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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
Anaximander
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
George Berkeley
Isaiah Berlin
Richard J. Bernstein
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
Heraclitus
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
C. Lloyd Morgan
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Alasdair MacIntyre
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
Parmenides
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Protagoras
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
Isabelle Stengers
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
E. P. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
Joseph Fourier
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A.O.Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
Storrs McCall

Storrs McCall is a professor of philosophy at McGill University whose 1994 book A Model of the Universe contained a two-stage model of free will. McCall's universe model involve indeterministic branching of the universe at various moments, which he argued could contribute to the creation of "choice-sets," i.e., alternative possibilities for evaluation as deliberate actions.

The branching idea is similar to Hugh Everett III's "many-worlds" hypothesis that the collapse of the quantum mechanical wave function can be eliminated (Dirac's projection postulate ignored) and thus physical determinism could be restored to physics. Everett had met with Einstein at Princeton and Einstein had long hoped for a return to deterministic physics.

McCall's version does not branch at quantum experiments by physicists (Everett's idea is absurdly anthropomorphic). McCall says his branching points have always been in existence, pre-determined since the beginning of the universe. This idea flies in the face of the lack of information at the earliest times in the universe.

Let us take stock. I am suggesting that the brain be regarded as possessing two levels of functioning, a lower indeterministic level that creates choice-sets, and a higher more organized and structured level, deterministic or 99 per cent deterministic, that embodies rational choice. Because of its basic lower-level indeterminism the overall functioning of the brain is not deterministic: identical inputs into identical states of the brain do not necessarily yield identical outputs. The option that is unerringly selected by the higher-level process may be the option that is probabilistically the least likely, measured by branch proportionality. The indeterministic factor is essential, since if it were not there the number of objectively possible courses of action open to us at any given moment would be limited to one. Although the range of choice is generated by chance, the acted-upon alternative is not selected by chance. It is selected in accordance with a rational procedure, based on goals, objectives, rules, likes, dislikes, memories, passions, etc. Whatever the eventual chosen course of action, there will in general be an intentional explanation for it. In this way the brain embodies a process of rational choice, built upon an indeterministic option-generating foundation.

Many years ago, Karl Popper wrote a long article in which he argued that the idea of a being that could predict its own future states involved a contradiction. The purpose of the article was to demonstrate that universal Laplacian determinism was impossible in a universe containing sufficiently powerful predictors. In this chapter we have been concerned not with beings that can predict their states, but with beings that can select their own states. Our emphasis has been on action, not knowledge. But the same general conclusion seems to apply: beings that can do this can exist only in an indeterministic universe, such as the universe of the branched model. In fact they do it in virtue of being themselves indeterministic, thereby being capable of generating choice-sets, and then exercising prohairesis. Such entities, of which our brains are a prime example, may correctly be described as indeterministic mechanisms which select their own future states, in accordance with a goal-directed or rule-governed decision procedure.

(vi) Summing-up

The question at issue is this: can a theory of free and responsible action be built upon indeterministic assumptions? In the context of the branched model, how is it possible consciously and deliberately to guide the first branch point into one particular area of the model, avoiding others? I hope that by now an answer to these questions will have emerged, in outline at least.

A philosopher sits at a table writing, and a deliberative question occurs to him. Should he continue writing, or should he break off, put the kettle on, and make himself a cup of coffee? These two alternatives are located on different sets of future branches, in different areas of the universe tree. It seems presumptuous to think that the philosopher, by his own bare choice, should have the power to direct the first node of the model into one region rather than another. Yet this is so. In the first place, the philosopher is not like a deterministic Turing machine. The quantum- based indeterministic functioning of his brain guarantees the existence of a choice-set containing at least two options, both of which are physically possible. Secondly the philosopher is not like a chess-playing machine equipped with a randomizer: the selection of one of these options will not be by chance. The philosopher deliberates, and makes up his mind to forget about coffee and continue working for another hour. The explanation-reason for this decision is that he wants to finish the book he is writing. The philosopher, an intelligent deliberator, has exercised his ability to represent alternative courses of action, evaluate them, and choose one. In the example just given there were two deliberation- reasons and one explanation-reason. It is not necessary to believe that the eventual choice was the result of anything but a deterministic or quasi-deterministic rational decison procedure. The philosopher's family could have predicted his decision with a high degree of accuracy. But the explanation of his choice is still a reason, not a cause. It cannot be a deterministic cause because of the antecedent existence of the choice-set, and it cannot be a probabilistic cause because of the phenomenon of change of mind, and because an alternative of low probability can still be chosen.

In the branched model, indeterminism plays two different roles. First, the mode! is indeterministic because of its branched structure. A deterministic model would be unbranched. Secondly, the selection of one branch out of indenumerably many above a node is itself random and indeterministic. That is to say, it is random and indeterministic unless an intelligent deliberator is present. Such deliberators, who have the power of prohairesis, constrain the indeterminism of the branched model by providing intentional explanations for branch attrition. Their powers are admittedly limited, but they do account for some tiny fraction of the global phenomenon of branch attrition. However, they do nothing to touch the branching character of the structure itself, without which there would be no intelligent choice and no explanations. Only within the context of indeterminism do deliberation, decision, and freedom assume their true shape, guided by rational or quasi-rational procedures and undistorted by deterministic fetters.

Collaboration with E. J. Lowe
Years later, McCall and his colleague E. J. Lowe) in 2005 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 the character and reasons of the agent.

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)):
  • (i) Choice-set formation (in Jane’s case identifying Hawaii and Colorado as her two options),
  • (ii) Evaluation (weighing the reasons pro and con Hawaii against the reasons pro and con Colorado),
  • (iii) Choice (Aristotle’s prohairesis).
A necessary requirement of indeterministic decision-making is that each option in the choice-set remain open, i.e. choosable, through the entire deliberation, right up to the moment of choice.

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.
(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.

Later, McCall and Lowe defended their indeterministic free will model against the Luck Objection. (Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Vol. LXXVII No. 3, November 2008, p.745)

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Notes

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Bibliography

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