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Core Concepts

Actualism
Adequate Determinism
Agent-Causality
Alternative Possibilities
Causa Sui
Causal Closure
Causalism
Causality
Certainty
Chance
Chance Not Direct Cause
Chaos Theory
The Cogito Model
Compatibilism
Complexity
Comprehensive   Compatibilism
Conceptual Analysis
Contingency
Control
Could Do Otherwise
Creativity
Default Responsibility
De-liberation
Determination
Determination Fallacy
Determinism
Disambiguation
Double Effect
Either Way
Emergent Determinism
Epistemic Freedom
Ethical Fallacy
Experimental Philosophy
Extreme Libertarianism
Event Has Many Causes
Frankfurt Cases
Free Choice
Freedom of Action
"Free Will"
Free Will Axiom
Free Will in Antiquity
Free Will Mechanisms
Free Will Requirements
Free Will Theorem
Future Contingency
Hard Incompatibilism
Idea of Freedom
Illusion of Determinism
Illusionism
Impossibilism
Incompatibilism
Indeterminacy
Indeterminism
Infinities
Laplace's Demon
Libertarianism
Liberty of Indifference
Libet Experiments
Luck
Master Argument
Modest Libertarianism
Moral Necessity
Moral Responsibility
Moral Sentiments
Mysteries
Naturalism
Necessity
Noise
Non-Causality
Nonlocality
Origination
Paradigm Case
Possibilism
Possibilities
Pre-determinism
Predictability
Probability
Pseudo-Problem
Random When?/Where?
Rational Fallacy
Refutations
Replay
Responsibility
Same Circumstances
Scandal
Science Advance Fallacy
Second Thoughts
Self-Determination
Semicompatibilism
Separability
Soft Causality
Special Relativity
Standard Argument
Supercompatibilism
Superdeterminism
Taxonomy
Temporal Sequence
Tertium Quid
Torn Decision
Two-Stage Models
Ultimate Responsibility
Uncertainty
Up To Us
Voluntarism
What If Dennett and Kane Did Otherwise?

Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
Anaximander
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
George Berkeley
Isaiah Berlin
Richard J. Bernstein
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
Heraclitus
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
C. Lloyd Morgan
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Alasdair MacIntyre
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
Parmenides
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Protagoras
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
Isabelle Stengers
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
E. P. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
Joseph Fourier
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A.O.Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Martin J. Klein
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Abraham Pais
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
John Stachel
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Vlatko Vedral
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium

 
Master Argument of Diodorus Cronus

Diodorus Cronus was a member (or perhaps a late follower) of the Megarian School, whose arguments about the truth and falsity of statements about the future may have influenced Aristotle.

The so-called "Master Argument" (the κυριεύων or κύριος λόγος) was apparently first formulated by Diodorus, although we do not have his specific argument, because he wrote nothing (or at least nothing that survives). Like Socrates, he preferred talking (the dialectic) to writing. He was known as "The Dialectician."

Epictetus reconstructs the lost Master Argument as a logical contradiction between three propositions.

  1. every past truth must be necessary
  2. an impossibility does not follow from a possibility
  3. something is possible which neither is nor will be true
Given the first two, it is apparent that the third is false, and we can conclude that nothing is possible which is not true and never will be.

The Master Argument was central in the Hellenistic debates about determinism, as shown by Cicero's descriptions in On Fate.

For the ancients, and for modern sophists, this is the kind of logical linguistic argument used to prove that motion is impossible, Zeno's famous paradox. It is similar to Parmenides' dialectical proof that all the atoms must be in contact with one another, because there is a void (viz., nothing) between them.

Fundamentally, the Master Argument is a question abut the ontological status of the possible, the potential (δύναμις), as compared to the actual (ὁ κύριος). Epictetus' third proposition that something that neither is or ever will be is "possible" is just the common sense use of the term possible, phrased in such a way as to make it doubtful. How could something that neither is nor ever will be, be possible?

In his sophistic conclusion, that nothing is possible which is not true and never will be, Diodorus is playing language games with the meaning of "possible," just as modern compatibilist philosophers like Harry Frankfurt deny the existence of . Clearly, the Master Argument applies to the question of whether we are (or ever were) free to do otherwise.

Diodorus also argued that the actual is the only possible. He observed that if something in the future is not going to happen, it was therefore true in the past that it would not happen. From this correct observation, he mistakenly claimed that the existence of true statements about the future imply that the future is already determined.

This is the problem of future contingency, made famous in the example of Aristotle's Sea-Battle in De Interpretatione 9. Aristotle thought statements about the future lack any truth value. They are neither true nor false until the future time when they become true or false.

So a better way out might be to note that Diodorus' first proposition is dependent on the use of "truth," especially supposed "true" statements about the future, and we can reduce the Master Argument to the problem of future contingency.

The assumption that logical arguments and their "truths" are timeless is a misapplication of logic, which in any case cannot tell us much about the physical world.

Modern philosophers like C. W. Rietdijk, Hilary Putnam, J. J. C. Smart, Michael Lockwood, and Michael Levin like to think that the future is "already out there" in the relativistic space-time continuum of a "tenseless" "block universe."

Because special relativity can treat time as another dimension, philosophers mistakenly think it must have the properties of space, which is "already there." This is similar to the mistakes of both philosophers and mathematicians about chance. Since random events follow distribution laws, they must be lawful and therefore chance is not real, it is an illusion, like free will.

Modern determinists/compatibilists on free will like to argue that just as the past cannot be changed, so the future cannot be changed. "Change it from what to what?," says Daniel Dennett.

But note that the "truth value" of a statement made in the past can be changed when an event it describes does or does not happen, showing that some aspects of the "fixed past" (i.e., the truth values of past statements) "actually" have some changeability (when their potentials become actual).

Information Philosophy and Master Argument
Thinking about the Master Argument in terms of the growth of information provides the clearest resolution of the problem of future contingency.

Information is not a constant of nature. The cosmic creation process is constantly creating new information.

When information is created, there is always an irreducible chance element since it is quantum processes that form stable new information structures.

Some information about future events does not come into existence until the potential events become actual.

It is at that time that statements about the future acquire their truth values. Aristotle did not think in information terms, but he had the right answer to the Master Argument, one that disturbs modern logical positivists and analytic language philosophers, as shown by Richard Taylor's faux argument for Fatalism in the Psychological Review.

Note that Fatalism is a form of determinism. It is the simple idea that everything is already fated to happen, so that humans have no control over their future. But also note that Fate (personified) has arbitrary power and need not follow any causal or otherwise deterministic laws. It could include the miracles of omnipotent gods, in which case future contingency returns.

Note further that the gods' omnipotence contradicts the theological assumption that gods are omniscient. They cannot be both. That is a logical contradiction.

For Teachers
For Scholars
Epictetus on the Master Argument
Ὁ κυριεύων λόγος ἀπὸ τοιούτων τινῶν ἀφορμῶν ἠρωτῆσθαι φαίνεται: κοινῆς γὰρ οὔσης μάχης τοῖς τρισὶ τούτοις πρὸς ἄλληλα,
τῷ [τὸ] πᾶν παρεληλυθὸς ἀληθὲς ἀναγκαῖον εἶναι
καὶ τῷ [ἀ]δυνατῷ ἀδύνατον μὴ ἀκολουθεῖν
καὶ τῷ [*? δυνατὸν εἶναι ὃ οὔτ᾽ ἔστιν ἀληθὲς οὔτ᾽ ἔσται,
συνιδὼν τὴν μάχην ταύτην ὁ Διόδωρος τῇ τῶν πρώτων δυεῖν πιθανότητι συνεχρήσατο πρὸς παράστασιν
τοῦ μηδὲν εἶναι δυνατόν, ὃ οὔτ᾽ ἔστιν ἀληθὲς οὔτ᾽ ἔσται.
[2] λοιπὸν ὁ μέν τις ταῦτα τηρήσει τῶν δυεῖν, ὅτι ἔστι τέ τι δυνατόν, ὃ οὔτ᾽ ἔστιν ἀληθὲς οὔτ᾽ ἔσται, καὶ δυνατῷ ἀδύνατον οὐκ ἀκολουθεῖ: οὐ πᾶν δὲ παρεληλυθὸς ἀληθὲς ἀναγκαῖόν ἐστιν, καθάπερ οἱ περὶ Κλεάνθην φέρεσθαι δοκοῦσιν, οἷς ἐπὶ πολὺ συνηγόρησεν Ἀντίπατρος. [3] οἱ δὲ τἆλλα δύο, ὅτι δυνατόν τ᾽ ἐστίν, ὃ οὔτ᾽ ἔστιν ἀληθὲς οὔτ᾽ ἔσται, καὶ πᾶν παρεληλυθὸς ἀληθὲς ἀναγκαῖόν ἐστιν, δυνατῷ δ᾽ ἀδύνατον ἀκολουθεῖ. [4] τὰ τρία δ᾽ ἐκεῖνα τηρῆσαι ἀμήχανον διὰ τὸ κοινὴν εἶναι αὐτῶν μάχην.

The argument called the ruling argument (ὁ κυριεύων λόγος) appears to have been proposed from such principles as these: there is in fact a common contradiction between one another in these three propositions, each two being in contradiction to the third. The propositions are,

that every thing past must of necessity be true;
that an impossibility does not follow a possibility;
and that a thing is possible which neither is nor will be true.
Diodorus observing this contradiction employed the probative force of the first two for the demonstration of this proposition,
That nothing is possible which is not true and never will be.
Now another will hold these two: That something is possible. which is neither true nor ever will be: and That an impossibility does not follow a possibility. But he will not allow that every thing which is past is necessarily true, as the followers of Cleanthes seem to think, and Antipater copiously defended them. But others maintain the other two propositions, That a thing is possible which is neither true nor will be true: and That everything which is past is necessarily true; but then they will maintain that an impossibility can follow a possibility. But it is impossible to maintain these three propositions, because of their common contradiction.
Epictetus continues:
If then any man should ask me, which of these propositions do you maintain? I will answer him, that I do not know; but I have received this story, that Diodorus maintained one opinion, the followers of Panthoides, I think, and Cleanthes maintained another opinion, and those of Chrysippus a third. What then is your opinion? I was not made for this purpose, to examine the appearances that occur to me, and to compare what others say and to form an opinion of my own on the thing. Therefore I differ not at all from the grammarian.

Chapter 3.7 - The Ergod Chapter 4.2 - The History of Free Will
Part Three - Value Part Five - Problems
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