Free Will, Blame and Implicit Dualism

First posted on August 20, 2018

It has become fashionable among philosophy of mind crowds to declare the death of free will, often credited to some (erroneous) interpretation of Libet’s experiments. It is then claimed that this demolition of the notion of free will threatens our dearly held notions of responsibility for action. It is argued that since any individual is, at least in part, the sum of numerous causal influences which are undeniably outside that persons control: their genetic inheritance, the happenstance of circumstance, et cetera; it follows that that individual is not in fact responsible for their actions.

This is a peculiar dissection. It is put forth that the person inside a body who performs actions is not really a person, but a mere collection of accumulated causal influences. Yet, the person inside the body which we might wish to hold, say criminally, responsible for some action, is something more than a mere sum of causal influences, is something with moral weight. This switch is undefended, not sharply delineated, and indeed seemingly not even noticed.