An Argument for Libertarian Free Will: Hard Choices Based on either Incomparable or Equally Persuasive Reasons

Download Download as PDF (Size:479KB)  HTML   XML  PP. 64-93  
DOI: 10.4236/ojpp.2017.71005    411 Downloads   564 Views  

ABSTRACT

This articles proposes that the best explanation for hard choices, which are choices made when there are either incomparable options or equally appealing options, is the presence of libertarian free will; and that the two main alternatives, determinism and random choice, do not provide us with very compelling explanations. In the case of determinism, this is because the reasons supporting each option do not dictate or necessitate that we choose that option, and therefore any decision is necessarily underdetermined by the reasons for each option. Random choice fares no better since any choice made when the options are incomparable or equally appealing is supported by reasons and therefore is not random at all. As such, we should believe in free will. The article further reviews some of the current neuroscientific studies and explains how they do not show the absence of free will. The paper further argues that science likely could never prove that we do not have free will since showing that any decision is reflected or caused by our brain neurons firing does not show that the ultimate decision was not arrived at after a free will consideration of the issues. Lastly, the article suggests that the best way to view free will is as an attribute and ability that is always present, and as such there is no such thing as partial free will. Accordingly, we are fully responsible for the decisions we make and the actions we take. However, external and internal influences, especially those that lurk in our subconscious and of which we are not consciously aware, do mitigate our blameworthiness and praiseworthiness for those decisions.

Cite this paper

Firestone, R. (2017) An Argument for Libertarian Free Will: Hard Choices Based on either Incomparable or Equally Persuasive Reasons. Open Journal of Philosophy, 7, 64-93. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2017.71005.

References

[1] Albritton, R. (1985). Freedom of Will and Freedom of Action. Presidential Address Delivered before the Fifty-Ninth Annual Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association in San Francisco, California. March 22.
https://doi.org/10.2307/3131767
[2] Anderson, E. (1993). Value in Ethics and Economics. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
[3] Balaguer, M. (2004). A Coherent, Naturalistic, and Plausible Formulation of Libertarian Free Will. Nous, 38, 379-406.
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0029-4624.2004.00475.x
[4] Balaguer, M. (2009). Why There Are No Good Arguments for Any Interesting Version of Determinism. Synthese, 168, 1-21.
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-009-9459-2
[5] Balaguer, M. (2014). Free Will. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
[6] Chang, R. (2012). Are Hard Choices Cases of Incomparability. Philosophical Issues, 22, 106-126.
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1533-6077.2012.00239.x
[7] Chang, R. (2014). Value Incomparability and Incommensurability. In I. Hirose, & J. Olson (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Value Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[8] Dayan, P., & Abbott, L. F. (2001). Theoretical Neuroscience. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
[9] Duhigg, C. (2012). The Power of Habit. London: Random House Books.
[10] Fried, I., Mukamel, R., & Kreiman, G. (2011). Internally Generated Preactivation of Single Neurons in Human Medial Frontal Cortex Predicts Volition. Neuron, 69, 548-562.
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2010.11.045
[11] Gewirth, A. (1978). Reason and Morality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
[12] Jarrett, C. (2015). Neuroscience and Free Will Are Rethinking Their Divorce. Science of Us.
http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/02/a-neuroscience-finding-on-free-will.html#
[13] Kane, R. (2016). Robert Kane: Reflections on Free Will, Determinism and Indeterminism. The Determinism and Freedom Philosophy Website.
http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctytho/dfwVariousKane.html
[14] Libet, B. (1983). Time of Conscious Intention to Act in Relation to Cerebral Potential. Brain, 106, 623-642.
https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/106.3.623
[15] Mele, A. (2013). Free Will and Neuroscience. Philosophical Exchange, 43, Article 3.
[16] Merleau-Ponty, M. (1945). The Phenomenonology of Peception. Translated by Colin Smith for Routledge, Inc. In Solomon, R. (Ed.), Existentialism (2nd ed.). New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[17] Musser, G. (2015). Is the Cosmos Random? Scientific American, September, 88-93.
https://doi.org/10.1038/scientificamerican0915-88
[18] Nahmias, E. (2011). Is Neuroscience the Death of Free Will? In P. Catapano, & S. Critchley (Eds.), The Stone Reader: Modern Philosophy in 133 Arguments (pp. 330-336). New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, div. of W.W. Norton & Co.
[19] Nahmias, E. (2015). Why We Have Free Will. Scientific American, January, 77-79.
[20] Phil Papers (2009).
http://philpapers.org/surveys
[21] Sartre, J. P. (1938). Nausea. Translated by Lloyd Alexander. New Directions Inc. In R. Solomon (Ed.), Existentialism (2nd ed.). New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[22] Sartre, J. P. (1943). Being and Nothingness. Translated by H. Barnes. Philosophical Library, Inc. In R. Solomon (Ed.), Existentialism (2nd ed.). New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[23] Schultze-Kraft, M. (2015). The Point of No Return in Vetoing Self-Initiated Movements. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113, 1080-1085.
https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1513569112
[24] Shapiro, D. (1998). Addiction and Drug Policy. In J. White (Ed.), Contemporary Moral Problems (9th ed., pp. 298-304). United States: Thomson Wadsworth.
[25] Soon, C., Brass, M., Heinze, H. J., & Haynes, J. D. (2008). Unconscious Determinants of Free Decisions in the Human Brain. Nature Neuroscience, 11, 543-545.
https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.2112

  
comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2017 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.