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11/02/2012

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Hi Saul - thanks for stepping up to the plate to continue the discussion!

I'll be interested to hear what others say, but my sense is that most people who call themselves incompatibilists *are* in fact compatibility-dualists in your sense, at least if all an incompatibilist needs to accept to be a compatibility-dualist is the claim that even if determinism is true, "there is a huge difference between normal agents and those who, say, are under severe psychological compulsions". It's just that most of these incompatibilists also think that "more free" just isn't "free enough" to reach the threshold required by MR. (So, perhaps, "less unfree" would be a better way to describe determined normal agents when compared with determined compelled agents.)

Does that seem right to you incompatibilists out there?

Hi Saul-

I think there are at least a handful of folks who allow for the possibility of something like a contextualist version of compatibilism. I'm thinking of the work of folks like Doris and Knobe who defend "variantism" about responsibility, where the conditions for responsibility can vary; I think Shaun Nichols is working on a view that might count as a kind of CD, by your lights.

For my part, I'm inclined to accept that our folk convictions have compatibilist and incompatibilist elements. (I gather that a variety of people accept this view.) However, I don't think it is an obvious step from folk intuitions to claims about the semantics or metaphysics of responsibility/free will talk. I suppose I'm agnostic about the CD issue.

I'm sometimes uncertain about whether CD is that different from, say, Pereboom-style hard incompatibilism. To my ear, it sounds like a conciliatory version of hard incompatibilism—i.e., there are some notions of responsibility and/or freedom that still obtain under compatibilism, just not all the ones that we have reason to care about. I'd love to hear more about whether you think CD is incompatible with the sort of views defended by Pereboom and Galen Strawson, or if you think there views are versions of CD.

(I don't mean to imply that we should label these positions one way rather than another—perhaps these views are all best characterized as CD views, as opposed to versions of hard incompatibilism. My question is about what difference you take there to be in substantive commitments.)

Thanks, Saul--interesting post!

I wonder what exactly the different (at a deeper level of analysis) is between CD and my view, which is that causal determinism and moral responsibility are indeed compatible, but that there are significant reasons to think otherwise. That is, I think that, all-things-considered, compatibilism (about c.d. and moral responsibility) is the correct view, but that there are good reasons on the other side. How exactly is this different from saying that the truth is complex; well, it is obviously different on a superficial level, but is it interestingly different at a deeper level?

Also, in terms of your reasons for finding compatibilism unattractive, you say: "For then even if his bad acts followed from his compatibilistically-free choices, he ultimately could not have avoided the blame and the punishment, given that his beliefs and desires were as they were. And they were as they were because of causes beyond his control, going back to before he was born. So he is, in one sense, merely a victim of the forces which have molded him, which, as it were, are operating though him. Or something like that."

Well, ok, I know I won't convince you (or probably anyone) here, but: I'm not in control of lots of factors that are contribute to my being the way I am. I don't control the fact that the sun continues to shine (and doesn't flicker out). I didn't control the fact that my parents nurtured me, fed me adequately, didn't drop me on my head, etc. I'm not in control of the fact that a huge meteorite doesn't hit Northern Germany today, and so forth. And, yet, the sun's continuing to shine "works through me" (in a sense) to help to mold me into the person I am, and, well, gravity works through me in rather a direct sense, and so forth.

My point: I lack control over various factors which are parts of the story of who I am and how I act, and which are such that, if they didn't obtain, I would be very different, or wouldn't exist at all, or wouldn't act as I do. But that seems obviously compatible with my playing the cards that are in fact dealt me in a way that is enough to make me morally responsible.

Well, we've debated these issues before, but I thought I'd put this alternative perspective out for people's consideration.

Hi Saul,

I would have to agree with Neil and Manuel. I would label myself a free will skeptic and an incompatibilist, but I would have no problem also acknowledging that "there is a huge difference between normal agents and those who, say, are under severe psychological compulsions". For me, compatibilist control conditions are indeed important and are even helpful in identifying certain relevant forms of responsibility--i.e., the kind of consequentialist responsibility important to norms-reinforcing interventions. I would simply add that such compatibilist control is not enough for ultimate moral responsibility or desert-based responsibility--the kind of responsibility that would make us truly deserving of blame and praise for our action. (I assume that is where my monism comes in. I am a monist about what it required for desert-based moral responsibility.) I do think it's important, however, to avoid suggesting (as some skeptics have--e.g., Harris, Coyne) that skepticism about FW and UMR implies that we are somehow "puppets". It is here that I see the value of CD.

Hi Saul,

I'm a CD in the sense that I don't think there's one right answer to the compatibility question. That's why I'm no longer a Strawson/Pereboom style skeptic about responsibility. But my objection to CM, as you know, is based more on interpersonal (and especially cross-cultural) variation in intuitions whereas your version of CD is based on variation in intrapersonal intuitions. Like Manuel, at the intrapersonal level, I'm agnostic about CM. I will say that I'm more drawn to a subjective form of dualism every day because of my own conflicting intuitions about moral responsibility.

But if I understand your position correctly, you do believe that there is one objectively correct answer to the compatibility question. It's just one that incorporates both hard determinist and compatibilist insights. I would like to hear more about why you think your own conflicting intuitions are more reflective of the truth than the intuitions of others. (I guess your error theory is part of a response to that question.)

Finally, I want to echo Neal and Manuel's point. In order to make a clear distinction between dualism and good old fashioned hard determinism, it's crucial to say more than "here is a huge difference between normal agents and those who, say, are under severe psychological compulsions." Because everyone agrees with you about that. The question is whether the huge difference is relevant to assignments not of control or freedom but of moral responsibility. Would you agree that an ordinary thief deserves more blame (and perhaps punishment) than a kleptomaniac? If the answer is no, then in what sense are you a dualist? I think this issue is at the heart of much of the confusion about your position.

Thanks for the replies, Neal and Manuel. I don't think that I suceeded in presenting compatibility-dualism well enough, as it is crucial that the view include a firm compatibilism as well as a firm hard determinism. So a CD would affirm moral responsibility and desert (and not only for consequentialist reasons), but also see the other, HD side of the argument as salient. I haven't followed the experimental results as closely as I should, but it does seem that there is a lot of evidence that the Folk are proto-CDs, at least in the contextual sense. What this should mean for us philosophers is a different issue of course.

John - let's leave the substantive arguments for or against compatibilism for now, as I need to clarify how I see compatibility-dualism first. You say that there are "significant reasons to think otherwise", but the question is whether you share them. If you did, and thought they were in some sense just as weighty as the ones in favor of compatibilism about free will, moral responsibility, and desert, and you weren't undecided but affirmed BOTH sides, then you would be a dualist. But I don't think that you are. You don't think that there is nothing at all to be said for the HD side, but you think that, all considered, HD is mistaken, and compatibilism is probably 100% correct. Right?

Gregg - likewise, from what you say I don't think you get the CD card. Like Pereboom, you put the bar for MR, from my (CD) perspective, too high. I am not sure whether you are an incompatibilist on both FW and MR, but (and I think that this is interesting) MR is what matters most, for the FW problem.

Tamler - as i see it, CD is a normative position, and you are skeptical of truth on the meta-ethical level. Why treat my (your?) intuitions in the way I do? Well, one argument might be that since we have both sets of intuitions, we should try to build a position that incorporates them. Perhaps you would agree with that, as far as it goes. But then you have other, meta-ethical reasons for skepticism about the whole notion of truth on the FW problem, i.e. that in some cultures people hold responsible and punish without any requirement of agency. But I just think that those practices are morally barbaric, and dismiss their relevance to philosophical truth.

Beyond the fact that I (and you) hold both compatibilist and HD intuitions, I think that there is another weak reason to try to incorporate them, that really smart people believe in both (not together, i.e. that there are monists on both sides). Many of them might be wrong, but to me a more plausible explanation is that all are seeing something that is really there, they just don't look at the full picture.

In my mind it is like the story about the blind people who first encounter an elephant - some say it is X, others that it is Y, because some touch the tail and others the trunk, but actually it is both X and Y.

Saul (great to have you in this forum!)--

Just one question: can you distinguish CD in general or at least CD-type contextualism from a form of pragmatism about FW? Would these overlap perhaps? My thinking that that from one theoretical perspective we might label the Folk as CDers of some sort, and from another as pragmatists about FW and MR.

Yes, I think compatibilism is probably 100% correct. Why is this less plausible, or different, from thinking that compatiblism is definitely (say) 70% correct. Why is the latter theoretically preferable to the former?

Also, I'm thinking that contextualism is orthogonal to this issue, no?

Hi Saul,

I agree that I am not a CD as you describe the position. (And yes, I’m an incompatibilist for both FW and MR.) I wonder, however, if a friendlier and more conciliatory hard incompatibilism (or free will skepticism) would be enough to capture MOST of what you want—i.e., the insight that the hard determinist/incompatibilist is “very persuasive when he claims that the compatibilist is blind (or shallow, or complacent) to the ultimate arbitrariness, unfairness and injustice” of holding people MR (in the basic desert sense), along with the compatibilist insight that there are important degrees of autonomy/control and that “compatibilist distinctions make a lot of sense even in a deterministic world”. What exactly does such a view fail to capture that full-blown CD does? Also, are you putting CD forth as a descriptive account of our folk-psychological intuitions or as something else?

(BTW, thanks for the interesting post!)

Gregg

Thanks everyone for the kind words.

Alan - since morality is not only true (assuming as I do meta-ethical optimism) but also meant to help people live better with each other, then in the broadest sense it will have a large pragmatic component, and this will apply to the FW problem too. But I tend to think that the pragmatics mostly goes to work in the further stages, when we need to decide whether we can live with the truth, e.g. a Peter Strawson like "naturalistic" optimism, or my more pessimistic and risk-averse Illusionism. The compatibility question is a matter of interpretation, namely, how to interpret life without libertarian free will. Here I think that more robust, more or less deontological notions do most of the work, such as respect for persons, fairness and justice. So by and large I tend not to view the compatibility question as pragmatic.

As to the Folk, it does seem that there is a lot of pragmatics there, but not in a way which is conducive to truth (it might well be conducive to living well, though!). The large role of framing effects, and the way results depend on the positive-negative divide and on how much is at stake in a particular case, are hard to make sense of in ways which, well, lend the Folk respect, from the perspective of truth.

John - contextualism is one way in which one can be a compatibility-dualist, and thus oppose both monistic compatibilism and monistic HD, but it isn't crucial to my view, at least. I am a more ambitious, "hard" compatibility-dualist.

We need to be careful with the percentages - neither you nor I, I take it, are very doubtful about our positions, we simply disagree. Is a 100% compatibilist, 100% hard determinist, or 50% of each position stronger? Well, in the end this will depend on the arguments. But as in my reply to Tamler, I think there are two prima facie weak (weak because methodological arguments inherently tend to be weak) arguments in favor of a dualism, namely, (a) that it captures MORE of the intuitions many people have within themselves (e.g. Tamler and myself); and (b) it allows for the elephant story, i.e. the thought that it prima facie makes more sense that, e.g., both smart incompatibilists and smart compatibilists are onto something.

Again, I am not saying that this is decisive. But my aim here was more modest: to say that I find it odd that almost everyone seems to be quite fanatic on either the hard determinist (incompatibilist) side, OR quite fanatic on the compatibilist side, while there is very little work going on that tries to accept the insights of both sides, or indeed believes that both sides are likely to have some true insights.

Gregg - I have my distinct way of being a compatibility-dualist, which for example sees the best case for compatibilism to follow from the idea of respect for persons (cf. my 2005 Midwest Studies piece); or finds the strongest case for HD to be the idea that on the best compatibilist story, punished criminals are trapped (see my recent piece in the J. of Ethics issue on MR). But there is no reason to follow me; I am just urging people to take up the compatibilist and HD stories THEY find most compelling, and see whether they don't end up as dualists. And, if they see just one side (which you evidently don't), to work on themselves to try and see the other side.

I think that you are pretty close to dualism. If one believes in degrees of compatibilist control, and sees compatibilist distinctions as salient both in theory and normatively, then what keeps one from being a compatibilist, to some extent, within a broader framework that also incorporates HD insights?

Hi Saul,

I'm not entirely clear about what the compatibility dualist says. Here's a position: there are certain types of control (e.g., guidance control) that are compatible with determinism and others (e.g., regulative control) that aren't. And, there are certain types of (what people call) moral responsibility (e.g., attributability) that are compatible with determinism and other types (e.g., accountability) that aren't. So, you might be a compatibilist about some kinds of control/responsibility and an incompatibilist about others. Does this sort of view count as a compatibility dualist?

I’m a CD as Saul defines it – I also agree there is an important difference concerning responsibility between normal agents and those under severe psychological compulsions. More fundamentally, I argue that a reasons-responsive agent’s being causally determined to act badly by factors beyond her control is incompatible with her being blameworthy in the basic desert sense for her action, but that it’s compatible with the legitimacy of blaming her in a way that aims at forward-looking considerations like moral formation and reconciliation. A reservation I have about Saul’s way of classifying positions is that it uses 'compatibility' and ‘compatibilism’ in a way that makes this view turn out to be partially compatibilist, whereupon virtually everyone in the debate will be a partial compatibilist. I'm thinking that it might be better to use the compatibilist/incompatibilist terminology to reflect the core lines of division in the debate. So my suggestion is to limit the term ‘compatibilism’ to views that advocate controversial compatibilities between an agent’s causal determination by factors beyond her control and some aspect of moral practice. And I’d say that the main controversial compatibilities are between causal determination and basic-desert responsibility, and between causal determination and ‘oughts’ of agent-demand.

Hi Saul-

Can you say more about what it is to "include a firm compatibilism as well as a firm hard determinism" where this is understood to mean seeing the HD position as "salient"?

I confess I still don't have a firm grip on what it is that you think someone (probably not me) who is a conciliatory hard incompatibilist can't say that a CD can say. Which current hard incompatibilists do you think don't allow for compatibilist distinctions of the sort that the CD allows?

Your reply to Greg above sounds like you think Pereboom is one. But Derk is very careful to say that the thinks that it is only a particular (non-consequentialist, basic-desert-entailing) variety of responsibility that we can't get. This sounds a lot like an allowance that deep and important compatibilist notions really do have legitimate purchase in our practices and in our conceptual economy. Do you disagree? Would the sort of view I'm attributing to Derk fail to be a CD view?

Saul,

I am trying to suggest that at a deeper level you and I are in basic agreement. I definitely have always emphasized that the incompatibilists are onto something--for example, the Consequence Argument! So there are two ways I represent this in my compatibilism. First, and foremost, I'm a SEMIcompatbilist. Second, I emphasize that there are good arguments on both sides, and that I simply believe that on balance the reasons line up toward compatibilism (sufficiently to meet my threshold).

So you and I are really very similar in our nondogmatism and coolness.

Saul,

Thanks for the stimulating post! That said, I think that having free will and desert-based moral responsibility requires us to have libertarian style free will and the unconditional power to do otherwise. I also think that both free will and moral responsibility thusly defined are incompatible with determinism (which closes the door on the requisite alternative futures). So, I am a card-carrying incompatibilist (and skeptic).

Yet, like Derk, I nevertheless think that humans often have the capacities and dispositions that compatibilists [I believe mistakenly] suggest are sufficient for free will and responsibility and I think that these capacities and dispositions are compatible with determinism. But I don’t see why I should think this makes me some kind of compatibility dualist. After all, no one denies that the capacities and dispositions highlighted by compatibilists are compatible with determinism nor does anyone deny that these capacities and dispositions should play a crucial role in how we decide to deal with people who violate moral and legal norms (even in a deterministic universe). So why think we need a label for this all inclusive view that no one seems to deny?

As far as I can tell, everyone thinks that compatibilism can deliver the goods on forward-looking responsibility (although I would prefer to use some other term to avoid mudding the waters—e.g., accountability, attributability, etc). Everyone also agrees that there is an important difference between dogs, children, adults, and the mentally ill when it comes to moral agency and that this difference is compatible with determinism. The primary issue is whether compatibilism can deliver the goods on free will and desert-based responsibility. Because I don’t think that compatibilism succeeds on this front, I will continue to self-identify as an incompatibilist even though I nevertheless think compatibilists are right to highlight the suite of cognitive, conative, and volitional capacities that makes us unique. I just think compatibilists are wrong to think this suite of capacities is enough for free will and desert-based responsibility—which is why I do not consider myself to be either monistically or dualistically compatibilist!

Thanks to everyone for the further comments, I'll try to respond in turn to your complex points. I think that we are gradually making progress, both in understanding each other and in figuring out compatibility-dualism and what can be said for and against it.

Justin - good, that can be helpful because people are familiar with the terminology. I think that a (monistic) compatibilist would say that guidance control suffices for accountability-responsibility, when this is understood in a strong, desert way. A (monistic) hard determinist would deny this, and say that without regulative control we cannot have desert-accountability-moral responsibility. A compatibility-dualist would say that we can, to some extent, have desert-accountability-moral responsibility with only guidance control, but this is only of a shallower form (but nevertheless morally important, and arguably should dominate our practice). However, the absence of regulative control also matters, and hence will typically make any serious instance of blaming and punishing in the desert-accountability-moral responsibility sense morally problematic. In other words, we ought to form a Community of Responsibility which by and large follows compatibilism, but doing so will also involve great unfairness. Hence life is inevitably unjust and tragic.

Derk - I already acknowledged that my illustration of a way compatibilism could be defended (as part of a CD view) was too lax, and incompatibilists might subscribe to it. I do not intend to draw the line in a way which makes people who do not see themselves as compatibilists into compatibilists, but merely to argue that we should be in part both (normally understood) compatibilists and (normally understood) hard determinists. For working purposes the notion of desert understood in a fairly robust sense would be a good test: only a compatibilist believes that we have free will which is a basis for moral responsibility, that generates desert, when desert is not understood in consequentialist and forward-looking terms.

I think that as a hard determinist (or hard incompatibilist, what matters here is of course the absence of libertarian free will and not determinism, but I am just using the traditional terminology) - you are much more restricted in what you can say, e.g. in using consequentialist arguments, than you think. I have argued this, most recently in "Hard determinism and punishment: a practical reductio" in Law and Philosophy of last year. But I wouldn't want to classify you as a compatibilist, as I take compatibilism (as I think you do too) to affirm the existence of free will and moral responsibility in the desert-grounding sense.

Manuel - Yes, as in my points above a CD would want to say much more compatibilist things than a HD can. For example, when, as a CD, I wear my compatibilist hat, I am happy to say things like that on account of his actions, person Q deserves certain reactions (attitudes or actions), although there is no consequentialist benefit in this. It can also, Saul-as-compatibilist believes, be good that a person be better or worse off than others just because he deserves this, on account of his free actions, again without this having to be justified by good consequences. No HD should agree to that. (This isn't a minor thing - almost everyone believes in such robust desert, and whether one believes in it or not makes a huge difference, in our attitudes to our selves and others and in social practices.) There is also (for a CD) more to be said, i.e. the other, HD perspective, which makes e.g. such resulting differences between people also deeply unjust. But insofar as the CD is simply a C, she will have robust moral commitments that a HD will not.

John - Unfortunately I don't think that this will work. True, your view is revisionist, and takes account of the impossibility of alternative possibilities, hence is only semi-compatibilist, but you don't think that this in fact matters very much, i.e. that "seminess" makes things morally bad. You are a confident, monistic compatibilist. In fact, you have presented a particularly tough, lean and fit form of compatibilism, using minimal assumptions-resources and giving no heed to talk about ultimate tragedy and all that whiny stuff. This makes the character of your position uber-cool.

Compatibility-dualism, by contrast, is not cool at all. It is over-weight, complex, messy, anxious, risks inconsistency, creates immediate problems in implementation (hence, as it seems to me, requiring illusion) and so on. But it just seems truer to life, to me.

Thomas - sorry, saw your post only after I replied to the other good folk. I agree that with your views you should be either a HD or simply a utilitarian-type consequentialist (consequentialists can wish to maximize desert, so we want to exclude that). As with Derk, I wouldn't want to classify you as any sort of compatibilist, hence not a compatibility-dualist. In fact I was not making any new suggestion in my post, just asking about the same idea of a compatibility dualism that, I first presented, I think, in "Does the free will debate rest on a mistake?" (which was rejected by countless journals and finally appeared back in 1993). The "mistake" was the assumption prevalent in the debate, that one must be either a compatibilist or an incompatibilist, not recognizing that one can be (in part) both. Since then I defended the "fundamental dualism" in part I of my book Free Will and Illusion, the summary "Free Will, Fundamental Dualism and the Cenrality of Illusion" in Robert Kane's Oxford Handbook of Free Will (revised for the 2011 2nd edition), "Free Will and Respect for Persons", and many other publications. In my post I just wondered whether anyone else IS a compatibility-dualist, or is at least attracted by something like it. Since it combines the insights of both compatibilism and hard determinism, it seems to me like a winning combination.

Saul--Manuel is not the only one who is "slow on the uptake." I'm still not clear on what the compatibility dualist says.

Here are two positions:

1. There's a strong type of accountability-responsibility that's incompatible with determinism, but a weaker (shallower) type that's compatible.

2. Determinism is compatible with some degree of accountability-responsibility but not with unmitigated accountability responsibility. I dub this view mitigating compatibilism, since it assumes that determinism mitigates, without eliminating, accountability-responsibility)

Do either of these views count as CD? And if so, I don't see how adopting either would involve "great unfairness" (assuming the falsity of libertarianism) as long as we don't hold people accountable in the strong sense or don't hold them fully accountable.

Saul,

But I took you to be suggesting earlier that one is a CD when one believes (a) that hard determinism is true, (b) that people nevertheless have compatibilist control (i.e., the general suite of capacities and dispositions that are rightly highlighted by compatibilists) under some circumstances and not others (e.g., mental illness), and (b) compatibilist control is relevant and important when it comes to how we should treat people who violate moral and legal norms. Since I believe in (a), (b), and (c), I, seem to fit the CD bill. And yet I wouldn't call myself a compatibilist, monistic or dualistic, since I don't think we have free will and desert-entailing responsibility (because, in the end, luck swallows everything--which is a story for another day).


Perhaps one way of getting at what I think puzzles Manuel and Justin is to consider the following question: What distinguishes Manuel’s Revisionism, Eddy’s Neurotic Compatibilism, Tamler’s Reformed Skepticism, my Skepticism (namely, Incompatibilist Disillusionism), and your Skepticism (namely, Compatibilist-Dualist Illusionism) when it comes to what we think humans have and what we think humans don’t have? I suspect we all agree that humans don’t have contra-causal free will, the unconditional capacity to do otherwise, immaterial souls, magical powers, or the kind of responsibility that would render heaven and hell a fair and just system of punishment for our earthly transgressions.


So, we all agree that if determinism is true, we have to give some things up. Indeed, we probably agree that some of these things may not be possible at all—regardless of whether determinism is true (e.g., “ultimate moral responsibility”)!


Moreover, we also all agree that the truth of determinism is completely compatible with humans having a suite of very unique and important cognitive, conative, and volitional capacities that enable us to construct and navigate the highly complex societies and cultures we inhabit. Plus, we agree that in virtue of these capacities, we have the ability to both understand and navigate these norms and we respond to both punishments and rewards when it comes to the enforcement of these norms. But notice that this kind of compatibility—namely, the compatibility of folk psychology and practical reasoning with determinism—is something even the incompatibilist can allow so long as she doesn’t think this suite of capacities, however impressive it may be, biologically speaking, is constitutive of (or sufficient for) free will and desert-based responsibility.


But then what and where is the disagreement when it comes to this compatibility question—namely, whether the capacities highlighted by compatibilists are compatible with determinism? After all, we can seemingly all agree that even if determinism is true—and hence, humans do not have the unconditional power to do otherwise—there are still lots of important distinctions to draw between humans who have severe mental illnesses and those who don’t, between human children and adults, between humans and other complex social mammals, and between humans and simple algae.

The question here isn’t whether we think we can have and exercise these capacities in a deterministic world—everyone thinks we can. The issue is whether these capacities are enough for free will and desert entailing responsibility. If you think they are, you are a compatibilist or a revisionist. If you don’t think they are, you are either a libertarian or skeptic. On this way of understanding the dialectic, you would be an incompatibilist skeptic who nevertheless thinks that we ought not trumpet the truth about hard determinism because people will throw out the compatibilist baby with the incompatibilist bath water. But to the extent that you don’t think that compatibilist baby can carry the weight required by free will and desert-entailing responsibility, you’re not a compatibilist either—dualistically or otherwise. You’re just someone who thinks we ought to worry about the truth of hard determinism on pragmatic, policy, and existential grounds. Why not just say that instead? Why say you're a compatibilist-dualist?


Justin - I think that it is important to distinguish between the idea of compatibility-dualism and my specific views. The first is of course broader than the second. So, yes, if understood in a desert-involving, non-consequentialist way, both 1 and 2 can be, I think, CDs. But I hold a somewhat different CD position, which will help explain why I think that great unfairness is typically involved. Think about the standard case, where all compatibilist conditions are satisfied, and so a criminal justly (according to compatibilism) ends up in prison. Let's say that if he had libertarian free will, he would deserve 30 years. Your 1 would say he deserves only 20 years, your 2 would say he deserves even less, for example, 15 years. My view is that whatever he deserves as a compatibilist wrongdoer, there is another level, or another perspective, the ultimate, HD one, from which he deserves nothing, because of the standard HD story I told above. So, as a member of the Community of Responsibility, he deserves punishment, or at least it is permissible to punish him, but as a victim of determined forces, he deserves no harm. Both perspectives are true. So the way I see it, we are going to have in the end to follow some sort of compatibilist justice, but this will involve ultimate or HD injustice. Since I am a dualist, I think both matter. So in fact we need to set up a Community of Responsibility along compatibilist lines, but all the resources available to the compatibilist cannot cure the fundamental injustice. I hope this is clearer.

Thomas - compatibilists want to recruit me to compatibilism, hard determinists to hard determinism, and often don't believe me that I am a real (if partial) compatibilist. But why not take seriously the possibility of taking the more complex position? As in my reply to Manuel, I want to say things about desert that you do not, that only a compatibilist would. If there is no real disagreement, then I can reverse the call, and ask you to lower the bar a little bit, and believe in compatibilist desert. But you think that there is good reason not to agree. I respect that. I think that there is good reason to remain with some compatibilism.

Why? Well, the free will paradigm is something like this: free will is required for moral responsibility, moral responsibility is required for desert, and desert is required for a lot of worthwhile and important things (justification for social practices that we cannot avoid that goes beyond what utilitarianism can offer, moral worth, deep self-respect, and the like). Libertarianism can stick with the paradigm. So can compatibilism, on a shallower level (and for CDs like myself, only as part of a more complex, grimmer view). That is, for me, a very good reason to stick to compatibilism, as far as I can (and I feel I can, in part, on the level of philosophical theory, and more so, if perhaps with help from illusion, in practice). HD, on the other hand, is, as I see it, in deep trouble. Either it sticks to the paradigm, in which case it cannot justify anything (any divergence from an egalitarian baseline, whatever one does, for example, becomes impossible). Or, it abandons the free will paradigm (i.e. the conclusion that since there is no FW, there is no MR, no desert, and no distinctions may be made), and sells off to utilitarianism. That's not a happy place to be. So that's why I am partly a compatibilist (really!).

I think that I'm a CD-er of sorts. For example, I think there is one property--being ultimately responsible--that Galen Strawson has tied to divine punishment. On this view, S is ultimately morally responsible for x-ing just in case it makes sense for God to condemn S to hell for x-ing. And it seems (plausible) to me that the capacities that are required for agents to instantiate this property are not compatible with causal determinism.

But there is another property--call it being minimally morally responsible--that (following Peter Strawson) is tied to forms of blame that arise in the context of reciprocal interpersonal relationships. And, for fairly familiar reasons, I think that the capacities that are required for agents to instantiate the property of being minimally morally responsible are compatible with causal determinism.

Notice that this form of CD holds that one basic desert-entailing form of responsibility is compatible with determinism and another form of basic desert-entailing responsibility is not. But it's not quite mitigating compatibilism of the sort Justin (Capes) advances as a possibility, since I think the truth of causal determinism shouldn't lead us to mitigate blaming attitudes like resentment, indignation, etc.

Ultimately, then, I guess I think I'm a contextualist about moral responsibility, since I do not think that there is a univocal property of basic desert-entailing moral responsibility. I don't have a full theory of what facts can shift the context, but I suspect it has something to do with the relationships in which ultimate and minimal moral responsibility arise. Ultimate moral responsibility is tied to asymmetric relationships (e.g., between us and the State in criminal punishment and between us and god in divine punishment) and especially severe forms of sanction (e.g., long prison sentences, execution, damnation). On the other hand, minimal moral responsibility is tied to reciprocal interpersonal relationships (e.g., friendship) and to informal blaming practices (e.g., expressions of resentment). Since the stakes are higher in the context of ultimate moral responsibility, the conditions under which agents are morally responsible are plausibly higher as well. And it's in virtue of this that ultimate moral responsibility, which probably requires sourcehood, is incompatible with determinism.

Having said that, I don't think that minimal moral responsibility is "shallower" than ultimate responsibility. Indeed, it is, to borrow a phrase from Dennett, one of the varieties of responsibility worth wanting.

Does this qualify me as a CD-er?

Saul: thanks for the helpful reply. This is progress. But now I have a different question. If it's true that from the "ultimate" perspective no one deserves blame or punishment, then I don't see how there can be some other compatibilist perspective according to which people do sometimes deserve these things. I understand the following thought: hard incompatibilism is true but for various reasons we should pretend as if compatibilism is true. That's fine, but that's pretending like compatibilism is true. It's not to acknowledge that there's some independent perspective (other than the "ultimate" HD one) from which compatibilism is true. It's just pretending that a (necessarily) false thesis is true. What I don't get is how both a skeptical view of (desert entailing) responsibility and a compatibilist view of this could be true (albeit from different perspectives).


Justin (Coates) - Yes, I think you are a CD. As long as one thinks that both (what you name) minimal moral responsibility and ultimate moral responsibility matter, i.e. that we have MMR, and that it matters both that we have MMR and that we don't have UMR, then you are a compatibility-dualist, as far as I can see. I would now want to nudge you a bit to see the MMR side not only in P.F. Strawsonian terms, but that's detail. I like your distinction between reciprocal and non-reciprocal relationships, although I am inclined to think that we will find MMR and UMR in both. I don't see why the absence of LFW would not lead one to mitigate one's resentment towards others (say, someone who harmed you in childhood), or to think that, while appropriate, such resentment is also in some ways unfair. Likewise, I think the state, through punishment, operates both on the level of MMR and UMR (in the second case unjustly, but perhaps overall in a justified way). So there is perhaps more complexity than your model allows, but those again are details we can argue about; the basic stance seems compatibility-dualist.

Justin (Cape) - I certainly am not a closet HD who just says we should pretend compatibilism is true. I think that there are various forms of free will. moral responsibility, desert, and the resulting worthwhile things, and, as a dualist, think that some can be satisfied in a deterministic world (or world without LFW, irrespective of determinism), and some cannot - and that both facts matter.

One way I find helpful to think about it is to take the HD all the way. Then (assuming basic human equality and the like), we could say that everyone is innocent, in the ultimate sense, whatever he does, no one ought to be better off than others, and this includes not only actions but attitudes like being respected. But then, from the pit of despair, we can begin to claw our way back, not only for utilitarian like reasons, but in a way that I think we can see as compatibilist. This would build upon the compatibilist distinctions that even HDs like Derk and Thomas were happy to embrace, but interpret them in a more robust way. There are various ways in which this compatibilist climb back can be done; one is the P.F. Strawson way. I favor a less "emotional" and more broadly deontological story, according to which a Community of Responsibility is a condition for proper respect for persons. To treat s normal, adult person with respect and to establish a decent inter-personal and social sphere means seeing him as a responsible agent, who can typically take charge of his behavior towards others, and is willing to accept responsibility if he falls short. I've explained this in more detail in my writing, but you can see the sort of model that I find attractive. The fact that such a normal adult can take responsibility, accept blame, feel compunction, and so on, and that it would be appropriate to expect him to do so in a way that it would not be in toddler, does not eliminate all the salience of the ultimate, HD perspective. For alongside the story about the person who can function responsibly, deserve our appreciation, rightly feel self-respect, and so on, it is also the case that if this person ends up very badly off on account of his actions, say, serving a life sentence, then there is a deep element of ultimate injustice here - which wouldn't necessarily be the case had he a robust libertarian free will. So we can see how on one level people can be responsible, how they can be more or less responsible, and how on some occasions they can be not responsible, for compatibilist reasons; while in another way the fact that they lack some more ambitious sense of agency and responsibility also matters. I hope this helps clarify things a bit more.

We are so used to thinking in monistic ways, that one needs to try and see the side he or she is blind to, and to play around with the contrasting perspectives, until one gets used to seeing things in this more complex way.

'But then, from the pit of despair, we can begin to claw our way back, not only for utilitarian like reasons, but in a way that I think we can see as compatibilist. This would build upon the compatibilist distinctions that even HDs like Derk and Thomas were happy to embrace, but interpret them in a more robust way.'

Shalom Professor Smilansky. Good to see you again!

I don't think this methodology is going to work, because on the way down precisely those distinctions were rejected. And they were abjured with a full understanding of where things were heading. (When we discuss FW, I always present HD first to my students, so as to get them to see the importance of the issue. I can tell by the resistance it provokes, even before I spell out its implications, that they can see full well the horrible consequences HD portends.) A hard core Hard Determinist is not "blind," as you say, to the other "contrasting perspectives." He has already "played around" with them and found them wanting.
So, again, what reason would he have but faintheartedness for going back that way?

As Justin Capes has said, I can see embracing Illusionism at this point, foreswearing public pronouncements on behalf of HD and even trying to deceive myself about FW. But there would be no point trying to salvage elements of philosophies I have already found good reasons for rejecting. What for, except to help me sustain my illusion? But such gerrymandering is a far cry believing in Compatibilism or Libertarianism. At the end of the day, in my heart of hearts, I am a Hard Determinist. As a philosopher, don't I owe such an admission to myself, at least in my private moments? I remember talking to Professor Kane once about how close his view was to another junior philosopher's position. I naively asked him why they didn't join forces. He promptly told me that "philosophers don't think that way." The point is, once I reject a philosophy I am going think unfavorably of it until new, non-pragmatic reasons in its favor surface.

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