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Supercompatibilism and Free Will

Kirkeby-Hinrup, Asger LU (2012) Consciousness and Volition
Abstract
There is a fact of the matter about the nature of the human will and whether it can be considered ‘free’. To investigate this fact is attempting to answer what can be termed the metaphysical question of free will (M-question). The M-question is not identical to the problem of free will. ‘The problem of free will’ is often presented as one of two distinct problems (or sometimes a combination of them). The first problem is whether free will is possible given determinism or indeterminism (D/I-issue). The second problem is whether free will is necessary for responsibility and morals (R/M-issue). I argue that in providing an answer to the M-question, one should disregard both of these problems. The two ‘problems of free will’ need not- and... (More)
There is a fact of the matter about the nature of the human will and whether it can be considered ‘free’. To investigate this fact is attempting to answer what can be termed the metaphysical question of free will (M-question). The M-question is not identical to the problem of free will. ‘The problem of free will’ is often presented as one of two distinct problems (or sometimes a combination of them). The first problem is whether free will is possible given determinism or indeterminism (D/I-issue). The second problem is whether free will is necessary for responsibility and morals (R/M-issue). I argue that in providing an answer to the M-question, one should disregard both of these problems. The two ‘problems of free will’ need not- and should not- yield any influence on the answer to the M-question. The normative claim, ‘that they should not’ is based on considerations of prudence recommending that care should be taken to avoid introducing elements that create arbitrary biases on subjects with which they may have no necessary connection.

Traditionally theories of free will have taken either determinism or indeterminism as a precondition. However, we can do without a definite answer to the D/I-issue, if the answer provided to the Mquestion needs no precondition. This would make it compatible in a certain overarching way i.e. ‘supercompatible’. Do not confuse this idea with compatibilism (theories that claim free will is specifically compatible with determinism). Rather supercompatibilism is a constraint, not a theory. Supercompatibilism is the doctrine that theories of free will should be broadly compatible with regard to the D/I-issue. Broad compatibility thus entails a threshold to the severity of the consequences any definite answer to the D/I-issue can have. A strong supercompatibilist accepts no consequences, and thus set the threshold at zero. In contrast, a weak supercompatibilist will have a higher threshold. She can accept that different outcomes of the D/I-issue prompt changes in her theory, as long as those changes are non-critical. Naturally one cannot be a supercompatibilist if any outcome on the D/I-issue makes one’s theory unfeasible. Prudency recommends supercompatibilism because presently the relation between either determinism or indeterminism and the M-question can at best be contingent. It can at best be contingent because either of the theses may eventually

be discovered to be false. Since the matter is scientifically and theoretically unsettled, taking any outcome of the D/I-issue as a precondition will be the result of arbitrary convictions and preferences of the theorizer. I submit that the most prudent way to deal with this contingency is adopting supercompatibilism.

Like with the D/I-issue, prudency recommends keeping the R/M-issue apart from the M-question.

This prudency is based on asymmetrical influence between the R/M-issue and the M-question. It is possible to both pose and answer the question “do humans have any sort of free will?” without any reference to the R/M-issue. Therefore the answer to the M-question must be essentially independent of any conclusions regarding the R/M-issue. So, since the M-question is independent of whatever is the case on the R/M-issue, this cannot be allowed to influence the M-question. The independency the M-question from the R/M-issue is often overlooked, one reason for which might be because the reverse is not obviously the case. At least some theories on the R/M-issue could be affected by some answers to the M-question, but this is irrelevant to work on the M-question. What matters is that no theories from the R/M-issue can influence the answer to the M-question therefore the prudent scientist should avoid mention of the former from discussion of the latter. (Less)
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organization
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type
Contribution to conference
publication status
unpublished
subject
keywords
Free Will, Compatibilism, Determinism
conference name
Consciousness and Volition
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
9404b41b-86a2-4bf2-8194-71c34e7f7dfc (old id 3362949)
date added to LUP
2013-01-24 14:15:04
date last changed
2016-04-16 11:13:43
@misc{9404b41b-86a2-4bf2-8194-71c34e7f7dfc,
  abstract     = {There is a fact of the matter about the nature of the human will and whether it can be considered ‘free’. To investigate this fact is attempting to answer what can be termed the metaphysical question of free will (M-question). The M-question is not identical to the problem of free will. ‘The problem of free will’ is often presented as one of two distinct problems (or sometimes a combination of them). The first problem is whether free will is possible given determinism or indeterminism (D/I-issue). The second problem is whether free will is necessary for responsibility and morals (R/M-issue). I argue that in providing an answer to the M-question, one should disregard both of these problems. The two ‘problems of free will’ need not- and should not- yield any influence on the answer to the M-question. The normative claim, ‘that they should not’ is based on considerations of prudence recommending that care should be taken to avoid introducing elements that create arbitrary biases on subjects with which they may have no necessary connection.<br/><br>
Traditionally theories of free will have taken either determinism or indeterminism as a precondition. However, we can do without a definite answer to the D/I-issue, if the answer provided to the Mquestion needs no precondition. This would make it compatible in a certain overarching way i.e. ‘supercompatible’. Do not confuse this idea with compatibilism (theories that claim free will is specifically compatible with determinism). Rather supercompatibilism is a constraint, not a theory. Supercompatibilism is the doctrine that theories of free will should be broadly compatible with regard to the D/I-issue. Broad compatibility thus entails a threshold to the severity of the consequences any definite answer to the D/I-issue can have. A strong supercompatibilist accepts no consequences, and thus set the threshold at zero. In contrast, a weak supercompatibilist will have a higher threshold. She can accept that different outcomes of the D/I-issue prompt changes in her theory, as long as those changes are non-critical. Naturally one cannot be a supercompatibilist if any outcome on the D/I-issue makes one’s theory unfeasible. Prudency recommends supercompatibilism because presently the relation between either determinism or indeterminism and the M-question can at best be contingent. It can at best be contingent because either of the theses may eventually<br/><br>
be discovered to be false. Since the matter is scientifically and theoretically unsettled, taking any outcome of the D/I-issue as a precondition will be the result of arbitrary convictions and preferences of the theorizer. I submit that the most prudent way to deal with this contingency is adopting supercompatibilism.<br/><br>
Like with the D/I-issue, prudency recommends keeping the R/M-issue apart from the M-question.<br/><br>
This prudency is based on asymmetrical influence between the R/M-issue and the M-question. It is possible to both pose and answer the question “do humans have any sort of free will?” without any reference to the R/M-issue. Therefore the answer to the M-question must be essentially independent of any conclusions regarding the R/M-issue. So, since the M-question is independent of whatever is the case on the R/M-issue, this cannot be allowed to influence the M-question. The independency the M-question from the R/M-issue is often overlooked, one reason for which might be because the reverse is not obviously the case. At least some theories on the R/M-issue could be affected by some answers to the M-question, but this is irrelevant to work on the M-question. What matters is that no theories from the R/M-issue can influence the answer to the M-question therefore the prudent scientist should avoid mention of the former from discussion of the latter.},
  author       = {Kirkeby-Hinrup, Asger},
  keyword      = {Free Will,Compatibilism,Determinism},
  language     = {eng},
  title        = {Supercompatibilism and Free Will},
  year         = {2012},
}