“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
5. Either/Or: Deep Freedom and Principled Authenticity
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 5 Either/Or: Deep Freedom and Principled Authenticity
Section 5.3 Psychological Freedom, Deep Freedom, and Principled Authenticity
As I mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, according to Natural Libertarianism, the free agency of rational animals or real persons has three logically distinct but also metaphysically nested or ordered levels embedded in it:
(i) the capacity for veridical psychological freedom,
(ii) the capacity for deep freedom, and
(iii) the capacity for principled authenticity.
And according to Natural Libertarianism, as I also mentioned, strictly speaking, psychological freedom, when it is unspecified as to whether it is veridical or non-veridical and formulated as a weak disjunction—“veridical-or-non-veridical psychological freedom”—is also a necessary but not sufficient condition of deep freedom; and deep freedom, ultimate sourcehood, or up-to-me-ness, is a necessary but not sufficient condition of principled authenticity. Let us now look more closely at the three levels of the free agency structure.
The first level of the free agency structure is veridical psychological freedom. Now psychological freedom, per se, without regard to its veridicality or non-veridicality, is my first-order consciousness[i] of being both negatively and positively free. Or otherwise put, psychological freedom, per se, is my subjective experience of having an unfettered and really causally spontaneous will. This consciousness, in turn, can be:
either (i) a correct or true consciousness of being both negatively and positively free, such that it is an actual fact that I am both negatively and positively free, in which case, it is what I call veridical psychological freedom, so that at any time, the intentional subject is either in one kind of state or else in the other, never both,
or (ii) an incorrect or false consciousness of being both negatively and positively free, i.e., a mere seeming to be both negatively and positively free, such that I in fact am neither negatively nor positively free, in which case, it is what I call non-veridical psychological freedom.
Correspondingly, I am also committed to the thesis of strong metaphysical disjunctivism about the difference between veridical psychological freedom and non-veridical psychological freedom,[ii] which says that:
(iii) veridical psychological freedom and non-veridical psychological freedom essentially share no intentional or phenomenological content whatsoever, even if they accidentally share some (or even many) other psychological or non-psychological properties, and
(iv) the difference between veridical psychological freedom and non-veridical psychological freedom is, in principle, inherently discriminable for rational human agents, even if, in context, or in a specific range of contexts, it is actually undiscriminated because the agent’s capacity for discrimination is adversely affected or suppressed in that context or those contexts.
So obviously psychological freedom, per se, when it is non-veridical psychological freedom, is consistent with my not really being negatively or positively free. Furthermore, non-veridical psychological freedom is also inherently conceptually-determined, i.e., inherently open to “cognitive penetration.” By sharp contrast, veridical psychological freedom is essentially non-conceptual,[iii] hence it is also pre-reflectively conscious, or non-self-conscious and non-reflective, and therefore impervious to “cognitive penetration.” But since rational human agents like us are also self-conscious and reflective, then the possession of psychological freedom for us, whether it is veridical psychological freedom or non-veridical psychological freedom, also entails a further capacity for having self-directed beliefs to the effect that we are negatively and/or positively free.[iv] In the case of veridical psychological freedom, obviously, those self-directed beliefs that we are negatively and/or positively free, are true beliefs; whereas in the case of non-veridical psychological freedom, they are false beliefs. Thus we can be deceived about our freedom and have what I call sheer illusions of deep freedom.
These sheer illusions can occur in dreams, hallucinations, or most poignantly, in causally-overdetermined pathological waking psychological states, such as cases of sociopathic paranoid schizophrenics who believe they are choosing and acting with free will, but are actually delusional and insane, and acting under an irresistible compulsion when they commit crimes, hence are correctly legally judged to be “not guilty by reason of insanity.” One such case, or so it seems from the available evidence, is the real-world waking nightmare of a former Yale Law School student, Ketema Ross:
Early one morning in 2007, Ross heard President George W. Bush [Yale] ‘68 telling him that his next-door neighbors were traitors who needed to be gotten rid of. Ross broke into the elderly couple’s apartment and beat them with a broom handle. (They both survived the attack.) Charged with assault, he pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Now Ross says he has recovered his sanity, and a court order says he is no longer “a substantial danger.” And, after seven years of confinement in a psychiatric hospital, he has regained his freedom, mostly: by court order, he was conditionally discharged on January 11 .[v]
The second level of the free agency structure is deep freedom, which, as we saw above, has the following analysis: A rational animal or real person P’s choosing or doing X is deeply free, flows from her ultimate sourcehood, or is up to her if and only if:
(1) the real causal spontaneity condition is satisfied by P,
(2) the capacity for self-commitment to a live option, or Kierkegaardian Either/Or, condition is satisfied by P, and
(3) the ownership condition is satisfied by P.
Now psychological freedom, per se, is not a sufficient condition of deep freedom, precisely because, as some philosophers (including Spinoza, Leibniz, Hume, and more recently Frankfurt,[vi] and many other Frankfurt-inspired philosophers of agency) have correctly pointed out, both the pre-reflective consciousness, and also the self-conscious or reflective belief, of having an unfettered and spontaneously really causal will, and of being both negatively and positively free, are perfectly consistent with Universal Natural Determinism. Formulated in my terminology, if Universal Natural Determinism (or, indeed, Natural Mechanism) were true, then all of these conscious or self-conscious states would be cases of non-veridical psychological freedom and/or false self-directed beliefs about my deeply free will.
Nevertheless, both veridical psychological freedom and also veridical psychological freedom’s discriminability from non-veridical psychological freedom, collectively yield a conjunctive necessary epistemic condition of deep freedom, by way of the capacity for self-commitment to a live option, or Kierkegaardian Either/Or. This conditions says that no one could have a capacity for self-commitment to a live option X and at the same time:
either (i) be in a state of non-veridical psychological freedom,
or (ii) truly believe herself to be prevented from choosing X or doing X,
or (iii) truly believe herself to be inwardly or outwardly compelled to choose X or do X,
or (iv) truly believe herself to be otherwise unable to choose or do what she wants.
More precisely, by a self-consciously or reflectively fettered, epiphenomenal, will I will mean one’s self-conscious or reflective awareness to the effect that, and correspondingly one’s belief about oneself to the effect that, one is helplessly violated by inner or outer forces. But more briefly put, this is when someone vividly feels like a natural automaton (biochemical puppet, moist robot, “meat puppet,” flesh-eating zombie, etc.), or like a tool in the hands of some other powerful manipulative agent or agency. So I am saying that in order to have deeply free will, then, we must not have a self-consciously or reflectively fettered, epiphenomenal, will: on the contrary, we must not only have veridical psychological freedom, but also be at least fully disposed to believe, or actually believe, ourselves to have an unfettered, non-epiphenomenal, real causally spontaneous will.
Ironically, as I indicated in section 4.8, this is as true of self-styled Hard Determinists and Hard Incompatibilists as it is of everyone else. I am absolutely sure that when these philosophers choose and act, under normal conditions, they do not actually feel or believe in accordance with their own metaphysics of free will—that they do not either really feel like biochemical puppets, moist robots, “meat-puppets,” flesh-eating zombies, etc., or really believe themselves to be natural automata of any kind. To be sure, the logical scope of their philosophical beliefs extends universally over all people, including themselves: but epistemically speaking, it is one thing to apply property P to everyone, including of course oneself, third-personally, and quite another thing to apply property P to oneself, first-personally. Universal instantiation is neither semantically nor epistemically equivalent to first-personal indexical predication. If everyone is P then it necessarily follows that I am P, because I am one of the people in the domain of discourse. But if everyone is P, even if I believe that everyone is P, it does not necessarily follow that I really believe that I am P, because I still have to identify myself with one of the many people in the domain of discourse, and I might self-consciously or non-self-consciously refuse to do that.
Otherwise put, if Hard Determinists or Hard Incompatibilists really did believe that they themselves were natural automata (biochemical puppets, moist robots, “meat puppets,” flesh-eating zombies, etc.), then obviously they would seek—or at least obviously they would at least need—psychiatric help for the treatment of well-attested symptoms of schizophrenia, like the unfortunate Ketema Ross.[vii] Furthermore, I submit that no healthy, sane real human person ever really and truly believes himself or herself, in their heart of hearts, to be a natural automaton (biochemical puppet, moist robot, etc., etc.), no matter what their free will metaphysics says.
Consider, for example, classical Compatibilism/Soft Determinism. The very idea of “real” freedom of choice or action, when taken together with a self-consciously or reflectively fettered, epiphenomenal, will, would be as absurd and pointless as freedom of action together with either a naturally determined or a powerfully manipulated will. Indeed, as Frankfurt rediscovered and influentially pointed out, psychological freedom, per se, although it is consistent with Universal Natural Determinism (i.e., when it is non-veridical psychological freedom), nevertheless remains essential to our rational human personhood, as veridical psychological freedom, at the level of effective first-order desires, together with the self-conscious or reflective awareness of having veridical psychological freedom, at the level of decisive or self-identifying second-order volitions.[viii] This is because a self-consciously or reflectively fettered, epiphenomenal, will utterly defeats and undermines our belief in our own intentional agency.
Now consider Hard Determinism or Hard Incompatibilism. Virtually every theory that falls under these rubrics also has an “debunking strategy” or “error-theory,” which says that our brains mechanically create the cognitive illusion that we are really free, even though we are really natural automata. But then those theories have the following serious epistemic problem. Suppose that you hold the following view:
Free will is an illusion. Our wills are simply not of our own making. Thoughts and intentions emerge from background causes of which we are unaware and over which we exert no conscious control. We do not have the freedom we think we have.[ix]
If that is true, then we are all natural machines with an irresistibly strong tendency to create cognitive illusions for ourselves. Therefore, under the supposition that her theory is true, any holder of such a view cannot rule out the real possibility that she has created a cognitive illusion for herself by defending Natural Mechanism together with a debunking strategy or an error-theory. But if she cannot rule this out, then she is not rationally justified in believing in her own theory. So her belief in her own theory is cognitively self-stultifying. This conclusion, in turn, debunks the would-be debunkers.
It is also very important to point out in this connection that having a self-consciously or reflectively fettered, epiphenomenal, will is categorically not the same as the classical, Lord-Byron-style, Romantic self-consciousness of being in the grip of a grand passion that carries you away with it. The crucial contrast between these two is the inherent, categorical difference between:
(i) believing yourself to be a mere natural machine, which is wholly powerlessly caused or helplessly manipulated by something inside your own body or outside your own body, and
(ii) believing yourself to be fully alive, driven, energized, and invigorated by some naturally purposive and naturally creative vital power that is immensely bigger than you are.
Now the first-order consciousness or subjective experience of life and vitality, as I argued in chapters 2 and 3, insofar as it essentially non-conceptually and veridically picks out immanent structural properties of non-equilibrium thermodynamic systems, is inherently anti-mechanical and uncomputable. In other words, insofar as the Lord-Byron-style Romantic phenomenology is veridical, then it entails local incompatibilism with respect to Natural Mechanism. This point is especially telling because the Lord-Byron-style Romantic phenomenology is sometimes used as an intuitively evidential ground for believing in Compatibilism and Soft Determinism,[x] including In-the-Zone Compatibilism. But this line of argument just confuses one kind of “carried away” phenomenology, with a categorically different kind of “carried away” phenomenology. Moreover, as we saw in the real-world case of Kleist, in section 4.4, this philosophical confusion can also be a tragic mistake. A natural automaton can never have an essentially non-conceptual and veridical Lord-Byron-style phenomenology. At best, it could only be that his psychic motor is racing. Indeed, Kleist’s confused recognition of this point—vividly recognizing, on the one hand, the epistemic and metaphysical plight of natural automata, but on the other mistakenly believing himself to be a human “meat-puppet”—tragically, drove him to suicide.
In any case, what Natural Libertarianism adds to Frankfurt’s deep insight about psychological freedom are the further insights that, over and above veridical psychological freedom, per se, we also require the capacity for self-commitment to a live option, or Kiekegaardian Either/Or, in conjunction with our also being spontaneous real causes and also being owners of our choices or acts, in order to constitute the complex metaphysical core of our rational intentional free agency. Nevertheless, that complex metaphysical core necessarily contains veridical psychological freedom as a proper part. This in turn makes it possible to provide a fully-unpacked analysis of the self-commitment option, to the effect that my choosing or doing X includes the capacity for self-commitment to a live option, or Kierkegaardian Either/Or, if and only if:
(i) I can choose or do X,
(ii) I can not-choose or not-do X by just failing or refusing to choose X (= the null choice options),
(iii) X would never actually happen (or: would not have happened) if I were not to choose (or: had I not chosen) X,
(iv) conditions (i) through (iii) can obtain even if, in context, I have no alternative possibilities in the classical sense of branching futures and the future is temporarily not open, and finally
(v) the phenomenology of my choosing or doing X is veridical psychological freedom.
This brings me to the third, final, and overarching level of the free agency structure, the capacity for principled authenticity, which I have already described and rationally motivated in chapter 3. This capacity includes a capacity for autonomy in the Kantian sense, i.e., the innate capacity for self-legislation according to, and for the sake of, the Categorical Imperative or moral law, and for the sake of the dignity of real persons, i.e., their absolute, intrinsic, nondenumerable, objective value.[xi] Now just as psychological freedom, per se, is necessary but not individually sufficient for deep freedom, and just as deep freedom is necessary but not individually sufficient for autonomy in the Kantian sense, so too autonomy in the Kantian sense is necessary but not individually sufficient for principled authenticity. In addition to psychological freedom, deep freedom, and Kantian autonomy, my choosing or doing X must also have two further features.
First, I must have the will that I want, or what Frankfurt calls a decisive identification between my second-order volitions and my first-order effective desires.[xii] This necessarily includes my having a true first-person-indexically-self-predicating, occurrently self-conscious, belief about my own first-order veridical psychological freedom. It is also the same as what Existentialists have called “purity of heart” or authenticity, and what Frankfurt himself calls “wholeheartedness,”[xiii] when we take into account the dynamic extension of decisive identification over the temporal duration that is “the time of their lives”—because it essentially involves someone’s living a life of passionate, self-realizing, single-minded adherence to her own principles, together with her taking complete deep (non-)moral responsibility for some brute facts over which she had no control.[xiv]
Second, my choosing or doing must also have what Kant calls moral worth because I actually choose or do X essentially from respect for the dignity of real persons and for the moral law, over and above whatever other desires I may normally be moved by. Respect, in turn, as we have seen in section 3.3 and section 3.4, is an innate universal emotional disposition in rational human animals to generate consciously-experienced second-order volitions to be moved to choose and do things by non-egoistic, non-hedonic, and non-consequentialist, morally good and right first-order desires, in place of egoistic, hedonic, or consequentialist, first-order desires, especially if they are morally bad and wrong, that would have moved us instead.[xv] It is extremely important to remember here, in view of Kantian non-intellectualism, that egoistic, hedonic, or consequentialist first-order desires are not, in and of themselves, morally bad or wrong. They can, indeed, in a given context, move us to choice or action that is, in that context, for the sake of the moral law; and they could also, in a given context, move us to choice or action that is, in that context, merely in conformity with the moral law and not for the sake of the moral law. But they can also, as a matter of “radical evil” and the “human, all too human” perversity of the heart and will, move us to choice or action that is morally bad and wrong, banally evil, or even near-satanically evil. Hence the crucial point about the moral worth of choice or action, and being motivated by respect, is that respect really can constitute an essentially non-conceptual and life-changing “revolution of the heart” or “revolution of the will,” that, in turn, is triggered by our self-conscious or reflective, conceptual recognition of the Categorical Imperative as a desire-overriding, strictly universal, a priori, categorically normative non-instrumental reason for action. It is a sad, true fact about the rational human condition that we rarely do this; but it is an equally sublime true fact about the rational human condition that we do do this much more often than you might think.[xvi]
Sad and sublime realities aside, it nevertheless remains fully true that satisfaction of these two conditions, together with all the other necessary conditions of deep freedom, jointly constitute what I call “principled authenticity.” This is because, when taken all together, they jointly constitute not only a wholehearted adherence to my own principles, but also a wholehearted adherence to some absolutely universal objective moral principles—i.e., the several formulations of the Categorical Imperative—along with my taking complete responsibility for some brute facts over which I had no control.
As I noted in chapter 3, by a categorical contrast, the moral contrary of authenticity in the sense of a wholehearted adherence to principles, i.e., inauthenticity, is comporting yourself as if you were a natural automaton—as if you were a human turnspit, or a fleshy deterministic or indeterministic Turing machine, and not really alive and caring; as if you could never think or choose or act for yourself; and as if you did not really have the capacity for deep freedom, deep (non-)moral responsibility, and principled authenticity. In the Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein asks, “Couldn’t I imagine having frightful pains and turning to stone while they lasted?”[xvii] Correspondingly, to get a sense of the nature of inauthenticity, now imagine yourself having frightfully strong desires for something, whether this thing has high egoistic, hedonic, or consequentialist value, or is instead specifically a target of moral respect, and then turning into a biochemical puppet and moist robot “while they lasted.” Indeed, it is precisely this thought-experiment that it is stunningly artistically expressed by the original version of the 1950s science-fiction classic, Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body-Snatchers.[xviii]
In view of what I said, just above, about the equally sad and sublime true facts about us, to say that principled authenticity is “really possible” for us, however, is not to say that we are always or even usually moved by respect for human dignity and by higher-order love for the moral law that is inscribed in our rational but still “human, all too human” hearts. Usually we are moved only by egoism, hedonism, or purely instrumental concerns. But by no means are we always moved by egoism, hedonism, or purely instrumental concerns. Hence as rational human animals or real human persons with deep freedom of the will (ultimate sourcehood, up-to-me-ness), and with an innate capacity for principled authenticity, necessarily we really can be so moved, because we ought to be so moved, and, under certain actual contextual and historical conditions, we are so moved. It is quite true that “from the crooked timber of humanity, nothing straight can ever be made” (IUH 8:23); but it is equally true that crooked timber can sometimes be sufficiently strong timber for the purposes at hand. In other words, all rational human animals, or real human persons, are “human, all too human,” “radically evil,” and “miserable sinners.” But this is not only fully consistent with, but also necessarily complementary with—the flip side of—our possessing the capacity for achieving principled authenticity at least partially or to some degree, and, in propitious circumstances, for achieving a sublime “sinner-sainthood.”[xix]
In any case, as everyone knows, ought does not entail is. But on a Kantian account of the relationship between morality and deep freedom/deep moral responsibility, or at least on the contemporary Kantian account of practical agency, especially including The 2D Conception of Rational Normativity, that I have spelled out in chapter 3, ought entails a real can; and empirical, historical evidence about actual humanity confirms its objective reality. In this way, deep freedom (including both veridical psychological freedom and also the capacity for self-commitment to a live option, or Kierkegaardian Either/Or) and the capacity for principled authenticity, are jointly necessary and sufficient conditions of our deep (non-)moral responsibility, and jointly necessary but not jointly sufficient conditions of the moral goodness and rightness of our choices and acts. Nevertheless the advance to sufficiency actually happens when, in propitious circumstances, we really and truly do wholeheartedly choose or act from respect and for the sake of the moral law, at least partially and to some degree, and achieve sublime sinner-sainthood. Ought entails can, and, on occasion, we really do do what ought to be done.
Section 5.4 Conclusion
This completes my six-step overall argument for the truth of Natural Libertarianism, which, as you will recall, looks like this:
The Six-Step Argument for Natural Libertarianism
(i) Beyond Mechanism.
Biological life is a physically irreducible but also non-dualist and non-supervenient necessary a priori immanent structure of a well-defined class of far-from-equilibrium, spatiotemporally asymmetric, complex, self-organizing thermodynamic systems. (Premise, justified in chapter 2.)
(ii) From Biology to Agency.
Free rational minded animal agents are nothing more and nothing less than conscious, intentional, caring, rational self-organizing, organismic thermodynamic systems that are capable of (i) deeply free choice based on effective desires and instrumental or non-instrumental internal reasons, (ii) autonomy in the Kantian sense, or rational self-legislation, and (iii) authenticity in the Existentialist sense, i.e., purity of heart, single-mindedness, or wholeheartedness. (Premise, justified in chapter 3.)
Natural Mechanism is the weak disjunctive combination of Universal Natural Determinism and Universal Natural Indeterminism. More specifically, something is naturally mechanized, or a natural automaton, if and only if all its causal behaviors, functions, and operations are necessarily determined by all the deterministic or probabilistic/statistical 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, and Turing-computable from that base. But not everything natural is Conservation-Laws-determined, Big Bang-caused, and Turing-computable. So Natural Mechanism is false, hence both Universal Natural Determinism and Universal Natural Indeterminism are false. Morever, Hard Determinism is false. Soft Determinism is false. And Classical Libertarianism (inlcuding its agent-causal, non-causal, and event-causal indeterminist versions) is false. Correspondingly, classical Compatibilism (including Soft Determinism, Semi-Compatibilism, Revisionism, and In-the-Zone Compatibilism) and classical Incompatibilism (including Hard Determinism, Hard Incompatibilism, classical Agent-Causal Libertarianism, Non-Causal Indeterminism, and Event-Causal Indeterminism) are all false. At the same time, Local Incompatibilism and Non-Local Compatibilism are true. So Incompatibilistic Compatibilism is true. (Premise, justified in chapter 4.)
Harry Frankfurt’s argument against The Principle of Alternative Possibilities (PAP) is sound, but it does not follow that deep (non-)moral responsibility is compatible with either Universal Natural Determinism or Universal Natural Indeterminism, since Natural Mechanism is false. On the contrary, the Kierkegaardian Either/Or, which flows from the capacity for self-commitment to a live option, is presupposed by all Frankfurt-style counterexamples to PAP; and as metaphysically embedded in a larger free-agency-structure which also includes the capacities for veridical psychological freedom and for principled authenticity (i.e., the capacity for autonomy in the Kantian sense, or rational self-legislation, together with the capacity for purity of heart, single-mindedness, or wholeheartedness), this capacity for self-commitment to a live option, or Kierkegaardian Either/Or, is a necessary and sufficient condition of deep (non-)moral responsibility. (Premise, justified in chapter 5.)
(v) Deep Freedom and Principled Authenticity.
The capacity for self-commitment to a live option, or the Kierkegaardian Either/Or, along with the capacities for veridical psychological freedom, real causal spontaneity, and ownership, are necessary and sufficient conditions of the capacity for deep freedom. In turn, the capacity for deep freedom is a necessary but not sufficient condition of the capacity for principled authenticity, which, as incorporating deep freedom, yields deep (non-)moral responsibility (Premise, justified in chapter 5.)
(vi) Natural Libertarianism.
Therefore, since Natural Libertarianism is just the three-part thesis (i) that freedom is in life, (ii) that Incompatibilistic Compatibilism is true, and (iii) that the constitution of free rational human minded animal agency inherently includes the capacities for deep freedom and principled authenticity, together yielding deep (non-)moral responsibility, then it follows that Natural Libertarianism is true. (Conclusion, from premises 1-5 above.)
It should be evident by now that Natural Libertarianism is sharply distinct from each of The Three Standard Options, as well as from Semi-Compatibilism, In-the-Zone Compatibilism, Hard Incompatibilism, and Revisionism. At the same time, Natural Libertarianism incorporates some non-trivial aspects of classical Compatibilism in its non-classical non-local compatibilism, and also incorporates some non-trivial aspects of classical Incompatibilism in its non-classical local incompatibilism. Natural Libertarianism also incorporates some non-trivial aspects of Soft Determinism by:
(i) requiring an anti-luck condition on free choosing and doing—a condition that is secured by the conjunction of anti-mechanism and the self-commitment to a live option, or Kierkegaardian Either/Or—and
(ii) zeroing in on free agency in the actual event-sequence and ignoring counterfactual sequences.
And Natural Libertarianism also also incorporates some non-trivial aspects of Classical Libertarianism in its non-deterministic conception of free agency and its metaphysical appeal to real causal spontaneity. So Natural Libertarianism, in effect, preserves whatever there was in the classical and standard views that is actually true and worth preserving.
But perhaps most importantly of all, Natural Libertarianism provides a metaphysically revisionary, liberally naturalistic, naturally pietistic, and altogether philosophically liberating way of thinking and feeling about free agency. According to this philosophically emancipatory way of thinking and feeling, free agency is a physically irreducible and anti-mechanistic, but also non-dualistic and non-supervenient, immanent structural fact about a special, well-defined class of non-equilibrium thermodynamic systems: the organismic, finegrainedly normatively attuned, minded, 2D rational, deeply free, deeply (non-)morally responsible ones—i.e., real persons who are capable of achieving principled authenticity, at least to some salient degree or extent. So our free agency is nothing more and nothing less than our freedom-in-life. This, in turn, means that the natural world is not in any way epistemically or metaphysically alien to us. On the contrary, the natural world is our town.
By a two-part sharp contrast, on the one hand, ontological dualism epistemically and metaphysically alienates us from nature in the macrocosmic, outer sense, the larger physical world, hence it alienates us from “the starry heavens above me” (the rock); and on the other hand, physicalism turns us into natural automata and epistemically and metaphysically alienates us from nature in the microcosmic, inner sense, our own embodied agentive selves, hence it alienates us from “the moral law within me” (the hard place). Natural Libertarianism therefore fully avoids both the outer-alienating rock and the inner-alienating hard place.
Natural Libertarianism’s biologically-grounded, anti-mechanistic, non-reductive, non-dualist, non-supervenience-based account of free agency also effectively incorporates a rich conception of practical agency, according to which more-or-less wholehearted human caring is the essentially embodied vital engine of pure practical reason, under the active guidance of self-conscious or reflective, deliberative practical reasoning that is inherently governed by absolutely universal, a priori non-instrumental moral principles.
Furthermore and finally, this philosophically woke way of thinking about free agency shows us that the deeply-ingrained classical Compatibilism vs. classical Incompatibilism dichotomy was a scandalously false dichotomy, and that the Hard Determinism vs. Soft Determinism vs. Classical Libertarianism trichotomy was also a scandalously false trichotomy, while at the same time substantively connecting itself with both the Kantian and Existentialist traditions alike.
And all of this, in turn, guarantees the inseparable fusion of the real metaphysics of free agency with the real metaphysics of what I call real personhood, which I now want to investigate explicitly and in detail.
[i] For a detailed analysis of the nature and structure of consciousness like ours, see Hanna and Maiese, Embodied Minds in Action, chs. 1-2.
[ii] Analogously, I am committed to strong metaphysical disjunctivism about sense perception. See Hanna, Cognition, Content, and the A Priori, ch. 3.
[iii] See section 2.4 above; and also Hanna, Cognition, Content, and the A Priori, ch. 2.
[iv] On my view, non-human animals and infant humans, etc., who are capable only of free volition, but not free will, are also capable of veridical psychological free volition, as well as non-veridical psychological free volition. And correspondingly there is a weak metaphysical disjunctivist analogue of condition (iii) that holds for psychological free volition, namely:
(iii*) veridical psychological free volition and non-veridical psychological free volition essentially share no intentional or phenomenological content except for whatever it is that actually makes veridical psychological free volition and non-veridical psychological volition indiscriminable for non-rational minded animal agents, even if they accidentally share other psychological or non-psychological properties, such that the animal agent is either in one kind of state or the other, never both.
Obviously, (iii*) entails that veridical psychologically free volition and non-veridical psychologically free volition are indiscriminable for non-rational minded animal agents. Hence there is no analogue of condition (iv) for them.
[v] C. Bass, “By Reason of Insanity,” Yale Alumni Magazine (May/June 2015): , available online at URL = <http://www.yalealumnimagazine.com/articles/4076/by-reason-of-insanity>, pp. 48-53, at p. 49.
[vi] See Frankfurt, “Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person.”
[vii] See note [v] above, and also, e.g., C. Frith, The Cognitive Neuropsychology of Schizophrenia (Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum, 1992); C.S. Mellor, “First Rank Symptoms of Schizophrenia,” British Journal of Psychiatry 117 (1970): 15-23; and S.A. Spence, “Free Will in the Light of Psychiatry,” Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 3 (1996): 75-90.
[viii] Frankfurt, “Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility”; and Frankfurt, “Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person.”
[ix] Harris, Free Will, p. 5.
[x] See, e.g., N. Arpaly, Merit, Meaning, and Human Bondage (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press, 2007).
[xi] See Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, sections II-III (GMM 4: 406-463); and Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, ch. I, (CPrR 5: 19-57).
[xii] See Frankfurt, “Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person”; and Frankfurt, “Identification and Wholeheartedness.” Frankfurt holds that decisive identification is a necessary condition of (deep) moral responsibility, but that seems clearly false. Surely I can be morally responsible for choosing or doing X even if I am significantly emotionally conflicted about the proper ordering of my desires? Otherwise, merely being significantly confused about my real feelings or upset about the overall coherence of my inner life would be a sufficient condition for undermining moral responsibility. And that can’t be right, in that presumably most difficult choices and difficult decisions for most real persons at most times are made under conditions of significant emotional conflictedness and stress. Significant emotional conflictedness, to be sure, undermines Kantian principled authenticity, or the realization of autonomy; but only overwhelming emotional conflictedness, which entails psychological or metaphysical unfreedom, would undermine moral responsibility.
[xiii] See Frankfurt, “Identification and Wholeheartedness”: and Frankfurt, The Reasons of Love.
[xiv] This is an essential feature of Sartrean freedom. See, e.g., S. Crowell, “Sartre’s Existentialism and the Nature of Consciousness,” in S. Crowell (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Existentialism (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2012), pp. 199-226.
[xv] This account of reasons for action is also developed in detail in Hanna and Maiese, Embodied Minds in Action, ch. 3.
[xvi] See, e.g., R. Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell (New York: Penguin, 2009); and L. MacFarquhar, Strangers Drowning (New York: Penguin, 2016). These two books, in effect, make a complementary pair: MacFarquhar’s book shows that human altruism is not only psychologically really possible, but also fully empirically confirmed as a special psychological profile (so psychological egoism is false); and Solnit’s book shows that the human capacity for altruism has not only been repeatedly exemplified in ordinary people under extraordinary contextual and historical conditions, but also is thoroughly morally admirable (so ethical egoism is also false).
[xvii] Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations, §109, p. 97e.
[xviii] (Dir. D. Siegel, 1956, Walter Wanger Pictures).
[xix] I borrow the evocative label “sinner-saint” from Lillian Hellman’s “Introduction” to D. Hammett, The Big Knockover (London: Orion Books, 2005), pp. v-xxii, where she talks about parallels between some of the central characters in Dostoevsky’s novels and Hammett himself. The very idea of Dostoevskian sinner-sainthood, in turn, also captures the apparently paradoxical truth, noted in chapter 3, that near-Satanic evil, in certain motivational respects, is fundamentally closer to principled authenticity than either non-evil moral badness or banal evil.
Still, no wonder Hammett was deeply hurt when Hellman called him a “Dostoevskian sinner-saint.” Indeed, Hellman’s role in Hammett’s genuinely tragic life was not entirely without its own significant measure of Dostoevskian sinner-sainthood, as per, e.g., Grushenka in The Brothers Karamazov.
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