Here is David Brooks commenting on Dylan Klebold, one of the two high school students who shot up the Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999, killing many classmates, before killing himself:
"My instinct is that Dylan Klebold was a self-initiating moral agent who made his choices and should be condemned for them. Neither his school nor his parents determined his behavior."
So Brooks is a "libertarian" incompatibilist about free will: he thinks free will is incompatible with determinism, but believes we can be self-caused in some sense. Has Brooks been reading my colleague Robert Kane? Or perhaps he is more attracted to Timothy O'Connor's version of agent-causation theories? Or maybe he's a retrograde Chisholmian?
Or maybe, just maybe, he hasn't thought about the issue at all, couldn't make a coherent argument on the subject if his life depended on it, but knows this is what his stinking right-wing sanctimony requires?
Nietzsche, happily, had the Brooks-type pegged long ago:
"The longing for 'freedom of the will' in the superlative metaphysical sense (which, unfortunately, still rules in the heads of the half-educated), the longing to bear the entire and ultimate responsibility for your actions yourself and to relieve God, world, ancestors, chance, and society of the burden--all this means nothing less than...pulling yourself by the hair from the swamp of nothingness into existence." (Beyond Good and Evil, sec. 21)
But, of course, Brooks is ascribing responsibility to others, not claiming it himself, and Nietzsche also had "the psychology of all 'making responsible'" diagnosed:
"Wherever responsibilities are sought, it is usually the instinct of wanting to judge and punish which is at work...: the doctrine of the will has been invented essentially for the purpose of punishment, that is, because one wants to impute guilt...Men were considered 'free' so that they might be judged and punished--so they might become guilty: consequently, every act had to be considered as willed, and the origin of every act had to be considered as lying within consciousness...."
The metaphysics of free will, Nietzsche concludes, is the "metaphysics of the hangman" (Twlight of the Idols, "The Four Great Errors," sec. 7).
How nice that the hangman writes twice a week for The New York Times.
UPDATE: More here on "the moral levitation of David Brooks."