (and was) really and truly a creative artist without creating himself. Otherwise every creative artist—say, to change examples, Mary Shelley—would have to play the causal role of her own parents, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, together with the causal role of her own personal history, by bringing herself into existence and then determining the specific character of her entire life up to that point—which is patently absurd.
So, by analogy with artistic creativity and its deep non-moral responsibility, which clearly does not require self-creation, The Basic Argument mistakenly lays down an absurdly strong requirement on causal and (deep) (non-)moral responsibility quite generally. In effect, The Basic Argument requires that every causally and (deeply) (non-)morally responsible intentional agent be radically self-causing, or causa sui. Nice work if you can get it! Sartre famously wrote, with some truth, that
To be man means to reach towards being God. Or if you prefer, man fundamentally is the desire to be God.[iii]
But even if in fact we all want to be God, it certainly would not follow that in order to be causally and either deeply morally responsible, or deeply non-morally responsible, for that matter, we all have to be God. Ultimate sourcehood or up-to-me-ness with respect to our choices and intentional acts is perfectly consistent with building on and creatively using, at the current time, and in the thick of things, right there in the actual sequence of events, whatever has already been given to you by physical nature including biology and neurobiology, personal history, rehearsal and training, and cultural history, whether by causal necessity or by chance and randomness, or indeed by your own earlier free agency in the sense specified by Natural Libertarianism, i.e., your freedom-in-life.
In this regard, Kant’s description of the mental power of “artistic genius” in the Critique of the Power of Judgment (CPJ 5: 307-317) provides a fundamentally more accurate and more illuminating analogy for free agency than his own much more famous, but, sadly, ghost-story-style, metaphysically mysterious, description of noumenal agency in the third section of the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals (GMM)—or, for that matter, than John Martin Fischer’s interesting but decidedly game-theoretic and algorithm-driven, hence naturally mechanistic, and to that extent, misguided, card-playing analogy.[iv] In the third Critique, Kant writes:
If, after these analyses, we look back to the explanation … of what is called genius, we find: first, that it is a talent for art, not for science, in which rules that are distinctly cognized must come first and determine the procedure in it; second, that, as a talent for art, it presupposes a determinate concept of the product, as an end,, hence understanding, but also a representation (even if indeterminate) of the material, i.e., of the intuition, for the presentation of this concept, hence a relation of the imagination to the understanding; third, that it displays itself not so much in the execution of the proposed end in the presentation of a determinate concept as in the exposition or expression of aesthetic ideas, which contain rich material for that aim, hence the imagination, in its freedom from all guidance by rules, is nevertheless represented as purposive for the presentation of the given concept; finally, fourth, that the unsought an unintentional subjective purposiveness in the free correspondence of the imagination to the lawfulness of the understanding presupposes a proportion and disposition of this faculty that cannot be produced by any following of rules, whether of science or of mechanical imitation, but that only the nature of the subject can produce. According to these presuppositions, genius is the exemplary originality of the natural endowment of a subject for the free use of his cognitive faculties. (CPJ 5: 317-318, underlining added)
As Friedrich Schiller clearly recognized in his Kant-inspired Aesthetic Letters on the Education of Man, free agents are much more akin to Kantian creative artists than they are to Kantian noumenal angels. Or, I would add, than they are to Fischerian poker-players.
Moreover, and now leaving Kant, Schiller, and Fischer aside, the phenomenon of artistic creativity clearly and distinctly shows us, by analogy, how deep freedom and deep (non-)moral responsibility with respect to choices and acts both strictly require a relatively massive deterministic metaphysical background, in two basic ways.
First, both artistic creativity on the one hand, and also deep freedom/deep (non-)moral responsibility on the other hand, metaphysically require a relatively massive deterministic causal framework that can be exploited by the rational animal or real person in order to create, choose, and act with real causal efficacy. Or in other words, artistic creation and free agency alike both metaphysically need real causal friction, real causal materials, and real causal tools in good naturally-mechanical working order, in order to be able to choose and do things with real causal efficacy.
Second, both artistic creativity on the one hand, and also deep freedom/deep (non-)moral responsibility on the other hand, metaphysically require a relatively massive deterministic backdrop that is definitely not itself either the same as, or the product of, rational animals or real persons, in order to be able to individuate free agents both epistemically (as believers) and also metaphysically (as real persons), thereby distinguishing them adequately from their larger natural histories and environments, while at the same time still embedding them adequately within their larger natural histories and environments.[v] Otherwise, there is always an epistemic and metaphysical threat that the rational animal or real person will
either (i) simply merge with her natural history and natural environment, and thereby perish as a free agent, which is the threat of agency-death by absorption into pre-existing and ongoing deterministic natural mechanisms,
or else (ii) simply fail to engage with her natural history and natural environment, and thereby perish as a free agent, which is the threat of agency-death by alienation from pre-existing and ongoing deterministic natural mechanisms.
In any case, it seems clearly and distinctly true that deep freedom and deep (non-)moral responsibility are neither self-causation nor self-creation. Consequently, and again by analogy with artistic creation, at t1 I can be really and truly causally or (deeply) (non-)morally responsible for e1 at t2 without having to be causally or (deeply) (non-)morally responsible for the way I am at t1.
According to Natural Libertarianism, causal responsibility and deep (non-)moral responsibility are produced primarily by my ability for self-commitment—just as I am at that moment, or just as I am over that duration of time—to my choice or act. This is a self-commitment that I can also either fail to make or refuse to make, thereby not choosing or doing. So I can either throw myself, just as I am at that moment or over that duration of time, into that choice or act, or not throw myself into it, and the end or goal of that very choice or act would never actually happen without my self-commitment. Therefore there is, in that context, from the agent-centered standpoint, and in the actual sequence of events, at least one thing that is a live option for me, and then I can either choose that live option and do it, or not choose or do it. The further fact, if it is a fact, that there are some real alternative possibilities, and thus an open future, is entirely irrelevant from the agent-centered standpoint of deep freedom, although it may well seem to be quite important from a third-person standpoint or either a classical or neo-Hobbesian, neo-Millian individualist (neo)liberal political standpoint.[vi]
What ultimately matters metaphysically is only that I can choose or do something—the live option—or not choose or do it, not whether there is anything else I could have chosen or done in that context. Together with the anti-mechanism that is presupposed by it, my capacity for self-commitment to a live option thus satisfies the anti-luck condition on free choosing and doing—a condition that is lacking in Classical Libertarianism—by guaranteeing that all choosings and doings essentially involve the agent herself, necessarily flow from the agent herself, and directly attach to the agent herself, for better or worse.
In this way, free agency is essentially a rational minded animal’s natural creativity—that is, its self-determining, biologically-grounded, non-equilibrium-thermodynamics-grounded, ability successfully to exploit the “natural open space” available to it in the actual sequence of worldly events and processes, or not, even if, in that context, there are no alternative possibilities and the future is temporarily not open. Indeterminism at the source of agency has nothing to do with it! And that is precisely why Natural Libertarianism is not equivalent to Classical Libertarianism, whether in its metaphysical manifestations (agent-causal, non-causal, or event-causal indeterminist) or in its political manifestations (classical liberalism or neoliberalism).
In turn, my capacity for self-commitment to a live option is just the Kierkegaardian Either/Or. Perhaps, as Kierkegaard also says, I will regret my choice either way. But that seems excessively cynical—or perhaps it is just appropriately Danish and melancholic. Nevertheless, what does seem to be absolutely true about having the capacity for self-commitment to a live option is that I will thereby be causally and deeply (non-)morally responsible either way. As Kierkegaard puts it:
On the whole, to choose is an intrinsic and stringent term for the ethical. Wherever in the stricter sense there is a question of an Either/Or, one can always be sure that the ethical has something to do with it. The only absolute Either/Or is the choice between good and evil, but this is also absolutely ethical.[vii]
So causal responsibility and deep (non-)moral responsibility are not produced by my causal history—that is, by whatever it is that brings about the way I am at some given moment in time, by bringing about my nature, character, reasons, and desires at that time. Nor are causal responsibility and deep (non-)moral responsibility matters of indeterministic alternative possibilities and branching, open futures. Doubly on the contrary, causal responsibility and deep (non-)moral responsibility are produced solely by my unique appropriation of the way I actually am at some given situational moment in spacetime, or over some duration of time, in the actual sequence of events, and also by my unique personal contribution to, and my more or less passionate involvement in, what I choose and do at that very time, no matter how that given situational moment was originally causally brought about. —Provided, of course, that the series of thermodynamic events or processes that causally brought about that very situational moment do not inherently rule out my deep freedom and deep moral responsibility, and also yield appropriate enabling conditions for the efficacious operations of my natural causal powers in that context.
It is crucial to recognize, for the purposes of my later discussion of the capacity for self-commitment to a live option in chapter 5, that exercising the self-commitment capacity need not be in any way occurrently self-conscious, self-reflective, or deliberative. On the contrary, normally and for the most part, exercising the capacity for self-commitment to a live option is pre-reflectively conscious and spontaneous. It is the same as what Frankfurt calls conscious “effective first-order desires,” insofar as these occur in rational animals or persons. Correspondingly, exercising the capacity for self-commitment to a live option is identical with what Maiese and I, in the theoretical context of action-theory, have called effortless trying.[viii]
Back now to the final step of the negative case for Natural Libertarianism. Here is another argument against Hard Determinism. If Hard Determinism is true, then real free will is nothing but a myth. There is neither a real fact of free will, nor an intelligible, defensible concept of free will. In other words, Hard Determinism is radically deflationary about free will. And in these respects, Hard Determinism plays essentially the same role in the philosophy of free will that eliminative materialism does in the philosophy of mind.[ix] As I mentioned in passing above, eliminative materialism outright denies and rejects not only the existence of everything mental, including minds, mental states, mental events, mental processes, and mental properties, but also “the very ideas,” or concepts, of them. Correspondingly, the prime example of eliminativism is the claim that commonsense or “folk” psychology is nothing but a pseudo-science that must be fully replaced by fundamental physics, chemistry, and biology.[x] So eliminative materialism asserts that because of what the natural sciences tell us, we must learn to live not only without the apparently irreducible facts of our own consciousness, intentionality, caring, and rationality, but also without their concepts. Similarly, Hard Determinism outright denies the existence of deep freedom, ultimate sourcehood, and up-to-me-ness, and asserts that because of what the natural sciences tell us, we must learn to live without the apparently irreducible facts of our own rationality, real human personhood, intentional agency, and deep (non-)moral responsibility, and also without their concepts.
Well, believe it if you can! On the contrary, however, it seems to me that if that is true, then it is basically The End of the World as We Know It—to borrow an apt turn of phrase from Jerry Fodor and R.E.M.’s lead singer and lyricist, Michael Stipe.[xi] What I mean is that I simply cannot see how we could possibly ever rationally get by without the facts or concepts of free agency, deep (non-)moral responsibility, real human personhood, or indeed human rationality itself. Of course, that in and of itself does not prove that Hard Determinism is false. Hard Determinism might still be true, when it is taken together with a corresponding “debunking strategy” or “error-theory” which purports to show that we are systematically deceived and mistaken about the reality-indicating force of the phenomenology of our own experience of ourselves as rational human free agents—which, in the next chapter, I will call “veridical psychological freedom. ” It also purports to show that we are systematically deceived and mistaken about the truth of our beliefs in (and, correspondingly, deceived and mistaken about the applicability and possession of our concepts of) free agency, deep (non-)moral responsibility, and real human personhood.
But surely the hypothesis that we have a reality-indicating phenomenology (veridical psychological freedom), and also a true fundamental rational human self-conception, provides a much better overall philosophical theory than a debunking strategy or error-theory. This is because the truth of an error-theory requires the fact of a systematic, widespread metaphysical, epistemic, and practical illusion about human rationality, which of course in principle equally extends to error-theories and error-theorists too—and that is clearly self-refuting. Since theories are rational human achievements, how could there be real error-theories or real error-theorists without real human rationality and real rational human animals? So the hypothesis that Hard Determinism and its error-theory are false is overwhelmingly more plausible, given everything else that I experience, feel, believe, and know, than the contrary hypothesis that Hard Determinism and its error-theory are correct.
In other words, I think that there is a compelling, G.E. Moore-style argument against Hard Determinism,[xii] which provides me with a sufficiently good epistemic reason to believe in, and also a sufficiently good practical reason to work out, a better metaphysical theory about free agency than Hard Determinism. In this sense, Hard Determinism, its radical deflationism, and its error-theory are rationally and humanly just too hard to live with; hence I am rationally and humanly entitled to pursue the project of rejecting them and philosophizing otherwise, until such time as my project has been decisively shown to be unintelligible or indefensible.
So much for Hard Determinism. But our critical work in this connection is not quite finished. Interestingly and importantly, Pereboom’s Hard Incompatibilism does not have the entailment that there is no genuine concept of free will.[xiii] According to the Hard Incompatibilist, real free will is possible, but actually does not exist. So while, according to Pereboom, there is no actual fact of real free will, there is nevertheless an intelligible concept and also a vivid phenomenology of real free will, and correspondingly, these can be taken to support the thesis that, in some non-trivial sense, we really are “deterministic agent-causes.”[xiv] In these respects, Hard Incompatibilism is a significantly more subtle and defensible view than Hard Determinism.
But where Hard Incompatibilism has serious internal difficulties, I think, is in reconciling the explicit rejection of the fact of real free will with an explicit acceptance of the genuine concept of real free will, the vivid phenomenology of free will, and the thesis about our “deterministic agent-causal” powers. This mixed attitude of rejection/acceptance seems to me to produce serious cognitive (and practical) dissonance. According to Pereboom, I really and truly am a biochemical puppet and moist robot: I know this via mechanistic physics and biology, and “scientific philosophy.” Yet at the same time, by virtue of the genuine concept and vivid phenomenology of real free will, I also cannot help believing outside my laboratory or study that I am (in some sense) deeply free and deeply (non-)morally responsible for my choices and actions, and therefore, somewhere else in my head and in my heart, I feel in my bones that I am not a biochemical puppet or moist robot. When I am wearing my white lab coat and doing experiments, or in my open-necked Brooks Brothers shirt and nice blue jeans teaching philosophy—but in either case, drinking “robust” decaffeinated coffee—I believe I am really a puppet and a robot; but when I get home, change into my comfortable T-shirt and baggy shorts, and open a beer, I believe I am really not a puppet or robot. This is philosophical schizophrenia, not a stable philosophical position.
More specifically, Pereboom claims that the “standard phenomenology of agency” is evidentially neutral as between Classical Libertarianism on the one hand, and Hard Determinism/Hard Incompatibilism/Soft Determinism on the other. That may be so if we construe the “standard phenomenology of agency” narrowly enough, but two things have gone seriously wrong here.
First, Pereboom has not considered the inherently richer, essentially embodied, agential phenomenology of vital sourcehood, natural creativity, and living in “natural open space.”
Second, he has not considered, or even looked for, anything even remotely like non-classical Natural Libertarianism, but on the contrary has strategically boxed-in his metaphysical options by critically considering only the various versions of Classical Libertarianism as opposing doctrines.
So the plausibility and soundness of Pereboom’s argument depends entirely on his having started with a needlessly poverty-stricken and boxed-in domain of phenomenological materials and metaphysical options. Therefore, to conclude this critical line of argument by modus tollens-ing Pereboom’s modus ponens: If we do not start with these needlessly poverty-stricken and boxed-in materials, but instead on the contrary seriously consider the essentially embodied, agential phenomenology of vital sourcehood, natural creativity, and living in “natural open space,” and also Natural Libertarianism, then Hard Incompatibilism is clearly false.
Section 4.9 Conclusion
Here, then, is what this chapter shows us. If, as I have critically argued, Natural Mechanism, Hard Determinism, Soft Determinism, Classical Libertarianism (including classical and non-classical agent-causationism, non-causalism, and even-causal indeterminism), classical Compatibilism, classical Incompatibilism, Semi-Compatibilism, In-the-Zone Compatibilism, Revisionism, and Hard Incompatibilism are all false, then we must find a theory that explicitly rejects all of these doctrines and also conforms to our bedrock clear-and-distinct rational intuitions, grounded on self-evident phenomenology, about deep freedom, real human personhood, intentional agency, deep (non-)moral responsibility, and human rationality.
In my opinion, there is one and only one such theory: Natural Libertarianism. So in the next chapter, I want to complete my overall six-step argument for the truth of Natural Libertarianism by way of critically revisiting the recent and contemporary Harry Frankfurt-initiated debate about The Principle of Alternative Possibilities and moral responsibility.
[ii] Strawson doesn’t use this terminology; but if the Basic Argument argument were sound, it would be sufficient to undermine deep moral responsibility in the sense I mean—and also sufficient to undermine deep non-moral responsibility too.
[iii] J.-P. Sartre, Being and Nothingness, trans. H. Barnes (New York: Philosophical Library, 1956), p. 724. Kant calls this same phenomenon “the natural dialectic of pure reason.” The basic idea is that we cannot help wanting to be completely metaphysically grounded, and also completely epistemically and practically justified, in everything we believe and do, and this leads to metaphysical and epistemic disaster in theoretical philosophy. Kant, however, has a finer appreciation than Sartre of the further fact that it is really possible, at the end of the day, in metaphysics, epistemology, and moral philosophy alike, to accept our own finitude and to know our own limits, in order to pursue the highest good, at least to some salient, life-changing extent. And in this way, Kant was a better Existentialist than Sartre was.
[iv] J. Fischer, “The Cards that are Dealt You,” Journal of Ethics 10 (2006): 107-129. Hodgson puts an equally interesting but also, I think, equally misguided indeterministic spin on the agency-as-card-playing analogy in Rationality + Consciousness = Free Will, pp. 165-166.
[v] Many thanks to Lark Fleming for making this very good point in conversation and also in her MA thesis, “Freedom and Life” (Univ. of Colorado at Boulder, 2008).
[ix] See, e.g., P. Feyerabend, “Mental Events and the Brain,” Journal of Philosophy 60 (1963): 295-296; and P. Churchland, “Eliminative Materialism and the Propositional Attitudes,” Journal of Philosophy 78 (1981): 67-90.
[xi] J. Fodor, “Making Mind Matter More,” in J. Fodor, A Theory of Content and Other Essays (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1990), pp. 137-159, at p. 156; and R.E.M., “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine),” from Document (1987), lyrics by M. Stipe.
[xii] See, e.g., G.E. Moore, ‘A Defence of Common Sense,” “Proof of an External World,” and “Certainty,” all in G.E. Moore: Selected Writings (London: Routledge, 1993), pp. 106-133, 147-170, and 171-196; see also Lowe, Personal Agency, pp. 197-198.
[xiv] See, e.g., D. Pereboom, “The Phenomenology of Agency and Deterministic Agent-Causation,” in M. Altman and H. Gruenig (eds.), For Horizons of Authenticity in Phenomenology, Existentialism, and Moral Psychology: Essays in Honor of Charles Guignon (New York: Springer, 2015), pp. 277-294.
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