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04/09/2012

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I am far from an expert, but will offer my two cents as a bystander observing the developments in academia:

1. I agree about Manuel's points 1-3: the Great Trinity will lose influence, and the future is hard to predict. I see these are parts of largely trends whereby science, technology, and academia proceed exponentially.

2. Regard Manuel's point 4, I agree with 4.1 (foundational concerns) and 4.4 (integrating other sciences). I am less enthusiastic about 4.2 (metaphysics of agency) and 4.3 (normative concerns). I see these are largely more of the armchair/traditional philosophizing that characterizes the Great Trinity, and will lose influence with them. I also see these are somewhat in tension with a more scientific approach.

To Manuel's 4.1 and 4.4 I would add the following:

1. There will be increased focus on the following, and their interaction:

A. the self
B. luck (esp. constitutive luck)

The free will problem is, in my view (to the extent it is a problem), the problem of constitutive luck. And to understand constitutive luck, you have to explore the metes and bounds of the self. Thus, I expect the free will problem to intersect, intimately, with problems about personal identity. Nichols and Knobe explore this in their recent article on the self, and Levy does an excellent job on his chapter about Luck and Compatibilism in Hard Luck. I don't think these are just the fleeting fashion of the time - I think they are the first steps of a long road ahead exploring constitute luck and the self.

Moreover, I think that, as work on luck and the self goes on, we will work backwards to understand why skeptic/incompatibilist arguments like the Basic Argument, Four Case Argument, and Zygote Argument work (or seem to work). Once we understand the limits and role of luck and the self, and their boundaries, we will better understand the appeal of these more traditional arguments (their strengths and weaknesses).

One last point, to supplement Manuel's 4.1, I would expect experimental/scientific work to proceed along the following lines:

1. personality dimensions, and their correlation with views on free will (and the self) (like the compatibilist-extroversion result)
2. other psychological/genetic/childhood factors and their correlation with views on free will (and the self)
3. emotion/cognition and its correlation with views on free will (and the self) - like the Nichols and Knobe's affect study

In particular, I expect work along the lines of Baumeister, Vohs, and Nichols & Knobe to achieve greater prominence.

Manuel, I enjoyed reading your comments, and I agree with you that “we’re on the verge of something new”. As everyone already knows, if the FW issue was easy to resolve, mankind would have figured it out and documented the solution long ago. With that being said, the new ideas that lead us into the period of “Free Will Enlightenment” will probably have a *totally* different twist to them – they’ll likely seem a little crazy at first. It’s wonderful that FOF readers are willing to kick around crazy new ideas.

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