Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy, Lewis & Clark College

Kane on Libertarianism

Added on by jay odenbaugh.

Robert Kane writes, 

In order to explain how free actions can escape the clutches of physical causes and laws of nature (so that free actions will not be determined by physical laws), libertarians have posited transempirical power centers, immaterial egos, noumenal selves outside of space and time, unmoved movers, uncaused causes and other unusual forms of agency or causation – thereby inviting charges of obscurity or mystery against their view. (9) 

Kane's own view is that free will requires "self-forming actions." He describes how this might occurs thusly. 

There is tension and uncertainty in our minds about what to do at such times, I suggest, that is reflected in appropriate regions of our brains by movement away from thermodynamic equilibrium – in short, a kind of "stirring up of chaos" in the brain that makes it sensitive to micro-indeterminacies at the neuronal level. The uncertainty and in- ner tension we feel at such soul-searching moments of self-formation is thus reflected in the indeterminacy of our neural processes them- selves. What we experience internally as uncertainty about what to do on such occasions would then correspond physically to the open- ing of a window of opportunity that temporarily screens off complete determination by influences of the past. (26) 

Do you think his account of "self-forming actions" suffers from the same mystery or obscurity he complains about? Is there a way of making libertarianism less mysterious?