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Compatibilism about Free Will and Arguing about Reasons

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  1. Compatibilismabout Free Will and ArguingaboutReasons Ondřej Havlíček GraduateSchoolofSystemicNeurosciencesLMU

  2. (presentationinfo) • Presentedatthe joint neurophilosophy workshop oftheGraduateSchoolofSystemicNeurosciences (LMU Munich) and theBerlinSchoolof Mind and Brian in Venice, 18th ofApril 2013, whichfocused on theMercier &Sperber 2011 paperabouttheargumentativetheoryofreasoning Venice workshop, April 2013,

  3. Twomain points • Argumentative theory of reasoning (M&S 2011): • 1) Provides some foundation for (is compatible with) the compatibilist view of free will • 2) Partially challenges the compatibilist free will as responsiveness to reasons Venice workshop, April 2013,

  4. 1) Concept of free will • (Some) traditional views: FW = metaphysical concept that is the prerequisite for ascribing responsibility. • IC, M.L., A.T.D.O., U.S.O.A., C.C. • (Some) compatibilists: FW = concept arising out of social practices connected with ascribing responsibility. No real magic, no metaphysics. • P.F. Strawson, Frankfurt, Dennett, Pettit, Sie ... Venice workshop, April 2013,

  5. 1) Foundations for the compatibilist concept of FW • “Pragmatic sentimentalist” view (Sie 2013) • Moral responsibility = social function & FW is a part of it • FW is "a concept that arises naturally when we locate ourselves and others in the space of reasons“ (has no straightforward definition) Venice workshop, April 2013,

  6. 1) Foundations... • Sie: We want to take part in joint action (life in society in general) -> coordination problem -> communication & reasoning as a tool • “continuous exchange of reasons and adaptation of our behavior on the basis of that exchange” • Ability to give & evaluate arguments -> space of reasons • Pettit 2007: Actions = agent-controlled <=> we identify agents as within the reach of conversably recognizable reasons Venice workshop, April 2013,

  7. 1) Foundations -> 2) Challenges • Pettit: I have to be able to argue for my action in terms of my reasons • "My agent-control has little to do with the production of action, and much to do with how effectively and authoritatively I can speak for it.“ • But how well does that reflect all causes of action? • We need to show (convince others) we are responsive to reasons & arguments and to normative expectations • But for that we don’t need perfect logical reasoning, we just need to appear reasons-responsive and moral Venice workshop, April 2013,

  8. 2) Challenges to compatibilism • Sie 2010: Our reason-giving practices cannot be taken at face value, we are not directly aware of (all) the causes of our actions • Situationist psychology, unconscious influences and biases • Nisbett & Wilson 1977: We come up with the most plausible explanations (cf. Wegner 2002) • Reason-giving can involve different degrees of confabulation Venice workshop, April 2013,

  9. 2) Challenges... • Sie 2013: In social interaction, we are concerned with the wish to appear moral • In giving reasons, we can even deceive ourselves about our motives for the action • Batson 2008: Moral hypocrisy: • We behave according to norms when it is required to appear moral • We have self-deception strategies when we do not behave morally Venice workshop, April 2013,

  10. 2) Challenges • M&S 2011: Motivated reasoning • 4.2.4: “Reasoning is often used to find justifications for performing actions that are otherwise felt to be unfair or immoral” • Haidt 2001: We can talk about our reasons and judgments as results of deliberation, but often these are rather post-hoc constructions and justifications to influence the judgments made by other people. “We seek their approval and do not aim to provide true reports of the causal antecedents of our judgments.” (Sie 2013) Venice workshop, April 2013,

  11. Conclusions • (Presented version of)compatibilism is not based on clear-cut metaphysical distinctions • All these concepts are complex and fuzzy, come in degrees, intuitive comparison conditions • Free action = “intentional action performed on the basis of informed, rational deliberation by a sane person in the absence of compulsion and coercion” (Haggard, Mele, O’Connor, Vohs) • Degrees of rational deliberationvs. compulsion, rationalizatoin.. -> degrees of responsibility and FW • Not □ ◊ to determine the degree -> ◊problemforcriminallaw Venice workshop, April 2013,

  12. Conclusions... • Limited optimism • Universal rationalization is unlikely • In everyday situations we do not act radically against our implicit “reasons”, beliefs and character even when unconsciously influenced • Education-> knowledge of &resistance to unconscious influences & biases ~ resistance to manipulation • Compatibilism still the best (most useful and with reality consistent) view on free will Venice workshop, April 2013,

  13. References • Batson, C. D. (2008). Moral masquerades: Experimental exploration of the nature of moral motivation. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 7(1), 51–66. • Haggard, P., Mele, A., O’Connor, T., & Vohs, K. (2010). Lexicon of key terms. Big Questions in Free Will. Retrieved May 16, 2012, from • Haidt, J. (2001). The emotional dog and its rational tail: a social intuitionist approach to moral judgment. Psychological Review, 108(4), 814–834. • Mercier, H., & Sperber, D. (2011). Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory. The Behavioral and brain sciences, 34(2), 57–74; discussion 74–111. • Nisbett, R. E., & Wilson, T. D. (1977). Telling more than we can know: Verbal reports on mental processes. Psychological Review, 84(3), 231–259. • Pettit, P. (2007). Neuroscience and Agent-Control. In D. Ross, D. Spurret, H. Kincaid, & G. L. Stephens (Eds.), Distributed cognition and the will: individual volition and social context (pp. 77–91). Cambridge, MA: A Bradford Book. • Sie, M., & Wouters, A. (2010). The BCN Challenge to Compatibilist Free Will and Personal Responsibility. Neuroethics, 3(2), 121–133. • Sie, M. (2013). Free Will, an Illusion? An Answer from a Pragmatic Sentimentalist Point of View. In G. Caruso (Ed.), Exploring the illusion of Free Will and Moral Responsibility. Rowman & Littlefield. • Wegner, D. M. (2002). The Illusion of Conscious Will(p. 419). Cambridge: MIT Press. Venice workshop, April 2013,

  14. Thank you! Venice workshop, April 2013,