The Department of Philosophy cordially invites you to the Public Defense of the PhD Dissertation
FREE WILL AND RATIONALITY
A DEFENSE OF THE VIEW THAT FREE AND RESPONSIBLE AGENTS CAN PERFORM ONLY THE RIGHT ACTIONS FOR THE RIGHT REASONS
Supervisor: Ferenc Huoranszki
Members of the Defense Committee:
Paul Russell (University of British Columbia & University of Gothenburg)
Howard Robinson (CEU)
Chair: Hanoch Ben-Yami
This dissertation offers an unorthodox answer to the two main questions in the free will debate the question how is free will as a condition of moral responsibility possible, and the question whether we actually have it. It suggests that free will is possible and that we have it only if it consists in the ability to do right things for the right reasons and if that ability cannot be unexercised. In other words, this dissertation suggests that the only free actions are the right actions performed for the right reasons. This suggestion is based on considerations of the main skeptical challenges to free will and on Susan Wolf’s account of free will. The first chapter, deals with the main challenge to the claim that ability to do otherwise exist if determinism is true the so called Consequence Argument and concludes that the argument is very plausible. In the second chapter, an argument suggested by Harry Frankfurt to the effect that the Consequence Argument is irrelevant because free will does not involve ability to do otherwise is considered and rejected. The third chapter focuses on two objections to libertarian theories of free will the objection that indeterminism undermines free will by undermining control, and objection that indeterminism is irrelevant because it does not provide more space for control than determinism.
These objections are rejected but it is shown that the only version of libertarianism which avoids them is not very attractive. The fourth chapter defends Susan Wolf’s view and the thesis that free will is asymmetric which her view entails. In addition, it suggests that her view can be defended more easily if the possibility of misuse of free will is excluded. The final chapter shows that the proponent of
Wolf’s view must exclude this possibility in order to defend compatibilism about free will and determinism from the ‘manipulation arguments.’ It also shows that impossibility of free wrongdoing follows from the acceptance of asymmetry of Wolf’s view and incompatibilism about the ability to do otherwise and determinism.