Difference Between Free Will And Determinism
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Do We Have Free Will or Are We Predetermined?
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Asked 26 days ago. Active 26 days ago. Viewed 69 times. Softmax if not self. FloatTensor self. Improve this question. I edited this to include more details — r. Its not impossible to answer since we know op is using cudnn which already makes reproducibility an issue. Add a comment. Active Oldest Votes. Try disabling cudnn and see if the issue persists. For argument that this pessimism was premature, see Vihvelin and Frankfurt wanted to defend the claim that moral responsibility is compatible with determinism without having to defend the claim that the ability to do otherwise is compatible with determinism. His strategy took the form of an ingenious thought experiment that was supposed to show that no matter how you understand ability to do otherwise—whether you are a compatibilist or an incompatibilist—you should agree that the possession of this ability is not a necessary condition of being morally responsible Frankfurt There were two steps to the thought experiment.
In the first step he invited you to imagine a person, Jones, who has free will, and who acts freely and who satisfies all the conditions you think necessary and sufficient for moral responsibility. You may imagine Jones in one of the scenarios van Inwagen describes, faced with a choice to speak or be silent, to try to rescue the child or go for help, to resign his chairmanship or to lie, and to imagine that Jones deliberates and decides, for his own reasons, in favor of one of his contemplated alternatives, and then successfully acts on his decision. In the second step you are invited to add to the story the existence of a powerful being, Black, who takes a great interest in what Jones does, including how he deliberates and decides.
You may fill in the details however you like, but you must imagine that Black has the power to interfere with Jones in a way that ensures that Jones does exactly what Black wants him to do. By lucky co-incidence, Jones did exactly what Black wanted him to do. He even deliberated and decided the way Black wanted him to deliberate and decide. So Black remained on the sidelines and only watched.
Because Black never laid a finger on Jones, or interfered in any way, it seems that Jones is as morally responsible in the second step of the story as he is in the first step. How can Black, sitting on the sidelines, deprive Jones of the ability to deliberate, decide, or try otherwise? But Black never exercises his power. There is a difference between the existence of a power and the exercise of a power. The truth about Jones is not that Black robs him of the ability to do otherwise; it is the more complicated truth that Black puts him at constant risk of losing the ability to do otherwise.
His thought experiment was a failure; while most compatibilists were convinced, most incompatibilists were not. Compatibilists who were not convinced include Smith , ; Campbell ; Fara ; Vihvelin These incompatibilists insisted, though not for the reason given above, that Black does not succeed in robbing Jones of all his freedom; there is something that remains up to Jones Widerker ; Ginet ; Kane The critics of the argument rejected this charge, arguing that Jones retains a morally relevant ability to do otherwise, thus resurrecting the very debate that Frankfurt had hoped to undermine.
But there has been a cost. Our interest in free will is not limited to our interest in moral responsibility. The literature on the traditional problem of free will and determinism is dominated by incompatibilists. There is a growing consensus that the incompatibilist is right: if our universe is a deterministic one, we never have the ability to choose and do anything other than what we actually do. Before we ask whether this pessimism about the compatibility of free will with determinism is warranted, we should pause to ask whether there really is a substantive disagreement between compatibilists and incompatibilists.
When an incompatibilist says that determinism would rob us of the free will we think we have, including genuine choices and the ability to do otherwise, and when the compatibilist denies this, are they asserting and denying the same proposition? Or is the incompatibilist asserting one thing while the compatibilist is denying something else? Some of the things said in the literature suggest that there is no substantive debate. And one leading semantic proposal might seem to support the claim that there is no real dispute.
Lewis , Kratzer For a different kind of contextualist proposal see Hawthorne ; for criticism, see Feldman So the proposition denied by the incompatibilist is not the proposition asserted by the compatibilist. The debate, he says, is about whether determinism has the consequence that no one is ever able to do otherwise equivalently, that no one ever has it in their power to do otherwise given what ordinary speakers mean, in the contexts in which they use these words. The contexts to which he is referring are the contexts of deliberation and choice in which we consider our options, while believing that we are able to pursue each of them.
The proposition asserted by the compatibilist is the proposition denied by the incompatibilist. Citing David Lewis as his example of a compatibilist opponent, van Inwagen says that he and Lewis cannot both be right. One of them is wrong, but neither is muddled or making a simple mistake van Inwagen In what follows, we will assume that the debate about free will including, but not necessarily limited to, genuine choice and the ability to do otherwise and determinism is a substantive debate, and not one that can be dissolved by appeal to different senses or contexts of utterance.
We will now turn to the arguments. These are arguments that appeal primarily to our intuitions. There are many variations on this way of arguing for incompatibilism, but the basic structure of the argument is usually something like this:. If determinism is true, we are like: billiard balls, windup toys, playthings of external forces, puppets, robots, victims of a nefarious neurosurgeon who controls us by directly manipulating the brain states that are the immediate causes of our actions. Billiard balls windup toys, etc. Most of these intuition-based arguments are not very good. Billiard balls, toys, puppets, and simple robots lack minds, and having a mind is a necessary condition of having free will. For discussion of cases involving more subtle kinds of manipulation, see Section 3.
The No Forking Paths argument van Inwagen ; Fischer ; Ekstrom begins by appealing to the idea that whenever we make a choice we are doing or think we are doing something like what a traveler does when faced with a choice between different roads. The only roads the traveler is able to choose are roads which are a continuation of the road she is already on. By analogy, the only choices we are able to make are choices which are a continuation of the actual past and consistent with the laws of nature. But if determinism is true, then our journey through life is like traveling in one direction only on a road which has no branches. There are other roads, leading to other destinations; if we could get to one of these other roads, we could reach a different destination. So if determinism is true, our actual future is our only possible future ; we are never able to choose or do anything other than what we actually do.
But several crucial assumptions have been smuggled into this picture: assumptions about time and causation and assumptions about possibility. These assumptions are all controversial; on some theories of time and causation the four-dimensionalist theory of time, a theory of causation that permits time travel and backwards causation , they are all false D. Lewis ; Horwich ; Sider ; Hoefer The assumption about possibility is that possible worlds are concrete spatio-temporal things in the way that roads are and that worlds can overlap literally share a common part in the way that roads can overlap.
But most possible worlds theorists reject the first assumption and nearly everyone rejects the second assumption Adams ; D. If we strip away the metaphors, the main premise of the argument turns into the claim that we have genuine choices between alternative course of action only if our choosing and doing otherwise is compossible with the actual past and the actual laws. But this claim is none other than a statement of what the incompatibilist believes and the compatibilist denies. If the intuitions to which the No Forking Paths argument appeals nevertheless continue to engage us, it is because we think that our range of possible choices is constrained by two factors: the laws and the past.
Even if backwards causation is logically possible, it is not within our power. These beliefs—about the laws and the past—are the basis of the most influential contemporary argument for incompatibilism: the Consequence argument. More of this later. Producer designs or manipulates Victim in some of the stories, in the way the maker of a robot designs his robot or a god creates a human being; in other stories, by employing techniques of behavioral engineering or neural manipulation. We are supposed to accept premise 1 on the grounds of our intuitive response to the story about Victim.
The argument for premise 2 is that if determinism is true, then we are like Victim with respect to the fact that we are merely the proximate causes of our actions. The only difference between us in this imagined scenario in which determinism is true and Victim is that our psychological features are not the causal upshot of the work of a single Producer who had a specific plan for us. But this fact about the remote causes of our actions—that they are caused by a variety of natural causes rather than the intentional acts of a single agent—is not relevant to questions about our freedom and responsibility.
Or so it is argued, by the advocates of Manipulation arguments. In his story, Black was a stand-in for determinism, and Frankfurt was trying to convince us that the facts about Black are consistent with the facts, as we know them, about how we actually deliberate, decide, and act, and these facts are the only facts that matter, so far as moral responsibility is concerned. So even if Jones lacks the ability to do otherwise, he is still morally responsible. The Manipulation argument says, in effect:. Let me tell you a story to make this clear…. And then Producer is introduced, and we are told that he has a plan concerning the action or actions of another person, Victim, the power to enforce his plan, and moreover, unlike Black , he does enforce it.
It would be a mistake, however, to think that manipulation of one person by another automatically undermines freedom. In real life, we know that we may be manipulated by others to do things we would not have done, but for their arguments or other ways of persuading us to change our minds. We think that we could have resisted the argument or the sales pitch or the subtle pressures exerted by our manipulative friend or colleague and we might blame ourselves later for not doing so. The question, then, is whether there is a case that can serve the purposes of a manipulation argument: a case where Victim lacks the freedom that is a necessary condition of moral responsibility while not being different, in any relevant way, from a normal agent in normal circumstances at a deterministic world that is, from someone who we think acts freely and is morally responsible for what she does.
There are cases and cases, and many of the ones in the literature are under-described. The first three Plums of Pereboom are an example. Alternatively, the story might be fleshed out in a way that supports the judgment that Plum is not different, in any relevant way, from a normal agent deterministic or indeterministic in normal circumstances. But this leaves it open to the compatibilist to take the hard-line reply McKenna a, that since the normal deterministic agent is morally responsible, so is Plum. Opinions vary as to whether the intuitive cost of the hard-line reply is too great.
Consider, next, cases of the Brave New World variety—cases where children are subjected to intensive behavioral engineering from birth, in a way intended to make them accept their assigned roles in a rigidly hierarchical society. Everything depends on the details, but it is surely not implausible to think that the subjects of some Brave New World cases lack a morally significant freedom because their cognitive, evaluational, and volitional capacities have been stunted or impaired in certain ways:.
Watson There are cases where Victim is under the direct control of Producer in a way that makes it true that Victim is not morally responsible for what she does because she no longer has the kind of causal control that is a necessary condition acting freely. Defenders of Manipulation arguments claim, however, that the argument works even if these kinds of cases are set aside. They also say that the argument succeeds even when Producer is such a sophisticated designer of Victim that Victim has a past history that satisfies the requirements of those compatibilist accounts of free agency that include a historical condition.
For a helpful account of the difference between historical and nonhistorical compatibilist accounts in the context of Manipulation arguments, see McKenna a. To many people, it seems intuitively clear that Ernie acts unfreely and is for that reason not morally responsible for what he does. For consider this: Ernie has a next door neighbor, Bert, a normal guy in every way, much like Ernie ideally self-controlled, rational, etc. There is no relevant difference between Ernie and Bert. Therefore, Bert also acts unfreely and is also not morally responsible for what he does. But Bert like Ernie is normal in every way, and we can also stipulate that he like Ernie satisfies all plausible compatibilist conditions historical as well as nonhistorical for being a free and morally responsible agent.
If he acts unfreely, so does every deterministic agent on every occasion. Therefore the kind of freedom necessary for moral responsibility is incompatible with determinism. Mele claims that the case of Ernie is an improvement on earlier Manipulation cases in two ways. Second, it is a case where it is clear that there is no relevant difference between Ernie and any case of apparently free and responsible action at a deterministic world.
Mele is right about the first point. And, while some have contested this Waller , we should agree that he is right about the second point as well. But we should not agree that the argument succeeds. It should be noted that Mele does not claim that it does. There is a problem. If there really is no freedom-relevant difference between Bert and Ernie, why should we reason from the unfreedom of Ernie to the unfreedom of Bert rather than the other way around, from the freedom of Bert to the freedom of Ernie? By contrast, we do have reasons for thinking that Bert acts freely and is morally responsible for what he does; he satisfies the ordinary conditions we use in real life, as well as all the conditions of the best compatibilist accounts on offer.
For further elaboration on this critique, including some helpful counter-thought experiments, see Fischer and Kearns A defender of the Zygote argument might respond by claiming that the intuitions that favor the unfreedom and lack of responsibility of Ernie are stronger than the intuitions that favor the freedom and responsibility of Bert. But this is problematic. Perhaps our intuitions are explained though not justified by the belief that being created in this way robs Ernie of the freedom required for responsibility. The first premise of the Zygote argument must be defended by something more than appeal to intuition.
For a critique of the use of intuitions in Manipulation arguments, see Spitzley The Manipulation argument works only if the second premise is true, and the second premise says that there is no relevant difference between Victim in this case, Ernie and any normal deterministic case of apparently free and responsible action in this case, Bert. Ernie differs from Bert with respect to certain historical facts about his creation: the fact that he was created by a goddess with foreknowledge, and intentions about his future. So none of these facts can be counted relevant, even if they affect our intuitions. The claim, then, is that Ernie acts unfreely and without responsibility because determinism is true.
But this claim was supposed to be the conclusion of the argument, not the premise. What has this boy to do with it? He was not his own father; he was not his own mother; he was not his own grandparents. All of this was handed to him. He did not surround himself with governesses and wealth. He did not make himself. And yet he is to be compelled to pay. Darrow Libertarians and incompatibilists do not want indeterminism for its own sake…indeterminism is something of a nuisance for them. It gets in the way and creates all sorts of trouble. What they want is ultimate responsibility and ultimate responsibility requires indeterminism. Kane The defense attorney is trying to persuade the jurors that his client is not responsible for his action, but not for any of the standard excusing conditions—insanity, accident, mistaken belief, duress, mental handicap, and so on.
Nor does he claim that there is anything that distinguishes his client from any of the rest of us. His argument is that his client is not responsible because he did not make himself. But none of us has made ourselves at least not from scratch —we are all the products of heredity and environment. The truth or falsity of determinism has no bearing on this point. See G. See also Smilansky If we pressed our defense attorney or brought in a philosopher to help him out , we might get the following reply: The kind of garden-variety self-making possible at a deterministic world is not good enough for the kind of moral responsibility required for deserved blame and punishment. Granted, we can never have complete control over the actions we perform because of our choices Nagel , and this limits the control we have over our self-making.
But we are morally responsible for our actions only if we have at least some control over our self-making, and we have control over our self-making only if we have control over the choices that are the causes of the actions whereby we make our selves. And we have control over these choices only if we cause our choices and no one and nothing causes us to make them. See Kane , , , a. For variations on this kind of argument, see Kane , , , a and Pereboom , , Premise 2 follows from the definition of determinism at least given two widely accepted assumptions: that there is causation in a deterministic universe and that causation is a transitive relation.
For some doubts about the latter assumption, see Hall Premise 3 is clearly true. So if we want to reject the conclusion, we must reject Premise 1. Compatibilists have argued against 1 in two different ways. On the negative side, compatibilists have challenged 1 by arguing that it is of no help to the incompatibilist: if we accept 1 , we are committed to the conclusion that free will and moral responsibility are impossible , regardless of whether determinism is true or false. If determinism is true, then my choices are ultimately caused by events and conditions outside my control, so I am not their first cause and therefore, if we accept 1 , I am neither free nor responsible.
But since this event is not causally determined, whether or not it happens is a matter of chance or luck. Whether or not it happens has nothing to do with me ; it is not under my control any more than the spinning of a roulette wheel inside my brain is under my control. Therefore, if determinism is false, I am not the first cause or ultimate source of my choices and, if we accept 1 , I am neither free nor responsible Ayer ; Wolf The traditional incompatibilist answer is that this claim must be taken literally, at face value.
We—agents, persons, enduring things—are causes with a very special property: we initiate causal chains, but nothing and no one causes us to do this. Like God, we are uncaused causers, or first movers. And since Joe is not an event, he is not the kind of thing which can be caused. Or so it is argued, by agent-causalists. Many philosophers think that agent-causation is either incoherent or impossible, due to considerations about causation. What sense does it make to say that a person, as opposed to a change in a person, or the state of a person at a time, is a cause? Bok See also Clarke for a detailed and sympathetic examination of the metaphysics of agent-causation, which ends with the conclusion that there are, on balance, reasons to think that agent-causation is impossible.
Others van Inwagen ; Mele have argued that even if agent-causation is possible, it would not solve the problem of transforming an undetermined event into one which is in our control in the way that our free choices must be. And others have argued that if agent-causation is possible, it is possible at deterministic as well as non-deterministic worlds Markosian ; Franklin If our choices are events which have probabilistic causes e. We make choices for reasons, and our reasons cause our choices, albeit indeterministically.
If our choices are caused by our reasons, then our choices are not the first causes of our actions. And our reasons are presumably caused, either deterministically or probabilistically, so they are not the first causes of our actions either. But then our actions are ultimately caused by earlier events over which we have no control and we are not the ultimate sources of our actions.
We think that we make choices, and we think that our choices typically make a difference to our future. We think that there is a point to deliberation: how we deliberate—what reasons we consider—makes a difference to what we choose and thus to what we do. We also think that when we deliberate there really is more than one choice we are able to make, more than one action we are able to perform, and more than one future which is, at least partly, in our power to bring about. Our beliefs about our powers with respect to the future contrast sharply with our beliefs about our lack of power with respect to the past.
Our beliefs about our options, opportunities, alternatives, possibilities, abilities, powers, and so on, are all future-directed. When called upon to defend what we did, or when we blame or reproach ourselves, or simply wonder whether we did the right thing or the sensible thing, the rational thing, and so on , we evaluate our action by comparing it to what we believe were our other possible actions, at that time.
We blame, criticize, reproach, regret, and so on, only insofar as we believe we had alternatives. Is determinism compatible with the truth of these beliefs? In particular, is it compatible with the belief that we are often able to choose and do more than one action? If we follow this train of thought, we will conclude that we are able to do otherwise only if our doing otherwise is a possible continuation of the past consistent with the laws. But if determinism is true, there is only one possible continuation of the past consistent with the laws.
And thus we get the incompatibilist conclusion. If determinism is true, our actual future is our only possible future. What we actually do is the only thing we are able to do. But this argument is too quick. Causal chains run from past to future, and not in the other direction. Our deliberation causes our choices, which cause our actions. But not the other way around. Our choices cause future events; they never cause past events. Why causation works this way is a deep and difficult question, but the leading view, among philosophers of science, is that the temporal asymmetry of causation is a fundamental but contingent fact about our universe.
The past could have been different. But, given the way things actually are given the contingent fact that accounts for the forward direction of causation , there is nothing that we are able to do that would cause the past to be different. Our future is open because it depends, causally and counterfactually, on our choices, which in turn depend, causally and counterfactually, on our deliberation and on the reasons we take ourselves to have. At least in the normal case, where there is neither external constraint nor internal compulsion or other pathology. If our reasons were different in some appropriate way , we would choose otherwise, and if we chose otherwise, we would do otherwise.
All this is compatible with determinism. So the truth of determinism is compatible with the truth of our commonsense belief that we really do have a choice about the future, that we really can choose and do other than what we actually do. The Consequence Argument Ginet , , ; van Inwagen , , ; Wiggins ; Lamb is widely regarded as the best argument for this conclusion. In An Essay on Free Will , van Inwagen presents three formal arguments which, he says, are intended as three versions of the same basic argument, which he characterized as follows:.
If determinism is true, then our acts are the consequence of laws of nature and events in the remote past. Therefore, the consequences of these things including our present acts are not up to us. We will begin by looking at the third version of the argument the Rule Beta argument. The argument is a conditional proof: Assume determinism and show that it follows that no one has, or ever had, a choice about any true proposition, including propositions about the apparently free actions of human beings. Premises 1 and 2 follow from determinism.
Rule Alpha seems uncontroversial but see Spencer Premises 4 and 6 also look uncontroversial. But it still seems undeniably true that we have no choice about whether the laws and the distant past are the way they are; there is nothing that we are able to do that would make it the case that either the laws or the distant past are different from the way they actually are. Rule Beta is the key to the argument. But it might nevertheless be similar enough for Beta to be a valid rule of inference. Or so argued van Inwagen, and gave examples:.
An early response to the Consequence argument was to argue that Beta is invalid because a compatibilist account of the ability to do otherwise is correct Gallois ; Foley ; Slote ; Flint Incompatibilists were unmoved by this response, saying, in effect, that the validity of Beta is more plausible than the truth of any compatibilist account of ability to do otherwise. For defense of a compatibilist account of ability to do otherwise, see Moore ; Hobart ; Kapitan , , ; Lehrer , ; Bok ; Smith , ; Campbell ; Perry ; Vihvelin , ; Fara More recently, van Inwagen has conceded that Beta is invalid van Inwagen McKay and Johnson showed that Beta entails Agglomeration:. Agglomeration is uncontroversially invalid. So it still looks as though the compatibilist is in trouble.
We need to dig deeper to criticize the argument. David Lewis tells us to think of the argument as a reductio Lewis A compatibilist is someone who claims that the truth of determinism is compatible with the existence of the kinds of abilities that we assume we have in typical choice situations. The Consequence argument, as Lewis articulates it, says that if we assume that a deterministic agent has ordinary abilities, we are forced to credit her with incredible abilities as well. Pretend that determinism is true, and that I did not raise my hand at that department meeting, to vote on that proposal but had the ability to do so. If I had exercised my ability—if I had raised my hand—then either the remote past or the laws of physics would have been different would have to have been different.
But to suppose that I have either of these abilities is absurd. So we must reject the claim that I had the ability to raise my hand. This counterfactual version of the Consequence argument nicely highlights a point that the rule Beta version glosses over. The argument relies on a claim about counterfactuals. The argument says that if determinism is true, then at least one of these counterfactuals is true:.
Different Past: If I had raised my hand, the remote past would have been different. Different Laws: If I had raised my hand, the laws would have been different. Both these counterfactuals strike many people as incredible. But there is a reason for that—we are not used to thinking in terms of determinism and we are not accustomed to counterfactual speculation about what would have been the case, beforehand , if anything at a deterministic world had happened in any way other than the way it actually happened. On the other hand, we are good at evaluating counterfactuals, or at least some counterfactuals, and we are especially good at evaluating those counterfactuals that we entertain in contexts of choice, when we ask questions about the causal upshots of our contemplated actions.
What would happen if… I struck this match, put my finger in the fire, threw this rock at that window, raised my hand? And when we contemplate our options, we take for granted the existence of many facts—including facts about the laws and the past. In other words, when we evaluate counterfactuals in real life, we do so by considering imaginary situations which are very like the situation we are actually in, and we do not suppose that there are any gratuitous departures from actuality.
And to suppose a difference in the past or the laws seems like a gratuitous difference.