Distant Causation Argument: an argument for hard determinism
P1: An agent performs an action freely, that agent is responsible for that
P2: Agents are not responsible for actions caused by factors outside their
P3: Every action an agent performs is caused by factors outside of their
C: Hence, agents never act freely
Soft determinists have new definitions for Free Action…
Hume on Soft Determinism: An agent performs freely if it could have done
otherwise if agent had wanted to. Their desires can be determined but as long as
the actions emanate from the desires, the actions are free.
Unfree: Human chained to the floor and couldn’t leave if he wanted to
Free: Not chained and could leave if wanted to
Objections to Hume:
1) Locke’s Locked Room: where a person wakes up in a small room
that is locked from the outside, but he decides to stay voluntarily.
Intuitively, the agent is free, but since he couldn’t have done otherwise,
Hume says he’s not free.
2) Compulsions: Imagine a kleptomaniac who has the desire to steal,
but it’s compulsive. Even if they know that they may be caught and
they may go to jail (although they don’t want to go to jail), they continue
to steal. Their desire-forming mechanisms are not sensitive to the
normal consideration of self-interest. Intuitively, the agent is not free,
but Hume says he is.
Frankfurt on Soft Determinism: differing levels of desires and addiction
1 Order Desires: Desire for X, do well in class, more cake, take meth
Pg. 1 Philosophy 101
2 Order Desires: X itself is a desire about another. I wish I didn’t want
2 Order Volition: The 2 order desire that is the strongest – most
Wanton: Only has 1 Order Desires, no 2 volitions; true to many non-
human animals. Wantons according to Frankfurt are not free
Wanton Addict: Someone addicted to nicotine. Strongest desire to
smoke, 1 order desire is to smoke as well. Not free.
Unwilling Addict: Strongest 1 order desire is to smoke. 2 order desire
and volition is to not want to smoke. Not free
Willing Addict: 1 order desire is to smoke. 2 order desire is to want to
smoke. These people are responsible for the their actions. The agent’s will
is not free, but the agent itself is free.
Personal Identity: What makes something what it is? What is the persistent
condition of something? How much change can something undergo before it is
Two Ways in Being the ‘Same’:
1) Numerical or Strict Identity: There is only on