H/T to the Wintery Knight for this one.
WK found this excellent post by J.W. Wallace
When examining the causes for an event (such as a death) we can separate them into two categories: event causation and agent causation (prior physical events cause things to happen and free agents cause things to happen). It’s important to recognize that free agents alone have the freedom to act or respond without a prior physical causal event. Physical objects, like dominoes, cannot cause themselves to fall over; they require a prior event to cause them to fall. But you and I have the ability to cause the first domino to fall as a simple matter of choice (we don’t need a prior event to cause this action). You can’t blame a car for running over a victim; the car is simply a physical object subject to a series of physical processes, none of which can be held morally culpable. But we can blame the driver of the car for driving the car over the victim. The driver is a free agent, and we recognize that his choices are just that: free choices. The driver is not like the car. His choice is not simply the result of a series of purely physical processes, like dominoes falling. He had the freedom to choose otherwise, and this is why we seek to arrest and prosecute him.
Our recognition of the moral culpability of the driver (rather than the car) is an admission that materialism (physicalism) fails to explain who we are as humans. Consider the following argument:
No Physical System is a Free Agent
Physical systems are either “determined” (one event necessarily following the other) or “random”
Therefore No Physical System Has Moral Responsibility
Moral responsibility requires moral freedom of choice
Human Beings DO Have Moral Responsibility
We recognize that each of us has the responsibility and choice to act morally, and indeed, we seek to hold each other legally accountable for each other’s free-will choices
Therefore, Human Beings Are NOT Simply Physical Systems
Our recognition of moral responsibility and our efforts to hold each other accountable are irrational and unwarranted if humans are merely physical systems
If we, as humans, are only physical systems (merely matter), we ought to stop trying to hold each other accountable for misbehavior. In fact, there can be no misbehavior if we are only physical brains and bodies; there can only be behavior. Our actions have no moral content at all unless we truly have the freedom to choose and the ability to break the bondage of physical event causation.
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