Back to CQ Homepage

1. you quote my 1985 book "Free Will and Values", but not my most recent "The Significance of Free Will" which in fact goes beyond the earlier book in proposing an account of free choices that presupposes a mental picture not too unlike the one you go on to describe in your paper (with caveats below)

2. I think I understand the idea of physical wholism and emergence you are describing and I can see at least the possibility of conceiving of complex processes occurring in neural networks that are emergent in the sense you describe relative to their neural parts. But I'm not sure how this kind of wholism/emergence at the physical level of the brain helps with the mental. For I would imagine that mental processes like making efforts of will or deliberating would be identified with the wholistic physical processes in the brain that were themselves emergent on their physical parts. But while the wholistic physical process is related to its physical parts as whole to parts, the mental process associated with the wholistic physical process is not related to it (the wholistic physical process) as whole to part. The wholism and emergence might then be only at the physical level.

3. What does it mean to say that an agent's having an additional mental property M confers "additional causal powers" on the agent that he does not have by virtue of simply being in the physical state P that realizes M? This whole idea of additional causal powers seesm to me unclearly spelled out in your paper as in most of this literature. The way I see it it could have two meanings. One is that agent A's possessing M allows A to bring about or cause some event E to occur that A could not bring about if A possessed only P. (But this does not apply to the causing of P* since by hypothesis A's being in P causes P*) Or it could mean, A's possessing or being in M (depending on whether we think of M as a mental property or mental state) makes the occurrence of some event E more probable than it would have been if A only possessed or were in P, but not M. But this latter requirement doesn't seem to apply to the case of M and P either; and I believe it would cause problems for making sense of free will. So if not these, what *does* it mean to say that mental or other properties confer "additional causal powers"? There is a need to make this notion more clear.