Part 3: Free Will and Causality in Contemporary Western Philosophy
Philosophical theories in contemporary western thought can be categorised in three main currents:
a. Libertarianism, which is described as incompatibilism for its belief that the determination of causal laws negates the freewill meaning they are incompatible, and because the free will is a very obvious fact it cannot be overcome by determined causal laws. There are many explanations of this type of thought in current western philosophy, but I have chosen three important theories that I believe they provide the best clarification and deduction, they are:
• Agent causation or immanent causation that was suggested by Rodrick Chisholm. This theory can be compared to the theory of sovereignty of Al-Sadr in contemporary Islamic philosophy.
• Simple indeterminism that was suggested by Carl Ginet, which can be compared to the theory of Na’ini in Islamic contemporary thought.
• Causal indeterminism, suggested by Robert Kane. It can also be compared to the mentioned theory of sovereignty.
b. Hard Determinism, which agrees with libertarianism in the incompatibility of freewill with causal laws, but opposes it in freewill of agents. Hard Determinism believes there is no chance of freewill of agents because all agents are governed by determined causal factors. Several thinkers and philosophers adapted this kind of explanation of relation between causal determined law and human will, among them Paul Edwards gave a very clear expression of this idea.
c. Soft Determinism, that disagrees with both libertarianism and Hard Determinism, and believes in compatibility of causal determined law and freewill and alleges that not only there are not any conflicts between causal law and freewill but rather freewill cannot be emerged without the comprehensive causal law. Most philosophers in both Islamic philosophy and western philosophy inclined to this current of thoughts like Farabi, Avecina, Mulla Sadra, Tabatabai in Islamic Philosophy, and Thomas Habbes, David Hume, John Stuart Mail and A.J. Ayer in western philosophy. Here I chose the explanation of Ayer for its demonstrative clearness to show an example of this tendency of contemporary western philosophy.
The philosophical problem of the contradiction between freewill and causation has provided the basis for numerous discussions amongst contemporary Western philosophers and many efforts to resolve this problem have been attempted.
The philosophical attempts of Western contemporary philosophers pertaining to the philosophical form of the contradiction between causation and freewill can be summed up within the following three schools:
2. Soft determinism
The Indeterminists believe that the deterministic causal nexus (necessitiate causation) between cause and effect entails an absolute negation of freewill within any free actor – including the human being. Rejecting the necessity between cause and effect of the free agent provides the only solution for the alleged contradiction between causation and freewill. This group espoused the same opinion held by Muslim thinkers such as the Muslim theologians and the new scientists of the Principles of Jurisprudence (New Usooliyyoon), such as the late Sayed Muhammad Baqir Al Sadr.
As this group of contemporary Western philosophers adopted the view of incompatibility between freewill and necessity, they became known as the incompatibilists.
From another angle, those who believed in the necessity between cause and effect, i.e. the determinists, are divided into two groups:
Hard determinists: They believe that there is absolute contradiction between freewill and causal necessity. They therefore share the same opinion as the first mentioned group, however; they did not reject causal necessity but rejected the freewill of a free actor. As this group like the first group (the determinists) believe that the causal necessity contradicts the absolute freedom of a free actor, they are considered incompatibilists. When compared to Islamic thought they resemble the Ash’ariites (Al-Asha'erah), who also believed that causal necessity negates freewill.
Soft determinists: They believe that there is no contradiction between causal necessity and freewill, so these concepts are compatible. They believe that, the only reason for the assumption of the contradiction between the freedom and causal necessity is the misconception of the freedom in one hand, and the causal necessity in the other hand. This group of Western philosophers have known as compatibilists.
According to Robert Kane, the first person who used the term ‘hard determinism’ and ‘soft determinism’ was William James (James, 1956), who lived at the beginning of the twentieth century. (2002, p. 22)
Western compatibilists who espouse the belief that causal necessity is compatible with freewill, hold an identical view to the Muslim philosophers. This view particularly explained and extended in the teachings of Mulla Sadra, the founder of modern Islamic philosophy. But the difference is that Mulla Sadra has veraciously attempted to distinguish between determinism and necessity. He believes that freedom does not negate the causal necessity but rather negates determinism, and the causal necessity of free actor entails the necessity of the effect, but not its determinism. However this does not imply that it would be the determinist object.
As has been elaborated on in the previous chapter, Mulla Sadra believed that the non-distinction between the two concepts, i.e. determinism and necessity as well as the mixture of the two concepts of freedom and contingency provide the main reasons for the adoption of the incompatibility between causal necessity and freedom. He emphasised that one should distinguish technically between determinism and necessity in one hand, and freedom and contingency in the other hand.
According to Robert Kane, one of the main and most important disagreements regarding freedom within Western philosophical thought is the disagreement between the compatibilisists and the incompatibilisists (Ibid).
We can summarise the main contemporary Western philosophical schools regarding freedom and causal necessity as follows:
1. Libertarianism: A tendency that believed not in determinism and causal necessity, and adopted incompatibility between freedom and determinism. This group are subsumed under the category of the incompatibilists.
2. Compatible determinism: Also known as soft determinism.
3. Incompatible determinism: Also known as hard determinism
We will now briefly elaborate on and criticise these three tendencies comparing them with the mentioned comments of Muslim thinkers on this subject.
Those who have adopted this theory have rejected determinism; they are indeterminists and believe that it contradicts human freewill, i.e. incompatibilism. They believe that human beings are free from any form of determinism and causal necessity. One of the most important inclinations of contemporary (Western) philosophy, based on modern physics, is the rejection of determinism and causal necessity.
Based on new scientific theories, this inclination holds that no absolute or general rules govern the universe, because according to what has been proven by modern physics, the changes and transformations of the initial elementary particles of the universe, particularly the radioactive transformations (decay) of atomic nuclei, follow no certain rules; they are unpredictable.
Considering the fact that the world in which we live consists of these atoms, and the origin of the transformations and events of the natural world goes back to (originates from) the very same changes of radioactive atoms, and in fact these atoms -and their internal actions and reactions -form the main foundation of the world, it can be concluded that events in the natural world generally do not comply with the rule of determinism and no deterministic relationship rules them.1
The main problem of this theory is that determinism is not a scientific rule to be refuted by experimental and scientific methods, rather it is a philosophical and rational rule based on certainties, like mathematical laws which cannot be questioned or denied. In the previous chapter it was explained that necessary determinism originates from the axiom of 'Impossibility of the preponderance without a preponderant’.
Its brief content is that any event or phenomenon by itself, that is, independent of any other effective or ineffective factors, is not attributed to a necessity of existence or non-existence, and consequently is attributed to a contingency of existence or non-existence.
This contingency of existence or non-existence makes the relation of the nature of that entity with existence and non-existence equal. Therefore getting rid of the status of equality between existence and non-existence is impossible without the necessity of existence or non-existence arising from an effective external factor. So the existence or non-existence of each phenomenon or event not necessitated by a cause external to the entity is not conceivable.
According to the rational rule of impossibility of the preponderance without a preponderant, which results in the general rule of causal determinism, the changes and transformations at the atomic level definitely follow a certain rule that originates from the general rule (of causal determinism), although modern physics has not obtained that rule at the present time, or may not in the future.
Inaccessibility to the mystery of the changes inside atoms does not mean that they haven't been governed by causal determined lows. In addition, various scientific humanities mainly confirm that the human behaviour is governed by determined lows.
And according to Robert Kane: ‘While physics of the twentieth century accepted withdrawal of the rule of necessity of determinism, it seems to have moved in an opposite direction in other scientific fields such as physiology, neurology, psychology, psychotherapy, sociology, and behaviourism. Scientific developments in the above fields have convinced many people more than ever that human behaviour is governed and originates/is derived from causes that are unknown and out of our control.’2
Another group of incompatibilists believe that the real liberty is not compatible with the determinism, and they are known as libertarians in the new sources and references of the Western philosophical thought.’3
Libertarianism is based on the three pillars:
b. Liberty really exists and the man is free in his behaviour.
c. Negation of the rule of determinism.4
Incompatiblists libertarians are not intellectually homogenous. Amongst them exist various schools of thought, each of which has propounded a different theory to comment on the relationship between the liberty of man and causation, the most important of these are as follows.
This particular conception of causation is supported by thinkers such as Professor Roderick Chisholm5. He argues, in an article under the title of 'Human Freedom and the Self',6 and explains his theory that freedom is fundamentally opposed to both determinism and indeterminism. Accordingly, it paves a third direction that has been termed as ‘agent causation’. To explain the concept of agent causation he divided the causation into two categories.
First: Transeunt causation, which indicates that the cause’s causation is dependent upon a factor other than itself. All involuntary causes fall into this category because they have received the virtue of causation from beyond (or from dynamics outside of) themselves. For example, if fire burns, it is not because fire possesses the inherent quality of burning, but because it is gained from the cause that brought the fire into existence.
Second: Immanent or agent causation, which denotes that a cause derives it’s causation from itself and not from a factor that exists beyond or outside of itself, therefore it is considered independent. Voluntary causes belong to this class and in particular the human being. For example, a man who accomplishes a task has brought about (or caused) the accomplishment of that task by his own causation and not from a reason beyond him which provides the causation of the tasks accomplishment to him. And from this emanates the origins of man’s freedom. Chisholm compares this theory of inherent causation to the Aristotelian theory of the prime mover unmoved and in his commentary on liberty he considers the possibility of alternate selection as the main condition of liberty.
He emphasizes that when the action performed by an agent is the only choice available and the emanation of another possibility or non-emanation of the action is impossible, then liberty will be senseless. He presents a definition of liberty similar to ideas attributed to theologians in Islamic thought who – as we mentioned earlier – disagree with the views of philosophers, who consider liberty to be the truth of a conditional proposition (‘if he wills, he does, and if he does not will, he will not do’) and do not believe that liberty contradicts the necessity of an act emanated from the agent. Theologians assert that liberty absolutely negates the necessity of an action emanating from the agent. They interpret liberty as the possibility of both the manifestation and the abandonment of an action.
On the one hand, Chisholm believes that the theory of agent causation has solved the apparent contradiction between liberty and the principal of determinism, which is where the causation of an agent of a cause beyond its nature falls under the ruling of determinism, therefore the agent is incapable of adopting another choice (either the non-emanation or emanation of the act). This is because the transeunt cause has made the manifestation of the action determined and therefore the agent has no alternative except to carry out the incumbent act. But according to the theory of agent causation, the agent is independent from the effect of any transeunt causes; so at the same time of an act emanating from him, he also has the ability to choose another act or the non-emanation of the same act. This is the essence of the liberty which we are discussing.
On the other hand, the indeterminist theory asserts that the emanation of an act from the agent will occur by random chance, which is incompatible with the concept of liberty because the act – although the possibility exists for both its emanation and non-emanation – is not based upon the free will of the agent to carry it out. For whether the agent wills it or does not will, the act will occur according to chance. This problem is also addressed by the theory of agent causation, which affirms that the act of an agent is not brought about by randomness, but by his active and conscious decision. Once the preliminaries of the selection of an act in the agent are provided, the emanation of the act from the agent cause will be indispensable; however, this indispensability rises from the agent's internal capacity and has not been imposed to him from external factors.
Thus, the method Chisholm has chosen in the theory of agent cause, is neither determinism nor indeterminism, rather, it is a third way between these two extremes.
From this point of view, it is very similar to the renowned Shiite theological theory of ‘There is no determinism nor is there absolute delegation of power (indeterminism), but the real position is between these two extremes’, the very same theory that was mentioned in the previous chapter.
This theory involves main difficulties. The first one is the negation form of indeterminism. As mentioned before, determinism is based on a very strong rational principle that in no way can be negated and that is the principle of impossibility of the preponderance without there being a preponderant. Only the two modes below are conceivable for the act that is emanated from the voluntary agent:
To be emanated by chance, in this case as Mr. Chisholm holds, liberty will not exist. Furthermore, emanation of an act from the agent by chance is incompatible with the principle of causation and the impossibility of preponderance without there being a preponderant that is an evident and certain principle.
To be emanated from preponderance of a certain preponderant; in this case there will no way but determinism.
That the causation of agent cause has two types: the causation arising from external (transeunt) cause, and the one arising from the nature of the agent (agent cause); and that the causation in the voluntary agent is of the second type, solves no problems in this field. Because the question that arises in that if the causation of the voluntary agent to perform an act is an essential causation, therefore, the emanation of an act from the voluntary agent will be non-optional. In fact, this is the very determinism that according to Chisholm is incompatible with the liberty of the agent.
Also if the causation of the voluntary agent is not essential, it should have been given to him from outside (external or transeunt cause) that – as Chisholm admitted - results in determinism, and –subsequently- will not be compatible with liberty.
The second problem that weakens the foundation of this theory is that Chisholm gives no clear reason to prove his theory; rather to prove his theory he is satisfied that this theory is the best way to justify man's responsibility and liberty, however it needs definitely logical justification to treat man's responsibility and liberty as a given.
In case, as mentioned earlier, determinism is proved through intellectual proof and if we consider it as incompatible with man's liberty, as Mr. Chisholm does, then there will remain no way save refutation of liberty and after that, refutation of man's responsibility.
In spite of the similarity between: libertarianism – as Mr. Chisholm has propounded in the theory of agent cause – and the theory propounded by Muslim theologians, and the new experts in the principles of the Islamic jurisprudence (Usooliyyoon), in particular, Ayatollah Sadr, with his theory of sovereignty, the main distinction between them lies in Sadr's attempt through his strong, intellectual reasoning and the justification he has given to prove his theory.
He has expressed, as mentioned earlier, a particular intellectual statement by which he has managed to solve both of the aforementioned problems:
- To solve the first problem, that is the impossibility of the preponderance without there being a preponderant he has analyzed this principle intellectually and stated that the preponderant can be one of two: The necessity of the effect or the sovereignty of agent over the act which is suitable with the agent's free well.
- He has solved the second problem in another way. He has made it clear that the liberty of a voluntary agent's act was a conscious matter and that determinism was not demonstrable.
However there is another explanation of the theory of agent cause that is propounded by Mr. O'Connor. He, while accepting the basis of the theory of agent-cause that considers man as the end of the line of his behaviour, and recognizing not any cause beyond him as being effective in establishment or determination of human behaviour,7 he attempts to answer the third question that Mr. Chisholm faced in the explanation of agent-cause.
This is the same question we referred to earlier while raising our first objection to Mr. Chisholm's theory. In summary this objection is that causation of the voluntary agent for the act cannot be by chance, because its being by chance is tantamount to the negation of the free will from the voluntary agent. Therefore, the question that arises is ‘What is behind the voluntary agent's causation for his behaviour?’
To answer this question Mr. Chisholm considered the internal propensities and beliefs of the agent arising from his natural characteristics, to be the cause of the voluntary agent's causation for his behaviour.
He also held that the voluntary agent was similar to the Essence of God, the Exalted, in Aristotelian theory of a prime mover unmoved.
But Mr. O'Connor calls this justification into question and interprets it as unnecessarily heroic. He considers it insufficient to answer this question of how the agent selects one out of many acts. He considers the existence of a preponderant that makes the agent select a certain act by necessity.
To answer this question, he maintains that the cause of the voluntary agent's causation is formed by the structure of the built-in propensities and that this structure draws the agent towards a certain act which corresponds with them. But O'Connor considers this structure to be an undetermined preponderant and believes that in spite of the existence of such a structure that results in the agent's behaving in such a manner as is appropriate to it, the agent is never obliged to behave that way, and can also behave in another way that is inappropriate to that propensity structure.
He adds, in spite of that propensity structure, I still have the free will to behave either according to that structure or opposite it. He says:
‘What we need is a way to modify the traditional notion of distinctively personal kind of causal capacity and to see it, not as utterly unfettered, but as one that comes ‘structured’, in the sense of having built-in propensities to act (though ones that shift over time in accordance with the agent's changing preference). But we must do so in such a way that it remains up to me to act on these tendencies or not, so that what I do is not simply the consequence of the vagaries of ‘chance-like’ indeterministic activity, as may be true of microphysical quantum phenomena.’8
Obviously, the justification Mr. O'Connor suggests for the voluntary agent cannot solve the problem of necessity of preponderance without there being a preponderant. The legitimate challenge to the theory of Mr. Chisholm remains. As if the propensity structure is the sufficient cause of the emanation of the act, then the act is determined and there will remain no place for free will; if it is not the sufficient cause, and as Mr. O'Connor explicitly stated, ‘In spite of this propensity structure, I have the free will to act or not.’ the question remains, ‘What will change a behaviour that can or cannot be (a possibility that means lack of a preponderant and equality of the two sides) to a behaviour that must be?’
Here to take Mr. O'Connor's side, it can be said that the structure of the agent's internal propensities is enough for preponderating, although this preponderance is an unnecessitative one. This is the same theory of preponderance propounded by the Muslim theologians, mentioned at the beginning of this discussion, and it was severely disapproved of by the Muslim philosophers.
Muslim philosophers have explained that any existing entity that remains enjoying non-necessity of existence and non-necessity of non-existence is not conceivable. For the duration of this state, the existence of every being, including the voluntary agent, requires that a cause change its non-necessity of existence to necessity of existence. Otherwise, not only would the discipline of general causation, and, the intellectual rule of impossibility of preponderance without there being a preponderant be negated, but also, free will itself will cease to exist in case free will is a matter of chance.
This theory was explained by Mr. Carl Ginet. In an article under the title 'Freedom, Responsibility & Agency' he presents another scheme of agent-causation. In common with Chisholm and O'Connor he holds that just as determinism is incompatible with man's freedom and responsibility, so too is indeterminism incompatible with them. Thus, there is no way but to select a third way in order to explain man's freedom and responsibility.
While not approving of the scheme explained by Chisholm and O'Connor under the title of 'agent-cause', Ginet believes that the above scheme cannot solve the problems to be found in this issue.
He first sets out the main problem in this regard. According to what Mr. O'Connor has conceived, incompatibility of indeterministic causation with freedom arises from this point that cannot justify the emanation of a certain act from the agent, - despite the possibility of other options. Ginet explained: ‘O'Connor and I agree in rejecting the indeterministic-causation account of what it is for an agent to her action. O'Connor's dissatisfaction with this view arises from his belief that any such account must explain how an agent makes one among the competing motives she faces the efficacious one, and he doesn't see any way that this can be done without resorting to agent-causation.9
According to Mr. Ginet, the disagreement of Mr. O'Connor with the theory of indeterministic causation stems from this belief that any explanation of the voluntary agent's behaviour should answer the question: ‘How does the agent make effective a stimulant or a motivation from among different stimulants and motivations?’
While, as Ginet holds, the problem of indeterministic causation is elsewhere, the main problem of this theory is that responsibility and freedom require in principle neither the relation of causation nor behavioural stimulants; therefore, Mr. Ginet raises two major objections against Mr. O'Connor's theory:
Firstly, if as O'Connor says – a preponderant cause is required to make the agent select one of the possible ways, in the event that the preponderant cause is not indeterministic, this question will remain: ‘What is the cause of the agents' causation? And what has given the agent the power to control and to determine this behaviour?’
To get rid of this difficulty Mr. Ginet does not deem the existence of a preponderant necessary for the voluntary agent's act, and holds – as will be explained later on – that the agent has the power to control himself although there is no preponderant to necessitate a certain act.
Secondly, the theory of agent-causation, as depicted by Mr. O'Connor can be neither grasped nor proved, because in the first place, so long as the agent has not been influenced in the causation of his act by any external actor, and at the same time all the factors that are considered important in emanation of his act, stem from his nature, then the emanation of his act in a particular time and under certain conditions remains inexplicable.
What causes the act to come into existence at a certain time and not other times and under certain conditions and not other ones?
In the second place, now that the voluntary agent's causation in relation to the act is not the effect of external causes, for what reason should we treat the agent as the cause of the act itself, and call him the agent cause of the act?
Why should we not be able to consider the agent as a simple subject for a state we call act or free will?
It is on the same basis that Mr. Ginet does not accept the concept of agent causation suggested by Mr. O'Connor, and exerts himself to justify the voluntary agent's behaviour on the basis of simple determinism in such a way that enjoys the two elements of freedom and responsibility without recourse to the principles of general causation or to behavioural motivations.
According to what is understood from Mr. Carl Ginet's writing under the title of 'Freedom, Responsibility and Agent' the theory of simple indeterminism can be summarized as follows:
a. The voluntary agent's act consists of free will which is either a causally simple mental action, or begins with it.
b. This simple mental action is not the cause of the occurrence of other events.
c. This simple mental action will be an act only in the state of certain intrinsic phenomenal quality. This quality is called ‘actish quality’ by Mr. Ginet. This certain intrinsic phenomenal quality is a condition that free will or the simple mental action can be an act only when conditioned to it.
Or according to Ginet: ‘the simple mental action is an act only in the event that it possesses an intrinsic phenomenal quality, the same quality that I have entitled an ‘actish quality’, and I use the term agent-causation in it only by adding ‘as if’’. (Ibid)
To explain the ‘actish quality’ Mr. Ginet adds: ‘When the simple mental action in my free will employs one of my body organs by exerting the power, my internal feeling does not judge that this mental event has suddenly come into existence without any preparations. Rather, a perceptible internal quality in my interior creates it in the same way and in the same period of time that it happens.’ (Ibid)
d. This simple mental action (free will) that has such a perceptible internal quality is sufficient for the existence of an act.
e. The free will that benefits from a perceptible internal quality, does not meet the standpoint of the incompatibilists that is based on refutation of any necessitative causation between the act and its preliminaries. On the contrary, an act is a compound thing that consists of free will or simple mental action and the necessitative causal relation numbers among its results. When I open the door, my free will causes the motion of my hand and arm, and the motion of my hand and arm causes the door to open. Here opening the door is the necessitated effect of the motion of hand and arm, and the motion of hand and arm is the necessitated effect of my free will.
f. Despite the fact that there is a necessitative causal relation between my free will and its consequences which result in emanation of the act in the external world (as opening the door in the aforesaid example), however, there is no causal relation between me and my free will, and, naturally, the consequences of my free will. It is not true that I am the cause of my free will, so this question arises: ‘What is the cause of this causation?’ And then the matter culminates in the standpoint that a cause beyond my nature becomes the emanation of the free will from me and subsequently the way to my freedom is barred. Rather, I am the subject of my free will. Free will is inherent to me, and it is the inherency of my free will that secures the freedom of the act that emanates from me.
g. So, the emanation of the act from the voluntary agent does not require an external cause and for the same reason does not require a preponderant, although this preponderant is not a necessitative one, because a voluntary agent's act can emanate from him without there being any preponderant. Once the agent wills the act, the act will emanate from him. The agent's free will requires nothing, for it is inherent.
h. Consequently, the relationship between motivations or stimulants and human free will is not a necessitative causal nexus, or even nexus of agent-causation, as conceived by Mr. O'Connor. Rather, the relationship between motivations and stimulants of the behaviour, and the human act is adjusted by free will or decision. The following is the content of this free will: ‘This act can meet and satisfy those motivations and stimulants.’
Once within his knowledge and awareness the agent notices the fact that this act can meet that motivation or that stimulant, free will comes into existence, and he decides to perform the act.
So, there is a difference between a proposition that says, ‘S performs A to satisfy his stimulants and propensities.’
Comparing it with the other proposition that says: ‘S performs A, due to his awareness that A fulfils all the stimulants and propensities.’
In the first proposition the stimulants and motivations are introduced as a cause of the act, while in the second proposition there is no causal nexus between the stimulants and motivations on the one hand, and the act itself on the other hand. The only available thing is that within the awareness of the agent these stimulants and propensities can be satisfied by this act, and, concurrent with this awareness the intention, free will, and decision of the agent to perform the act appears.
The theory of simple determinism is very close to the theory of Mirza Nayeeni. In particular, the explanation that Mr. Ginet presents about ‘actish quality’ is very close to what Mirza Nayeeni expressed as ‘the attack of the soul’ (The instant movement of the soul toward the act or the embarking of the soul on the act).
However, as mentioned earlier in relation to Mirza Nayeeni's theory and other theories from contemporary Western philosophers, the main problem regarding preponderance without there being a preponderant will not be solved by these explanations and interpretations. Inherency of free will – as mentioned by Ginet and insisted upon by Mirza Nayeeni – will not solve the following problems:
If inherency of free will means that it always exists with man, it is obviously invalid because the free will of the act is a state that comes into existence in the agent's self only before the emanation of the act. If it means that it appears without there being a cause or preponderant, then it will face the difficulty of preponderance without a preponderant and the existence of a possible thing without a cause.
The other criticism that can be drawn to Mr Giant’s theory of ‘simple indeterminism’ is that it is not clear why will is an exception from the General Law of Causality. If ‘Will’ need not the cause, why then the Agent’s act itself cannot exist without cause. If it can be said in response that if the Agent’s act is not caused by a cause it means that it is out of control and it is incompatible with the freedom, why can we not say the same for the will and the ‘Actish quality’ accompanied with it?
The third criticism is that according to the Giant’s there is no causal nexus between the stimulants and motivations on the one hand and the act itself on the other hand, and the awareness of the Agent satisfies his prior stimulants and is sufficient for the existence of will and willed act. But the question is how this awareness can occur? If in reality there is no relationship between the act and prior stimulant how this kind of awareness would be possible, and if there is a relationship between the act and its prior stimulants dose it not means that the prior stimulants are the cause of the agent’s will and act?
This theory held by Robert Kane in his essay titled ‘Freewill: New Directions for an Ancient problem’ which can be summarised in the following paragraphs:
a. The meaning of freedom which should be discussed here is (the power to be the ultimate creator and sustainer of one’s own ends or purposes) which is incompatible with the determinism. But we agree with the compatibilists that there are some other meanings of freedom which are compatible with the determinism.
b. The contemporary and past philosophical discussions concentrate on the compatibility between determinism and a possible alternative act. According to Robert Kane, as there are different interpretations of freedom, discussion about the possibility of alternative act would make it impossible to clarify concepts such as possibility of alternative act, power, ability, and freewill. The truth is that the question of the compatibility between determinism and freedom would not be solely answered by the possibility of the alternative act. Thus, in order to complete this answer, it is necessary to think about it in another way.
c. In solving the problem of compatibility, what is more important than the possibility of alternative is the concept of ‘ultimate responsibility of the agent's act’. This concept relies on the condition that can be defined as ‘The power of agent to be the final creator of his own purposes via his acts’ .Or, in simpler terms, to be in control of the facts that produce his act.
d. Although the ultimate responsibility of the agent towards his own present act does not depend upon the possibility of the present alternative act, but it depends upon the possibility of the alternative for the past agent's acts which have taken part in formulating his character, that are known as self-forming actions. In fact the ultimate responsibility of the agent for his present act is in need of the possible alternative in his own past self-forming actions.
e. Therefore, some of past agent's acts which are his self-forming actions must be free from the nexus of complete causation and completely influential factors. Otherwise, it entails the negation of possible alternative of the present agent's acts and the past agent's acts which were influential on him. And this would result in merely determinism.
f. What is mentioned above is a new way of incompatibility between determinism and freedom which stimulates two questions:
First: how could the self forming acts, which are lake of ‘full causes and motivations' be free acts, and result in responsibility? (The intelligibility question)
Second: how does this kind of conducts occur in the chain of causes of human acts?
g. The reply of the intelligibility question: the problem which the incampatiblists were faced with since the early times is that as the freedom is incompatible with determinism it also is incompatible with indeterminism, because the result of full indeterminism is that the man’s action pursuing irrelative preliminaries, for example a man pointing a gun towards a victim and shooting him from a short distance, but instead of killing him, prolonging his life for another fifty years, which is indeed a very irrational strange result.
The libertarians and incompatibilists in order to find a way around this problem and to clarify the fact that freedom does not imply indeterminism have referred to a very obscure or mysterious forms of causation; Immanuel Kant has suggested the noumenal self which is outside space and time, that cannot be studied in scientific terms, and scientists might think about an indeterminacy or a place for causal gaps in the brain, but a nonmaterial self or what John Eccles calls a transempirical power centre which would fill the causal gaps left by physical causes by intervening in the natural order.10 And the most popular and renown appeal in this regard amongst the contemporary philosophers is a type of Agent or immanent Causation, based on which the free and responsible acts are not determined by prior events but neither do they occur merely by chance.
Robert Kane called these types of theories which believe the free acts to be caused by the non-ordinary Agents, as the ‘extra factor’ strategies. Because these theories share a common point that since the indeterminism opens the door for agent to choose whatever he wills, then it needs a kind of superior causation over the ordinary chain of causes and effects, to justify the agent's freewill and power between two choices.
h. But if we want to answer the question on intelligibility of a freewill (i.e. the questions related to its concept), and the questions of its existence we have to ignore the extra factor strategies containing the theory of agent or immanent causation, and find a new way of resolving the problem.
The first step of this new way is to know not all human acts are undetermined, rather the only acts which undetermined are the acts which could be named as self-forming actions. These kinds of acts are formed when the agent confronts two conflicting perspectives of what he should do or what can be done. In such time person might be torn between two kinds of stimulants i.e. ambition or morality, desires or long term goals.
Robert Kane explains: ‘There is tension and uncertainty in our mind about what to do at such times, I suggest, that is reflected in appropriate regions of our brains by movement away from thermodynamic equilibrium-in short, a kind of ‘stirring up of chaos’ in the brain that makes it sensitive to microindeterminacies at the neuronal level. The uncertainty and inner tension we feel at such soul-searching moments of self-formation is thus reflected in the indeterminacy of our neural processes themselves’11
In this status Agent has been pulled towards unknown and uncertain outcomes, and he has been overcome by disorganised motivations in his mind causing a neuronal level sensitiveness towards uncertain and unknown movements.
What has been experienced inside of ourselves as an indefinite and uncertain process and then been reflected on the appropriated physical conduct opens the window of opportunity for human to avoid the deterministic influence of past status or events upon the present human's conducts.
Conversely, whenever we do something which is resulting from the certain motives and previous formed character, any way except the determinism is never left over for us. But when we want to decide in the terms of disorganised motivations, its result will not be deterministic, because the premises are not deterministic. In fact, the previous wills of the agent have been divided into two opposed groups, and whenever we choose one of two opposed groups, what is chosen by our will has prevailed over the other group, here, we have changed a non-deterministic effort into one certain choice.
i. Just as the indeterminism is not inconsistent with the freedom, it is not inconsistent with the agent’s responsibility with regard to his action too. For example, when a person can overcome the non-deterministic repressive obstacles with his effort and so he does his own desire, although there is no any determinism, no anyone except the agent himself is responsible relative to his action.
Suppose that a person wants to kill somebody, but his shot goes the wrong way because of a non-deterministic event on his nervous system; including the muscular contraction or the unwittingly movement of his hand. However if he could overcome this non-deterministic obstacle and be succeeded in his own desire, who will be responsible relative to his action except him?
If he (the murderer) does not encounter with any obstacle while performing his own desire, his action or behaviour will not be the self-forming action. The will of the agent may divide between two contrary motives in relation to the self-forming action such as a merchant who wants to arrive at his own appointment for his own business activity, but unfortunately he encounters with a person whose life is exposed to danger on his way.
Here, if this merchant shall pay no attention to him and his helping cry, he can arrive at his own appointment and meet his own profit; otherwise he must disregard his own business income. Here, there are two contrary flows of the nervous system in relation to this event. Each one of these two contrary flows is effective in the other and is a result of the contradicted motivations and desires which reflected on the nervous system.
These two contracted flows in the nervous system constitute the complex networks of the nervous connections in our brain. They cause to circulate the moving force as a rotational flow and in fact, they have been placed in a level upper than the ordinary nervous process and its centralized network. Here, in this case, we have two moving forces: that which is drawing the merchant up on helping that individual who needs it, and the other force which is drawing him up on his own business profit.
These two nervous networks are in contact with each other and so they influence upon each other. Here, the agent encounters with two contrary calling which each of them will be an obstacle against choosing the other way.
Whenever the agent decides to do one of the two things, he resolves the contradiction between two wills and prefers one of them against the other one; so the agent himself will be responsible in relation to the performed work. In this case, despite of the full responsibility of the agent, the action is treated not neither as the chance nor as the determined action.
j. When the above – mentioned conditions are made available for the self-forming actions, these actions will control the agent’s future life and constitute the basic ground of the subsequent character and acts.
On the basis of what was said, the agents will have a numerous choices and face many parallel ways. In fact, they can choose and establish each of them by their will and desire without any kind of determined forcing cause, mistake and random.
The above mentioned conditions can be summarized in this short sentence: The agents can choose their future wills in that manner which they wish.
On the basis of what we said, the brain is two agents in a parallel with each other, it can cause to flow two kinds of information (imaginative & affirmative) through the nervous canals synchronously. This kind of ability and complexity is necessary for the main self-forming actions and freedom of the human’s behaviour.
k. Responsibility ‘luck and chance: Does the indeterminism mean chance or random; i.e. everything happens by chance? Here, we must look that what relationship is there between the indeterminism and the luck or chance in order to answer this question. Here, it must be said that the indeterminism doesn’t mean the negation of the general law of causality. Rather it is a technical term which solely means the negation of the indeterministic causality.
So, the indeterminism is compatible with the non-deterministic, contingent and possible cause.
Of course, there is another root for this mistake; sometimes, it is thought that since the agent has not been forced by deterministic cause to prefer one from two choices, then there is a kind of challenge in relation to choosing one of them inside of him and finally he will choose one of them by chance. The basis of this mistake is the imagination that ‘The agent’s effort for preferring one way to another one’ (for example, that merchant in the above mentioned example) and ‘his or her non-deterministic choice’ are two separated things; so it is supposed that subsequent to the agent's effort to choose one of the two ways, suddenly he or she does her or his choice accidentally by chance.
But the fact is that the agent's effort for preferring one way to another one is directly producing his choice, in other words, indeterminism is not a case separated from his effort for overcoming the other reasons or motives.
In fact, indeterminism and the agent's effort for preferring one way to another one is a single compound, in other words, indeterminism is the quality of his effort, not a thing which happens before or after it. In such a case, there is no place for such assumption of the role of chance or luck. There is a complex recurrent neural network that realizes the effort in the agent's brain and circulates indeterminate impulses in feedback loops. The indeterminacy is a quality of this indeterminate circulation.
However, an effort process for preferring one way to another is merely an effort of will and it persists right up to the moment when the choice is made, and there is no any space or medium – as chance or random- between an effort for preferring one way to another ‘Will’ and making a choice or decision to act.
There is the same situation in relation to the luck. If the agent succeeded to do what he wished, it could not be said that his good luck caused him to reach his own desire and therefore he is not responsible for what did he act.
What the sentence ‘he was lucky’ or ‘he was prosperous’ means is that, that success has not been deterministic. In other words, in spite of the obstacles and the possibility of failure the agent could obtain his own purpose and do his own desire. But it does not mean that it was happened by chance, and existed without any cause.
Here, there is another reason to explain the agent's responsibility. That what the agent was succeeded in doing is the same thing which he attempted to do and struggled for. Furthermore, he never considers it as a kind of chance or an accident; rather, he does consider it as an effect of his own will and himself.
l. Concerning the agent's act or his freewill there is no reason that to qualify an action as the agent's action or the action by his own free will, it must be deterministic. In fact, the responsibility of the agent towards his action is not dependent upon the deterministic quality of what he has done.
There is no any determinism or compulsion in that example of the murderer who succeeded in doing his own desire, or the merchant who attended at his appointment. Because he (the agent) did what he wanted in spite of the reversal reasons and the numerous obstacles, so he (the agent) –of course-is responsible for what he performed.
The essence of ‘choice’ is -In fact- to form a decision or an intention for doing something, that intention or decision which puts an end for and removes any kind of doubt or hesitancy in the mind of the agent towards the act. According to this account of ‘choice’ it does not need causal necessity or determinism.
When the contrary stimulants and opposed motives leads the agent towards the other choice, but he resists all that contrary stimulants and opposed motives, and in spite of its pressure he makes his preferred will and choice overcoming that pressure and finally does his own chosen act, he actually bears the full responsibility of what he wills and what he acts, because he is who has done this choice, while there has not been any determinism or compulsion.
Of course, indeterminism doesn't mean that there is no cause for what has been done. Although the actions and choices are not deterministic, however, they are not lacking causes; rather they are due to the agent's previous effort. But it may be said: Although the indeterminism is not inconsistent with the principle of choice and any act can be contemporaneously a simple choice and not deterministic; but the choice to be the agent's choice it must be deterministic and therefore, it is not compatible with the indeterminism.
It can be replied: What makes an act or choice an agent's act or choice is that it results from his efforts and deliberation which in turn are causally resulted from his previous motives, reasons and images, so it doesn't need to be influenced by deterministic force.
Therefore, ascribing an act or choice to an agent is due to its resulting from his own intention and Decision which is a product of his previous reflective effort, and this reflective effort is a part of the agent's self-defining motivational system.
Furthermore, the agent confirms that the chosen intention is the same as what he wants and makes it as a part of his own self - defining motivational system and operates it as an effective element for his future life direction and as a self-forming action, which is another proof affirming that the choice is belonging to the agent and he himself is responsible towards it.
m. After what is explained that the indeterministic and self - forming actions are considered as a kind of choice and particularly agent's choice, now it is a time to discuss another issue that is the extant of the agent's control over his own chosen act. How much –in fact- control he has over it?
Certainly, indeterminism entails a diminution of the agent's control over his choice and action, and results in the problem often noted by critics of libertarian freedom that the indeterminism, wherever it occurs, seems to be an obstacle or a hindrance to our realizing our purposes and hence an obstacle to freedom. But in the self-forming actions this obstacle or hindrance arises from the agent's will itself, not from any outside factor or effective agent.
In the previous example, that merchant who was going to attend his own business appointment suddenly encountered with the helping cry of that victim, here, it can be said that a kind of self - forming action occurs. His will for attending his own business appointment causes to diminish his control over helping the victim. On the other hand, his will for helping the victim causes to diminish his control over his will of attending his own business appointment.
Therefore, in both sides the indeterminism acts as an inside obstacle against the agent's determination and realization of the attainment of his own aims and intentions. In another words there is a kind of competition between two conflicting motives which eventually end in that the agent overcomes one side stimuli.
Although lack of such an inside resistance entails a full control of the agent over one of the competing choices, but it entails also lack of competition between different stimuli and motives, and it results in negation of the freedom of choice and action.
Thus, it can be said that the indeterminism via its result of obstacles prevents from agent's realization of obtaining his own aims and intentions. Hence it provides a way to the possibility of obtaining other aims and intentions that resulted from different choices, so the free choice and act has been formed.
To be the really free agent of our own self - forming actions we must in some certain time of our life struggle against such obstacles and overcome them to realize that we have attained our purpose and done what we wanted.
n. There is another problem that is since the agent _ according to the theory of indeterminism of self-forming actions_ does not have full control over the motives and preliminaries of his choice, there is a kind of chance or arbitrary which constitutes a part of the preliminaries of the agent's action.
According to Mr. Robert Kane, this question indicates an important fact in the case of freedom namely the value experiment. What is revealed by this fact is that every free or indeterministic choice is a beginning point for the experiment of value; that are the actions and behaviours which cannot be justified by the reasons past, because its reasons are hidden in the coming events and it will only be revealed in the future.
In making such a choice the agent says himself:
‘Let me try this. It is not required by my past, but it is consistent with my past and is one branching pathway my life can now meaningfully take. Whether it is the right choice, only time will tell. Meanwhile, I am willing to take responsibility for it one way or the other.’12
This kind of choice is not a result of the previous qualities or actions, although it is in coordination with them, and it is in fact branching a past constituted personality and grounding intentionally a new personality which will-only in future-be known whether it is right or wrong. Therefore, it can be said that our self-forming actions are compatible with the previous actions and states and they create a new part of our life routed in our previous character.
After this quite short explanation of the Robert Kane's theory of Causal Indeterminism, now we firstly try to compare it with the most important theories in contemporary Islamic philosophy, and secondly to point out some critics concerning it.
In comparison with the contemporary Islamic philosophy the theory of causal indeterminism seems to be very close to the Sadr's theory of Sovereignty. Because according to Kane's the most important condition for the agent's ultimate responsibility is ‘the agent's power to be the ultimate creator and sustainer of his own ends or purposes’13 which is similar to what Sadr called ‘The sovereignty of the agent’.
But in spite of this similarity there is a very important difference here between what Kane called agent's power and Sadr's sovereignty, that is -in brief- according to Kane the agent's power-as he described –is solely concerning to the self-forming actions, whilst the next actions are necessarily determined by them which means that with the exception of the self-forming actions the other actions has not been chosen by free will, and as a result the agent has not had a directly control over them.
But in Sadr's point of view the agent's sovereignty is not limited to any part of the willed actions. According to Sadr the agent's sovereignty is the main source of his control which comprehends all the willed agent's actions.
The other similarity between these two theories is the philosophical separation between causality in one hand and causal determinism or causal necessity in the other hand. The both philosophers believe that the negation of determinism doesn't mean the negation of causality, and the affirmation of causality doesn't mean the affirmation of determinism.
But also in this point there is some difference between them, for the Sadr's theory of sovereignty attempts to solve the problem of the impossibility of preference without a preponderant by a given suggestion of agent's sovereignty as an alternative of the preponderant, but it is not clear how the theory of causal indeterminism could overcome this problem.
To criticise the Kane's theory of causal indeterminism we are pointing out some consideration as following:
1. Grant, that Kane's given explanation of free action which refers it to the self-forming actions succeeded in showing an acceptable reason for the indeterminism of the agent's act, but the question that remains is, in the process of occurrence of undetermined self-forming actions, at such a difficult time when we are torn between competing visions of what we should do, what makes the agent choose that specific action and not the others?
To say that:’ Well, we know that the brain is a parallel processor’ or ‘In cases of self-formation (SFAs), agents are simultaneously trying to resolve plural and competing cognitive tasks’ is not sufficient to solve the problem. The question still remains that since the agent's choice is not a kind of chance, accident or random, what is the real factor that makes the agent try one way, and not the other.
In reply to this objection Kane explained:’ What makes an act or choice an agent's act or choice is that it is resulted from his efforts and deliberation which resulted from its previous motives, reasons and images, so it doesn't need to be influenced by deterministic force’. But the question arises again: Since there is more than one flow of previous motives and reasons with the equal possibilities of choices, what causes only one flow to be chosen by the agent?
2. In his explanation of the self-forming actions Kane emphasized that the agent confronts two conflicting perspectives of what he should do or what can be done. In such time as he said person might be torn between two kinds of stimulants, and there is uncertainty in his mind about what to do at such times, which reflects in the indeterminacy of his own neural processes, which causes agent to be pulled towards unknown and uncertain outcomes.
This expression contains a premise and a result. The premise is in short the complexity of motivations in the brain and neural system, and the result - as this theory tries to affirm – is the free will and the free act of the agent. But, in fact, there is not any logical relevance between these two parts of Kane's allegation (the premise and the result), for that obviously the premise (which is the complexity of stimulants or motivations in the brain and neural system and ultimately the uncertainty in the agent's mind about what to do or what to choose) does not logically entail or result in the freewill nor the free act of the agent.
We can't understand how the freewill or the power of the agent upon his action can be resulted from such kind of complexity and uncertainty which logically entails perplexity, inability and failure. The reality in such status is that the agent undergoes lack of power to choose, lack of power to decide, and lack of power to act. There is not any reason – but the chance- for the agent to be pulled towards any outcome.
3. Finally it seems that the theory of Causal Indeterminism has not given a clear suggestion to solve the main problem of human freewill which derived from the incompatibility between general causal law and freewill. For that the basic question still remains: How can the general causal law be compatible with free choice and action, whilst the causal law cannot be segregated from necessity and determinism, and no way to deny causal law, because it results in chance and random and consequently negates freewill and free action.
Compatibilists believe that there is no contradiction between determinism and freewill. They maintain that despite of the comprehensive running general law of causal determinism which governs all human acts the human possesses a full freewill and bears utter responsibility towards his acts.
This point of view is close to the philosophical trend of Islamic thought particularly the transcendent philosophy of Mulla Sadra. As it explained in part 1 of this study Muslim philosophers particularly Mulla Sadra persistently believe that not only freewill and responsibility are consistent with determined causal law, but rather the determined causal law is a necessary condition for the freewill and its result of responsibility.
The compatibilists in western philosophy are divided in two groups:
The Classical compatibilists: Some very known philosophers like Thomas Habbes, David Hume, Jan Stuart Mill, A. J. Ayer, Moritz Schilck, G. A. More, Nielsen, and Skinner can be counted among them. Classical campatibilism has been an extremely popular view among philosophers and scientists in the twentieth century.14
New Compatibilists: Some famous philosophers such as Daniel Dennet, Harry Frankfurt, Susan Wolf, and Gary Watson are seen among them.
We can't discuss all opinions which revealed here by these philosophers, and it has not been necessary in such study which is focusing on general ideas, but we will be contented with a remarkable explanation of each one of these two trends of compatibilism. Among the Classical compatibilists we will choose the explanation of A. J. Ayer, and among new compatibilists we'll choose Harry Frankfurt.
Alfred Jules Ayer delivered his explanation of compatibilism in his essay published under the title of ‘Freedom and Necessity’ which can be summarized as follows:
1. When it is said that the agent acted freely it means that he could have acted otherwise. If he had more than one choice and he could act what he wanted to act it means that he has done freely and he bears full responsibility of what he has acted. In contrast with that when the agent is fronting just one way and there is no more than one choice to act, it means that there is no freewill nor freely act and in result the agent bears not any responsibility of what he does.
Therefore, if we believe that all human conduct are governed by general causal law then the agent's action wouldn't be counted as free action, because according to this assumption all human actions are causally determined then there is no any space remained for agent's choice or freewill. It seems that there is a very clear contraction between general causal law and freewill.
2. The clear feeling that exists in the human beings in relation to freedom has obliged some of the philosophers to not include all human acts within the general causal law, and to resolve the problem of contradiction between this internal feeling and the general causal law by limiting the causal law.
But the truth is that the feeling of freedom doesn't prove that the reality is so. It may not to be true, and in spite of that feeling the general causal law may be true. It is probable that the agent influenced by some previous causes but he is unaware of them.
In addition, the law of universal causation is not a necessary presupposition of scientific explanation of the agent's action. It is conceivable that more investigation lead the scientists to discover some systematic connection between the agent act and some other events, but it is also conceivable that it leads them to the negation of any systematic connection between the agent's act and all other events.
3. But the negation of general causal law relative to human acts can only result in accidental choice or choice by chance. The meaning of the fact that ‘the human preference of one choice over the other has no cause’ is that; he has made his choice by accident or by chance, in which case the human freedom might be reserved. But this kind of freedom will not result in human being morally responsible for his acts, whereas the objective p of the discussion of human freedom is to prove his responsibility in relation to his free acts.
4. It could be said that the preference of one choice by the human has not been accidental or by chance and has been caused by attributes that have formed the human character. And due to the fact that these attributes have come about via human choice, human is responsible for his choices due to these choices being the result of the attributes of his character which have been formed by his decision.
But this concept dose not resolve anything as we again question the choices that have come about via those attributes of the character. And the question is that: Are these choices caused by determined causes? If they are so then there will be a problem of determinism, otherwise they have been caused by chance in which case the moral responsibility is unjustifiable.
5. This is where we conclude that there are only two solutions to this problem:
a. We either prove that the moral responsibility does not require the freedom of act of man, and that man is able to claim moral responsibility for his acts in which case it is against the freedom, and is subject to determined cause.
b. Or else we try to find a way to reconcile human freewill with determined cause which would prove that determined cause does not obstruct human freedom.
The first solution does not seem logical. This is due to moral responsibility being clearly dependent on human's freedom of act. Human under any circumstances cannot claim moral responsibility for an act in which he had no authority in committing and has been inflicted upon him by a determined cause.
The only solution that remains is that, the idea of contradiction between determined cause and human freedom to be removed, and to prove that the law of determined cause has no inconsistency with human freedom.
6. A number of Philosophers have attempted a specific definition of freedom in order to solve the problem of contradiction between determined cause and human freedom. They defined the freedom as:’ The consciousness of necessity’. In the other word: Freedom means the awareness of human of the causal determination of the act that has been committed by him. Based on this definition the agent's awareness of the necessity of his act is the essence of freedom.
According to this meaning of freedom not only the determined causal law does not contradict agent's freedom, but further it is a necessary condition of the agent's free act, and without the determined causal law the freedom cannot be conceivable.
But giving a new meaning of the word ‘Freedom’ does not mean that the contradiction between determined cause and freedom is solved, because the philosophical argument of the problem of compatibility between determined causality and freedom comes about the ordinary meaning of freedom which entails the contingency of both to act and not to act, and negates compulsion and necessity.
When I have compelled by someone to do what I dislike, it is obvious that I'm not free, despite of my awareness of the compulsion and the determined causal law which resulted in my action. The fact is that giving the new definition of freedom as the awareness of the agent doesn't change what is done in reality whether it's been free or not free.
Probably the reason that led these philosophers to this kind of solution is because they suppose that the awareness of determined causal law enables a man to overcome the determined causes and manage them in the way that he wants. But it is just an imaginary assumption, because if the man would be able to manage the causes in his wanted direction and change them from way to way it means that there is not neither compulsion nor necessity.
7. Then to solve the problem there is no way but to focus on the ordinary meaning of freedom. Therefore we need – at first - to clarify this freedom by pointing out what it is contrasted with. This sense of the freedom is not obviously contrasted with the causality, but it is contrasted with constraint. When I have said that I was free to act or not to act it does not mean that there was not any reason for what I have done and my action had not been caused by any determined cause, but it means that there was not any external agent that forced and constrained me to act.
8. Now, we have to define the word ‘constraint’ and to explain that in what circumstances the agent can be legitimately described as a constrained agent?
The basic criterion of the constraint is that the agent's act doesn't arise from deliberated choice of to act or not to act which can be called ‘the process of deciding whether to do or not to do’.
The constrained act which is lack of the deliberated choice or the process of deciding whether to do or not to do, can be derived from the external factor, like a man who forced by another one to do something. In this case the actor can avoid doing what he forced to do, but he believed that if he didn't do so he would face a more disadvantageous situation. Also the constrained act can be derived from a habitual ascendancy of the external factor over the agent. In this case again the agent that induced to act as the other one wanted didn't act by the deliberated choice or the process of decision then he was not free, nevertheless his act was not necessary.
Also a kleptomaniac is not a free agent, because he doesn't go through the process of deciding whether to do or not to do, although his stealing is not necessary.
9. Here a question arises: That if the free agent's act is dominated by causal determined law, what is the deference between the agent's free act and his constrained act, whilst the alternative is impossible for both of them?
The answer is that the deference between the free act and the constrained act is not to be an effect of determined cause or not to be so, but the deference is that what kind of cause is the cause. The constrained act is which arises from a constraining cause which obstructs the process of deciding whether to do or not to do, whereas the free act is which arises from a cause within that process.
10. One may question again: That since all causes equally necessitate the effects how is it possible for a cause to be different from the other in its action? How can conceive the difference of consequences between two determined causes within same circumstances of necessity and determination? It is a kind of arbitrary to say that an action is free when it is necessitated in one fashion but not when it is necessitated in another.
To answer this question we have to point out the precise meaning of the word 'necessitate' in proposition of 'all causes equally necessitate the effects'. If it is taken as equivalent to 'cause' it will be a meaningless tautology, for that it is the same to say that: 'all causes are causes', but if, as it is suitable to the question, it is taken as equivalent to 'constrain' or 'compel' then the proposition will not be true.
For all that needed for one event to be the cause of another is that, in the given circumstances, the event which is said to be the effect would not have occurred if it had not been for the occurrence of the event which is said to be the cause. In one word, there is an invariable concomitance between two classes of events, but there is no compulsion or constrain. Consequently, an agent's action to be under the natural causal law does not follow that it is under constraint.
11. The conclusion is that, for to say that the agent is free in his action, the criterion is:
Firstly: He could act otherwise, whenever he had to choice.
Secondly: His being able to act otherwise is not in the sense of which the Kleptomaniac is.
Thirdly: No any external force compels him to do so.
With these three conditions the action should be described as free action, while it isn't a kind of chance, but an explainable act within the chain of causal nexus.
12. In addition to what we explained, the misleading of words 'determinism' 'necessity' and 'cause' playing a rule in the complication of this philosophical problem. They seemed to imply that one event is somehow overcomes by another, whereas the fact is that they are correlated. The fact is that when an event of one type occurs, an event of another type occurs also, in a certain temporal relation to the first. The rest is only metaphor.
13. But the question that still remains is that: If the postulate of determinism adopted then the future will be predictable, which means that what will happen in the future is already decided, therefore no any act can be free and the agent will be a helpless prisoner of fate, whilst all actions already decided and appointed.
The answer is that, to predict future from the past doesn't mean that the agent is lack of power upon his action as the prisoner of fate, but it means that it is possible to deduce the future from the past according to general laws. In a word: To know what you are going to do, doesn't entail that it is not your own choice or you are acting under constraint.
In the end of this summary of Ayer's explanation of Classical Compatibilism I try at first- as I did for another western theories- to show a short comparison in two points between it and Mulla Sadra's theory of Necessity and Sadr's theory of Sovereignty the two most important theories in contemporary Islamic philosophy. The two points are:
a. There is a very close similarity between Mulla Sadra's and Ayer's opinion in the point of compatibility between causality and free act. They both believe that there is no conflict between general necessary causal law and the free will or choice of the agent, but the conflict is between constraint and free will or choice, and the philosophical problem here arose from the complexity of two concepts: necessity, and constraint.
Nevertheless there is a minute deference between them. That is the sadra's opinion focused on the criterion of the free act and suggested that the criterion of free act is to be derived from the agent's consent (R. P.20). But the Ayer's focused on the criterion of non-free act and suggested that it is to be derived from constraint.
b. Whilst both Sadra and Ayer insist on the definition of the word: Freedom, and it’s definitely importance in this discussion, there is a fundamental variance between two definitions of Freedom given by each of them. Sadra emphasizes that freedom doesn't entail the contingency of the action or the equality of both to act and not to act. The Freedom in his view is not but the awareness and consent of the agent towards his act, what and why he is going to do, while Ayer emphasizes on the ordinary concept of Freedom which contains- as he alleges- the equality of both to act and not to act.
Confronted with both of them: Sadr in his theory of sovereignty doesn't believe in the allegation that the problem arises from the complexity of necessity and constraint, but he insists that there is an essential confliction between general causal law which entails necessity of the act, and the freedom which cannot be existed without the contingency of the action or the equality of both to act or not to act. For that he believes that there is no way but the exception of general causal law and the rule of general necessity in case of the freewill and all free actions.
To criticize the Ayer's explanation of Classical Compatiblism I'm putting down the following points:
1. The central philosophical problem here is that the base of the general causal law is that the things- containing the human acts- to be existed need a given necessary existence from their causes, and given necessary existence negates the equality of the existence and non-existence of the act which means its determination. The distinction between necessity or causality and constraint is not subservient whilst even in the non-constraint circumstances the cause must be determining its effect (i.e. human act), otherwise since both to be or not to be are equally possible the effect absolutely will not be existed.
2. Granted that the criterion of the free action is as Ayer mentioned, but the question is that, what is then the different between chance and free act, since the chance has got also all that criterion attributes?
3. Since it is postulated that causes necessitate their effects, it is not clear how to conceive the difference between two kinds of causes: constraining causes and non-constraining causes.
To say that the non-constraining causes necessitate their effects in the sense of correlation doesn’t explain the reason of correlation between cause and its effect whilst the assumption is that there is no constraint and no any external forcing agent.
I will summarise the theory of harry Frankfurt explained in his article entitled ‘free will and the concept of a person’ as follows:
1. Human desires are of two kinds: ‘first-order desire’ and ‘second-order desire’. ‘first-order desires’ are those desires which the human being is inclined towards but are not necessarily performed. ‘second-order desires’ are those desires which are performed. The meaning of will is that which is performed; therefore, it is only the ‘second-order desires’ which form the meaning of will.
‘Second-order desire’ has two types, which are desiring and action, and having the desire for desiring an action; for at times it is possible that an individual does not desire the action itself, rather he wants only its desire, and at other times he wants the action itself without wanting the desire for the action.
2. The second type of ‘second-order desire’, which is the desire which leads to action, alongside the want for the desire, is the defining criterion of the concept of person.
It is possible that a person has the first type of ‘second-order desire’, which means he has the desire to choose one thing from a number of things, and to perform it, however, this desire and will has not been shaped by his will and desire, meaning that it is not the second-order desire or will, such as children or at times mature or old people who have no control over their desire, for they cannot want what they desire, and do not know how to want to perform what they desire; hence, these agents are not persons. The term ‘wanton’ can be used for these agents. All non-human species and humans who do not have control over their will and their actions are subject to their ‘first-order desires’, and their ‘second-order desire’ is not subject to their second-order will are wantons.
3. Lack of reason and reflection does not lie in the meaning of wanton. What distinguishes the rational wanton agent from the rational person agent, is that the wanton agent does not consider which of its first-order desires is superior to the others.
Although the primary element of a person is based on second-order will and not reason, what makes second-order will and its formation possible is rational capacities, and one who does not have rational capacities is devoid of personality.
4. It is possible for a person who possesses second-order will, reason and reflection, to be incapable of wanting that which they identify as good from their first-order desires, and for the person to surrender to his other first-order desires in his action. However what he has desired in his action and what he has performed, is a real desire, and that desire defines his real identity and personality. Whereas the wanton never evaluates and contemplates between its first-order desires, and cannot or does not want to think in regards to which one of its first-order and conflicting desires wins out and will be actualized. Therefore, for the wanton, victory or defeat between its conflicting of first-order desires has no meaning.
5. Second-order desire is the criterion of freedom of the will. Therefore, the individual who can choose between his first-order desires that which he has identified as the best through reflection and evaluation, and actualises it by his second-order, will has freedom of will. However the individual who cannot or does not want to choose the best amongst his first-order desires, or having found the best cannot actualise and perform it, does not have freedom of the second-order will, but rather is dominated by an agent which shapes his second-order will, contrary to what he knows as better, and therefore does not have complete freedom of the will, and in reality does not possess a complete personality.
This definition of person which is an individual who has such freedom of the will, excludes all wanton beings, be they human or infrahuman which lack the essential conditions of having freedom of the will; furthermore it excludes human beings which have determined free will.
6. Now the question is that, what kind of freedom is ‘freedom of the will’?
In traditional philosophy freedom is defined as such: freedom is ‘to do what one wants to do’. This definition delivers only a part of the definition of the ‘free agent’ and does not include another special part of the definition of ‘free agent’.
Animals do what they want to do, therefore ‘doing what one wants to do’ is not a sufficient condition for the realisation of freedom of the will, it is not even a necessary condition of freedom of the will; for in order to deprive an individual of freedom of the will in a specific behaviour or action it is not necessary to remove freedom from their will. There is no difference in the degree of freedom between an agent who knows that there are many things that he is not free to do, and an agent who is in between same conditions but does not know that he is not free.
7. The primary issue is how freedom of the will to be acquired. Here the question is in regard to how will or desire to be formed, and not the relationship between desire and action.
It must be said that the freedom of the will is when an individual is free to desire and to will that which he wants; this means that he is free in willing what he wills.
Therefore, the individual tries out freedom of the will where he is sure of the conformity of his will and second-order desires, and he tries out The absence of freewill when he finds discrepancy between his will and his second-order desires, or when he finds a conformity between them, he does not regard it as the result of his own attempt, but rather as the result of a pleasant coincidence.
8. Freedom of the individual in doing what he desires, does not place the individual in the situation of ‘freedom of the will’. When the individual above in addition to being free in doing what he wants to do, is also free in willing what he desires, the desirable freedom or the conceivable freedom is realised, and it is in this way that he has not lost anything of freedom.
9. The theories which have been presented in interpreting freedom of the will have not been able to clarify the following two points; why is freedom of the will desirable, and why animals (animals other than human beings) are not considered to possess freedom of the will. For example according to the theory of Roderick Chisholm which is an interesting instance of the doctrine that freedom of will entails an absence of causal determination, whenever a person performs a free action, a miracle has occurred, because for example when a person moves their hand, this motion of the hand is a result of a series of physical causes.
However, some events in this series presumably occur in the part that is related to the brain that are caused by the agent and are not caused by the other elements of the series of causes. Therefore, the free agent has a prerogative which some would attribute only to God: each of us, when we act, is a prime mover unmoved.
Although by this theory the lack of free will in non-human living beings is explained, however it is not clear, that why according to this theory the person who is a free agent must believe in the possibility of interrupting the chain of causes by himself. Chisholm has not explained what reasonable difference exists between the person who miraculously and by interrupting the chain of causes and effect moves his hand, with the individual who moves his hand as part of the chain of causes and effects.
10. In addition to the two points that we mentioned about freedom, a third condition for the reasonable interpretation of free will is that it has to be capable of presenting an acceptable analysis of ‘moral responsibility’. It seems that the moral responsibility of the individual toward his action does not occur only when it is done by free will. A person can be morally responsible for his actions even though he does not have any freedom of the will.
Although having freedom in making an alternative choice, or in other words, the possibility of choosing another option from the first-order desires is a condition of freedom of the will, it has no relation with moral responsibility. For the assumption that the individual is responsible towards the action he has performed, does not require the person being situated in a condition where he is free in his will and in performing the action.
When the person has done what he desired, whether he has had another option or not, he has done his own desire and acting what he wanted. Therefore, the person cannot claim that he have been forced by an agent outside his essence and will to perform the action, or to claim that he has been naught but a mere observer.
Under these conditions it is irrelevant in evaluating the person’s moral responsibility towards the action they have performed, to inquire about other options and to see whether they were available to the person or not.
If person does not exist in the wanton agent such as a child or an adult whose will is under the hegemony of others, and if in the unwilling agent, such as an addict who desires to stop his addiction and is discontent with his addiction, but cannot stop it, will does not exist, then freedom of the will also does not exist, but in another type of agent such as the addict who knows that his addiction is damaging to him, and has numerous options, and knows that he can opt any of the choices that he desires, there is a person possessing will to act and intentionally chooses addiction by his own will, but there is no free will.
Although the situation of this addict is a situation of over-determination, for the desire to use drugs has become active and irresistible in him, because he is physiologically addicted, however despite this irresistible inclination it is his own inclination, for he has desired it.
Here although the will of this addict has not been controlled by himself, he has desired by his own second-order desire for this inclination to be the active and influencing inclination, and has allowed this inclination to form and influence his will; therefore, he has made the will for the consumption of drugs his own will. Hence the willing addict has moral responsibility not only towards the influence of his addiction in shaping his will towards the consumption of drugs, but also towards the act of consumption of drugs itself.
11. The meaning that I (Harry Frankfurt) present for ‘freedom of the will’, seems very natural in relation to determinism; for it is conceivable that because of causal determinism the individual is free to want what he wants. Therefore, in this way because of causal determinism the individual has freedom of the will. Some individuals having freedom of the will because of causal determination, and others not having freedom of the will because of the presence of the same causal determination is nothing more than the appearance of a harmless paradox.
In reality there is no paradox in this proposition, that an agent or agents other than the person have the moral responsibility of his having or not having freedom of the will. It is completely possible that an individual is morally responsible for what he has performed by his own free will, and that another individual is also morally responsible for what this person has performed.
It is also rational that an individual accidentally has freedom of the will (not because of causal determinism). Therefore, it is conceivable that some individuals accidentally have freedom of the will and others accidentally do not.
It is likely that there is a third way for the individual having freedom of the will, without it being accidental or through causal determinism and natural series of causes, but a third way which also results in freedom of the will.
The aforementioned is a summary of Harry Frankfurt’s theory in the explanation and interpretation of freedom of the will. The following can be said in the comparison of Harry Frankfurt’s theory with the two Islamic theories of freedom of the will which were previously mentioned:
1. In the comparison of this theory with Mulla Sadra’s theory, the first similarity is that, they both neither regard freedom of the will and causal determinism to be contradictory. Another similarity between the two theories is that neither regards causal determinism and moral responsibility as contradictory, and do not consider the presence or lack of presence of another option as the primary condition in the moral responsibility of the free agent.
2. In the comparison of this theory with the theory of Ayatullah Muhammad Baqir al-Sader we witness a clear difference between these two theories in both of the aforementioned points. Ayatullah Muhammad Baqir al-Sader in his theory of Sovereignty, regards freedom of the will as completely contradictory to causal determinism; he believes that moral responsibility completely dependant on the presence of numerous choices for the agent, and is of the opinion that freedom of the will is fully related on the one hand with the presence of numerous choices, and on the other hand with moral responsibility.
The conclusion that was reached in the above comparison is very natural; for as we mentioned before Mulla Sadra in the theory of causal necessity like Harry Frankfurt falls under the category of compatibilsts; whereas Ayatullah Muhammad Baqir al-Sader is of the incompatibilists who are opposed to the opinion Harry Frankfurt and similar thinkers to him.
The following can be said in a brief critique of Harry Frankfurt’s theory:
1. Frankfurt’s theory presents an interesting analysis of the concept of person and its relation to freedom of the will, and has presented precise points in regards to the nature of freedom of the will; however, it has not presented a new solution to the problem of the contradiction between freedom of the will and causal determinism.
Simply by stating that freedom of the will is compatible with causal determinism and that moral responsibility is not dependant on the numerousness of choices, without offering a philosophical clarification, does not solve why it is so.
If the lack of presence of numerous choices is compatible with moral responsibility, therefore why is it that the rational conscience of human beings does not hold a person whose free will has been taken by another human being as morally responsible; for example in the case of a person who has been forced to commit a crime, or a child who has been deceived by others to commit a crime, neither is held morally responsible, and all the moral responsibility is for the agent who has forced the crime, for he is the real agent of the crime and the primary and real criminal.
If causal determinism is compatible with freedom of the will, why doesn’t the rational conscience of human beings hold the person who because of physiological problems is unable to perform some social responsibilities, as guilty for not performing them, and does not regard him as equal with a person who has full physical health but does not perform his social responsibilities.
2. Mr Frunkfurt correctly does not deem the criterion of Freedom of the Will as related to the freedom of the will with the action arising from it or in other words the freedom of the agent in what he desires. Rather he deems the criterion of freedom of the will to be the freedom of the will of the agent, or as he puts it he deems it in the freedom of the agent in desiring what he wants. This issue is what we discussed in the beginning of our discussion, where we discussed the primary problem of the contradiction between freedom and causality. We said there that between the free agent and its introductions there are two relations:
• The relation of freedom with action.
• The relation of will with its introductions. The centre of the primary philosophical problem is the second type of relation.
The primary problem as we previously stated is that if we consider will to be subject to causal determination, the formation of will, will be according to the ‘impossibility of preponderance without preponderant’ and in this case there will be no difference between what we term as the ‘free will’ and as the ‘unfree will’; such as the person who is forced into performing an act. On the other hand if we do not submit to the law of ‘causal determination’ we face the problem of violating the ‘general principle of causality’ and the acceptance of spontaneous and the accidental phenomena without a cause or ‘preponderance without preponderant’.
In Mr Frankfurt’s theory a solution to this philosophical dead end cannot be seen; rather what is seen in this theory is submission to the problem, and as a result the acceptance of the violation of the ‘general principle of causality’, and submission to the assumption of mere accident, spontaneous and preponderance without preponderant, or the accidental phenomena without a cause.
Here, it is not convenient to argue about the absoluteness of the general principle of causality. It suffices to say that by refuting the general principle of causality not only will the foundation of the sciences fall, but also the foundation of logic and logical reasoning will fall, and with the fall of the foundations of logic and reasoning the striving of Frankfurt and those similar to him for clarifying and reasoning for the correctness of their theory and the incorrectness of others’ theories will be futile. Thus, as Mr Frankfurt believes in the correctness of his theory, he proves it through reasoning, and this shows that he has accepted the ‘general principle of causality’. He has vanished the accidental phenomena that is without a cause, or the ‘preponderance without preponderant’ from his set of probabilities. Therefore the philosophical problem of the contradiction between the general principle of causality and freedom of the will remains unanswered by Mr Frankfurt.
Here our discussion about Harry Frankfurt’s theory which is an example of new compatibilists ends. Therefore our discussion about the second school of the three western philosophical schools about freedom and causality or free will and determinism also ends.
This school is also known as the school of ‘Hard determinism’; for contrary to the school of ‘Compatibilist determinists’ which is also referred to as ‘soft determinists’, for although they believe in the principle of causal determinism they consider it as compatible with freedom of the will, and believe in the compatibility of those two with the free agent, Incompatibilist determinists or Hard determinists do not believe in the compatibility of freedom of the will with causal determinism, and deem the human being’s will as subject to the principle of causal determinism and do not believe in the freedom of the human being’s will.
One of the most distinguished philosophers who defends this way of thinking is Professor Paul Edwards from New York University, and the general editor of the Encyclopaedia of Philosophy (published in 1967). In a work published under the name ‘Hard and Soft Determinism’ he explains this theory and defends it. Here we present a summary of this theory as stated in the mentioned work:
1. Although William James in his essay ‘The Dilemma of Determinism’ has rejected both the approach of ‘Hard Determinism’ and ‘Soft Determinism’ he still mentions Hard Determinism with respect, whereas he considers Soft Determinism as a kind of ‘quagmire of evasion’.15
The theory of Moderate Determinism which James calls soft determinism , especially the variety of it which is accepted and supported by Hume, Mill and Schlick has had many supporters in the past 25 years. This is while in these years very few people have defended Hard Determinism. I (Paul Edwards) will argue for this theory here, and will strive to speak on behalf of the supporters of this philosophical school.
2. First it is necessary to clearly explain the main contentions of the supporters of Soft Determinism. Since the most dominant form of this school is that which is explained by Hume, Mill and Schlick, I will make it the axis of my talk. According to this theory there is no contradiction between Determinism and the proposition that human beings are sometimes free agents. When we call an action ‘free’ it does not all mean that it is free from the principle of ‘causality’ and is outside its rule, and it is because of this that we make moral judgements about some actions.
Although at times outside causes impose a certain action on the ‘agent’ or the ‘agent’ loses its freedom of action under the influence of some causes. However, in most circumstances the ‘agent’ acts with complete freedom and rational desires, in a way that nothing has taken away the free will of the agent, and the agent has chosen an action by his own absolute free will.
The rule of the principle of causality on these two types of action, ‘the free act and the unfree act’ is equal. What distinguishes these two actions from each other is not whether they are subjected or not subjected to the principle of causality, rather what distinguishes these two types of act is the ‘type of cause’ in each of these two acts.
3. Secondly there is no antithesis between ‘Determinism’ and ‘Moral Responsibility’. When we consider a person morally responsible for a certain act, it means that we have had the presupposition that he is a ‘free agent’. This freedom is in no way contra causal freedom. In this free act there is nothing by the ability of the agent to do what it wants or desires. Since Determinism is compatible with freedom in this meaning, it will also be compatible with moral responsibility.
Mill who can be considered as the greatest moraliser has paid special attention to one class of human desires. He believes that not only some lowly desires – such as my desire to have a new car can influence my actions. But also my desire to virtue can influence my action and push me towards virtuous behaviour. In order to change my character to the desired character, I can choose a hard work and actions which are compatible with the virtuous desire.
Suppose that I am faced with two contradicting desires; on the one hand an intense desire for fame, and on the other hand an intense desire to serve people without being known. Furthermore suppose that I have come to know a therapy that can transform my character to a fame seeking character or virtuous and fame indifferent character, and all the necessary conditions and tools for choosing either of these two characters and creating the necessary transformation is present for me. In the opinion of Mill choosing either of these two ways is possible for me.
Therefore, based on the theory of Mill, we can build our personality the way we desire and not only is determinism in accordance with the moral obligations but it also concords with moral judgments about the personality of man despite the restrictions.
3- Nevertheless the saying of Mill when explaining soft determinism as a kind of ‘quagmire of evasion’ seems exaggerated; it does not seem far from reality. This is because hard determinists were never influenced by the desires and did not deny effort and the decision of the agent in the ‘behavioural incident’. Therefore the main conflict between the hard determinists and the soft determinists has not been the influence of desire and the decision of agent in formation of the behaviour.
The conflicting issue originates from the human will and desire which are the source of emergence decision and will and also the supplier. In response to the description Hume and Mill have given regarding the ‘Voluntary behaviour’ the hard determinists can say: we accept that the desire and will and the decision of man will shape his voluntary behaviour, however, the issue is that what is the origin of this decision and will and desire that are beyond the decision and will?
In any case, the desires, the will and the decisions of the agent as well as his personal structure are all rooted in the hereditary factors and originate from there and glaringly man has no role in the origination and creation of these hereditary factors and his first growing environment. In his famous quote, schopenhauer says:
‘A man can surely do what he wills to do, but he cannot determine what he wills.’16
For example, imagine two people who are suffering extreme nervous breakdown and as a result of this are lacking balance in their personality and are entangled in involuntary nervous behaviour. There is a suitable cure for this problem which can change their personality and turn it into a healthy and balanced one. However, this cure needs extreme motivations and high levels of energy. One of these two, e.g. person A, benefits from enough whereas the other, person B, is lacking that energy and motivation. As a result, the treatment of A will be successful and he will enjoy suitable behaviour and personality whereas the second person, B, will remain with the same behaviour and the unbalanced personality.
Here, although the behaviour and personality of A will be different to that of B, where this difference is rooted in the decision and will of each of them, A was able to choose the treatment and B was not able to opt for it and thus unable to change his behaviour and personality. This is the consequence of the conditions and factors that were not in control of either of them and neither had any role in creating those conditions and factors being the motivation and the necessary energy for the treatment and somewhat the motivation and the necessary energy for the treatment resulted in the environment and the dominant hereditary conditions of the personality of each of them and naturally they did not have any role in creating that environment or the hereditary factors.
4- The soft determinists do not deny the fact that the personality and the will and decision of man all originate from external factors and they do not disregard the external factors that influence the personality and decision of man when justifying the moral obligations of human behaviour. In fact there are no disagreements between the hard determinists and the soft determinists on the objective incidents and realities related to behaviour and both groups agree that the behaviours originate from the will and personality of man and man’s personality and will is influenced by the external factors.
The main difference between these two is in the manner of interpretations and conclusions from these objective realities. The conclusion of some of the hard determinists is that therefore, man has no moral obligation towards whatever behaviour he shows whereas the soft determinists do not make such a conclusion from these objective realities and rather consider man morally responsible towards his behaviour despite the objective realities.
Here we are trying to explicate the conclusion of the hard determinists and explain its reason and justify and interpret their conclusion from these objective realities.
5- For this purpose, I shall employ the difference Mr Campbell17 has considered between the two ‘moral obligation concepts’ in his valuable journal titled ‘is free will a Pseudo Problem?’ He says: two different groups of people need two different set of conditions to act upon ‘moral responsibility’ in their behaviour.
The first group are normal people who are unaware and ignorant of scientific and philosophical and religious thoughts. When such people see the behaviour of a man accompanied by compulsion and stress, they will exempt the agent from moral responsibility and once they see a behaviour in accordance with sane desires and wishes of the agent, they find this to be from his decision, they will consider him responsible towards his behaviour and consider his behaviour to benefit from moral responsibility.
Therefore, based on this view, these people consider the only condition for moral behavioural responsibility is for the behaviour to originate from his will and desire and has not been issued by compulsion or any other factor.
In the view of such people the fact that the agent is not the final creator and determinative of his personality and characteristics and features is not an obstacle in moral judgement and bearing the responsibility of his behaviour.
The second types of people are those who benefit from a comparatively high level of intellect who consider the world to be dominated by the comprehensive causality law, scientifically or from philosophical aspect, they believe in philosophies that consider the world to be dominated by a superior unified principle or from religious aspect. They believe that the world has been created and maintained and is under the control and command and governance of a single being whom benefits from Absolute power and endless knowledge.
In order to act upon moral responsibility of man for his behaviour, this group of people need another condition in addition to the previously mentioned condition- the condition of origination of behaviour from will and desire of the agent without the compulsion of an external factor- and consider necessary the benefiting of the agent from other alternatives in addition to the mentioned condition for his behaviour.
I prefer to interpret this additional condition of the intellectual individual necessary for moral obligation (apart from what is in Mr Campbell's statement) in another way. I prefer to say that for moral behavioural responsibility of man, in addition to the condition of origination from desire and will of agent and absence of external compulsive factors, the intellectual individual considers necessary the personality and behaviour of the agent to have been chosen and shaped by the will of the agent himself.
Campbell concludes that determinism is in accordance with the understanding of non intellectuals of the moral responsibility and is in no contradiction. However, it does not correspond with the understanding or the second group of people (the intellectuals) and is fully contradicting.
6- Although I do not agree with the negation of determinism of Mr Campbell, however, I do agree with the basis of the analysis he has offered in different terms.
I do not think that the problem is in the difference in the understanding and usage of the term moral responsibility by the non intellectual and the intellectual. Whether an individual benefits from knowledge or not, he will make use of this term in one place on an occasion to give the first meaning and in another place to give another meaning.
Irrespective of the level of benefit from scientific and philosophical or religious resources, all people will use the term moral responsibility with the first meaning when they are influenced by extreme feelings such as anger or hatred especially where they suffer and are hurt, the understanding that as Mr Campbell interprets as being used by the improvident and non intellectuals. And when they are in normal and calm situations, they will judge a behaviour with intellect and thought and in calmness and pay heed to the fact that the agent of mentioned behaviour has not created and shaped his characteristic and personality and will use the meaning of moral responsibility that is used by the wise and intellectuals.
Clarence Darrow in his known defence before the Jury often utilised the above issue, addressing the Jury: If anyone amongst you, had grown in the same social and family environment as that of the defendant, he would be now standing in the same place as the defendant. This assertion was almost convincing the Jury that the defendant should not be held responsible towards his behaviour.
7- I must mention a point to prevent any misunderstanding of my purpose. The fact which I explained that the individual is not the ultimate creator of his personality and characteristic, results in negation of one’s moral responsibility towards his behaviour.
My purpose is not to remind people to reduce their sense of vengeance and to increase their sense of Public spirit, however this result may occur, but my purpose is that, this sequence will result from that premise, same as any result which derived from previous premises in any reasoning deduction.
In comparison between the above theory and the previous theories of Islamic philosophy in the point of the relation between men’s will and the determined causal law it can be stated: that hard determinism which is supported by Paul Edwards, is in correspondence with the Mulla Sadra’s theory of necessity, and in confliction with the Sadr’s theory of sovereignty, but in consideration of domination of causal law upon the agent’s will, which means absolute determinism and negation of men’s free will according to hard determinism, and consequently negation of men’s moral responsibility, is in confliction with both the theory of necessity and the theory of sovereignty.
The main criticism of hard determinism is the incompatibility between hard determinism and men’s empirical and conscientious feeling of free will. We feel by our conscience and clearly sense in our practice that we are free to chose what we want to do, and we are facing variety of choices without any external force compels us to do a particular given option.
Based on the mentioned clear sense of men’s power of free will, we see that the intellect believe in the men’s responsibility towards his behaviour, and they believe that family circumstances, social environment, hereditary characteristics and other external factors do not compel men to act what he does act, and they do not excuse any criminal agent for his crime due to external compulsion derived from outside factors like that of heredity, social environment and others.
- 1. Kane, 2002, p. 22
- 2. Ibid, p. 8
- 3. Ibid, p. 17
- 4. Ibid, p. 17
- 5. A professor of philosophy in brown university and was the former chief of philosophical committee of America.
- 6. Watson, 1982, pp. 24-35 & Kane, 2002, pp. 47-58
- 7. Kane, 2002, p. 199
- 8. Ibid, p. 204
- 9. Kane, 2002, p. 209
- 10. Eccles, 1970
- 11. Kane, 2002, p.228
- 12. Kane, 1996, pp. 145-6
- 13. Kane, 2002, p. 223
- 14. Kane, 2002, p. 11
- 15. James, 1956
- 16. Kane, 2002, p. 62
- 17. 1951, Vol. LX, No. 240