13 April 2012

The Significance of Free Will: Exegesis V

Here's the final question we have to answer in order to establish the mutual incompatibility of moral responsibility and determinism, on Kane's understanding: "Why do we, or should we, want to possess a kind of freedom ... that requires UR (as well as AP-for-some-free-actions) .... What is so important about ultimate responsibility that should make a freedom requiring it 'worth wanting'?"

Kane responds by rehearsing somewhat familiar arguments to the effect that this UR + AP freedom "is necessary for the possession of many other goods such as genuine creativity, autonomy, desert and the like." But he acknowledges that compatibilists can usually redefine creativity, autonomy, etc. in their own favored ways, ways that don't require this UR/AP combination. So, Kane asks: how break the deadlock?

He answers in a passage that reminds me a bit of Jean Piaget, a passage making recourse to the development of human ideas of selfhood, human self-understanding, from infancy to adulthood. Infants begin to perceive the difference of self and not-self. As humans grow, we develop ever more sophisticated versions of that distinction, at each stage preserving "a remnant of the idea that we are independent sources of activity or motion in the world."

An incompatibilist view of freedom in full metaphysical Magilla sense, then, is the natural culmination of that struggle that began in the cradle. It is what the toddler means to say when her body language tells Mom, "Unhand me, I want to do this walking thing on my own!"

What determinism in either hard or soft form can never do is accomodate our primordial desire to be a somebody whose contribution to the world is one' s own, which in turn is connected to "higher aspirations in human beings toward a worth for their existence that transcends transitory satisfactions."

Welcome to the top of the mountain.  Now: can Kane get us down?

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.