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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
 
Michael Levin

Michael Levin defends compatibilism against the charge that special relativity implies what he calls relativistic fatalism.

The notion that special relativity can show that the world is deterministic was first proposed by the philosophers C. W. Rietdijk and Hilary Putnam in the 1960's. J.J.C.Smart described a "block universe," in which all space-time events already exist, as a "tenseless" deterministic universe.

Levin cites Michael Lockwood's 2005 book, The Labyrinth of Time, as arguing "with new vigor that the Special Theory of Relativity rules out free will."

Lockwood argues that this is not just a case of causal determinism denying free will. Special relativity, he says, challenges the very notion of cause. If the future is already out there, Lockwood says, causality has little to do with it.

Levin disagrees. He says that special relativity (SR) has room for cause and effect.

Relativistic fatalists...are certainly not compelled to renounce causality by SR alone, which respects standard conditions on the time order of cause and effect. They may therefore find it less disruptive to adopt a non-Aristotelian account of causality consonant with SR, such as energy transmission, and confront compatibilism restated in its terms. Moreover, denial of causality wars with their larger goal, shared by all fatalists, of showing that people are far more constrained than ordinarily supposed. If nothing is causally impossible — causality being an illusion — people are less constrained than ordinarily supposed. From the fatalist's own viewpoint, Lockwood's argument proves too much.
("Compatibilism and Special Relativity," J. Phil, CIV, 9, p.439, 2007)
Compatibilists hold that freedom depends on how, not whether, behavior is caused, in particular, on the causal role of preference, Levin says, and thus that
a compatibilist may argue [that] freedom is consistent with the relativistic fixity of the future. The simultaneity of my running with an event simultaneous with the onset of my desire to run is irrelevant to my running freely, on this view; what matters, as always, is whether the cause of my running is a preference. Since SR does not address the causes of human behavior, it cannot show that my running is not caused by a preference, hence cannot show that I do not run freely.
(ibid., p.434)
A relativistic fatalist will claim to be able to absorb causation by preference and all the compatibilist's pet points about ordinary usage. "So be it," the relativistic fatalist will say, "'Freedom' as ordinarily used does not require a causally indeterminate future, or a future the agent believes is causally indeterminate, only a future caused in part by the agent's wants. The core use of 'cause' may well be to denote energy flow, and no doubt energy flows unidirectionally from wants to actions in orientable space-times. The fact remains that your so-called 'future' is a done deal. As we speak, energy is flowing into 'future' time-slices of your quadriceps. No matter how the situation is described, you cannot at noon your time refrain from running at 2 your time, and looking back from 3 your time you could not have done otherwise, because you cannot refrain from what you are already doing. You compatibilists set no store by the categorical power to do otherwise, period, but the counterfactual conditionals you do think necessary for freedom are uniformly false. Lockwood fights shy of these counterfactuals, but Rietdijk boldly denied them:
I could not possibly have influenced event [R] in an arbitrary way (e.g., have prevented [R]) at any moment when [R] was still in the future, or was present, for me at [O], supposed that I did desire to do so."
Thus speaks the relativistic fatalist.
(ibid., p.445-6)
Levin appears to address the question of future contingency for libertarians. Although they think only one of the potential branching future will be actualized, and thus real, they do not see the SR sense in which it is already real.
Here is where the advantages of compatibilism over libertarianism may be most clear. It is hard to see how a libertarian can posit a plurality of possible futures, or deploy his familiar metaphors of branching paths and tree trunks gradually denuded of branches, and yet grant that in any sense one future is presently real.
(ibid., p.452)
Finally, Levin provides a memorable illustration for the special relativistic, block universe, view of the future.
Keats's Ode on a Grecian Urn has inspired comparison of space-time to a continuum of urns (with or without the natural Newtonian metric) on which figures pose in eternal stasis. Compatibilists, unfazed, consider the figures free insofar as their postures on one urn result from their desires on another. The lover reaching for the maid on urn u embraces her freely on urn u+ if he does so because on u he yearns to. With so many urns the maid will be faded on some and absent from others, hardly what Keats had in mind, but mortality is a small price for a kiss, and freedom.
(ibid., p.452)
For Teachers
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Notes

1.

Bibliography

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