Citation for this page in APA citation style.           Close


Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
Isaiah Berlin
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
Michael Burke
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
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
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
Sam Harris
William Hasker
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
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
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
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
C. Lloyd Morgan
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Karl Popper
Huw Price
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
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
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf


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
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
John Herschel
Werner Heisenberg
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
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
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
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
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


Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
William Hasker

William Hasker is a philosopher trained in theology and interested in problems of philosophy of mind. His theory of "Emergent Dualism" argues that the emergence of the mind from the brain provides a solution to the mind-body problem. He says:
While emergent dualism shares with (nonreductive) materialism the claim that ordinary matter contains within itself the potentiality for consciousness, it actually goes some way beyond materialism in the powers it attributes to matter. For standard materialism, the closure of the physical guarantees that consciousness does not "make a difference" to the way matter itself operates; all of the brain-processes are given a mechanistic explanation which would be just the same whether or not the processes were accompanied by conscious experience.
Teleonomic is preferable to teleological, which implies a purpose before existence
Emergent dualism, on the other hand recognizes that a great many mental processes are irreducibly teleological, and cannot be explained by or supervenient upon brain processes that have a complete mechanistic explanation. So the power attributed to matter by emergent dualism amounts to this: when suitably configured, it generates a field of consciousness that is able to function teleologicaliy and to exercise libertarian free will, and the field of consciousness in turn modifies and directs the functioning of the physical brain. At this point, it must be admitted, the tension between the apparently mechanistic character of the physical basis of mind and the irreducibly teleological nature of the mind itself becomes pretty severe, and the siren song of Cartesian dualism once again echoes in our ears.

Free Will and Agency
Hasker analyzes the problem of free will and concludes that determinism is very likely not the case. Indeed, determinism is an emergent property of large numbers of particles treated statistically.
Empirically speaking, there is not much of a case for determinism. The only direct empirical evidence for determinism is the existence of consistent, reliable, and accurate predictions of individual events.1 In some fields of science we do have such predictions to a remarkable degree, but in others they are conspicuously absent. To be sure, the failure of prediction in many areas of science can be explained in ways that are consistent with an underlying determinism. Perhaps the causal factors involved are simply too complex for our analysis - or (as chaos theory has shown) long-range outcomes may depend with incredible sensitivity on minute (and undetectable) differences in initial conditions. And the indeterminism of quantum mechanics, even if it is ultimate and not merely apparent, can in many contexts be ignored as making no difference to the behavior of macroscopic objects. So deterministic theories can be maintained in the absence of reliable, accurate, predictions — but why should they be maintained? Why not admit that determinism just does not apply to certain aspects of the world.

Hasker criticizes Harry Frankfurt's attempt to deny the existence of alternative possibilities for action.

I will proceed, then, on the assumption that we do have free will in the libertarian sense, and that the principle of alternative possibilities is intact. Our concern in this section and the next will be with the other, perhaps even more difficult, part of the free will problem: the task of giving an illuminating positive characterization of the nature of the act of free choice.
The randomness objection is indeed more difficult than the determinism objection to free will
For the libertarian will always have to confront the compatibilist's contention that chance and randomness are even more inimical to freedom and responsibility than is causal determination. As Hume explained (and his argument has been echoed ever since): "Actions are, by their very nature, temporary and perishing; and where they proceed not from some cause in the character and disposition of the person who performed them, they can neither redound to his honour, if good; nor infamy, if evil." The challenge for the libertarian is to explain how free actions are praiseworthy or blameworthy even though they lack a sufficient cause, whether in the agent's character or elsewhere.

Hasker then discusses the two-stage models of free will developed in the 1970's by Daniel Dennett and Robert Kane. He begins with Dennett:

In approaching this problem, we shall look for help to an unexpected source, namely Daniel Dennett's essay "On Giving Libertarians What They Say They Want." In this essay Dennett sketches out, though he does not fully endorse, a strategy for explaining libertarian free will. Following a suggestion from David Wiggins, he undertakes to show that an action might be "random" in the sense of causally undetermined, without being random in the sense of pointless or arbitrary.

Note that this argument had been made by Karl Popper in 1977, who said "A choice process may be a selection process, and the selection may be from some repertoire of random events, without being random in its turn. This seems to me to offer a promising solution to one of our most vexing problems, and one by downward causation."

The reason Dennett is an "unexpected source" is that Dennett is the very model of a compatibilist and determinist (with the exception that he does not deny moral responsibility, as do most determinists). Hasker is concerned that Dennett as a source of a libertarian free will model might motivate questions about its adequacy. He says:

Hasker need not be concerned. Many other philosophers and scientists have proposed a two-stage model of free will
I am suggesting that libertarians should ask themselves, "With Dennett for our friend, why do we need enemies?" Dennett's contributions to the philosophy of mind are numerous and impressive, but few of his doctrines are such as to be welcomed enthusiastically by libertarians — indeed, he has become known as an outstanding contemporary advocate of compatibilism. Surely a proposal for understanding libertarianism which is acceptable (or nearly acceptable) to Dennett requires the most careful scrutiny?

Hasker then turns to Kane's 1984 work. Kane says he developed his two-stage model earlier than Dennett, but actually this is because both Dennett and Kane knew of some earlier models (besides Wiggins' suggestion, they include Henri Poincaré, Jacques Hadamard, Arthur Holly Compton, and Popper).

As we've noted, Dennett does not fully endorse this model, but he does feel it has impressive merits. Rather than linger over these, however, I wish to call attention to a striking fact: Dennett's model for free will coincides, in its most important features, with that proposed in one of the best and most insightful books of recent years advocating libertarian free will. I am referring to Robert Kane's Free Will and Values. In virtue of this similarity, I shall refer to their common doctrine as DK-libertarianism.

One nontrivial difficulty for DK-libertarianism is that it requires one to postulate within the brain a process by which quantum-level indeterminacy is amplified to produce macroscopic effects. While this notion has seemed attractive to many, the general trend of brain science seems to be unfavorable to it, though the issue is not yet closed. So this assumption clearly represents a significant empirical burden for DK-libertarianism to carry.

Quite apart from this, the theory is hardly without difficulties. Kane observes that some libertarians will find his theory inadequate because it does not permit "total rational control" for the free agent. It is clear enough what he has in mind. Consider a situation in which one comes to make a decision in which the reasons on both sides are about equally balanced, so that neither set of reasons necessitates a particular outcome. The decision actually made, in this case, is the product of chance — of the internal "randomizing device" about which we learned from Dennett. Is the outcome then merely the result of chance?

Hasker here clearly explains Kane's defense of "torn decisions"
No, because the range of possibilities available to one — the fact that these choices, and no others, are the "live options" in the situation — is itself a consequence of the reasons one has, and thus of the underlying values which are a stable part of one's personality. But why are these particular reasons, and values, part of the choice situation? One could, given sufficient knowledge, trace the causal history of those values and reasons in one's brain and nervous system. But somewhere back along the line, one comes upon another chance event — either the chance involved in the fact that these reasons, and not others, occurred to one, or the chance determination of some previous actions which led to those particular values becoming reinforced as a part of one's personality. And so on. When we complain about randomness, we are given (partial) causal determination by reasons. When we ask about the origin of the reasons, we are referred back to prior chance events, occurring of course within the context of reasons which were efficacious at that previous time. What we have, then, is an alternation of causal necessitation and chance; what we never get, is a person making a decision in what a libertarian will take to be the ordinary sense of those terms.

I believe, in fact, that the strategy of DK-libertarianism at this point is basically a compatibilist strategy. The compatibilist recognizes that straightforward determination of actions by external causes negates freedom and responsibility. His answer to this is to display the causal chains as interwoven, in subtle and complex ways, with the inner life of the agent. Similarly, the DK-libertarian recognizes that straightforward determination either by sufficient causation or by chance is inimical to freedom and responsibility. And the response is similar: the causation and the randomness are shown as being interwoven in complex ways with the agent's inner life, with the chance events actually occurring within the agent's nervous system. I shall not debate at length the merits of these strategies. Rather, I shall content myself with pointing out that libertarians consistently reject such a strategy as followed by compatibilists, and if so they should reject it also when put forward by DK-libertarians. But what then? If free will can be explicated neither by causal necessitation, nor by chance, nor by any combination of the two however subtle, then how are we to explicate this crucial notion?

Hasker is right that a subtle combination of causality and chance is what is needed in a plausible two-stage model of libertarian free will. The model depends on where indeterminism fits. Most two-stage_models of free will locate indeterminism in the early deliberative stage, in order to generate alternative possibilities that are not pre-determined. The reason that Dennett did not endorse his model is because he is a determinist.

The other place that indeterminism might be involved is in the decision itself. This would make the decision random, except for Kane's defense of his "torn decisions." Kane's "torn decisions" are often between a moral choice and an expedient choice. These are the kinds of decisions that Aristotle thought of as character building and Kane calls "Self-Forming Actions" or SFAs. When this is a moral decision, Kane makes it the basis for his SFAs that provide "ultimate responsibility" (UR).

Hasker is right to think compatibilists might like this model, because the normal causal factors of the decision are the agent's motives, reasons, desires, etc. as compatibilists insist. In these cases, the decision can be described as "self-determination." But the decision is not pre-determined from the "fixed past" moments before the generation of alternative possibilities and their deliberation and evaluation begins. Note that the agent can refuse to decide on the basis of possibilities generated so far and can go back to generate more, time permitting.

While Hasker regards the soul as an "emergent" substance, he says that it is dependent upon the body from which it emerges for its existence. And he is an advocate for "Open Theism." The omniscience of God does not extend to things in the future that have not yet happened.

For Teachers
For Scholars



Chapter 1.4 - The Philosophy Chapter 1.6 - The Scientists
Home Part Two - Knowledge
Normal | Teacher | Scholar