Monday, November 19, 2007

For Monday after break:

Kane's views: Ch. 11 and 12

For Wed.:
Last chapter of Conee & Sider entitled "What is Metaphysics?"

Metaphysics

Final Exam

Due: Wed. December 5, 10:30 AM

YOU MUST COME TO CLASS AND TURN IT IN AT THIS TIME.

YOUR FINAL PAPER IS ALSO DUE AT THIS TIME.

At least 5 pages, carefully written and flawlessly proofed

This exam presents an opportunity for you to show that you have a deep, comprehensive and nuanced understanding of free will problems and their complexity.

Write an essay where all these questions below are answered. Write for an audience that knows nothing about the free will problem: explain everything so they understand. Your essay should have an introduction.

For more guidance on writing, see the Pryor article handed out in class.

  1. What is the best definition, concept or theory of what it is to act freely or have free will? To answer this, you must explain and discuss a specific definition, concept or theory (so not a broad category like “libertarian”; you need a specific version of a broad theory) and contrast it to two other specific definitions, concepts or theories. You need to argue that your favorite specific definition, concept or theory is the best. So you need to explain everything you need to do that so that your audience understands.

  1. Is this theory compatible with determinism? If someone might think it is, explain why someone might think this. If they are mistaken in suspecting this, explain why they are mistaken.

  1. Is this theory compatible with indeterminism? If someone might think it is, explain why someone might think this. If they are mistaken in suspecting this, explain why they are mistaken.

  1. Thus, is your preferred theory of free will or free action compatiblistic or incompatiblistic?

  1. In light of (1), (2) and (3) above, do we ever have such a free will, or act freely, on this understanding of free will, determinism and indeterminism?

  1. What are two of the strongest objections to your position? How do you respond to these objections?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

For Friday: Ch. 8 Kane: Moral Responsibility and Alternative Possibilities


Harry Frankfurt's views are discussed in this chapter and the next. Here's some on him:

====

http://press.princeton.edu/video/frankfurt/

On Bullshit

Harry G. Frankfurt

Book Description | Shopping Cart | Endorsements
Chapter 1 [HTML] or [PDF format]

Harry Frankfurt

Video interview with Harry G. Frankfurt

Clip 1. What brought you, as a professional philosopher, to write about bullshit? (1:41)
QuickTime: Dial-up | Broadband RealPlayer: Dial-up | Broadband WindowsMedia: Dial-up | Broadband
Clip 2. What is your theory of bullshit? What is bullshit? (:39)
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Clip 3. Do you find bullshitters actually more reprehensible than liars? (1:01)
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Clip 4. Is it difficult for you as a philosopher to deal with behavior so indifferent to your values? (1:14)
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Clip 5. Does bullshit require a kind of creativity or imagination that simple falsehood doesn't? (1:00)
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Clip 6. Is there more bullshit today than, say, 100 years ago, or ever before? (1:10)
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Clip 7. Are more highly educated people more likely to engage in bullshit? (:52)
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Clip 8. Can you give us any salient examples of bullshit today that we might be familiar with? (1:33)
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Clip 9. Can anything be done about bullshit, or is it just a universal human tendency? (1:08)
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Entire interview in one file (10:23)
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Audio iPod (MP3) Dial-up Video iPod (MP4) Broadband

File created: 2/11/05


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Notes on Kane Ch. 7: Is Free Will Possible? Hard Determinists and Other Skeptics

Announcements:

  1. Paper topics (and, ideally, “target” papers/writings) due Friday. See assignment sheet.
  2. The Georgia Philosophical Society meeting is this Saturday at Georgia State. Want to go to part of it? See your email, the blog and/or talk to Dr. Nobis.
  3. Some students never addressed the problems with their midterms from a long time ago. This will be a problem for these students.

Some cases of what seems to be serious wrongdoing (p. 69-70):

  • Oklahoma City bombing
  • Columbine killings
  • Far too many other cases … some of which might hit especially “close to home”

Question: did these people act freely? Were they morally responsible for what they did, i.e., they should be held morally accountable, punished, thought bad of, criticized, be used in classroom examples of (bad) people doing very bad things, etc.

Common answers? Common reasons that would be given for these answers?

1. No “external” coercion, force, manipulation, etc.

2. “Internal” factors – beliefs and desires – can be overcome [“ultimate,” “genuine” or “true” responsibility” made at crucial choices]

In short, “common sense” seems to presuppose the ability to do otherwise in exactly the same antecedent circumstances. Thus, it seems to presuppose some kind of libertarian / incompatiblist conception of free will.

But this kind of free will, some argue, is incompatible with determinism, but it is also hard to see how it is compatible with indeterminism (e.g., luck, randomness objections). Thus, perhaps this conception of free will is incoherent or an impossibility.

Reply to conditional analysis of “can”: “Yes, if they had chosen or wanted to not do these evils, then they would have not done them and they could have chosen or wanted to not do what they did.

Of interest: A principle: “‘Ought’ implies ‘can.’” If you ought to do X, then you can do X. So if you cannot do X, it is not the case that you ought to do X.

Strawson’s Argument to add fuel to the fire (p. 71-72)

Is hard determinism (FW & DET are incompatible and we don’t have FW) an acceptable position? Literally, can we (or anyone) even accept it? What, if anything, would be bad about accepting it? What would follow if it were true or if we believed it to be true about:

  • Our view on our own accomplishments? (p. 74)
  • Our view on punishment? (p. 75)

Two theories about punishment: (1) punishment is justified if, and when, it is deserved; (2) punishment is justified if, and when, it is has good consequences for the future (e.g., keeps the rest of us safer, deters future crime, rehabilitates people, etc.).

· Love and relationships (p. 76-77)

Similaksy: Common beliefs about free will and responsibility are an illusion.

Some responses: (1) defend a version of libertarianism from the randomness objections; (2) develop a better version of compatiblism that doesn’t rely on conditional analysis; (3) accept MYSTERY!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

For Wed. please have carefully read Ch. 7 on hard determinism.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Here are some philosophers to look at for target papers for your final paper; of course there are many more!:

Pereboom ( a hard determinist):
http://www.arts.cornell.edu/phil/homepages/pereboom/

O'Connor ( agent causation-ist):
http://php.indiana.edu/~toconnor/philosophical_essays.html

Saul Smilansky (a hard determinist)
http://philo.haifa.ac.il/faculty_pages/smilansk.htm

Tom Kapitan (a compatiblist, but of a kind we haven't seen):
http://www.niu.edu/phil/~kapitan/papers.shtml

Eddy Nahmias from Georgia State:
http://www2.gsu.edu/~wwwphl/philosophy/faculty/nahmias/index.html

And a blog on free will issues: http://gfp.typepad.com/

Friday, November 2, 2007

for Monday, re-read Dennett in Reading Metaphysics; discussion questions are due.

For Wed., read Kane Ch. 4 on libertarianism, indeterminism and chance.

Bring your books to class. We read them in class, so you need to have them.