Just wanted to let ya'll know that the next episode of philosophy talk, on January 28th, will feature Harry Frankfurt. The episode is called, "If Truth is so valuable, why is there so much BS?" Check out the Philosophy Talk website for more details.
Please share with any students who may be interested. Thanks, Eddy!
The Philosophy Department at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia is accepting applications from qualified undergraduates for its two $15,000 Neurophilosophy Fellowships, to be awarded by the Brains & Behavior program. The Brains & Behavior program at GSU aims to take the neurosciences at Georgia State to a position of international prominence by promoting interdisciplinary collaboration between faculty and students from partnering departments. B&B Fellows in the Philosophy Department complete a Masters degree and receive a stipend of $15,000 plus tuition (they do not have to serve as graduate assistants or instructors). More information on the requirements for the fellowship can be found here.
Andrea Scarantino and I are the primary faculty who are involved in the B&B program and who mentor students interested in "neurophilosophy" (and such), but we are currently hiring for a senior position and the person who ends up filling it may be active in the program.
* 'can' in some sense profoundly indeterministic, ultimacy-bearing sense ** 'up to you' in some sense compatible with your deliberating about whether to reply *** 'should' relative to some justified standards concerning your individual conduct given your aims and the Objective Value™ of the Irrepressible GFP Online Reading Group.
---------Fischer's comments on van Inwagen's "Philosophical Failure": "I should begin by saying that I admire this book greatly. It is beautifully written, and very interesting and stimulating throughout. Not surprisingly, the book is filled with ingenious argumentation and penetrating insights. Here I shall focus solely on van Inwagen's fascinating suggestions about philosophical methodology in Chapter 3.
As ususual, the current issue of Phil Studies is exploding with Gardener-produced or Gardener-relevant pieces: Saul Smilansky on Control, Desert, and Justice, Eddy Nahmias on "Close Calls and the Confident Agent", as well as an article on doxastic voluntarism and an article on temptation and deliberation by Chrisoula Andreou.
See also a recent issue of JPhil for a couple of free will articles (VOLUME CIII, NUMBER 4 April 2006): Widerker on "Libertarianism and the Philosophical Significance of Frankfurt Scenarios" and Marius Usher on "Control, Choice, and the Convergence/Divergence Dynamics: A Compatibilistic Probabilistic Theory of Free Will."
As usual, please feel free to add additional recently published articles via comments— I'm sure there is lots of great stuff I've missed.
Well, now Kip’s gone and done it!In his attempt to make my free-will-comes-in-degrees view sound silly (well, counterintuitive at least), he’s used the folk against me, claiming that “the average Joe on the street” would think it sounded awkward to ask, “How much free will do you have?”
I agree that question sounds awkward, certainly more awkward than the question, “Do you have free will?” (which sounds a bit strange too, I suppose).I’d say it’s because the question is phrased wrong or perhaps needs to be asked in context.(“How much intelligence do you have?” sounds a little funny too.) But maybe it's because the folk think free will doesn't come in degrees.
But what about these questions—do they sound awkward?
--Do adults have more free will than children?
--Does God have more free will than we do?
--Do we have more free will than dogs have?
--Do children attain more free will as they get older?
--Can you lose some of your free will if you get certain mental disorders?For instance, does a person with schizophrenia have less free will than a normal adult?
--Do you have less free will if you are overcome by emotion?
--Could an incredibly complex robot (like Data on Star Trek) have any free will?
--Do intelligent animals, like chimpanzees, have at least some free will?
--If you have more free will, are you more responsible for your actions?
--Do people become more responsible for their actions as they get older and have more free will?
What if we replace the “free will” talk with “act freely” talk? E.g., Do children act more freely as they get older?
What if we replace it with “up to” talk (the phrase that, in our surveys, seems to track “free will” most closely)?E.g., Are adults decisions more up to them than children’s?
What if we replace it with “morally responsible” talk?
I’m not sure.I guess I’ll try running a study, using the techniques linguists use to test grammatically (also one of the methods Knobe and Prinz use to test intuitions about consciousness):present people with sentences and ask them if they sound right or not (e.g., do they “sound natural” or “sound weird”).
I predict (from my armless armchair) that most folk would think most of the questions about free will sound OK (and would offer some interesting answers to them), though they may think the other formulations (e.g., act freely talk) sound more natural. But it's a prediction that would require testing.
But, now for a survey of gardeners:
--Do you think the answers to such questions would have any bearing on the philosophical debates?
--If so, what? If it came out as I predict, would it help support the claim that free will can be understood as something we possess to varying degrees rather than all or none?
--If not, why not?(Was van Inwagen right when he suggested that outside of philosophical discussions, no one uses the term “free will” except in expressions of the form “act of one’s own free will?)
--Do you have any predictions about what people would say about questions of the form above (or statements with similar form)?
--And most of all, do you have any statements you think would be helpful to test on the folk?
Google tells me that the fundamental attribution error (FAE) was first mentioned at the Garden of Forking Paths on Halloween 2004—by myself. This was about twenty months before I discovered Wikipedia’s list of cognitive biases (which I highly recommend) and before I knew anything much about that literature.
But to show that I’m not the only one who considers such biases to be important for the issues discussed here, consider this passage from a book by John Doris (who recently contributed to the GFP Reading Group):
“It is not obvious, then, that situationism unduly complicates standard approaches to the infamous “problem of free will.” Their troubles – if one thinks they have troubles – are of their own making. My trouble is that I think situationism does uniquely problematize two notions central to thinking on responsibility – normative competence (Wolf 1990) and identification (Frankfurt 1988) – notions important in developing compatibilisms with enough psychological texture to provide satisfying underpinnings for the reactive attitudes.”
[Where situationism asserts that: “behavior is—contra the old saw about character and destiny—extraordinarily sensitive to variation in circumstance.]
Note the tension between “it is not obvious, then, that situationism [would make problems for] standard approaches to the free will problem”, on the one hand, and “situationism does uniquely problematize two notions… important in developing compatibilisms…” I would say that Doris is being too modest here about the consequences situationism has for compatibilism.
But situationism and the FAE (two similar, but distinct, concepts which show how people underappreciate the influence of the environment) are just the beginning. As a casual glance of the list of cognitive biases shows, there are oodles and oodles of such biases, and many of them would seem to be relevant to the free will problem.
You can find video of The Daily Show's interview with Harry Frankfurt about his new book, On Truth, here. Unfortunately, this interview seems a little more one-sided than the previous one about On Bullshit. But it's still worth a look.