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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
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
Isaiah Berlin
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
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
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
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
C. Lloyd Morgan
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
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
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
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

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
Ted Warfield

Ted Warfield has shown that the famous Consequence argument of his colleague Peter van Inwagen contains a modal fallacy by appealing to premises that are merely contingent.

Van Inwagen and Robert Kane therefore only establish what Warfield calls WEAK versions of the incompatibilist thesis.

Warfield corrects this problem with a new "formal" argument for incompatibilism. His argument has a "formalistic" or "proof-like" appearance (as had van Inwagen's). But Warfield cautions that this appearance "should not lead anyone to think that I am trying in any literal sense to provide a proof of incompatibilism (or anything else)."

Rather, he says, he simply puts forward a strengthened Consequence argument that is a "valid" argument where existing arguments were invalid because of the modal fallacy. He says

So far as I aware, all versions of the Consequence argument employ a "conditional proof" strategy; many also employ the terminology. Indeed, in most incompatibilist arguments the overall form of the argument is that of conditional proof. The argument typically looks like this: assume determinism and show that, given the assumption, no one has freedom. Most incompatibilists, however, either do not adequately understand or simply fail to adhere to a restriction relevant premises in such an argument must meet if the incompatibilist conclusion is to follow from such an argument. Most incompatibilists, to be precise, seem unaware that in order to get the incompatibilist conclusion that determinism and freedom are strictly incompatible (that no deterministic world is a world with freedom), their conditional proofs must not introduce or in any way appeal to premises that are merely contingently true in between the assumption of determinism and the step at which the "no freedom" conclusion is reached.
("A New Argument for Incompatibilism," Philosophical Perspectives, vol. 14, 2000, p. 168-72)

Warfield had argued earlier that van Inwagen's "Mind argument" (named after the journal that had published the argument), showed that free will and indeterminism were incompatible.

In a 1998 Mind article he wrote,

Libertarians believe that free will exists and is incompatible with determinism. Among the many problems facing libertarians is the problem of the alleged incompatibility of free will and indeterminism. If free will is, as many have suggested, incompatible with indeterminism then libertarianism is false. Libertarians have not adequately addressed this issue to date. It is this gap in the libertarian program that we seek to fill. We will show that the strongest argument for the incompatibility of indeterminism and free will, the so called Mind argument,1 is a failure. We will also, in providing an improvement on Peter van Inwagen's well known Consequence argument, show that the failure of the Mind argument does not threaten the strongest libertarian argument for the incompatibility of free will and determinism.

In his widely influential book An Essay on Free Will (1983), Peter van Inwagen presented, among other arguments, his Consequence argument. This argument is, we think, the strongest argument to date for incompatibilism, the thesis that free will and causal determinism are incompatible. Unfortunately, as van Inwagen saw and as we will discuss below, an argument quite similar to van Inwagen's Consequence argument, the Mind argument, seems to show that free will is also incompatible with causal indeterminism. If both van Inwagen's argument and the Mind argument are sound then there is no such thing as free will and libertarianism is false.

Like van Inwagen we are libertarians and wish to avoid this conclusion. Unlike van Inwagen, however, we have a satisfactory response to the challenge of the Mind argument. Our response, in brief, is to deny the soundness of both van Inwagen's Consequence argument and the Mind argument. After showing why both arguments are unsound, we will offer an improved version of the Consequence argument and show that the Mind argument cannot be similarly improved. We conclude that the Mind argument (and with it general worries about the incompatibility of indeterminism and free will) is no threat to the libertarian.

Consider an indeterministic world in which, most importantly, the actions of agents are indeterministic consequences of agents' particular sets of beliefs and desires. Let "DB" represent the particular belief/desire complex of some agent and let "R" represent an action brought about exclusively by DB. So, DB causes, but does not determine, R, and it is only DB that is relevant to the occurrence of R (there is no hidden "double" causation). Given that R is an indeterministic consequence of DB, it seems that no one has a choice about whether or not R follows DB. Once DB occurs, given indeterminism, perhaps R will follow and perhaps it will not but since once DB occurs everything relevant to R's occurrence has taken place it seems clear that no one has a choice about R's following DB.

Van Inwagen's Mind argument is clearly the Randomness Objection in the standard argument against free will.

Similarly, his Consequence argument is the Determinism Objection in the standard argument against free will.

For Teachers
For Scholars
Excerpt from "A New Argument for Incompatibilism," Philosophical Perspectives, vol. 14, 2000, p. 168-72

II. "Proof" and a Formal Problem for Consequence Arguments
I will argue for incompatibilism by showing that necessarily, for all propositions X, if determinism is true and X, then no one is free to make it the case that ~X. Some parts of my argument will have a "formalistic" or "proof like" appearance. This appearance, however, should not lead anyone to think that I am trying in any literal sense to provide a proof of incompatibilism (or anything else).6 Rather, what I offer in Section III is merely an argument (a rather strong and convincing one in my view, but still, just an argument). The formalistic character of the presentation should not distract from this fact.

So far as I aware, all versions of the Consequence argument employ a "conditional proof" strategy; many also employ the terminology. Indeed, in most incompatibilist arguments the overall form of the argument is that of conditional proof. The argument typically looks like this: assume determinism and show that, given the assumption, no one has freedom. Most incompatibilists, however, either do not adequately understand or simply fail to adhere to a restriction relevant premises in such an argument must meet if the incompatibilist conclusion is to follow from such an argument. Most incompatibilists, to be precise, seem unaware that in order to get the incompatibilist conclusion that determinism and freedom are strictly incompatible (that no deterministic world is a world with freedom), their conditional proofs must not introduce or in any way appeal to premises that are merely contingently true in between the assumption of determinism and the step at which the "no freedom" conclusion is reached.

This is a simple point applying to any alleged conditional proof of a strict conditional. In general, to show by conditional proof that P strictly implies Q, one assumes the truth of P and derives the truth of Q, appealing only to P and necessary truths along the way to Q. In offering such an argument, one is restricted, on pain of modal fallacy, from appealing to merely contingent truths in between the assumption of P (which may be contingent) and the arrival at Q.

My evidence that typical proponents of the Consequence Argument are unaware of this restriction is that they defend only the truth, not the (broad logical) necessity, of the relevant steps of their arguments. To use the Consequence Argument displayed above as a model, incompatibilists typically defend the truth, but not the necessity, of (P1) of the argument. Introducing a merely contingently true premise into such an argument, however, weakens the justifiable conclusion of the argument considerably. Arguments weakened in this way show at most that the following conditional is true:

WEAK — If determinism is true then there is no freedom.
But this conclusion is strictly weaker than (it is implied by but does not imply) the proper incompatibilist conclusion:
INC — Necessarily, if determinism is true then there is no freedom.
Notice that (WEAK), if it is a material conditional, is true in every indeterministic world and is true in every world without freedom. While showing that the actual world is indeterministic would establish this reading of (WEAK), doing so would not establish the proper incompatibilist conclusion, (INC). One could defend a stronger contingent reading of (WEAK) as, for example, a counterfactual conditional, by arguing that the contingent premise appealed to in one's conditional proof is of suitable modal strength. Like (WEAK), however, such a conclusion would be strictly weaker than the proper incompatibilist conclusion. Finally, one could, in appealing to a contingent premise in one's conditional proof, defend a strict conditional asserting that the conjunction of determinism with some contingent truth, C, strictly implies the "no freedom" conclusion: necessarily, all deterministic worlds with C contain no freedom. But once again, this conclusion is strictly weaker than the proper incompatibilist conclusion. It is, I conclude, a mistake to appeal to a merely contingently true premise in the body of a "conditional proof" style argument for incompatibilism.7

This mistake, however, is apparently made by even the most prominent recent defenders of incompatibilism. Both Peter van Inwagen (1983) and Robert Kane (1996) defend the truth, but not the necessity, of relevant premises of their favorite versions of the Consequence argument. Both van Inwagen and Kane defend the truth, but not the necessity, of premises stating that, for example, "no one has a choice about the laws of nature." Indeed, van Inwagen has made it clear on more than one occasion that he is not even trying to defend the necessity of such premises.8 The Consequence arguments of van Inwagen and Kane therefore appear to be in danger.

Because this charge of modal fallacy is a serious one and is being made against the flagship argument of contemporary incompatibilists, it is worth pausing to display and explicitly examine the; influential version of the Consequence argument to see that my complaint is justified. The version I have in mind is, of course, the third version of the argument offered by my distinguished colleague Peter van Inwagen.

In an amusing passage beginning Chapter Three of An Essay on Free Will, van Inwagen dismisses much of the literature on the incompatibility of free will and determinism. Here's the passage:

Discussions of this question are usually not on a very high level. In the great majority of cases, they are the work of compatibilists and consist to a large degree in the ascription of some childish fallacy or other to incompatibilists... . It is not my purpose in this book to defend any previous writer against a charge of fallacious argument. My own arguments will be explicit, and any fallacies they commit should be correspondingly visible. (It is doubtful whether anyone has ever been seduced by the fallacies with which the incompatibilists are customarily charged; if anyone indeed has achieved such a level of philosophical incompetence, 1, at least, fall short of it). (1983, p.55)
Though I would never accuse van Inwagen of incompetence, I am making the charge of fallacy. Let's see if I can make the charge stick.

In An Essay on Free Will, van Inwagen offers the following argument for incompatibilism. Here are van Inwagen's abbreviations: Let "Np" abbreviate "p is true and no one has or ever had a choice about whether p", "❑" abbreviate broad logical necessity, "⊃" material conditional, "PO" abbreviate the complete state of the world at some time in the distant past, "L" abbreviate the conjunction of the laws of nature, and "P" abbreviate any truth. Here are van Inwagen's rules of inference:

ALPHA: From ❑P, derive NP;

BETA: From NP and N(P ⊃ Q), derive NQ.

With this set up in place van Inwagen argues as follows:

Another Consequence Argument (van Inwagen)
1. ❑ ((PO & L) ⊃ P)Consequence of Determinism
2. ❑ (PO ⊃ (L ⊃ P))1
3. N (PO ⊃ (L ⊃ P))2, Alpha
4. N POPremise — "fixity of the past"
5. N (L ⊃ P)3,4, Beta
6. N LPremise — "fixity of the laws"
7. N P5,6, Beta
Having thus reached the conclusion that no one has or ever had any choice about any truth from his assumption of determinism, van Inwagen concludes that freedom and determinism are incompatible.

Whatever virtues this argument may have (and it has many), and whatever additional vices it may have (and it has some), this argument most certainly exhibits the modal fallacy I have been discussing.9 For the proper incompatibilist conclusion, (INC), to follow from the soundness of this argument, van Inwagen would need premises formally stronger than premises (4) and (6) above Among other things, van Inwagen needs to defend not merely the truth, but also the necessity, of his claim that no one has a choice about the laws of nature. Van Inwagen, that is, needs to defend the truth of ❑ NL, not just NL.10( Perhaps van Inwagen would be willing to defend this stronger premise (and the similarly strengthened version of premise 4). As the argument is presented it An Essay on Free Will, however, the argument, even if sound, does not establish the proper incompatibilist thesis. Instead it establishes only (WEAK) or some similarly weakened thesis. The time is ripe fora new and improved incompatibilist argument. I will provide such an argument in Section III.

As I stressed above, what I will offer in Section III is not a proof of incompatibilism. Rather, I will simply be offering a "semi-formal" argument for incompatibilism. I will, naturally enough, be quite interested to find out what step in the argument compatibilists wish to reject or call into question for I dc not think that there is a "defective" step in the argument. But I have no doubt that at least the craftiest philosophers in the compatibilist camp will find something in the arguments that they feel should be rejected. They had better, for if nothing else my argument is valid and, if sound, implies the falsity of compatibilism. It follows that one wishing to confront the argument and hold onto one's compatibilism must reject some step in the argument. This does not imply (at least not by itself) that my argument "begs the question" against the compatibilist." If it did, then, so far as I can tell, any formally valid argument would "beg the question" against those who do not accept its conclusion and all formally invalid arguments would, of course, be unsound: philosophical argumentation would thereby be reduced to absurdity.

Notes

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5.

Bibliography

Chapter 1.4 - The Philosophy Chapter 1.6 - The Scientists
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