Aug 022014
 

hard-incompatibilism

Labels exist, and in philosophy there is way too much jargon. That being said, many people know some terms that they might label a person and are unfamiliar with others that they never will. It seems the word “determinism” is common enough for many people who have an interest in the topic of free will and some even know what “hard determinism” is. On the other hand the term “Hard Incompatibilism” isn’t as spread around as these other words. And though it has differing usages, it’s been adopted by Derk Pereboom (Living Without Free Will) and others to address indeterminism as well.

When someone learns you don’t believe in free will, one of two things seem to spring to mind. Either they think your position is a religious one, meaning that since God knows everything you can’t have free will. In other words you believe in predestination “fated” by a deity (which would be true if such an all knowing deity existed). Or they think you are a hard  determinist: that you believe every event has a cause and that due to this our decisions stem back in time to causes that precede back to the start of time.

The latter is much closer to my position on the matter, but it’s not exactly accurate. Though I think it’s highly likely that all events have a cause, at least in our known universe after the Big Bang, I’m agnostic on the possibility of some events being without any cause at all (as crazy as not having a cause may sound).  At the quantum scale (basically as small as we can go), some quantum interpretations postulate truly non-causal events (what I call acausal events in my book), and others are entirely causal (though nonlocal – a term I  won’t address here). Other interpretations are agnostic to both. In physics, there seems to be a mixed bag of different interpretations surrounding the mathematics and experiments that show some very interesting and wacky things.  On that scale there are various unintuitive problems with both causality and non-causal events.

Needless to say there is a possibility that the universe is “indeterministic” meaning a mix of causal and uncaused events. The problem, however, is that both a deterministic universe and an indeterministic universe are incompatible with free will. So if the universe is deterministic, I truly do fall under “hard determinism”. The problem with that is it excludes an indeterministic universe, which I see as, at the very least, an unintuitive possibility.

The term hard incompatibilism, however, is all inclusive. It means that both possibilities, determinism and indeterminism, are equally “incompatible” with free will. Due to this it’s a stronger position on the lack of free will than hard determinism.

The reasons why both possibilities are incompatible with free will is much, much more complex, and detailed out in great lengths in my book Breaking the Free Will Illusion for the Betterment of Humankind. This post isn’t about making the case against free will, but rather explaining what Hard Incompatibilism is, how it differs from Hard Determinism, and how it covers more.

The fact that people contrive free will based solely on the possibility of indeterminism in the universe makes it of utmost importance that we cover that base as well. And it turns out that not only is an indeterministic universe as incompatible with free will than a deterministic one, but it’s also much more of a detriment if any single non-caused event has a direct say in what we think or act.

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'Trick Slattery

'Trick Slattery is the author of Breaking the Free Will Illusion for the Betterment of Humankind. He's an author, philosopher, artist, content creator, and entrepreneur. He has loved and immersed himself in philosophy since he was teenager. It is his first and strongest passion. Throughout the years he has built a philosophy based on analytic logic and critical thinking. Some of the topics he is most interested in are of a controversial variety, but his passion for the topics and their importance drives him to want to express these ideas to others. His other passions include pen and ink line art and digital artwork.

  11 Responses to “Why I’m a Hard Incompatibilist, Not a Hard Determinist.”

  1. I do not believe in determinism or indeterminism. I believe that actions are caused not random. But not all actions can be predetermined, especially human behavior. To better understand see my web site.

    • Hi Wayne, thanks for stopping by. Determinism (in physics and philosophy) just means that all events have a cause, not that we can predict them. In other words it means the events are “determined” by causes, not that “we” can determine the outcome. 😉

  2. You are absolutely correct: hard incompatibilism.

    I can usually get people to agree that determinism rules out free will. Then I say that all other possibilities (indeterminism, randomness, and chaos) don’t allow for free will either because we have no way of controlling them. Even if we could control any of them, the only way we could reliably do so would be with determinism!

    • Hey August, I missed this comment on my site…but it’s the one I responded to on facebook. But to reiterate, you are correct. Any interactions we do for an uncaused event would be caused (and the output of such uncaused event can never be caused by us). 😉

  3. “When someone learns you don’t believe in free will, one of two things seem to spring to mind. Either they think your position is a religious one, meaning that since God knows everything you can’t have free will. In other words you believe in predestination “fated” by a deity (which would be true if such an all knowing deity existed). Or they think you are a hard determinist. That you believe every event has a cause and that due to this our decisions stem back in time to causes that precede back to the start of time.”

    I think it is hard to fit a god into a philosophy of determinism or indeterminism. Someone has to answer the question of what their god caused or did not cause. This is difficult to do and would require a deterministic way of knowing that god even existed. If someone was indeterminist and believes that certain things don’t have a cause, then it would be silly to argue that a god had to create something if it can pop into existence acausally.

  4. deep inside am convinced events are self propelling life is like a programme leading to a couse and effect mechanism
    This programme takes control of all susainable possibilities and filters events that may disrupt the relative order that we witness
    probably the same way we programme our societies through social commands is the same way the higher operating system runs at quantum levels

  5. “I’m agnostic on the possibility of some events being without any cause at all ”

    I suppose for this I would have to disagree with the idea of being a hard incompatibility. I cannot imagine something without cause. If as you mention in another article of yours, the electrons being random to the human eye but doesnt mean it lacks a track, I think this arguement applies to everything and I cant think of anything that doesnt fit under it. Great site

    • Heh, I don’t blame you for taking the “I cannot imagine something without a cause” route. That certainly would be my own intuition on the matter as well, but given quantum mechanics I need to at the very least address the possibility of acausal events. The point about hard incompatibilism is that it addresses both sides and both come up lacking in free will. So in ways it’s a stronger argument against free will. 😉

  6. Hard incompatabalism definitely reflects my current position. I’m agnostic on indeterminism because of quantum physics, especially considering virtual particles.

    • Awesome TEpistemology. It’s important to attack both angles here. I love it that I’m not the only “hard incompatibilist” in the world. 😀

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Comments in this section should be brief, coherent, and to the point, preferably 1 OR 2 sentences long. Due to this, I've limited comments to 500 characters. Using multiple comments at a single turn will not be approved. I'd like for this comment section to be conversational and not intimidating for people to read or respond to. Essay sized posts, though perhaps interesting, should go elsewhere.  Misinformation or fallacies may not be approved. Click here for more comment rules. I appreciate your understanding. Thanks! 'Trick.

 

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