Thursday, May 15, 2008


Since Reppert has said that he accepts van Inwagen's consequence argument, then it appears he must give up libertarian free will too.

As should be clear, what is particularly troubling for the libertarian concerned with the Mind argument is that the weakest link of the argument appears to be its reliance on rule Beta. The Mind argument is valid if and only if rule Beta is, but of course it is the validity of rule Beta that the libertarian appeals to in offering the Consequence argument for the incompatibility of free will and determinism. The libertarian is thus faced with the following difficulty. The Consequence argument is sound only if rule Beta is valid. But if rule Beta is valid then, while the Consequence argument seems to show that free will and determinism are incompatible, the Mind argument seems to show that free will is also incompatible with indeterminism. If free will is incompatible with both determinism and indeterminism, however, then there is no such thing as free will and libertarianism is false. The libertarian thus seems forced to choose between abandoning the Consequence argument (the libertarian's strongest argument for the incompatibility of free will and determinism) and abandoning free will entirely. -Finch and Warfield, Oxford Journals, Mind Volume 107, Number 427 Pp. 515-528
(Note: I know Warfield and Finch try to salvage a version of the consequence argument. I don't think they succeed (as has been pointed out, among other places, in Sean Choi's dissertation). But the point here is to show that Reppert's adherence to van Inwagen's consequence argument (Reppert mentioned the consequence argument PvI gave "back when") should lead him to reject his indeterminism.)


  1. Hi Paul,

    Fascinating choice of quotation. Please keep me posted as to whether or not Vic gives up Libertarian Free Will, and if you come up with any further challenges contra Libertarian Free Will.

    My own view is that the only possible "test" of Libertarian Free Will is hypothetical in the extreme, perhaps impossible since it would involve placing a person in the same exact circumstances at the same exct time with the same exact memory as they had before, no more nor less, and then seeing if they chose differently than they did the first time. But you can't perform such an experiment.

    Secondly, if such an experiment were performed and the person made a different choice, one still would not know on what basis. There could be unpredictability in nature or even in immaterial supernatural souls, i.e., impersonal unpredictable properties like those of two dice being rolled. And therefore having "Libertarian Free Will" might consist of nothing more nor less than spinning a wheel of fortune. Wow, free as a spinning wheel of fortune.

    Personally, I think it best to consider myself hooked into the cosmos, even deterministically. Just consider the way our brains continue to imbibe knowledge throughout our lives, the knowledge of past generations via writing and mathematics, the knowledge gained by experiments and via sensative machines allowing us to see sub-atomic particles as well as gaze at the most distant galaxies and the history of the planet we walk on. When you stuff all that into a brain it certainly isn't going to simply ask, "where's banana?" We're going to react in highly complex fashions to our environment and based on how others react and based on a host of factors -- too many to be able to trace, so determinism makes even reasoning work. At least that's my current opinion.

    And lastly, if Vic ever does relinquish his belief in Libertarian Free Will (I suppose he defends it because he believes it makes MORALITY work), then his belief in supernatural brain-mind dualism might follow it down the drain. *smile*

    But I suspect Vic's philosopher's brain is dexterous enough to come up with at least a few reasons/rationalizations, alternate explanations to somehow convince himself that "Libertarian Free Will" is the one and only truth. All philosopher's brains are quite dexturous which helps explain why so many philosophical systems and basic ideas even as far back as the ancient Greeks are still being propounded and defended, from materialism to idealism, and of course dualism.

    By the way, I've just composed a piece about your debate with Vic. It's up at "Debunking Christianity" and also at my own personal blog "Edward T. Babinski" and it's titled, "Tertullian's Paradox."

  2. Ed,

    I've posted a few other arguments against LFW in my various posts. I've been mostly on the defesnive, though. I have posted positive arguments that have not been responded to, yet.

    I do believe a lot of Christians want LFW for the preceived apologetic and ethical value it gives.

    They think it is inconsistent with a naturalistic worldview (but this has been debunked), their views on moral responsibility, they say, require it, and their desire to get God "off the hook" for evils is another thing that drives it.

    Many have also thought that it was good proof for the existence of a soul. But not only are arguments for the soul out there which don't need LFW, it's not clear that positing a "soul" gets you off the hook. For as Kane points out, why can't you transfer the deterministic arguments right over to the soul?

    Anyway, I doubt Victor will drop LFW. I doubt he'll drop Arminianism. And I doub't he'll give the Calvinist some respect. So this debate is mostly for others.

  3. And naturally, Ed, your blog piece is filled with misconceptions and blunders of a Titanic sort, but I don't get the idea that you care about honest dialogue, so that why, if you can tell, I don't even converse with you.