In this paper I address issues related to the problem of future contingents and the metaphysical doctrine of fatalism. Two classical responses to the problem of future contingents are the third truth value view and the all-false view. According to the former, future contingents take a third truth value which goes beyond truth and falsity. According to the latter, they are all false. I here illustrate and discuss two ways to respectively argue for those two views. Both ways are (...) similar in spirit and intimately connected with fatalism, in the sense that they engage with the doctrine of fatalism and accept a large part of a standard fatalistic machinery. (shrink)
Even though fatalism has been an intermittent topic of philosophy since Greek antiquity, this paper argues that fate ought to be of little concern to metaphysicians. Fatalism is neither an interesting metaphysical thesis in its own right, nor can it be identified with theses that are, such as realism about the future or determinism.
Compatibilists argue, famously, that it is a simple incompatibilist confusion to suppose that determinism implies fatalism. Incompatibilists argue, on the contrary, that determinism implies fatalism, and thus cannot be consistent with the necessary conditions of moral responsibility. Despite their differences, however, both parties are agreed on one important matter: the refutation of fatalism is essential to the success of the compatibilist strategy. In this paper I argue that compatibilism requires a richer conception of fatalistic concern; one that (...) recognizes the _legitimacy_ of (pessimistic) concerns about the origination of character and conduct. On this basis I argue that any plausible compatibilist position must concede that determinism has fatalistic implications of some significant and relevant kind, and thus must allow that agents may be legitimately held responsible in circumstances where they are subject to fate. The position generated by these compatibilist concessions to incompatibilism will be called 'compatibilist-fatalism'. (shrink)
Contingency is the presence of non-actualized possibility in the world. Fatalism is a view of reality on which there is no contingency. Since it is contingency that permits agency, there has traditionally been much interest in contingency. This interest has long been embarrassed by the contention that simple and plausible assumptions about the world lead to fatalism. I begin with an Aristotelian argument as presented by Richard Taylor. Appreciation of this argument has been stultified by a question pertaining (...) to the source of necessity and possibility and a closely related one regarding the nature of metaphysics itself. Answering these questions reveals the crucial issue here, to wit, necessity and possibility in a temporal world. This issue is investigated through an important later criticism of Taylor by David Foster Wallace. Wallace’s critique is significant because it brings to the fore the pivotal notion for understanding contingency in a temporal world, that of synchronic possibility, the idea that incompatible states of affairs are possible at a single moment. This notion provides the basis of distinguishing two systematic accounts of truth, modality and time: two metaphysics of contingency. On one account, Taylor’s Aristotelian argument is straightforwardly valid and compelling; on the other, it is fallacious. In closing, I present reasons why the former account, supporting the Aristotelian views of time and truth, is correct and make some comments to ameliorate this conclusion. (shrink)
In a recent article, David Hunt has proposed a theological counterexample to the principle of alternative possibilities involving divine foreknowledge. Hunt claims that this example is immune to my criticism of regular Frankfurt-type counterexamples to that principle, as God’s foreknowing an agent’s act does not causally determine that act. Furthermore, he claims that the considerations which support the claim that the agent is morally responsible for his act in a Frankfurt-type scenario also hold in a G-scenario. In reply, Icontest Hunt’s (...) symmetry claim and also raise a worry whether, given theological fatalism, the agent’s act in a G-scenario can be deemed a free act in the libertarian sense. Finally, I offer an independent argument why in a G-scenario the agent should not regarded morally blameworthy for his act. (shrink)
Arguments against our free will pose a serious problem. Although there are not very many philosophers who call themselves fatalists, quite a few are convinced that fatalism follows from common assumptions. Assuming that most believe themselves to be free, identifying ways to avoid the conclusion of such fatalist arguments is quite an important task. I begin by dealing specifically with theological fatalism. I present many versions of theological fatalism, but come to the conclusion that only one version (...) constitutes a genuine problem. That version, I argue, is reducible to a deeper fatalist dilemma that follows from assumptions so common that it must be faced by even the atheist: the mutually incompatibility of human freedom, the principle of alternate possibilities and bi-valance. After considering other objections to my argument, I conclude that the only way to avoid the fatalist conclusion is to either deny the principle of alternate possibilities or deny bi-valance. I argue that, although each option is somewhat problematic, denying bivalence is the more defensible of the two options. (shrink)
John Martin Fischer’s core project in Our Fate (2016) is to develop and defend Pike-style arguments for theological incompatibilism, i. e., for the view that divine omniscience is incompatible with human free will. Against Ockhamist attacks on such arguments, Fischer maintains that divine forebeliefs constitute so-called hard facts about the times at which they occur, or at least facts with hard ‘kernel elements’. I reconstruct Fischer’s argument and outline its structural analogies with an argument for logical fatalism. I then (...) point out some of the costs of Fischer’s reasoning that come into focus once we notice that the set of hard facts is closed under entailment. (shrink)
In this paper I reconstruct David Foster Wallace’s argument against fatalism in his undergraduate honors thesis, “Richard Taylor’s ‘Fatalism’ and the Semantics of Physical Modality”. My goal is to present the argument in a clear and concise way, so that it is easy to see its main line of reasoning and potential power. A secondary goal is to offer clarificatory and critical notes on some of the issues at stake. The reconstruction reveals interesting connections between Wallace’s argument and (...) John MacFarlane’s recent work on relative truth. (shrink)
The so-called theory of karma is one of the distinguishing aspects of Hinduism and other non-Hindu south-Asian traditions. At the same time that the theory can be seen as closely connected with the freedom of will and action that we humans supposedly have, it has many times been said to be determinist and fatalist. The purpose of this paper is to analyze in some deepness the relations that are between the theory of karma on one side and determinism, fatalism (...) and free-will on the other side. In order to do that, I shall use what has been described as the best formal approach we have to indeterminism: branching time theory. More specifically, I shall introduce a branching time semantic framework in which, among other things, statements such as “state of affairs e is a karmic effect of agent a”, “a wills it to be the case that e” and “e is inevitable” could be properly represented. (shrink)
Can free agency exist within a Minkowskian "block universe"? A negative answer to this question has been labeled 'chronogeometrical fatalism'. I look at five theses associated with Minkowskian space-time which have been thought to entail chronogeometrical fatalism, and argue that none of them delivers the goods.
As soon as you believe an imagination to be nonfictional, this imagination becomes your ontological theory of the reality. Your ontological theory (of the reality) can describe a system as the reality. However, actually this system is only a theory/conceptual-space/imagination/visual-imagery of yours, not the actual reality (i.e., the thing-in-itself). An ontological theory (of the reality) actually only describes your (subjective/mental) imagination/visual-imagery/conceptual-space. An ontological theory of the reality, is being described as a situation model (SM). There is no way to prove/disprove (...) that there is only one reality, or there are two realities (i.e., “subjective reality” and “objective reality”). So, every ontology talk/theory/imagination about the two realities is only a talk/theory/imagination – we will never know whether it is true or not. The conventionally-called “physical/objective reality/world” around my conventionally-called “physical/objective body” is actually a geometric mathematical model (being generated/mathematically-modeled by my brain) – it's actually a subset/component/part/element of my brain’s mind/consciousness/manifest-image. Our cosmos is an autonomous objective parallel computing automaton (aka state machine) which evolves by itself automatically/unintentionally – wave-particle duality and Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle can be explained under this SM of my brain. Each elementary particle (as a building block of our cosmos) is an autonomous mathematical entity itself (i.e., a thing in itself). Our cosmos has the same nature as a Game of Life system – both are autonomous objective parallel-computing automata. Cosmos (as a state machine) is indistinguishable from a digital simulation – my consciousness (as something nonphysical) is not cosmos (as a state machine). If we are happy to accept randomness/stochasticity, then it is obviously possible that all other worlds in the many-worlds interpretation (MWI) actually do not exist (objectively). As one metaphysical option, we can treat all other worlds as subjective only (even if they are actually objective). Under the context of this metaphysical option, we are only living in one world (i.e., the world we are currently living in; this world) – we are not living in many worlds at the same time parallelly. Under the context of this metaphysical option, there is only one possible future. The relationship among any number of elementary particles, is governed/described by Schrodinger equation. If (in theory) Schrodinger equation can’t be used to reliably forecast whether I will go to McDonald for dinner in this world (based on the current state of all elementary particles of the cosmos), then what can Schrodinger equation do? The conventionally-called “space” does not exist objectively. “Time” and “matter” are not physical. Consciousness is the subjective-form (aka quale) of the mathematical models (of the objective cosmos) which are intracorporeally/subjectively used by the control logic of a Turing machine’s program fatedly. A Turing machine’s mind/consciousness/manifest-image or deliberate decisions/choices should not be able to actually/objectively change/control/drive the (autonomous or fated) worldline of any elementary particle within this world (i.e., the world we are currently living in, under the context of MWI). Besides the Schrodinger equation (or another mathematical equation/function which is yet to be discovered) which is a valid/correct/factual causality of our cosmos/state-machine, every other causality (of our cosmos/state-machine) is either invalid/incorrect/counterfactual or can be proved by deductive inference based on the Schrodinger equation (or the aforementioned yet-to-be-discovered mathematical equation/function) only. Closed causality entails no causality. Consciousness plays no causal role (“epiphenomenalism”), or in other words, any cognitive/behavioural activity can in principle be carried out without consciousness (“conscious inessentialism”). If the “loop quantum gravity” theory is correct, then time/space does not actually/objectively exist in the objective-evolution of the objective cosmos, or in other words, we should not use the subjective/mental concept of “time”, “state” or “space” to describe/imagine the objective-evolution of our cosmos. (shrink)
I distinguish between a _metaphysical_ problem generated by the argument for theological fatalism, and a _theological_ problem posed by the argument. Some responses to the argument, including ones associated with Boethius, Aquinas and Ockham, address only the theological problem. Even if such responses succeed in showing that God's foreknowledge doesn't threaten human freedom, they fail to take the full measure of the argument for theological fatalism, since the metaphysical problem remains to be solved.
T In [Rea 2006], Michael Rea presents an argument that presentism is incompatible with a libertarian view of human freedom and the unrestricted principle of bivalence. I aim to show that Rea’s argument fails. The outline of my paper is as follows. In Part I, I briefly explain the above three views and I present Rea’sargument. In Part II, I argue that one of the premises of the argument is unjustified.
This paper argues, through conceptual analysis, against an objection to the disapproval of banks for the 2007-8 crisis: the idea that they could not have acted otherwise (at least not rationally) and that no one should be blamed for a fact one could not have avoided. If true, it would threaten the justification of corporate social responsibility and the legal liability of managers. Identified as the ‘inevitability thesis’, this objection is illustrated by an analysis of the film Margin Call (2011) (...) and associated with other investigations on ethics and responsibility. The target thesis stems from a confusion between different notions of responsibility (for a task, for a decision, for causing an event and for repairing it) and leads to an incoherent form of fatalism. Finally, it is suggested that the invocation of ‘inevitability’ may be a way of rationalizing the decision, obscuring reasons to the contrary. (shrink)
The Lazy Argument, as it is preserved in historical testimonies, is not logically conclusive. In this form, it appears to have been proposed in favor of part-time fatalism (including past time fatalism). The argument assumes that free will assumption is unacceptable from the standpoint of the logical fatalist but plausible for some of the nonuniversal or part-time fatalists. There are indications that the layout of argument is not genuine, but taken over from a Megarian source and later transformed. (...) The genuine form of the argument seems to be given in different form and far closer to Megarian logical fatalism and its purpose is not to defend laziness. If the historical argument has to lead to a logically satisfactory solution, some additional assumptions and additional tuning is needed. (shrink)
In this paper I offer an alternative to the standard, mechanistic/fatalistic account of causal necessity, one compatible with the existence of laws of nature but not deterministic in the way this is usually understood.
This article illustrates in which sense genetic determinism is still part of the contemporary interactionist consensus in medicine. Three dimensions of this consensus are discussed: kinds of causes, a continuum of traits ranging from monogenetic diseases to car accidents, and different kinds of determination due to different norms of reaction. On this basis, this article explicates in which sense the interactionist consensus presupposes the innate?acquired distinction. After a descriptive Part 1, Part 2 reviews why the innate?acquired distinction is under attack (...) in contemporary philosophy of biology. Three arguments are then presented to provide a limited and pragmatic defense of the distinction: an epistemic, a conceptual, and a historical argument. If interpreted in a certain manner, and if the pragmatic goals of prevention and treatment (ideally specifying what medicine and health care is all about) are taken into account, then the innate?acquired distinction can be a useful epistemic tool. It can help, first, to understand that genetic determination does not mean fatalism, and, second, to maintain a system of checks and balances in the continuing nature?nurture debates. (shrink)
Contemporary work on Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy often overlooks a discussion in CP.V.3 of a Peripatetic strategy for dissolving theological fatalism. Boethius’ treatment of this strategy and the lesson it provides about divine foreknowledge requires a reorientation of our understanding of the Consolation text. The result is that it is not foreknowledge nor any other temporally-conditioned knowledge that motivates Boethian concern but divine knowledge simpliciter.
This Introduction has three sections, on "logical fatalism," "theological fatalism," and the problem of future contingents, respectively. In the first two sections, we focus on the crucial idea of "dependence" and the role it plays it fatalistic arguments. Arguably, the primary response to the problems of logical and theological fatalism invokes the claim that the relevant past truths or divine beliefs depend on what we do, and therefore needn't be held fixed when evaluating what we can do. (...) We call the sort of dependence needed for this response to be successful "dependence with a capital 'd'": Dependence. We consider different accounts of Dependence, especially the account implicit in the so-called "Ockhamist" response to the fatalistic arguments. Finally, we present the problem of future contingents: what could "ground" truths about the undetermined future? On the other hand, how could all such propositions fail to be true? (shrink)
A number of philosophers and theologians have argued that if God has knowledge of future human actions then human agents cannot be free. This argument rests on the assumption that, since God is essentially omniscient, God cannot be wrong about what human agents will do. It is this assumption that I challenge in this paper. My aim is to develop an interpretation of God’s essential omniscience according to which God can be wrong even though God never is wrong. If this (...) interpretation of essential omniscience is coherent, as I claim it is, then there is a logically consistent position according to which God is essentially omniscient, God foreknows what human agents will do, and yet it is possible for human agents to do otherwise. Thus, the argument for theological fatalism fails. (shrink)
It is a widely held principle that no one is able to do something that would require the past to have been different from how it actually is. This principle of the fixity of the past has been presented in numerous ways, playing a crucial role in arguments for logical and theological fatalism, and for the incompatibility of causal determinism and the ability to do otherwise. I will argue that, assuming bivalence, this principle is in conflict with standard views (...) about knowledge and the semantics for ‘actually’. I also consider many possible responses to the argument. (shrink)
The Limits of Free Will presents influential articles by Paul Russell concerning free will and moral responsibility. The problems arising in this field of philosophy, which are deeply rooted in the history of the subject, are also intimately related to a wide range of other fields, such as law and criminology, moral psychology, theology, and, more recently, neuroscience. These articles were written and published over a period of three decades, although most have appeared in the past decade. Among the topics (...) covered: the challenge of skepticism; moral sentiment and moral capacity; necessity and the metaphysics of causation; practical reason; free will and art; fatalism and the limits of agency; moral luck, and our metaphysical attitudes of optimism and pessimism. (shrink)
In the past decade, a number of empirical researchers have suggested that laypeople have compatibilist intuitions. In a recent paper, Feltz and Millan have challenged this conclusion by claiming that most laypeople are only compatibilists in appearance and are in fact willing to attribute free will to people no matter what. As evidence for this claim, they have shown that an important proportion of laypeople still attribute free will to agents in fatalistic universes. In this paper, we first argue that (...) Feltz and Millan’s error-theory rests on a conceptual confusion: it is perfectly acceptable for a certain brand of compatibilist to judge free will and fatalism to be compatible, as long as fatalism does not prevent agents from being the source of their actions. We then present the results of two studies showing that laypeople’s intuitions are best understood as following a certain brand of source compatibilism rather than a “free-will-no-matter-what” strategy. (shrink)
There are arguments for determinism. Admittedly, this is opposed by the fact of everyday experience of autonomy. In the following, it is argued for the compatibility of determinism and autonomy. Taking up considerations of Donald MacKay, a fatalistic attitude can be refuted as false. Repeatedly, attempts have been made to defend the possibility of autonomy with reference to quantum physical indeterminacy. But its statistical randomness clearly misses the meaning of autonomy. What is decisive, on the other hand, is the possibility (...) of knowledge, which opens up opportunities for planning, freedom of choice and ultimately 'self-choice'. Results of neurobiological research, especially Benjamin Libet's and more recently John-Dylan Haynes', seem to refute this: Actions are unconsciously initiated before conscious decision. But, as Libet has also shown, consciousness always has the possibility of a veto – and thus also of knowledge-driven action control. Ultimately, the idea of possible self-choice can thus become the determining condition. Only such a form of rational self-determination establishes a spiritual identity and at the same time represents the maximum of autonomy possible for human beings. (shrink)
This comparative examination of Nietzsche and the Islamic philosopher al-Kindi emphasizes their mutual commitment to the recovery of classical Greek and Hellenistic thought and the idea of philosophy as a way of life. Affiliating both thinkers with the Stoic lineage in particular, I examine the ways in which they appropriate common themes such as fatalism, self-cultivation via spiritual exercises, and the banishing of sorrow. Focusing primarily on their respective conceptions of self and nature, I argue that the antipodal worldviews (...) of al-Kindi and Nietzsche can be understood as a bifurcation of Stoic philosophy. (shrink)
Critique of prevailing textbook conception of sufficient conditions and necessary conditions as a truth functional relation of material implication (p->q)/(~q->~p). Explanation of common sense conception of condition as correlative of consequence, involving dependence. Utility of this conception exhibited in resolving puzzles regarding ontology, truth, and fatalism.
On Jaakko Hintikka’s understanding of Aristotle’s modal thought, Aristotle is committed to a version of the Principle of Plenitude, which is the thesis that no genuine possibility will go unactualized in an infinity of time. If in fact Aristotle endorses the Principle of Plenitude, everything becomes necessary. Despite the strong evidence that Aristotle indeed accepts that Principle of Plenitude, there are key texts in which Aristotle seems to contradict it. On Hintikka’s final word on the matter, Aristotle either endorses the (...) Principle of Plenitude or Aristotle is simply inconsistent. Without challenging Hintikka’s interpretation of the relevant texts, I show how Aristotle may accept a form of the Principle of Plenitude that allows for genuine unactualized possibilities in the world. What allows me to reconcile the seemingly inconsistent data is to show how Aristotle is only committed to a de re version of the Principle of Plenitude. After I lay out my proposal, I show how it opens up new ways in which we might understand Aristotle’s attempt to reject fatalism in his De interpretatione 9. (shrink)
Everyone agrees that we can’t change the past. But what about the future? Though the thought that we can change the future is familiar from popular discourse, it enjoys virtually no support from philosophers, contemporary or otherwise. In this paper, I argue that the thesis that the future is mutable has far more going for it than anyone has yet realized. The view, I hope to show, gains support from the nature of prevention, can provide a new way of responding (...) to arguments for fatalism, can account for the utility of total knowledge of the future, and can help in providing an account of the semantics of the English progressive. On the view developed, the future is mutable in the following sense: perhaps, once, it was true that you would never come to read a paper defending the mutability of the future. And then the future changed. And now you will. (shrink)