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Hi Chandra:

Yes, I very much agree: it is important to keep track of the distinction between the empirical question about what feature(s) F of a case give rise to a particular intuition about a case, the philosophical question about whether having that particular intuitive reaction in response to F is *rational*, and the philosophical question of whether there is some F--whether your intuition tracks it or not--that would make a certain intuition a rational one. You've got me worried now--do you think that any of the arguments I have made rest on equivocation? As you picked up on, I do not, as a general rule, favor one of the approaches you mention over the other.

As I tried to indicate at the end of my last reply, I think it’s wise to separate and seek answers to both sorts of questions. I don’t see the need for competition between the approaches. Could you speak to that? To me, empirical and philosophical investigations of our intuitions offer different, non-competing lessons than can help guide the rational revision of our judgments (I point to the Huemer piece again).

While I acknowledge the value of your approach, I do have specific concerns about the particular cases you use, as I explained above. I’d be interested to in your reactions to those concerns and to Kip’s similar “slap in the face” worry about your cases.

I think I see what you're getting at, Kristin. To the extent that manipulation in a manipulation case introduces a difference, it makes trouble for a no-difference principle. If instead the manipulation really makes no difference, then a no-difference principle is secured, but the manipulation looks superfluous. I think that's right.


That's a good distinction to draw between ways of trying to explain "intuitions". But I want to resist being placed in category two, since I don't think the distinction you draw is exhaustive. I place very little weight on explaining intuitions. To me, "Intuitively, that p" is just to signal that p is asserted as an unsupported premise. If someone denies that p, I will have given them no reason to think otherwise.

It sounds like you have a substantive view about intuitions, (I apologize for not being familiar with it), and I don't take issue with that. You do say that we all agree that intuitively, Ernie does not A freely. If we follow your usage, perhaps it's the case that I have that intuition. I'm not sure about that, since I have never thought there was anything terribly problematic in manipulation cases. So I'm inclined to say that I don't have the intuition that Ernie is not responsible for acting. Maybe I'm mistaken, on your account of intuition. But I don't take the aim of theory in this context to be primarily about explaining why I have or don't have that intuition - nor what that intuition's precise content is.

When I think about best explanation strategies, it seems to me we only mean one thing. So I resist the claim that there's equivocation going on. A best explanation account argues that the theory proposed gives the best explanation of some target fact or phenomenon. The problem, of course, is that we aren't even settled on what needs explaining. What makes these inquiries so challenging is that we disagree about both what we're trying to explain and what account best explains it. In some ways, it's like solving for two variables at once. Does that way of seeing things seem mistaken to you?

People have suggested that Approach 1 and Approach 2 to finding “the best explanation of an intuition” are both viable ways to go. Let me say a bit about why I believe the second approach is very much mistaken. This will also help to get another example on the table (looking at more examples often helps clarify the key underlying issues).

I suspect we all agree that the Gettier Case is dialectically important in the debate about knowledge. Suppose someone argued this way:

1. A Gettierized agent lacks knowledge (intuitive judgment)
2. The best explanation for (1) is that no one has knowledge. This is because of the brain in vat argument, Pyrrhonian arguments, and additional skeptical arguments 1…n.

This way of approaching the Gettier case is an instance of what I called Approach 2 since it seeks to create an overall best explanation for the intuited proposition. To me, this approach is fundamentally confused. It fails to engage with the Gettier Case’s *distinctive* evidential contribution, and instead uses the discussion of the case as an opportunity to digress into a discussion of a bunch of general arguments that have nothing to with the narrow topic of Gettierization.

An alternative approach, which is an instance of what I called the Approach 1, is to figure out what is the key feature that drives the intuitive difference in knowledge between a Gettierized agent and a matched non-Gettierized agent. Is it safety? truth-tracking? saliency of alternatives? And so on. On this approach, we can’t help ourselves to general arguments. Rather, we conduct a quasi-empirical inquiry into what drives our intuitive judgments. This approach is helpful because helps us identify the *unique* evidential contribution of the Gettier case, and it tells us something interesting about our tacit competence with the concept [KNOWLEDGE] that goes beyond merely repeating the general arguments (such as general skeptical arguments) that were antecedently out there. And this is precisely the approach taken by most philosophers in the post-Gettier literature.

When Mele introduced the Zygote Case, he contrasts Ernie with Bernie, an agent whose zygote is not Diana-designed. Our aim with the Zygote Case is not to figure out what is the best *overall* best explanation for why Ernie is unfree, helping ourselves to all the general arguments (CA, Basic, Agent Casual arguments etc…) that are out there (this is Approach 2). That would be similar to the mistake made above with the Gettier Case. Rather, we should take Approach 1 and make our aims much more narrow: to figure out what feature of the Zygote Case drives the intuitive difference between Ernie and Bernie. In that way, we learn something new and interesting about our tacit competence with [FREE WILL].

Thanks, Chandra. That's helpful. But what do we say of someone who doesn't see an intuitive difference between Ernie and Bernie (at least with respect to responsibility)?

Is that possible? Are they mistaken?

Hi All: I've been traveling today and haven't had a chance to write up my replied--sorry! will jump back into the conversation tonight. In the meantime, thanks for keeping things rolling!

The “standard” pattern of intuitions is supposed to be that Ernie lacks FW and MR and Bernie (who was never targeted by Diana and grows up healthy and unimpaired) has both. If someone says they don’t share this pattern of intuitive responses, we should do the following:

1. We should check whether they are reporting their *intuitions* or their all things considered reflective theoretical judgments. The two can certainly come apart. For example, contemporary defenders of the JTB analysis of knowledge certainly still feel the Gettier intuition; they just have principled arguments for why the intuition should be overridden in their final overall theory. So too with Ernie/Bernie; we should say for example to a committed compatibilist: I know that your all-things-considered-theory-based view is that Ernie has FW/MR, but do you feel the “intuitive pull” from the case that Ernie does not have FW/MR. I suspect they will say yes.

2. We should check whether they at least feel an intuitive *difference* b/w Ernie and Bernie. It may be that a person is intuitively agnostic about Ernie and confident that Bernie has FW/MR (I think Matt has this pattern), or intuitively confident that Ernie lacks FW/MR but agnostic about Bernie (this appears to be Kristen’s pattern). Feeling an intuitive difference b/w Ernie and Bernie is a weaker standard than actually having the “standard pattern” of intuitions, but it is sufficient for productive dialogue to occur.

Earlier I said that the method of using intuitions in philosophy is similar the use of intuitions in linguistics: both use intuitions to uncover the structure of our tacit theoretical competence with concepts. So analogously one might ask what should we say to someone who says he does not get the intuition that the following sentence is ungrammatical:
“Is a unicorn that eating a flower is in the garden?”

If someone absolutely insists that he doesn’t intuitively see the sentence as ungrammatical, we might worry that he is making a mistake in articulating his intuitions or else not speaking English. I really doubt that many philosophers fail to see any intuitive difference in FW/MR *whatsoever* between Ernie and Bernie. But if they insisted on this even after checking (1) and (2) carefully, I suppose I would have to conclude they are either making a mistake in articulating their intuitions or have different concepts.

@ Alan & Michael,

I’m not sure I understand all of the details of your posts, but I’ll do my best to address a common worry.

Yes, there’s going to be some murkiness in the metaphysics until we get adequate analyses of our main concepts, e.g. free will and deterministic laws. That’s a huge problem in most contexts.

But at least we can have a *taxonomy* of free-will views that clarifies the logical landscape of the debate without knowing/stipulating what free will or deterministic laws amount to. Take the qualified incompossibilism that I have mentioned a few times, incompossibilism*. Incompossibilism* is a modal thesis that can be defined in terms of two theses:

QUALIFIED FREE-WILL THESIS (FWT*): Someone subject to the laws of nature has free will.
THESIS OF DETERMINISM (DET): The laws of nature are deterministic.

Incompossibilism* = ~◊(FWT* and DET).
Incompatibilism = □(DET --> (~FWT* because DET)).

Incompatibilism entails incompossibilism* but not vice versa—even though FWT* doesn’t tell us anything about free will and DET doesn’t tell us anything about the laws. As we learn more about these phenomena, we’ll have free-will views with a little more meat on their bones and, so, be in a better position to determine which is true.

How could a taxonomy of such content-light free-will views be useful? Well, at the very least, I hope that I have shown that it can help us to see more clearly the logical structures and conclusions of even very simple, very familiar arguments.

Chandra, I think the linguistics analogy is apt, but I think it shows something different that what you say. There are, in fact, people for whom "My house needs painted" is grammatical, and others for whom it is not. There is no central arbiter of English grammaticality -- each person has their own intuitions, and perhaps even their own theories as to why some particular offering is/isn't grammatical.

Likewise with Ernie/Bernie intuitions, I'd say. I do not intuit that there is any FW/MR difference between Ernie and Bernie. What I hear with the zygote story is "This person was designed to be the kind of person who As, and he does A; therefor he does not A freely." Intellectually I can grasp that it's the design that drives the intuition for many people, but I just don't see it. Perhaps it's a result of my Catechism lessons saying that God's foreknowledge of our actions does not in any way detract from the freedom of those actions. Perhaps my theories of FW/MR have overwhelmed my original intuitions (much as the "My house needs painted" has been grammaticalized for me). But in any case, I do not intuit the way you do.

Your conclusion that someone who persists in claiming to have intuitions counter to your own is either "making a mistake in articulating their intuitions or have different concepts" thus strikes me as being somewhat like a grammar peever. I am not mistaken about whether I find "needs painted" grammatical, and I haven't got a different concept of [NEEDING] or [PAINTING], and I'm not speaking some different language than you. I just disagree about the intuitive pull of the example.

(And lest you take the fact that "needs painted" was not always grammatical for me is pertinent, I offer singular "they" as an alternative -- something I've had since I could speak, and which various teachers tried to drum out of me, with little success.)

Hi Mark,

You raise a very good point about grammaticality intuitions—they vary somewhat by idiolect. Could free will intuitions vary in a similar way? That is, do we all speak the same “free will idiolect”? I think we do. So in this respect, I believe the tacit competence we have with [FREE WILL] and other philosophically-relevant concepts differs somewhat from the grammar case (where there are multiple idiolects). It is instead more like other intuitive competences , such as folk physics or face-based emotion recognition, that appear to be innate human universals.

I am not prepared to give an extensive defense of the evidence for the universality of our tacit competence with [FREE WILL]. But here is a quick gloss:

-Free will intuitions are closely linked to a host of action theoretic concepts (MR, blameworthiness, intention/intentional action/intentionally acting, etc.) and it is this *whole set of concepts* (and the associated intuitions they generate) that appears to be universal. The competences associated with these concepts have the structure of a complex interlinked theory, they arise early in childhood, don’t require explicit teaching, and show up recurrently in otherwise diverse unrelated cultures. John Mikhail’s work on “Universal Moral Grammar” summarizes some of this data (see his article in Trends in Cognitive Science and his recent book).

-there have been some attempts to show diversity of philosophically-relevant intuitions, such as the work by Weinberg, Nichols, and Stich on Gettier Cases. There is now a growing body of work saying that there is universality in these very intuitions. See for example, so evidence against universality claims appear to have been weakened.

Mark, when you say you yourself don’t have any intuition at all that Ernie if unfree (or that Ernie and Bernie are in any freedom-relevant way different), I take your claim at face value. It certainly counts against my universalist, innatist approach. But for now, I do think the universalist/innatist approach does the best overall job at organizing a host of phenomena about how intuitions work in the free will debate as well as other philosophical debates, and so I still favor it.


Ok, thanks--I think I finally see where you're coming from. A couple of questions/statements to see if I have this right.

Would I be correct in thinking that Incompossibilism* is equivalent to denying in strong modal terms the possibility of any compatibilistic concept of FW?

So, for example, John Fischer's view *might* accept Incompossibilism* for FW but think it irrelevant anyway for assessing semi-compatibilism as a view of moral responsibility. But van Inwagen might (more strongly) accept Incompossibilism* but see it much more relevant in defense of Incompatibilism (but not by entailment) or perhaps even mysterianism (as a back-door strategy of defense). Do these claims sound right by your view?

If so, then I agree that Incompossibilism* is at least logically consistent, but as a claim against *all* compatibilist accounts of FW, which constitute (I'd argue) quite an open-ended class contrary to incompatibilist accounts, then mounting a convincing argument that Incompossibilism* is true would be quite a daunting task. I say that because such an argument would have to somehow rule out future possible compatibilist accounts that we haven't even come up with yet!

Thanks for (what I hope is!) clarifying my thinking.

Picking up on a claim Alan just made, van Inwagen can't be an Incompossibilist, right? He is more sure that free will exists than he is about any principles that drive incompatibilist (or incompossibilist) conclusions (such as Beta). That's always suggested a problem to me, but I haven't been able to get the problem right.

Doesn't it seem weird that van Twinwagen, who's identical to van Inwagen except that he's been convinced he lives in a deterministic universe, would reject incompatibilism, especially since Beta (or similar principles), if true, are necessarily true, and since for all we (or van Inwagen knows), our universe could be deterministic?

Kristin, where does PvI fit into your classifications?

Hi Eddy,

Ah, that question makes me so happy! My little plan must be unfolding nicely...van Inwagen and his Consequence Argument are up next! I don't want to distract from the interesting discussion of manipulation arguments *quite* yet, so I hope you'll stay tuned for my next post!

Hi Chandra:

Thanks for this interesting discussion! Since others are focusing on how best-explanation arguments connect to the relative merits of and working relationship between Approach 1 & 2, I want to throw a spotlight on your application of Approach 2 to the Zygote Argument.

Regarding Getttier cases, you argue that Approach 2 is flawed because it “fails to engage with the Gettier Case’s *distinctive* evidential contribution.” I (and Kip, too, it seems) have a similar worry about your Ernie cases—a worry that remains even if we were to grant the general superiority of Approach 1. So, take the following as an attempt at an Approach-1 “insider” worry:

Let’s say you’re right that people who have the intuitions they “should” have both the intuition that Mele’s Ernie is NOT free/responsible and the intuitions that Mele’s Bernie and your Ernies* ARE free/responsible. Let’s call people with this pattern of intuitions “ideal targets” of manipulation arguments. Now, what lesson should be gleaned from the body of “evidence” generated from the intuition reactions of ideal targets to the collection of zygote stories?

You contend that the evidence lends *some* support to the conclusion that “intuitions in the Original Zygote Case are driven by DETERMINATION by the REMOTE PAST and LAWS”. Okay: Granted.

What counts as a “narrow conclusion” is relative, and yours (above) is not narrow in the dialectic that I have set up. The central question of my post is not whether incompossiblism is true or whether manipulation arguments should persuade ideal targets (or anyone else) it is true—I’ve granted all that for the sake of argument. My question is whether a manipulation argument can cut more finely than that, and I suggest the answer is “no”. As far as I can tell, your zygote stories—even when we grant almost all that you have said about them—don’t suggest that my proposed answer is wrong.

All incompossibilists may agree that determination is part of what “drives” their pro-incompossibilism intuitions about Ernie’s case. But incompossibilists may disagree about the *sense* in which determination drives that intuition. Is it a “rhetorical drive” that produces a “slap in the face” about ultimate sourcehood, as source impossibilists think? In that case, removing perfect determination from the story (as you do) is to rip from our hands the string that was guiding us out of the labyrinth. Or, less figuratively, removing determination only *obscures* the "distinctive evidential contribution" of Mele's story, and leaves the undue impression that incompatibilists have the upper hand.

Would you agree that your cases don’t favor incompatibilism over non-incompatibilist incompossibilism—or have I missed something?

Hi Alan:

You ask: “Would I be correct in thinking that Incompossibilism* is equivalent to denying in strong modal terms the possibility of any compatibilistic concept of FW”?

I think we’re on the same page. If incompossibilism* is true, then the correct analysis of FREE WILL (whatever that is) is such that that no one living in a universe with deterministic laws can fall under that concept, i.e. no one can satisfy the necessary and sufficient conditions for free will if living in a deterministic world. So, those who are trying to find a compossibilism-friendly analysis are on a quixotic mission.

Yes, the trick to defending impossibilism*, then, is to figure out which of the competing proposals (including some not thought of yet) offer the "right" analysis of FREE WILL--because only that can be plugged into the Qualified Free-Will Thesis to flesh out views like incompossibilism*.

If we opt for a pluralist view of free will, then for any concept of FW, FW-n, there will be a corresponding incompatibilism-n, incompossibilism-n, etc.. Formally, these debates will all be the same, just focused around a different concept of free will. I think what we have, in practice, is a “methodological pluralism” right now. This seems the right way to proceed since we are still so divided about which concept/concepts are the right one/ones. (Although, I dare say it might help if we were more attentive to the fact that this is often what we are doing.)

Hi Kristin,

You’ve spotted me a lot of claims in your last comment—that is awfully generous (probably way too generous)!! To recap, at least for argument purposes, you are granting me that the quasi-empirical “narrow” approach, what I called Approach 1, is the right one. So our aim is to use Ernie, Bernie, and systematically altered versions of Zygote cases to figure out, given that we intuit that Ernie is unfree, what features of the case this intuition is responsive to. More specifically, we are not seeking to provide an overall best explanation for the intuited proposition that Ernie is unfree (which is what I called Approach 2).

Given all that, the worry you raise is that my suggested cases don’t accomplish the job. My Zygote-Revised for example does not really pull apart the predictions of source impossibilism from incompatibilism. I am slightly inclined to disagree, but let me return the favor and grant you your point. I’d like pursue a slightly different tack. If we are all agreed about the relevant intuitions (Ernie is unfree and Bernie is free), and the proper methodology (the quasi-empirical narrow approach), then isn’t it simply a matter of continuing to follow this approach with better and more clever cases until we ultimately figure out the features that drive the Zygote intuition? *My* cases certainly may have failed, but is there an in principle barrier to eventually succeeding?

Let me put the point even more provocatively. The narrow approach (which you’ve granted tentatively is the right way to go) has a quasi-empirical character in which we are seeking to uncover the mentally represented tacit principles that underwrite our intuitions about cases. That means that any methods from the brain and behavioral sciences are in theory at our disposal to uncover the relevant tacit principles. A future science might even devise cerebroscopes to reveal these principles directly, without having to infer them indirectly from reactions to hypothetical cases. Isn’t that enough to show there is no *in principle* barrier to pursuing the narrow approach and thereby eventually figuring our whether the zygote case favors impossibilism versus incompatibilism?

BTW, thanks very much to you for the deep engagement you’ve offered to everyone’s comments. A lot of folks are coming at you with lots of different points and you’ve done a superb job synthesizing this material and advancing the arguments. Thanks for that! :-))

Eddy suggests,

"van Inwagen can't be an Incompossibilist, right? He is more sure that free will exists than he is about any principles that drive incompatibilist (or incompossibilist) conclusions (such as Beta)."

All he needs to do is assign a higher credence to free will than Incompossibilism: say 99.99% and 99.9% respectively. Anyone who has that much certainty about any given philosophical "ism" is entitled to call himself an
"ist". Not that numerical probabilities are necessarily the way to rank credences, but you can see how the point generalizes.


Thanks! (And Argh! I *meant* to say that I grant you your *Approach 1*, and wanted to offer and *Approach 1* insider worry. Sorry for suddenly losing track like that. I’ve edited to avoid confusing others, but I'm glad that you understood what I meant!)

You’re right that I haven’t offered any in-principle reason to think your approach won’t be successful. I am worried though. Here’s what I’m thinking:

Since it can be argued that a story that does not include perfect determination lacks the essential rhetorical feature of Mele’s zygote story, it can be argued that we cannot take the intuitive reactions to your zygote stories as evidence that determination doesn’t matter. But if we have to keep perfect determination in the story, it seems that only versions of the Ernie-as-causa-sui story (mentioned earlier) would be suitable for use in your pairing method. I don’t know what people’s reaction to the “Ernie-sui” case would be. But *if* the results spoke against incompatibilism, it seems that the incompatibilist might argue that the “evidence” is suspect because it assumes that people are able to reason from impossible premises (or something like that).

And even if we do some empirical research on people’s brains as they are responding to manipulation stories, it seems that the best we can hope for is an error theory for the “victim intuition” the Ernie is not free/responsible. (For example, it might reveal that the victim intuition is drive by psychological reactance, which would be irrational in this context.) But I don’t see how an empirical study could tell us whether we are responding to determination *as a rhetorical device* or *as freedom-undermining feature* of a manipulation case. ...It seems like independent arguments might, though.

So, as I see things, a stalemate between incompatibilists and their incompossibilist rivals seems to loom large following your approach. Of course, that may not be much of a criticism--it seems that a stalemate looms large no matter what approach we take. In any case, I look forward to thinking about this more—thanks!

I want to follow up on Kristin and Chandra's latest exchange. If Chandra is right, and Kristin grants as much as she has granted, then I wonder what we are to make of her schematized manipulation argument with which she opened the post?

Making the relevant substitutions:

D1*. We (I, you the reader) have the intuition that the manipulated agent(s) is unfree and non-responsible.

D2*. The intuition is sensitive to feature F of the case(s). Plausibly, F accounts for the intuition that the manipulated agent is unfree and non-responsible.

So far, these are the quasi-empirical results of following approach 1. But now the argument has to continue:

D3*: F is found in both the manipulated scenarios and deterministic contexts.

D4*: No one is free or morally responsible in deterministic contexts (or any scenario where F is present).

That, at least, is the required form of the conclusion. But this argument seems invalid. All that D3* licenses is that we should expect the same intuitions to arise in deterministic contexts. But that won't get us to a claim about freedom or responsibility being impossible, much less a claim that F is implicated in undermining either, rather than being implicated in production of the relevant intuitions.

Now, we could suppose that our intuitions are reliable. Perhaps they are. But is this also an empirical premise? Having gotten at that implicit principles underwriting our intuitions, what have we found? Are they explanatory of what is true with respect to freedom and responsibility, or are they explanatory of how we come to think what we do about the individuals in cases?

Hi Eddy,

Perhaps I was a bit quick earlier. I didn’t want to discuss PvI quite yet, but the more general question you ask is an interesting one:

After we have providing the defining tenets of some –ism, under what conditions does a philosopher qualify as an –ist?

I haven’t given that question much thought, I admit. It does seem strange to me to think that someone fails to qualify as an –ist unless that person assigns a subjective probability of 1 to the –ism being true. In that case, there’d probably be very few –ists of any sort in philosophy; that seems wrong.

One might think that when we self-identify as an –ist, we use that as shorthand to report that we are somewhere on the spectrum of “-ist sympathizers”. In that case, it may be that we have perfect confidence in the truth of the –ism (the top end of the spectrum), but we might identify as an –ist so long as we think the –ism is more likely to be true than false. And, in the case where two or more mutually-exclusive isms satisfies that criterion, we identify as an –ist of the –ism with which we most strongly sympathize, even if only by a smidge. I think that’s what Paul has suggested?

As for PvI, his standpoint does seem a bit strange as you describe it. I’m no expert in Bayesianism, but one gets the impression that PvI is reporting salient subjective prior probabilities. He’s giving us his prior for the hypothesis that free will is true (very high, but not 1), and his prior for the laws being deterministic, given that the free will thesis is true (very low, but not 0). But, when the news comes in that the laws ARE deterministic, he balks. Instead of accepting that his confidence in the existence of free will should go way down (as the low posterior probability of free will given determinism demands), he goes back and changes his priors. Poor form! Might something along these lines account for your worry, Eddy?

Thanks, Matt.

I’m not sure what warrants your “making the relevant substitutions” in my Diagnostic Template.

None of the major premises in my template makes a claim about intuitions or (best) explanations of them; they are not premises about *us*. I see my debate with Chandra as one over what we can/should do, as philosophers, to *support* the truth of certain claims about characters in and features of manipulation scenarios.

What you are saying in D2*, it seems to me, is that *given your metaphilosophical views*, Chandra’s Approach 1 could not deliver the requisite support for an instance of my D2--at most it could deliver D2*. But, if I understand Chandra—who I expect will join us to speak for himself if time permits—I don’t think he’d agree that the his Approach only delivers instances of your D2*; I took him to be saying that his Approach can deliver the requisite support for instances of D2.

In any case, in granting Chandra his Approach, I took myself to be granting him that his Approach could deliver adequate justification for accepting the truth of instances of my template. You may deny that his Approach can deliver that much—and with good reason. But I don’t quite see how my Diagnostic template combined with *granting* Chandra his Appraoach reduces my (valid) Diagnostic template to your (invalid) Diagnostic* template. Am I missing something?

Thanks Matt, I think that your revision of Kristen’s original argument is quite helpful. I agree with most of your revision, but I wanted to go further and modify your revision a bit.

*Manipulation Schema 3.0*
D0: Our tacit principles that underwrite our intuitions about free will are (defeasibly) justified.

D1*. We (I, you the reader) have the intuition that the manipulated agent(s) is unfree and non-responsible.

D2*. The intuition is sensitive to feature F of the case(s) (or equivalently, from the fact that the intuition is sensitive to F, we can substitute this as the premise: “Our tacit principles about free will say that F is free will-undermining”)

New Conclusion: Therefore, the manipulation intuition provides evidence that any world in which F is present is a non-free will/non-MR world

One important change I made is that the conclusion is no longer the direct statement of the relevant proposition, but rather a claim about evidence for that proposition. I think that is important. We are seeking to locate the distinctive evidential contribution of the Zygote Case and the intuition it elicits within a larger ongoing debate about free will that has multiple fronts. This way of stating the conclusion makes that easier to appreciate.

Another important change is that I am making premise D0 explicit. It would take an article to defend that premise, so I won’t try. In short my view I that the tacit principles connected to concepts like [FREE WILL] and related concepts are (often) rich in conceptual truths, a priori truths, contingent empirical claims that natural selection saw fit to encode innately, and the like, and this is why they are defeasibly justified. I think many in analytic philosophy take intuitions to be justified, so I am not sure whether there is fierce opposition to D0.

Here is why the Zygote Argument might support impossibilism or incompatiblism. Let us say that through systematic testing with closely matched cases, we find out in step D2* that F=“S’s action exhibits causal/explanatory dependence on events in the remote past”. Then this means the Zygote Argument does *not* support impossibilism because there are possible worlds in which there is sufficient indeterminism during ontogeny, deliberation and choice (and let assume this indeterminism is not itself FW/MR undermining) that one’s action does not exhibit causally/explanatory dependence on the remote past.

Let us say we found out the relevant F=”S fails to be a causa sui”. Then this does support impossibilism because being such a thing is impossible. So whether the Zygote Argument supports impossibilism or not all depends on what F turns out to be.

In her last comment to me, Kristen was skeptical whether we could ever figure out what F was in a way that distinguishes support for incompatibilism versus impossibilism. I still disagree with her on that, but I want to leave that issue aside for now. I am ok to agree to disagree on that. I am more interested in knowing whether this revised schema makes sense to you guys, leaving aside the question of whether we can realistically figure out what is the relevant feature F.

Hi Kristin,

I don't know that you're missing anything. I took Chandra's point in emphasizing the quasi-empirical nature of Approach 1 to be against any in principle barrier toward using manipulation arguments to favor one view or the other. But it seems to me that the empirical nature of the approach doesn't by itself get us to the requisite premises in the argument, so it wasn't clear to me how it affected your main proposal.

I see now that you want to grant him the further claim that our intuitions (as investigated by Approach 1) will roughly track truth (or provide adequate justification for treating them that way). I didn't see that as apparent in Chandra's original formulation, and I didn't see you as including that concession originally. That was my mistake. Adding such a premise could easily make the invalid template I gave valid.

In any case, I *thought* I was defending your general proposal against Chandra's resistance, but, in any case, I hope I haven't muddied the waters.

Kristen wrote:

"As for PvI, his standpoint does seem a bit strange as you describe it. I’m no expert in Bayesianism, but one gets the impression that PvI is reporting salient subjective prior probabilities. He’s giving us his prior for the hypothesis that free will is true (very high, but not 1), and his prior for the laws being deterministic, given that the free will thesis is true (very low, but not 0). But, when the news comes in that the laws ARE deterministic, he balks. Instead of accepting that his confidence in the existence of free will should go way down (as the low posterior probability of free will given determinism demands), he goes back and changes his priors. Poor form! Might something along these lines account for your worry, Eddy?"

I think it's bizarre, too, Kristen.

Especially when you think that free will typically refers to very different things for incompatibilists and compatibilists. Incompatibilists (incompossibilists?) tend to think of free will as involving self-creation, ultimacy, or self-governance *beyond* what is possible in a deterministic world. Compatibilists tend to think of free will as simply describing the kind of rationality and moral sensitivity that humans exhibit in this world, deterministic or not.

So, when PvI (or others, Mele has a similar agnostic view) expresses a willingness to switch from incompatibilism to compatibilism (or vice versa), he is (arguably) expressing a willingness to redefine free will.

Of course, I'm sure he would disagree with me about that. PvI has written that free will means the same thing for everyone - free will, period, full stop. I don't find that rhetoric helpful at all.

Kip: Interesting point about how different conceptions of free will might play in here. It seems like we might say, though, that van Inwagen is working with an *impoverished* concept of FREE WILL, one which he expects to flesh out through philosophical investigation.

Following up on my Bayesian interpretation of the situation, let me float the following:

It seems that van Inwagen thinks that the prior probability that we have free will *whatever it is* is very high. But then he looked at the Consequence Argument, which concludes that deterministic laws are incompossible (incompatible?) with free will *whatever it is*, i.e. "just in the sense of having a choice that is relevant"(1983: 106). He accepts the argument as sound, which leads him to assign a very low prior to (deterministic laws/free will). Together, *these priors* should lead him to doubt the existence of free will if he were to learn that deterministic laws obtain.

But then he finds out deterministic laws obtain, and he's like: Hmmmm...I still think my prior for the existence of free will *whatever it is* is right; I think that I *do* act freely. So what went wrong? Well, I assigned my prior for (determinsitic laws/free will) on the basis of an *argument* for their incompossibility (incompatibility?). I felt that I had to “accept the deliverances of reason, however unpalatable they may be" (p. 336, But if something is wrong with this argument, then I assigned the wrong prior to (determinisitic laws/free will)—and I’ve always have been suspicious of the Transfer Principle! Since I’ve assigned my prior based on (what must be) an unsound argument, I'll just go back and fix that. Problem solved.

It may be reasonable to go back and change your priors if you find out that you assigned them based on a mistake (e.g. you assigned them based on a misunderstanding of the relevant phenomena). But it doesn’t seem to me that van Inwagen is presupposing that a certain conception of free will is right; he seems to be trying to flesh out his concept FREE WILL through philosophical investigation. If so, it seems to come down to this: For someone who believes he has free will, could merely finding out that he lives in a deterministic universe give him *new* reason to doubt the soundness of the Consequence Argument? Seems not. Perhaps some deliverances of reason *are* too “unpalatable” for van Inwagen to accept?

Kristin, in one of your replies to Chandra you wrote that indeterminism in the history of Ernie’s action eliminates the sense that he was manipulated which, in Kip’s terminology, leaves us without our “clarifying lens”. In your view, that explains why one may have a different intuition about the indeterministic versions of Mele’s story even if they may not differ in any relevant aspect from the original deterministic one. But what if we assume that indeterminism occurs only during Ernie’s decision-making while all his mental characteristics are the intentional results of Diana’s activity? Maybe we could say that this is (still) a sort of manipulation or design case (a design of self case) which makes it clear that Ernie is not self-created and thus allows us to test our intuitions about the lack of self-creation independently of our intuitions about determination? I am curious about what you and others think about this suggestion.

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