Tuesday, August 18, 2009

NOTES: How Free Are You? by Ted Honderich

Ted Honderich, How Free Are You? The Determinism Problem (2nd ed., OUP, 2002)

CH. 1
CH. 2
p. 13 What is the difference between a cause and the set of things that included it, which set of things we can call a causal circumstance?

14 …we can take an effect to be an event that was preceded by a causal circumstance––such a circumstance being something that would still have been followed by the effect whatever else had been happening. …events are necessitated events, events necessitated by their causal circumstances.

21 A causal circumstance is what is just enough to necessitate an effect….

CH. 3
CH. 4
p. 39 …conscious events, events of subjectivity, are nomic [or 'whatever-else'] correlates of simultaneous neural events….
[Are mental events, such as those employed in running modus ponens, themselves wholly convertible with neural event-structure? If so, then physical matter is idealized, 'mentalized'. If not, then there is nothing more to mental events, even in logic and reasoning, than brute mechanical operations.]

44 [A problem for libertarian causation is that it admits] the links after N4 have to be pretty tight [viz., so a subject's mental choice can tightly affect neural changes]. But then in factual consistency so do the neural links before N4.

46 … no one has ever begun to answer the question of the nature of the self or originator.

47 …is the originator in the Juliet story was the same from start to finish, why did it somehow cause her decision M4 when it did, rather than at the earlier time of M3 or the later time of the action A?
[This seems to be a gross mangling of modality and the actus-potentia distinction. Further, I might ask how "cat," being one and the same word in its total lexical existence, can at different spatiotemporal points cause such things as diverse as "c", "a", and "t".]

48 …if the originator is unchanging, how can it be said to cause endless numbers of different things, endless different decisions, as of course it is supposed to?

49 The Will… is sometimes said to be a rational disposition (Kenny 1975). Such a thing has the power to produce something all by itself, but it may not. But then what are we to understand about its working when it does work?
[petitio principio…]

53 …the fact of probability simply presupposes that B is the standard effect of something. As I say, bad news if you want to put probability together with indeterminism.

CH. 5
59 When I actually act, I do something than can be called giving a command to a part of my body. …I am an executive, or try to do the thing in question, or set myself to do it.
["I"? "My self"?]

63 (1) Each mental event, including each choosing or deciding, is in nomic connection with an associated neural event. The neural event by itself or together with some other non-mental thing necessitated the mental one. … (2) The mental event and the neural event… were the effect of a causal sequence, whose initial causal circumstance had in it early neural and bodily events and also certain environmental events…. (3) Each action… is the effect of a causal sequence whose initial circumstance included the right active intention.

CH. 6
69 Neuroscience proves psychoneural intimacy.

71 …there is a real difference between saying neural events come from processes that are always neural or otherwise bodily, and saying that neural events come from processes that are always neural or otherwise bodily and also never mental. Only the latter thing conflicts with out view.

73 [In 75 years of Quantum Theory debate,] no evidence in a standard sense has been produced for there being any such chance events.

76 Our determinism denies an interpretation of Quantum Theory. Free Will, as it seems, has to accept and deny that same interpretation. It accepts it in order to escape causation of events. It denies it by then taking those events as not chance events.

CH. 7
88 [Contra the Epicurean objection to determinism:] There doesn't seem to be a conflict between the judgement's being an effect and its corresponding to a fact.

90 If determinism is true I'm not free, and it I'm not free I can't engage in real investigation or enquiry, and so I can't have confidence either in my opposition to the Free Will philosophy of mind and action or in my support for determinism. This seems to me something to which we have to pay serious attention.

CH. 8
91 ff. Life-hopes seem in general to have two kinds of content. There is a state of affairs that we hope for–-say being regarded as in some [92] way a success, or the family's being in good shape, or just owning a car. The state of affairs in this narrow sense is important, but less important than something else. The other kind of content of a hope has to do with our future actions, maybe a long campaign of them. … [93] Life-hopes of the first kind… partly involve thinking of our futures as open or unfixed or alterable. … [94] An open future, a future we can make for ourselves, is one of which determinism isn't true. … [95] There can be no such hope if all the future is just effects of effects. … [96] There is nothing in [the second kind of, so to speak, naturally voluntary hopes] that is inconsistent with it. There is nothing about embraced desires and satisfying situations that conflicts with determinism.

100 Gratitude… has to go.
[i.e., since it credits someone as an originator of something we like]

CH. 9
105 …what we mean by freedom, which in fact is not Free Will, is compatible with determinism.

106 Hobbes, "…a free agent is he that can do as he will, and forbear as he will, and that liberty is the absence of external impediments." … Being unfree is being frustrated…. [Bishop Bramhall retorted to Hobbes:] "true liberty consists in the elective power of the rational will…. Reason is the root, the fountain, the original of true liberty…."

112 …[the] fundamental proposition of both Compatibilists and Incompatibilists is a mistake. We don't have a single settled idea of what has to be true if a choice is to count as free.

114 It is a good idea…, if you are saying you are in possession of the truth, to have an explanation of why a lot of other people disagree.

CH. 10
122 Our situation is that we have the two sets of attitudes, both including life-hopes, personal feelings, attitudes about knowledge, and various moral feelings. One set involves images of origination or Free Will with respect to actions, and the other does not. This is what we are calling Attitudinism. With the first set of attitudes, if we bring it together with the truth of determinism, or of course near-determinism (p. 5), our response may be dismay. We may feel the attitudes must be abandoned because they are inconsistent with determinism. With the second family, our response can be intransigence. We will soldier on, whatever else is true. These attitudes can go together with determinism.

124 Dismay about life-hopes is the response that our hopes are destroyed by determinism, and intransigence is the response that they are untouched by it.

126 …our new response would be this: trying by various strategies to accommodate ourselves to the situation we find ourselves in––accommodate ourselves to just what we can really possess if determinism is true, accommodate ourselves to the part of our lives that does not rest on the illusion of Free Will.

127 Exactly what raises my hopes, my hopes of the kind inconsistent with determinism, is the promise of my somehow overcoming things as they are and will be, my not being bound by causation. But that is the image of origination.

128 …determinism is unique in asserting that we stand in a close and unproblematic connection with nature.

129 Determinism offers the compensation of an escape from a mordant kind of self-dislike and self-disapproval.

CH. 11
CH. 12
151 …Perceptual Consciousness as Existence… explains your sense of life as a sense of something for which you are accountable and also something that is individual and indeed unique in another way or ways.

152 There is a problem about isolating a single condition in a causal circumstance and dignifying it as the cause. The problem, a paradox if you will, is that in a clear sense this cause is no more explanatory of the effect than any other condition in the causal circumstance. [So, Honderich vaguely suggests, we might need a narrative overlay of our life and world in order to call a cause 'more explanatory'.]

1 comment:

UnBeguiled said...

10 days between posts. It's not like anybody was worrying about the typhoon or anything. Dweeb.