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Nicole Vincent
Delft, The Netherlands
Interests: responsibility, philosophy of law, neurolaw and kittens.
Recent Activity
Nicole Vincent is now following Adam Kolber
Aug 2, 2011
I have just advertised a philosophy postdoc position through the usual philosophy mailing lists which may be of interest to Flickers of Freedom readers. It is for a project about the effects of cognitive enhancement on moral and legal responsibility — basically, whether responsibility in its different senses can be... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2011 at Flickers of Freedom
I've got a question related to John Fischer and Mark Ravizza's compatibilist theory of responsibility to which I don't know the answer, and I do not recall having read anything about this point, and so I thought I'd ask about it here. But first, here's a sketch of my understanding... Continue reading
Posted Dec 3, 2010 at Flickers of Freedom
Hi Roy I think that there are at least two separate questions here (by "here" I mean "in my mind") which we should disentangle: (1) Does free will necessarily disappear as a result of drug use? (2) Does free will necessarily disappear as a result of drug addiction? As regards question (1), it seems to me that the answer is "No". Consider for instance a person who drinks a glass of alcohol at a party to overcome his shyness. His free will is restricted before the drink sinks in, since he lacks the courage to walk up and talk to anyone. But once the alcohol does its magic and he loosens up, his free will is arguably restored. Other examples for the positive effects of drugs on free will can be found in the many psychopharmacological treatments for various crippling disorders (e.g. OCD) which arguably reduce free will. But I don't think that this view only applies to the use of drugs to overcome arguably pathological conditions like extreme shyness or conditions classified as mental disorders, since someone who wants to do something very brave but lacks the courage to do it – i.e. something which ordinary folks would lack the courage to do as well, and thus something which it is not pathological to lack the courage to do – may also take some "Dutch courage" to expand their free will and do what they believe they ought to do. Arguably, this person's free will is enhanced not just restored — i.e. it's not just that the drug doesn't reduce his free will, or that it restores it to normal, but it's rather that the drug actually expands his free will even further beyond the norm. Similar comments could be made about the free will enhancing effects of cognitive enhancement drugs; I've a paper on this topic which I can share if you're interested. So if the question is whether drugs _necessarily_ reduce free will, then I think the answer is "No". But none of the above entails that drugs can't reduce free will (i.e. I've dropped the "necessarily" clause), nor that specific drugs have no free-will-reducing features. I don't think that we can give a general answer to the question "Does free will disappear as a result of drug use?", because it will vary from drug to drug, from person to person, and from situation to situation (and maybe a range of other contextual factors also come into play). As regards question (2), it seems to me that when the question is put this way (again with the "necessarily" clause in place) then the answer should be "No". For instance, a person who becomes addicted to caffeine might never the less value its effects, and the fact that she is addicted may be neither here nor there for her. She might say "OK, so I'm addicted; but I'd keep drinking my cups of coffee anyway even if I weren't addicted. I like what caffeine does for me — i.e. the enhanced productivity." The fact that she is addicted seems to only reduce her free will to kick the habit, but why would she care about whether she has or lacks the free will to stop doing something beneficial? Conceptually, I can see that this is a reduction in free will, but practiacally it's not a reduction that I would care about. So I don't think that addiction necessarily reduces or eliminates valuable instances of free will. But again, drop the "necessarily" clause, and I think the answer will again become more contextualised to the precise drug being investigated, the person taking it, and the situation to which the discussion pertains (and maybe other factors). *** So, to summarise, what I'm arguing above is that free will is not necessarily reduced by addiction (though it may be reduced in some contexts), and that free will may even be restored or enhanced by some instances of drug use (though again contextual factors must be considered). Cheers Nicole
Nicole Vincent is now following The Typepad Team
Mar 7, 2010