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Can we blame someone for making irrational choices during emotionally intense situations? Suppose that John was deeply in love with Joyce while Joyce is really using John for his money. It's obvious to all of John's friends, he is being used but he won't listen to reason. Is John to blame or is it his biological makeup to blame (or his environment) ? One can say that there are plenty of people who are able to snap out of these types of situation so why can't John, but I don't think it's that simple.

Try this out: We cannot blame John morally for the particular behaviours he exhibits while under the spell of the lovely Joyce; after all, he is not in control of himself. Nor can we blame John morally for being the kind of person who -- because of his 'biological makeup' -- is prey for Joyces. However, we CAN blame John for being the kind of person who falls heavily for unsuitable Joyces, IF we believe that the cultivation of the kind of person we are is in some measure in our control and the object of particular trends in our choices. John should have learned from his mistakes with the last Joyce; John should understand his own weaknesses and find ways to compensate for them, perhaps seeking counselling; John should learn to trust his friends advice; John should learn to read people; John should get out more. It doesn't seem unreasonable to ask these things of John's character, in general. Although, first, we have to get rid of Joyce.

My question is about the free will problem. I hope it is not too stupid or anything. Many philosophers seem to argue against free will like this: "Either everything has a cause or not. If everything does have a cause, then it looks like you have no free will, because the chain of causes leading to your actions began before you were born. And if not everything has a cause, if in particular some of your actions are uncaused, then that doesn't seem like free will either. It seems just like a random event." This is from what Peter Lipton wrote in another question. I don't understand why if it is true that not everything has a cause, it must also be true that an uncaused event must be a "random" event. Suppose that a Cartesian "soul" caused an event, but there was no prior cause for the soul's causation of the event. That doesn't seem like a random event, it seems like an event which was caused by the soul, but which was not caused by anything else. To me it looks like this would be compatible with free...

When you say that a 'soul' caused the event, I guess you are referring to (i) something distinctively mental (like a decision, a belief, a judgement), rather than something physical; (ii) something that belongs to or is inside that soul, rather than something extrinsic to it.The first of these takes the decision out of the realm of physical causation. It happens to be the case that when we think of causation, we usually think of physical causation. But, of course, there can be causation between mental events too: if I say ‘Mary had a little’, you think ‘lamb’. (Let’s not worry about HOW mental causation happens.) So, the soul makes a decision, but what caused the decision are the set of beliefs and moral convictions the soul has about its world, and what caused those beliefs or convictions is … and so on. If this chain of causes leads back to evidence or principle, and if relations between the beliefs/ convictions and my decision is rational however, then we are saying something interesting. Namely, that...