by Ted Honderich

This is a paper for a book Philosophy of Action: 5 Questions edited by Jesus Aguilar and Andrei Buckareff and published by Automatic Press / VIP. The book contains accounts by various philosophers, including leading theorists, of their engagement with problems of action and agency, and in particular determinism and freedom. The contributors were also asked to offer thoughts as to what attracted them to the subject, what their conclusions have been, what the benefit of the subject can be to other subjects, what has been neglected in it, where work and inquiry should now be concentrated, and the prospects for progress.

1. Unpredictability

    Theorizing about determinism and its relation to freedom and responsibility was something that a new graduate student could be drawn to by Professor Sir Stuart Hampshire, Grote Professor at University College London. He had written a free-thinking book on it, Thought and Action. I worked awfully hard on the book, and finally supposed it to be ineffective in its main idea against determinism, which was that our attempted predictions of our coming actions turn into decisions. [1]

    England's Logical Positivist, A. J. Ayer, the previous holder of the Grote chair, was still in the neighbourhood, and also compelled attention. His contribution to the subject was one paper. [2] It was pretty clear, but, like so very much else written about the matter, it did not seem really to take it far forward, indeed not beyond David Hume in the 18th Century. So here too there was room for an idea or two from a graduate student.

    No doubt my Canadian boyhood, in particular my mother Rae Laura Armstrong in her religious progress, and my father in his progressive pamphlets, had contributed to an inclination on my part to large human questions. The meaning of life would turn up in our family discussions. Also, my mother did not leave her youngest child unware of his moral responsibility for things. Nor did a tough brother later. [3]

    That boyhood past does not make it less accidental that my labour as a graduate student was on the subject it was. If the stately Stuart had had another interest, maybe space and time, I might well have joined him. This brings to mind the fact that a life subject to determinism, and a life truly taken as subject to determinism, will be quite as unpredictable as an undetermined life in the main way.
    The main way in which life is a matter of accidents or seeming chance is in its unpredictability to us, its human unpredictability, its apparent fortuity as both lived and looked back over. This unpredictability, despite the fact that determinism entails complete predictability in principle or in theory, is preserved in the determined life. You don't know what's going to happen, or see that it had to happen when you look back, any more than in the undetermined life, since you lack the particular knowledge needed for predictions and explanations.

    Can it be that the fundamentality and extent of the lived and remembered unpredictability consistent with determinism has been insufficiently felt or remembered or stated by philosophers, and hence that determinism has been made less believable? Have we not really seen that determinism leaves untouched the natural way of thinking about life? Can it be, too, that this insufficiency contributes to audacious rejections of determinism as unnatural, say Helen Steward's conviction of 'fresh starts', even when determinism is officially and rightly taken as entailing only predictability in principle? [4]

2. Three Sides to Determinism

    There is a larger subject. At least since the dispute in the 17th Century between Hobbes and Bishop Bramhall, philosophers of determinism and freedom have divided into Compatibilists and Incompatibilists. Things have changed somewhat, but philosophers still tend to divide up that way today. Compatibilists and Incompatibilists are concerned with the matter of the consequences of determinism -- more particularly the consequences of human determinism, a causal account of our human existence, rather than a universal determinism. What follows from this human determinism? How does it affect our lives if it is true? Can we have freedom and moral responsibility along with this determinism. What about the justification of punishment by the state?

    Philosophers of determinism and freedom, as distinct from philosophers of science, have indeed stuck to the question of the consequences of human determinism. They have not been much concerned with the question of the truth of this or any wider determinism. This is explained, presumably, by an idea that is natural enough, that philosophy is not in itself a factual inquiry but something somehow different from science. Philosophers of determinism and freedom have also taken little care with respect to another question that is less avoidable for them than the question of truth and prior to it. It is the question of the conceptual adequacy of determinism -- whether and how a clear, consistent and complete theory of human determinism can be put together.

    Philosophers in the 1960's, notably J. L. Austin and Peter Strawson [5], were sceptical about our having a conceptually adequate theory. If they were not explicit about the grounds of their scepticism, they surely were moved by the fact that human determinism must come together with the philosophy of mind, and in particular the nature of consciousness and the mind-body problem. Certainly there can be no adequate theory of determinism that does not assume something about these dark and troubled waters. Austin and Strawson may also have been daunted by the large philosophical problem of causation, the problem of what it is for an event to be an effect. It too has divided great and other philosophers.

    It is possible to construct a theory of human determinism that contains a traditional and reasonable assumption of the nature of consciousness, having to do with a kind of subjectivity, and locates our consciousness inside heads, and contains an account of the relation of consciousness and the brain, a kind of union. Also an account of a particular causal sequence issuing in the unions of conscious and simultaneous neural events, and an account of actions and their particular causation. [6]

    The theory depends on an explicit account of the general nature of causal and other necessary connections. It clarifies the connection between a causal circumstance and its effect, the different connection between other law-governed correlates, the distinction between a cause and the other conditions in a causal circumstance, and the nature of causal sequences. [7] Certainly it does not confuse an effect with any lesser thing, say an event of a certain probability, even of a probability of 1. Such an event might be certain to you because God let you know it would happen or because you could see into the future but it could still be an unnecessitated event.

    Who could maintain that all philosophers attracted to determinism should first work out philosophies of consciousness and causation, and then consider such alternatives as those of John Searle and Benjamin Libet? [8] I don't. It is indeed true, however, that our freedom and human determinism is the subject of events in or of our consciousness. Maybe you are not straying into supererogation if you pay it attention. Is there more reason now than in the time of Austin and Strawson to attend to the general subject? Can my fellow workers be as confident as their predecessors in leaving it out?

    Should they take care, at least, not to be predisposed in their reflections by an unexamined leaning to either of the main commitments in the philosophy of mind -- devout physicalism and the traditional dualism associated with Descartes that is a kind of spiritualism? Do some of us fall into free speculation about causation as a result of no serious thinking about it? Free speculation about freedom as a result of no engagement with the philosophy of mind? There are now theories of consciousness that do not confine it to the cranium -- externalisms rather than internalisms. Will they have some relevance to the matter of the consequences of determinism? Where do they leave conscious decisions and choices?

    Putting aside the question of an adequate theory of determinism until later, consider for a minute the question of the truth of determinism. It is natural to take it that the factuality of science as against philosophy is good reason to excuse philosophers from entering into the question. My own inclination, however, is to excuse them less readily here than with conceptual adequacy and particularly the philosophy of consciousness.

    This critical inclination has to do with what is probably an uncontroversial idea of philosophy. What it is, according to this idea, is a concentration on the logic of ordinary intelligence. That is a concentration on clarity, usually by way of analysis, and on consistency and validity, and on completeness -- a concentration usually on large and general subjects. Philosophy does not own this logic, and it would be absurd to take it as no part of science or history or whatever. But philosophy is less distracted from it by other things. It is less distracted from this indubitable side of all inquiry, this particular contribution to truth.

    This idea of philosophy as concentration on ordinary logic in no way limits its subject-matters -- indeed it does not limit them to the large and general subjects. And, to come to the point, obviously it does not exclude philosophy from questions of fact. This idea of philosophy does not exclude it from consideration of the subject of the truth of determinism. It does not exclude philosophy from the judgement that interpretations of Quantum Theory that are taken to refute determinism are indeed failures with respect to the three requirements of logic.

    So much has long been admitted about the interpretations, although in wonder and a kind of self-satisfaction rather than embarrassment, by physicists expounding the interpretations. If it were not for the ascendancy of science and a residual ascendancy of physics in science -- the first of those being another subject for philosophy as logic, if a small one -- it would indeed be said that interpretations of Quantum Theory are a mess, and thus of doubtful use in evidence for or against determinism. It does not need adding that they tend to be disputable philosophy themselves. Neuroscience is surely of greater evidential force. [9] So, on certain questions, is the reflective extra-scientific experience of the world on which all science rests at bottom.  

3. Compatibilism and Incompatibilism

    Leaving the questions of conceptual adequacy and truth, return now to the question of the consequences of determinism, the question that has most concerned philosophers.

    It is indubitable that Compatibilists and Incompatibilists agree in one proposition. It is that we have a single, settled and fundamental conception of freedom and engage in linked ascriptions of responsibility, which conception and ascriptions are fixed in our language and inform and direct our lives. The freedom is real or true or clear or sensible freedom. So with the ascriptions of responsibility -- holding people responsible and crediting them with responsibility. Compatibilists and Incompatibilists, however, disagree about what this freedom and responsibility is. They offer proofs and persuasions of their idea of it. These proofs and persuasions have been the stuff of the philosophy of human determinism and its relation to freedom and responsibility.

    Compatibilists, in a sentence that sums up a certain amount of variety, take our single freedom to be voluntariness -- to consist in choices and actions owed to a certain kind of causes, causes in certain senses internal to the agent. These are, say, intentions of one's own or unreluctant desires. I am not free when in jail, or facing a man with a gun, or subject to a psychological compulsion only in a different sense internal to my personality.

    Incompatibilists, in a sentence, take our freedom to be origination -- to consist in an initiation of choices and actions that somehow is not subject to standard causation but remains somehow within the control of the person in question. More particularly, the choices and actions are uncaused but such as to make possible holding people responsible and crediting them with responsibility in a particular way -- taking such attitudes to them as are exemplified by the retribution or desert theory of the justification of punishment by the state, backward-looking thinking as distinct from the forward-looking prevention theory of punishment. This origination, I take it, is what has traditionally been named free will, despite the existence of a wider use of the term.

    It is a professional failing of philosophers, you can think, to take things to be obvious. Moritz Schlick the Compatibilist did so in as declamatory a fashion as F. H. Bradley the Incompatibilist. [10] Others have been as confident. I confess to such a failing, if that is what it is, with respect to this prolonged and now boring dispute, now carried forward mainly by American philosophers, maybe called to the platform by the religion of their society.

4. Dead Theories?

    Compatibilism and Incompatibilism surely are dead ducks, old dead ducks. Is that judgement a triumph of desire over truth? Could be, but I can't believe it. To my mind it can be and has been proved that we have a conception of freedom as voluntariness, a conception both settled and fundamental to our lives. However, it can be and has been proved that we also have a conception of freedom as origination, quite as settled and fundamental. [11]

    It seems to me reasonable, despite being based in a certain confidence in the history of philosophy, to take the history itself of the philosophy of determinism and freedom since the 17th Century to throw into serious doubt the assumption that we have a single, settled and fundamental conception of freedom and one linked practice of ascribing responsibility. It is surely impossible or very difficult indeed to suppose that the history of philosophy could have had in it the endless regiments of Compatibilists and Incompatibilists, each advocating an understanding of freedom and responsibility, and each about as able to defend itself, without that understanding existing at least to a great extent in the meaning-intentions and the language and the life of the rest of humanity. Decent philosophers aren't actually dreamers.

    Something better, surely one proof of the existence of our conception of freedom as voluntariness, consists in the pervasive existence of our claims to rights, legal or moral or human or occupational or whatever. To claim a right, in brief, is to assert or demand a freedom to get or to keep something, maybe food. It is transparent that the freedom in question is voluntariness. The defence, demand and struggle for rights is endeavour against facts of compulsion, constraint, incapability and the like -- against external causes rather than any causes of action and inaction. It is no less than absurd to suppose that the starving are demanding from their societies or the world that something be added to their own natures as persons, demanding that they be given a power of origination by presidents or prime ministers. As for the importance of rights in our lives, and hence voluntariness, it would be difficult to overstate it.

    One proof of the existence of our conception of freedom as origination is the patent existence of a certain way of holding others and ourselves responsible and also crediting others and ourselves with responsibility. Is it missed by Compatibilist philosophers, just as the different responsibility involving voluntariness is missed by Incompatibilist philosophers, because what it is to ascribe responsibility is left vague? In short, to ascribe responsibility to another or oneself for a choice or action is to have an attitude -- an evaluative thought of the person and the choice or action, feelingful and bound up with desire. [12]

    Reflect on our implicit and explicit justifications of punishment in terms of desert, including the retributive theories as to punishment by the state. It is impossible to suppose, to speak generally, that our attitude here is our taking choices and actions to have been only necessitated effects, whatever else is said. We typically resist the idea when it is offered in explanation or defence of an injurious action against ourselves. We have a conception of human existence, of choices and actions, that is different in kind.

    What this comes to is that all of us, or close enough to all of us, not only condemn an action on account of its low or small or vicious initiation in an agent's own caused and necessitated intention, but on account of the conviction or at least the tendency to believe that as things were, and not merely if things had been different, he or she could have done otherwise. If this is a fact of a culture, perhaps not a law of human nature, what did you expect? Our subject is our lives as they are, partly formed by a culture.

    That all or as good as all of us have at the very least a tendency to the two ideas of freedom and the two kinds of ascription of responsibility containing them is also established by considering something other than moral responsibility -- on which traditional Compatibilists and Incompatibilists have concentrated far too much. They have not seen or have disregarded or underestimated other consequences of determinism -- for attitudes other than those of holding people responsible and crediting them with responsibility.

    P. F. Strawson led the way to consideration of determinism and what can best be called the personal attitudes. [13] Some, on which he concentrated, are exemplified by gratitude and resentment. There are certainly more. They include our hopes, and in particular what can be called life-hopes. They also include confidence in belief -- epistemic confidence. Who can doubt that each of us has or has the possibility of the kind of life-hope whose content is future actions taken as voluntary? Who can doubt that each of us has the kind of life-hope whose content is future actions taken as originated? If we hope not to be compelled, we as certainly hope as much to rise over our pasts. [14]

    It is my own view, therefore, that the supposed proofs of Compatibilism and the supposed proofs of Incompatibilism must fail. That they do so can surely also be seen directly by looking at them. What they come to are proofs, some of them strong and indeed decisive, of the existence of the idea of freedom as voluntariness or of the existence of the idea of freedom as origination -- none of which proofs, however successful, shows that the favoured conception is the only one. [15]

    It is my own view that the tradition of Compatibilism is owed to no proof at all but owed instead partly to a disinclination to a shortage of content in the idea of origination -- an unexplained idea of control in a non-causal initiation of choices and actions that warrants certain attitudes and reactions to them, at bottom certain desires. Compatibilism is also partly owed to a clearheadedness as to moral judgement and moral reasons, that necessarily they are consequentialist, and a conviction that the consequences involved in retributive punishment are quite insufficient to make for a justification of it. [16]

    As for Incompatibilism, it has become increasingly evident, and is now more or less admitted by prominent advocates, such as Robert Kane, that it is partly owed to a certain resistance to naturalism -- a resistance to taking us all to be within the natural world rather than somehow above it. Incompatibilism, in short, has been demand for standing. [17] It is, to my mind, although not all Incompatibilists are to be accused of this, also tied up with a determination to maintain forms of life, societies and indeed a world. Those of us who benefit from them, naturally enough, take enemies of them, down to simple burglars, to be worthy of responses other than those in place with persons whose actions are conceived as just effects.

    None of this motivation comes near to establishing that we, or we in our cultures, have only a single, settled and fundamental conception of freedom. The very short story is that determinism is neither compatible nor incompatible with freedom. To say either is to say what is false on account of referential ambiguity that amounts to reference-failure. It is no more true that determinism is either compatible or incompatible with freedom than it's either raining or not raining in Muswell Hill if the latter term picks out two places. What is provable and proved, in place of Compatibilism and Incompatibilism and their factitious dispute, is what can have the name of Attitudinism -- that we have two conceptions of freedom entering into two families of attitudes. [18]

5. A Real Problem of Determinism and Freedom -- And Another One

    Thus it has seemed to me in the past that the true problem of the consequences of determinism has been only the essentially practical or attitudinal one of accommodating our attitudes to the truth of determinism. It is the problem of giving up attitudes whose content includes the conception of actions as originated, and seeing the value of the attitudes whose content has to do only with voluntariness. We need to escape the response of Dismay, which focuses only on the end of origination-attitudes, and the response of Intransigence, which only declaims voluntariness-attitudes. We need to try to come to an attitude of Affirmation, seeing what we actually have in our lives and worth of it despite a loss. [19]

    This is a real rather than a factitious problem, if not a philosophical one in a narrow sense, not a conceptual one. It is in a way unsolved, not a dead problem. It may remain a live one despite various efforts until we really come to believe determinism, if that ever happens. Maybe it is only that, belief which may never happen, that would put an real end to the problem.

    The first of two last remarks on both Compatibilism and Incompatibilism is that they are right about something.

    They are right in taking responsibility and freedom to be inseparable. Any ascription of responsibility contains a conception of freedom -- that is what such an attitude is. Any conception of freedom enters into ascriptions of responsibility. If you ascribe responsibility, your having an idea of freedom goes with this, and vice versa. So you cannot have only responsibility tied to voluntariness together with only freedom as origination. And you cannot have responsibility being a matter of origination tied to freedom as only voluntariness. Remembering what the attitude of ascribing responsibility is defeats the possibilities. If you try, you are in fact espousing the existence of two sorts of freedom and two sorts of responsibility. John Fischer's 'Semi-compatibilism' and related views necessarily collapse into just Attitudinism. [20]

    The other remark, which can be no more than that, is that it is possible to conjecture and indeed argue, as the good philosophers Anthony Kenny and E. J. Lowe have or do, that voluntariness entails or is somehow bound up with origination. It is also possible to remain unconvinced. Certainly people struggling for their rights, to food or against torture, do not value food or hate torture for a reason having to do with origination. [21] It cannot be that what they do, or the point of what they do, depends on origination or a belief in it.

6. Ideas As To Independence

    But if Attitudinism and the practical problem and responses to it still seem to me to resolve the problem of the consequences of determinism, and if these ideas are gaining ground, [22] this no longer seems to be the end of the story. [23]

    The seeming need to go beyond the main problem has to do importantly or mainly with the demand for human standing mentioned earlier -- what can be thought to be the motive, maybe the motor, of Incompatibilism. You can suppose that this need is not simply a matter of desire but also a matter of conviction, indeed of plain truth. You can think of your past life as determined but also have feelings about it that have some similarity to feelings traditionally based on origination. This is to join the great Kant in his motivation, if definitely not in his two-worlds response. [24]

    Speaking for myself, it seems to me evident that my past actions issued from causal circumstances -- circumstances open to a decent degree of description, certainly enough as to be evidence for determinism. I feel no temptation at all to suppose that some past actions of mine, say those most regretted by me, had initiations that were and are partly mysterious, initiations identified partly in terms of attitudes to them. Rather, I think that these actions had partial explanations I can see, and that there is overwhelming inductive reason to believe that in each case they came together into a causal circumstance.

    As against that, however, it is impossible in a way to let myself off the hook, or all the hooks. It is somehow impossible to diminish some unclear role of mine. It is at least hard to resist thoughts that seem to make sense -- say that if my life has had a dependence owed to causation, it also had some other independence. Despite determinism, it has been my life in a large sense or senses. It seems to me somehow true, in part unfortunately true, that I have been my own man, as others have been their own man or woman. Some reality of our existence is overlooked by the proposition that determinism leaves us, however tolerably, with only a family of attitudes having to do with voluntariness.

    Future work on determinism should direct itself partly towards the identification and articulation of an additional fact or facts. Let me mention what have seemed to be some possible lines of inquiry, the first of which now seems confused and hopeless.

    (1) It has been natural enough to suppose that what the stuff about independence and the like comes to is a recognition of a moral responsibility different in kind from the moral responsibility consistent with determinism or hitherto perceived as such -- at bottom the existence of good or bad intentions of one's own. That supposition, tending in the direction of the responsibility of origination, now seems to me clearly impossible. Evidently the believing determinist cannot suppose that ascribing responsibility to someone can have in it any understanding of a choice or action as originated. Nothing similar to that sort of ascription of responsibility, defined by its content about freedom as origination, is possible.

    The only possible supposition of responsibility that is of use, perhaps, is a new recognition of the reality and size in our lives of the fact of the responsibility of voluntariness. [25] Is it not conceivable that we have failed to see this as a result of being distracted or tempted by the illusion of the responsibility of origination? Here as elsewhere with the problem of determinism and freedom, our lived existence has perhaps been insufficiently decisive in our philosophizing. But this supposition about voluntariness is not really separable from the response of Affirmation to determinism.

    (2) Is there a better speculation as to new thinking about determinism? As you have heard, and no doubt known, it is a fact that retributive feelings or feelings having to do with desert, in fact desires for the distress of someone, have always been predicated on assumptions or beliefs as to the origination rather than the voluntariness of bad or worse actions. There is the same fact about origination with respect to our desires and policies having to do with reward -- responses in feeling  to fine or good or creditable actions. Another fact, anyway a fact of philosophy, is that desires having to do with prevention of more bad or worse actions. and encouragement of additional fine, good or creditable ones, have assumed only the voluntariness of the past actions. The outstanding expression of the fact is theories of the justification of punishment in terms of prevention, say the Utilitarian theories.

    There is no connection of logic between origination and desert or voluntariness and prevention such that voluntariness cannot be a ground of feelings not having to do with prevention. We can certainly think of rewarding fine and voluntary actions without having the aim of changing the future. Indeed we do this already, without feeling the need for a blessing in moral philosophy. Something else is conceivable. It is that we reward the good and voluntary and not punish the bad and voluntary except for the purposes of prevention. No doubt, like many other seeming inconsistencies, something can be done to deal with this one. We need the right principle of right and wrong, and of course the support of facts. [26]

    If there are these lines of thought having to do with independence despite determinism, there is another, not having to do with ascriptions of responsibility, anyway ascriptions of responsibility as we have known them. This speculation takes us back to the subject of ordinary or actual consciousness.

    (3) What is it for you to be aware of the room or other place you are in? More generally, what is it for you or anything else to be perceptually conscious? There are also two other questions. What is to be reflectively conscious? What is it to be affectively conscious? The three questions, to be brief, have to do with seeing, thinking without seeing, and desiring. They have to do with parts, sides or elements of consciousness in general, however related those things are.

    One externalist theory of perceptual consciousness, different from those of Hilary Putnam [27] and Tyler Burge, [28] is that what it is for you to be conscious of the room you are in is for a room in a way to exist. Your being conscious is indeed a fact external to you. This state of affairs external to you is akin to the physical world but in clear and strong senses subjective. Your world of perceptual consciousness now -- the world as it is for you, which is certainly out there -- is different from that of anyone else, and different from the physical world. Further, it has a dependency on the physical world and also, to come to the proposition of most relevance to thinking about the consequences of determinism, a dependency on you, you neurally.

    To speak too grandly in order to have something clear quickly, you are part of what sustains a unique world, part of a creation. You in your nature are one of two necessary grounds of a world, the other being the physical world or a lower level of it. [29]

    So here is an independence consistent with determinism. Here is what can be called more than standing. You can suppose that it it plays or can play a large part in the idea and feeling that determinism, Attitudinism and the three responses are not the whole story. The fact of your perceptual consciousness is not merely the thin stuff of spiritualism. Nor is it the neuralism of most devout physicalism. The fact of your perceptual consciousness is a reality prior to any other. It is a reality untouched by determinism. Is there a related fact with respect to reflective consciousness and what is more relevant, the affective consciousness that includes choices and the like?

    (4) Another speculation that seems less promising now than earlier, [30] but maybe is worth further inquiry, has to do with causal explanation. It is familiar that with a causal circumstance and an effect, we pick out one of the contained conditions, say a human action or a personality rather than the presence of oxygen, call and regard this as cause of the effect rather than a mere condition, and thereby at least seem to accord it greater explanatory weight. We can think, too, of an explanatory line within and through a causal sequence -- the line that consists of causes rather than conditions.

    There is the problem about a cause in a causal circumstance is that the cause is only as necessary to the effect as any other condition. In that sense and related ones it is obviously equally explanatory with respect to the effect. There is the same situation with a causal line through a causal sequence as against some other succession of conditions, maybe the ongoing presence of oxygen. Is there some unique explanatory strength of a causal line of which the conditions comprise persons, person-stages, choices, actions, or the like? If the idea can seem promising, I myself have got nowhere with it.

    (5) A final speculation here, which can be no more than mentioned, is that the truth of determinism does not threaten, for example, the freedom or autonomy celebrated by Kant, the capacity of an agent to act in accordance with objective morality rather than the dictates of desire. The speculation does not need to be tied to Kantian morality, of course. Contemporary philosophers trying to leave the dead theories of Compatibilism and Incompatibilism behind could usefully spend some time getting through the machinery of a large work of philosophical history that does not depend on the machinery. This is Mortimer J. Adler's The Idea of Freedom: A Dialectical Examination of the Conceptions of Freedom. [31] I have in mind its survey of what has been forgotten, theories of what is called the Acquired Freedom of Self-Perfection, which are distinguished from the theories of voluntariness and origination.

7. Punishment, Autonomy, Humanity

    So much for five further lines of thinking. To return now for a minute to the main problem of the consequences of determinism, let me add a few remarks on punishment by the state and one further remark about morality.

    If or since determinism is true, there is no possibility of justifying state punishment by talk of desert or retribution based in a proposition of origination. We have also at least flirted with the idea of something like good or bad desert based in voluntariness -- and the further idea that we might reward good and voluntary actions but not punish bad and voluntary ones.

    What is also possible, and familiar, is justification of punishment in terms of consequences of prevention of crime. In fact this is also the tolerating, endorsing or encouraging kinds of behaviour in a society, those left legal. This idea of the justification of punishment reduces to the question of what is to be prevented and what is to be tolerated, endorsed, encouraged. The question of punishment dissolves into the central question of political, social and indeed moral philosophy -- what kind of society is right? [32]

    One way of thinking about both matters, and also the matter of freedom as Kantian or other autonomy, is in terms of what has the name of being the Principle of Humanity. It is the principle that the right thing as distinct from others -- action, practice, institution, government, society or possible world -- is the one that according to the best judgement and information is the rational one, in the sense of being effective and not self-defeating, with respect to the end of getting and keeping people out of bad lives. [33]

    There is an argument for something, in philosophy and elsewhere, if it hangs together with some other true or good thing. It is reassuring to me to suppose that the independent clarity and decency of the Principle of Humanity needs and espouses only the large freedom of voluntariness that determinism leaves to us. That is a further kind of argument for that freedom and for determinism. 


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This paper was a talk given to various audiences, including the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institute, the British Neuroscience Association, the Humanities Conference 2006, the University of Bath, and the University of Durham, and I am particularly grateful for comments by Richard Frackowiak, Ingrid Honderich, E. J. Lowe and Nicholas Zangwill.

1. Hampshire, 1959; Honderich 1988 or 1990, 342-7 in both cases; 1993, 74-75 or 2002a, 86-87.
2. Ayer, 1954.
3. Honderich, 2001.
4. Steward.
5. Austin; P. F. Strawson.
6. Honderich 1988 & 1990a, 71-258 in both cases; 1993, 22-54; 2002a, 22-64. The theory set out very fully in the long earlier books is summarized in the later two editions of a short one.
7. 1988 and 1990a, 13-70; 1993, 6-18; 2002a, 18-21.
8. Honderich, 2005b, 2005c.
9. Honderich 1988, 1990a, 261-336 in both cases; 1993, 55-67 or 2002a, 65-80.
10. Schlick; Bradley.
11. Honderich, 1988, 379-487, or 1990b, 11-119; 1993, 80-94, or 2002a, 91-121.
12. Honderich, 1988, 380, 382-383, 448-450, 478-480, or 1990b, 12, 14, 80-82, 110-112; 1993, 81-82, or 2002a, 92-93.
13. 1962.
14. Honderich, 1988, 379-400, 496-501, 510-13; 1993, 80-87, or 2002a, 91-97.
15. Dennett, Frankfurt, Ginet, Lehrer, Magill, Pereboom, van Inwagen, Honderich 2006a, 151-155.
16. Honderich, 2003b, 2006a.
17. Kane, Ekstrom.
18. Honderich, 2004c.
19. Honderich, 1988. 488-540, reprinted in 1990b, 120-172; 1993, 107-118, or 2002a, 122-132.
20. Fischer, 1986, 1994; Cf. Galen Strawson, 1986.
21. Kenny, 1975, 1978; Lowe, forthcoming; Honderich, 2005a, 49-70, especially 52, 63-66.
22. Vargas.
23. Compare the different final chapters of Honderich, 1993 and 2002.
24. Honderich, 2002a, 145-6.
25. Cf. Honderich, 2002a, 142-6.
26. Cf. Honderich, 1988, 478-481, or 1990b, 110-113.
27. Putnam.
28. Burge.
29. Honderich, 2004a; Freeman; Honderich, 2002, 142-153; Honderich, 2007.
30. Cf. Honderich, 2002a, 151-153.
31. Adler.
32. Honderich, 2006a, especially 195-206.
33. Honderich, 2002a, 1-57; 2006b, 1-82; 2003c.

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