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Monday, August 24, 2020

Natural Compatibilism, Indeterminism, and Intrusive Metaphysics

Nadelhoffer, T., Rose, D., Buckwalter, W.,
& Nichols, S. (2019, August 25).


The claim that common sense regards free will and moral responsibility as compatible with determinism has played a central role in both analytic and experimental philosophy. In this paper, we show that evidence in favor of this “natural compatibilism” is undermined by the role that indeterministic metaphysical views play in how people construe deterministic scenarios. To demonstrate this, we re-examine two classic studies that have been used to support natural compatibilism. We find that although people give apparently compatibilist responses, this is largely explained by the fact that people import an indeterministic metaphysics into deterministic scenarios when making judgments about freedom and responsibility. We conclude that judgments based on these scenarios are not reliable evidence for natural compatibilism.

Here is an excerpt from the Discussion:

The most obvious rejoinder for natural compatibilists is to deny that our intrusion items are properly construed as measures of creeping indeterminism. On this view, our items beg the question against compatibilism and our findings can be given a compatibilist-friendly interpretation.Here, the natural compatibilist is likely to appeal to the difference between the unconditional and the conditional ability to do otherwise. In an indeterministic universe, agents can have the unconditional ability to do otherwise—that is, they could have done otherwise even if everything leading up to their decision remained exactly the same. In a deterministic universe, on the other hand, agents merely have the conditional ability to do otherwise—that is, agents could have acted differently only insofar as something (either the past or the laws) had been different than it actually was. Compatibilists suggest that this conditional ability to do otherwise (along with other cognitive and volitional capacities) can ground free will and moral responsibility even in a deterministic universe. Incompatibilists disagree, insisting instead that free will requires indeterminism and the unconditional ability to do otherwise.