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Philosophers

Mortimer Adler
Rogers Albritton
Alexander of Aphrodisias
Samuel Alexander
William Alston
G.E.M.Anscombe
Anselm
Louise Antony
Thomas Aquinas
Aristotle
David Armstrong
Harald Atmanspacher
Robert Audi
Augustine
J.L.Austin
A.J.Ayer
Alexander Bain
Mark Balaguer
Jeffrey Barrett
William Belsham
Henri Bergson
Isaiah Berlin
Bernard Berofsky
Robert Bishop
Max Black
Susanne Bobzien
Emil du Bois-Reymond
Hilary Bok
Laurence BonJour
George Boole
Émile Boutroux
F.H.Bradley
C.D.Broad
Michael Burke
C.A.Campbell
Joseph Keim Campbell
Rudolf Carnap
Carneades
Ernst Cassirer
David Chalmers
Roderick Chisholm
Chrysippus
Cicero
Randolph Clarke
Samuel Clarke
Anthony Collins
Antonella Corradini
Diodorus Cronus
Jonathan Dancy
Donald Davidson
Mario De Caro
Democritus
Daniel Dennett
Jacques Derrida
René Descartes
Richard Double
Fred Dretske
John Dupré
John Earman
Laura Waddell Ekstrom
Epictetus
Epicurus
Herbert Feigl
John Martin Fischer
Owen Flanagan
Luciano Floridi
Philippa Foot
Alfred Fouilleé
Harry Frankfurt
Richard L. Franklin
Michael Frede
Gottlob Frege
Peter Geach
Edmund Gettier
Carl Ginet
Alvin Goldman
Gorgias
Nicholas St. John Green
H.Paul Grice
Ian Hacking
Ishtiyaque Haji
Stuart Hampshire
W.F.R.Hardie
Sam Harris
William Hasker
R.M.Hare
Georg W.F. Hegel
Martin Heidegger
R.E.Hobart
Thomas Hobbes
David Hodgson
Shadsworth Hodgson
Baron d'Holbach
Ted Honderich
Pamela Huby
David Hume
Ferenc Huoranszki
William James
Lord Kames
Robert Kane
Immanuel Kant
Tomis Kapitan
Jaegwon Kim
William King
Hilary Kornblith
Christine Korsgaard
Saul Kripke
Andrea Lavazza
Keith Lehrer
Gottfried Leibniz
Leucippus
Michael Levin
George Henry Lewes
C.I.Lewis
David Lewis
Peter Lipton
John Locke
Michael Lockwood
E. Jonathan Lowe
John R. Lucas
Lucretius
Ruth Barcan Marcus
James Martineau
Storrs McCall
Hugh McCann
Colin McGinn
Michael McKenna
Brian McLaughlin
John McTaggart
Paul E. Meehl
Uwe Meixner
Alfred Mele
Trenton Merricks
John Stuart Mill
Dickinson Miller
G.E.Moore
C. Lloyd Morgan
Thomas Nagel
Friedrich Nietzsche
John Norton
P.H.Nowell-Smith
Robert Nozick
William of Ockham
Timothy O'Connor
David F. Pears
Charles Sanders Peirce
Derk Pereboom
Steven Pinker
Plato
Karl Popper
Porphyry
Huw Price
H.A.Prichard
Hilary Putnam
Willard van Orman Quine
Frank Ramsey
Ayn Rand
Michael Rea
Thomas Reid
Charles Renouvier
Nicholas Rescher
C.W.Rietdijk
Richard Rorty
Josiah Royce
Bertrand Russell
Paul Russell
Gilbert Ryle
Jean-Paul Sartre
Kenneth Sayre
T.M.Scanlon
Moritz Schlick
Arthur Schopenhauer
John Searle
Wilfrid Sellars
Alan Sidelle
Ted Sider
Henry Sidgwick
Walter Sinnott-Armstrong
J.J.C.Smart
Saul Smilansky
Michael Smith
Baruch Spinoza
L. Susan Stebbing
George F. Stout
Galen Strawson
Peter Strawson
Eleonore Stump
Francisco Suárez
Richard Taylor
Kevin Timpe
Mark Twain
Peter Unger
Peter van Inwagen
Manuel Vargas
John Venn
Kadri Vihvelin
Voltaire
G.H. von Wright
David Foster Wallace
R. Jay Wallace
W.G.Ward
Ted Warfield
Roy Weatherford
William Whewell
Alfred North Whitehead
David Widerker
David Wiggins
Bernard Williams
Timothy Williamson
Ludwig Wittgenstein
Susan Wolf

Scientists

Michael Arbib
Bernard Baars
Gregory Bateson
John S. Bell
Charles Bennett
Ludwig von Bertalanffy
Susan Blackmore
Margaret Boden
David Bohm
Niels Bohr
Ludwig Boltzmann
Emile Borel
Max Born
Satyendra Nath Bose
Walther Bothe
Hans Briegel
Leon Brillouin
Stephen Brush
Henry Thomas Buckle
S. H. Burbury
Donald Campbell
Anthony Cashmore
Eric Chaisson
Jean-Pierre Changeux
Arthur Holly Compton
John Conway
John Cramer
E. P. Culverwell
Charles Darwin
Terrence Deacon
Louis de Broglie
Max Delbrück
Abraham de Moivre
Paul Dirac
Hans Driesch
John Eccles
Arthur Stanley Eddington
Paul Ehrenfest
Albert Einstein
Hugh Everett, III
Franz Exner
Richard Feynman
R. A. Fisher
Joseph Fourier
Lila Gatlin
Michael Gazzaniga
GianCarlo Ghirardi
J. Willard Gibbs
Nicolas Gisin
Paul Glimcher
Thomas Gold
A.O.Gomes
Brian Goodwin
Joshua Greene
Jacques Hadamard
Patrick Haggard
Stuart Hameroff
Augustin Hamon
Sam Harris
Hyman Hartman
John-Dylan Haynes
Martin Heisenberg
Werner Heisenberg
John Herschel
Jesper Hoffmeyer
E. T. Jaynes
William Stanley Jevons
Roman Jakobson
Pascual Jordan
Ruth E. Kastner
Stuart Kauffman
Simon Kochen
Stephen Kosslyn
Ladislav Kovàč
Rolf Landauer
Alfred Landé
Pierre-Simon Laplace
David Layzer
Benjamin Libet
Seth Lloyd
Hendrik Lorentz
Josef Loschmidt
Ernst Mach
Donald MacKay
Henry Margenau
James Clerk Maxwell
Ernst Mayr
Ulrich Mohrhoff
Jacques Monod
Emmy Noether
Howard Pattee
Wolfgang Pauli
Massimo Pauri
Roger Penrose
Steven Pinker
Colin Pittendrigh
Max Planck
Susan Pockett
Henri Poincaré
Daniel Pollen
Ilya Prigogine
Hans Primas
Adolphe Quételet
Juan Roederer
Jerome Rothstein
David Ruelle
Erwin Schrödinger
Aaron Schurger
Claude Shannon
David Shiang
Herbert Simon
Dean Keith Simonton
B. F. Skinner
Roger Sperry
Henry Stapp
Tom Stonier
Antoine Suarez
Leo Szilard
William Thomson (Kelvin)
Peter Tse
Heinz von Foerster
John von Neumann
John B. Watson
Daniel Wegner
Steven Weinberg
Paul A. Weiss
John Wheeler
Wilhelm Wien
Norbert Wiener
Eugene Wigner
E. O. Wilson
H. Dieter Zeh
Ernst Zermelo
Wojciech Zurek

Presentations

Biosemiotics
Free Will
Mental Causation
James Symposium
 
E. Jonathan Lowe

E. J. Lowe was an Oxford-trained philosopher who worked on the philosophy of action and philosophy of mind since the late 1970's. He developed a version of psychophysical dualism that he called non-Cartesian substance dualism. It is an interactionist substance dualism. (Cf. John Eccles and early Karl Popper.) The non-Cartesian "substance" proposed by Lowe is the acting Self, whose (free) will has an irreducible causal power.

Lowe argued, however, that events (both mental and physical) should properly not be thought of as causes, because only actors (human or animal agents - or inanimate physical agents) can cause things. Events are more properly simply happenings, some caused, some uncaused. (If quantum indeterminism is correct, some are only statistically caused - perhaps then uncaused and neither determined nor pre-determined).

In our model of free will, we should perhaps describe reasons as "causal factors."

For Lowe, reasons, motives, beliefs, desires, etc. should also not be described as causes of human actions. To do so neglects the will of the agent. He says, "Behavior that is caused by an agent's beliefs and desires is, on that very account, not rational, free action." Describing behavior as caused by reasons, etc. is just a façon de parler.

Events are causally impotent
In my view, only entities in the category of substance -— that is, persisting, concrete objects — possess causal powers. Strictly speaking, an event cannot do anything and so cannot cause anything. For causings are a species of doings — that is, in a very broad sense, actions — and doings are themselves happenings. Thus, talk of an event doing something either involves a gross category mistake — because, understood literally, it implies that one happening is done by another — or else, taken less seriously, it may be dismissed as being no more than a misleading manner of speaking.

Lowe defends mental events (and mental causation) as distinct from physical events (and physical causes) but equally real.

Lowe is opposed to the notion of causal closure, the idea that everything that happens in the world is caused by physical objects in the world. Causal closure is a requirement for current "materialist/physicalist" views in the philosophy of mind, which regard mental events as identical to physical (brain) events, or perhaps merely epiphenomena. That mental states (or processes) are unable to cause anything to happen in the world is the modern version of the Cartesian mind-body problem. Lowe opposes this view with his idea of a non-Cartesian "self" (or mind) which has causal power.

Philosophers Donald Davidson and Jaegwon Kim have discussed the possibility of a non-reductive physicalism, in which mental events might not be reducible to physical events.

Davidson hoped to describe mental events as emergent from lower physical levels in the hierarchy. Kim denies the possibility of emergence or of a "non-reductive physicalism." Both describe mental events as supervenient on events in lower hierarchical levels.

Lowe asks three questions important for his interactionist non-Cartesian substance dualism:

(1) Are all causes events, or are at least some causes agents?

(2) Are free actions uncaused, at least by antecedent events?

and
(3) Are an agent's reasons for action causes of that agent's actions?

And he proposes three answers, plus a new claim:
(1) In the most fundamental sense of 'cause', only agents are causes — although 'agents' understood in a very broad sense, to include inanimate objects as well as human beings.

(2) Free actions are completely uncaused — but they need not on that account be deemed to be merely random or chance occurrences.
[Chance is not the direct cause of actions.]

(3) A rational agent's reasons for action are never causes of his or her actions.
[Following Lowe, we can call them causal factors, inputs to the first evaluation stage in the two-stage model of free will.]

In addition, I shall make the following claim:
(4) All free actions either consist in, or are initiated by, an act of will — in other words, a volition — on the part of the agent.

Lowe on Indeterminist Free Will
The Lowe-McCall paper is our latest example of an independent discovery of the two-stage model of free will.
In 2005, Lowe and his colleague Storrs McCall proposed a defense of an indeterministic libertarian free will against various randomness objections, especially Peter van Inwagen's "replay argument," which claimed to show that indeterminism makes our decisions random.

McCall and Lowe show "that libertarianism is a consistent philosophical thesis." They draw out the notion of an instantaneous choice (which compatibilists often attack as necessarily either determined or random, according to the standard argument against free will) into a continuous temporal process of deliberation that culminates in the decision.

They locate the indeterminism in the early part of deliberation, as do all two-stage models of free will. The decision itself they say is caused not by chance, but by a willed choice reflecting the character and reasons of the agent. They trace the source of their separation of indeterministic deliberation from the final choice back to Aristotle's distinction between bouleuesis and prohairesis.

McCall and Lowe are correct that both van Inwagen and Robert Nozick locate the indeterminism in the wrong place, namely the decision itself.

Leading libertarian philosopher Robert Kane also locates indeterminism in the choice, but Kane argues that in a "torn decision" all of the alternative possibilities for action can be independently defended by reasons, so the agent can take responsibility, whatever the particular choice.

McCall and Lowe extend van Inwagen's "replay" example by considering Kane's description of a decision as a temporal process:

To illustrate the model of decision-making we have in mind, we replace van Inwagen’s Alice by Robert Kane’s more temporally-extended example of Jane. Jane is deliberating whether to spend her vacation in Hawaii or Colorado. She takes her time, consults travel books and brochures, contemplates her bank account, and eventually comes to the conclusion that all things considered, Hawaii is the best option. At the end, she seals her decision by buying an air ticket to Honolulu. A useful way of analyzing this deliberative process (Aristotle’s bouleusis) is to divide Jane’s decision-making into three stages (McCall (1999)):
  • (i) Choice-set formation (in Jane’s case identifying Hawaii and Colorado as her two options),
  • (ii) Evaluation (weighing the reasons pro and con Hawaii against the reasons pro and con Colorado),
  • (iii) Choice (Aristotle’s prohairesis).
A necessary requirement of indeterministic decision-making is that each option in the choice-set remain open, i.e. choosable, through the entire deliberation, right up to the moment of choice.

McCall and Lowe summarize the many steps they see in their libertarian deliberative process:

The main features of the indeterministic deliberative process which demonstrates consistency are as follows.
(1) An agent X is faced with deciding between options A, B, C, ... [these options may involve chance and are not pre-determined.]

(2) There are, in X’s estimation, reasons for and reasons against each option.

(3) X uses her power of rational judgement to weight these reasons and to weigh one option against another.

(4) The process of weighing and weighting is controlled by X’s judgement, is on-going throughout the deliberation, and is justifiable to a third party.

(5) Each option remains open (choosable) up to the moment of decision.

(6) The deliberation ends with X’s reasoned choice of one of the options.

Conclusion: Rational, indeterministic, controlled deliberative processes prove that the concept of libertarian free will is internally consistent.

Later, McCall and Lowe defended their indeterministic free will model against Neil Levy's criticism using the Luck Objection.

The Four-Category Ontology
Lowe argued for four basic categories of reality:
  1. Substantial particulars (or "objects'),
  2. Non-substantial particulars (or: "modes', "tropes", "property and relation instances"),
  3. Substantial universals (or 'kinds'),
  4. Non-substantial universals. (ideas?)

Like analytic philosopher David M. Armstrong, Lowe argues that the denial of universals has ontologically strange consequences. He claims that "kinds" (universal types) cannot be reduced to properties (individuals).

Lowe's central theses are:

  1. There exist both kinds (substantials) and properties-and-relations (non-substantials);
  2. There exist both universals and particulars;
  3. These two distinctions can and have to be crossed, thus revealing the four basic categories of reality above;
  4. There are two kinds of relation between the four categories: instantiation and characterization.

The defense of "kinds' was the basic theme of Lowe's Kinds of Being [1989); all the first three points were put forward in The Possibility of Metaphysics (1998), but are remarkably absent from A Survey of Metaphysics (2002): the fourth point is made in some earlier papers.

Lowe also thinks that the four categories he distinguishes are more basic than the two distinctions on which they are based.

Works
For Teachers
For Scholars
Notes

1.

Bibliography

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