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April 22, 2009



This deserves a longer response, but two quick comments:
1) The set of potential "relevant circumstances" for any choice are nearly innumerable from the point of view of an observer (including a self-observer), and even an omniscient observer could probably still have to list many, many more than five relevant circumstances.
2) We do ask by what mechanism gravity operates, and this has lead to a variety of discoveries about it. Likewise choice. In fact, I might even say that choice is probably a fundamental, non-contingent class within existence in a similar manner to gravity, though it would be a class of dynamic rather than a class of physical interaction*. Inquiry into the function of choice is also, like inquiries into the function of gravity, usually unnecessary but important in edge cases. It would seem that the metaphysical position of choice with respect to causation would be one of those.

*leaving aside the question of whether these are really two separate essences.


Also, if the substance of one's character (howsoever composed) makes it so that they act unreliably, how does that absolve them of blame? Because they can't help being of unreliable character? It would seem that this reinforces their blameworthyness, since it means that they are in fact unreliable rather than it being a fluke of circumstance. Likewise, when Martin Luther said he could do no other than tack up his theses, was be absolving himself of moral commitment to them? No, he was specifically claiming that his moral compass made it impossible for adverse circumstances to prevent him from taking that course.

I don't understand how determinism (in whatever form) is supposed to dissolve all allocations of moral value; instead it should secure them. Further, I see no tension between this construction of free will (in which the "free" is with respect to countervailing forces rather than conventional causality as a whole) and religious views of morality. I guess it does create an issue for theodicy, but if we bracket that, where's the problem?

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