Naturalism and free will



  1. Tom Clark said,

    May 19, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Nice clip, raises tough but answerable questions. A few quick notes:

    That our behavior isn’t an exception to physical laws doesn’t mean we cease to be effective agents or unique individuals. We have as at least as much causal power as the factors that determine us. We can and must be held responsible even if we’re fully determined, since that’s a main way we learn to act morally. We don’t need the special dignity of being causally exempt from natural cause and effect. And he’s right: randomness adds nothing to our freedom or responsibility. Overall, not having contra-causal free will isn’t a problem for us or our values, but it usually takes some time to see this. The Center for Naturalism has explored this question in depth.


    Tom Clark
    Center for Naturalism

    • facilis said,

      May 19, 2009 at 11:56 pm

      Thanks for commenting Tom. I will be sure to examine that stuff on your site soon.
      However at first glance your arguments seem unconvincing. A famous naturalist named Richard Dawkins compared attributing blame and moral responsibility to a fully determined agent to a Monty Python sketch where Basil Fawlty beats a car for being a faulty machine.
      He concludes ,
      “But doesn’t a truly scientific, mechanistic view of the nervous system make nonsense of the very idea of responsibility, whether diminished or not? Any crime, however heinous, is in principle to be blamed on antecedent conditions acting through the accused’s physiology, heredity and environment. Don’t judicial hearings to decide questions of blame or diminished responsibility make as little sense for a faulty man as for a Fawlty car?”
      While I disagree with Dawkins as to the truth of naturalism but it seems that he has a point.

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