The Problem Of Free Will


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The Problem Of Free Will

  1. 2. <ul><li>List the big choices you have made in your life </li></ul><ul><li>List the choices you have made since getting up this morning and sitting here now </li></ul><ul><li>So, we seem to have the freedom to do whatever we want to. We have free-will </li></ul>
  2. 3. What does William Wallace mean by freedom? What does the term freedom mean?
  3. 4. <ul><li>Freedom is personal liberty, liberation from confinement, civil liberty, unrestricted access or movement, autonomy and power to decide one’s own actions. </li></ul><ul><li>In ethics ‘free-will’ is the ability to make free unhindered choices. </li></ul>
  4. 5. <ul><li>Do we always have free-will? </li></ul><ul><li>Can we always choose to do something? </li></ul><ul><li>Is there anything we don’t have the freedom to do? </li></ul>
  5. 6. <ul><li>There seem to be things that limit us and stop us being free. </li></ul><ul><li>What are the factors that determine our actions and limit our freedom? </li></ul>
  6. 7. Family Religion Genetics Psychology Society natural laws
  7. 8. <ul><li>A policeman, who is a poor shot, shoots dead an innocent civilian by mistake. </li></ul>y/n <ul><li>A policeman intentionally shoots dead an innocent civilian. </li></ul>y/n <ul><li>A policeman, hallucinating after taking drugs, shoots dead an innocent civilian. </li></ul>y/n <ul><li>A policeman, believing it his duty to obey the orders of the stare, is commanded to shoot dead an innocent civilian and does so. </li></ul>y/n <ul><li>A policeman, threatened with execution if he doesn’t obey orders, is commanded to shoot dead an innocent civilian and does so. </li></ul>y/n
  8. 9. <ul><li>With regard to the policeman, arrange the examples in order, from the least blameworthy to the most blameworthy. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Is the policeman morally responsible for the death of the innocent civilian in each case? </li></ul><ul><li>3. Should there be any difference in the way the policeman is dealt with (punished) Explain your answer. </li></ul>
  9. 10. a) A soldier intentionally kills an innocent civilian. b) A soldier intentionally kills an enemy soldier. c) A soldier with poor eyesight shoots dead an innocent civilian by mistake. d) A soldier who is drunk shoots dead an innocent civilian. e) A soldier intentionally shoots an unarmed enemy soldier. f ) A soldier is ordered to shoot an innocent civilian. g) A soldier, threatened with a firing squad if he does not follow orders, is ordered to shoot an innocent civilian. h) A soldier is ordered to execute an enemy solider. i) A soldier disobeys orders and kills an innocent civilian. j) A soldier unintentionally kills an enemy soldier.
  10. 11. In which situation has the soldier committed the worse offence? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 2. In which situation would it be difficult to punish the soldier? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 3. In which of the situations is the person acting freely? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________ 4. Who is morally responsible for the ‘ death ’ in each situation? Indicate your answer on the table above.
  11. 12. Ideas • Free will : the ability to make free, unhindered choices. • Determinism : the idea that all actions are governed by laws outside of our control. • Hard determinism : the teaching that denies that humanity has free will and believes that all actions have a prior cause. It removes moral responsibility for actions. • Libertarianism (incompatibilism) : this theory claims that we are morally responsible for all our actions and are free to make choices. • Soft determinism (compatibilism) : the teaching that says we can be both determined and free, as some of our moral choices are free but aspects of our nature are determined.
  12. 13. <ul><li>Why is intention important? </li></ul><ul><li>When are people not responsible for their actions? </li></ul><ul><li>Are we morally responsible if we are not free to make moral choices? </li></ul>
  13. 14. 1. A drug addict who steals from a hospital pharmacy. Y/N 2. A penniless man who steals food to feed his family. Y/N 3. A policeman with poor eyesight arresting an innocent person. Y/N 4. A soldier who betrays his army to save his own life. Y/N 5. A homeless women who has an abortion. Y/N 6. A soldier who executes a person to save the lives of 100 others. Y/N 7. A drunk driver who kills another motorist. Y/N 8. An abused woman who kills her abuser. Y/N 9. A jealous man who kills his love rival in a duel. Y/N 10. A doctor who unintentionally allows a patient to die. Y/N 11. A paranoid schizophrenic who kills anyone he meets. Y/N 12. A fireman who allows someone to die in a fire because it is too risky to attempt a rescue. Y/N 13. A secret agent who willingly passes secrets to an enemy. Y/N 14. A man who commits mass murder on the orders of others. Y/N
  14. 15. <ul><li>Take notes on the arguments for and against </li></ul><ul><li>Libertarianism (incompatibilism) </li></ul><ul><li>Hard Determinism </li></ul><ul><li>Soft Determinism (compatibilism) </li></ul><ul><li>Indeterminism </li></ul>
  15. 16. <ul><li>Having free-will means that we can make choices in our lives and that these choices are up to us. </li></ul><ul><li>We are completely free to either choose chocolate cake or an apple whilst in the dinner queue. </li></ul><ul><li>This is something we all experience so why is it a philosophical problem and what are the implications? </li></ul>
  16. 17. <ul><li>The past is the past and cannot be changed </li></ul><ul><li>John was born on October 15 th 1992 </li></ul><ul><li>His parents divorced when he was 12 </li></ul><ul><li>He drank his first beer at 15 </li></ul><ul><li>This past is set in stone </li></ul><ul><li>The future is open to possibility and is yet to pass </li></ul><ul><li>The question is – How much power does the past have over the future? </li></ul>
  17. 18. <ul><li>The theory that the future is fixed by the past is called determinism. </li></ul><ul><li>This is the idea that although we experience a choice and careful deliberation over our options – our final decisions will be dictated by our past experiences and the other options are not really open at all. </li></ul><ul><li>In the case of John having to decide between going to college, getting a job or staying at home – his choice to go college was already pre-determined. </li></ul><ul><li>Apply psychological, social, biological and natural determinist views to his decision. </li></ul>
  18. 19. <ul><li>Newtonian physics rests on the assumptions that Nature is predictable, and operates strictly according to its principles. Some of these we can observe such as conservation of energy and matter or the unchanging speed of time. If the world is ‘only’ nature of this kind then the unfolding of events must happen according to an inevitable pattern. This view of the universe is entirely mechanistic. However, in the late 20 th Century quantum physics suggests that atomic particle movement may have a random quality about it. This would mean that the future is not as inevitable as some determinists would have us think and the future has infinite possibilities. </li></ul>
  19. 20. <ul><li>Determinism is expressed in psychology as behaviourism. Psychologists such as Ivan Pavlov and B. F. Skinner produced theories known as conditioning. </li></ul><ul><li>1. Pavlov (1849-1936) Found that animals (and later humans) could be conditioned to perform certain actions by associating an unrelated stimulus with a particular behaviour when it occurred, so that the behaviour could eventually be triggered by the previously unrelated stimulus alone. He trained dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Skinner (1904-1990) Used Pavlovs results to develop a technique known as ‘operant conditioning’. Skinner used positive and negative reinforcers. He rewarded his laboratory animals when they produced a specific behaviour which he wanted, assuming that the reward would strengthen the behaviour pattern. He would give the animal something unpleasant (an electric shock) for a behaviour pattern he wished to eliminate. He found that rats, mice and pigeons could be conditioned to perform specific and complex patterns of behaviour. Skinner believed that humans were different from laboratory animals in degree only and not in kind. He stated every single human action could be and in fact was the product of conditioning. This included a persons moral code. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  20. 21. <ul><li>The cosmological argument for the existence of God rests on the assumption that every effect must have a cause or causes, simultaneous or previous. All of life therefore, is believed to consist of links in a causal chain with each link determining the next link. If the law of cause and effect is truly universal in space and time then the future is fixed, unchangeable, inevutable. The future will be the result of the past and the present, and no future is possible other than that dictated by the past and the present. Thomas Hobbes and David Hume held similar views. </li></ul><ul><li>Not only is the future set in stone from the present but also moral choice is reduced to nothing. We would have no real choice, even if we thought we did. ( not knowing how someone will act does not allow us to say that their reactions are therefore free). Any human attitude such as resentment or gratitude would be illogical and meaningless. Our moral aspirations, notions of right and wrong would be ideas without any corresponding reality. It would be as illogical to judge an action as being good or bad as it would be to ‘punish’ a car for running out of fuel. </li></ul>
  21. 22. <ul><li>‘ Let us imagine a man while standing in the street, saying to himself: ‘Its 6pm, the working day is over. Now I can go for a walk, or I can go to a club, I can climb the tower to see the sun, I can go to the theatre, I can visit a friend; indeed I can also run out of the gate, into the wide world, and never return, all of this is strictly up to me, in this I have complete freedom. But still I shall do none of these things now, but with just as free a will, I shall go home to my wife’. </li></ul><ul><li>This explains the idea that we do not lose our sense of freedom even if the future is already determined </li></ul>
  22. 23. <ul><li>Hard Determinism – A hard determinist believes that the past completely determines the future. Since all future events are caused by past events, the future is causally determined. It is not within our power to shape the future. Free will is an illusion. </li></ul><ul><li>Indeterminism – An indeterminist denies that the past has a strong effect on the future. According to indeterminism at least some events in the future are not caused by events in the past. The future is somewhat random and unpredictable. This avoids the threat of determinism. </li></ul><ul><li>Soft Determinism – A soft determinist holds that we can have free will even if the future is determined. We are free and responsible for our actions as long as these actions are caused in the right way. </li></ul><ul><li>Libertarianism – A libertarian insists that human beings are agents and that agents have special causal powers. They can initiate (cause) events on their own account and therefore free to shape the future. </li></ul>
  23. 24. <ul><li>All events are caused. </li></ul><ul><li>We are always responsible for our actions. </li></ul><ul><li>If we rolled back time to 1950 history would repeat itself. </li></ul><ul><li>God knows everything that will happen in the future. He knows who I will marry, how many kids I will have and what I will call their names. </li></ul><ul><li>Nobody, not even God can know the future because it hasn’t happened yet. </li></ul><ul><li>If I had experienced a different childhood then I would make different decisions right now. (nature/nurture) </li></ul><ul><li>Some aspects of behaviour are cause by his/her genes. E.g Having been born with an aggressive gene his/her character is likely to be aggressive – would they be responsible for their actions if this was the case. </li></ul><ul><li>We sometimes act on desires that are not our own but which are implanted in us by advertising and peer pressure. </li></ul>
  24. 25. <ul><li>The past completely determines the future. </li></ul><ul><li>Causality </li></ul><ul><li>The past causes the future </li></ul><ul><li>The principle of cause and effect </li></ul><ul><li>Watch </li></ul><ul><li>It is difficult to deny that causes precede events. Mysterious noises, airplane crashes, tornados and anger tantrums all need causes as things just don’t happen without a cause or reason. </li></ul><ul><li>We live in a determined world where everything is determined by cause and effect. </li></ul><ul><li>Science itself is dependent on these laws </li></ul><ul><li>Newtonian Physics – Gravity and movement of planets etc </li></ul><ul><li>Even acts seemingly of a random nature are actually causally determined. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>1. All events have causes. </li></ul><ul><li>2. All our actions are events. </li></ul><ul><li>3. All caused events are determined by the past. </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore </li></ul><ul><li>4. Our actions are determined by the past. </li></ul><ul><li>5. If our actions are determined by the past, then we have no power to act other than we do indeed act. </li></ul><ul><li>6. If we have no power to act other than we in fact do act, then we have no free will </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore </li></ul><ul><li>7. We have no free will. </li></ul>
  25. 27. <ul><li>The convicted rapist Matias Reye had a horrible childhood. </li></ul><ul><li>His mother sold him to his father for $400 </li></ul><ul><li>At age 7 two older boys sexually abused him and threw him in a river </li></ul><ul><li>At age 17 he was living alone on the streets of Harlem New York scratching around for food and money. </li></ul><ul><li>Do you think he would freely choose to become a rapist and murderer or do you think that his childhood caused him to become a dangerous sexual predator? </li></ul><ul><li>Are people condemned by their childhood experiences to perform certain actions? </li></ul><ul><li>Freud, Genes and the nature v nurture debate. </li></ul><ul><li>Hard Determinism is a persuasive theory. </li></ul><ul><li>However, many people find the argument difficult to accept. </li></ul><ul><li>We hold other people responsible for their actions </li></ul><ul><li>If I make a promise to pick someone up from the airport and then fail to show up and they have to take a taxi after waiting 4 hours then they will be mad. My irresponsibility has caused them hardship. </li></ul><ul><li>According to this logic rapists, murderers, thieves, bullies, adulterers would all be the victims of circumstance and therefore free from responsibility for their actions. </li></ul><ul><li>In fact this is a plea often given in court in defence of the accused for their actions – Diminished Responsibility. </li></ul><ul><li>Consider the case of Ian Huntley </li></ul>
  26. 28. <ul><li>However is this always the case. </li></ul><ul><li>In the following cases are they responsible for their actions. </li></ul><ul><li>A very drunk person decides he can still drive his car. </li></ul><ul><li>A 10 year old child whose parents are professional thieves takes $5 from his parents without permission. </li></ul><ul><li>A student who is told by everybody that he is bad at maths fails another maths test. </li></ul><ul><li>A person takes strong pain killers for a serious back injury becomes addicted to the pain killers. </li></ul><ul><li>A 15 year old girl who has been told all her life by her mother that she is too fat becomes anorexic. </li></ul><ul><li>A 15 year old boy who grows up in a violent slum area drops out of school and starts selling drugs. </li></ul><ul><li>A person suffering chronic depression commits suicide. </li></ul><ul><li>Two 10 year old boys kidnap, torture and brutally kill a two year old boy </li></ul>
  27. 29. <ul><li>Hard Determinism is a frightening theory surely we are responsible for our actions </li></ul><ul><li>An indeterminist believes that at least some events (especially our actions) are not caused by anything. </li></ul><ul><li>Indeterminism weakens the link between past and future leaving open the possibility of free will. </li></ul><ul><li>Advances in science have supported this belief </li></ul><ul><li>The belief that physical objects like chairs, tables and human beings are composed of sub-atomic particles e.g. Electrons. </li></ul><ul><li>Electrons are permanently moving either in one direction or another. </li></ul><ul><li>When faced with a decision the human brain is a vast collection of sub - atomic particles that are in motion and beyond determination. </li></ul><ul><li>If our decisions are ultimately dependent on indeterministic physical processes then we, need not be afraid that our future is fixed and predictable on the basis of our past. </li></ul><ul><li>In further support of Indeterminism is the new scientific theory of ‘ Quantum Physics ’. </li></ul><ul><li>Scientists have discovered particles move in a random nature completely undetermined by cause and effect. </li></ul><ul><li>This means there are possibilities of things happening outside of the principle of cause and effect. </li></ul><ul><li> (1 st 3 mins) </li></ul>
  28. 31. <ul><li>If our actions are as random as the particles of ‘quantum mechanics’ then our actions have no explanation at all. </li></ul><ul><li>If they have no explanation and happen for no cause at all if it turns out my arm waves around and grabs a club and lays it over a bystanders head, no less to my astonishment than his, I cannot in anyway be blamed. </li></ul><ul><li>My actions become random events </li></ul><ul><li>Nobody can hold me responsible and therefore I am not morally blameworthy and it seems we are back where we were with determinism. </li></ul><ul><li>Consider Tourette’s Syndrome </li></ul><ul><li>A person with Tourette’s syndrome experiences recurrent, involuntary, rapid, purposeless motor movements like blinking, grimacing, squinting and often shout obscenities beyond their control. </li></ul><ul><li>They simply happen </li></ul><ul><li>If indeterminism is correct then our actions are as a random as a tourrete’s sufferer involuntary actions. </li></ul>
  29. 32. <ul><li>The attempt to combine causality and free will. </li></ul><ul><li>Often called ‘Compatibilism’. </li></ul><ul><li>Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) and David Hume (1711-1776) defended compatibilism. </li></ul><ul><li>Our actions are free as long as they are caused in the right fashion. </li></ul><ul><li>Imagine </li></ul><ul><li>1. Being forced to hand money over as a result of being mugged at knifepoint </li></ul><ul><li>2. Handing over money to someone who has asked and looks thin, hungry, dreary and miserable. </li></ul><ul><li>Both actions to hand over money have been caused but one cause is different from another. </li></ul><ul><li>A caused action should be considered a free action as long as it is plausible to say that we are responsible for the action. </li></ul><ul><li>An action is free if – </li></ul><ul><li>1. The action is caused by the will of the agent. </li></ul><ul><li>My internal states cause my actions e.g If I shoot someone because I’m jealous then that is a free action and I am responsible. However, if I shoot someone because I’ve been put under a spell or hypnotised then I am not acting freely and cannot be responsible. </li></ul><ul><li>2. The action is not forced </li></ul><ul><li>This is a grey area and needs to be more fully described. </li></ul><ul><li>What do we mean by forced and what other options are available. </li></ul><ul><li>In the case of the mugger could I have run away. Did I have other options available to me. </li></ul>
  30. 33. <ul><li>Compatibilism requires us to analyse situations very carefully before we can assert whether an action has been forced. </li></ul><ul><li>The crucial question to ask in any situation is could the agent have acted differently. </li></ul><ul><li>Consider the following examples - </li></ul><ul><li>You decide to loan your flat mate $400 dollars because he says ‘you are my last hope, if you don’t lend me the money I will have to kill myself’. </li></ul><ul><li>After drinking heavily, you decide to dance naked on the table. </li></ul><ul><li>After your best friend commits suicide, you decide to make plans to commit suicide. </li></ul><ul><li>After your friend drives you home, you decide to remain in the car with him and listen to his CDs. Only afterward do you find out that your friend had locked the doors to his car and would not have opened them unless you first listened to his CDs. </li></ul><ul><li>While you are sleep walking, you go to the refrigerator and make yourself a sandwich. </li></ul><ul><li>You decide to quit your job. As you tell your boss, she tells you (truthfully) that she was going to fire you today anyway. </li></ul><ul><li>Compatibilism leads to a very commonsensical theory of freedom and responsibility that is similar to the one we find in the courts of law. </li></ul><ul><li>Premeditated crimes are committed by people that had the option of acting otherwise. They were not compelled to do what they did. They are fully responsible. </li></ul><ul><li>On the other hand if someone is accused of a crime but can show that they could not have avoided committing the crime even if they had chosen differently then they would get a more lenient sentence on the grounds of diminished responsibility. </li></ul><ul><li>Consider the case of James Lawson </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  31. 35. <ul><li>Human beings are free to shape their futures </li></ul><ul><li>Based on the idea that all the physical/material world follows principles of cause and effect and is therefore determined but human beings are different. </li></ul><ul><li>Humans can cause effects to take place without themselves being subject to causes. </li></ul><ul><li>They can begin a sequence of events. </li></ul><ul><li>Agents (human beings) are substances and have special causal powers to cause actions without there being any prior causes that determine the agent to do so. </li></ul><ul><li>We are likened to God creator of the universe </li></ul><ul><li>Before creation there was an empty void </li></ul><ul><li>God decides to create and at that moment all things are brought into existence and the chain of cause and effect begins. </li></ul><ul><li>Our actions are similar to Gods in that they are uncaused – The Uncaused Cause, The Unmoved Mover, which brings everything else into being. </li></ul><ul><li>Roderick Chisholm (1916-1999) ‘if we are responsible (and Libertarianism is true) then we have a prerogative which some would attribute only to God: each of us when we act, is a prime mover unmoved. In doing what we do, we cause certain events to happen and nothing – or no one – causes us to cause those events to happen’. </li></ul><ul><li>Libertarianism is well supported by common sense </li></ul><ul><li>We experience the feeling of free choice and deliberate about what future actions we will perform </li></ul><ul><li>We have a strong feeling it is up to us what we do and what we will become. </li></ul><ul><li>No matter whether we have had a poor childhood or attended a horrific public school we still feel we have it within us to escape our past and the behaviour associated with it. </li></ul>
  32. 36. <ul><li>If libertarianism is correct then we have the power to act in ways contrary to our past experiences. </li></ul><ul><li>Consider the case of 13 year old Emma who is unable to settle in class, truants, smokes and has a boyfriend of 17. </li></ul><ul><li>She comes from a broken home, divorced parents and lives with her alcoholic mother who is often abusive. </li></ul><ul><li>It would seem heartless for a school to take action against Emma’s behaviour without taking her past experiences into account. </li></ul><ul><li>Or to say that she is the sole cause of her behaviour and to suggest that she is totally responsible. And she must pull her socks up and sort herself out. </li></ul><ul><li>It seems fair to say that although she is partially responsible her ability to make choices is undermined by her previous experiences and the life she is living. </li></ul><ul><li>We accept that external factors can limit our freedom and we feel compassion for others when we realise it. </li></ul><ul><li>According to Libertarianism we are always fully responsible for what we do and external factors cannot undermine our freedom. </li></ul>