Human Nature Final

  1. Determinism
    the view that human choices and actions are products of genetic and environmental (social) conditioning
  2. Moral Responsibility Thesis
    An agent can be blamed/praised for an action resulting in significant harms/benefits to others and/or to the agent, provided that the action was freely performed
  3. Incompatibilist Analysis of "Free Agency" (free if:)
    • 1. the agent chose to perform action
    • 2. the agent was not compelled, coerced to perform it
    • 3. the agent could have refrained from choosing to perform and performing the action at the same time the action was performed
    • *action not be completely determined by prior conditioning, for given total prior determination of the action, it is not within the agent's power, at the time of performance, to opt for an alternative course of action
  4. Hard Determinism
    • Human actions and choices are the products of prior conditioning (genetic and environmental)
    • Third condition specified by the Incompatibilist Analysis can not be satisfied
    • Accordingly, no human action is freely performed and person can not be held morally responsible for their actions
  5. Libertarianism
    • many libertarians accept Doctrine of Contra-Causal Free Agency: actions for which an can be held morally responsible are products of the agent's uncaused will (will not determined by factors external to the will itself)
    • such libertarians reject total determinism and hold that it is possible to satisfy all three of the conditions specified by the Incompatibilist Analysis
  6. Compatibilist Analysis of "Free Agency" (only if:)
    • agent chose to perform it
    • action was not compelled, coereced, or forced
  7. Soft Determinism
    • accepts Compatbilist Analysis
    • soft determinists hold that choices and actions are determined genetically and environmentally, yet a person is responsible for an action that meets conditions specified by the Compatibilist Analysis
  8. Holbach - Argument that Choice does not Prove Freedom
    • a person who is forced to do something she/he chooses not to do so is compelled by an exterior force
    • a person who chooses to do something is compelled by brain conditioning
    • *whether a person is externally forced or chooses, his/her action is compelled
    • compelled actions are actions over which we have no control
    • *compelled actions are unfree actions
    • *the fact that a person chooses to act does not make the act free
  9. Holbach - Argument for Hard Determinism from Reductive Materialism
    • a person's brain has been modified by prior conditioning (biological and social) to have certain thoughts, feelings, and desires
    • *the human brain determines choices and actions (Reductive materialism)
    • a person can't control his/her brain states
    • *a person can't control his/her thoughts, feelings, desires
    • *if reductive materialism is true, then hard determinism is true
  10. 1st Libertarian Objection to Holbach
    • a person can act contrary to her/his inclination or desire
    • *though our desires are determined, the fact that we can choose to act against them proves that our wills are undetermined (contra-causally free)
  11. 2nd Libertarian Objection to Holbach
    • an addict can't control his/her desires, but a temperate person can control them
    • *the fact that temperate persons can control desires by an act of will shows that our wills are undetermined (contra-causally free)
  12. 3rd Objection Libertarian Objection to Holbach
    • a law abiding person chooses to obey the law by a free act of will and criminals choose to give into bad desires and break the law by free actions of will
    • *we have undetermined (contra-causally free) wills
  13. 4th Objection Libertarian Objection to Holbach
    • Humans, unlike non-human animals can be reasoned with
    • *humans, unlike non-human animals, are not completely programmed by instincts
    • *humans, unlike non-human animals, have undetermined (contra-causally free) wills
  14. Holbach's Explanation of the Illusion of Free Will
    • humans are very complicated machines
    • the degree of complexity makes it hard to understand causes of choices and actions
    • we tend not to believe what we can't fully understand
    • *we don't believe we are totally determined and have the illusion that our choices and actions are free
  15. Rachel's Deterministic Argument (Hard Determinism)
    • all of our choices and actions are caused by forces beyond our control
    • if our choices and actions are caused by forces beyond our control, we never act freely
    • *we never act freely
  16. Experience of Free of Choice (pro-libetarian argument)
    • we have direct, immediate experience of being free every time we make a conscious choice
    • *our choices are free and not determined by prior causes beyond our control
  17. Unpredictability of Human Actions (pro-libertarian argument)
    • if human behavior were completely causally determined, it would be predictable
    • but a person who knows how they are predicted to act can choose to act otherwise
    • *not all actions are predictable
    • *not all actions are determined
  18. Transcendental Argument (General Structure)
    • suppose B is a psychologically inescapable belief for humans
    • suppose A is a necessary condition for B
    • suppose we have no absolute evidence for A
    • *we must assume that A is true even though we can't prove A
  19. Argument from Accountability (pro-libertarian argument)
    • we can't help holding other people and our selves accountable for actions
    • having an undetermined will is necessary for accountability
    • *people must have contra-causally free wills
  20. Argument that Libertarianism is unscientific
    • all material states are determined
    • brain states are material states
    • *brain states are determined
    • if libertarianism is true, the will is undetermined
    • *if libertarianism is true, the will is non-material
    • *if libertarianism is true, the will is a "ghostly controller" of our actions
    • *libertarianism is unscientific and should be rejected
  21. Argument from Predictability of Human Actions (Anti-libertarian argument, pro-soft determinist argument)
    • an undetermined act is an unpredictable act
    • an unpredictable act is random, chaotic and lunatic
    • *if facts of will are undetermined, they are random, chaotic and lunatic
    • a lunatic act is not a free act for which the agent is morally responsible
    • *responsibility and free agency require determinism and predictability
    • libertarianism denies that free acts of will are determined and precitable
    • *libertarian view of free will is implausible and incoherent
  22. Incoherency Objection to Compatibilism/Soft Determinism
    • we are only responsible for what we can control
    • SD claims that our choices and acts are determined by biological and social conditioning
    • we can't control how we are biologically and socially conditioned
    • *if SD is true, we can't be responsible for our choices and actions
    • but SD claims that we are responsible for actions that are determined but we are chosen and not forced*SD is implausible and incoherent
  23. Argument that Determinism undermines human dignity (pro-libertarian argument)
    • determinism views humans as being like robots and non-human animals
    • *determinism robs humans of their dignity
  24. Argument that Determinism Implies Fatalism (pro-libertarian argument)
    • fatalism holds that the future is unpreventable and it is useless to try and change it
    • if our choices and acts are determined, they are unpreventable
    • *if our choices and acts are determined, then we must be fatalists about our choices and acts
  25. Primary Epistemic Duty
    we are obligated to make sure that we have good evidence for our morally significant beliefs
  26. morally significant beliefs
    beliefs that result in insignificant benefits or harms to onself or others
  27. moral luck thesis
    an agent can be blamed (or praised) for an action having significantly negative (or positive) consequences even when the outcome is largely beyond her/his control
  28. control thesis
    level of moral blameworthiness and praiseworthiness depends on level of agent control
  29. Moral Psychology of Beliefs
    • beliefs are action guiding - if a particular belief is not reflected by a person's actions, it is not a belief that they really hold
    • beliefs form an interconnected network (doxastic structure) - no belief exists in isolation from other beliefs. Any morally significant belief influences the entire structure of beliefs
    • accepting one belief makes it probable that other similar beliefs will be accepted
    • beliefs shape person's moral character - what we believe creates tendancies in us to form habits and fixed/stable dispositions to behave in certain ways. Our moral characters are formed by these dispositions
    • Beliefs have social impact - a person's beliefs affect others besides herself/himself. We tend to think that we are entitled simply to believe what we want, and that what we want is a purely private matter. Clifford sees beliefs as "common property", our beliefs profoundly shape the social structure
  30. Nourished Beliefs
    beliefs formed by suppressing doubts and avoiding investigation. Beliefs held merely because the believer wants to believe them and perhaps feels better by believing them
  31. Why holding nourished beliefs is wrong
    • holding nourished beliefs violates our primary epistemic duty
    • weakens our powers of self-control
    • weakens ability to weigh evidence fairly and rationally
    • beliefs causes us to stop caring about the truth
  32. evidentialism
    it is impermissible to hold morally significant beliefs not gounded on compelling evidence
  33. fideism
    it is permissible to hold morally significant beliefs on the basis of faith even if there is no absolutely compelling evidence to support such beliefs
  34. hypothesis
    anything proposed for belief
  35. live hypothesis
    appeals as a real possibility to the person to whom it is proposed (tempts of will)
  36. degrees of liveness
    • maximum liveness = willingness to act irrevocably - make a life-long commitment
    • moderate liveness = some willingness to act
    • minimal liveness = hypothesis viewed as dead - no desire to act
  37. option
    decision between two hypotheses
  38. live option
    both hypotheses are live
  39. forced option
    no possibility of not choosing between hypotheses - any logical disjunction
  40. momentous option
    unique, life-changing opportunity
  41. James' critique of Clifford
    • Clifford holds that our tendency to believe arises from a. feelings, preferences and desires, and b. reasons
    • following primary epistemic duty, we must determine whether or not a belief is justified by subtracting a. and basing belief solely on b.
    • James claims that it's impossible to subtract a. and base belief solely on b.
    • typical belief is not grounded on pure reason
    • many beliefs are based on the testimony of experts and authority figures
    • we trust these experts and authority figures because we want to and it's comforting to trust them
    • James holds that when we can't decide on the basis of reason alone, our passional nature must decide (passional nature = feelings and emotions)
  42. James' ratoinale for claiming that Clifford's view of our Primary Epistemic Duty is false:
    • our epistemic duties are to a. know the truth and b. avoid error
    • James: a. is more important than b.
    • Clifford: b. is more important than a.
    • James: if our primary emphasis is on error-avoidance, we risk never knowing the truth
    • -must prioritze b over a in legal matters and scientific investigations
  43. "faith in a fact can help create the fact"
    suppose option is forced, live and momentous, belief in "x" can make "x" a reality
Card Set
Human Nature Final