Homework 10~ Chapter FourPhilosophy 101: Introduction to Philosophy Do you have free will?
1. What are your thoughts on fatality: “Fatality is the eternal, the immutable, the necessary order, established in nature; or the indispensable connexion of causes that act, with the effects they operate. Conforming to this order, heavy bodies fall, light bodies rise; that which is analogous in matter reciprocally attracts; that which is heterogeneous mutually repels; man congregates himself in society, modifies each his fellow; becomes either virtuous or wicked either contributes to his mutual happiness, or reciprocates his misery; either loves his neighbor, or hates his companion necessarily, according to the manner in which the one acts upon the other.”
2. What are your thoughts on RT Stace: “And if freedom and responsibility are illusions, morality isn’t the only core element of human life that is in jeopardy: so also are the many aspects of human endeavor that are based on the belief that we can choose freely and be held responsible for our choices, including: • the fairness of the criminal justice system • enlightened child-rearing and education • religion and the quest for spiritual enlightenment • the pursuit of self-improvement • the goal of creating a better world • the countless ways in our daily lives that we assume that people can make free choices and be held responsible for those choices.”
3. What are your thoughts on Ghandi’s actions based on compatibilism: “According to compatibilists, if we examine the “free” and the “unfree” examples discussed, the difference between them is not that the unfree actions are caused and the free actions uncaused. Instead, as Stace explains, the actions in both categories are necessarily caused by previous events. Starving in the desert and being beaten by the police are certainly the causes of not eating or signing the confession. But Gandhi’s fasting was also caused by prior factors: his desire to free India, his commitment to individual human rights, and no doubt other powerful influences in his history. The difference between “free” actions and “unfree actions” is that free actions are caused by an individual’s personal history and motivations, while unfree actions are caused by forces outside of the individual: being lost in the desert or being beaten by the police. According to Stace, the only intelligent view is that all human actions are entirely determined by causes, both actions which are “free” and those which are “unfree.” What is the difference between acts which are free and those which are unfree? Free acts are all caused by the unimpeded internal motivations of the individual, while unfree acts are caused by compulsions or constraints imposed on the individual”
4. What are your thoughts on Hume: “An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, he explains in his own distinctive way: But to proceed in this reconciling project with regard to the question of liberty and necessity; the most contentious question of metaphysics, the most contentious science; it will not require many words to prove, that all mankind have ever agreed in the doctrine of liberty as well as in that of necessity, and that the whole dispute, in this respect also, has been hitherto verbal. For what is meant by liberty, when applied to voluntary actions? We cannot surely mean that actions have so little connexion with motives, inclinations and circumstances, that one does not follow with a certain degree of uniformity from the other, and that one affords to inference by which we can conclude the existence of the other. For these are plain and acknowledged matters of fact. By liberty, then, we can only mean a power of acting or not acting, according to the determinations of the will; this is, if we choose to remain at rest, we may; if we choose to move, we also may. Now this hypothetical liberty is universally allowed to belong to every one who is not a prisoner and in chains.”
5. Do you think we choose to be evil? As a compatibilist, David Hume believes that people’s actions follow necessarily from their personal histories and contemporary motives, not from a person’s autonomous “will” that could have acted differently. Do you agree with this analysis?
6. What are your thoughts on William James: “libertarian William James who coined the term soft determinism in the following passage dripping with contempt: To begin, then, I must suppose you are acquainted with all the usual arguments on the subject [of free will]. I cannot stop to take up the old proofs from causation, from statistics, from the certainty with which we can foretell one another’s conduct, from the fixity of character, and all the rest. . . . Old-fashioned determinism was what we may call hard determinism. It did not shrink from such words as fatality, bondage of the will, necessitation, and the like. Nowadays, we have a soft determinism which abhors harsh words, and, repudiating fatality, necessity, and even predetermination, says that its real name is freedom; for freedom is only necessity understood, and bondage to the highest is identical with true freedom.”
7. What are your thoughts on Kant: “Kant’s perspective, compatibilism is . . . a wretched subterfuge with which some persons still let themselves be put off, and so think they have solved, with a petty word-jugglery, that difficult problem, at the solution of which centuries have labored in vain, and which can therefore scarcely be found so completely on the surface. In fact, in the question about the freedom which must be the foundation of all moral laws and the consequent responsibility, it does not matter whether the principles which necessarily determine causality by a physical law reside within the subject or without him, or in the former case whether these principles are instinctive or are conceived by reason, if, as is admitted by these men themselves, these determining ideas have the ground of their existence in time and in the antecedent state, and this again in an antecedent, etc. Then it matters not that these are internal; it matters not that they have a psychological and not a mechanical causality, that is, produce actions by means of ideas and not by bodily movements; they are still determining principles of the causality of being whose existence is determinable in time, and therefore under the necessitation of conditions of past time, which therefore, when the subject has to act, are no longer in his power”
8. What are your thoughts on Kant: “For Kant, “true” freedom exists in only one form, as “transcendental freedom.” Transcendental freedom is independent of any causal influences or events whether they be physical or psychological, the products of reason or instinct. If the choices we make are the necessary consequence of antecedent causal events, whether physical or psychological, then these choices are not free! Even if, as the compatibilist contends, these choices are the result of our own unimpeded desires, unconstrained by external or internal limitations—these causally determined choices are not free.”
9. What are your thoughts on Moritz Schlick : “Can “internal constraints” limit our freedom? Moritz Schlick, a compatibilist, believes that freedom means acting on our unimpeded desires but he also recognizes that sometimes “internal constraints” in the form of mental illness or even neuroses like depression can act as a disturbing factor that hinders the normal functioning of our natural tendencies. Do you agree?”