|Home||Introduction||Szasz Materials||Debates||Links/Related Items|
Selected M.E. Grenander Materials:
The fourfold way: Determinism, moral responsibility, and Aristotelean causation.
[Reprinted by permission of the author. From _Metamedicine_, Vol. 3 (1982) 375-396. Copyright 1982 by D. Reidel Publishing Company.]
(Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of English, The University at Albany, State University of New York)
ABSTRACT. Thomas Szasz's emphasis on goal-oriented behavior and moral responsibility has raised profound theoretical questions about an ancient and enduring problem in philosophy, the relationships among free will, determinism, and moral responsibility. Two early thinkers, Jonathan Edwards and Aristotle, have both contributed to an understanding of this dilemma. Edwards (1754) demonstrated that the concept of man as a moral agent and the doctrine of philosophical necessity are inextricably intertwined, in opposition to the tenets of contingency, moral indifference, and self-determining volition. However, his argument rested on efficient causation alone. For further light on the problem we can turn to Aristotle's writings, notably the distinguishing criteria of the 'practical' sciences (including psychology) as opposed to the theoretical and the productive sciences; and multiple causation, one of the most powerful tools for intellectual analysis ever invented, which includes material, formal, and final causes as well as the efficient cause. The implications of Szasz's work force a re-examination of the contributions of both Edwards and Aristotle and make them relevant to contemporary psychiatry.
Key words: Autonomy, Volition, Determinism, Causation, Moral responsibility, Psychiatry, Psychology, Thomas Szasz.
Well-intentioned simpletons often create more havoc than malicious villains. A case in point is the American economic assault on marriage mounted by the federal government through provisions of the income tax, social security, and welfare bureaucracies. As a consequence, our solons have promoted unwedded bliss far beyond the wildest dreams of the collective editors of _Penthouse_, _Playboy_, and _Cosmopolitan_. And, as Thomas Sowell and others have pointed out, the skyrocketing unemployment rate among black youths in the United States is directly attributable to minimum wage laws which prevent unskilled, inexperienced workers from getting entry level jobs in the labor market. The solution to such unanticipated difficulties, however, is not to choose depravity over foolishness, but rather to aim for a contract society protecting the rights of each party to live according to those values that she or he cherishes, untrammeled by the excessive regulations of a paternalistic state. Such a society assumes autonomous citizens rather than zombies programmed beyond freedom and dignity.
But this assumption leads us directly into the problem of psychological determinism, whose avatars have included Sigmund Freud as well as B. F. Skinner. The problem of free will, determinism, and their relation to moral responsibility is, of course, one of the most enduring in the entire history of philosophy, having existed for millenia. Consequently, in order to cast light on these issues, it is necessary to do more than glance at the work of a few contemporaries, as is customary with most psychiatrists, critics, psychologists, and, alas!, even philosophers who have touched on the subject.(1) Such writers often simply assume the existence of free will, and dismiss determinism as (for example) a philosophy of 'cold, unrelieved gloom'; a 'barren concept', no longer urgent, which can be written off as 'a mere quillet in terminology' [32, 21]. We should not be surprised, then, that a work in business administration which is clearly on the side of free will, at least implicitly, does not really analyze the problem, exhorting its readers simply to resist "the new . . . paternalism", which "defines anything but the most innocuous expressions of self-determination, autonomy, and other conditions of individualism as illness"  .
Yet major figures in the history of ideas like David Hume (1711 - 76), William Godwin (1756 - 1836), and Hermann von Helmholtz (1821 - 94), as well as a modem writer like the Finnish Georg Henrik von Wright, have taken the concept of determinism with great seriousness. The ultimate causal principle is not always, of course, theistic; it may be an impersonal natural force or a fixed principle of universal reason by which the individual wills of human beings are necessarily influenced.(2)
Moreover, anyone who has given even the slightest thought to the question knows that, no matter how ardently he _wants_ to believe in the doctrine of free will, there are innumerable things in life he cannot choose to do. For example, he might prefer to be an Athenian philosopher in the age of Pericles instead of a minor cog in a modem multinational corporation. Or he might yearn to be acclaimed as an operatic tenor, yet have a tin ear and a crow's voice. Thus, however much he may resist abstractly the doctrine of philosophical necessity, common sense and practical experience tell him that it cannot be dismissed out of hand.
It is accordingly my purpose in this essay to explore the grounds for the relationships among free will, determinism, and moral responsibility. In this connection, I shall glance at the contradiction between the rigid determinism of Sigmund Freud's theory, with its hydraulic metaphors, and the easy assumption of free will in his therapeutic practice. I shall refer, also, to the concept of goal-oriented, purposive behavior emphasized by Thomas Szasz in his contributions to psychiatric philosophy. But I shall deal primarily with the contributions to the question made by Jonathan Edwards (1703 - 58) and Aristotle (384 - 322 B.C.).
1. JONATHAN EDWARDS AND PHILOSOPHICAL NECESSITY
Edwards, who some students of the history of ideas have claimed was the profoundest mind America has yet produced,(3) was one of the most astute psychologists ever to have written on the subject of philosophical necessity. He was not, however, by profession a psychologist but, rather, a theologian. His monumental _Freedom of the Will_, or, to cite its complete (and revealing) title, _A Careful and Strict Enquiry into the Modern Prevailing Notions of that Freedom of Will, Which is Supposed to be Essential to Moral Agency, Vertue [sic] and Vice, Reward and Punishment, Praise and Blame_, was published in 1754, when its author was fifty-one, four years before his death from smallpox. He was at the time missionary to the Housatonnuck Indians and pastor of the local church at Stockbridge, Massachusetts. His magisterial work was the product of a lifetime's research and thinking, and it is the greatest defense ever written of the Calvinist doctrine of irresistible grace.
But the emphasis upon Edwards' theological argument, with its inexorable point-by-point destruction of the Arminian heresy defending contingency, or chance, and the liberty of self- determination, has obscured the fact that _Freedom of the Will_ is an extraordinary psychological document. And I shall examine it from that angle of vision. The book consists of four parts with a total of thirty-eight sections, of which only a fraction deal with strictly theological matters, as does the short conclusion with which the book ends. This is only a few pages long, and takes up specific tenets of Calvinism (predestination, innate depravity, efficacious grace, special election, and the perseverance of saints), demonstrating their logical superiority to the Arminian position.
In what follows, however, I shall avoid theological discussion, focussing rather on those elements in Edwards' argument which deal with psychological and philosophical questions: his emphasis on the importance of knowledge concerning not only the human will and its freedom, but also human understanding (by which he means not merely reason or judgment, but all perception); his definition of terms; and his concepts of determinism, personal responsibility, and moral agency in opposition to the Arminian views of contingency, moral indifference, and self- determining volition. The last three, as he demonstrated, constitute a seamless fabric. Self- determination of the will could exist only in a world of chance, or contingency, where there was no necessary cause-and-effect relation between events. And the will could determine itself only if it were indifferent to the choice it made. Accordingly, if Edwards could show--as he did--the existence of philosophical necessity, or an invariable causal connection between events, and if he could show that it is a contradiction in terms to choose while remaining in a state of indifference, then the Arminian position would collapse.
His methodology was, explicitly, introspection, which was later to be used by Ernst Mach, William James, and other empirical psychologists as valid psychological proof.(4) Indeed, except for behaviorists and those psychoanalysts who present anecdotal case studies, it is still the method of choice among psychologists. According to Edwards,
By 'will' Edwards means 'choice'; an act of the will is an act of choosing. It is determined by the strongest motive, or what the understanding perceives to be the greatest direct and immediate apparent good, considering how pleasant that good is, the trouble involved in attaining it, and its nearness or distance in time; as well as its certainty or uncertainty, the strength of impression it makes on the perceiver, and his state of mind. Edwards then makes clear that he is using the terms _necessity_ and _impossibility_ in a philosophical, or absolute, sense to mean certainty of existence, or a fixed connection between subject and predicate. They may be connected in and of themselves, as in 'two plus two are four'; or something in the past may necessarily assure something in the present, as in 'John exists'; or one may have a consequential connection with another, as in 'John is a man; therefore John must die'. Moreover, necessity may be general ('all men must die') or particular ('John must die'). The opposite of necessity, _contingency_ (or chance), he is likewise using philosophically, not to mean that we can't foresee the future, but that there is absolutely no fixed causal connection between events. _Moral necessity_ results when habits, dispositions, or perceptions of the understanding result in an absolutely certain choice, or will; conversely, _moral inability_ exists when we can't want, or Twill', something. Moral necessity and inability can be either general and habitual, or particular and occasional.
Having defended his terms, Edwards proves on three grounds that the will lacks self-determining power. First, the will can't determine itself, because something always causes us to make a certain choice, no matter how far back in the chain of antecedent causes we must go. Second, the notion that the soul can determine its own acts of choice rests on contingency, or chance. But every event, including an act of will or choice, must have a cause. If the will were contingent, lacking all connection with the understanding, utter chaos would result. To argue otherwise removes all knowledge except the immediate perception of our own ideas. Not only must every volition have a cause; it must have a _necessary connection_ with its cause. Since the will always follows the strongest motive or inclination perceived by the understanding, an act of volition is necessarily determined by how the understanding perceives the degrees of good to be sought and evil to be avoided.
His third refutation is that the mind can never be indifferent in an act of will, because to will something involves ceasing to be indifferent as we make our choice. It is self-contradictory to say we are not choosing (are indifferent) when we are choosing (are willing). To demonstrate _how_ the mind is influenced so that it is not indifferent, he illustrates how we choose to touch a particular square on a chessboard. We go through three stages in this apparently random choice: first, the decision to touch one of the squares; second, the general decision to touch a square by accident; and third, the particular decision to choose the square that we finally touch. In none of these stages do we proceed in absolute indifference: in each case we follow some inducement. Those who believe the mind can be indifferent in an act of willing have mistaken indifference about the _objects_ chosen with indifference about the _acts of choice_. Furthermore, they don't distinguish between a _general_ indifference and a _particular_ indifference.
Edwards next turns to the question of whether moral responsibility is possible under a system of psychological determinism. His rather complicated argument boils down to the fact that man's fallibility is necessary in order for him to choose either virtue or vice, since a completely good and wise individual could not possibly choose to do wrong. But man's fallen condition does not therefore excuse him from culpability. Since humans are necessarily imperfect, they must do wrong sometimes; however, they are still responsible for their wrongdoing. Conversely, excellent habits and dispositions must be considered virtuous.(5) Accordingly, although parents recognize that children cannot be perfect, they nevertheless punish them for their peccadilloes and reward them for good behavior.
Moreover, a man is more to be blamed for a general, habitual moral inability than for an individual, occasional, and particular one. If moral inability were inconsistent with moral agency, we would have to excuse people who had evil and malignant dispositions and were habitually depraved, since "the will is always . . . necessarily determined by the strongest motive" and the individual "is truly morally unable to ... resist a very strong habit, and a violent and deeply rooted inclination" (111], p. 307). But, for example, when "the great kindness and generosity of another" is "insufficient to excite gratitude in the person that receives the kindness, through his vile and ungrateful temper", the "insufficiency of the motive arises from the state of the will or inclination of the heart, and don't at all excuse" ([ll],p.310).Without the congruence of moral responsibility and determinism there would be "no such thing as any virtuous or vicious _quality of mind_.... And if habits and dispositions themselves be not virtuous nor vicious, neither can the exercise of these dispositions be so: for the exercise of bias is not the exercise of _free self- determining will" (, pp.325-26).
Indeed, our whole system of moral education rests on this principle. A defective will which implies moral inability is the object of advice and commands whose purpose is to strengthen it. We try to teach people to be good by holding up motives for virtue through instruction, persuasion, precept, or example. Such motives are the _causes_ of moral decisions, making acts of the will necessary, as effects "necessarily follow the efficiency of the cause" ( ,p. 328). But laws and precepts would be useless if either (1) volitions came to pass by pure accident, without any determining cause; or (2) the will were indifferent, since the purpose of moral commands is to bias the will in one direction rather than another. If the individual were indifferent to moral distinctions he would find licentiousness no more repulsive than the good life. But to be mentally indifferent to the heinousness of "the most flagitious horrid iniquities; such as . . . murder, perjury, blasphemy, etc.... is to be next door to doing them" (, p.322). Indifference is therefore inconsistent with virtuous or vicious dispositions.
Edwards makes clear, nevertheless, that he is talking only about _moral_ inability, and not _natural_ inability. Natural inability, which does excuse wrongdoing, reduces either to the capacity of the understanding, or external strength. Both are extrinsic to the will itself, and are improper objects of command. Thus, we can't be commanded to show gratitude to people whom we don't know and have no way of knowing, and this natural inability would excuse us from being grateful to them. Moreover, it is _internal volitions_ which are virtuous or vicious in themselves, and not _external actions_, which are virtuous or vicious because of their cause. In a passage which is reminiscent of Aristotle's discussion of the temperate good man and the intemperate bad man, Edwards points out that "moral evil . . . consists in a certain _deformity_ in the _nature_ of certain dispositions of the heart, and acts of the will.... That which makes vice hateful, is its hateful nature; and that which renders virtue lovely, is its amiable nature". Thus ingratitude is "hateful in itself, by its own inherent deformity", not because something bad caused it ( [ 11 ], pp. 339-40).
The last part of _Freedom of the Will_ is devoted to a point-by-point refutation of the tenets of indifference, contingency, the self- determination of the will, and their relation to human beings as moral agents. The error of thinking necessity incompatible with praise and blame arises for several reasons. Men's external voluntary actions are self-directed and self-determined by their wills. Hence a confusion has arisen with volitions of the soul, which are necessarily determined by the motives which cause them. But volition itself is not determined by the will. Men confuse _natural_ and _moral_ necessity because they grow up using the terms of necessity to refer to _natural_ necessity (i.e., constraint and restraint); when they transfer these terms to _moral_ necessity, they erroneously believe it to be contrary to their wills and inclinations. Language is deficient in precise terms to express the nature of our minds. "Words were first formed to express external things; and those that are applied to . . . things internal . . . are almost all borrowed, and used in a sort of figurative sense" (, p. 376). Common people and children, however, easily distinguish between natural and moral necessity. They consider a man to be 'free' and to deserve praise or blame if he does what he wills (natural liberty), even though his choice must be what it is (moral necessity).
In answering the objection that determinism removes the incentive to avoid sin and seek virtue, making men mere machines, Edwards responds that evil inclinations and vicious actions are justified by contingency, self-determination of the will, and moral indifference, not by the psychological determinism he was defending. "Man is entirely, perfectly and unspeakably different from a mere machine, in that he has reason and understanding, and has a faculty of will" that is "guided by the dictates or views of his understanding". He is therefore capable of moral habits and moral acts, since not only his external actions but also his thoughts are "subject to his will; so that he has liberty to act according to his choice, . . . and do what he pleases" (, p. 370). But nothing we could undertake would lead to righteous behavior if we were unable to rely on the necessary causal connection between one event and another. To the contrary, our planned endeavors are successful if we can depend on the laws of cause-and-effect, which operate both to cause a virtuous disposition and to bring powerful motives before the mind, neither of which can operate in a state of contingency. Conversely, under contingency endeavors are vain when appropriate means are used, but the desired end doesn't follow; or when appropriate means are not used, but the desired end follows anyway, through caprice.
One passage in Edwards' argument is of particular relevance to some developments in modern physics concerning causality. This passage (Part IV, Section 8), which deals with God's omnipotence and wisdom, anticipates the debate between Einstein and Niels Bohr concerning Heisenberg's uncertainty principle.(6) At the time Edwards was writing, contingency had been defended on the ground that identical atoms existed in different parts of the world, and that consequently the connections among them could be random. Edwards argued, however, using--astonishingly--particles of light as his example, first, that it is unlikely any two atoms are identical; and second, that even if they were identical in themselves, they would be different in such circumstances as place, time, motion, etc., any of which has a 'peculiar fitness' for some predetermined end. Even a distinction among atoms of the most minute degree or kind, Edwards says, antedating Mach's Principle, "may be attended, in the whole series of events, . . . with very great and important consequences. If the laws of motion and gravitation, laid down by Sir Isaac Newton, hold universally, there is not one atom, nor the least assignable part of an atom, but what has influence, every moment, throughout the whole material universe".(7)
According to modern physics, the cause-and- effect relationships Edwards was describing enable us to predict the way in which relatively massive objects will behave. However, in conformity with the uncertainty principle Werner Heisenberg enunciated in 1927 , when we are dealing with-- say - electrons, we can measure precisely either their position or their motion, but not both simultaneously because we can 'see' an electron only by bouncing light off it. And doing so alters its motion and location. Physicists, however, view their discipline as having 'meaning' only insofar as it deals with the measurable, which in quantum mechanics must be stated statistically in terms of a probability function. This 'probability function', therefore, and not exact measurements which cannot be made, represents 'physical reality'. This dictates that in foretelling the future in quantum mechanics we must rely on statistical probabilities applicable to large numbers of minuscule objects; predictions of exact outcomes for individual particles are impossible.
However, it is very easy to misunderstand Heisenberg's uncertainty principle. For it does not say that very small particles moving at very high speeds do not function according to the laws of cause and effect. It says that we cannot _predict_ precisely and simultaneously what their location and their velocity will be. It is an epistemological principle, not an ontological one. Significantly, Einstein was almost alone in insisting on this distinction. Most physicists followed Niels Bohr in blurring it. But Heisenberg's uncertainty principle does not abrogate the system of philosophical necessity according to which Edwards was operating. He would have been on Einstein's side in the controversy with Bohr. Basically, both Edwards and Einstein argue that our inability to predict a given outcome doesn't negate the metaphysical relation between cause and effect -- or, as Einstein put it, "Gott wurfelt nicht".
2. MATERIALISTIC DETERMINISM
Throughout his masterly exposition in _Freedom of the Will_, Edwards had operated in terms of efficient cause alone. Given this monistic correlation of phenomena, his reasoning was irresistible, his conclusions inexorable. As he followed his chain of causation backward, he arrived ultimately--since he was writing in a theological framework--at an omniscient and omnipotent deity as the original first cause, by whose decisions all human volitions are subsequently determined. Yet as Samuel Johnson, that fount of common sense, pointed out: "All theory is against the freedom of the will; all experience for it". And paradoxically, the remorseless logic of Edwards' monumental work did much to bring about the downfall of the harsh and pitiless theology it justified. For he showed that it was impossible to combat in isolation the less acceptable tenets of Calvinism; if it could not be accepted in toto--and more and more humanitarian thinkers found that they were unable to do so--then it had to be rejected _in toto_. And rejected it was, as Oliver Wendell Holmes wittily pointed out in his verse satire, 'The Deacon's Masterpiece" (1858), characterizing _Freedom of the Will_ as "the wonderful one-hoss shay, / That was built in such a logical way" that it was totally lacking in weak parts, and consequently "went to pieces all at once". Thus, judged by the verdict of history, Edwards lost his argument with the Arminians, at least temporarily.
Nevertheless, their imprecise contentions had no staying power. Accordingly, little more than a century after the publication of _Freedom of the Will_, Edwards' deterministic epistemology was reintroduced into Western thought. However, his theological metaphysics had been jettisoned, to be replaced with a materialism that was less logically compelling. Supplanting the Calvinistic deity as the first cause was a vague, amorphous 'fete' which, upon analysis, turned out to be little more than 'the nature of things' or an evolutionary 'universe of force' that was presumed to inhere in the cosmos.(8) But if it could be accepted as the ultimate cause, prior to that point human volition for all practical purposes could be traced back to either heredity or environment, 'nature or nurture'. What I am describing is, of course, naturalism, which flowered in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
There was, however, a fundamental inconsistency in naturalism, since it yoked determinism with contingency. Determinism, or necessity, means nothing more than necessary cause- and-effect relationships. Chance or contingency, however, postulates effects without causes. Yet this emphasis on random chance as one of the most significant components of naturalism eliminated, as Edwards had demonstrated, the possibility for any knowledge at all, much less so rigid an epistemology as determinism. For determinism rests on an _absolute_ causal connection between events; if it can be broken at any point by the interjection of chance, contingency, or the random interpolation of an uncaused event, then the whole philosophy collapses.
Nevertheless, despite its basic inconsistencies, materialistic determinism as a premise underlay most of the social and economic thinking of the early twentieth century. Among other disciplines in which it flowered was criminology, where it followed two phases. In the first, dominated by Darwin, Lombroso, Kraepelin, and Zola, it was felt that heredity produced recognizable criminal 'types'. At the tail end of this era schoolchildren were taught about the 'dukes and the Kallikaks', vast family trees of incorrigible delinquents of both sexes whose shortcomings and misdeeds could be traced back to their genetic inadequacies. The draconian solution for anyone bearing these tainted genes was sterilization.
Theories about the genesis of crime then modulated to environmentalism. No matter what one's genes dictated, the individual's development could be manipulated by improving his environment. This belief rested on scientific theories prevalent before the 1930s. Biologists had believed that since nerves of the brain were undifferentiated, the nervous system was functionally almost infinitely malleable. Accordingly, consciousness was a passive inner aspect of the brain mechanism. In its development through childhood and adolescence, the 'mind' was relatively impotent, subject to processing by external influences. These mechanistic theories, which put almost total stress on family and social factors as conditioning determinants for human conduct, led to slum clearance projects, educational 'head-start' movements, attempts to instill the 'work ethic' in those who were the shiftless products of a 'culture of poverty', and so on. If delinquency were directly attributable to adverse cultural influences, then crime was simply the result of the criminal's upbringing; and, beginning in the forties and fifties, treatment and rehabilitation models were followed in designing punishment for convicted criminals, with the emphasis in prisons and penitentiaries on retraining rather than retribution. The results are now generally conceded to have been disappointing,(9) and the logical flaws in this approach became manifest as it was perceived that many individuals from impeccable middle- and even upper-class environments were not notable 'achievers'. On the other hand, many individuals (whose own siblings might be degenerates or criminals) were impeccable citizens even though they came from poor--sometimes desperately poor--backgrounds.
The end result of this philosophy, so far as psychology was concerned, was behaviorism - exemplified by John Watson, Ivan Pavlov, and even an old-fashioned modern like B. F. SkinnerQwhich theoretically was committed to determinism.(10) In its extreme form, metaphysical behaviorism, the actual existence of the mind was denied. In less extreme forms, such as analytical behaviorism, which translates every statement about the mind into a statement about behavior, and methodological behaviorism, which abjures mentalistic explanations because the mind cannot be studied scientifically, however, behaviorism continued--and indeed continues--to flourish.
But modern biology no longer supports positivism or behaviorism. Since the thirties, scientists have been discovering that the brain is not the 'tangled mass of connecting nervous tissue' growing 'at random depending on environmental experience' that the behavioral psychologists had thought it was. Rather, current brain research demonstrates that neural circuits are 'anything but diffuse and non-selective'. We now know that each brain cell has a biochemical code that dictates the genetic pattern for discrete parts of the brain. Neurological studies have shown that there are millions of these individual neurons; they do not exist in a continuous network but are separate and unconnected. 'Astonishingly, no two [of these] nerve cells are exactly alike'. Every individual's brain is unique, with the conscious mind functioning causally to determine action and behavior, quite apart from the physicochemical elements which are its material components. The brain operates according to structural principles, with a pre-existing program processing raw information into highly abstract structures, transforming the data of our senses into meaningful categories that the mind can manage. The Nobel laureate Sir John Carew Eccles argues that this mind for each person is distinct from his brain. Eccles believes that scientists' understanding of the physical brain does not explain the individual, nor "human choice, delight, courage, or compassion": qualities that cannot be measured by electricity or chemistry. Although we are "pieces of the physical, chemical, and biological universe", we "also have a different order of being".(11)
However, despite its great promise, the twentieth century's other principal psychological development, Freudian psychoanalysis, also failed to achieve scientific precision, even when conducted at great expense on a highly individualized basis over extended periods. In the cases where it seemed to bring about improvement, no significant proof existed that the personality changes stemmed from the psychoanalytic process rather than the passage of time and the unavoidable consequences for every individual of living his life. Consequently the theoretical determinism of Freudian psychology was increasingly ignored, and the therapeutic aspects were emphasized, with success in the latter seeming to rest on an _ad hoc_ rather than a scientific basis, such factors as the personality of the therapist, the personality of the client, and the interaction between the two of apparently greater importance than the theoretical framework in which the analysis was conducted.(12)
Accordingly, despite the fuzziness of their positions on determinism, many therapists, of whatever persuasion, have proceeded as if their clients and patients had free will. For the most part, they have failed to explore in any significant way the philosophical underpinnings that would furnish a consistent and coherent theoretical framework for the practical conduct of their profession. And when the issue of free will vs. determinism has been examined, all too often it is handled cavalierly and briefly, with no more than a few contemporary writers cited.(13) What emerged was a hybrid called 'soft determinism' which held that free choice and causal connections between events could coexist. However reassuring such a mongrel doctrine may be to psychological practitioners, its logical fallacies are apparent, and had been remorselessly analyzed by Jonathan Edwards.
Thomas Szasz, however, began pointing out the inconsistencies on this issue in both psychoanalysis and behaviorism. Like Gustav Theodor Fechner (1801Q 87), von Helmholtz, and Ernst Mach, Szasz had been trained as a physicist before turning to psychology. This fact may account in part for his intellectual rigor. In any event, he noted that the unstated assumptions of free will in Freud's therapeutic practice had been specifically disavowed in his 'scientific' writing, with its deterministic hydraulic metaphors.(14) Szasz himself champions an autonomous psychotherapy in which the individual client establishes his own goals and then works toward them. Yet he is aware of the philosophical difficulties in this stance. In a splendid opening paragraph to one of his books, he comments that "among the many foolish things Rousseau said, one of the most foolish, and most famous, is: 'Man is born free, and yet everywhere he is in chains'. This high-flown phrase obscures the nature of freedom. For if freedom is the ability to make uncoerced choices, then man is born in chains. And the challenge of life is liberation" (, p. 1).
Although Szasz does not use terms drawn from Aristotelean causation, and although he seldom specifically confronts the theoretical questions involved in the relationships among free will, determinism, and moral responsibility, this is a crucial area of overwhelming significance for his conceptual position. The contributions not only of Jonathan Edwards but also of Aristotle clarify the problem, however, and offer some guidelines for its solution, as I shall demonstrate in the remainder of this essay.
3. THE PRACTICAL SCIENCES AND ARISTOTELEAN CAUSATION
We all recognize that there are many things we _cannot do_. Thus I (as a woman) cannot grow a beard; Thomas Szasz (as a man) cannot bear a child. Neither of us can choose to be an eighteenth- century mandarin bureaucrat in the Chinese empire a career some scholars have held up as the ideal for those committed to the contemplative life. Equally, however, we know that there _are_ many things we can choose to do: We can get up at 6:00 o'clock instead of 7:00, eat our roast beef well-done instead of rare, drink milk instead of coffee, and so on. Moreover, this element of choice we are all aware of need not be limited to the near and the immediate. Nevertheless, the more distant in time the decisions become, the less control we feel we have over them. Thus, someone who might prefer to take his vacation in December rather than July may not be able to, his decision being constrained by the exigencies of his job, the wishes of his family, and the opportunities for holiday-making in the region he would like to visit. Similarly, the young adolescent may wish to be an archaeologist rather than a plumber, or an electrician rather than a violinist, or a houseperson rather than a businessman. But he may not have the opportunity for the appropriate education or apprenticeship program. Or he may find social pressures operating powerfully against his desire to stay home while someone else earns his living. He or she may overcome many obstacles, however. There are young women who succeed in becoming policemen or carpenters or bricklayers. Less common are the young men who succeed in keeping house. My point here is that no matter how powerful our volitions may be in terms of reaching future goals, we may not be able to fulfill them. And yet we are continually counselled to try, and we do try. Why is this so?
In order to understand the complex and intricate relationship among such a variety of goals and purposes, and their relation to the questions of free will, determinism, and moral responsibility, Jonathan Edwards' analysis must be extended in two ways: first, we need to understand what is distinctive about the science of human action as opposed to other kinds of learning; and second, we must broaden Edwards' concept of causation. We can advance on both fronts by turning to Aristotle.
For Aristotle, the 'sciences', or fields of learning, were of three sorts, and he distinguished sharply among them in terms of such criteria as their subject matters, their goals, their degrees of exactitude, and their methodologies for collecting and interpreting data. They were the theoretic sciences (metaphysics, mathematics, and the natural sciences), whose goal is knowledge; the practical sciences (like ethics and politics--or, as we would say today, like psychology, sociology, and economics), which deal with action and conduct; and the productive sciences (such as poetics), which aim at making artificial things.(15) "Every art and every inquiry", Aristotle says, "is thought to aim at some good". He then points out that the end of the practical sciences like ethics and politics, which deal with right conduct, is unlike that of the other branches of philosophy. He distinguishes this goal, on the one hand, from that of the theoretic sciences, which aim at understanding; and, on the other hand, from that of the productive sciences like poetics which aim at making such artifacts as tragedies, existing apart from the activities that produce them. But we investigate the nature of virtue neither in order to attain a theoretic knowledge of what it is nor to make something, but rather to carry out our theories in action, in order that we may become good. Without this practical consequence--activity of a certain kind - our investigation would be useless.(16)
Moreover, the practical sciences can never be as exact as the theoretic sciences. They involve habits and skills which can be acquired and lost. And moral ends and political actions are influenced by changing associations and institutions. Finally, enormous variations exist among individuals as moral agents and as citizens depending on such factors as their environmental and educational backgrounds, family influences, economic position, social class, means of livelihood, and even leisure pastimes.
The other aspect of Aristotle's philosophy which is relevant to an understanding of determinism and moral responsibility is his doctrine of multiple causation: the explanation of a given effect in terms of four causes: (1) the material cause, the 'matter or substratum' out of which a thing comes to be; (2) the formal cause, its essence, form, shape, or archetype; (3) the efficient cause, the 'source of the change or coming to rest'; (4) the final cause, the end or purpose for whose sake generation and change occur.(17) He considered this quadruple pattern to be one of his most powerful contributions to human thought. Edwards was not alone, of course, in eroding it to efficient causation; the process began in the seventeenth century, with the rise of science and scientific methodology. And to the extent that other disciplines modelled themselves on science and tried to adopt what was believed to be scientific methodology, they too jettisoned all of Aristotle's rich formulation except efficient causes.(l8) In the process, they often threw overboard what was distinctive to their own fields of study in order to adopt a spurious 'scientism' which was neither scientific nor humanistic.
We might explain Aristotle's doctrine of multiple causation as it relates to the productive sciences - those which aim at making something - by using it to account for some common object like a chair. The material cause of our chair is the wood out of which it is made; the formal cause, the blueprint or other design followed in its construction; the efficient cause, the carpenter who makes it; and the final cause, getting something we can sit on. In his _Poetics_, Aristotle himself uses all four causes to describe the way in which tragedies are made. The efficient cause (the poet) operates with the material cause (object, means, and manner) according to the formal cause (appropriate principles of construction) to effect the final cause (a catharsis of pity and fear).
If we turn from the productive to the practical sciences and apply Aristotle's doctrine of multiple causation to human psychology, we can gain an enormously increased understanding of the whole question of determinism vs. free will and their relation to the vexing question of moral responsibility. Thus, when we are discussing the ways in which human beings 'choose' or exercise their will according to the analysis of Jonathan Edwards, we must first distinguish the material cause. Any decision must be made by a human being who has a given sex and a given nationality, who was born at a particular time and in a particular place. He or she has no control over any of these factors. They are what Szasz calls his "external conditions, that is, his biological makeup and his physical and social environment--comprising the capabilities of his body, and the climate, culture, laws, and technology of his society--[which] stimulate him to act in some ways, and inhibit him from acting in others" (, p. 1).
But if we accept this substratum, or 'that from which', we can then proceed in our analysis to the other three factors. The efficient cause--the one treated by Edwards--is what Aristotle called 'the primary source of the change' or, to use his own examples, the father is the cause of the child, or someone who gives advice leading to a certain activity is a cause of that activity (, p. 241). As Edwards pointed out, when we teach our students to think in a certain way we are acting as efficient causes which will bring about certain results.
The formal cause, or essence, of their behavior is somewhat more complicated. Here we are talking about the nature of the soul, or the human mind. Szasz calls it the person's "internal conditions, that is, his character, personality, or 'mind'--comprising his aspirations and desires as well as his aversions and self discipline--[which] propel him toward, and restrain him from, various actions" (, p. l). And while both Aristotle and Szasz would agree with Edwards that the material cause of man's conduct is determined, both hold that when we turn to the formal cause of his behavior, he has a measure of choice. Aristotle goes into considerable detail as to how this operates.
He believed that the soul includes _passions_, _faculties_, and _states of character_. By _passions_ he meant feelings, accompanied by pain or pleasure, that affect the judgment. Examples include anger, appetite, confidence, emulation, envy, fear, friendship, hatred, joy, longing, and pity. _Faculties_ are what make an individual capable of experiencing the passions. _States of character_ are settled dispositions, good or bad, with respect to passions: in brief, the moral virtues. "Virtue, is a state of character concerned with choice" as it would be determined by a man of practical wisdom following a rational principle. Ordinarily the virtue is a mean between two vices, one an excess, the other a defect, of the passion under consideration. In some cases, however, this principle is not applicable; some passions (like spite, shamelessness, and envy) and some actions like theft and murder) are bad in and of themselves, not in terms of excesses or deficiencies. It is impossible ever to be right with regard to such passions and actions. There is no mean, no excess, nor any deficiency with regard to them; they are simply and always wrong (, pp. 956 - 59; , p. 1380).
The habitual performance of good or bad actions, regulated by either our emotions or principles, or both, determines whether we are good or bad. There are three types of 'good' men and three types of 'bad' men. The quotation marks indicate that, strictly speaking, only one of these is truly good or truly bad. Aristotle also assumes a good society. In an evil society, one more type would have to be added on each side of the moral barrier. The division that results is shown in Table I.
TABLE I Aristotle's moral types ___________________________________________________________________ Moral type Emotions Principles Actions ___________________________________________________________________ Superhuman, Superhumanly good Superhumanly good Superhumanly good heroic, godlike Temperate Good Good Good Continent Bad Good Good [In an evil society] [Naturally [good] [Bad] [Good] good; Huck Finn would be an example] Incontinent Bad Good Bad Intemperate Bad Bad Bad Bestial Subhumanly bad Subhumanly bad Subhumanly bad [In an evil society] [Socially bad; [Good] [Bad] [Bad} Adolph Eichmann would be an example] ___________________________________________________________________
For Aristotle, only the temperate man is truly good, and only the intemperate man is truly bad. (This judgment has a long history. As Democritus of Abdera, writing about 420 B.C., had put it, "Virtue consists, not in avoiding wrong-doing, but in having no wish thereto"  . Or as George Bernard Shaw noted in _Man and Superman_, "Virtue consists, not in abstaining from vice, but in not desiring it".) The temperate man may commit a rare bad action, and the intemperate man may commit a rare good action, but it is his settled _disposition_ that determines whether he is a good or bad person.
The temperate man, on the other hand, whose emotions and principles are in accord, will feel pleasure in choosing according to good principles; the intemperate man will feel pleasure in choosing according to evil principles. Since incontinence is only a bad _quality_, and not a settled disposition, the incontinent man "is morally superior to the intemperate man and is not to be called bad without qualification, for he preserves his noblest element--that conviction on which all morality is founded". While the incontinent man "does not sin against his will--for in a way he does know what he is doing and why--he is not a wicked man. His _choice_ is morally sound, so that he is only half wicked."(21) As this passage illustrates, Aristotle's moral system thus has a rational underpinning emphasizing right choice based on intelligence.
This is an extremely important consideration, since the Aristotelean ethical system deals with actions which may be motivated by either emotions or principles or both. And it is the nature of emotions to operate most powerfully when they are least comprehensible. Consequently as motivating passions grow more diffuse and irrational they become concomitantly more compulsive. It is therefore an essential part of the formal cause in man's soul to understand his emotions as clearly as possible in order to bring them into accord with right principle.
How is this to be done? Here the fourth element in Aristotle's doctrine of multiple causation comes into play: the final cause. This is the purpose, or goal, for which we choose any particular action. According to the _Nichomachean Ethics_, "every deliberate action or pursuit . . . has for its object the attainment of some good".(22) But since our material cause is determined, not everyone can pursue any conceivable final cause. For example, none of us living today can be eighteenth-century Chinese mandarins, high officials in the imperial bureaucracy possessed of splendid educations and great status and wealth. However, in order to clarify the operation of the final cause which had as its goal or purpose the attainment of such a position, we can postulate an individual who did have the appropriate material cause. Thus, he had to be of the male sex; such sinecures were not within the purview of girls' ambitions. Moreover, he had to live in the right place at the right time; no modern Chinese can hope to serve an emperor. And finally, he had to be so intelligent that his mind approached genius rank.
But, if these material causes all existed, then the young boy also had to have the right efficient cause: parents who were ambitious on his behalf, sufficiently well-off that they could afford to pay for his education, and willing to make sacrifices for it. Such was the enormous prestige of the mandarin's position that, in fact, many individuals--or, to be more accurate, many families who were planning careers for their sons-- did aim at it, even though there was very great risk, since despite the huge educational investment required, only about a hundred people a year could pass the extraordinarily stiff competitive examination.(23) The formal cause then began to come into play. Would the educational pattern that they chose lead to the goal toward which it was directed? And would the young boy, throughout the years of his education, follow this pattern so assiduously that he would, in fact, acquire the kind of learning that would enable him to pass the exceedingly difficult examination? My point here is not to comment on the likelihood of success or failure, however. The chances, slim though they might be, were good enough to cause large numbers of parents to choose this kind of education for their sons. Thus the crucial role that Aristotle's final cause plays in all those decisions we voluntarily make cannot be overestimated.
But it is precisely the roles of the final and the formal causes that are left out of Jonathan Edwards' analysis. We can grant him everything he says concerning necessity in the operation of the material cause and, to a certain extent, the efficient cause. But he leaves out of consideration the roles played by the final cause and the formal cause. When we include these, we see that what we have is not a system in which anyone can choose to do anything. Rather, each individual can freely choose to assess rationally the givens from which he must operate (his material cause). He can then estimate how to bring into operation the appropriate efficient causes to mediate a pattern of behavior (the formal cause) that will lead eventually to the final cause he aims his life toward. This final cause will evolve over the years and be modified, but it will shape the formal cause or pattern of his behavior even though that is constantly being acted on by mediate (or efficient) causes.
Moral responsibility comes into play, first, in terms of the final cause an individual pursues. He could choose to be a murderer, as terrorists do. We hold them morally responsible for choosing that final cause. If they then train themselves to be efficient marksmen, or bombers, or airplane hijackers, they are choosing a pattern of behavior-- a formal cause--for which we also hold them morally responsible. And if they are impelled by some mediate efficient cause--orders from a superior in a hierarchically organized structure, for example-- we hold them morally responsible for obeying such orders. In all of this, it may well be true that they are members of an ethnic minority, or an oppressed nationality, or that they are poor, or any one of many other factors which contribute to their material cause. But in none of those cases do we excuse the* actions on the grounds that the material cause on the basis of which they began their planning was different from that of someone else who chose not to be a terrorist. As Szasz has pointed out repeatedly, in order to take man's spiritual life seriously, we must admit the centrality of personal responsibility. Man is necessarily a moral agent, whether or not he chooses to confront that fact.(24)
It is for this reason that Szasz's work is of such great importance in the history of psychiatric philosophy . Although he has not based it on the extended theoretical analysis of free will and determinism I have undertaken in this essay, he has introduced the principle of rationally chosen goal- directed behavior on the individual's part. Or, in Aristotle's terminology, he has, after centuries of neglect, reintroduced the final cause into the practical sciences.(25) And concomitantly he has established the contemporary relevance of Jonathan Edwards' _Freedom of the Will_ by also reintroducing the concept of man as a moral agent, ineluctably responsible for the ethical choices he makes.
M. E. GRENANDER