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.





© (Direitos de autor para Francisco Limpo de Faria Queiroz)


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:



 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.



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).




© (Direitos de autor para Francisco Limpo de Faria Queiroz)


publicado por Francisco Limpo Queiroz às 11:58
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