E. Jonathan Lowe
E. J. Lowe was an Oxford-trained philosopher who worked on the philosophy of action and philosophy of mind since the late 1970's. He developed a version of psychophysical dualism that he called non-Cartesian substance dualism. It is an interactionist substance dualism. (Cf. John Eccles and early Karl Popper.) The non-Cartesian "substance" proposed by Lowe is the acting Self, whose (free) will has an irreducible causal power. Lowe argued, however, that events (both mental and physical) should properly not be thought of as causes, because only actors (human or animal agents - or inanimate physical agents) can cause things. Events are more properly simply happenings, some caused, some uncaused. (If quantum indeterminism is correct, some are only statistically caused - perhaps then uncaused and neither determined nor pre-determined). For Lowe, reasons, motives, beliefs, desires, etc. should also not be described as causes of human actions. To do so neglects the will of the agent. He says, "Behavior that is caused by an agent's beliefs and desires is, on that very account, not rational, free action." Describing behavior as caused by reasons, etc. is just a façon de parler.
Events are causally impotent
In my view, only entities in the category of substance -— that is, persisting, concrete objects — possess causal powers. Strictly speaking, an event cannot do anything and so cannot cause anything. For causings are a species of doings — that is, in a very broad sense, actions — and doings are themselves happenings. Thus, talk of an event doing something either involves a gross category mistake — because, understood literally, it implies that one happening is done by another — or else, taken less seriously, it may be dismissed as being no more than a misleading manner of speaking.Lowe defends mental events (and mental causation) as distinct from physical events (and physical causes) but equally real. Lowe is opposed to the notion of causal closure, the idea that everything that happens in the world is caused by physical objects in the world. Causal closure is a requirement for current "materialist/physicalist" views in the philosophy of mind, which regard mental events as identical to physical (brain) events, or perhaps merely epiphenomena. That mental states (or processes) are unable to cause anything to happen in the world is the modern version of the Cartesian mind-body problem. Lowe opposes this view with his idea of a non-Cartesian "self" (or mind) which has causal power. Philosophers Donald Davidson and Jaegwon Kim have discussed the possibility of a non-reductive physicalism, in which mental events might not be reducible to physical events. Davidson hoped to describe mental events as emergent from lower physical levels in the hierarchy. Kim denies the possibility of emergence or of a "non-reductive physicalism." Both describe mental events as supervenient on events in lower hierarchical levels. Lowe asks three questions important for his interactionist non-Cartesian substance dualism:
(1) Are all causes events, or are at least some causes agents? (2) Are free actions uncaused, at least by antecedent events? andAnd he proposes three answers, plus a new claim:
(1) In the most fundamental sense of 'cause', only agents are causes — although 'agents' understood in a very broad sense, to include inanimate objects as well as human beings. (2) Free actions are completely uncaused — but they need not on that account be deemed to be merely random or chance occurrences.
Lowe on Indeterminist Free WillIn 2005, Lowe and his colleague Storrs McCall proposed a defense of an indeterministic libertarian free will against various randomness objections, especially Peter van Inwagen's "replay argument," which claimed to show that indeterminism makes our decisions random. McCall and Lowe show "that libertarianism is a consistent philosophical thesis." They draw out the notion of an instantaneous choice (which compatibilists often attack as necessarily either determined or random, according to the standard argument against free will) into a continuous temporal process of deliberation that culminates in the decision. They locate the indeterminism in the early part of deliberation, as do all two-stage models of free will. The decision itself they say is caused not by chance, but by a willed choice reflecting the character and reasons of the agent. They trace the source of their separation of indeterministic deliberation from the final choice back to Aristotle's distinction between bouleuesis and prohairesis. McCall and Lowe are correct that both van Inwagen and Robert Nozick locate the indeterminism in the wrong place, namely the decision itself. Leading libertarian philosopher Robert Kane also locates indeterminism in the choice, but Kane argues that in a "torn decision" all of the alternative possibilities for action can be independently defended by reasons, so the agent can take responsibility, whatever the particular choice. McCall and Lowe extend van Inwagen's "replay" example by considering Kane's description of a decision as a temporal process:
To illustrate the model of decision-making we have in mind, we replace van Inwagen’s Alice by Robert Kane’s more temporally-extended example of Jane. Jane is deliberating whether to spend her vacation in Hawaii or Colorado. She takes her time, consults travel books and brochures, contemplates her bank account, and eventually comes to the conclusion that all things considered, Hawaii is the best option. At the end, she seals her decision by buying an air ticket to Honolulu. A useful way of analyzing this deliberative process (Aristotle’s bouleusis) is to divide Jane’s decision-making into three stages (McCall (1999)):McCall and Lowe summarize the many steps they see in their libertarian deliberative process:
The main features of the indeterministic deliberative process which demonstrates consistency are as follows.Later, McCall and Lowe defended their indeterministic free will model against Neil Levy's criticism using the Luck Objection.(1) An agent X is faced with deciding between options A, B, C, ... [these options may involve chance and are not pre-determined.] (2) There are, in X’s estimation, reasons for and reasons against each option. (3) X uses her power of rational judgement to weight these reasons and to weigh one option against another. (4) The process of weighing and weighting is controlled by X’s judgement, is on-going throughout the deliberation, and is justifiable to a third party. (5) Each option remains open (choosable) up to the moment of decision. (6) The deliberation ends with X’s reasoned choice of one of the options.Conclusion: Rational, indeterministic, controlled deliberative processes prove that the concept of libertarian free will is internally consistent.
The Four-Category OntologyLowe argued for four basic categories of reality:
The defense of "kinds' was the basic theme of Lowe's Kinds of Being [1989); all the first three points were put forward in The Possibility of Metaphysics (1998), but are remarkably absent from A Survey of Metaphysics (2002): the fourth point is made in some earlier papers. Lowe also thinks that the four categories he distinguishes are more basic than the two distinctions on which they are based.