A study in metaphysics for free will: using models of causality, determinism and supervenience in the search for free will

Robson, David (2014) A study in metaphysics for free will: using models of causality, determinism and supervenience in the search for free will. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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We have two main aims: to construct mathematical models for analysing determinism, causality and supervenience; and then to use these to demonstrate the possibility of constructing an ontic construal of the operation of free will - one requiring both the presentation of genuine alternatives to an agent and their selecting between them in a manner that permits the attribution of responsibility.

Determinism is modelled using trans-temporal ontic links between discrete juxtaposed universe states and shown to be distinct from predictability. Causality is defined on a temporal sequence of δ-algebras and quantified using a measure. The measure leads to definitions of causal overdetermination and epiphenomena. Proofs are constructed to demonstrate deterministic universes must carry their properties essentially but not necessarily locally. We argue determinism and causality are separate doctrines.

These models and results are marshalled to put the case that a counterfactual construal of ontic choice cannot work. In response we propose ‘immanence’ - a modified form of indeterminism whereby a universe can present choices to its denizens.

We prove that beings subsumed within a universe cannot pilot their own actions. We then argue these beings can exercise free will only when selecting between choices inhering within immanent relata. A being is responsible for its selections if and only if it is constituted of a temporally evolving deterministic substructure. Our proposal is novel: it avoids injecting indeterminism into the decision process.

Topological models for property supervenience are developed and used to reconstruct standard definitions from the literature. These are then used to demonstrate considerations of supervenience do not affect our arguments. We have demonstrated that a model of the exercise of free will involving both genuine choices and responsibility is possible but can only operate within a non-deterministic universe possessing specific traits.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > Philosophy
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BD Speculative Philosophy > BD095 Metaphysics
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 29 May 2014 11:52
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:50
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/48781

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