According to evolutionary intuitionism, our moral obligations are ultimately a product of evolution by variation and natural selection. Since evolution by variation and natural selection would produce evolutionary intuitionism in a deterministic world, we would have moral obligations in a deterministic world. But we cannot both have moral obligations and lack moral responsibility for our actions. Hence, if evolutionary intuitionism is true, we would be morally responsible for our actions even in a deterministic world. And, if freedom is a necessary condition for moral responsibility, then we are free enough to be morally responsible even if the world is deterministic.
The incompatibilist claims that if the world is deterministic, then no organism can act freely and that, therefore, no organism can be morally responsible for its actions. Happily, it is possible to explain the incompatibilist’s mistake.
An organism is a causally constituted entity. Some organisms are capable of acting. We can ask whether an organism is capable of acting freely only after it has come into being qua causally constituted entity. The causal process that brings it into existence cannot be part of the reason that the organism is not free. It is nonsense to say, imply, or presuppose that an organism is not free because it exists. Freedom has to do with an organism’s relationship with the rest of the world, the organism cannot have a relationship with the rest of the world before it exists, and the causal explanation for its existence is not an aspect of its relationship with the rest of the world. Thus, the incompatibilist’s mistake is to include the causal processes that create the organism in the “explanation” for the organism’s lack of freedom.
Sometimes, the incompatibilist will point to the characteristics of an organism and contend that the organism could not have done otherwise given those characteristics. Of course, if a causally constituted organism exists, then it has a particular nature. And, obviously, if an entity has a nature, then it exists. Since having a particular nature is a necessary and sufficient condition for existence, the incompatibilist is again effectively claiming that the organism is not free because it exists, which is again absurd.
In sum, evolutionary intuitionism entails compatibilism, and incompatibilist arguments are fallacious. If we would be free enough to be morally responsible in a deterministic world, we are free enough in the actual world no matter whether determinism is true of it or not. Of course, establishing that we are free does not give us an analysis of freedom, but we do not have to know the precise nature of freedom to know that we are free.
Copyright Brian Zamulinski.