In the last video, psychologist Kurt Gray talked to us about the conditions that determine how responsible we judge people to be for their actions. What I want to talk to you about now is a related question that philosophers are interested in, which is the conditions under which people really are responsible for their actions. When are people responsible for what they do, and to what extent are they responsible? So I think we can approach this issue by thinking about a pair of hypothetical cases that differ in one respect. So imagine you're standing in line for some event and you just went to get drinks and popcorn for friends of yours. So you're standing in line, you have all these drinks that you're carrying, all this popcorn that you're carrying. And while you're waiting there in line holding all these stuff, someone from behind you pushes you. And you fall to the ground, you spill your drinks all over yourself, you spill the popcorn everywhere. You injure yourself as you're falling to the floor. Now, you're going to be pretty upset about this, but are you going to blame the person who pushed you? Are you going to hold them responsible for what they did? Well that depends. If they did it intentionally, If they chose to do it. Let's say they just didn't like you and didn't appreciate the fact that you were standing in front of them and pushed you because they didn't like you. Maybe they even called you some ugly name on your way down. Well then, you're going to be pretty upset and you're going to blame them for what they did. You're going to hold them responsible for what they did. But if they pushed you unintentionally, maybe they were having a grand mal seizure, and had lost control of their limbs. Their limbs were just flailing about helplessly while they were having a seizure and so they pushed you unintentionally. It was a complete accident, they didn't mean to do so at all. In that case, while you're still going to be upset, you're not going to hold them responsible for what they did. It would be wrong to hold them responsible for what they did in that case because they're not responsible. So why is it that they're responsible for what they do in the first case, but they're not responsible for what they do in the second case? Why is it that when we act intentionally, we're responsible but when we act unintentionally, maybe we've even lost control of our limbs, in that case, we're not responsible, why is that? Well, here's a plausible answer. I'm wondering what you think of it. When we act intentionally, we're acting freely. We're acting because we have freedom, and we're exercising our freedom in choosing to act. But when we act unintentionally, especially if we're having a seizure, then we're not acting freely. We have no choice but to do what we did. We’re not choosing to do it. Our body is out of our control. And so the difference between being responsible for our actions, like we are in the first case, and being not responsible for our actions like we are in the second case, the difference between those two is a difference between whether our action is performed voluntarily or freely, or whether it's performed involuntarily, not freely. That's the difference. Okay, now I want you to think about that answer for a moment and take a moment. Ask yourself, what is the difference between being free or acting freely on the one hand, and not being free, not acting freely, on the other? What's the difference between those two? Take a moment to think about that. Okay, now that you've had a chance to think about that question, let me tell you how I would have answered that question when I was just starting college. I would have said that being free means being able to do pretty much whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it. And to the extent that you can't do that, you're not free. And so a person is not free if they cannot at all do whatever they want to do, whenever they want to do it. If the restrictions on what they could do are really, really tight. Whereas if those restrictions are very wide open, then the person is free. That's what I would have said when I was starting college. And now what I want to do is prove to you that, that answer is wrong. That is not what freedom is. Now in order to prove this to you, I'll invite you to think about yet another hypothetical case. Consider a character, let's call her Alice just so we have a name to refer to her, and Alice is a person like you or me, but she's very different from us in a number of ways. First of all, she has a whole bunch of super powers. She's as strong as Superman. She can leap tall buildings in a single bound. She has amazing speed and amazing strength, right? So, Alice has super powers. Second, Alice has as much money as you care to name. She's wealthier than anyone in the world. And third, Alice has a devoted team of servants who are at her beck and call, who will do whatever she wants, whenever she wants them to do it. So, according to the definition of freedom that I had when I was 18 years old, Alice is about as free as anyone we can imagine. She can do pretty much whatever she wants to do whenever she wants to do it, right, because of the super powers and all the money and all the servants. Now, let me add one more detail to the story. Imagine that one night while she's sleeping, evil neuroscientists creep into her bedroom, put her under anesthesia, open up her skull, install a microchip in her brain. Close up her skull again, and then just in case she felt any of it, they give her an amnesiac so she doesn't remember anything that she might have felt. So Alex wakes up in the morning and she's not aware that there was any funny business going on over the night. She wakes up in the morning, she thinks it's just like any other morning, unbeknownst to her, she has a microchip in her brain. And this microchip is a device that controls her cravings and the microchip itself is controlled remotely by the evil neuroscientists who have a remote control device that they're pointing at it. So here's what the evil neuroscientists do. They're watching Alice on video feed and they point their remote control device at the microchip and they press a bunch of buttons. They say, yeah, we're going to give Alice a craving for pizza right now. And so all of a sudden, Alice is woken up and she's thinking well, that's strange, I have the most powerful craving for pizza. I could really use some pizza right now. And so she phones down to her servants and she says, please make me a pizza. And so thy scramble and they try to make a pizza as quickly as they can and then they bring her up a pizza. But when the pizza comes up, the evil neuroscientists who are watching her on video feed, point the remote control at her again, press a bunch more buttons, and they delete her craving for pizza, but now they install a craving for raw onions. And so, Alice is looking at the pizza and she says you know what? Thank you for bringing this, but for some reason I really don't want it any more, what I'd really like now is just a raw onion. Could you bring me a raw onion, please? And so they run off, they go get a raw onion, they bring it back. But as soon as the raw onion comes back, the evil neuroscientists, watching all this happen on video feed, point the remote control at the microchip analysis brain, they push a bunch of buttons and they delete the craving for raw onion and now they install in Alice a craving to run around the room doing pirouettes. So Alice says to the servants who brought her the onion, she says, you know, thanks for bringing this onion but for some reason I just don't want it anymore. What I'd really like to do now is practice ballet. And so she runs around the room doing pirouettes. Okay, so is Alice free? Well notice, she still has all the superpowers that she had yesterday, right? She can still fly and she's still strong, and she can still jump tall buildings in a single bound. She still has all the money she had yesterday. In fact, maybe even more because of compounding interest. And she still has all the servants she had yesterday. So she still has the ability to do pretty much whatever she wants to do whenever she wants to do it. She still has that ability. But is she free? Well, that's not the kind of freedom that any of us would think is worth having. When we say we want to be free, that's not what we want. We don't want for our desires to be controlled by some outside agency. So the freedom that we want to have cannot be the same thing as being able to do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it. Because if they were the same thing, then if Alice has one, she has to have the other. Because they're the same, right? Since Alice does have one. She has the ability to do whatever she wants to do. But she doesn't have the freedom that we want. It follows that the freedom that we value is not the same as being able to do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it. That's what we would call license, not freedom. So freedom has gotta be something different from license. And in particular, the freedom that we value, the freedom that determines whether or not we hold one another responsible for our actions, that's a kind of freedom that's not the same as license. And that's something that I didn't understand when I was starting college. Now you might wonder, well what's the practical value of asking these questions about freedom and responsibility? Why does any of that matter? Well, in the next videos by my colleague Don Hornstein in the law school, we'll see that philosophical questions, questions about the nature of freedom or of justice or of harm, those sorts of philosophical questions are crucial to the project of making, following and understanding the law. Without understanding what freedom and justice and harm really are, we're not going to be able to make laws, to follow laws, or to understand laws. So, check out these videos by my colleague Don Hornstein in the law school. I hope you enjoy them.