The problem of moral responsibility is intimately connected with the problem of free will. But we must be careful to separate responsibility from moral responsibility.
If our actions are causally determined by prior events, including a chain of events that goes back before we were born, libertarians do not see how we can feel responsible for them. If our actions are directly caused by chance, they are simply random and determinists do not see how we can feel responsibility for them. The above two-horned dilemma is the standard argument against free will. Despite this simple and logical argument, we do feel responsible for many of our actions.
Despite more than twenty-three centuries of philosophizing, most modern thinkers have not moved significantly beyond this core problem, especially the relationship between randomness and free will - the mistaken idea that free actions are caused directly by a random event.
To be responsible for our actions, they must have been caused by something within us, they must "depend on us" (the Greeks called this ἐφ ἡμῖν). Modern "agent-causal" theorists demand that something in the agent's mind - perhaps a uniquely mental substance - gives us the power to cause our actions.
In our Cogito model, responsibility comes from an adequately determined will choosing from among randomly generated alternative possibilities.
We have identified a number of critical requirements for our Cogito model of free will. Some of these are requirements for freedom. Others are requirements for an adequately determined will.
Free Will is a Prerequisite for Responsibility, not Vice Versa
Since Peter Strawson changed the subject in 1962 from free will to moral responsibility, there has been an increasing tendency to equate free will with moral responsibility. From the earliest beginnings, the problem of "free will" has been intimately connected with the question of moral responsibility. Most of the ancient thinkers on the problem were trying to show that we humans have control over our decisions, that our actions "depend on us", and that they are not pre-determined by fate, by arbitrary gods, by logical necessity, or by a natural causal determinism. But to say that today "free will is understood as the control condition for moral responsibility" is to make a serious blunder in conceptual analysis and clear thinking. John Martin Fischer says:
Some philosophers do not distinguish between freedom and moral responsibility. Put a bit more carefully, they tend to begin with the notion of moral responsibility, and "work back" to a notion of freedom; this notion of freedom is not given independent content (separate from the analysis of moral responsibility). For such philosophers, "freedom" refers to whatever conditions are involved in choosing or acting in such a way as to be morally responsible.Pereboom - "free will is understood as the control condition for moral responsibility" Kane - free choices are those requiring effort = moral decisions Kant - free when we do good, otherwise slaves. --original in Aristotle, virtue is knowledge? Stoics? Doyle - ethical (moral) fallacy. freedom is a physical question. it is based on arguments about determinism versus indeterminism. The will is in part a psychological question. responsibility is a causality question is the agent properly in the causal chain. moral questions are not physical questions. to confound them is to connect ought with is. moral responsibility is a major field of ethics that can stand on its own without sophisticated attempts to deny free will. e.g., Frankfurt sophistry. For some Naturalists, this equation is driven by their goal of eliminating punishment and what they see as a "culture of vengeance." Vargas - age at which children acquire free will
It is not clear that there is any single thing that people have had in mind by the term "free will." Perhaps the dominant characterization in the history of philosophy is that it is something like the freedom condition on moral responsibility. Roughly, the idea is that to be morally responsible for something, you had to have some amount of freedom, at some suitable time prior to the action or outcome for which you are responsible. That sense of freedom — whatever it amounts to — is what we mean to get at by the phrase "free will." However, there may be things for which free will might be important or other senses of free will that are independent of concerns about moral responsibility. For example, philosophers have worried whether free will is required for sonme human achievements to have a special worth or value, or for there to be values and valuing in any robust sense. Although I think much of what I will say can be applied to other aspects of thinking about it, I will primarily concerned with free will in its connection to moral responsibility, the sense in which people are appropriately praised or blamed. (p.128-9 Consider the question of how we go from being unfree agents to free agents. This is a puzzle faced by all accounts of responsibility, but there is something pressing about it in the case of libertarianism. As children we either had the indeterministic structures favored by your favorite version of libertarianism or we lacked them. If we lacked them as children, we might wonder how we came to get those structures. We might also wonder what the evidence is for thinking that we do develop said structures. Suppose the libertarian offers us an answer to these questions, and the other empirical challenges I raised in the prior section. We would still face another puzzle. What, exactly, does the indeterminism add? What follows in this section is not so much a metaphysical concern as it is a normative concern. It is a concern about what work the indeterminism does in libertarianism, apart from providing a way to preserve our default self-image as deliberators with genuine, metaphysically robust alternative possibilities. (p.148)Equating free will with moral responsibility, then to use spurious arguments to deny free will, and thus to deny - in order to oppose punishment - is fine humanism but poor philosophy, and terrible science. We do not normally seek revenge for animal actions - punish animals. We do kill them, incarcerate them, etc.
And Responsibility is a Prerequisite for Moral Responsibility, not vice versa