Monday, April 07, 2008

Against Determinism

Well, I was somewhat surprised that Alexander Pruss chose to simply blow me off in our "discussion" of incompatibilism over at his blog, but to see how a genuinely effective argument against determinism might go, I recommend having a look at the one I give here.

7 comments:

John Farrell said...

I highly recommend that article!

More seriously, it's a pity Pruss did apparently ignore your points. I for one was interested to see his response.

Scott Carson said...

I was particularly surprised because I know him from another context and I had thought we were on friendly terms, but his responses to my comments amounted to "I don't want to talk to you about this." It might have been easier if he had just said so to begin with.

CrimsonCatholic said...
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CrimsonCatholic said...
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CrimsonCatholic said...

his responses to my comments amounted to "I don't want to talk to you about this."

Dr. Pruss strikes me as one of those people who sees things so intuitively that he doesn't always put the markers down for the rest of us. See this description in what Dr. Pruss admits to be an autobiographical post. Perhaps he simply didn't consider it necessary to lay out the intuition in detail, since his response seems to be along the lines of pleading to conflicting intuitions about what premises philosophers will and won't accept. I have in mind something along the lines of "I think more people will have the intuition that I have than the one that Dr. Carson has, so I don't see the need to elaborate," which need not be seen as an unfriendly jab. But I suspect that there are more people like John and I who would like to see the intuition laid out in detail, probably because my intuition about what people will find convincing is the same as Scott's! I suspect one has to go after why people would think evolutionary neurobiology is deterministic in the first place to actually reach them with an argument that doesn't seem question-begging.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Sorry I was curt! It was unacceptable.

I guess I found Scott's comments a bit puzzling, because if I am arguing against a position, I think I am entitled to assume the things that typical proponents of that position espouse. I was arguing against compatibilism (or so the title of the post announced), and so I thought I was entitled to assume the things that typical compatibilists believe. One of these things is that exercises of free will are a common occurrence.

I think where I may have confused Scott was that the conclusion of my argument was that there was no determinism. So there was a tension between the title of my post and the form of argument. But the way to show incompatibilism to be true is to show that if there is free will, then determinism does not hold.

By the way, the hard determinist position that determinism holds and there is no free will is very rare. I personally know only one person who holds it, and he holds it for religious reasons (he is a Calvinist). I wasn't trying to engage hard determinism. Indeed, the hard determinist agrees with what I was trying to establish, namely incompatibilism.

I am looking forward to looking at the piece on evolution.

CrimsonCatholic said...

My apologies for the triple post. Feel free to delete the first two.