We like to think of ourselves as enjoying unrestricted freedom of the will. But modern science increasingly teaches us that ...
First, I wish to thank John and Ken for being so kind as to invite me to be a guest on the show; I enjoyed it very, very much.
Ken wondered whether I have "cheated" in the sense that I call something "freedom" which perhaps is not a genuine freedom. I certaiinly sympathize with the worry that traditional compatibilism is a "cheat" or in Kant's words a "wretched subterfuge." I love W. I. Matson's fulminations about compatibilism: "The most flabbergasting instance of the fallacy of changing the subject to be encountered anywhere in the complete history of sophistry... [a ploy that] was intended to take in the vulgar, but which has beguiled the learned in our time."
Poor compatibilism. It is actually not all that bad, and it is defended by very able philosophers, such as my colleague, Gary Watson. But recall that I am a semicompatibilist. I do not think that freedom to do otherwise (regulative control) is compatible with causal determinism. But I do think that causal determinism is compatible with acting freely (guidance control). The Frankfurt-type examples are supposed to motivate this contention--or at least this is one route to the conclusion.
Modern philosophers seemed to think of the "liberty of spontaneity" as a genuine form of freedom, where this is something like acting freely and doesn't in itself entail "liberty of indifference" (freedom to do otherwise, regulative control). How could one help to justify the idea that such freedom--actual-sequence freedom--is sufficiently robust to ground moral responsibilty?
Well, in the proto-Frankfurt example suggested by Locke, the fact that the door is locked and thus the man could not have done otherwise than stay in the room plays no role in his practical reasoning, decision, or act of staying in the room. So how can it be relevant to his responsibility? I would say that he freely stays in the room and can legitimately be held responsible for staying in the room. Whether or not the door is locked is irrelevant to his responsibility, and thus whether or not the door is locked does not bear on whether the man has whatever sort of control grounds moral responsibility.
After all, God is kind of like a "Frankfurt-style counterfactual intervener." That is, God may well be a condition that obtains and that renders it true that no human can do otherwise, and yet God plays no role in our actual choices and behavior (on certain views of God). So God is like the locked door in Locke's example or Black (the counterfactual intervener) in Frankfurt's story. But presumably factors that play no role in our choices or behavior cannot etiolate our expression of freedom.
In my view, when I act freely I express a genuine and real kind of freedom, sufficient to warrant ascriptions of responsibility. If I lack freedom to do otherwise, I lack some freedom; but I do not lack the freedom required for moral responsibility.