Terça-feira, 12 de Maio de 2020
Errors on causation and indeterminism in «The Routledge Dictionary of Philosophy»

 

In his article «Free Will and determinism»  The Routledge Dictionary of Philosophy postulates:

 

«Causal determinism says that everything that happens is caused; it allows that our choices and actions are effective as links in the causal chain, so that deliberation has a point, but insists that they are themselves caused. Determinists are sometimes divided into hard and soft. Hard determinists say that our actions are caused in a way that make not as free as we might have thought, so that responsability, if it implies free will, is an illusion. The causes may be physical or physiological (events in the brain), or else mental (e.g. conscious or unconscious desires and childhood experiences which cause such desires). Soft determinists, by far the largest class in recent times, say that our actions are indeed caused, but we are not therefore any less free that we might be, because the causation is not a constraint or compulsion on us. So long as our natures and choices are effective as items in the causal chain, the fact they are themselves caused is irrelevant and does not stop them being what they are. Indeterminists, however, insist that determinists, of whatever complexion, can give no sense to the sentence "He could have done otherwise", where this means something more than simply "He might have done otherwise (had his nature or circumstances been different)". Soft determinism often hold that what justifies praise and blame is solely that they can influence action. This, says indeterminists, misses the point of these concepts, which are essentially "backward-looking". Hard determinists are incompatibilists, i.e., think free will and universal causation are incompatible. Soft determinists are compatibilists. Indetermininists may be either, but are usually incompatibilists.»

«One difficulty with indeterminism is that mere absence of causation does not seem enough. If our actions are no more than random intrusions into the causal scheme of things how can we be any more responsible for them than if they were caused?  Indeterminists are sometimes called libertarians. But more strictly, libertarians are those who postulate a special entity, the "self", which uses the body to intervene from outside, as it were, in the causal chain of events, but is itself immune to causal influence. (...)»

«Such a self must at least be open to pressure from things in the world (or why would it ever make a wrong or weak-minded choice?), and to define its actual relation to the world seems difficult.» (Michael Proudfoot, AR Lacey, Routledge Dicionário de Filosofia, fourth edition,  pages 145-146; bold is put by us).

 

One notable error of this text is: the terms causation and caused are used inappropriately. Cause for these authors is the same as determinism or infallible law of cause and effect - I call it deterministic causation - but there is another type of causation, the free causation that proceeds from free will. It is a mistake to say, for example, that "if I decide to stay at home or go to the beach and I go to this one it is an uncaused action", as Proudfoot and Lacey maintain. No! It is an action caused by my free will or my instinct. Both of these are the cause of actions.

 

Another  capital error of this text is the confusing definition of indeterminism. In fact, there are 3 meanings of the concept of indeterminism, that Proudfoot and Lacey fail to discern:

 

1) Biophysical indeterminism, that is, the absence of infallible laws in physical and biological nature. Example: miracles such as the «miracle of the Sun» in Fátima in October 1917, an exceptional optical phenomenon of a mystical nature.

 

2) Psychological indeterminism without free will. Example: a man suddenly exalts himself in public space and attacks another.

 

3) Indeterminism inherent in free will. This last one is a rational organ that is inserted in indeterminism because it can choose one thing or its opposite. Example: a conscientious voter analyzes the programs of the different parties and candidates for parliament and decides to vote either on the right or on the left.

 

Let's see how it is presented to us  the confused concept of indeterminism. Proudfoot and Lacey write:  «Hard determinists are incompatibilists, i.e., think free will and universal causation are incompatible. Soft determinists are compatibilists. Indetermininists may be either, but are usually incompatibilists.» This is not clear at all: hard determinists, a great part of them libertarians, denny the existence of free will, but soft determinists, including many libertarians or indeterminists, assure there is free will... Confusion, only confusion! The inconsistency in the definition is absolute when it says that indeterminism does not accept that our actions are caused but says that part of the indeterminists share the soft determinism that is based on the notion of cause:

 

«One difficulty with indeterminism is that mere absence of causation does not seem enough. If our actions are no more than random intrusions into the causal scheme of things how can we be any more responsible for them than if they were caused? »

 

The confused definition of libertarianism begins by saying that there is free will arising from a self immune to physical determinism but then admits that the self is under pressure from physical determinism. This is the same as soft determinism, the self decides freely but is under pressure from biophysical determinism:

«Indeterminists are sometimes called libertarians. But more strictly, libertarians are those who postulate a special entity, the "self", which uses the body to intervene from outside, as it were, in the causal chain of events, but is itself immune to causal influence. (...)»

«Such a self must at least be open to pressure from things in the world (or why would it ever make a wrong or weak-minded choice?), and to define its actual relation to the world seems difficult.» 

Let us use Ockham's razor, eliminating the duplications of the same definition.

 

Libertarianism understood as the ability of the self to decide without suffering pressure from the physical and social world is impossible to occur in human beings, who feel hungry, cold, job insecurity or social prestige, love and jealousy, fear of falling ill and dying.The correct definition of libertarianism must be as follows: it is the statement  that postulates there is free will in human beings and which is subdivided into biophysical determinism with free will and biophysical indeterminism with free will. Examples of the latter are: in the middle of summer, the temperature drops 10º below zero (anomaly) and a person decides to stay at home or go out to play in the snow, thinking about the consequences; the occurrence of strange rotations of the Sun visible to the naked eye (indeterminism) before which each spectator decides to turn their backs so as not to be deluded or to contemplate such an unusual phenomenon.

 

Another error is the distinction between hard determinism and soft determinismin fact, determinism is always with the same intensity in both theories. A stone thrown from the top of a tower falls to the ground with the same speed in hard determinism as in soft determinism. Instead of hard determinism whe should say biophysical determinism without free will and instead of soft determinism we should say biophysical determinism with free will.

 

 Another error is the definition of Soft Determinism: «Soft determinists, by far the largest class in recent times,say that our actions are indeed caused, but we are not therefore any less free that we might be, because the causation is not a constraint or compulsion on us.» If all of our actions are caused - that is, in Proudfoot's logic, actions biophysically determinists - exercise compulsion on us contrary to what the Dictionary says. This should say, within its logic, that in  soft determinism there are free, "uncaused" actions, but it does not say. Example: «I decide to go to a library and order a book», it is an action generated or caused by my free will, but "uncaused" in the terminology of Proud and Lacey.

 

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publicado por Francisco Limpo Queiroz às 20:51
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Sábado, 8 de Junho de 2013
Misconceptions on Beebee, Effingham and Goff about Agent Causalism, Compatibilism and Incompatibilism

 The analytic philosophers have not, as a rule, a dialectical thinking and do not know organizing frameworks with theories about free will, biophysical determinism and indeterminism, clearly arranged. They mix  species of a particular genus with species of different genera in a confused amalgam. An example is the table below. 

 

In «Metaphysics, the Key Concept» , Helen Beebee, Nikk Effingham and Philip Goff wrote:

 

Table 1

____________________________________________________________________

Position                       Determinism          Determinism                       Actual agent

                                                                  Compatible with                  sometimes act

                                                                   free will                                freely

_____________________________________________________________________

 

Compatibilism                           ?                                    Y                                      ?  

Incompatibilism……………. ?                                   N                                       ?   

Libertarianism………………  N                                   N                                   Y                                            

Soft Determinism…………..Y                                   Y                                          Y

Hard Determinism………….Y                                   N                                          N

Illusionism ………………….. ?                                    N                                          N

Agent causalism…………….?                                    ?                                          ?

 

«Metaphysics, the Key Concept», page 83, Routledge.

 

 

In this table, there is a great confusion of genera. Compatibilism and Incompatibilism belong to genus articulation, a formal genus. Illusionism and agent causalism belong to genus  cause of action: basically, the causes of an action are free will, determinism, fatalism or natural hazard. Soft Determinism is a species into compatibilism but they are hierarchized as if they were mutually extrinsec.

 

In the table above, a question mark is placed at the intersection of the horizontal column «Compatibilism» with vertical column «Determinism», but that is a mistake. In analytic philosophy, compatibilism includes determinism, so the letter should be Y ( yes). Another error is the question mark placed at the intersection of the horizontal column «Compatibilism» with vertical column «Actual agent sometimes act freely» because, by definition, compatibilism includes free will, free act. So, instead of a question mark there should be an Y.

 

And what is incompatibilism? A confuse definition of analytical philosophy. The only ones incompatibilisms are fatalism and hard determinism ( a quasi fatalism) because both exclude free will: but hard determinism is compatible with hazard and fatalism is not. Libertarianism is not an incompatibilism because it theorizes the simultaneous existence of free will and deterministic laws of nature, altough analytical thinkers sustain they are independent of each other.

 

 

What is agent causalism.? About agent causation Beebee, Effingham and Goff  wrote:

 

«Some philosophers hold that it is only by being and “uncaused cause” of one `s action that an agent can truly be said to be ultimately responsible for their actions and hence to act freely and be morally responsible (…) Such philosophers hold that the relation between the agent and her free actions (normally thought to be her intentions or, in more old-fashioned terms, her “acts of will” or “willings” ) is that of “agent causation”.
«Most contemporary philosophers hold that the causal relata – the entities that stand in causal relations to one another – are spatiotemporally located entities, such as events (or facts or states of affairs).(…)
«Agent causation (if it exists) is a different kind of relation, because in this case, the cause is not an event (or facts or state of affairs) but the agent herself, conceived as a substance.» (Helen Beebee, Nikk Effingham and Philip Goff, «Metaphysics, the Key Concept» , page 3-4, Routledge).

 

This is not absolutely clear. Agent causalism is the same as free will, it is the efficient or moving cause of free will: hence, it contains, as its species, libertarianism and soft determinism - if we can distinguish libertarianism from soft determinism, which is a controversial question. And illusionism is the same as hard determinism and fatalism. This one is not mentioned in the table.

 

About the table above, there is another  misconception. It makes no sense to put a question mark  at the intersection of the horizontal column «Agent causalism» with vertical column « Actual agents sometimes act freely»: by definition, agent causalism act freely.

 

 

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publicado por Francisco Limpo Queiroz às 14:10
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Terça-feira, 28 de Agosto de 2007
Compatibilism, Libertarianism, Determinism (Confused Views in the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy-I)

 

About the conflict free will/ determinism the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy exposes the following theories:

 

«Reactions to this problem are commonly classified as: (I) hard determinism. This accepts the conflict and denies that you have real freedom or responsibility. (II) soft determinism or compatibilism. Reactions in this family assert that everything you should want from a notion of freedom is quite compatible with determinism.» (…) (III) libertarianism. This is the view that , while compatibilism is only an evasion, there is a more substantive, real notion of freedom that can yet be preserved in the face of determinism (or indeterminism).( The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, Great Britain, 2005, pag 141)

 

 This division is wrong, equivoque.

What is the difference between compatibilism and libertarianism? Compatibilsm is a species of the genus libertarianism. They can ´t be organised on a hierarchy at the same level, as if they were  mutually extrinsic concepts. They are not.

 A correct hierarchy of theories can be obtained by dialectical method of the main contradiction: there are two poles, one of them consisting of fatalism and no  fatalism without free will ( four theories) and the other consisting in Libertarianism (two theories). Let ´s see our division, much clearer than these one proposed by Simon Blackburn:

 

1. THEORIES EXCLUDING FREE WILL

 Indeterminist Fatalism. All facts in bio cosmic nature are predestined not by constant laws (determinism) but by a capricious destiny impossible to be predicted, and man is not free, does n ´t possess free will.

 

Determinist Fatalism. All facts in bio cosmic nature are predestined by constant laws (determinism) and, thus, can be predicted, and man is not free, does n ´t possess free will. The Oxford Dictionary calls this view hard determinism.

 

Indeterminism no fatalist without free will. The facts in bio cosmic nature are «free» and unpredictable, that is to say, there are no constant laws of cause-effect (determinism), and man is not free, does n´ t possess free will, but his will is manipulated by biological and geological impulses inside and outside.

 

Determinism no fatalist without free will. The facts in bio cosmic nature can be predicted partially, as they obey to determinist laws, and the same with the human behavior, ruled by determinist laws, without free will, but hazard obstructs fatalism.

 

2. THEORIES ADMITING FREE WILL

Determinist Libertarianism or compatibilism. The facts in bio cosmic nature are under constant laws of cause-effect (determinism), and man is free, possesses free will.

 

Indeterminist Libertarianism. The facts in bio cosmic nature are «free» and unpredictable, that is to say, there are no constant laws of cause-effect (determinism), and man is free, possesses free will.

The ingredients to build these theories and modes of reality are three: hazard, necessity and free will (hazard under man ´s control).

 

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publicado por Francisco Limpo Queiroz às 11:58
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