In Elliot Sober’s, Core Questions in Philosophy, he suggests a compatibilist theory known as the weather-vane theory... The weather-vane theory argues that an agent is has free will when their thought process is functioning correctly. The objection to the weather-vane theory argues that the theory is flawed by using a case of rational, self-sacrifice. I think that the objection to the weather-vane theory is lacking because it does not account for differences between a soldier’s actions and a kleptomaniac’s actions. To argue my point, I will first explain the weather-vane theory in detail. Second, I will explain the case of rational, self-sacrifice objection. Third, I will argue that the case of rational, self-sacrifice is lacking Fourth, I will argue an objection to my argument for the weather-vane objection. Finally, I will argue a rebuttal to the objection against my argument.
The weather-van theory states that a free weather-vane and a stuck weather-vane are different. A free weather-vane functions correctly in that it can react to changes in the wind’s direction. The stuck weather-vane is malfunctioning because it cannot react to changes in the wind’s direction. Sober says that what the two weather-vanes do both have in common is that they are caused to point in a certain direction by something.
Sober ultimately makes an analogy between the weather-vanes and a person’s ability to act freely. Before Sober’s analogy can be understood, his decision-making process must first be explained. A person’s decision-making process can be broken down into its parts. Sober thinks beliefs come from the belief-generating device that in turn, uses evidence to make a belief. Desires are harder to explain than beliefs because what the desire-generating device uses to develop desires is not explained. What can at least be said is that desires come from the desire-generating device. Desire-generating devices are supposed to function as representing what is good for the organism. With this being said, beliefs and desires are used when a person deliberates. From a deliberation, a person develops their intentions. A person’s intentions are then used to determine what action that person should take.
As a weather-vane is free if it functions properly, a person is considered to be free if their decision-making process functions properly. A person’s mind functions properly if it is able to follow the decision-making process generate an action from its beliefs and desires. Sober thinks that a person is proper functioning if the belief-generating device and desire-generating device are sensitive to specific types of causal influences. If a person is unable to generate an action based on the decision-making process, then the person’s mind is malfunctioning.
One type of malfunction that is an important aspect of Sober’s explanation is compulsive behavior. Compulsive behavior is an intense desire to perform an action of a person’s decision-making process. Kleptomania is...