PH100 Lecture Notes

3 a free action is one that is caused by the persons

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3. A free action is one that is caused by the person's beliefs and desires, provided that those beliefs and desires flow from “who the person is”. (Frankfurt) Evaluating the suggestions 1. A free action is one that is caused by the person's beliefs and desires Actions that are coerced do no count as free. Actions that are performed due to our own beliefs and desires do count as free, even if determinism is true. Problem: We might be forced to want to perform certain actions (e.g., by hypnotic suggestion). In that case, the performance of those actions will be free according to the first suggestion. 2. A free action is one that is caused by the person's beliefs and desires, provided that the person was not compelled by another person to have those beliefs and desires. Question: what's the meaning of “compelled” “compelled” = caused Actions that are the result of hypnotic suggestion do not count as free – even if we want to do those actions. Problem: This suggestion turns out to be too strong: too many actions will be counted as not free. Sider, p. 130 3. A free action is one that is caused by the person's beliefs and desires, provided that those beliefs and desires flow from “who the person is”. What does it mean to say that “beliefs and desires flow from 'who the person is'”? If first-order desires are caused by second-order desires , then they flow from “who the person is” SIDENOTE Desires 1) Effective: gives rise to a particular course of action Ineffective/Idle 2) First-order: desire for an action Second-order: desire for a desire Volition/will: an effective first-order desire Second-order volition: wanting a first-order desire to be effective
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Therefore an action X is free if X is caused by a first-order desire to do X and that first-order desire is caused by a second-order desire to want to want to do X. Examples: Drug addict 1 (unwilling). Oliver1 is a drug addict. Although he desires drugs, he has the second-order desire not to desire drugs. His first-order desire is effective. Oliver1 is not free. Second-order desires does not cause the first-order desires Drug addict 2 (wanton). Oliver2 is a drug addict. He has no second-order desires. He merely has first- order desires. In fact, he has conflicting first-order desires. He desires to do drugs, but he also desires not to do drugs. The former desire is effective. Oliver2 is not free. Not a “person” does not have the capacity for second-order desires Drug addict 3 (willing). Oliver3 is a drug addict. Oliver3 desires to do drugs and wants to want to do drugs. Oliver3 is free. Doesn't matter if you can/can't do otherwise Two worries about the distinction between first-order desires and second-order desires and the application of this distinction to the problem of free will.
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