The authors provide a historical overview of the development of contemporary theories of counseling and psychology in relation to determinism, probabilistic causality, indeterminate free will, and moral and legal responsibility. They propose a unique model of behavioral causality that incorporates a theory of indeterminate free will, a concept traditionally assumed to exist by the U.S. legal system, but rejected in counseling theory.
Indeterminatefree will, defined by Runes (1962) as "the will's alleged independence of antecedent psychological and physiological conditions (p. 112) is a construct that, to date, has not found a sound theoretical home in the counseling and psychology fields (Sundberg, Winebarger, & Taplin, 2002; Wilks, 2003). Although there is general consensus that people have a belief in personal free will and that people should be encouraged to accept responsibility for their choices, scientific perspectives embedded in counseling and psychology clearly reject indeterminate free will as a cause of behavior (Morganstein, 1974; Phemister, 2001; Royce, 1988; Westcott, 1988).
Furthermore, a fundamental philosophical dichotomy has long since been acknowledged between the causal philosophy of contemporary psychological theory and the behavioral causal assumptions of law (Melton, Petrila, Poythress, & Slobogin, 1997). "Perhaps the most obvious philosophical difference between the law and the behavioral sciences is that the former is predicated on the assumption of free will whereas the sciences are generally solidly deterministic" (Melton et al., 1997, p. 8).
Addressing the limitations of determinist causal explanations of behavior in relation to legal responsibility in The Handbook of Forensic Psychology, Hess and Weiner (1999) stated,
From a legal perspective, one cannot be held accountable for a cause beyond one's control. A biologically based failing or a social learning regimen that compromised the individual's ability to control his or her own decision making would be deterministic in the sense that free will could not be exercised and individual legal responsibility would be negated ... Lawyers and the laity share the assumption that people exercise free will. (p. 39)
Based on the assumption that determining moral and legal responsibility constitutes a problematic core of the free will-determinism dilemma (Double, 1997), in this article, the gap between psychological and legal perspectives on free will and responsibility is addressed by proposing an expansion of behavioral causal factors in counseling theory. To accomplish this task, the concept of determinism is revisited, probabilistic causation in relation to self-determinism is reexamined, and a model of behavioral causality that includes the construct of indeterminate free will is presented.
The operational definitions of determinism, indeterminacy, and free will that formed the basis for analyses of behavioral causality were drawn from Runes's (1962) Dictionary of Philosophy. In this reference work, determinism is defined as the view "that the will is not free but determined by psychical or physical conditions" (Runes, 1962, p. 78) and indeterminism as the theory that "volitional decisions are in certain cases independent of antecedent physiological and psychological causation" (Runes, 1962, p. 143). Runes's (1962) definition of free will makes a distinction between the freedom of indeterminacy, which is defined almost exactly as indeterminism, itself, and the freedom of self-determinism:
The freedom of indeterminacy ... the will's alleged independence of antecedent psychological and physiological conditions; ... The freedom of self-determinism ... decision independent of external constraint but in accordance with the inner motives and goals of the actor. (p. 112)
In the following sections, a brief historical review of causal theory in counseling and psychology is presented, including the concepts of determinism, probabilistic causality, and indeterminism.
World of General and Specific Determinism
According to Hoefer (2004), causal determinism is "roughly speaking, the idea that every event is necessitated by antecedent events and conditions together with the laws of nature" (Causal determinism section, para. 1).
In the present context, the connotation of the phrase general determinism is meant to be consistent with Hoefer's (2004) description of global determinism:
The world is governed by (or is under the sway of) determinism if and only if, given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things go thereafter is fixed as a matter of natural law. (Introduction section, para. 2)
Early scientific views based on physical determinism, which specifically "presupposed natural order based on a system of metaphysical laws and necessity, universal causation and the possibility of total predictability given knowledge of antecedent psychical and physical conditions" (Burr & Goldinger, 1983, p. 18), challenged the very existence of the type of free will traditionally assumed to be required for moral responsibility. These general deterministic-type views of the physical world provided the backdrop for deterministic theoretical causal explanations specific to human behavior. Within the human-experiential world of philosophy, specific determinism came to be understood as the view "that the will is not free but determined by psychical or physical conditions" (Runes, 1962, p. 78).
A strict, specific deterministic explanation of the etiology of human behavior is herein stated as follows:
For any distinct times [t.sub.1] and [t.sub.2], the physical event e at [t.sub.1], together with the psychical event e at [t.sub.1], together with the fundamental physical laws cause the event e at [t.sub.2].
In psychology, specific determinism found expression in psychoanalysis (Freud & Fliess, 1954) and in behaviorism (Skinner, 1938).
World of General and Specific Probabilistic Causality
The scientific view of the world as universally deterministic, the accompanying view of absolute prediction (given knowledge of antecedent conditions), and the view of human will as not free were to be challenged by early 20th-century perspectives in physics. Quantum mechanics and chaos theory brought the concepts of randomness, chaos, and probabilistic indeterminism into the theoretical causal picture, with predictions based on probability assumptions rather than on determinism's assumption of total predictability. In the present context, general probabilistic indeterminism is defined as the view that quantum mechanics and chaos theory allow for disorganization or gaps in the otherwise deterministic physical world.
Probabilistic theories of causation hold that causes do not deterministically necessitate their effects in the ways postulated by traditional strict determinism; rather, causes simply increase the probability of certain effects (Eells, 1991). Bishop's (2006) demonstration of the causal closure of physics also demonstrates probabilistic causality:
Completeness/causal closure of physics (COP): For any distinct times [t.sub.1] and [t.sub.2], the physical event e at [t.sub.1] together with the fundamental physical laws causes the (chances of) physical event e at [t.sub.2]. CoP as Typicality Condition: CoP tells what happens in absence of other effects (e.g., biological, psychological). (p. 1)
(For discussion see Bishop, in press.)
The changing perspectives in physics, including quantum mechanics, chaos theory, and probabilistic prediction, challenged theoretical determinism and made the concept of human free will seem more plausible (Richardson & Bishop, 2002). Consequently, in philosophy, various thinkers attempted to develop views of free will based on probabilistic rather than deterministic causality (Kane, 1996, 2005).
In philosophy, general probabilistic indeterminism has been used as the basis for views of event-specific indeterminism in relation to human behavior, with free will and personal responsibility explained in terms of physical and psychical events rather than traditional deterministic causality. Event causality occurs when specific probabilistic indeterminism, perceived as chaos between competing cognitive events (motives, goals, intentions), results in decision or action. Event causality is consistent with Runes's (1962) definition of self-determinism as decision independent of external constraint but in accordance with the inner motives and goals of the actor. Building on Bishop's (in press) statement of CoP, probabilistic event causality is herein described in the following manner:
For any distinct times [t.sub.1] and [t.sub.2], the physical event e at [t.sub.1] together with the fundamental physical laws together with biological and psychological effects (motives and goals/events) cause the (chances of) the physical event e at [t.sub.2].
During approximately the same time frame that general determinism was challenged in physics (late 1800s and early 1900s), specific deterministic psychological descriptions of human behavior were also challenged. Phenomenologists, existentialists, and humanists (e.g., Adler, 1964; Frankl, 1959; May, 1969) made teleological arguments for human freedom based on the soft-determinist position of self-determinism, "decision independent of external constraint but in accordance with the inner motives and goals of the actor" (Runes, 1962, p. 112). Although acceptance of these early teleological explanations of freedom into the counseling field's philosophical foundations was delayed (Kern & Watts, 1993; Watts, 2000), these and other teleological and self-deterministic perspectives (Bandura, 1989), sometimes coupled with cognitive behaviorism, constructivism, or compatibilist views of freedom, came to dominate counseling theory throughout the latter part of the 20th century and into the 21st (Wilks, 2003). In many ways, these theories resembled philosophical event causality, the teleological view which holds that events--a person's motives, goals, intent, and so on--probabilistically effect or increase the likelihood of particular behaviors. The counseling profession's rejection of indeterminate free will in favor of determinism or probabilistic self-determinism resulted in some counseling professionals being "caught in the web of psychotherapeutic discourse, which has been stripped clean of moral barnacles such as right and wrong, should, owe, ought, responsibility, and obligation" (Doherty, 1995, p. 4).
Nevertheless, because it is self-evident that free will is perceived to be fundamentally related to assignments of moral and legal responsibility (Double, 1997), the free will versus determinism debate continued. Although the influential roles of physiology, biology, environment, and cognition in relation to behavior were acknowledged, theorists and practitioners continued to seek answers concerning the nature and existence of free will. For example, Richardson and Bishop (2002) acknowledged the existence of physiological and psychical antecedents, yet reflected on problems associated with the nature of indeterminate free will. Grounding their statements in event-type probabilistic language, these authors suggested that for an agent to act freely, there had to be some type of determinism or ordered realm in which to operate, but that true freedom had to be more than the effect of causes that have an impact on the agent. Bishop (2001) further proposed that it can be argued that free will may be fully explained in terms of "an emergent realm of human social and rational influences and counter-influences that depends upon the physical world for its existence but is not reducible to physical processes" (p. 122). To date, no major theory of counseling has incorporated the concept of indeterminacy as defined by Runes (1962). However, adherents of indeterminism persisted in the field of philosophy.
World of General and Specific Indeterminism
In contrast to probabilistic event causality, philosophical agent causation is consistent with Runes's (1962) definitions of indeterminacy and indeterminate free will as the will's volitional independence from antecedent physiological and psychical causality. Behavior based on the concept of free will is viewed as a function of decision or action created or caused in the moment by agents themselves. Clarke (1993, 2000, 2003), in support of agent causation, argued that free will is required for moral responsibility to exist, and that the term agent causation means that agents are the originators of their actions. According to Pereboom (1997), libertarian agent-causal views such as those held by Clarke and Roderick Chisholm hold that "the kind of causation involved in making a free choice is not reducible to causation between events, but is rather irreducibly an instance of a substance causing a choice" (p. 142).
Also in support of the concept of agent causation, Moreland (2001) challenged event causal theory as a solution to the philosophical free will dilemma. He argued that although such factors as motives may influence a libertarian free act, only an agent's own exercise of freedom can cause a free act to happen. He further stated that "a free act that is caused by something besides the agent himself is a contradiction in terms" (Moreland, 2001, p. 361).
Independent, indeterminate-free-willed agent causality, consistent with Runes's (1962) definition of the freedom of indeterminacy, is herein stated in the following terms:
For any distinct time [t.sub.i], the agent's will, independent of psychical and physical conditions, causes event e at [i.sub.1].
Although no major theory of counseling includes the concept of indeterminate free will, introspective research conducted by Wilks (1995, 2004) and Ratheal and Wilks (2006) supported Runes's philosophical, definitional distinction between indeterminate free will and the freedom of self-determinism.
The Wilks (2004) and Ratheal and Wilks (2006) studies examined perceptions of self-attribution of causality in terms of (a) personal credit and blame responses for actual behaviors done by the actor and perceived by the actor to be moral behaviors and (b) actual behaviors done by the actor and perceived by the actor to be immoral behaviors. Of the 741 participants in these studies, 630 (85%) selected free will (including, by definition, its corollaries blameworthiness and moral responsibility) as the causal factor of immoral behavior. However, in relation to moral behavior, 81% (600) of the participants selected some form of determinism as the causal factor. Chi-square analyses further indicated that moral behaviors and immoral behaviors were perceived by participants to be independent categories, not part of a continuum.
Results from the Wilks (2004) and Ratheal and Wilks (2006) studies also indicated that indeterminate free will is perceived to be unidirectional; acting in the direction of self-violating, negative behavior; and effecting only immoral behavior. Data from these studies also showed that in relation to moral behaviors, self-determinism (decision independent of external constraint but in accordance with cognitive, biological, and environmental needs, motives, and goals of the actor) is perceived to be unidirectional, acting in the direction of the positive, and effecting moral behavior. The findings of these studies regarding moral behavior appeared to be consistent with previously published research regarding sense of freedom, such as that reported by Lamb, Lalljee, and Jaspars (1985). Lamb et al. examined perceptions of causality related to moral behaviors and found paradoxical causal self-attributions that did not reflect a self-serving bias. In the Lamb et al. study, locus-of-control internals, people who were expected to report self-attribution perceptions of causality, did not make such attributions. Rather, internals were more likely to view moral behavior as elicited and determined, whereas locus-of-control externals, people who were expected to attribute causality to external factors, were more likely to view moral behavior as emanating from the person. Both elicitation and emanation are terms connotatively related to self-determinism rather than to indeterminate free will.
The Wilks (2004) and Ratheal and Wilks (2006) data support asymmetric conclusions:
* Self-determinism and indeterminate free will are mutually exclusive concepts
* Indeterminate free will is the type of freedom required for moral responsibility
* Indeterminate free will is unidirectional and effects immoral behavior
* Holistic self-determinism is unidirectional and effects moral behavior
The face validity and the rationale for incorporating the construct of unidirectional indeterminate free will in theories of counseling are supported by several factors:
1. The U.S. legal system operates on the assumption that free will exists.
2. Traditional philosophical definitions support a qualitative distinction between teleological self-determinism and indeterminate free will.
3. In philosophy, psychology, and the law, there are people who suggest that indeterminate free will is an illusion (Jones, 2003; Morse, 2003; Nelkin, 2004; Smilanski, 2002, 2005; Strawson, 1994; Wegner, 2002) and those who suggest it is a practical reality (Hess & Weiner, 1999; Kane, 1996, 2001, 2005; Wilks, 2004). Given these differences in perspectives, this article's premises are based on a choice to err (if it does) on the side of sense of freedom research, which shows indeterminate free will's probable or demonstrable reality.
4. The Wilks (2004) and Ratheal and Wilks (2006) studies indicated that indeterminate free will effects immoral behavior, that holistic self-determinism effects moral behavior, and that self-determinism and indeterminate free will are independent causal factors of immoral and moral behaviors.
5. Multidisciplinary causal theories have identified three general constructs--determinism, probabilistic causality, and indeterminate free will--as possible behavioral causal concepts, although as previously conceptualized, these constructs are, to some extent, theoretically and pragmatically incongruent.
In summary, U.S. legal system assumptions regarding legal responsibility, Runes's (1962) definitional distinction between determinism and indeterminacy, the concept of probabilistic causality, philosophical libertarian agent causal perspectives, the Ratheal and Wilks (2006) research, and the universally reported sense of freedom all support the thesis that indeterminate free will exists and is the type of freedom required for moral and legal responsibility. Consequently, the concept of indeterminate free will should be reconstructed as unidirectional and included in counseling theory.
The Theory of Unidirectional Indeterminate Free Will
In skeletal form, the proposed theory of indeterminate free will as unidirectional and responsibility producing consists of the following assumptions and tenets. First, it is generally agreed that typical, individual human adults are products of biology and environment and that they possess general cognition. Furthermore, students of human behavior generally agree that typical adults possess a sense of free will (Nelkin, 2004) and moral cognition (Kochanska & Aksan, 2004), commonly referred to as conscience. Traditional definitions of conscience are consistent with the present proposal that self-determinism is unidirectional, moving in the direction of the positive. For instance, conscience is defined in Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (1977, p. 240) as the knowledge of moral goodness or blameworthiness along with a preference for or feeling of obligation to do right or be good and in Encarta Webster's College Dictionary (2005) as "the internal sense of what is right and wrong that governs somebody's thoughts and actions, urging him or her to do right rather than wrong" (p. 304).
Second, the conscience's preference for the good is an innate gift of epistemology (knowledge of good and evil) and is not determined by self-deterministic processes--motives, mental events, or personal deliberation. The fact that conscience only bothers a person when it is violated supports the idea of the innate prejudicial preference for the good. The unconscious conscience is embedded within and functions in conjunction with consciousness and emotions within an otherwise physical, natural law universe.
Third, people do not freely choose the good, but are epistemologically determined by the innate preferential conscience to do the good, unless they indeterminately choose to intentionally violate the known good. Only one indeterminate alternative/option (not dual options between the good and the bad) is available--the option to freely violate. Because a person does not freely choose the preference, a person does not indeterminately choose and is therefore not morally praiseworthy for good behaviors, which are event required and probabilistically self-determined by the preference. But this is true if and only if a person does not exercise free will and violate the preference. Finally, in contrast to self-determinist processes, people are morally responsible and blameworthy for deliberate, intentional, indeterminate-freewilled violations of that which is known to be or believed to be the good.
In an attempt to develop a more comprehensive theory of counseling, we propose that three constructs--determinism; probabilistic, holistic self-determinism along with its subset non-holistic self-determinism; and indeterminism--account for behaviors in the moral realm, and for the respective degrees of moral and legal responsibility related to each of the behavior types. The behavior types are labeled amoral, moral, quasi-moral/ quasi-immoral, and immoral. Amoral behaviors are related to determinism; moral behaviors to holistic self-determinism; quasi-moral/quasi-immoral behaviors to probabilistic, non-holistic self-determinism; and immoral behaviors to indeterminism.
Amoral behaviors, defined as behaviors outside the moral sphere--neither good nor bad--are effected by determinism. A person is not personally praiseworthy or blameworthy and is not morally responsible for amoral behavior.
Moral behaviors are caused by probabilistic, holistic self-determinism, that is, when biological, environmental, and developmental moral cognition are in sync. In the moral sphere, a person is not morally praiseworthy or meritoriously responsible for moral behavior because the behavior is determined by the prejudicial, positive processes of holistic self-determinism and event causality.
Quasi-moral and quasi-immoral behaviors are positive or negative behaviors effected by probabilistic, event causal, less-than-holistic self-determinism (caused by limited subsets of biological, environmental, or general/moral cognitive factors). Quasi-moral behaviors are defined as undesirable, inadequate, or generally inappropriate behaviors that are morally nonvolitional or nondeliberate. In the present context, quasi means "having some resemblance usually by possession of certain attributes ... having a legal status only by operation or construction of law and without reference to intent" (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 1977, p. 945), and quasi-moral refers to behavior for which the actor is not morally responsible and may be variably, legally responsible. Quasi-behaviors can be positive, as in Dabrowski's (1964) concept of positive disintegration, in that given certain sets of uncontrollable situations, behavior normally considered to be maladaptive may, in essence, be adaptive for the person. On the other hand, quasi-behaviors can be negative. A person who believes lying is wrong, yet nonvolitionally "catches" himself "throwing in" a lie to spice up a story exhibits quasi-immoral behavior. The lie happened to be voiced, probably influenced by teleological unconscious factors relating to a past or current need or goal, and the person wondered why the behavior occurred and wished it had not. Such negative behavior is not immoral but quasi-immoral. The behavior conflicted with the person's developmental moral cognition, but basically the actor still preferred the good and the behavior was nondeliberate in terms of negative intent and was temporary and ultimately rejected by the person.
Quasi-moral/quasi-immoral behaviors are effected by nonvolitional physical, psychical, functional, and organic factors and, in theory, are consistent with phenomenological theories holding that behavior is always the "best" that one can do at the time (an idea that itself supports the concept of the unidirectional nature of self-determinism). In lay medical-model terms, quasi-moral/quasi-immoral may reference weakness, confusion, or illness. At times, a person may give in to pressure and knowingly do what is believed to be wrong because of such factors as incongruent or misplaced loyalties, moral dilemmas, or character weakness. In such instances, a person grants him or herself pragmatic permission but without intentional, free-willed bad intent. Partial moral and legal responsibility seems to exist in these situations, and the legal pursuit of a causal chain seems relevant.
Immoral behaviors are effected by a free agent exercising free will deliberately in violation of the known good. The person is blameworthy and morally responsible. Although a person is always 100% blameworthy and personally morally responsible for an intentional immoral behavior, that person may not be 100% intentionally, morally, or legally responsible for all possible consequences of a behavior. A model for including immoral behavior and indeterminate free will in an overall theory of behavioral causality is demonstrated in Table 1.
Implications for Practice
In counseling, a sound theoretical paradigm is an essential component of appropriate and effective practice (Ginter, 1996). The philosophical position on the free will and determinism issue presented in a theory is evidence of views concerning possible causes of clients' presenting problems that will be supported by that theory. Expanding counseling theory to include the construct of free will provides a more accurate basis for determining appropriate interventions and treatment strategies for clients.
For counseling practitioners involved in the legal system, the inclusion of free will concepts provides a theoretical base more consistent with current attempts to develop assessments that can be used in the courts to determine intent and degrees of legal responsibility (Welner, 2008). A good working assessment that provides weighted values for biological, environmental, cognitive, and perceived free will factors would potentially have an impact on the accuracy of determinations of accountability, an especially important consideration because punitive and rehabilitative interventions are most often grounded in causal theoretical assumptions regarding individual responsibility. A theory of counseling that incorporates the additional construct of free will has the potential to provide a framework capable of addressing the theoretical and practical concerns of both counseling and the law. In addition, intradisciplinary gaps between causal theory and practice are somewhat bridged, making the exercise of each discipline more cogent. Because including free will constructs in counseling theory provides a causal paradigm that helps to eliminate the philosophical dichotomy between counseling theory and legal assumptions, the addition has the potential to increase respect between the two disciplines.
Understanding human behavior from the standpoint of determinism, probabilistic causality, and indeterminism provides a sound theoretical framework for the system of law in the United States. Instead of merely suggesting that free will should be assumed to exist for strictly pragmatic forensic purposes (to justify sanctions against lawbreakers), the unidirectional indeterminate free will theory presents a more tenable argument that validates the universal human perception of a sense of freedom and provides an explanation that justifies assignments of moral and legal responsibility to human behavior. At the same time, the positive unidirectional nature of less-than-holistic probabilistic self-determinism provides a rational theoretical basis for assuming degrees of responsibility and for tempering justice and mercy.
In conclusion, the validity of including the construct of unidirectional Runes-type (1962) indeterminate free will in the theoretical foundations of counseling, psychology, and law is supported by legal assumptions regarding free will, philosophical agent causal libertarianism, sense of freedom research, Runes's definitional distinction between self-determinism and the freedom of indeterminacy, Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (1977) definition of conscience as having an innate preference for the good, and Wilks's (2004) and Ratheal and Wilks's (2006) research findings regarding perceptions of moral responsibility in terms of blameworthiness and praiseworthiness. The theoretical and practical implications of the proposed behavioral model are currently being detailed in a more comprehensive work (Wilks & Ratheal, 2008). Because behavioral causality constitutes the hub of therapeutic, intervention-determining processes and the hub of societal responsibility--determining processes--ongoing research along these lines of inquiry is essential.
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Duffy Wilks, Lubbock, Texas; Juli D'Ann Ratheal, Department of Mathematics, Chemistry, and Physics, West Texas A&M University. Juli D'Ann Ratheal is now at Department of Science and Mathematics, University of Texas of the Permian Basin. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Duffy Wilks at email@example.com.
TABLE 1 Amoral, Moral, Quasi-Moral/Quasi-Immoral, Immoral Model of Behavior Types and Causes Behavior Type General Cause Specific Cause Amoral Strict determinism (Will Psychical and physical is not free but conditions determined by antecedent physical and psychical conditions.) Moral Probabilistic, holistic Holistic becoming self-determinism (Will (biology/environment, is independent of cognition) external constraint, Innate teleology but in accordance with inner motives and goals of actor.) Quasi-moral/ Probabilistic causality Event causality, motives, quasi- (Causes increase the goals, etc. (less than immoral probability of their holistic self- effects rather than determinism; weakness, necessitate their mistakes, failed effects.) effort, reactive Nonholistic self- attitudes, quantum determinism gaps, chaos, dual processing, goals, self-formed willing, causal chains) Immoral Indeterminism (Will is Agent causality independent of ante- cedent psychical and physical causation.) Behavior Type Capacity Responsibility Amoral No free will None Moral Conscience No meritorious Innate pref- praiseworthi- erence for ness good Quasi-moral/ Conscience Varying quasi- Conscious degrees immoral Forecon- None scious Uncon- scious Immoral Conscience Blameworthy Capacity to violate innate preference for good: Indeterminate free will Single option Note. Deterministic causality: strict determinism-amoral behavior (e.g., Skinner, 1938); probabilistic causality: holistic self- determinism-moral behavior, unidirectional (e.g., Wilks, 2004; Ratheal & Wilks, 2006); probabilistic event causality-quasi-moral or quasi-immoral behavior (e.g., Adler, 1964; Ratheal & Wilks, 2006); and indeterministic causality: agent causality-immoral behavior, unidirectional (e.g., Ratheal & Wilks, 2006).…