My Response To, “Does Quantum Mechanics Revive Libertarian Free-Will?”

Posted in Philosophy, Responses, Science on  | 3 minutes | 3 Comments →

So Matt DeStefano had asked me to comment on his article, Does Quantum Mechanics Revive Libertarian Free-Will?. Truth be told, and no offense to Matt, but I wasn’t very impressed. The main reason is because he pretends his treatment supports the conclusion, “free will is an illusion.” As far as particular gripes, well, first off… the classic materialist canard:

Traditional determinism has proclaimed that since there is causal closure, or there is no physical event which has a non-physical cause, events are wholly determined by their causes.

Aside from the standard allusion to cause-and-effect which we most all accept, this is meaningless tautology, made worse by the fact that no matter what physicists discover, it automatically falls under the rubric of “physical” in the minds of committed metaphysical naturalists.

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Consistent With The Hypothesis Of

Posted in Philosophy, Quickies on  | 2 minutes | 19 Comments →

Though occasional use is inevitable, I generally try to avoid the words proof and disproof, especially in discussions of epistemology and empiricism. I don’t know how many of you have met him yet, but Peter Hurford is a new commenter around here with a blog of his own, and from what I’ve seen so far, I would highly recommend dialoging with him on behalf of his aptitude and courtesy. He also asks good questions, the kind that get you thinking, as opposed to, say, the kind that piss you off. Recently on another blog, Peter made a remark that I felt compelled to reply to, and I wanted to repost a slight modification of that short reply here, just to see what people here might think of it.

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On Galen Strawson’s Basic Argument

Posted in Morality on  | 3 minutes | 115 Comments →

woodchuck64 recently said that “Logic easily disposes of libertarian free will and ultimate moral responsibility via something like Galen Strawson’s basic argument.” I replied that I felt this was false, and asked for elaboration, which he supplied by linking to this PDF.

The Pessimist’s argument woodchuck64 cited seems the same as Strawson’s basic argument outlined here:

The Basic Argument has various expressions in the literature of free will, and its central idea can be quickly conveyed. (1) Nothing can be causa sui – nothing can be the cause of itself. (2) In order to be truly morally responsible for one’s actions one would have to be causa sui, at least in certain crucial mental respects. (3) Therefore nothing can be truly morally responsible.

I agree with woodchuck64 that most who reject this argument do so out of aghast reaction to it’s ramifications as opposed to sound refutation of one or more premises. While I won’t go that route, I can’t help but ponder these ramifications. Hitler’s actions become equivalent to the Japanese tsunami in Strawsonian morality: ultimately blameless events necessitated by prior causal interactions. More revoltingly, if true, Strawson seems to have successfully proven the illusion of rationality. Perhaps most revoltingly of all, if true, Strawson has proven that the very foundation of law-abiding civilization is an illusion. What does this mean for legislation founded on illusion? Interesting thoughts, but let’s cut to the chase.

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