Chisholm and Free Will

1265 words 6 pages
Before I begin it is pertinent to note the disparate positions on the problem of human freedom. In "Human Freedom and the Self", Roderick M. Chisholm takes the libertarian stance which is contiguous with the doctrine of incompatibility. Libertarians believe in free will and recognize that freedom and determinism are incompatible. The determinist also follow the doctrine of incompatibility, and according to Chisholm's formulation, their view is that every event involved in an act is caused by some other event. Since they adhere to this type of causality, they believe that all actions are consequential and that freedom of the will is illusory. Compatiblist deny the conflict between free will and determinism. A.J. Ayer makes a …show more content…

If the answer is yes then this implies that that the agent could have done otherwise even though he was caused to do what he did do (compatibilist argument). The standard objection to Chisholm's position is to show that determinism (and Divine Providence) are consistent with human responsibility. They argue that the expression (A) He could have done otherwise is synonymous with (B) If he had chosen to do otherwise, then he would have done otherwise. Chisholm proceeds to demonstrate that this is not a sound argument. He says that from the statement (B) we cannot make an inference to (A) unless we also assert that (C) he could have chosen to do otherwise. The ascription of responsibility conflicts with a deterministic view of action.

So, Chisholm's view is that we can't say that every event is cased by some other event (determinism), and we can't say that the act is something that is not called at all (indeterminism). What we should say is that at least one of the events that is involved in the act is caused, not by other events, but by something else instead. Namely, the agent. This means that there are some events that are not caused by other events. This means that we are not committed to saying that there is something in the event that is not caused at all since it was caused by the agent.

Chisholm borrows a pair of ancient terms to illustrate to illustrate the concept of agent