Instructor Lyle Crawford
4th April 2013
A Brief Introduction of Libertarianism and Its Dilemma
Do all of our actions have a cause, and are we merely a functioning object following determinism? Or do we control our own behaviours, so we have free will? This long time argument has been extended into two opponent theories: Libertarianism and Hard Determinism. Both of these theories, who are fans of incompatibilism, indicate determinism and free will cannot exist at the same time. One the contrary, the compatibilist theory, Soft Determinism, asserts that determinism and free will can be consistent. As believers and ...view middle of the document...
Unlike soft determinists, libertarians indicate compatibilism is false, and therefore determinism does not exist. Even though soft determinists also defend for the ideology of free will, they merely modify the concept to make it consistent with the pattern of determinism. On the contrary, libertarians choose to overthrow determinism in order to save free will as a whole. For the people who believe in free will, the solution provided by Libertarianism seems more convincing because they do not have to worry that the ideology of free will is going to be modified into a completely new concept.
Even though libertarians have made convincing appeals about free will, and rejected that human behaviours are determined, they cannot define what exactly free actions are. While libertarians claim that behaviours of humans are unpredictable, they will not simply agree that free actions are random, because random actions do not represent freedom. If the act of whether or not I go to the philosophy class on next Tuesday is random, then it means I have no control of the action. Therefore, it is obviously not affected by my free will.
Under the title of randomness, there is another “radically indeterministic theory” called Quantum Mechanics. Though Sider has already pointed out that “randomness is not freedom” and used the case of one million Hitler to make his argument (Conee and Sider, 2005, p.125), I think I can make another further objection to argue against the idea that an agent can have any freedom under a random condition. Let’s apply Quantum Mechanics into the case above, so I know exactly all the possibilities of my future action: going to class is 5%, not going is 94%, and being late is 1%. Regardless knowing the possibilities, I still have no control over my action. I am just like a coin being tossed. Even though I understand the presence of each side is both 50%, I don’t control which side I will present. No matter how much I wish to present a particular side, it does not change the fact that I still have a 50% chance to present on either side. Once I am tossed, the result is out of my control. This happens in the Hitler’s inventing Poland’s case raised by Sider as well. Once Hitler is tossed, he cannot control the result according to Quantum Mechanics.
In order to solve the problem of randomness, certain libertarians put forward the theory of agent causation, which asserts that human beings’ actions are aroused by us rather than by any “mechanistic way”. Therefore, our behaviours are decided by our free will, and therefore unpredictable and uncontrollable. For example, the decision whether I continue to finish the paper is caused by me, instead of other factors, or any “random occurrence”. If agent causation is true, then “two important factors”, desires and beliefs must get involved in “decision-making”. Therefore, agent causation has faced its challenge, which is that under the situation while an agent has desires...