Compatibilism (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Soft determinism — Technically, compatibilism plus determinism, but in fact, the view that we have free will not as a result of indeterminism, whether or not determinism is true.

This book is primarily about free will, though, and about determinism only incidentally.

Moreover, Honderich, in his rejection of free will as illusory, highlights the incompatibility between the Hard Determinist position and the concept of free will. He claims that we must give up all hope of an individual’s ability to originate action, and abandon all hope of determining the future: “there can be no such hope if all the future is just an effect of effects.” An implication of this is that criminals should not be punished for the crimes they commit, as they do not possess free will and, therefore, are not morally responsible for their actions. Although Hard Determinists are not in favour of restorative or retributive justice, they do accept that criminals need to be imprisoned to protect society. Clearly then, this incompatibility between Hard Determinism, free will and moral responsibility impacts upon our notion of punishment. If all our actions are determined, and murderers only murder because of faulty genes and poor upbringing, then Hard Determinism takes away our ability to think rationally.


Determinism, free will and compatibilism | The Logical Place

Compatibilism — The view that the theses of free will and determinism can both be true.

Next consider the mesh problem. According to Frankfurt, iffreely willed action for which an agent is morally responsible ispurely a function of the relation between an agent's will and hersecond-order volitions, then it does not matter in any way how an agentcame to have that particular mesh. But cases can be constructed thatseem to suggest that it does matter how an agent came to havea particular mesh between her first-order and her second-order desires.(For example, see Slote, 1980; and Fischer and Ravizza, 1998,pp.194–206). Using Frankfurt's own example of the willing addict,suppose that the addict's second-order willingness is itself caused bythe effects of the drug use. Suppose that the drug use has impaired herevaluations or preferences arising at a second-order of reflection onher own mental states. Or, setting this sort of case aside, imaginethat an agent is brainwashed or manipulated through some means oranother, say by hypnosis, or by aliens zapping a person into having adifferent set of psychological preferences than those that she wouldotherwise have. In all of these cases—just call themmanipulation cases—Frankfurt seems committed to the viewthat such agents act of their own free will and are morally responsibleso long as the appropriate psychological mesh is in place, no matterwhat sort of (merely apparent) freedom and responsibility-undermininghistory gave way to an agent's having that particular mesh.


Compatibilism: Can free will and determinism co-exist?

A person who is a morally responsible agent is not merely aperson who is able to do moral right or wrong. Beyond this,she is accountable for her morally significant conduct. Hence,she is, when fitting, an apt target of moral praise or blame, as wellas reward or punishment. And typically, free will is understood as anecessary condition of moral responsibility since it would seemunreasonable to say of a person that she deserves blame and punishmentfor her conduct if it turned out that she was not at any point in timein control of it. (Similar things can be said about praise and reward.)It is primarily, though not exclusively, because of the intimateconnection between free will and moral responsibility that the freewill problem is seen as an important one.[]

Compatibilism philosophy essay on virtue - …

To assess the extent to which free will is compatible with Determinism, one must first consider other approaches to the concept of free will and whether we, in fact, possess it. A Hard Determinist, such as Honderich, would claim that individuals are not free to initiate actions or make moral decisions, thereby making the concept of moral responsibility redundant. Any moral decisions we make have uncontrollable prior causes. Thus, a Hard Determinist would support the premise that free will and Determinism are not compatible with one another. Diametrically opposed to Hard Determinism is Libertarianism, with which free will is closely compatible. Proponents of this position, such as Kant, maintain that we are all free and should, therefore, take full moral responsibility for our actions. Between these two extremes stands Compatibilism. Classical Compatibilists, such as Hume, state that most moral decisions are the result of both external determined forces and an internal act of volition or will. In fact, they go so far as to say that true freedom requires causation, without which there would be randomness. Undeniably then, the idea of free will is incompatible with Hard Determinism. A Compatibilist or Soft Determinist, however, would refute the claim that the two concepts are incompatible. Arguably then, Libertarianism would seem to present the most convincing approach to the issue of free will, in that it acknowledges the role of the individual in moral decision making because of their free will, while accepting that the person’s background will, in part, influence the choices they make.