Tom Clark - Scientific Naturalism and the Illusion of Free Will

June 12, 2009

Tom Clark is director of the non-profit Center for Naturalism and author of Encountering Naturalism: A Worldview and Its Uses. He writes on science, free will, consciousness, addiction and other topics, and maintains Naturalism.org, an extensive resource on worldview naturalism. He is also moderator for the monthly philosophy café at Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, MA.

In this interview with D.J. Grothe, Tom Clark discusses the implications of a thorough-going scientific naturalism for the concepts of the self and of free will. He contrasts "contra-causal free will" with kinds of political or social freedom, and argues that the former is a vestige of outmoded religious or dualistic thinking. He talks about compatibilism, and how he can be a skeptic of free will while also prizing personal freedom, how determinism can be compatible with certain kinds of free will. He explores what these implications of scientific naturalism might actually mean for criminal justice, and how rejecting concepts of free-will may empower society to be more humanistic and to solve social ills more effectively. And he talks about the growth of skepticism about free will, both in the academic scientific communities and in the skeptic and freethought world.

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Comments from the CFI Forums

If you would like to leave a comment about this episode of Point of Inquiry please visit the related thread on the CFI discussion forums

Tom stated my own views perfectly, and D.J. did his usual excellent job of asking questions that provoke exploration of the many facets of the issue. I greatly appreciate the existence of both of these guys.

Thanks,
Norm

Posted on Jul 17, 2009 at 8:03pm by normbear Comment #1

Tom stated my own views perfectly, and D.J. did his usual excellent job of asking questions that provoke exploration of the many facets of the issue. I greatly appreciate the existence of both of these guys.

Thanks,
Norm

That goes for me too!

Best,

Stephen

Posted on Jul 17, 2009 at 10:55pm by StephenLawrence Comment #2

Too much semantic ambiguity there.

Manhood of Humanity by Alfred Korzybski

psik

Posted on Jul 18, 2009 at 1:42pm by psikeyhackr Comment #3

Too much semantic ambiguity there.

Manhood of Humanity by Alfred Korzybski

psik

Can you give an example psik?

I thought Tom was clear and correct.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 18, 2009 at 10:11pm by StephenLawrence Comment #4

Excellent Job by D. J. tackling a pretty heavy subject.  Like some of the previous comments, I would have to say that Dr. Clark’s views are pretty much in line with the way I see the world, although I often have difficulty articulating it effectively with my weak background in philosophy.  The important message here is that this is not just some academic exercise.  This stuff has huge implications on human society.  If real free will is an illusion it does take some responsibility off of the individual and that is really difficult for people to deal with (think back to the Shermer interview a few weeks ago).  That responsibility is just shifted to the broader society.  While it may be a little hard or even bleak for some to give up the “self”, I see it as fostering a “we’re all in this together” mentality that can really be quite optimistic.  What kind of society do we need to build if this is the reality of free will?  Maybe Chomsky’s flavor of libertarian socialism?  I don’t know.  Point of Inquiry is all about the big questions and in some ways, this is as big as it gets.

Michael Blanford

Posted on Jul 19, 2009 at 9:33am by Michael Blanford Comment #5

Can you give an example psik?

I thought Tom was clear and correct.

Stephen

We need to argue about what the “self” is?

Your “self” is your subjective experience of your brain functioning and my “self” is my subjective experience of my brain functioning.

Now how similar my “self” is to your “self” is going to be a lot of semanitc bullshit.  I can’t read your mind and I will assume you can’t read mine until you provide evidence to the contrary.

It is like listening to the nuns in grade school talking about “worshiping” God versus “venerating” the Virgin Mary.  How was I supposed to tell the difference and when I was doing which?  It was just throwing different words around.

I admit to myself when I don’t “understand” the meaning of a word versus “memorizing” a definition that someone else made up which may just be semantic drivel.

psik

Posted on Jul 19, 2009 at 10:00am by psikeyhackr Comment #6

Reason does suggest that our will is caused, although the web of causation is so amazingly intricate and lightening fast, that the notion feels counter intuitive
Excellent point that while our will may not be fully free, we are part of the causation, ourselves, of our own volitional will, and not merely in possession of it, OR wholly puppeteered BY it.

Posted on Jul 19, 2009 at 1:56pm by davechuck Comment #7

Maybe I didn’t just understand the subject, but to me this episode seemed like a big muddle of semantics. I am very skeptical on this episode. To me his ideas almost seem like an excuse to reinterpret reality in such a manner that enables a socialistic leaning thinker to claim that his politics are packed up by naturalism. But that’s not the main point of my criticism. As I already admitted It’s possible I didn’t understand his main arguments, but to me they can not be verified or falsified so it’s beyond our understanding. Pure speculation and as such no more scientific than any other speculative metaphysical stance.

But I still love the show :)

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 2:43am by Eero T. Eloranta Comment #8

Hello Eero,

Maybe I didn’t just understand the subject, but to me this episode seemed like a big muddle of semantics. I am very skeptical on this episode. To me his ideas almost seem like an excuse to reinterpret reality in such a manner that enables a socialistic leaning thinker to claim that his politics are packed up by naturalism. But that’s not the main point of my criticism. As I already admitted It’s possible I didn’t understand his main arguments, but to me they can not be verified or falsified so it’s beyond our understanding. Pure speculation and as such no more scientific than any other speculative metaphysical stance.

But I still love the show :)

Not sure what you mean. Are you saying that naturalism is a speculative metaphysical stance?

Or that if naturalism is true then we don’t have Contra Causal free will is a speculative metaphysical stance?

Here is an example of belief in Contra Causal free will, to be sure we are both talking about the same thing:

http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/5925/P15/  post 16

“I am not suggesting that there is absolute free will, simply that all is not predetermined. That is, there is some, if limited, choice between alternatives. Maybe we are not meat puppets, and our actions are not determines completely by our interaction between the environment outside us and our internal machinery.”

Surely what the poster is saying is that there is not a natural explanation for our actions, that they cannot be explained in terms of the interaction between the environment and our internal machinery but that there is something else, a supernatural explanation.

It seems clear to me that if we accept naturalism is true, then it does in fact follow that we don’t have Contra Causal free will.

I think if one accepts that, it doesn’t necessarily lead to any particular political view but it does mean that harming people cannot be justified by it’s being deserved. This is the enormous difference between the responsibility, blameworthyness, praiseworthyness etc that we have if naturalism is true and that which just about everybody feels we have, the responsibility we have does not include deservedness.

I think that’s the point Tom is making and I see nothing “speculative” about it. “Cosmic desert” requires a supernatural explanation for our actions.


Stephen

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 5:04am by StephenLawrence Comment #9

Not sure what you mean. Are you saying that naturalism is a speculative metaphysical stance?

Of course I did not refer to naturalism in general.

Or that if naturalism is true then we don’t have Contra Causal free will is a speculative metaphysical stance?

Here is an example of belief in Contra Causal free will, to be sure we are both talking about the same thing:

http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/5925/P15/  post 16

Actually I’m not sure if we are talking about the same thing because I’m not even sure what philosophical significance it holds. You see I am not a philosopher. To me it seems like a semantic question and nothing more. In some sense totally free will that operates without any causality can not ever be. It’s a ridiculous idea. But that does not in any way imply that there is no free will. To me it seems like a logical error in which one defines the terms in such a fashion that the desired logical outcome is sure to follow. And that kind of thinking is unscientific. Please do not be offended by my opinion. I certainly can be wrong.

I think if one accepts that, it doesn’t necessarily lead to any particular political view but it does mean that harming people cannot be justified by it’s being deserved. This is the enormous difference between the responsibility, blameworthyness, praiseworthyness etc that we have if naturalism is true and that which just about everybody feels we have, the responsibility we have does not include deservedness.

I think that’s the point Tom is making and I see nothing “speculative” about it. “Cosmic desert” requires a supernatural explanation for our actions.
Stephen

So defining human action as deterministic somehow implies to some particular ethical outcome? You mean like humans need a manual to being human in order to find justified ethics? To me this sounds illogical and thoroughly unscientific.

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 5:33am by Eero T. Eloranta Comment #10

Actually I’m not sure if we are talking about the same thing because I’m not even sure what philosophical significance it holds. You see I am not a philosopher. To me it seems like a semantic question and nothing more. In some sense totally free will that operates without any causality can not ever be. It’s a ridiculous idea.

That’s right and this is what Tom is talking about, this is what most people actually believe in.

But that does not in any way imply that there is no free will. To me it seems like a logical error in which one defines the terms in such a fashion that the desired logical outcome is sure to follow. And that kind of thinking is unscientific. Please do not be offended by my opinion. I certainly can be wrong.

We don’t really have a disagreement here. Of course whether we have free will or not does depend upon what definition one is referring to and that is why Tom is clear to talk about Contra Causal free will.

So defining human action as deterministic somehow implies to some particular ethical outcome? You mean like humans need a manual to being human in order to find justified ethics? To me this sounds illogical and thoroughly unscientific.

No, what follows is that the only freedom we can have is compatible with determinism. And that freedom is not enough to make us deserving of being harmed and so we cannot be deserving of being harmed.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 5:46am by StephenLawrence Comment #11

No, what follows is that the only freedom we can have is compatible with determinism. And that freedom is not enough to make us deserving of being harmed and so we cannot be deserving of being harmed.

Stephen

That follows only if the term free will is understood in a certain manner. Because of this it’s a semantic question. This whole idea seem to mix terms, facts, ethical stances and personal opinions and as such is subjective moral philosophy.

I myself am not convinced at all that it is wise to try discover this sort of ethical “truths”. Religion failed all ready in that pursuit.

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 6:18am by Eero T. Eloranta Comment #12

No, what follows is that the only freedom we can have is compatible with determinism. And that freedom is not enough to make us deserving of being harmed and so we cannot be deserving of being harmed.

Stephen

That follows only if the term free will is understood in a certain manner.

It follows if the type of free will that we have is not this “In some sense totally free will that operates without any causality can not ever be. It’s a ridiculous idea.”

Because of this it’s a semantic question.

No we both agree on the free will we don’t have and therefore the free will which is left, it’s not semantics at all.

This whole idea seem to mix terms, facts, ethical stances and personal opinions and as such is subjective moral philosophy.

What personal opinion? If naturalism is true it logically follows that we do not have the “ridiculous” version of free will that people actually usually believe in. Without the ridiculous version we don’t deserve to be harmed.

I myself am not convinced at all that it is wise to try discover this sort of ethical “truths”. Religion failed all ready in that pursuit.

Well we have to make a judgement on whether people deserve to be harmed or not, in order to decide whether or not we can justify harming them because they deserve it.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 6:45am by StephenLawrence Comment #13

I certainly enjoyed this interview. The threatened and defensive tone of some of the responses suggests to me exactly the prevalence of certain, less direct forms of magical thinking that prevail in the skeptical community. Far from being abstract or ‘symantic’, the philosphical issue here points to so many concrete social and historical manifestations, which I find more interesting.

Going back to another recent podcast - Michael Shermer’s fetishization of laissez-faire capitalism, for example, seems very much based on religiously-grounded conceptions of ‘individual responsibility’ derived from, and harmonizing with christian protestantism/evangelism. I wish DJ had honed in more closely on the issue of criminal law… The staggering incarceration figures in the U.S., compared to anywhere else on the planet are certainly a product of this unique heritage combining aspects of protestant ‘free will’ theology and the institutions derived from black chattel slavery.

If you get rid of the ‘homunculus’ notion (‘contra-causal free will’), I wonder how much of the philosphical rationalization for private property in the means of production goes with it?

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 8:07am by Balak Comment #14

I certainly enjoyed this interview. The threatened and defensive tone of some of the responses suggests to me exactly the prevalence of certain, less direct forms of magical thinking that prevail in the skeptical community. Far from being abstract or ‘symantic’, the philosphical issue here points to so many concrete social and historical manifestations, which I find more interesting.

Going back to another recent podcast - Michael Shermer’s fetishization of laissez-faire capitalism, for example, seems very much based on religiously-grounded conceptions of ‘individual responsibility’ derived from, and harmonizing with christian protestantism/evangelism. I wish DJ had honed in more closely on the issue of criminal law… The staggering incarceration figures in the U.S., compared to anywhere else on the planet are certainly a product of this unique heritage combining aspects of protestant ‘free will’ theology and the institutions derived from black chattel slavery.

If you get rid of the ‘homunculus’ notion (‘contra-causal free will’), I wonder how much of the philosphical rationalization for private property in the means of production goes with it?

Always good input from Balak. Everyone wants to take what they can from a given Ideology, or philosophy, and not apply it to other reactionary elements contained within their own beliefs. :-)

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 9:22am by VYAZMA Comment #15

I certainly enjoyed this interview. The threatened and defensive tone of some of the responses suggests to me exactly the prevalence of certain, less direct forms of magical thinking that prevail in the skeptical community. Far from being abstract or ‘symantic’, the philosphical issue here points to so many concrete social and historical manifestations, which I find more interesting.

Going back to another recent podcast - Michael Shermer’s fetishization of laissez-faire capitalism, for example, seems very much based on religiously-grounded conceptions of ‘individual responsibility’ derived from, and harmonizing with christian protestantism/evangelism. I wish DJ had honed in more closely on the issue of criminal law… The staggering incarceration figures in the U.S., compared to anywhere else on the planet are certainly a product of this unique heritage combining aspects of protestant ‘free will’ theology and the institutions derived from black chattel slavery.

If you get rid of the ‘homunculus’ notion (‘contra-causal free will’), I wonder how much of the philosphical rationalization for private property in the means of production goes with it?

To me this quest for “true” ethics based on certain philosophical premises is close to religious thinking. This concept of lack of free will is non falsifiable philosophical theory.  In this theory free will is actually defined as almost impossible supernatural speculation and conclusion are then derived from the definition. There are of course other ways you can define free will. It also should be pointed out that it is NOT a part of scientific method to derive ethical stances from the observation of nature.

If you consider yourself as some kind of a skeptical champion you can look upon those lesser skeptics, I would consider it appropriate that you would point out to real scientific data in your analysis of criminality in United States and the rest of the world. 

You clearly are a Marxian. Correct me if I am mistaken. Marxism is not scientific thinking. On it’s philosophical roots and it’s concrete manifestations in communist countries, Marxism is a pseudo scientific mystical world view. Anyway the podcast surely wasn’t about Marxism. Of that I’m sure.

I don’t understand why you felt the need to attack your fellow skeptics in order to make your point.

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 9:32am by Eero T. Eloranta Comment #16

Always good input from Balak. Everyone wants to take what they can from a given Ideology, or philosophy, and not apply it to other reactionary elements contained within their own beliefs. :-)

Precisely everyone. Naturalists are no exception.

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 9:37am by Eero T. Eloranta Comment #17

Always good input from Balak. Everyone wants to take what they can from a given Ideology, or philosophy, and not apply it to other reactionary elements contained within their own beliefs. :-)

Precisely everyone. Naturalists are no exception.

I won’t argue with you there Eero. As I told the other libertarian here, We probably have way more in common then what we don’t agree on. I realize the Ends you wish to achieve, I just can’t see the means working out. I’m sure you and I desire the same end.
:-)  Roughly. :-)

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 9:46am by VYAZMA Comment #18

To me this quest for “true” ethics based on certain philosophical premises is close to religious thinking. This concept of lack of free will is non falsifiable philosophical theory.  In this theory free will is actually defined as almost impossible supernatural speculation and conclusion are then derived from the definition.

I don’t see the problem with this, this is the free will people usually actually believe in and is what is used to justify harming people because they deserve it. This is a religious concept to explain how a good God could send people to hell and to explain the problem of evil.

There are of course other ways you can define free will.

Of course but non of these can give us the type of deserved responsibility, blame etc which people usually actually believe in and feel we have, which is the point you miss and yet is the point of the podcast.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 9:53am by StephenLawrence Comment #19

Eero,

I think, on the question of ethics, this philosophy is not about what we should or shouldn’t do, except that we shouldn’t harm people with the justification that they deserve it, as that takes CCFW, something we both agree is ridiculous.

It’s about understanding that once you come to your particular understanding of what we should and shouldn’t do, a person who does what they shouldn’t do, doesn’t have a magical ability to do otherwise (CCFW)

The naturalised ability to do otherwise is in the counterfactual sense i.e if the circumstances had been appropriately different.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 12:37pm by StephenLawrence Comment #20

To me this quest for “true” ethics based on certain philosophical premises is close to religious thinking. This concept of lack of free will is non falsifiable philosophical theory.  In this theory free will is actually defined as almost impossible supernatural speculation and conclusion are then derived from the definition.

I don’t see the problem with this, this is the free will people usually actually believe in and is what is used to justify harming people because they deserve it. This is a religious concept to explain how a good God could send people to hell and to explain the problem of evil.

There are of course other ways you can define free will.

Of course but non of these can give us the type of deserved responsibility, blame etc which people usually actually believe in and feel we have, which is the point you miss and yet is the point of the podcast.

I agree. The point being that the specific religiously derived ideologies of a personal god, individual salvation/responsibility/retribution and reward serve specific purposes in the political culture… particularly (I would add) to uphold the position of the ruling class, the empire, the coercive apparatus of the state (cops, prisons, courts)... generally underlining the ‘rightness’  of the rulers in the minds of the ruled.

As the authority of revealed religion is undermined in certain sectors of the population, the ruling class finds ways to reenforce its legitimacy through secular and ‘scientific’ arguments (e.g. free-market economics, scientific racism, ‘social Darwinism’ in its various guises etc) for the status quo. I don’t really see anything controversial here.

‘Science’ has always found arguments either to support or oppose the prevailing order of things (depending on the sympathies of the scientist). Why would skeptics be any different than any other group - i.e. divided ultimately according to material interest and/or class loyalty?

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 12:49pm by Balak Comment #21

Good show. Tom was arguing for the same sort of compatibilist picture of free will that I’ve been trying to articulate here on the forum ...

;-)

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 1:50pm by dougsmith Comment #22

Good show. Tom was arguing for the same sort of compatibilist picture of free will that I’ve been trying to articulate here on the forum ...

;-)

Yep and if you hadn’t spent as long as you did and put as much effort as you did into articulating it, I’d have never understood it.

Oh and I also would not have understood that was a causal claim.

And that.

Thanks :-)

Stephen

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 1:55pm by StephenLawrence Comment #23

Good show. Tom was arguing for the same sort of compatibilist picture of free will that I’ve been trying to articulate here on the forum ...

;-)

Yes, but he did say that compatibilism has very little to do with free will. Which I always though to be the case. He then talked about two different free wills which I thought was very confusing.

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 2:00pm by George Comment #24

Good show. Tom was arguing for the same sort of compatibilist picture of free will that I’ve been trying to articulate here on the forum ...

;-)

Yes, but he did say that compatibilism has very little to do with free will. Which I always though to be the case. He then talked about two different free wills which I thought was very confusing.

I don’t think he said that compatibilism had very little to do with free will. You may have misunderstood his point during that part of the interview (At least, I don’t remember him saying anything like that). ... FWIW, it struck me (and perhaps DJ can refute this if he reads the thread) that they did a bit of editing and pruning of the interview, and might have edited out a few back-and-forths. There were a few jumps in the conversation that seemed sort of strange.

The two different ideas of free will are compatibilist and contra-causal. I would go a bit farther than he was willing to on the podcast and say that contra-causal free will is incoherent. (I’ve made that point ad nauseam in the free will threads ...)

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 2:09pm by dougsmith Comment #25

Yes, but he did say that compatibilism has very little to do with free will. Which I always though to be the case. He then talked about two different free wills which I thought was very confusing.

I don’t see why it’s very confusing to talk about two (perhaps more) different concepts of free will.

I think we are all aware of two of the different concepts. I chose freely, no one had a gun to my head.

And I chose freely, I had some magical, non random way, of selecting any of the options in the circumstances.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 2:09pm by StephenLawrence Comment #26

Yep and if you hadn’t spent as long as you did and put as much effort as you did into articulating it, I’d have never understood it.

Oh and I also would not have understood that was a causal claim.

And that.

Thanks :-)

You’re very welcome! Glad it was of some service.

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 2:10pm by dougsmith Comment #27

Free will?  Anything with the word “free” in it sounds like it would be a good thing but personally I’m glad free does not actually exist.  It is good to point this out because as more people realize that free will is actually a myth, it will help the ongoing campaign against ultimate accountability.  Perhaps your local District Attorney has not yet reached this particular enlightenment but there are some high level (chiefly appointed) Judges who are already figuring things out this way.  The down side is that we still need to figure out what do do about all the bad behaviour when it is society itself which is ultimately responsible for it.

Do we need to argue semantics as to “ultimate”?

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 3:15pm by gray1 Comment #28

The two different ideas of free will are compatibilist and contra-causal.

Right. The problem, IMO, is that the compatibilist free will has actually nothing to do with free will. We, of course, agree on the contra-causal free will. The way I see it, there are two possible problems with compatibilist free will:

1.) If I desire ice cream, and again we agree that I am indeed not free to cause the desire, it matters very little if I’ll actually get to eat the ice cram — as in the case of being prevented by another person to eat it. By “it matters very little” I mean that it has nothing to do with the subject of free will, but rather freedom.

2.) If, however, I am told that another person preventing me from acting upon my desires and beliefs is relevant to free will, I must object that since the person who is preventing me from acting upon my desires and beliefs (e.g., eating ice cream) is also acting upon his desires that he was not free to choose. And we are back to contra-causal free will.

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 4:09pm by George Comment #29

Yes, but he did say that compatibilism has very little to do with free will. Which I always though to be the case. He then talked about two different free wills which I thought was very confusing.

I don’t see why it’s very confusing to talk about two (perhaps more) different concepts of free will.

I think we are all aware of two of the different concepts. I chose freely, no one had a gun to my head.

And I chose freely, I had some magical, non random way, of selecting any of the options in the circumstances.

Stephen

I don’t see the example of not having a gun at my head as having anything to do with free will.  It doesn’t limit my choices at all.  It may add consequences to my choices, but choices always have consequences.

I think he is conflating freedom with free will and that just muddies things.

Sam

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 4:10pm by sampa Comment #30

I chose freely, no one had a gun to my head.

As I try to explain in my post above, Stephen, this has nothing to do with the subject of free will.

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 4:20pm by George Comment #31

The two different ideas of free will are compatibilist and contra-causal.

Right. The problem, IMO, is that the compatibilist free will has actually nothing to do with free will. We, of course, agree on the contra-causal free will. The way I see it, there are two possible problems with compatibilist free will:

1.) If I desire ice cream, and again we agree that I am indeed not free to cause the desire, it matters very little if I’ll actually get to eat the ice cram — as in the case of being prevented by another person to eat it. By “it matters very little” I mean that it has nothing to do with the subject of free will, but rather freedom.

2.) If, however, I am told that another person preventing me from acting upon my desires and beliefs is relevant to free will, I must object that since the person who is preventing me from acting upon my desires and beliefs (e.g., eating ice cream) is also acting upon his desires that he was not free to choose. And we are back to contra-causal free will.

I don’t understand. Compatibilist free will has everything to do with free will. It is the only sense of free will that is actually comprehensible—one in which our desires are realized. Contra-causal free will is incoherent, so is no sense of free will at all.

The fact (in your #2) that the person who prevented you from acting on your desires is also acting upon his desires is clearly irrelevant to the case about whether you are acting in that situation under your own free will. Clearly in that case you are not—you are being coerced.

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 5:38pm by dougsmith Comment #32

Contra-causal free will is incoherent, so is no sense of free will at all.

Right. And as far as I can tell this is the the free will (or its absence) that has been on the minds of philosophers for millennia, the one that the religious believe exists and the one who’s existence now neuroscience seems to deny. Even my kids know that they are not free to watch TV (acting upon their desires) when they are grounded. But ask them if they think they are free to will to want to watch TV! In my opinion compatibilism only confuses this whole topic.

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 7:34pm by George Comment #33

The two different ideas of free will are compatibilist and contra-causal.

Right. The problem, IMO, is that the compatibilist free will has actually nothing to do with free will. We, of course, agree on the contra-causal free will. The way I see it, there are two possible problems with compatibilist free will:

1.) If I desire ice cream, and again we agree that I am indeed not free to cause the desire, it matters very little if I’ll actually get to eat the ice cram — as in the case of being prevented by another person to eat it. By “it matters very little” I mean that it has nothing to do with the subject of free will, but rather freedom.

2.) If, however, I am told that another person preventing me from acting upon my desires and beliefs is relevant to free will, I must object that since the person who is preventing me from acting upon my desires and beliefs (e.g., eating ice cream) is also acting upon his desires that he was not free to choose. And we are back to contra-causal free will.

I don’t understand. Compatibilist free will has everything to do with free will. It is the only sense of free will that is actually comprehensible—one in which our desires are realized. Contra-causal free will is incoherent, so is no sense of free will at all.

The fact (in your #2) that the person who prevented you from acting on your desires is also acting upon his desires is clearly irrelevant to the case about whether you are acting in that situation under your own free will. Clearly in that case you are not—you are being coerced.

Why isn’t the person with the gun just part of my environment that is determining what my desires are?  If someone points a gun at my head and says that if I have some ice cream, he’ll shoot me, I expect that my desire for ice cream will be quickly curtailed.  How does that differ from my having eaten a quart of ice cream 15 minutes ago?  In both cases, I don’t desire ice cream as a result.

I also don’t think that coercion should be considered such an important factor.  Suppose person A tries to coerce person B to do some act C.  If B does C, then we consider them to be coerced and not have free will.  If B doesn’t do C, then has B exhibited free will?  What if B was going to do C anyway?

Sam

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 9:05pm by sampa Comment #34

Hi Sam,

I’ll have a go at answering your questions, although I’m no expert on compatibilist free will and I don’t feel this is the thread to get deeply into it on. (we have a free will thread)

The podcast was about the potential benefits of accepting that we don’t have contra causal free will.

Why isn’t the person with the gun just part of my environment that is determining what my desires are?

He is.

If someone points a gun at my head and says that if I have some ice cream, he’ll shoot me, I expect that my desire for ice cream will be quickly curtailed.  How does that differ from my having eaten a quart of ice cream 15 minutes ago?  In both cases, I don’t desire ice cream as a result.

The difference is between the causes of the result, one is another agents will and the other isn’t.

I also don’t think that coercion should be considered such an important factor.

Say someone points a gun at your head and says steal that car. Who does it make sense to hold responsible for the theft? Holding each other responsible functions to influence our choices. There is no need to influence your choice in this case because you are doing nothing morally wrong if you steal the car.


Suppose person A tries to coerce person B to do some act C.  If B does C, then we consider them to be coerced and not have free will.

It might be that they still share responsibility, it depends, compatibilist freedom is not an all or nothing thing, it’s on a sliding scale.

If B doesn’t do C, then has B exhibited free will?

Not sure, I guess so?

  What if B was going to do C anyway?

If B was going to do C anyway then the attempted coersion was not the cause of B’s will.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 10:41pm by StephenLawrence Comment #35

Contra-causal free will is incoherent, so is no sense of free will at all.

Right. And as far as I can tell this is the the free will (or its absence) that has been on the minds of philosophers for millennia, the one that the religious believe exists and the one who’s existence now neuroscience seems to deny.

Well we hardly needed to wait for neuroscience, I mean it just looks like nonsense doesn’t it?

It’s not just the religious who believe in it, anybody who believe someone can deserve to be harmed for what they have done believes in this magical freedom.

And that’s the vast majority of atheists and agnostics as well as theists!

Stephen

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 10:49pm by StephenLawrence Comment #36

I chose freely, no one had a gun to my head.

As I try to explain in my post above, Stephen, this has nothing to do with the subject of free will.

Well ok then we obviously don’t have free will and that’s that.

I think there is an incorrect incoherent version of could have done otherwise.

And there is the counterfactual sense which we use to establish causes.

It seems that somewhere along the line we have got awfully muddled about this but what we are interested in when dividing up moral responsibility is the counterfactual sense.

So I think that it does make sense to naturalise could have done otherwise or in other words naturalise free will.

It’s just very important to bear in mind that the naturalised version leads to responsibility, blame etc, as functional in the societies of social animals, rather than deeply deserved, ultimate responsibility, ultimate blame etc.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 11:09pm by StephenLawrence Comment #37

@ Doug:

Just FYI, there was no “pruning of the interview,” nor did I “edit out a few back-and-forths.”  But I agree that D.J.‘s questions did jump around, I think he was trying to cover a lot of ground.

For what its worth, this kind of argument weighs heavily on me, and I think is making me lean toward going into public defense as a lawyer.

Cheers,
Thomas

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 11:19pm by Thomas Donnelly Comment #38

It’s not just the religious who believe in it, anybody who believe someone can deserve to be harmed for what they have done believes in this magical freedom.

And that’s the vast majority of atheists and agnostics as well as theists!

Stephen

Where this idea comes from? To me you seem to confuse certain philosophy and real world as it is.

I do not believe in that ethical stance. I do not believe in magical freedom of any kind. Your philosophical thinking does not change that because real world is not a logical deduction. To me this whole idea is similar to ideas like there can not be morality without a God. Real world exists without philosophical and logical modeling of it. It is futile to try to explain who deserves and what because it is and always will be a matter of personal opinion. 

And isn’t it a simple fact that we really can never know if a person is free to choose because there is no way of going back to any moment in time. It will always remain a matter of speculation because there can not be any kind of experimental way to verify the claim.

Posted on Jul 20, 2009 at 11:38pm by Eero T. Eloranta Comment #39

It’s not just the religious who believe in it, anybody who believe someone can deserve to be harmed for what they have done believes in this magical freedom.

And that’s the vast majority of atheists and agnostics as well as theists!

Stephen

Where this idea comes from? To me you seem to confuse certain philosophy and real world as it is.

I do not believe in that ethical stance. I do not believe in magical freedom of any kind. Your philosophical thinking does not change that because real world is not a logical deduction. To me this whole idea is similar to ideas like there can not be morality without a God. Real world exists without philosophical and logical modeling of it. It is futile to try to explain who deserves and what because it is and always will be a matter of personal opinion. 

It seems to me you believe in an unverifiable kind of freedom that can make us deserving of being harmed, which is what I meant by magical freedom.

And isn’t it a simple fact that we really can never know if a person is free to choose because there is no way of going back to any moment in time. It will always remain a matter of speculation because there can not be any kind of experimental way to verify the claim.

But this is this kind of freedom: “In some sense totally free will that operates without any causality” which we agree ” can not ever be. It’s a ridiculous idea.”

I don’t see how you can think it’s ridiculous and a matter of speculation and believe in it, as you believe in “just deserts”, all at the same time.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 12:10am by StephenLawrence Comment #40

Contra-causal free will is incoherent, so is no sense of free will at all.

Right. And as far as I can tell this is the the free will (or its absence) that has been on the minds of philosophers for millennia, the one that the religious believe exists and the one who’s existence now neuroscience seems to deny. Even my kids know that they are not free to watch TV (acting upon their desires) when they are grounded. But ask them if they think they are free to will to want to watch TV! In my opinion compatibilism only confuses this whole topic.

Well, it’s the free will that’s been on the minds of some philosophers for millennia, but other philosophers have denied it. So too, some religious people have accepted it, others denied it. (Those who believe in strong predestination deny it). And the naturalist philosophers have been denying it since long before contemporary neuroscience. So none of this is particularly new, except for the sophistication.

And of course your children are free to will to want to watch TV. If you tell them otherwise you are mistaken.

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 4:48am by dougsmith Comment #41

@ Doug:

Just FYI, there was no “pruning of the interview,” nor did I “edit out a few back-and-forths.”  But I agree that D.J.‘s questions did jump around, I think he was trying to cover a lot of ground.

For what its worth, this kind of argument weighs heavily on me, and I think is making me lean toward going into public defense as a lawyer.

Thanks, Thomas. No worries. Yes, he was trying to cover a lot of ground. It’s a complex and enormous topic to try to fit into a 30 minute interview.

Good for you for considering public defense law. It’s a tough row to hoe ...

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 4:50am by dougsmith Comment #42

Contra-causal free will is incoherent, so is no sense of free will at all.

Right. And as far as I can tell this is the the free will (or its absence) that has been on the minds of philosophers for millennia, the one that the religious believe exists and the one who’s existence now neuroscience seems to deny.

Well we hardly needed to wait for neuroscience, I mean it just looks like nonsense doesn’t it?

It’s not just the religious who believe in it, anybody who believe someone can deserve to be harmed for what they have done believes in this magical freedom.

And that’s the vast majority of atheists and agnostics as well as theists!

Stephen

If you think the human behavioral tendency to strike back if hit, or a tribes tendency to root out an outcast from the village, for say disease, or heinous activity is magic, then I don’t know what you are talking about.
You are “viewing” it as a Freedom. You are viewing it as magical. You use the word “Deserve”!! You’re trying to frame the concept of Human Behavioral Violence, or revenge, as unnatural. You are free to subjectively interpret “Deserve” all you want. That is outside of the scope. The scope is all of these actions are basic human behavioral responses.
Many people don’t believe in any “Magical Freedoms”. Yet they still adhere to social group behavioral mechanics.
If your only case here is to try and prove that violence and “Judgement” is an outmoded human “Magic” that can be curbed or changed, you are in the clouds. I could be wrong in interpreting your views here- if so sorry.

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 5:09am by VYAZMA Comment #43

It’s just very important to bear in mind that the naturalised version leads to responsibility, blame etc, as functional in the societies of social animals, rather than deeply deserved, ultimate responsibility, ultimate blame etc.

Stephen

Ok, right. It leads to ultimate responsibility, it leads to chaos too. Blame is subjective, but it is still an important functioning gear in our social behavior.
Let’s not try to co-mingle philosophical absolutes with Human behavior. There is a Concrete Objectivity that anyone can use, when viewing the apparent subjective randomness of human behavior. The ends NATURALLY justify the means in many(all?) cases.
This may seem, unfair, or illogical to “astute philosphical” viewers, but it is part of the game.

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 5:18am by VYAZMA Comment #44

There is no difference between “ultimate” responsibilty or just “regular” responsibilty. This is where some folks have mentioned the muddled road of semantics. Some can view things with immediate blame, others can “drill deep”(I got that from Doug) and find “Ultimate responsibility”. There is no difference. And if someones conclusions reach the basis for blame or responsibilty on GOD, that is just as natural as anything else. It is objectively- from a natural standpoint no more or less natural than Harvard Law school, or Socrates, or Charles Mansons Take on responsibilty or Blame.

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 5:39am by VYAZMA Comment #45

It’s not just the religious who believe in it, anybody who believe someone can deserve to be harmed for what they have done believes in this magical freedom.

And that’s the vast majority of atheists and agnostics as well as theists!

Stephen

Where this idea comes from? To me you seem to confuse certain philosophy and real world as it is.

I do not believe in that ethical stance. I do not believe in magical freedom of any kind. Your philosophical thinking does not change that because real world is not a logical deduction. To me this whole idea is similar to ideas like there can not be morality without a God. Real world exists without philosophical and logical modeling of it. It is futile to try to explain who deserves and what because it is and always will be a matter of personal opinion. 

It seems to me you believe in an unverifiable kind of freedom that can make us deserving of being harmed, which is what I meant by magical freedom.

And isn’t it a simple fact that we really can never know if a person is free to choose because there is no way of going back to any moment in time. It will always remain a matter of speculation because there can not be any kind of experimental way to verify the claim.

But this is this kind of freedom: “In some sense totally free will that operates without any causality” which we agree ” can not ever be. It’s a ridiculous idea.”

I don’t see how you can think it’s ridiculous and a matter of speculation and believe in it, as you believe in “just deserts”, all at the same time.

Stephen

This whole idea about will being free or not free remains a speculation. Neither one can be experimentally verified and this sort of dualistic world view in my opinion puts too much faith on logic. As an empiricist I am not convinced that we should try to find ethical truths by deduction.

I do not believe that people deserve or do not deserve anything in any ultimate sense.

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 6:44am by Eero T. Eloranta Comment #46

vyazma,

There is no difference between “ultimate” responsibilty or just “regular” responsibilty. This is where some folks have mentioned the muddled road of semantics. Some can view things with immediate blame, others can “drill deep”(I got that from Doug) and find “Ultimate responsibility”. There is no difference. And if someones conclusions reach the basis for blame or responsibilty on GOD, that is just as natural as anything else. It is objectively- from a natural standpoint no more or less natural than Harvard Law school, or Socrates, or Charles Mansons Take on responsibilty or Blame.

There are no muddled semantics.

the idea of being harmed being fair to you for what you have done i.e it being deserved, is based upon the fictional concept of could have done otherwise.

The real version, the counterfactual version could not make you deserve to be harmed, deserve blame etc.

We invented desert before we understood what was really going on.

It’s just a mistake, a pretty nasty one.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 7:04am by StephenLawrence Comment #47

.

I do not believe that people deserve or do not deserve anything in any ultimate sense.

Ok Eero we seem to agree on this, so I guess there is much more misunderstanding between us than disagreement.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 7:09am by StephenLawrence Comment #48

 
... I would consider it appropriate that you would point out to real scientific data in your analysis of criminality in United States and the rest of the world. 

Odd that you should confuse two such distinct topics (i.e. incarceration rates and ‘criminality’).

Seems you are in some confusion as to what people ‘deserve’ after all.

(For copious stats on this topic, just google ‘prison industrial complex.’)

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 7:11am by Balak Comment #49

Vyazma,

There is no difference between “ultimate” responsibilty or just “regular” responsibilty.

That’s the dreadful mistake.

Say a baby is born and from the factual circumstances of his birth he has one possible future, which is to commit murder.

This baby is merely unfortunate to have this fate, in a very important sense.

The freedom and therefore responsibility that you believe in is not compatible with this and there is no denying it by saying it’s semantic games.

There is a very real difference between the responsibility you believe in and the responsibility we have.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 7:19am by StephenLawrence Comment #50

There are no muddled semantics.

ok- fair enough.

the idea of being harmed being fair to you for what you have done i.e it being deserved, is based upon the fictional concept of could have done otherwise.

Right- we agree! I’m trying to muck through the difficult ways to interpret this.

The real version, the counterfactual version could not make you deserve to be harmed, deserve blame etc.

What is this? Clarify this, if you will. I can’t understand the language.

We invented desert before we understood what was really going on.

It’s just a mistake, a pretty nasty one.

This last is just creative writing, no? There are no mistakes regarding the “evolution” of mans behavior or his concepts in which to manifest behavior.

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 7:24am by VYAZMA Comment #51

The real version, the counterfactual version could not make you deserve to be harmed, deserve blame etc.

What is this? Clarify this, if you will. I can’t understand the language.

No, I got it. I see now. I guess the basic concept is so simple, that when it is explained, it appears overly complicated.
I agree totally with this. Have I missed anything?

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 7:36am by VYAZMA Comment #52

Just as long as we see that the concept “deserve” is real, and has a useful context and mechanic within our social-behavioral system.
Just because we can go further beyond the concepts of deserve, or free-will, or blame, doesn’t mean that they aren’t relative, and useful. In other words, we aren’t going to be able to think beyond these concepts to obtain clarity which can then be used to reform behavior.

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 7:42am by VYAZMA Comment #53

Vyazma,

There is no difference between “ultimate” responsibilty or just “regular” responsibilty.

That’s the dreadful mistake.

Say a baby is born and from the factual circumstances of his birth he has one possible future, which is to commit murder.

This baby is merely unfortunate to have this fate, in a very important sense.

The freedom and therefore responsibility that you believe in is not compatible with this and there is no denying it by saying it’s semantic games.

There is a very real difference between the responsibility you believe in and the responsibility we have.

Stephen

Negative! Steve. Come up with an actual observation of human behavior, Not some hypothetical example of a Super-baby.
Please elucidate using actual observation.

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 7:49am by VYAZMA Comment #54

As I said, A third party observer of a given “blame”, may see things from a free-will stand point, or a philosophical standpoint. From a natural standpoint, or a mystical standpoint. It’s ultimately unimportant. This is what I meant by no difference.
Ultimate responsibility is still a subjective viewpoint. No matter what the Ultimate truth is.

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 7:54am by VYAZMA Comment #55

There are no muddled semantics.

ok- fair enough.

the idea of being harmed being fair to you for what you have done i.e it being deserved, is based upon the fictional concept of could have done otherwise.

Right- we agree! I’m trying to muck through the difficult ways to interpret this.

Ok, that’s what matters Vyazma.

Best,

Stephen

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 7:57am by StephenLawrence Comment #56

The real version, the counterfactual version could not make you deserve to be harmed, deserve blame etc.

What is this? Clarify this, if you will. I can’t understand the language.

No, I got it. I see now. I guess the basic concept is so simple, that when it is explained, it appears overly complicated.
I agree totally with this. Have I missed anything?

Yes, it really is a simple subject!

No you’ve missed nothing.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 7:59am by StephenLawrence Comment #57

Vyazma,

There is no difference between “ultimate” responsibilty or just “regular” responsibilty.

That’s the dreadful mistake.

Say a baby is born and from the factual circumstances of his birth he has one possible future, which is to commit murder.

This baby is merely unfortunate to have this fate, in a very important sense.

The freedom and therefore responsibility that you believe in is not compatible with this and there is no denying it by saying it’s semantic games.

No. You see we are getting lost! I don’t think(?) we are in any disagreement. What is this here…“the freedoms I believe in” “the responsibility”  ???

There is a very real difference between the responsibility you believe in and the responsibility we have.

Stephen

What?? Are we lost here? Are we talking past one another? Describe what you think I believe.

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 8:00am by VYAZMA Comment #58

Vyazma,

There is no difference between “ultimate” responsibilty or just “regular” responsibilty.

That’s the dreadful mistake.

Say a baby is born and from the factual circumstances of his birth he has one possible future, which is to commit murder.

This baby is merely unfortunate to have this fate, in a very important sense.

The freedom and therefore responsibility that you believe in is not compatible with this and there is no denying it by saying it’s semantic games.

No. You see we are getting lost! I don’t think(?) we are in any disagreement. What is this here…“the freedoms I believe in” “the responsibility”  ???

There is a very real difference between the responsibility you believe in and the responsibility we have.

Stephen

What?? Are we lost here? Are we talking past one another? Describe what you think I believe.

I think we’ve cleared it up and we agree, so I think it’s best to ignore my post, it’s an error on my part.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 8:03am by StephenLawrence Comment #59

I think we’ve cleared it up and we agree, so I think it’s best to ignore my post.

Stephen

Gotcha. This teletype communication thing is tricky. Ha ha! :-)  All the best to you too!

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 8:06am by VYAZMA Comment #60

For purposes of some focus, to what extent does a seriously mentally ill person “deserve to be harmed” for actions resulting from his supposed free will?  I can suppose an answer here and foreward to mention the fact that many of our incarcerated citizens (ex-citizens, all things considered) are in fact mentally ill yet in many cases receive no professional care for such illness.  Such a condition is thereby likely to spiral ever deeper. 

Moving “upstream” a little, most law enforcement officers in the field are apparently not trained to deal with or even recognize symptoms of mental illness but considering all they have to deal with already, perhaps such general training is not practical for the most part.  I do feel, however, there should be a “triage” of some sort prior to simply dumping someone suffering, for instance, from a brief psychotic disorder directly into a general prisoner population with no further evaluation.

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 11:46am by gray1 Comment #61

For purposes of some focus, to what extent does a seriously mentally ill person “deserve to be harmed” for actions resulting from his supposed free will? 

We recognise the mentally ill person does not deserve to be harmed because he has no free will.

What we need to recognise is nobody deserves to be harmed, whether they have compatibilist free will or not.

This doesn’t have the implications for punishment one might think. Not setting boundaries, or penalising people to make them and others aware of consequences of their actions, is also harmful and undeserved.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 12:27pm by StephenLawrence Comment #62

... as with so many spoiled children.

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 1:04pm by gray1 Comment #63

We recognise the mentally ill person does not deserve to be harmed because he has no free will.


Stephen

True, the problem being that mental illness is all too often not recognized or at least is not addressed as such, which is my point exactly - they are being harmed regardless.

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 1:09pm by gray1 Comment #64

True, the problem being that mental illness is all too often not recognized or at least is not addressed as such, which is my point exactly - they are being harmed regardless.

Yes and just with mentally well people who are harmed, we have the very tough question of whether the harm is justified. Could it in certain cases still be a deterent to other similar people in similar circumstances, even if they are mentally ill?

Much as many say they don’t care whether people deserve to be harmed or not, best do it anyway, I’m sure that these same people do have the intuition that people do deserve to be harmed and this is really why they don’t care. If people were to lose this intuition and the emotional reactions that go with it, they’d think very differently.

Still we must be wary of consequences and there is a great risk of making things worse rather than better, with more people coming to harm, which I’m sure is why many are worried about all this and would rather “keep the lid on it.”

I think if people lost the intuition that some deserve to be harmed there would be much more interest in preventing people getting into situations in which they do “bad” things in the first place, which would be one benefit. I also think the desire to harm those who deserve it is the driving force behind many “bad” acts and so the prevention of those would be another.

We seem to be able to train other animals, without the need to harm them and the best trainers are the ones who do it this way.

Maybe we could reach this level of achievement with humans too, people treating each other well with hardly the need to harm anyone in order to achieve it?

I guess some will think that’s a utopian dream but I’m not so sure why, are we so different to other animals that we can do this with? And also I think those same people are probably cosy with their intuition intact, that some really do deserve to be harmed.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 21, 2009 at 11:43pm by StephenLawrence Comment #65

Maybe we could reach this level of achievement with humans too, people treating each other well with hardly the need to harm anyone in order to achieve it?

I guess some will think that’s a utopian dream but I’m not so sure why, are we so different to other animals that we can do this with? And also I think those same people are probably cosy with their intuition intact, that some really do deserve to be harmed.

Stephen

Just as long as we see that the concept “deserve” is real, and has a useful context and mechanic within our social-behavioral system.
Just because we can go further beyond the concepts of deserve, or free-will, or blame, doesn’t mean that they aren’t relative, and useful. In other words, we aren’t going to be able to think beyond these concepts to obtain clarity which can then be used to reform behavior.(I took this from post #53)

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 3:56am by VYAZMA Comment #66

We recognise the mentally ill person does not deserve to be harmed because he has no free will.

Or we have no free will to want to kill him.

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 6:24am by George Comment #67

We recognise the mentally ill person does not deserve to be harmed because he has no free will.

Or we have no free will to want to kill him.

What do you mean?

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 6:44am by dougsmith Comment #68

Steve-

Much as many say they don’t care whether people deserve to be harmed or not, best do it anyway, I’m sure that these same people do have the intuition that people do deserve to be harmed and this is really why they don’t care. If people were to lose this intuition and the emotional reactions that go with it, they’d think very differently.

Still we must be wary of consequences and there is a great risk of making things worse rather than better, with more people coming to harm, which I’m sure is why many are worried about all this and would rather “keep the lid on it.”

I think if people lost the intuition that some deserve to be harmed there would be much more interest in preventing people getting into situations in which they do “bad” things in the first place, which would be one benefit. I also think the desire to harm those who deserve it is the driving force behind many “bad” acts and so the prevention of those would be another.

Steve I think also you are making a mistake in your perception of this concept. You are framing it in a biased context which only deals with “negative reactions”. These concepts we are discussing MUST also be applied in the other direction.
“The kids didn’t deserve Mexican Sundaes after they went above and beyond the call of duty, in helping with their chores”
The social worker didn’t deserve the Award from the Philanthropic Society for her 35 years of exemplary care”
It’s a 2-way street with this Free-will thing(which I subscribe to in theory).
Punishment is used to deter negative actions, reward is used to encourage positive actions.
Also you talked about training animals. Most animals inflict their own types of harm on other animals. They do this for their own behavioral “needs”. We are no different, our behavioral needs are far more complex. Resulting in a world-wide justice system which is relatively the same. It is based on Punishment and correction. Both of these are obviously contra-causal(is that the word?). So, like I said, even though we may be able to think beyond Free-will, or “what makes us tick”, it really is redundant.
Small reforms have been effected through the centuries, concerning the attention to addressing human behavior in regards to punishment. But this is more concurrent with politics, and new understandings of behavior, and a quality of mercy. For example punishments used to be far more brutal. The law was far less egalitarian. Now in these “modern” times, things have become more “humane”. They aren’t really any more better than they were, they aren’t addressing the idea of “No Free-Will”. They can’t. We are animals, not philosophers.

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 7:11am by VYAZMA Comment #69

We recognise the mentally ill person does not deserve to be harmed because he has no free will.

Or we have no free will to want to kill him.

What do you mean?

That we all suffer from confabulation. That’s all.

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 7:22am by George Comment #70

For example punishments used to be far more brutal. The law was far less egalitarian. Now in these “modern” times, things have become more “humane”. They aren’t really any more better than they were, they aren’t addressing the idea of “No Free-Will”. They can’t. We are animals, not philosophers.

Things are better than they were because they are more humane and less brutal. Surely we would all like to continue with this progress?

I think the idea that the only type of free will we can have is compatible with determinism is being taken into account in legal systems. I don’t know for sure but I get the impression that in Europe the compatibilist version of free will is the one being applied whilst in America I get the sense that a type of retribution based on the incoherent version of could have done otherwise still applies.

Mind you in the UK we seem to be rather dangerously neglecting consequences too!

Stephen

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 7:48am by StephenLawrence Comment #71

You replied to the least pertinent part of my posts. But I can see from your last post that you aren’t a purist either. Accepting arbitrary notional “advances”, in the face of what we talked about a few post up, is defacto understanding of the built in behavioral tendencies concerning “deserve”, “blame” etc..
I think even if we were to fantasize about a future in which human condition could be “reformed” into a purist model so to speak, there would always be a “snap-back” possibility. Thus further proving the truth lies closer to causal-relationships-as brought about by naturalistic tendencies.
I think a bunch of books and movies have carried this theme to one degree or another.(The snap-back theme) :lol:

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 8:01am by VYAZMA Comment #72

Is “justice” more a process of extracting balance and possibly some revenge or is it for training the “animals” that negative consequences will be suffered for their bad behaviour?  Unfortunately this thing called incarceration has evolved for many concerned into an initiation rite of passage and/or an extension of the welfare system which no longer serves at least half of its intended purpose.  In the words of that sage rabbit, “Oh please don’t throw me in the briar patch!”

Since the deterent effect of incarceration seems somewhat neutered and “rehabilitation” is a joke, I’m afraid the trend now is to simply protect the public by keeping as many “bad people” locked away for as long as it can be afforded.  This happens to fit well with the Prison-Industrial Complex concept.  As a young black lady once told me why she was dilligently working to change the attitudes of captives within this system, “We want our men back!”

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 8:25am by gray1 Comment #73

We recognise the mentally ill person does not deserve to be harmed because he has no free will.

Or we have no free will to want to kill him.

What do you mean?

That we all suffer from confabulation. That’s all.

I still don’t understand your point. Where’s the confabulation?

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 10:41am by dougsmith Comment #74

We recognise the mentally ill person does not deserve to be harmed because he has no free will.

Or we have no free will to want to kill him.

What do you mean?

That we all suffer from confabulation. That’s all.

I still don’t understand your point. Where’s the confabulation?

In the false perception that we seem to think that we are responsible for our actions. The way we “recognize” that a mentally ill person does not deserve to be harmed is the same as when a calculator “recognizes” that 1+1=2.

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 11:10am by George Comment #75

In the false perception that we seem to think that we are responsible for our actions.

I do have to express a great deal of sympathy with your position on this George.

Of course in a way you are absolutely right because the responsibility people actually believe in is so far removed from the responsibility we have.

Still social animals do divide up responsibility and it doesn’t require contra causal free will to do it.

It does require an enormous shift from the way of looking at it that is prevelant in our culture to understand it, however.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 11:21am by StephenLawrence Comment #76

In the false perception that we seem to think that we are responsible for our actions. The way we “recognize” that a mentally ill person does not deserve to be harmed is the same as when a calculator “recognizes” that 1+1=2.

Why does that make us not responsible for our actions? Surely even the calculator is responsible, in the relevant sense of responsible, for outputting “2” when you press “1+1”. Sounds to me like a non sequitur.

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 11:32am by dougsmith Comment #77

In the false perception that we seem to think that we are responsible for our actions.

I do have to express a great deal of sympathy with your position on this George.

Of course in a way you are absolutely right because the responsibility people actually believe in is so far removed from the responsibility we have.

Still social animals do divide up responsibility and it doesn’t require contra causal free will to do it.

It does require an enormous shift from the way of looking at it that is prevelant in our culture to understand it, however.

Stephen

Well, Stephen, it also required an enormous shift to accept that Earth wasn’t at the centre of the universe, that man wasn’t created in the image of God and that life has no ultimate meaning.

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 11:42am by George Comment #78

In the false perception that we seem to think that we are responsible for our actions.

I do have to express a great deal of sympathy with your position on this George.

Of course in a way you are absolutely right because the responsibility people actually believe in is so far removed from the responsibility we have.

Still social animals do divide up responsibility and it doesn’t require contra causal free will to do it.

It does require an enormous shift from the way of looking at it that is prevelant in our culture to understand it, however.

Stephen

Well, Stephen, it also required an enormous shift to accept that Earth wasn’t at the centre of the universe, that man wasn’t created in the image of God and that life has no ultimate meaning.

So perhaps you and I could make the shift to understand the responsibility we do have, just as other social animals have (with whatever genuine difference there is between us and them included)?

Stephen

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 11:57am by StephenLawrence Comment #79

Deleted by a mistake.

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 12:02pm by George Comment #80

What shift, Stephen?

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 12:05pm by George Comment #81

What shift, Stephen?

The shift from understanding responsibility, blame, fault, praise, guilt etc dependant on something obviously impossible CCFW.

And understanding it in evolutionary terms instead.

Since I’ve stopped believing in people being responsible for their actions in the traditional (at least amongst ordinary folk)  sense, my sense of responsibility has actually magnified, though it’s hard to explain.

To give you some idea, in business I don’t advertise, won’t use tricks like pretending something is reduced from the rrp, don’t like bogof offers and so on.

What I try to do is listen to people and give them what they want or genuinely try to help them by explaining that they might be better off with something else.

I dunno if that’s even remotely helped you understand but I hope so.

I guess you could say my understanding that others don’t have ultimate responsibility for their choice prevents me from trying to trick them into making a particular choice and yet I’m very keen on dividing up responsibility appropriately.

As you know I think belief in ultimate responsibility is an absolute nightmare for us and we’d be so much better of without it.
But I don’t see how we could live without the more common sensical dividing up of responsibility in some way, nor can I see that we’d want to try.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 12:22pm by StephenLawrence Comment #82

Surely even the calculator is responsible, in the relevant sense of responsible, for outputting “2” when you press “1+1”.

I couldn’t agree more. With the only exception that a calculator is responsible for its actions in the same way we are responsible for ours.

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 12:34pm by George Comment #83

Since I’ve stopped believing in people being responsible for their actions in the traditional (at least amongst ordinary folk)  sense, my sense of responsibility has actually magnified, though it’s hard to explain.

But, Stephen, it really cannot matter if you believe in free will or not, since whatever actions you take (based on whatever beliefs), they have been already predetermined 13.8 billion years ago. Only God is free to will as he pleases.

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 12:40pm by George Comment #84

Surely even the calculator is responsible, in the relevant sense of responsible, for outputting “2” when you press “1+1”.

I couldn’t agree more. With the only exception that a calculator is responsible for its actions in the same way we are responsible for ours.

One difference, George, is that the calculator doesn’t respond to praise, blame, anger etc, and nor do fellow calculators in the vacinity or those who get to hear about it.

Another is it doesn’t have knowledge of it’s causal power.

Don’t you think we need to build these factors and many more in, to get the full picture?

Stephen

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 12:42pm by StephenLawrence Comment #85

What about Data? Data is a “calculator” with all those factors. It changes nothing.

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 12:46pm by George Comment #86

Since I’ve stopped believing in people being responsible for their actions in the traditional (at least amongst ordinary folk)  sense, my sense of responsibility has actually magnified, though it’s hard to explain.

But, Stephen, it really cannot matter if you believe in free will or not, since whatever actions you take (based on whatever beliefs), they have been already predetermined 13.8 billion years ago.

But George this is the most basic and obvious mistake. It does matter because I have causal power and so whether I do this or that influences what happens.

It makes no difference that my causal power was in turn caused. In fact how could uncaused causal power help me in the least?

Only God is free to will as he pleases.

God doesn’t have CCFW either.

By definition God is perfectly good (Doug will think ‘ang on a minute this is my definition) all knowing and therefore must select the one best option compatible with that.

It’s even more obvious that God doesn’t have contra causal free will than that we don’t.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 12:51pm by StephenLawrence Comment #87

It makes no difference that my causal power was in turn caused.

How so?

This doesn’t really explain it:

In fact how could uncaused causal power help me in the least?

Your “causal power” is caused. I don’t know what an uncaused causal power is.

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 1:08pm by George Comment #88

Surely even the calculator is responsible, in the relevant sense of responsible, for outputting “2” when you press “1+1”.

I couldn’t agree more. With the only exception that a calculator is responsible for its actions in the same way we are responsible for ours.

Well, except for the fact that the calculator is extremely simple and so doesn’t have a mind or beliefs and desires in the way that we do. However, if you were to radically increase the complexity of the calculator such as to make it into Data, then yes, it would be precisely the same.

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 1:19pm by dougsmith Comment #89

It makes no difference that my causal power was in turn caused.

How so?

This doesn’t really explain it:

In fact how could uncaused causal power help me in the least?

Your “causal power” is caused. I don’t know what an uncaused causal power is.

Actually George I’ll be a little more candid with you. Although I think you are making an obvious mistake, it’s not so obvious to me that I don’t feel the need to go over it. That’s one reason I spend time over this. But what I don’t want to do is go off into an area far removed from Tom’s excellent and well recieved podcast. So I’ll reply here but perhaps carry on on another thread if you want to.

Another way of putting my point is to say to believe “it doesn’t matter” is to believe that there are no consequences. Surely if there are consequences it matters, true?

If there are no consequences, then we can’t make sense of any evolved behaviour, we can’t make sense of evolution itself and we can’t make sense of causation.

So in effect what you are saying is if causal determinism is true, if evolution is true, then evolution isn’t true and nothing is caused.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 1:24pm by StephenLawrence Comment #90

I am not following you, Stephen. The reason we can make sense of evolution is precisely because everything is caused by a preceding action, according to the laws of nature.

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 1:33pm by George Comment #91

I am not following you, Stephen. The reason we can make sense of evolution is precisely because everything is caused by a preceding action, according to the laws of nature.

Don’t we make sense of evolution in terms of consequences?

So if a certain trait which benefits survival develops, the consequences are that the life form is more likely to pass on it’s genes and for the trait to be inherited.

Surely evolution itself depends upon there being consequences of one thing happening rather than another.

Or not?

Stephen

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 1:44pm by StephenLawrence Comment #92

Yes, but does that have to do with free will?

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 1:48pm by George Comment #93

I am not following you, Stephen. The reason we can make sense of evolution is precisely because everything is caused by a preceding action, according to the laws of nature.

Causality itself depends upon there being something that would not happen if such and such a cause did not occur.

Causality depends on there being alternative possibilities and yet seems (intuitevly at least) to rule out alternative possibilities.

This is the paradox that I haven’t solved for myself and one I’m surprised not to find as a staple of philosophy.

Still if we have no causal power, it’s true nothing matters, as long as we do everything matters!

Stephen

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 1:53pm by StephenLawrence Comment #94

Yes, but does that have to do with free will?

George without looking back you said nothing matters didn’t you? If there are consequences then the choice you make does matter, no?

edit: here is the quote: “it really cannot matter if you believe in free will or not, since whatever actions you take (based on whatever beliefs), they have been already predetermined 13.8 billion years ago.”

Stephen

Posted on Jul 22, 2009 at 1:54pm by StephenLawrence Comment #95

Yes and just with mentally well people who are harmed, we have the very tough question of whether the harm is justified. Could it in certain cases still be a deterent to other similar people in similar circumstances, even if they are mentally ill?

Much as many say they don’t care whether people deserve to be harmed or not, best do it anyway, I’m sure that these same people do have the intuition that people do deserve to be harmed and this is really why they don’t care. If people were to lose this intuition and the emotional reactions that go with it, they’d think very differently.

Still we must be wary of consequences and there is a great risk of making things worse rather than better, with more people coming to harm, which I’m sure is why many are worried about all this and would rather “keep the lid on it.”

I think if people lost the intuition that some deserve to be harmed there would be much more interest in preventing people getting into situations in which they do “bad” things in the first place, which would be one benefit. I also think the desire to harm those who deserve it is the driving force behind many “bad” acts and so the prevention of those would be another.

We seem to be able to train other animals, without the need to harm them and the best trainers are the ones who do it this way.

Maybe we could reach this level of achievement with humans too, people treating each other well with hardly the need to harm anyone in order to achieve it?

I guess some will think that’s a utopian dream but I’m not so sure why, are we so different to other animals that we can do this with? And also I think those same people are probably cosy with their intuition intact, that some really do deserve to be harmed.

Stephen

See Green and Cohen, For the law, neuroscience changes nothing and everything.

Posted on Jul 23, 2009 at 6:37am by shiraz Comment #96

Great show DJ,  Alan Watts has a good chapter on creative morality in his book The Wisdom of Insecurity, which is worth a read

Posted on Jul 23, 2009 at 6:19pm by alex Comment #97

Hi George,

It makes no difference that my causal power was in turn caused.

How so?

To make progress I think we need to take the following approach. As I can’t see what difference it makes, I can’t say “how so” without you explaining to me what difference you think it makes first.

I hope you’ll have a go.

I shall respond on the free will thread.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 23, 2009 at 10:57pm by StephenLawrence Comment #98

Stephen,

This topic exhausts me and I feel I need to take a brake from it for some time. I hope you’ll understand.

George

Posted on Jul 24, 2009 at 6:26am by George Comment #99

Stephen,

This topic exhausts me and I feel I need to take a brake from it for some time. I hope you’ll understand.

George

No need to hope!

Best,

Stephen

Posted on Jul 24, 2009 at 12:41pm by StephenLawrence Comment #100

I just heard this show, so I’m late to the party, and I’m also short on deep philosophical insight and associated vernacular.  But the show was interesting enough to prompt me to register and comment on it.  Not that anyone might care to read my opinions, but I am predetermined to write this response; essentially I am compelled to do so.  Therefore,  I don’t want to hear any critique about the contents since I can’t really help thinking this way or writing about it.

. . . yes, Clark lost me when discussing morality and the implication of naturalism with regards to personal responsibility. 

I’ll grant the idea a person’s behavior, decisions, and actions are bounded within a probability band defined by his personal circumstances and prior experiences.  And he does correctly identify the individual itself as a causal agent.  But I take issue with some if the conclusions he draws from his naturalistic model.

On the one hand he states a person’s actions/decisions are repeatable given a particular set of circumstances, but then he goes on to say people in similar circumstances are “likely” to behave similarly.  To me this implies a certain degree of contra-casual free will, however much that sounds like woo.

Given the premise our actions are not strictly determined by statistics, his example of people growing up in certain neighborhoods seems a good example of individuals behaving counter to what circumstances might dictate.  Presuming similar experiences, or at least a narrow band of experiences, one would expect a corresponding narrow range of decisions from a given population.  That is just not the case.

But even if it were, the argument would then not be just one of compassion; one could make just as plausible an argument for writing people off.  Given their circumstances, and having passed a certain age, people are not likely to be dissuaded from certain behaviors.  Observationally, that seems to be the case for the population at large.

Society’s answer, especially since we apparently don’t have an innate moral compass, should then be to eliminate these people for the protection of the herd.  So, for instance, now would be a good time to eliminate most investment bankers, financial gurus, and politicians.

For that is Clark’s other argument (unless I misheard); morality comes from fear of society’s reaction to one’s action, essentially a reward and punishment approach to morality.  With that he seems to validate the approach most religions use to controlling their flocks; behave or you will be punished.

Regardless, to my view the answer then is not necessarily compassion, but stricter and more Draconian reactions to wrong-doing.  Something I advocate regardless what faulty model we use to understand the breadth of human actions.

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 6:55am by ejdalise Comment #101

On the one hand he states a person’s actions/decisions are repeatable given a particular set of circumstances, but then he goes on to say people in similar circumstances are “likely” to behave similarly.  To me this implies a certain degree of contra-casual free will, however much that sounds like woo.

I can’t say I know what Clark would respond here, but I’ll give it a try. You don’t need to assume contra-causal free will to make a claim like that. Instead, the issue is one of chaotic causal influences. Bracketing issues of quantum mechanics (whereby all causation is essentially statistical, and there is no 100% guarantee of any outcome), the only assurance of behavior given circumstances is that identical circumstances will produce identical behavior ... assuming that “circumstances” includes factors both within and outside the person.

However, similar circumstances don’t necessarily imply similar behavior, simply because the causation of behavior is extremely complex and may be chaotic. Insofar as the production of behavior is chaotic, it may be that—arguably, rarely—similar circumstances produce radically different behavior. Chaotic processes are typified by extreme sensitivity to initial conditions: even very small differences in initial conditions can produce radically different outcomes, even assuming complete determinism.

Oh, and welcome to the CFI forum, ejdalise!

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 7:04am by dougsmith Comment #102

However, similar circumstances don’t necessarily imply similar behavior, simply because the causation of behavior is extremely complex and may be chaotic. Insofar as the production of behavior is chaotic, it may be that—arguably, rarely—similar circumstances produce radically different behavior. Chaotic processes are typified by extreme sensitivity to initial conditions: even very small differences in initial conditions can produce radically different outcomes, even assuming complete determinism.

Yes and surely it’s a mistake to think two human beings are ever in “similar” positions in the way people imagine.

One woman on a forum said to me that she and her sister had similar genes to her brother and were brought up in similar circumstances as her brother and yet he turned out bad and they turned out good. (Proof of contra causal free will)

It doesn’t take much thought to see that at each moment of their lives these people were in quite different circumstances for all sorts of reasons, does it?

Stephen

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 7:17am by StephenLawrence Comment #103

One woman on a forum said to me that she and her sister had similar genes to her brother and were brought up in similar circumstances as her brother and yet he turned out bad and they turned out good. (Proof of contra causal free will)

It doesn’t take much thought to see that at each moment of their lives these people were in quite different circumstances for all sorts of reasons, does it?

Gah. It is neither the case that these people had similar genes nor that they were in similar circumstances. If we take “similarity” that loosely it becomes meaningless for predicting behavior. IIRC Pinker discusses how on average the personality traits of children are about as similar to those of their parents as would be a complete stranger.

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 7:26am by dougsmith Comment #104

The problem with that argument, if I’m reading it correctly, is that quantum mechanics influences systems at the sub-atomic level.  One might make an argument regarding chemical reactions, proteins, and cell receptors, but again the link to macro behavior is less than certain.

But if we make the argument of chaos affecting behavioral outcomes, does that not tear apart the very argument of naturalism? 

Anyway, I presented a simplistic argument given the forum; people generally don’t read long dissertations.  The passage you quoted above was meant to point out a contradiction to what he had said earlier in the show, namely that people would repeat actions/decisions if they found themselves in similar situations.  It makes a big difference when you add the term “likely”.

Mind you, I generally agree with his definition of free will, but it seems to be more of a practical definition than a philosophical one; that is, one can only decide to do what he is allowed (or can) do.  That does not speak to the actual idea of free will, but to the constraints that might be places upon it by the environment or society.  I may will myself to fly, but my current environment only allows rapid flight downward and in a mostly vertical direction.

The question really is whether this construct we call ourselves can reach beyond the constraints of what it has experienced and learned to arrive at counter intuitive, new, and unique decisions or behaviors.  It seems to me human progress in all sorts of areas from social, political, economic, etc. are all evidence of something one may well call free will.

Whatever the label, to me it indicates a process (reason?) extending our range of behaviors beyond that dictated by circumstance, and certainly beyond the constraints of society and even the environment.  Maybe it’s just problem solving, but it sure seems like we exceed the naturalistic view of human behavior and interaction.

Thanks for the welcome.

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 7:27am by ejdalise Comment #105

Hi Ejdalise,

Regardless, to my view the answer then is not necessarily compassion, but stricter and more Draconian reactions to wrong-doing.  Something I advocate regardless what faulty model we use to understand the breadth of human actions.

That would mean being cruel to people who didn’t deserve it.

The problem is although you say you advocate this regardless, your feelings and in turn thoughts are still based on your believing they do deserve it.

It’s not a question of whether empathy and compassion should rise if you stop believing they deserve it. They would rise because it’s belief that they deserve it which is preventing empathy and compassion.

A point often forgotten is this applies to the would be “baddies” too.

They wouldn’t be so bad if belief in CCFW wasn’t blocking their empathy and compassion too.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 7:31am by StephenLawrence Comment #106

One woman on a forum said to me that she and her sister had similar genes to her brother and were brought up in similar circumstances as her brother and yet he turned out bad and they turned out good. (Proof of contra causal free will)

It doesn’t take much thought to see that at each moment of their lives these people were in quite different circumstances for all sorts of reasons, does it?

Gah. It is neither the case that these people had similar genes nor that they were in similar circumstances. If we take “similarity” that loosely it becomes meaningless for predicting behavior. IIRC Pinker discusses how on average the personality traits of children are about as similar to those of their parents as would be a complete stranger.

Yes I know, I just focused on the circumstances, ‘cos I understand circumstances better than genes.

And yet this sought of example is the reason people often give for belief in CCFW.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 7:36am by StephenLawrence Comment #107

The problem with that argument, if I’m reading it correctly, is that quantum mechanics influences systems at the sub-atomic level.  One might make an argument regarding chemical reactions, proteins, and cell receptors, but again the link to macro behavior is less than certain.

But if we make the argument of chaos affecting behavioral outcomes, does that not tear apart the very argument of naturalism? 

Well, first of all, I was bracketing the issue of quantum mechanics. I believe it’s a red herring when it comes to human behavior; the only way it could possibly effect us is by introducing an unpredictable stochastic element, akin to a twitch or jerk.

Chaos, however, is part of any naturalist explanation of the world. Chaotic phenomena are completely lawlike, which is to say completely predictable from initial conditions and laws provided you know both of them to an arbitrary amount of accuracy, which is in fact impossible to achieve in practice. Indeed, chaotic phenomena follow directly from simple newtonian laws in an n-body system where n is larger than two (I believe, subject to certain caveats).

E.g., the weather is a chaotic phenomenon. This does not imply that weather phenomena are somehow anti-naturalistic. Much the opposite.

Anyway, I presented a simplistic argument given the forum; people generally don’t read long dissertations.  The passage you quoted above was meant to point out a contradiction to what he had said earlier in the show, namely that people would repeat actions/decisions if they found themselves in similar situations.  It makes a big difference when you add the term “likely”.

Well, it makes a difference to the accuracy of the statement, of course. But it doesn’t make a difference to issues of free will or naturalism.

Mind you, I generally agree with his definition of free will, but it seems to be more of a practical definition than a philosophical one; that is, one can only decide to do what he is allowed (or can) do.  That does not speak to the actual idea of free will, but to the constraints that might be places upon it by the environment or society.  I may will myself to fly, but my current environment only allows rapid flight downward and in a mostly vertical direction.

The question really is whether this construct we call ourselves can reach beyond the constraints of what it has experienced and learned to arrive at counter intuitive, new, and unique decisions or behaviors.  It seems to me human progress in all sorts of areas from social, political, economic, etc. are all evidence of something one may well call free will.

Whatever the label, to me it indicates a process (reason?) extending our range of behaviors beyond that dictated by circumstance, and certainly beyond the constraints of society and even the environment.  Maybe it’s just problem solving, but it sure seems like we exceed the naturalistic view of human behavior and interaction.

Thanks for the welcome.

Sure!

Well, you appear to be assuming that all of your thinking, your “reaching beyond the constraints of what you have experienced”, etc., go on in somewhere other than the brain. They don’t. All of those phenomena are purely causal, taking place in the neurons and synapses of your cortex, which is to say, they are all completely deterministic. (Again, bracketing issues with QM). Their structure depends upon your genetic and epigenetic heritage, as well as on the synaptic weights that have been constructed by your own experiences.

To put it from a more experientialist perspective, your personality, your likes and dislikes, your beliefs and desires, all come from your genetic and experiential heritage; it is that background that causes you to desire what you desire (even to “reach beyond the constraints of what you have experienced”), and to believe what you believe.

There is a side issue, of what it means to reach beyond the constraints of what you have experienced. How do you actually do that in practice? You can decide to do what you would ordinarily not want to do, but that doesn’t mean you are reaching beyond any real constraints. Perhaps your experiences cause you to be more daring, and more open to trying new things. There are also genetic differences between people who are more and less open to trying new things. You could also decide just to roll a die to see what you will do next. But then you have to decide what each face of the die signifies, and how do you do that except by relying on your own experiences and intuitions?

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 7:49am by dougsmith Comment #108

Hi Ejdalise,

That would mean being cruel to people who didn’t deserve it.

The problem is although you say you advocate this regardless, your feelings and in turn thoughts are still based on your believing they do deserve it.

Stephen

Sorry, but you are putting words in my mouth.  It’s not a matter of believing they are deserving, any more than a surgeon believes a cancer has some sort of self-aware culpability.

We can certainly work to eliminate circumstances fostering undesirable behaviors in people, but it seems silly to think we can eliminate all bad behaviors. 

What I do say is beyond an effort being made to offer everyone the opportunity of a productive and fulfilling life, I don’t believe we (society) owe anything to the individuals who fall outside certain behavioral parameters.  This then gets into a different discussion sometimes characterized by an examination of the value and sanctity of human life. 

I happen to fall in the solitary camp believing human life has little or no intrinsic value when associated with behavior harmful to the welfare of others.  This is a general statement, and pedantic people then ask about the harm done by people who, for instance, pass gas in a crowded elevator. 

Certainly we can be discerning in our judgment and not make blanked statements regarding slippery slopes, eugenics, etc.  The human tribe has always maintained a certain range of behavior as beneficial to said tribe and its individuals, and the tribe has set limits to acceptable behaviors for the protection of both the tribe as a whole and its individuals within.  Most people can easily recognize gross transgressions of said limits.  Those are the ones I am referring to.

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 7:56am by ejdalise Comment #109

Hi Ejdalise,

That would mean being cruel to people who didn’t deserve it.

The problem is although you say you advocate this regardless, your feelings and in turn thoughts are still based on your believing they do deserve it.

Stephen

Sorry, but you are putting words in my mouth.  It’s not a matter of believing they are deserving, any more than a surgeon believes a cancer has some sort of self-aware culpability.

Ok, sorry.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 8:08am by StephenLawrence Comment #110

Well, you appear to be assuming that all of your thinking, your “reaching beyond the constraints of what you have experienced”, etc., go on in somewhere other than the brain. They don’t. All of those phenomena are purely causal, taking place in the neurons and synapses of your cortex, which is to say, they are all completely deterministic. (Again, bracketing issues with QM). Their structure depends upon your genetic and epigenetic heritage, as well as on the synaptic weights that have been constructed by your own experiences.

Uh, no, I’m firmly in the camp the totality of our beings, what we think, what we do, all originate in the brain.  I have no illusions otherwise, and certainly do not wish or believe any outside agency is involved in the process.

 

To put it from a more experientialist perspective, your personality, your likes and dislikes, your beliefs and desires, all come from your genetic and experiential heritage; it is that background that causes you to desire what you desire (even to “reach beyond the constraints of what you have experienced”), and to believe what you believe.

There is a side issue, of what it means to reach beyond the constraints of what you have experienced. How do you actually do that in practice? You can decide to do what you would ordinarily not want to do, but that doesn’t mean you are reaching beyond any real constraints. Perhaps your experiences cause you to be more daring, and more open to trying new things. There are also genetic differences between people who are more and less open to trying new things. You could also decide just to roll a die to see what you will do next. But then you have to decide what each face of the die signifies, and how do you do that except by relying on your own experiences and intuitions?

This to me seems a bit like a religious argument.  Failing any proof one way or another, we resort to discussions centering on specific interpretation of what we experience and observe.  I am assuming you are not categorically accepting the naturalistic view (hence your use of words like “perhaps”).

This argument also gets into the realm of understanding how we reason, and what exactly is thinking.  And it’s a circular argument because one would then need to understand how exactly we decide to do some reasoning or some thinking. 

Perhaps I am just deluding myself, and we are no more than a more complicated version of a reflex action; not much beyond the wriggling of a worm when skewered by a hook (in our case the “hook” is our own life).  But it does seem to me this artificial construct we call ourselves has the abilities beyond those of pure reflex to a particular set of circumstances and arrangement of genetic material.  Clark’s argument, as he stated, would leads us to a world view based solely on physical parameters. 

That may well be, but until science categorically proves that to be the case, I will hold the notion creative influences are a byproduct of this artifact, and not predictable either in behavior or response to what we see and experience beyond generalized reactions physical constraints.  Even then, I might continue to act as if the choices we make have some intrinsic value beyond that of a reflex.

Thanks for the discussion (got to get back to work).

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 8:19am by ejdalise Comment #111

I am assuming you are not categorically accepting the naturalistic view (hence your use of words like “perhaps”).

Well, I don’t know what the strength of the word “categorically” is in that sentence. I accept the naturalistic view, yes, because it is the best (most coherent, explanatory, predictive) picture of the world.

This argument also gets into the realm of understanding how we reason, and what exactly is thinking.  And it’s a circular argument because one would then need to understand how exactly we decide to do some reasoning or some thinking. 

Perhaps I am just deluding myself, and we are no more than a more complicated version of a reflex action; not much beyond the wriggling of a worm when skewered by a hook (in our case the “hook” is our own life).  But it does seem to me this artificial construct we call ourselves has the abilities beyond those of pure reflex to a particular set of circumstances and arrangement of genetic material.  Clark’s argument, as he stated, would leads us to a world view based solely on physical parameters. 

That may well be, but until science categorically proves that to be the case, I will hold the notion creative influences are a byproduct of this artifact, and not predictable either in behavior or response to what we see and experience beyond generalized reactions physical constraints.  Even then, I might continue to act as if the choices we make have some intrinsic value beyond that of a reflex.

First of all, nothing I have said implies that the choices we make don’t have any intrinsic value beyond that of a reflex. Our choices have very deep value to how we live our lives and how we interact with others. Reflexes, by definition, are behaviors which are not actions—they are not willed, and not caused by beliefs and desires. (The patellar reflex is a reflex. Reaching for the pepper is not a reflex). So to elide free actions with reflexes is about as wrong as can be.

As for understanding how we think, there is no circularity involved at all. Indeed, entire sciences are dedicated to understanding how we think, or how to organize thought in created objects. Viz. the cognitive sciences, neuroscience, computer science. They have been quite successful.

If you object to “a world view based solely on physical parameters”, as it certainly appears you do from your above paragraph, I am not sure what you would substitute for it, especially as you have asserted that “the totality of our beings ... originate in the brain”. There are some materialist philosophers who are willing to assert the existence of mental states and properties (as I have done, in talking about beliefs and desires), however these are understood to supervene directly on brain states; which means that their existence depends on certain states of the brain. No brain, no mind, and all the causal powers of the mind depend on causal powers of the brain.

Again, it is not clear what you are suggesting that runs counter to this. Perhaps you can explain.

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 9:04am by dougsmith Comment #112

Hi Ejdalise,

Regardless, to my view the answer then is not necessarily compassion, but stricter and more Draconian reactions to wrong-doing.  Something I advocate regardless what faulty model we use to understand the breadth of human actions.

That would mean being cruel to people who didn’t deserve it.

The problem is although you say you advocate this regardless, your feelings and in turn thoughts are still based on your believing they do deserve it.

It’s not a question of whether empathy and compassion should rise if you stop believing they deserve it. They would rise because it’s belief that they deserve it which is preventing empathy and compassion.

A point often forgotten is this applies to the would be “baddies” too.

They wouldn’t be so bad if belief in CCFW wasn’t blocking their empathy and compassion too.

Stephen

Just remember Steve, this applies in the other direction too, concerning rewards for good behavior.

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 9:08am by VYAZMA Comment #113

Regardless, to my view the answer then is not necessarily compassion, but stricter and more Draconian reactions to wrong-doing.  Something I advocate regardless what faulty model we use to understand the breadth of human actions.

This, I must suspect is actually stated in jest, but it does present a solution to the “problem” just as Hitler, Stalin and other such leaders have long agreed.

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 9:29am by gray1 Comment #114

Hi Ejdalise,

Regardless, to my view the answer then is not necessarily compassion, but stricter and more Draconian reactions to wrong-doing.  Something I advocate regardless what faulty model we use to understand the breadth of human actions.

That would mean being cruel to people who didn’t deserve it.

The problem is although you say you advocate this regardless, your feelings and in turn thoughts are still based on your believing they do deserve it.

It’s not a question of whether empathy and compassion should rise if you stop believing they deserve it. They would rise because it’s belief that they deserve it which is preventing empathy and compassion.

A point often forgotten is this applies to the would be “baddies” too.

They wouldn’t be so bad if belief in CCFW wasn’t blocking their empathy and compassion too.

Stephen

Just remember Steve, this applies in the other direction too, concerning rewards for good behavior.

Vyazma,

I’d like to make one thing clear on this good point you raise.

I’m not necessarily saying punishment is never deserved. I’m not sure. Can even desert be naturalised?

I’m very careful to say harm is not deserved. Belief in that cannot be naturalised, I’m sure it takes CCFW.

I’m sure a lot of children and young people are being unfairly unpunished! Leading to problems for them later. So they are being unfairly treated and deserve to be punished, perhaps, LOL.

But if we harm someone what we can’t do is say it’s fair to them that they are harmed. So nobody can deserve to be harmed. Actually I’m not absolutely sure this does work in reverse as you suggest and not sure what the reverse is? But I have no problem with accepting that if true. Edit: I’ll try this: nobody deserves a better or worse life than anyone else.

It’s thought provoking.

What I would agree with is we can’t take ultimate credit or ultimate blame for our behaviour. So neither do we deserve our good or bad fortune and that this changes the way we view ourselves and each other.

Obviously I think it’s a change for the better.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 10:11am by StephenLawrence Comment #115

I’d like to make one thing clear on this good point you raise.

I’m not necessarily saying punishment is never deserved. I’m not sure. Can even desert be naturalised?

I’m very careful to say harm is not deserved. Belief in that cannot be naturalised, I’m sure it takes CCFW.

I’m sure a lot of children and young people are being unfairly unpunished! Leading to problems for them later. So they are being unfairly treated and deserve to be punished, perhaps, LOL.

But if we harm someone what we can’t do is say it’s fair to them that they are harmed. So nobody can deserve to be harmed. Actually I’m not absolutely sure this does work in reverse as you suggest and not sure what the reverse is? But I have no problem with accepting that if true. Edit: I’ll try this: nobody deserves a better or worse life than anyone else.

It’s thought provoking.

What I would agree with is we can’t take ultimate credit or ultimate blame for our behaviour. So neither do we deserve our good or bad fortune and that this changes the way we view ourselves and each other.

Obviously I think it’s a change for the better.

Stephen

Steve- I fully subscribe to the naturalistic view. When I read your posts, I get “wobbled”. This is because I have a hard enough time keeping track of these terms and word/concepts. You seem to slightly contradict your personal views( of which I fully agree with) with this CONCRETE version of naturalism, or ultimate Non-Responsibility.(which is mine as well as your view). But you can’t use one to justify only benevolent, “good outcome scenarios”. It doesn’t equate. I think the “no free-will” or “no responsibilty” items still leave us with the chaos Doug brings up, which can lead to “bad” outcomes too.
You can’t have the cake and eat it too.
There is also the social behavioral factor too, which can fall under the “no-responsibilty item, naturalistic” umbrella. These automatically generate punishment/reward.  Squirrels get “mad” at one another, and bite(for naturalistic reasons), humans send people to Electric Chairs- for far more complicated, naturalistic reasons. :-)

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 11:14am by VYAZMA Comment #116

Steve- I fully subscribe to the naturalistic view. When I read your posts, I get “wobbled”. This is because I have a hard enough time keeping track of these terms and word/concepts. You seem to slightly contradict your personal views( of which I fully agree with) with this CONCRETE version of naturalism, or ultimate Non-Responsibility.(which is mine as well as your view). But you can’t use one to justify only benevolent, “good outcome scenarios”. It doesn’t equate.

But I don’t. I just point out bad outcomes are not deserved, neither are good.

I think the “no free-will” or “no responsibilty” items still leave us with the chaos Doug brings up, which can lead to “bad” outcomes too.

Nobdy is arguing for no responsibility Vyazma. It’s just seen as a function in society, as we’d view it if we were watching other social animals holding each other responsible.

You can’t have the cake and eat it too.

Dunno what you mean.

There is also the social behavioral factor too, which can fall under the “no-responsibilty item, naturalistic” umbrella. These automatically generate punishment/reward.  Squirrels get “mad” at one another, and bite(for naturalistic reasons),

Fine but remember nature is not a good example of how to do it, you would not want to live in the circumstances most other animals have to live in. You would not want a human society modelled on that. 

humans send people to Electric Chairs- for far more complicated, naturalistic reasons.

But that’s not true most people who agree with it, believe in contra causal free will, they believe he had a choice, he didn’t have to do it i.e he had some magical non random way out in the circumstances, not if he were in appropriately different circumstances, and so therefore he deserves to suffer an agonising death and all the frightening procedure going on for probably years before hand. And that’s why it’s done.

 

Stephen

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 11:29am by StephenLawrence Comment #117

Steve- I fully subscribe to the naturalistic view. When I read your posts, I get “wobbled”. This is because I have a hard enough time keeping track of these terms and word/concepts. You seem to slightly contradict your personal views( of which I fully agree with) with this CONCRETE version of naturalism, or ultimate Non-Responsibility.(which is mine as well as your view). But you can’t use one to justify only benevolent, “good outcome scenarios”. It doesn’t equate.

But I don’t. I just point out bad outcomes are not deserved, neither are good.

You don’t what? Contradict? Ok, I’m sorry. I said I had a hard time following these discussions. My bad.

I think the “no free-will” or “no responsibilty” items still leave us with the chaos Doug brings up, which can lead to “bad” outcomes too.

Nobdy is arguing for no responsibility Vyazma. It’s just seen as a function in society, as we’d view it if we were watching other social animals holding each other responsible.

I’m arguing for no-responsibilty! I don’t think it is a function of anything.

You can’t have the cake and eat it too.

Dunno what you mean.

Forget that then.

There is also the social behavioral factor too, which can fall under the “no-responsibilty item, naturalistic” umbrella. These automatically generate punishment/reward.  Squirrels get “mad” at one another, and bite(for naturalistic reasons),

Fine but remember nature is not a good example of how to do it you would not want to live in the circumstances most other animals have to live in. You would not want a human society modelled on that. 

What do you mean? How “we” do it is a perfect example of a model of nature! A perfect example of animal behavior. Just the most advanced animals.

humans send people to Electric Chairs- for far more complicated, naturalistic reasons.

But that’s not true most people who agree with it, believe in contra causal free will, they believe he had a choice he didn’t have to do it i.e he had some magical non random way out in the circumstances, not if he were in appropriately different circumstances and so therefore he deserves to suffer an agonising death and all the frightening procedure going on for probably years before hand.

 

Stephen

Those “people” don’t “believe” anything. They “act”( or react) everything. This illustrates the difficulty of having this discussion. We can “consciously” dissect behavior, and label items or beliefs, of course this is just as natural as sending someone to the electric chair.
Any of these “beliefs” you talk about(ccfw) are just extensions of our minds, and the application of Social-behavioral effects. All stemming from naturalistic causes.

Sorry about all the quote mix-ups.

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 11:46am by VYAZMA Comment #118

Those “people” don’t “believe” anything. They “act”( or react) everything.

Yes people do, they believe some people deserve to suffer horribly.

When a paedophile rots in jail for most of his life then dies, you’ll get people saying that was too good for him, he should have been (insert some nasty torturous slow death) and go on to say hope he burns in hell forever!

These same people when quizzed on this will say he had a choice, he didn’t have to do it, in such a way that makes that suffering deserved, the contra causal sense.

If you say he was the product of his nuture and nature, he was unfortunate to get the genes he got and the environmental influences he got, they won’t budge, they won’t have a bit of it. They think despite his nuture, despite his nature, he could have done something else in some (unimaginable) way that would make him deserving of that suffering.

I have spoken to so many people about this, there is no doubt that is what most people believe, although I’ve used a very extreme example.

Some philosophers question this but there is mountains of empirical evidence that exists and can be obtained, I’m sure.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 12:01pm by StephenLawrence Comment #119

Those “people” don’t “believe” anything. They “act”( or react) everything.

Yes people do, they believe some people deserve to suffer horribly.

When a paedophile rots in jail for most of his life then dies, you’ll get people saying that was too good for him, he should have been (insert some nasty torturous slow death) and go on to say hope he burns in hell forever!

These same people when quizzed on this will say he had a choice he didn’t have to do it, in such a way that makes that suffering deserved, the contra causal sense.

If you say he was the product of his nuture and nature, he was unfortunate to get the genes he got and the environmental influences he got, they won’t budge, they won’t have a bit of it. They think despite his nuture despite his nature, he could have done something else in some (unimaginable) way that would make him deserving of that suffering.

I have spoken to so many people about this, there is no doubt that is what most people believe, although I’ve used a very extreme example.

Some philosophers question this but there is mountains of empirical evidence that exists and can be obtained, I’m sure.

Stephen

As we have seen, in discussions with various political views, and the benefits of certain ideologies, ideas can be fostered.
Maybe that’s been a long discovered technique in “governing” people and their thoughts. After all, a society that is made to think that everything they get is deserved, has it’s advantages. And in fact, it’s the way 99.9% of societies are operating.
This isn’t a belief. It is a function of government, or societal mechanics. It could in fact be a mechanism whereby people justify their actions towards the pedophile, all the while suppressing their inner “naturalism”.
There are other “comments” made too. It isn’t always “he/she had a choice”. It could be-“that’s what the S.O.B. gets”. or- “these folks need to be taken out of circulation”, or “no punishment will make up for the damage he/she caused”.
Empathy gets directed at the victim, not the criminal. And empathy get’s directed at the criminal all the time-for naturalistic reasons.
A society must make a good balance between naturalistic view of crime and CCFW view of crime. CCFW probably occurs when the Herd is not willing to bear the brunt of repeated, damaging naturalistic “crimes”. This must be a naturalistic(it is!) outcome of herd, or social-behavior naturalism.

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 12:16pm by VYAZMA Comment #120

Maybe that’s been a long discovered technique in “governing” people and their thoughts. After all, a society that is made to think that everything they get is deserved, has it’s advantages.

Well, we’ll have to agree to differ.

I think it’s an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 12:21pm by StephenLawrence Comment #121

I accept the naturalistic view, yes, because it is the best (most coherent, explanatory, predictive) picture of the world.

Sorry, I left out the free-will part of it.  I do not believe in any supernatural force/being/construct.  The discussion related to contra-casual free will, and that is what I was referring to, as in do you agree with Clark’s (Dennett’s) definition of the state and limits of free will?

Our choices have very deep value to how we live our lives and how we interact with others. Reflexes, by definition, are behaviors which are not actions—they are not willed, and not caused by beliefs and desires.

Poor choice of words on my part.  I was drawing a parallel in the cause and effect argument (determinism) comparing it to a reflex not in a literal sense but as concept, as in action—> constraints—> reaction.  I did not mean to imply free will or our action are strictly reflexive in nature.  Sorry.

As far as intrinsic value, if our choices/decision/beliefs/judgments are all subject to physical causality, I might argue any value we perceive as a result is also subject to deterministic viewpoint, hence my statement regarding intrinsic value.  Perhaps my vocabulary and sentence structure is too limited for the purpose of conveying what I’m trying to say, but then again, in all the reading I do the language also seems limiting when the likes of Bennett and Clark try to explain what they mean . . . or maybe I’m just stupid. 

Indeed, entire sciences are dedicated to understanding how we think, or how to organize thought in created objects. Viz. the cognitive sciences, neuroscience, computer science. They have been quite successful.

Successful is a relative term, and there are different camps out there.  Certainly tools like MRI scans (although subject to interpretation) have made inroads in the understanding of cognitive processes.  But they deal with measurements which are subject to a lot of noise, and they are not directly addressing the why and how, just the where.  Programs have also been improving but they are still poor representation of actual processes which at least to my knowledge are poorly understood. 

The best I’ve read can be characterized as the mind (ill defined) runs a program (likely a construct of evolution) manifesting itself as thoughts (another ill-defined term) aimed at deriving some meaning from physical observations for the purpose of solving problems.  None of this addresses free will directly, and all the proposed explanations I read are not conclusive in their characterization of what is actually going on.  Bennett (and Clark) are proposing a model, and perhaps they even are sure about it.  Perhaps of my limited intellect, or because I am predetermined to, I do not find their arguments wholly convincing.  Perhaps they “feel” as wrong to me as they “feel” right to them.

In part that is because there is little discussion of inner debate, logic, examination, exploration etc. other than to say those are all subject to predisposition.  If that is the case, we might as well go with our gut instincts.  Again, perhaps my writing fails to make the point, but I can’t come up with anything better than saying thought processes are what is being questioned here.  I’m rejecting the idea that no matter how convoluted and exhaustive a mental process a person goes through, they are basically locked down to a narrow resolution constrained by their own particular physical causality (i.e. biological/physical and emotional make up). 

Bennett and Clark’s explanations may be satisfactory for some.  I am satisfied at this point not knowing for sure how the process of “will” works.  Here I must also reiterate I am not implying any spiritual/supernatural influence or process.  I’m just predisposed to thinking it is not predisposed.

There are some materialist philosophers who are willing to assert the existence of mental states and properties (as I have done, in talking about beliefs and desires), however these are understood to supervene directly on brain states; which means that their existence depends on certain states of the brain. No brain, no mind, and all the causal powers of the mind depend on causal powers of the brain.

Again, it is not clear what you are suggesting that runs counter to this. Perhaps you can explain.

I should reiterate we are discussing free will, the thought process.  Certainly we are constrained in our choices by the physical universe we reside in.  My discussion relates to individual actions, ideas, thought processes, and decisions.  Yes, they are bound by practical physical considerations (as in I’ll have to get back to work once lunch is over).  But my thinking process, what I contemplate, what I resolve, what I accept, dismiss, and the totality of my musings . . . these I cannot categorize as being narrowly constrained/limited by a combination of physical parameters.  Thoughts may arise from physical processes that can be measured and quantified, but to my knowledge we cannot yet predict them.

And this sends me back to 1978, and the first discussion I had regarding a theoretical computer programmed with all of one person’s knowledge, experiences, their physical make up, their cellular structure, etc. etc. and whether both the computer and person would have the exact same thought at the instant the computer came on-line.  Surprisingly, I took the position of “no”.  Perhaps it was predetermined I would not find anything to change my mind.

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 12:25pm by ejdalise Comment #122

Maybe that’s been a long discovered technique in “governing” people and their thoughts. After all, a society that is made to think that everything they get is deserved, has it’s advantages.

Well, we’ll have to agree to differ.

I think it’s an unmitigated disaster of epic proportions.

Stephen

It isn’t a disaster brother. And I don’t think we disagree anyways. By “advantages” I meant social-evolutionary efficiency.
We don’t disagree, we can’t dispute though what is before our eyes.

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 12:25pm by VYAZMA Comment #123

Regardless, to my view the answer then is not necessarily compassion, but stricter and more Draconian reactions to wrong-doing.  Something I advocate regardless what faulty model we use to understand the breadth of human actions.

This, I must suspect is actually stated in jest, but it does present a solution to the “problem” just as Hitler, Stalin and other such leaders have long agreed.

Hmmm . . . perhaps you missed the part where I caution against the slippery slope argument, or where I mention limits and common sense.

Nowhere do I advocate killing for personal profit or narrow ideology.  I am however more than willing to cull the herd of people who harm children, who kill for profit, who knowingly cause grave harm to others for their own gain or entertainment (here again read my comments about common sense and not including people who fart in elevators).

These are broad statements not categorical absolutes.  Intent is a big part of the equation, but not the only part.

However, this is a discussion for another thread, and probably one I will not engage in as people seem to purposefully and (free) willingly choose to ignore intent and argue extreme examples.

ejd

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 12:36pm by ejdalise Comment #124


Bennett and Clark’s explanations may be satisfactory for some.  I am satisfied at this point not knowing for sure how the process of “will” works.  Here I must also reiterate I am not implying any spiritual/supernatural influence or process.  I’m just predisposed to thinking it is not predisposed.


I think Clark thinks it’s predetermined at the macro level, although that isn’t the argument. If not, indeterminism cannot give us any more freedom, than if it is.

But that wouldn’t mean he thinks the will is predisposed, unless you are using predisposed and predetermined interchangeably?

Stephen

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 1:01pm by StephenLawrence Comment #125

But that wouldn’t mean he thinks the will is predisposed, unless you are using predisposed and predetermined interchangeably?

Stephen

I am; maybe I misheard, but it seemed implied our actions/decisions are constrained by our physical and emotional make-up.  To me that sounds as if the two terms would be interchangeable in a practical discussion.  If not, just use predetermined, although the nuance escapes me in terms of a real world situation since the end result would be the same. 

ejd

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 1:12pm by ejdalise Comment #126

Sorry, I left out the free-will part of it.  I do not believe in any supernatural force/being/construct.  The discussion related to contra-casual free will, and that is what I was referring to, as in do you agree with Clark’s (Dennett’s) definition of the state and limits of free will?

Yes, I do agree with them, premised upon the caveat that I may not completely understand their positions. So far as I understand them, I am in agreement close enough for our purposes here.

I’m rejecting the idea that no matter how convoluted and exhaustive a mental process a person goes through, they are basically locked down to a narrow resolution constrained by their own particular physical causality (i.e. biological/physical and emotional make up). 

Bennett and Clark’s explanations may be satisfactory for some.  I am satisfied at this point not knowing for sure how the process of “will” works.  Here I must also reiterate I am not implying any spiritual/supernatural influence or process.  I’m just predisposed to thinking it is not predisposed.

The problem is that a spiritual or supernatural process is the only other option on offer here, assuming that our free will is not constrained by our physical causality. Clearly, our limbs move, which is a physical occurrence. If the physical causation of the brain does not determine the motion of those limbs, then something else must be responsible. Let’s call that thing, X. Now, where does X reside? How can we detect X? What is its chemical, electrical, biological, physical composition? You will say that ex hypothesi it is nothing that is physical at all, so has no chemical, electrical, biological or physical composition. So it seems that by definition X is something supernatural—a proper ghost in the machine.

It would appear to me that those are the only two options allowed us in this instance. If you can think of a third option, I would like to know it, since it would help to get clearer on what bothers you.

A separate problem with this ghostly X-stuff is that it itself may be completely causal as well. If X includes our beliefs and desires, these may be caused by a sort of psychological analogue to physics, as it certainly seems happens when we think to ourselves.

I should reiterate we are discussing free will, the thought process.  Certainly we are constrained in our choices by the physical universe we reside in.  My discussion relates to individual actions, ideas, thought processes, and decisions.  Yes, they are bound by practical physical considerations (as in I’ll have to get back to work once lunch is over).  But my thinking process, what I contemplate, what I resolve, what I accept, dismiss, and the totality of my musings . . . these I cannot categorize as being narrowly constrained/limited by a combination of physical parameters.  Thoughts may arise from physical processes that can be measured and quantified, but to my knowledge we cannot yet predict them.

And this sends me back to 1978, and the first discussion I had regarding a theoretical computer programmed with all of one person’s knowledge, experiences, their physical make up, their cellular structure, etc. etc. and whether both the computer and person would have the exact same thought at the instant the computer came on-line.  Surprisingly, I took the position of “no”.  Perhaps it was predetermined I would not find anything to change my mind.

Well, of course you are right that we cannot yet predict them. The question is whether there is some “in principle” problem here, or whether it is more backing and filling, rather like our problems with predicting the weather.

Re. the question about the computer, part of what you may be asking has to do with what “the same exact thought” is. In a sense the computer cannot have the same thought, if we determine sameness by the extensional meaning of the thought. (What things in the world it refers to). It might think of humans as being its parents, but it would be wrong about that. Etc.

Or we could assert that only organisms with biological aetiologies have meaningful thoughts at all.

But certainly in some sense of the word “same” they must have the same thoughts given the presuppositions of the thought experiment, otherwise thought is a nonphysical entity.

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 1:22pm by dougsmith Comment #127

I am; maybe I misheard, but it seemed implied our actions/decisions are constrained by our physical and emotional make-up.  To me that sounds as if the two terms would be interchangeable in a practical discussion.  If not, just use predetermined, although the nuance escapes me in terms of a real world situation since the end result would be the same. 

ejd

Actually I’m not sure exactly what predisposed means, it’s something I’ve been wondering about. I think it might have some significance but can’t quite remember why DOH.

We must do what we do because we are what we are in some sense, so our decision is constrained by what we are, I don’t know if all of what we are is included in “our physical and emotional make up”, it depends what you mean.

Of course no freedom could arise from actions that are not constrained by what we are. In fact we’d be and experience being frighteningly out of control, if they weren’t!

Stephen

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 1:24pm by StephenLawrence Comment #128

The problem is that a spiritual or supernatural process is the only other option on offer here, assuming that our free will is not constrained by our physical causality.

. . .

It would appear to me that those are the only two options allowed us in this instance. If you can think of a third option, I would like to know it, since it would help to get clearer on what bothers you.

I don’t think I offered up a supernatural process.  While I can accept a thought being the end result of a physical and/or chemical process, I would be hard pressed to characterize a thought as either a physical or spiritual/supernatural.  In fact, I don’t know how it’s characterized.  Wikipedia lists “thought” as a “mental form”, whatever that can be interpreted as. 

What bothers me is that as much as I love science, believe in data, and want hard answers to everything, once we get in areas of philosophy none of those things exist.  All we have are ideas, and calling it Scientific Naturalism versus Naturalism does not in itself for me confer upon it any more import.

A small part of what bothers me is that if I accept the idea of physical causality, I automatically see myself limited.  I can accept the limitations of my physical world on my physical self.  I cannot accept a deterministic limit to my thought/ideas, to my imagination, to my desire for continual improvement, to my efforts for continued independence from the limitations and faults of human nature. 

I might be a product of evolution, of circumstance, of my experiences, but I have to believe all of those things are not setting any limits on me, who I am, what I think, what I believe, and most of all how I act.  No, I don’t believe I can do anything I want, but neither do I believe my actions and thoughts are deterministically bound by all those things.  Do they have an import?  Of course.  I just don’t believe the human condition would have improved as much as it has without an ability to transcend the deterministic limit our biological and physical histories are professed to place on our thoughts, and consequently on our actions.  Call it the ability to surprise, most of all to surprise one’s self.  Of course, if you don’t believe in the self . . .

Here I must stop, as I’m running out of words to rephrase what I’ve been saying from the first post.  I’m not asking anyone to agree with me.  I’m just saying I don’t accept what seems to me to be a self-limiting philosophy.

ejd

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 2:07pm by ejdalise Comment #129

  No, I don’t believe I can do anything I want,

Often you can, you can do whatever it’s your will to do, as your action usually depends upon your will.

I just don’t believe the human condition would have improved as much as it has without an ability to transcend the deterministic limit our biological and physical histories are professed to place on our thoughts, and consequently on our actions.  Call it the ability to surprise, most of all to surprise one’s self.  Of course, if you don’t believe in the self . . .

Well, predetermined events would certainly suprise us, so this is where the difference between predisposed and predetermined comes in. If we felt we were predisposed to do something and didn’t that might suprise us. But we really have no idea of what we are predetermined to do, it’s way way too complicated.

Here I must stop, as I’m running out of words to rephrase what I’ve been saying from the first post.  I’m not asking anyone to agree with me.  I’m just saying I don’t accept what seems to me to be a self-limiting philosophy.

ejd

I understand it appears that way but I see no reason to think any freedom could come from indeterminism and so I think it’s just a mistake, a mind trick, to think it’s self limiting.

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 2:19pm by StephenLawrence Comment #130

I don’t think I offered up a supernatural process.  While I can accept a thought being the end result of a physical and/or chemical process, I would be hard pressed to characterize a thought as either a physical or spiritual/supernatural.  In fact, I don’t know how it’s characterized.  Wikipedia lists “thought” as a “mental form”, whatever that can be interpreted as. 

Well, sure; but it’s the same as centuries ago one might have found it very odd to claim that water is this compound molecule, H2O. It may be odd, but it is, in fact, the truth.

I understand that you haven’t expressly offered up a supernatural process. But my claim is that supernatural processes are all that are open to you in this case. Again, if you can think of some third option (neither physical nor supernatural) I would be interested to hear it. If not, then we’re back to the same two options.

I just don’t believe the human condition would have improved as much as it has without an ability to transcend the deterministic limit our biological and physical histories are professed to place on our thoughts, and consequently on our actions.  Call it the ability to surprise, most of all to surprise one’s self.  Of course, if you don’t believe in the self . . .

I believe in the self as a vaguely defined macroscopic object which is the subject of scientific investigation. “Self” has the same ontological status as “plant”, “dog” or “human”.

Now, if you could better explain what you mean by “transcend the limit” or “self-limiting philosophy”, that might be something to pursue. What limits do you believe that we can transcend, and how? Can you give examples, that you believe cannot be captured in a naturalistic philosophical framework?

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 2:31pm by dougsmith Comment #131

Well, predetermined events would certainly suprise us, so this is where the difference between predisposed and predetermined comes in. If we felt we were predisposed to do something and didn’t that might suprise us. But we really have no idea of what we are predetermined to do, it’s way way too complicated.

Aagh that didn’t make sense,

I’m struggling with this difference between predetermined and predisposed, which I see. (or at least think I see)

Any way it’s no surprise that we don’t always do what we expect we will do, as we can’t know what we are predetermined to do, it’s way way too complicated and so we are bound to suprise ourselves if predeterminism is true.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 29, 2009 at 2:38pm by StephenLawrence Comment #132

D.J.,

Great interview!  I’ve gone back and listened to this and your previous interview with Clark over and over.  Now I’m working through the presentations on the Naturalism.org website.

Thanks for the wake-up call,

Crippen

Posted on Aug 01, 2009 at 10:23am by Crippen Comment #133

The illusion of free will.

I like to deny that there is an illusion of free will, people describe choice making as going through an evaluation process, a weighing up of options and acting upon the result. This appears compatible with determinism, given the evaluation process was as it was, in order for a choice to have taken place, we had to take the course of action we took. Otherwise it would not have been a choice, as we would not be acting upon our most highly valued option.

So the experience doesn’t appear at first sight to include an illusion, if determinism is true. It’s not like seeing red is said to be illusory.

But so many report the experience of choosing without being caused in turn, in a way that makes their will free, that I guess I have to concied there is an illusion. It’s strange because if we ask why someone made a choice, usually they can tell us what they thought the reason, i.e the cause, was.

Choosing without in turn being caused alone couldn’t be the illusion because that would seem to suggest there is no reason at all for the choice and therefore no responsibility for it. So the illusion is more than simply choosing without being in turn caused. I think it is that there is something, a seperate self or will, outside of “the system”, that decides.

It has been said that the illusion comes from not knowing all the causes of the components that make up the choice. But I don’t think that is enough, because we still have the problem that merely causing without in turn being caused, seems just to be choosing for no reason at all.

I think I’ve stumbled across an answer to why we experience this illusion (not sure I do any more) the answer I see comes from Judea Pearl’s work on causality, though I don’t know if something similar has been put forward by others.

http://bayes.cs.ucla.edu/IJCAI99/ijcai-99.pdf

“I use the term “INTERVENTION” here, instead of ACTION, to emphasize that the
role of causality can best be understood if we view actions as external entities,
originating from outside our theory, not as a mode of behavior within the theory

So the intervening will is “best understood” as an external entity and that’s why we experience the illusion of it being an external entity.

I rather hope this is a new twist to the story but p’raps someone’s said this before?

Stephen

Posted on Aug 02, 2009 at 1:48am by StephenLawrence Comment #134

I’ve had some time to think about this; especially Doug’s challenge “supernatural” being the only choice open to me.  For some reason that statement reminded me of old discussion (mid-70s) relating to existence.  How do we know we even exist?  The discussion is related because it ties into the idea of self and free will. 

There is no way to prove or disprove the argument we may all be artifacts of “something else”.  We ourselves now create complicated simulations of large groups of “organisms” (bits of code), imbue them with rudimentary instructions, and set them loose to study how they will react/behave in a given set of circumstances.  For all we know, our very existence is nothing more than a simulation, and we would never know the difference from . . . from something else.

The point is while I can agree everything relates to the physical world, and everything stems from processes occurring in the physical world, and everything is constrained and defined by a set of immutable laws governing that physical world, what I am struggling with is defining the architecture/nature of thought and particularly thoughts precipitating actions. 

I know very well just how easily thoughts, and resulting actions, can be influenced by physical things (alcohol, drugs, and a wide range of human emotions).  The part giving me pause is people struggle with controlling their actions/responses to external stimuli and internal desire/weaknesses.  Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose.  Sometimes people overcome what would seem their very nature by what we describe “sheer force of will”. 

No, Clark says . . . all that apparent struggle is an illusion; determinism forces one to play the only hand they are dealt, including all the setbacks, every decision, every reversal.  We are merely acting out what is determined by our particular arrangement of physical particles.  Chaos may also play a role, Doug says, in giving unpredictable results from the determined state of affairs.

No, I cannot offer “a third option”.  And I see how anyone could state it’s all part of determined paths . . . but that to me sounds on par as someone saying “it’s god’s will”.  In fact, for me the two statements for me have the same pitfalls.

Mind you, I’m well aware the argument has been going on since the first human became self-aware . . . or had the illusion of self-awareness.  For me logic dictates an existence of free will if we are to consider ourselves anything more than a rock or other assemblage of matter.  As Clark says, the path to questioning free will leads to questioning if the “self” really exists, and now we are back to the question of existence.  I take heart in the immortal words of Nellie “I tell you what, start with the premise you don’t exist, and see where that takes you.”

Similarly, if we have no free will, where does that leave us?  I know, I know . . . not an argument, just a snarky statement.  But . . . where does it leave us? 

Doug says our choices have deep values on how we live our lives and interact with others . .  .why?  What gives them value?  How can we even call them “choices”? 

As I said, I don’t have a third option.  I can certainly pick my choice of arguments, quote other people, give links supporting this or that.  Ultimately it may be I just want to believe in free will; that the choices I make in life are real choices.  Perhaps then it’s not worth arguing.  Perhaps it’s just a matter of “whatever gets you through the day”.

Posted on Aug 02, 2009 at 5:46pm by ejdalise Comment #135

When we make choices based on our beliefs and desires (= caused by our beliefs and desires) we do so freely. Our choice to drink water is a real choice when we are thirsty.

What is it we’re missing out on by being casually determined?

Dan Dennett has a whole book on this (Elbow Room) ... but even without reading the book, what are we missing out on? The ability to do what we don’t want to do? Is that really the sort of ability we should want?

Posted on Aug 02, 2009 at 6:06pm by dougsmith Comment #136

When we make choices based on our beliefs and desires (= caused by our beliefs and desires) we do so freely.

OK, but you also say our beliefs and desires are subject to determinism.  Hence our choices are indirectly so, hence freely is only as Clark describe it, without anyone keeping us from making the choice we are determined to make given our physical makeup.  How does that give them any value? 


Our choice to drink water is a real choice when we are thirsty.

Hmmm . . . this seems a far cry from, say, choosing to kill someone, or steal, or help another human being. 

What is it we’re missing out on by being casually determined?

For me, the responsibility for one’s actions.  Determinism for me falls in line with the thinking we are all victims, locked into whatever course the accident of birth set us on.

Dan Dennett has a whole book on this (Elbow Room) ... but even without reading the book, what are we missing out on? The ability to do what we don’t want to do? Is that really the sort of ability we should want?

Like I said, words are a poor medium for explaining ideas, entertaining notions, etc.  But, just to be a bit pedantic, we often do what we don’t want to do. 

I’m reading a number of things, references, snippets, and ideas.  Perhaps some may alter my thinking on the subject.  I’ll check out Dennett’s book, but are you saying he gives the definite answer on this subject?  What gives him more import than someone else?

As far as what are we missing out on?  Your question reminds me of a story I first heard when I was very young . . . two people sit at a table; a plate in front of them has two pieces of bread, one large, one small.  One of the person grabs the bigger one and starts to eat it.  The other grabs the smaller piece but grumbles.  The first man asks “What’s the matter?”  The second man answer “You just grabbed the bigger piece without any consideration for me.”  The first man asks “What would you have done?”  The second man answers “I would have offered you the bigger piece, and taken the smaller one for myself.”  The first man replies “Where is the problem;  that’s what we each have!!”

That story has stuck with me for nearly 50 years.  In part it has done so because there is a underlying lack of satisfaction with the cold, hard facts, while struggling to identify exactly why what the first guy did leaves us with a bad taste despite the physical reality of the situation.

Posted on Aug 02, 2009 at 6:50pm by ejdalise Comment #137

Like I said, words are a poor medium for explaining ideas, entertaining notions, etc.  But, just to be a bit pedantic, we often do what we don’t want to do. 

This is one reason that people give for belief in contra causal free will, that when they make a choice they don’t have to do what they want. But for it to be a freely willed choice it must be your will to do it. If not you can’t be responsible for it.

So it’s a question of what is meant by want and how it differs from what it is your will to do.

I think often want means what you would ideally like to do if you were not in circumstances in which negative consequences will follow if you act upon the want.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 03, 2009 at 12:59am by StephenLawrence Comment #138

When we make choices based on our beliefs and desires (= caused by our beliefs and desires) we do so freely.

OK, but you also say our beliefs and desires are subject to determinism.  Hence our choices are indirectly so, hence freely is only as Clark describe it, without anyone keeping us from making the choice we are determined to make given our physical makeup.  How does that give them any value? 

You’ve got this the wrong way round. It’s not that our beliefs and desires are “subject to determinism” so much as that they are causally effective, and brought into being by our physical makeup and our environments.

Would you not have it that our beliefs and desires were causally effective?
Would you not have it that our beliefs and desires were brought about by who we are and what environment we are in?

And what does any of this have to do with diminishing the value of our choices? Indeed, it gives value to our choices that they were caused by who we are and what we believe and desire. The alternative (viz., that our choices were not caused by who we are or what we have experienced) would make them valueless, not having them determined by who we are and what we have experienced.

Our choice to drink water is a real choice when we are thirsty.

Hmmm . . . this seems a far cry from, say, choosing to kill someone, or steal, or help another human being. 

Mutatis mutandis in those cases.  If it can deal with drinking water it can deal with the others.

What is it we’re missing out on by being casually determined?

For me, the responsibility for one’s actions.  Determinism for me falls in line with the thinking we are all victims, locked into whatever course the accident of birth set us on.

Why would not having our acts be causally determined make us morally responsible for them? I’d have thought it would make us fail to be morally responsible for them, since we failed to be causally responsible for bringing them about.

I’ll check out Dennett’s book, but are you saying he gives the definite answer on this subject?  What gives him more import than someone else?

Dennett gives so-called ‘intuition pumps’ in that book, asking what it is that people are looking for when they claim the sorts of things you are claiming about free will. He finds them wanting. Dennett has more import than others because he is a very clear writer who has one foot in the professional field of philosophy and yet is able to write for a general audience.

As far as what are we missing out on?  Your question reminds me of a story I first heard when I was very young . . . two people sit at a table; a plate in front of them has two pieces of bread, one large, one small.  One of the person grabs the bigger one and starts to eat it.  The other grabs the smaller piece but grumbles.  The first man asks “What’s the matter?”  The second man answer “You just grabbed the bigger piece without any consideration for me.”  The first man asks “What would you have done?”  The second man answers “I would have offered you the bigger piece, and taken the smaller one for myself.”  The first man replies “Where is the problem;  that’s what we each have!!”

That story has stuck with me for nearly 50 years.  In part it has done so because there is a underlying lack of satisfaction with the cold, hard facts, while struggling to identify exactly why what the first guy did leaves us with a bad taste despite the physical reality of the situation.

The problem in this example was the lack of consideration evinced by the first man, as the second man claimed. This is quite independent of the eventual outcome. Lack of consideration gets back to fairness, and the ability to empathize. Fairness is an issue that can be independent of outcome as well. It doesn’t matter that the same outcome might have been achieved. It also might not have been achieved, as someone with consideration might well have refused to take the larger piece.

Posted on Aug 03, 2009 at 4:24am by dougsmith Comment #139

I’m falling behind in answering . . . where do people find the time for this?  But I digress.

As far as doing what one wants, willingly doing something, etc.

. . . sometimes people take responsibility for others, get involved in other people’s problems, and in general give up part of their own limited lives for others.  To me this is a choice often counter to one’s self interests, and usually detrimental to one’s physical and emotional well-being.  The argument, as I hear it, is that is really what the person wants to do, and if I understand determinism, the person really had no choice regarding their level of empathy/compassion, and hence their actions. 

This is where it gets hazy for me.  I understand influences in a person’s life affect their development.  What I’m struggling with is the idea, according to how I understand determinism, for a given person each of those influences only have one outcome as far as shaping the individual, and that they are cumulatively unique to the point in the individual’s life.

So, for instance, both my reaction to, and the influence on, me witnessing a particular event is pretty much set based on previous events.  Every thought and emotion, all understanding, lessons learned, wisdom gained from a particular event is based of my physical being in aggregate to my experiences. 

No more than a chemical reaction that, given the same set of ingredients and same quantities, is not only repeatable, but immutable. 

But, accepting this argument negates all the value of deliberation.  I can’t quite express it, but the very act of deliberation seems counter intuitive if there is no free will.

And here I get back to naturalism . . . as I understand it, per force it is rooted in science and the scientific method.  But while science can quantify mental processes in terms of physical processes, I have yet to read of anyone quantifying thoughts, ideas, etc.  How do you measure an idea?  How does one even know for sure it is the end result of a unbroken string of cause and effect, and the only possible outcome?

Naturalism/determinism says everything is subject to cause and effect, hence our actions must also be subject to cause and effect.  The disconnect I find hard to identify has to do with the mind/self/and the result of thought processes conveniently ignored between those two statements.

And here I’m repeating myself because we’re dealing with a problem potentially without answers.

In the course of reading a number of opinions, and without going into sites dealing with the supernatural/religious explanation, I’ve come across this site:

http://www.informationphilosopher.com/freedom/standard_argument.html

If nothing else it points to me not being the only idiot unable to accept the answer as being resolved.  And I like the discussion tied to implications relating to morality, ethics, responsibility, and the meaning of the self.  There are a lot of sections, and I’m still going through them trying to have a refresher course on arguments I’ve not visited for a number of years.  And also finding arguments (pro and con) I had not even been aware of (ain’t the Internet grand?).

Ultimately, it may be all of you are right, and my actions\ideas are nothing more than inevitability stemming right out from the Big Bang.  For me that is much worse than contemplating the potential existence of a god.  Obviously others don’t see it as a big deal.  Lucky bastards!

ejd

Posted on Aug 03, 2009 at 12:04pm by ejdalise Comment #140

The problem in this example was the lack of consideration evinced by the first man, as the second man claimed. This is quite independent of the eventual outcome. Lack of consideration gets back to fairness, and the ability to empathize. Fairness is an issue that can be independent of outcome as well. It doesn’t matter that the same outcome might have been achieved. It also might not have been achieved, as someone with consideration might well have refused to take the larger piece.

To try to get to the root of this concern with consideration and empathy, we are creatures that live for several decades, rather than for one day. Therefore, we are genetically conditioned (through evolution) not to view interactions with others as isolated occurrences, but as instances that fit in a repetitive pattern. That is why it is generally difficult for normal people (especially if they have no prior training in game theory, economics, or psychology) to pretend that they are playing a one-off game (such as ultimatum offer or prisoner’s dilemma), even if they are facing a stranger whom they reasonably expect never to meet again. Our intuitions almost always assume repeated interactions. Valuing fairness for fairness’ sake is quite rational if that is taken into account.

Posted on Aug 03, 2009 at 12:14pm by shiraz Comment #141

The problem in this example was the lack of consideration evinced by the first man, as the second man claimed. This is quite independent of the eventual outcome. Lack of consideration gets back to fairness, and the ability to empathize. Fairness is an issue that can be independent of outcome as well. It doesn’t matter that the same outcome might have been achieved. It also might not have been achieved, as someone with consideration might well have refused to take the larger piece.

In a naturalistic/deterministic view, why does fairness matter?  Isn’t fairness another word for right and wrong?  How does that play in the scientific naturalism universe?

Not trying to be a jerk, just failing to reconcile the idea of cause and effect with the idea of fairness.  Those two people each did/said/thought what they were predisposed to.  If I understand Clark’s argument, no matter how much they thought about it, contemplated, deliberated, they would each repeat the same actions.  Probably a limit of my physical make-up, but the conclusion I draw from that viewpoint is “that’s life”; nothing fair or unfair about it, and even empathy has little to do with the outcome other than one can make a judgment after the fact . . . no, wait . . . one shouldn’t.

Anyway, let me do some reading, exploring, etc. . . except, of course, in a naturalistic, deterministic universe I hold little hope to grow outside the bounds of what I am predetermined to be.

Thanks for the discussion.  I’ll read future posts, but without some new insight I will likely refrain from further littering the forum with my ramblings.

ejd

Posted on Aug 03, 2009 at 12:22pm by ejdalise Comment #142

In a naturalistic/deterministic view, why does fairness matter?  Isn’t fairness another word for right and wrong?  How does that play in the scientific naturalism universe?

Fairness matters because the consequences of not treating each other fairly are bad.

I think belief in contra causal free will can lead us to treat each other unfairly.

Not trying to be a jerk, just failing to reconcile the idea of cause and effect with the idea of fairness.  Those two people each did/said/thought what they were predisposed to.  If I understand Clark’s argument, no matter how much they thought about it, contemplated, deliberated, they would each repeat the same actions.

No, if the deliberation process had been appropriately different then they would have acted differently

Probably a limit of my physical make-up, but the conclusion I draw from that viewpoint is “that’s life”; nothing fair or unfair about it, and even empathy has little to do with the outcome other than one can make a judgment after the fact . . . no, wait . . . one shouldn’t.

Empathy has plenty to do with it. If we have empathetic reactions to what is happening to someone, then their suffering affects us and so we can be motivated to do somthing about it, or at least not afflict suffering upon them. I think belief in contra causal free will blocks empathy, as we can’t imagine that there but for circumstances go I, we think no we have free will, we would never do such a thing, whatever the circumstances.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 03, 2009 at 12:33pm by StephenLawrence Comment #143

Ultimately, it may be all of you are right, and my actions\ideas are nothing more than inevitability stemming right out from the Big Bang.  For me that is much worse than contemplating the potential existence of a god.

Well, first, due to the stochastic effects discussed in quantum mechanics, nothing in the universe was strictly inevitable.

The question is whether this indeterminism makes any difference for free will. As I’ve argued, it doesn’t, since the only substitute for the (relative) determinism of causes in freely willed action is behavior caused by some sort of random quantum mechanical fluctuation. And that sort of behavior is not paradigmatically any sort of action at all; it’s rather a species of twitch or jerk.

Now, as to God. God’s existence or nonexistence is to me a red herring in this discussion. If there is a God, by which I mean to say, if there is a person who is all powerful, all knowing and perfectly good, and who created the universe, that doesn’t change any of the facts about freely willed actions. It simply makes God ultimately responsible for all the freely willed actions that happen in the universe, since he caused them to happen knowing what they would produce.

The standard libertarian-about-free-will ploy is to say that God doesn’t cause us to freely act, because our actions are uncaused causes. But that gets back to the same problem I’ve just discussed, with respect to quantum mechanics. Viz., that sort of thing wouldn’t produce a free act anyhow, so that particular model of action is a nonstarter.

Posted on Aug 03, 2009 at 12:38pm by dougsmith Comment #144

In a naturalistic/deterministic view, why does fairness matter?  Isn’t fairness another word for right and wrong?  How does that play in the scientific naturalism universe?

Well, there are a large variety of answers a naturalist can provide, to answer that question. Here are a few, just off the top of my head:

First, we can say that something matters simply by asking people and finding out whether or not they say it matters to them. Plainly, fairness matters to people; and indeed, not just to people. Interesting experiments with non-human primates and even other animals like vampire bats shows that the ability to judge fairness goes well down on the phylogenetic tree. It is probably an offshoot of any system that evolves respecting reciprocal altruism. Any reciprocally altruistic society (you scratch my back, I scratch yours) will fall afoul of ‘free riders’, who take the benefits without doing their part. So, it seems, when animal societies engage in reciprocal altruism they also evolve an ability to judge ‘fairness’, or whether or not another member of the group is doing his part.

Second, we can say that fairness matters because it leads to better global outcomes.

Third, some of us might even say that fairness matters because it is a brute fact that there are moral properties, and fairness is a moral property.

Not trying to be a jerk, just failing to reconcile the idea of cause and effect with the idea of fairness.  Those two people each did/said/thought what they were predisposed to.  If I understand Clark’s argument, no matter how much they thought about it, contemplated, deliberated, they would each repeat the same actions.  Probably a limit of my physical make-up, but the conclusion I draw from that viewpoint is “that’s life”; nothing fair or unfair about it, and even empathy has little to do with the outcome other than one can make a judgment after the fact . . . no, wait . . . one shouldn’t.

Anyway, let me do some reading, exploring, etc. . . except, of course, in a naturalistic, deterministic universe I hold little hope to grow outside the bounds of what I am predetermined to be.

I would urge you not to conflate determinism (even of the modest sort we have in our universe) with fatalism.

Thanks for the discussion.  I’ll read future posts, but without some new insight I will likely refrain from further littering the forum with my ramblings.

No worries, and please do not hold back on our account. Your posts are not ramblings and they are certainly not litter.

Posted on Aug 03, 2009 at 12:49pm by dougsmith Comment #145

To what extent could various mood altering substances such as caffeine, nicotine and alcohol given as some legal examples be said modify an individual’s free will? Perhaps only as to the choice of whether they are used.  Am I predetermined to be lazy and uncreative without some artificial stimulant or to remain uptight and tense in the absence of at least a glass of wine to help me wind down?  I don’t use nicotine but I know people who apparently cannot function without it’s magical ability to act as either a stimulant or relaxant, depending upon the need.  Personally I “need” caffeine and appreciate alcohol in moderation.  Except for the cancer thing, I’d probably even appreciate a smoke once in a while.

Free will is apparently “on loan” to the effects of such drugs, and perhaps “sold out” to many more powerful substances.  I fail to see where a drunk or someone freaked out on other drugs is legally excused for any harm caused by his inebriation and feel that a line of responsibility must be drawn somewhere.  But then there is the question of a person suffering from something like Toxoplasmosis whose actions may be seriously affected by a poorly recognized form of parasitic mind control.  Should we charge the person or the parasite with whatever infraction of the law was caused by what is apparently a “bi” or perhaps even a superorganism? 

Of course the easy way out is to say that such a person is “insane” because of the foreign organism which infects his brain/mind, but the difference between that and say, a 0.080 percent Blood Alcohol Concentration which is considered legally drunk in all states is basically that the obviously drunk person made a conscious choice to drink, pre-destination notwithstanding while the much more difficult to diagnose Toxoplasmosis infected person is perhaps only guilty of getting inadequate medical attention.  So where do the many drug addicts cycling through the legal system fit into this scenario considering that (at least initially) their addiction was a matter of it being their own choice while those very same unsuspecting dupes later resemble (at least to me) someone infected by the most tenaceous of any mind altering parasites?

Posted on Aug 03, 2009 at 1:28pm by gray1 Comment #146

I think belief in contra causal free will blocks empathy, as we can’t imagine that there but for circumstances go I, we think no we have free will, we would never do such a thing, whatever the circumstances. Stephen

Believing in free will blocks my empathy?  . . . wow . . . I like me even less now.

Posted on Aug 03, 2009 at 1:37pm by ejdalise Comment #147

Some religions appear to block empathy, at least as might be observed in some adherents.  I think primarily of those who accept a caste system, whereby “those people” are deemed to actually deserve suffering poverty, ignorance, etc. perhaps because their karma account is rather low.  It wouldn’t be right to interfere with the natural order of things, all things considered, now would it?.  That said, there is little difference between Eastern and Western caste systems, isn’t that right M’Lord?

Posted on Aug 03, 2009 at 2:08pm by gray1 Comment #148

The bottom line for me is his acknowledgment that, even though there is no CCFW, individuals still bear responsibility for their actions.  Consequences, such as punishments, have utility.  The only thing that changes is the idea of retribution should be removed from the equation.  So, even if you accept this construct, a murder may be punished by imprisonment for being the proximate cause of the death of the other individual.

Posted on Aug 12, 2009 at 8:42pm by Hawkfan Comment #149

Personally, I’m having some difficulty divorcing punishment from retribution.  Basically, it’s all about retribution or there’s no satisfaction on the one part and no fear on the other.  Imprisonment alone is a very dry, unsatisfactory form of revenge/retribution.  Aside from that it’s also become pretty much a lifestyle choice for far too many people in today’s U.S. society.

Posted on Aug 12, 2009 at 9:07pm by gray1 Comment #150

The bottom line for me is his acknowledgment that, even though there is no CCFW, individuals still bear responsibility for their actions.  Consequences, such as punishments, have utility.  The only thing that changes is the idea of retribution should be removed from the equation.  So, even if you accept this construct, a murder may be punished by imprisonment for being the proximate cause of the death of the other individual.

I think what we should do with murderers and the judicial system in general is a very small part of this.

Human beings would think feel and behave differently if they didn’t believe in CCFW. When talking about other beliefs, like belief in healing by prayer or some such thing, skeptics see that the belief is harmful and see it as important to dispell the myth.

In the case of CCFW just about everybody is under the spell and so it’s much harder to see what harm it’s doing.

But still the typical reaction to this myth seems odd from skeptics, as if such a wide spread myth, believed in across all groups, effecting thoughts, feelings and behaviour in such an important way, to do with blame, praise, guilt, shame, harming and judging each other, is likely to be benign. 

I think our sense of fairness, for one thing, is bound to be being significantly warped by the belief, as rather than accepting that ultimately it’s the luck of the draw, we believe people deserve their lot in life.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 12, 2009 at 11:59pm by StephenLawrence Comment #151

Personally, I’m having some difficulty divorcing punishment from retribution.  Basically, it’s all about retribution or there’s no satisfaction on the one part and no fear on the other.  Imprisonment alone is a very dry, unsatisfactory form of revenge/retribution.  Aside from that it’s also become pretty much a lifestyle choice for far too many people in today’s U.S. society.

It seems to me that the desire for satisfaction, is the desire to see justice being done. Once people do not believe in CCFW they will not believe retribution, in the sense that someone deserves to be harmed, is justice and so will not need satisfation.

If prison really is a lifestyle choice for far too many people, then far too many people don’t have a better option, which is what needs to be addressed.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 13, 2009 at 12:26am by StephenLawrence Comment #152

[quote author=“StephenLawrence” date=“1250162777”
If prison really is a lifestyle choice for far too many people, then far too many people don’t have a better option, which is what needs to be addressed.

Stephen

Ah, a bottom line kind of answer.  So how do we get there?

Posted on Aug 13, 2009 at 5:29am by gray1 Comment #153

Strip away the Illusion of free will:
Observe a given human, in a setting, for a given time period. The vast majority of that time is running around, or sitting still. Making “Busy Work” or “farting around” in between the only real purpose we have: Mating! Reproducing! Carrying on DNA! Evolution.
Everything else for Us Humans is an illusion, brought about by Social behaviors that Evolution has “created” for us.
Does evolution have Free Will or Determinism? Is it Random?
All that “busy work”, or “farting around” we do is just constructing a social network to efficiently advance DNA into the future(evolve).
So if we have “constructed” free will, or determinism, it is for the efficient advancement of DNA.
And if you believe that the DNA is the ultimate “prime directive”, then actually determinism, or free will is not “Free Will” or CCFW, or determinism- it is just a naturalistic extension of the prime directive-DNA Evolution.
Us sitting here talking about whether we have free-will or not is one of the infinite examples of “making busy work” or “farting around” while we are getting ready to reproduce.(of course some of the mundane actions we do are part of the behavioral process of mating.)
So it is Ultimately Naturalistic! Of course it is. The mere idea of debating the validity of Free will is just us trying to peer inside the Prime Directive….which is the equivalent of a Theist saying something like:“You can’t behold god, it would melt your brain…we mortals are not emotionally, or intelligently equipped to behold god.” And I think this analogy is correct. The attempt to “behold” this prime directive is just “making busy work”.
Hey Jimmy, while your sitting around waiting to mate, look busy man! Come on-grab a broom, or straighten out those shelves!”

Posted on Aug 13, 2009 at 6:41am by VYAZMA Comment #154

So CCFW is apparently shorthand for a state of free will without God looking over your shoulder and our DNA Prime Directive(s) is basically endorphin driven.  This explains much.

Posted on Aug 13, 2009 at 7:33am by gray1 Comment #155

If prison really is a lifestyle choice for far too many people, then far too many people don’t have a better option, which is what needs to be addressed.

Stephen

Ah, a bottom line kind of answer.  So how do we get there?

Thanks for asking gray1 and I do have a very disappointing dunno for an answer.

But the first step is that society has a will to do what it takes. That won’t happen whilst people believe that people in jail could simply magically choose not to be there and therefore no steps need to be taken, and that those in jail deserve to be there, so not only do no steps need to be taken, but none should be taken.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 13, 2009 at 9:30am by StephenLawrence Comment #156

Ah, a bottom line kind of answer.  So how do we get there?

Thanks for asking gray1 and I do have a very disappointing dunno for an answer.

But the first step is that society has a will to do what it takes. That won’t happen whilst people believe that people in jail could simply magically choose not to be there and therefore no steps need to be taken, and that those in jail deserve to be there, so not only do no steps need to be taken, but none should be taken.

Stephen

Stephen, I’m getting the impression you aren’t really interested in discussing scientific naturalism. You keep gravitating towards some empathetic understanding of why people don’t deserve punishment because they can’t help themselves.

Posted on Aug 13, 2009 at 7:15pm by VYAZMA Comment #157

Let me extend your view Stephen. If the people in jail don’t deserve to be there, shouldn’t be persecuted because they never exercised a choice, then why are you persecuting the jailers? They also have exercised no choice.

Posted on Aug 13, 2009 at 7:20pm by VYAZMA Comment #158

So CCFW is apparently shorthand for a state of free will without God looking over your shoulder and our DNA Prime Directive(s) is basically endorphin driven.  This explains much.

I don’t know what you are saying here. I probably wasn’t clear enough either, my writing style sucks.
I don’t believe in free-will, I don’t believe in god.
Because I don’t believe in free-will, I must have a reason for our actions. Those reasons stem from the DNA. Like I explained above.
Gray, you go back over what I wrote there about the prime directive( sorry for the campy term), and evolution.
Social behavior evolved. It evolved to maximize potential for mating purposes to carry on DNA. That’s it. All the stuff we do outside of reproducing is just filler. It is setting up scenery to play out naturalistic behaviors. On this model, no, no one deserves to be in jail, but no one deserves not to be in jail either. It is simple, it’s just hard to write down and explain.
You tell me what you don’t agree with in this.

Posted on Aug 13, 2009 at 8:25pm by VYAZMA Comment #159

I’ll take time to expand upon my last post.

First, here’s a little something that explains much about the current state of social behaviour and human evolution and which DNA traits are now winning the race:
http://www.livevideo.com/video/1EFA01743AB2491F99D063C46158820B/idiocracy-intro.aspx
Enjoy!

True free will does not exist:
A =  Free will exercised knowing that God is nevertheless looking over your shoulder is not really “free”, and
B = In the absence of “god”, then whatever has been substituted therefore still rests on your shoulder, “watching” (i.e. conscience, etc.).

A+B = Free will is not really free, but remains burdened to some extent except perhaps in some cases of psychotic disorder.

Therefore, true free will can perhaps only be exercised (and quite briefly) by an extremely wealthy and demented person who happens to be totally unburdened by fear of any repercussion, be it from god(s), men or conscience.  The catch is that such “bravery” in and of itself might be deemed the result of a psychotic disorder and any exercise of such bravery also happens to be very costly in terms of entropy.

As for endorphins, we are born addicted to them and the feelings they provide.  Some drugs are basically artificial versions of the same and we get addicted to them as well.  Either endorphins or the artifical varients thereof release a “reward” feeling to the brain.  In the case of the natural endorphins this causes actions which aid in the survival of the individual and/or the whole species.  In the case of the mood altering drugs it often just screws up the whole system which previously has been successfully evolving for many millions of years.  So much for the progress of man.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endorphin

Posted on Aug 14, 2009 at 8:45am by gray1 Comment #160

Ah, a bottom line kind of answer.  So how do we get there?

Thanks for asking gray1 and I do have a very disappointing dunno for an answer.

But the first step is that society has a will to do what it takes. That won’t happen whilst people believe that people in jail could simply magically choose not to be there and therefore no steps need to be taken, and that those in jail deserve to be there, so not only do no steps need to be taken, but none should be taken.

Stephen

Stephen, I’m getting the impression you aren’t really interested in discussing scientific naturalism. You keep gravitating towards some empathetic understanding of why people don’t deserve punishment because they can’t help themselves.

I’m discussing the fact people don’t have CCFW.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 14, 2009 at 1:04pm by StephenLawrence Comment #161

Let me extend your view Stephen. If the people in jail don’t deserve to be there, shouldn’t be persecuted because they never exercised a choice, then why are you persecuting the jailers? They also have exercised no choice.

Nobody deserves a better or worse life than anyone else. Meaning that there is nothing fair to any individual about what life they get. It is ultimately luck what genes we get and what life experiences we get. What we do is the result of our nuture and nature, obviously, and equally obviously it’s ultimately beyond our control what nuture and nature we get.

both the people in jail and the jailers make choices.

This is what the podcast was about, the illusion people have that what I’m saying isn’t true, that people have some magical contra causal ability to transcend this, in some unimaginable way.

I’m not persecuting anybody and really wouldn’t say this is a “view”. Of course it’s nuture and nature, what else?

People won’t accept it, that’s all.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 14, 2009 at 1:14pm by StephenLawrence Comment #162

Let me extend your view Stephen. If the people in jail don’t deserve to be there, shouldn’t be persecuted because they never exercised a choice, then why are you persecuting the jailers? They also have exercised no choice.

Nobody deserves a better or worse life than anyone else. Meaning that there is nothing fair to any individual about what life they get. It is ultimately luck what genes we get and what life experiences we get. What we do is the result of our nuture and nature, obviously, and equally obviously it’s ultimately beyond our control what nuture and nature we get.

both the people in jail and the jailers make choices.

This is what the podcast was about, the illusion people have that what I’m saying isn’t true, that people have some magical contra causal ability to transcend this, in some unimaginable way.

I’m not persecuting anybody and really wouldn’t say this is a “view”. Of course it’s nuture and nature, what else?

People won’t accept it, that’s all.

Stephen

I’m seeing to many contradictions. I’m seeing them, it doesn’t mean that they’re there. First CCFW, Free will, and Determinism, and choice are all relatively the same thing right? Relatively? This is first. Let’s clear this up for my benefit.

Posted on Aug 14, 2009 at 5:46pm by VYAZMA Comment #163

Vyazma,

I’m seeing to many contradictions. I’m seeing them, it doesn’t mean that they’re there. First CCFW, Free will, and Determinism, and choice are all relatively the same thing right? Relatively? This is first. Let’s clear this up for my benefit.

To choose is to evaluate options and act upon the result of the evaluation process. To have a choice is to have more than one thing you could do if you were to have a will to do so.

Determinism is the thesis that from the circumstances you are in now you can only get to one possible future. (or from the circumstances of your birth, or any moment)

Free will is a type of freedom required to make you responsible for certain actions.

CCFW is a particular version of free will, the one most commonly believed in. It’s components are:

1) Could get to a number of different possible futures from the circumstances you are now in (and so is incompatible with determinism)

2) This way of doing otherwise is non random.  (as it isn’t by chance)

3) In such a way that makes you responsible for your actions. This contrasts with compatibilist freedom, as in that version what makes you responsible is that you could do otherwise if you were in appropriately different circumstances. The reason, or at least part of the reason is this is how we establish causes.


The responsibility that comes out of compatibilism, is very different from that which people believe in and that CCFW is supposed to justify.

We feel very different about someone being able to avoid doing something bad, in the sense that if they’d been born in different circumstances, they would have avoided it, (luck), compared with the contra causal version.

The key is the difference in the responsibility people actually believe in and the responsibility which “falls out” of compatibilism.

The responsibility people actually believe in as Galen Strawson tells it:

http://www.naturalism.org/strawson.htm

“Philosophers will ask what exactly this “ultimate” responsibility is supposed to be. They will suggest that it doesn’t really make sense, and try to move from there to the claim that it can’t really be what we have in mind when we talk about moral responsibility. It is very clear to most people, however, and one dramatic way to characterize it is by reference to the story of heaven and hell: it is responsibility of such a kind that, if we have it, it makes sense to propose that it could be just to punish some of us with torment in hell and reward others with bliss in heaven. It makes sense because what we do is absolutely up to us. The words “makes sense” are stressed because one doesn’t have to believe in the story of heaven and hell in order to understand the notion of ultimate responsibility that it is used to illustrate. Nor does one have to believe in it in order to believe in ultimate responsibility (many atheists have done so).”

Stephen

Posted on Aug 14, 2009 at 11:36pm by StephenLawrence Comment #164

Nobody deserves a better or worse life than anyone else. Meaning that there is nothing fair to any individual about what life they get. It is ultimately luck what genes we get and what life experiences we get. What we do is the result of our nuture and nature, obviously, and equally obviously it’s ultimately beyond our control what nuture and nature we get.

both the people in jail and the jailers make choices.

This is what the podcast was about, the illusion people have that what I’m saying isn’t true, that people have some magical contra causal ability to transcend this, in some unimaginable way.

I’m not persecuting anybody and really wouldn’t say this is a “view”. Of course it’s nuture and nature, what else?

People won’t accept it, that’s all.

Stephen


You have been talking a lot about the incompatibility of deservedness and the absence of CCFW.  I think you misunderstand deservedness.  I don’t think feeling that some people deserve some things and others do not requires a belief in CCFW.  We can evaluate a person’s behavior, intentions, and feelings and come to conclusions about what that person does or does not “deserve” without considering whether that person has CCFW.  Judgments of deservedness form from feelings of approval/disapproval, liking/disliking, envy, admiration, indignation,  etc,  toward a person; and these feelings do not necessarily depend on any notion of CCFW.

If I take two kids (Joe and Gary), and I tell them, okay, here is the deal, if you mow my lawn I will give you 10 dollars, and then give 20 dollars to Joe even though he doesn’t mow my lawn and give 5 dollars to Gary even though he did mow my lawn, Gary may likely feel that Joe got more than he “deserved” and Gary himself got less than what he deserved.  What does it matter to Gary whether everything was ultimately determined in some metaphysical way: he didn’t get what he was told he would get for his labor and Joe got more than he was told for his labor (or non-labor).  Gary got stiffed.  And he got stiffed regardless of whether he or I have CCFW. 
Stephen, I don’t think CCFW casts as great a spell on our behavior as you have been proposing.  It is rather, you don’t like certain behaviors and feelings that humans have, and you think CCFW provides some rational for your disapproval.

Posted on Aug 15, 2009 at 7:12pm by Ulysses Bonobo Comment #165

The responsibility that comes out of compatibilism, is very different from that which people believe in and that CCFW is supposed to justify.

We feel very different about someone being able to avoid doing something bad, in the sense that if they’d been born in different circumstances, they would have avoided it, (luck), compared with the contra causal version.

The key is the difference in the responsibility people actually believe in and the responsibility which “falls out” of compatibilism.

Does it? I know this is the point that is concerning you the most about whole free will/determinism/responsibility debate. Recently I read a (german, sorry, Peter Bieri, “Das Handwerk der Freiheit” (Something like “The handicraft of freedom”)) book that presents compatibilism as the solution for the free will/determinism problem. I hope I can outline his argument in a few sentences, the argument that compatibilist free will is enough for responsibility. The way is a negative one: there is no standpoint from which the idea that people can be blamed or praised because they are pre determined can be criticised.

The idea is that if you ask if it is justified to punish somebody, e.g. for murder, this is a already a moral question. So your question is already part of ‘the moral universe’, and in this universe the question if somebody is allowed to murder is a perfect moral question. You cannot have both: asking yourself the question if you are justified to blame the murder for his deed, and not asking if his murdering was justified.

The opposite is of course just as interesting: if the murderer was pre determined to kill, then your are just as pre determined to blame him. You cannot mix the two kinds of discourse: the moral one when asking if it is justified to blame the murderer, and the physical one when asking if it is correct to kill (this sounds already silly).

Obviously CCFW cannot be used for praising or blaming somebody: it is just cheer chance why the murderer did what he did, his deed came from nowhere. So the problem is at most that the concept of responsibility that people believe in, is an unreflected idea (because based on CCFW), which on reflection, turns out to be an impossible idea (like a square circle).

I don’t know if I am helping to solve this problem, or am just complicating it…

GdB

Posted on Aug 16, 2009 at 9:51am by GdB Comment #166

The opposite is of course just as interesting: if the murderer was pre determined to kill, then your are just as pre determined to blame him. You cannot mix the two kinds of discourse: the moral one when asking if it is justified to blame the murderer, and the physical one when asking if it is correct to kill (this sounds already silly).

This is what I was trying to say earlier. I don’t like “pre-determined” though. I like “Natural”.

Posted on Aug 16, 2009 at 10:21am by VYAZMA Comment #167

The responsibility that comes out of compatibilism, is very different from that which people believe in and that CCFW is supposed to justify.

We feel very different about someone being able to avoid doing something bad, in the sense that if they’d been born in different circumstances, they would have avoided it, (luck), compared with the contra causal version.

The key is the difference in the responsibility people actually believe in and the responsibility which “falls out” of compatibilism.

Does it? I know this is the point that is concerning you the most about whole free will/determinism/responsibility debate. Recently I read a (german, sorry, Peter Bieri, “Das Handwerk der Freiheit” (Something like “The handicraft of freedom”)) book that presents compatibilism as the solution for the free will/determinism problem. I hope I can outline his argument in a few sentences, the argument that compatibilist free will is enough for responsibility. The way is a negative one: there is no standpoint from which the idea that people can be blamed or praised because they are pre determined can be criticised.

The idea is that if you ask if it is justified to punish somebody, e.g. for murder, this is a already a moral question. So your question is already part of ‘the moral universe’, and in this universe the question if somebody is allowed to murder is a perfect moral question. You cannot have both: asking yourself the question if you are justified to blame the murder for his deed, and not asking if his murdering was justified.

The opposite is of course just as interesting: if the murderer was pre determined to kill, then your are just as pre determined to blame him. You cannot mix the two kinds of discourse: the moral one when asking if it is justified to blame the murderer, and the physical one when asking if it is correct to kill (this sounds already silly).

Obviously CCFW cannot be used for praising or blaming somebody: it is just cheer chance why the murderer did what he did, his deed came from nowhere. So the problem is at most that the concept of responsibility that people believe in, is an unreflected idea (because based on CCFW), which on reflection, turns out to be an impossible idea (like a square circle).

I don’t know if I am helping to solve this problem, or am just complicating it…

GdB

Hi Gdb

Yes compatibilism is the way to solve the free will problem.

What that means is we don’t have the free will people actually believe in, it’s true to say there is no such thing.

What that means is we are not responsible, to blame, praiseworthy, deserving, guilty, to be ashamed etc in the way people actualy believe either.

If you solve the problem with compatibilism and everything shifts significantly and accordingly, then you’ve succeeded.

If you solve the porblem and nothing much changes, then there is an error in the theory somewhere, which leaves us right back where we started, except instead of the lie being we have CCFW, the lie changes to the responsibility etc, we have is the same as people actually believe in and is compatible with determinism.

People believe we have an appropriate way of avoiding doing what we do, which makes us deserving of the life we get in a deep ultimate way. This is not in the compatibilist sense which is, if you’d been lucky enough to have been born in slightly different circumstances, you would have done otherwise.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 17, 2009 at 12:37am by StephenLawrence Comment #168

Hello Ulysses,

Nobody deserves a better or worse life than anyone else. Meaning that there is nothing fair to any individual about what life they get. It is ultimately luck what genes we get and what life experiences we get. What we do is the result of our nuture and nature, obviously, and equally obviously it’s ultimately beyond our control what nuture and nature we get.

both the people in jail and the jailers make choices.

This is what the podcast was about, the illusion people have that what I’m saying isn’t true, that people have some magical contra causal ability to transcend this, in some unimaginable way.

I’m not persecuting anybody and really wouldn’t say this is a “view”. Of course it’s nuture and nature, what else?

People won’t accept it, that’s all.

Stephen


You have been talking a lot about the incompatibility of deservedness and the absence of CCFW.  I think you misunderstand deservedness.  I don’t think feeling that some people deserve some things and others do not requires a belief in CCFW.  We can evaluate a person’s behavior, intentions, and feelings and come to conclusions about what that person does or does not “deserve” without considering whether that person has CCFW.  Judgments of deservedness form from feelings of approval/disapproval, liking/disliking, envy, admiration, indignation,  etc,  toward a person; and these feelings do not necessarily depend on any notion of CCFW.

It depends upon what is meant by deserved. It’s impossible to justify someone deserving to be harmed in the sense that it is fair to them. The justification people believe in is CCFW. The type of desert is characterised as Galen Strawson points out, by the belief it could be fair for a just God to punish or reward us after death.

If I take two kids (Joe and Gary), and I tell them, okay, here is the deal, if you mow my lawn I will give you 10 dollars, and then give 20 dollars to Joe even though he doesn’t mow my lawn and give 5 dollars to Gary even though he did mow my lawn, Gary may likely feel that Joe got more than he “deserved” and Gary himself got less than what he deserved.  What does it matter to Gary whether everything was ultimately determined in some metaphysical way: he didn’t get what he was told he would get for his labor and Joe got more than he was told for his labor (or non-labor).  Gary got stiffed.  And he got stiffed regardless of whether he or I have CCFW. 

Good point, I would agree with that and so I wonder if deservedness can be “naturalised” just as blame, praise, responsibility etc can be.

Still the problem I’m concerned about is belief in the incompatibilist version.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 17, 2009 at 12:48am by StephenLawrence Comment #169

What that means is we don’t have the free will people actually believe in, it’s true to say there is no such thing.

Not quite: it is explaining that free will is just slightly different than people think. But that this reflected concept of free will is still strong enough to be a basis for praise and punishment.

What that means is we are not responsible, to blame, praiseworthy, deserving, guilty, to be ashamed etc in the way people actualy believe either.

I assume you mean that ‘people’ think we should not be praised or punished. Or do you mean that you think compatibilist free will does not bear the load?

If you solve the problem with compatibilism and everything shifts significantly and accordingly, then you’ve succeeded.

I think nothing has to shift.

If you solve the porblem and nothing much changes, then there is an error in the theory somewhere, which leaves us right back where we started, except instead of the lie being we have CCFW, the lie changes to the responsibility etc, we have is the same as people actually believe in and is compatible with determinism.

No idea what you mean here. I do not lie about free will, neither about responsibility.

People believe we have an appropriate way of avoiding doing what we do, which makes us deserving of the life we get in a deep ultimate way.

But you can! You can decide what you do the next moment. It is a misconception about what you think you are, where part of the problem lies.

It seems you did not get my point: that you are mingling with a moral and physical discourse. If you understand this, then the next point is to explain this to the ‘people’. But that is didactics, not philosophy.

GdB

Posted on Aug 17, 2009 at 5:14am by GdB Comment #170

This is what I was trying to say earlier. I don’t like “pre-determined” though. I like “Natural”.

I used ‘pre determined’ because ‘determined’ in English also means that somebody has hard decided to do something. I wanted to stay in the physical discourse, if you know what I mean.

GdB

Posted on Aug 17, 2009 at 5:16am by GdB Comment #171

What that means is we don’t have the free will people actually believe in, it’s true to say there is no such thing.

Not quite: it is explaining that free will is just slightly different than people think.

I just have to smile GdB. Slightly different?! It’s so very different that it take quite sometime until anyone has the slightest idea what the blinkin’ heck the compatibilist is talking about.(ask George)

People believe we can overide our nuture and nature, so they do not believe that when someone committs murder that was the result of their nuture and nature, they believe that the person had the power to overide it and get into a different situation despite being born in the circumstances that he was.

Here are a couple of examples of this belief, there are literally millions:

http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/5925/P15/ post 16

“I am not suggesting that there is absolute free will, simply that all is not predetermined. That is, there is some, if limited, choice between alternatives. Maybe we are not meat puppets, and our actions are not determines completely by our interaction between the environment outside us and our internal machinery. If we gave no choice, then Hitler was predetermined to do what he did. It was just the wiring of his brain interacting with his experience, environment, etc.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/mbreligion/F2213235?thread=6660623&skip=120&show=20

post 129

I wrote “We agree that your will is part of your internal circumstances and so a result of your nurture or nature.”

And the response: “No we don’t, Stephen!

My PREFERENCE is the result of my nature/nurture. My will can decide whether I follow my preference or do the opposite”

Although this was from a Christian site, this is from an atheist who accepts the theory of evolution is true.

But that this reflected concept of free will is still strong enough to be a basis for praise and punishment.

Praise and punishment can be viewed as functional things. Inputs that influence choices. As that is obviously the case, it’s hard to understand what you mean by a free will strong enough to be the bases of this? All that’s required is it works. If you think there is something more, I suspect that the free will you believe in is not really compatible with determinism at all.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 17, 2009 at 8:06am by StephenLawrence Comment #172

People believe we have an appropriate way of avoiding doing what we do, which makes us deserving of the life we get in a deep ultimate way.

But you can! You can decide what you do the next moment. It is a misconception about what you think you are, where part of the problem lies.

Nope, I can see you believe we have a free will incompatible with determinism but are mistaken in thinking it is compatible with determinism. Which is why nothing changes for you.

If determinism is true then there is a sense in which you have to do what you do. Sure, as Doug has explained to me there is a sense that you don’t too.

But the sense that you don’t amounts to, you would have done otherwise if you were born in slightly different circumstances but unfortunately for you, you weren’t.

There is no misconception of what we are in this analysis.

Stephen

edit: I wasn’t saying nope to “you can decide” b.t.w of course we choose between alternative courses of action.

Posted on Aug 17, 2009 at 8:22am by StephenLawrence Comment #173

What that means is we are not responsible, to blame, praiseworthy, deserving, guilty, to be ashamed etc in the way people actualy believe either.

I assume you mean that ‘people’ think we should not be praised or punished. Or do you mean that you think compatibilist free will does not bear the load?

What I mean is what people believe in is ultimate responsibility, ultimate blame, ultimate praise. CCFW is what supposed to justify this.

Compatibilist free will doesn’t bear the load if we leave these things unchanged. Just as free will changes, what follows changes too. Basically you are cheating by altering one part of the equation from incompatible with determinism to compatible with determinism but leaving the rest unaltered.

So ultimate responsibility becomes responsibility, ultimately to blame becomes to blame and so on.

I know that philosophers will argue that these things amount to the same thing but they most certainly don’t. The way the murderer could have avoided the act of killing, is if the big bang had banged differently! This is not the sense of could have done otherwise that people believe in and does not fit with the sense of responsibility etc people believe in either.

That’s why people don’t understand how we could be responsible if determinism is true, it’s because what responsibility means to them and what it is are such very different things.

On punishment what I think is if it does no harm to the person it’s done to, then there is no moral problem. If it harms a person then free will can’t bear the load in the sense of making it fair or just to them to do it. The only way to justify it is as the lesser of two evils and this is only the case in circumstances in which the offender had compatibilist free will because these are the cases in which the punishment works as a deterrent to others and might work to correct behaviour.

I think the bottom line is compatibilist free will can’t make harming fair to the person who is harmed and I would say thank goodness for that! What suprises me is apparently most wouldn’t.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 17, 2009 at 10:28pm by StephenLawrence Comment #174

If you solve the porblem and nothing much changes, then there is an error in the theory somewhere, which leaves us right back where we started, except instead of the lie being we have CCFW, the lie changes to the responsibility etc, we have is the same as people actually believe in and is compatible with determinism.

No idea what you mean here. I do not lie about free will, neither about responsibility.

What I mean is there is a lie circulating in human society (not usually deliberate ) that we have CCFW.

Now with compatibilism we sometimes have a new lie, again usually not deliberate, which is that the sense in which we are responsible stays the same, even though the sense in which we have free will dramatically shifts.

The truth is both dramatically shift.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 17, 2009 at 10:34pm by StephenLawrence Comment #175

Stephen,

What I mean is there is a lie circulating in human society (not usually deliberate ) that we have CCFW.

Now with compatibilism we sometimes have a new lie, again usually not deliberate, which is that the sense in which we are responsible stays the same, even though the sense in which we have free will dramatically shifts.

The truth is both dramatically shift.

Stephen

Now, it isn’t really a lie if it isn’t at all deliberate, or for that matter, conscious.  People who say we have CCFW believe we actually do, even if they may be mistaken about it.  They aren’t lieing about it.  But I guess the whole thing seems more sinister if you think they are…

It depends upon what is meant by deserved. It’s impossible to justify someone deserving to be harmed in the sense that it is fair to them. The justification people believe in is CCFW. The type of desert is characterised as Galen Strawson points out, by the belief it could be fair for a just God to punish or reward us after death.

I’m not sure what you are getting at with this. 

Good point, I would agree with that and so I wonder if deservedness can be “naturalised” just as blame, praise, responsibility etc can be.

Still the problem I’m concerned about is belief in the incompatibilist version.

Stephen

Yes, I can gather that is what you are primarily concerned with.  But it also seems that you have been expressing distaste about many things that you believe would disappear if people did not believe in CCFW.  For example, you say “Once people do not believe in CCFW they will not believe retribution, in the sense that someone deserves to be harmed, is justice and so will not need satisfation.”  I don’t think there would be dramatic change if people stopped believing in CCFW—people would still praise, blame, admonish, forgive, apologize, shame, shun, embrace, etc etc. And people would still reward and punish.  After all, much reward and punishment is an expression and extension of praise and admonishment.  In a very real sense, in those rat experiments where we give a rat cheese when it does what we want it to and shock it when we don’t are just forms of reward and punishment; I don’t know how many people believe that rats are blessed with CCFW, but I doubt it is many.  I don’t think firmly recognizing they do not have CCFW will dramatically alter the behavior of scientists.  Can the concept of desert be applied to lab rats?  Perhaps.  If scientists want the rats to get through the maze, and the condition of the cheese is getting through the maze, it would make sense to say the rats got what they deserved when they received the cheese; if they don’t make it through the maze, and the condition of not getting through the maze is getting shocked, then it would make sense to say the rats got what they deserved when they received the shock.  Since the shock is a form of harm, it logically follows that the rats deserved to be harmed when they did not make it through the maze, at least from the scientist’s vantage point.  The rats may beg to differ.

I think the bottom line is compatibilist free will can’t make harming fair to the person who is harmed and I would say thank goodness for that! What suprises me is apparently most wouldn’t.
 

What are you getting at when you talk about fairness?

And another question:  do you think you personally praise, blame, admonish, or disdain people or their actions?

Posted on Aug 18, 2009 at 4:41am by Ulysses Bonobo Comment #176

Stephen,

What I mean is there is a lie circulating in human society (not usually deliberate ) that we have CCFW.

Now with compatibilism we sometimes have a new lie, again usually not deliberate, which is that the sense in which we are responsible stays the same, even though the sense in which we have free will dramatically shifts.

The truth is both dramatically shift.

Stephen

Now, it isn’t really a lie if it isn’t at all deliberate, or for that matter, conscious.  People who say we have CCFW believe we actually do, even if they may be mistaken about it.  They aren’t lieing about it.  But I guess the whole thing seems more sinister if you think they are…

You’re right it usually isn’t a lie.

I’ll come back on the rest. 

Stephen

Posted on Aug 19, 2009 at 12:44am by StephenLawrence Comment #177

Ulysses,

It depends upon what is meant by deserved. It’s impossible to justify someone deserving to be harmed in the sense that it is fair to them. The justification people believe in is CCFW. The type of desert is characterised as Galen Strawson points out, by the belief it could be fair for a just God to punish or reward us after death.

I’m not sure what you are getting at with this.

Well, this is what it’s all about.

If God makes one person bad and one person good, then there is nothing fair or just about him giving the bad person a worse experience than the good person. It would in fact be cruel for God to punish the bad person, simply for being as God made him. edit: The responsibility people usually actually believe in, is of the type that would mean that somehow this could be fair or just. This responsibility is what some philosophers call ultimate moral responsibility or deep moral responsibility. It’s this responsibility that we don’t have.

How exactly the CCFW myth got into the system, I don’t know, but it seems that in part it’s a religious construct to overcome this problem.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 19, 2009 at 11:35pm by StephenLawrence Comment #178

If God makes one person bad and one person good, then there is nothing fair or just about him giving the bad person a worse experience than the good person. It would in fact be cruel for God to punish the bad person, simply for being as God made him. edit: The responsibility people usually actually believe in, is of the type that would mean that somehow this could be fair or just. This responsibility is what some philosophers call ultimate moral responsibility or deep moral responsibility. It’s this responsibility that we don’t have.

How exactly the CCFW myth got into the system, I don’t know, but it seems that in part it’s a religious construct to overcome this problem.

Stephen

The god bomb…you dropped the god bomb. Why? Here are some atheists or agnostics(you too I’m assuming!) discussing this free-will issue, completely in the context of science, and without any theistic veins, and you bring up god. Why? I’ve sensed all along that you are struggling with these theistic issues. It has seemed you were struggling to come to grips with a Naturalistic, scientific view of human behavior.
Isn’t it just as simple to understand why people believe in god in the first place? Then you can attach those mechanics onto why humans minds work the way they do-including yours, mine, and everyone-not just theists?
I posited exactly how CCFW got into the system. It is only a perceived CCFW anyways. You seem to have no trouble “perceiving” this CCFW. And you biasedly incorporate your own “Free-will”, in deciding who is behaving properly, and who is not.
My explanation concerning the evolution of Humans behavior, DNA, and mating are the first rungs on the ladder to understanding why people behave the way they do. That is the lowest common denominator, from which all human behavior stems.
CCFW is a construct stemming from this, that enables humans(maybe other animals) to create the most efficient, behavioral, social networks for us to interact and mate.(there are other attendant behaviors attached to mating, as well as food and shelter behaviors, but of course these are simply there to ensure the efficiency of DNA survival).
You are struggling with free-will. Because you see the illusion of it all around you. So do I. It isn’t there! You are acting upon impulses of behavior, that are pre-programmed into your hard-drive.
Yes-Yes Ultimately even choosing between Salt and Vinegar or BBQ potato chips is not exercising Free-Will. It is only the illusion of free-will.
The illusion is enough though. That is what it takes to make us behave the way we do, to interact, to judge, to get deserts, or punishments, so that the hierarchal social units we create can effectively work.
Look at Bees. Do you think Joe Bumble Bee says to Fred Bee-“Look at Henry Bee, he is always going to the Tulips for Pollen, he never goes to the Lilacs-Why?” No-Bees don’t think this stuff, or if they do, it is only part of the “job” of gathering food;which is only part of the End game-that of feeding the Queen, and workers, and drones, TO MATE…..TO MATE….Advance DNA into the Future.
Part of your Job is to sit around with your advanced brain, and think up crazy “stuff”, to pass the time, while you gather food, mate, and wait to die…Hopefully advancing your DNA, if it was strong enough.

Posted on Aug 20, 2009 at 6:00am by VYAZMA Comment #179

If God makes one person bad and one person good, then there is nothing fair or just about him giving the bad person a worse experience than the good person. It would in fact be cruel for God to punish the bad person, simply for being as God made him. edit: The responsibility people usually actually believe in, is of the type that would mean that somehow this could be fair or just. This responsibility is what some philosophers call ultimate moral responsibility or deep moral responsibility. It’s this responsibility that we don’t have.

How exactly the CCFW myth got into the system, I don’t know, but it seems that in part it’s a religious construct to overcome this problem.

Stephen

The god bomb…you dropped the god bomb. Why? Here are some atheists or agnostics(you too I’m assuming!) discussing this free-will issue, completely in the context of science, and without any theistic veins, and you bring up god. Why?

Because the story illustrates the type of responsibility that we don’t have.

It makes no difference whether one believes in God or not, this is the type of responsibility people usually believe in.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 20, 2009 at 6:11am by StephenLawrence Comment #180

If God makes one person bad and one person good, then there is nothing fair or just about him giving the bad person a worse experience than the good person. It would in fact be cruel for God to punish the bad person, simply for being as God made him. edit: The responsibility people usually actually believe in, is of the type that would mean that somehow this could be fair or just. This responsibility is what some philosophers call ultimate moral responsibility or deep moral responsibility. It’s this responsibility that we don’t have.

How exactly the CCFW myth got into the system, I don’t know, but it seems that in part it’s a religious construct to overcome this problem.

Stephen

The god bomb…you dropped the god bomb. Why? Here are some atheists or agnostics(you too I’m assuming!) discussing this free-will issue, completely in the context of science, and without any theistic veins, and you bring up god. Why?

Because the story illustrates the type of responsibility that we don’t have.

It makes no difference whether one believes in God or not, this is the type of responsibility people usually believe in.

Stephen

Well, that’s irrelevant. Given the explanation I provided, god is just another manifestation of the mechanics I explained. So what if that is a type of “responsibilty” people usually “believe” in.( actually I think there are varied types of responsibilties)
Here’s what: You think it is wrong! How could you think it was wrong? How could you think it could be remedied?

Posted on Aug 20, 2009 at 6:24am by VYAZMA Comment #181

If God makes one person bad and one person good, then there is nothing fair or just about him giving the bad person a worse experience than the good person. It would in fact be cruel for God to punish the bad person, simply for being as God made him. edit: The responsibility people usually actually believe in, is of the type that would mean that somehow this could be fair or just. This responsibility is what some philosophers call ultimate moral responsibility or deep moral responsibility. It’s this responsibility that we don’t have.

How exactly the CCFW myth got into the system, I don’t know, but it seems that in part it’s a religious construct to overcome this problem.

Stephen

The god bomb…you dropped the god bomb. Why? Here are some atheists or agnostics(you too I’m assuming!) discussing this free-will issue, completely in the context of science, and without any theistic veins, and you bring up god. Why?

Because the story illustrates the type of responsibility that we don’t have.

It makes no difference whether one believes in God or not, this is the type of responsibility people usually believe in.

Stephen

Well, that’s irrelevant. Given the explanation I provided, god is just another manifestation of the mechanics I explained. So what if that is a type of “responsibilty” people usually “believe” in.


If people believe we are responsible in a way we are not and that therefore we are to blame, guilty, praiseworthy, etc all in ways that we are not, then the belief is significantly affecting how we think feel and behave towards and about ourselves and each other.

Here’s what: You think it is wrong! How could you think it was wrong?

I think it’s an erroneous belief.

How could you think it could be remedied?

People getting to know it’s an erroneous belief.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 20, 2009 at 6:35am by StephenLawrence Comment #182

If people believe we are responsible in a way we are not and that therefore we are to blame, guilty, praiseworthy, etc all in ways that we are not, then the belief is significantly affecting how we think feel and behave towards and about ourselves and each other.

Here’s what: You think it is wrong! How could you think it was wrong?

I think it’s an erroneous belief.

How could you think it could be remedied?

People getting to know it’s an erroneous belief.

Stephen

You do realize this is entirely antithetical to this discussion. You are positing Un-naturalistic ideas. Your solutions are using the same unnaturalistic “modes” that create the very problems you are protesting.

Posted on Aug 20, 2009 at 6:39am by VYAZMA Comment #183

If people believe we are responsible in a way we are not and that therefore we are to blame, guilty, praiseworthy, etc all in ways that we are not, then the belief is significantly affecting how we think feel and behave towards and about ourselves and each other.

Here’s what: You think it is wrong! How could you think it was wrong?

I think it’s an erroneous belief.

How could you think it could be remedied?

People getting to know it’s an erroneous belief.

Stephen

You do realize this is entirely antithetical to this discussion. You are positing Un-naturalistic ideas.

Ultimate responsibility is an un-naturalistic idea, that’s why the next logical step for naturalists and humanists is to drop it.


Your solutions are using the same unnaturalistic “modes” that create the very problems you are protesting.

My solution is people getting to know that to believe in CCFW or ultimate responsibility is erroneous. What is unaturalistic about that?

Stephen

Posted on Aug 20, 2009 at 6:43am by StephenLawrence Comment #184

Also I wanted to touch upon this Steve. Yours and my thoughts on how people “should” behave are relevant in the behavioral scenario. They are common. This is all part of the mixing and matching that goes on. The frictions of interactions. The testings of boundaries, the desire to change minds,OR Change Hierarchies.
Your desire, in and of itself, to let people “understand” peace, and fairness on a naturalistic level is valid. But is in the minority. It’s in Play, but it is Lowwww Dowwwwnnn in the Hierarchy.
And aside from that, if it rose to the top of the hierarchy, we would have the inverse of the problems you are talking about. Which would be just as #1 Relevant, and #2 problematic.

Posted on Aug 20, 2009 at 6:47am by VYAZMA Comment #185

Ultimate responsibility is an un-naturalistic idea, that’s why the next logical step for naturalists and humanists is to drop it.


Your solutions are using the same unnaturalistic “modes” that create the very problems you are protesting.

My solution is people getting to know that to believe in CCFW or ultimate responsibility is erroneous. What is unaturalistic about that?

Stephen

It’s like you’re being Dogmatic at this point. Really!
Your solution is ultimately “Unnaturalistic”(although it is natural) because you seek to form the same Belief codes, or “Theisms” to get people to justify behaviors.
You are going to HAVE to accept that the system that is in play now, is the most efficient.
Now a little Caveat: Due to gross social mis-mechanics, or naturally occurring inbalances in the Social network, some may perceive “wrongs”. A good example of this is the issues that come into play with over-population. Not over-population on a planetary scale. Over-population on a Super-tribal scale.(Cities ie.) Weird anomolies,which are natural, are observed by all. But interpreted differently by many.

Posted on Aug 20, 2009 at 7:00am by VYAZMA Comment #186

Ultimate responsibility is an un-naturalistic idea, that’s why the next logical step for naturalists and humanists is to drop it.


Your solutions are using the same unnaturalistic “modes” that create the very problems you are protesting.

My solution is people getting to know that to believe in CCFW or ultimate responsibility is erroneous. What is unaturalistic about that?

Stephen

It’s like you’re being Dogmatic at this point. Really!

About as dogmatic as saying it’s a logical step for a naturalist not to believe in the super natural :lol:

Stephen

Posted on Aug 20, 2009 at 11:06am by StephenLawrence Comment #187

Well, this is what it’s all about.

If God makes one person bad and one person good, then there is nothing fair or just about him giving the bad person a worse experience than the good person. It would in fact be cruel for God to punish the bad person, simply for being as God made him. edit: The responsibility people usually actually believe in, is of the type that would mean that somehow this could be fair or just. This responsibility is what some philosophers call ultimate moral responsibility or deep moral responsibility. It’s this responsibility that we don’t have.

How exactly the CCFW myth got into the system, I don’t know, but it seems that in part it’s a religious construct to overcome this problem.

Stephen

Stephen,

I don’t know how relevant a god is, particularly a singular omnipotent one, to CCFW.  Historically and anthropologically, I don’t think it would be the case that cultures that didn’t embrace a monotheistic god did not believe in CCFW, or believed it any less than cultures that do embrace a monotheistic god.  Philosophically, at least regarding western philosophy and theology following the birth of Christianity, it may turn out that CCFW is often used as a poor way of exonerating a god’s ineffable behavior—but I don’t think that because CCFW is often used to exonerate a god it therefore could not exist without one, or has or was believed never to exist without one.  And just briefly—it may pose an odd contradiction for a god who created and designed some beings to hold those beings responsible for what they do, but there isn’t the same contradiction for those same beings to hold one another responsible for what they do, as they arent individually causally responsible for creating the kind of being each of them is. 

But the omnipotent god and non-CCFW problem is only a problem for those people who are theistic.  Many atheists still believe in CCFW, Nagel for example.  And a frequent objection to compatiblism is that morality is groundless and doomed without it; and I think that that worry is as unjustified as the worry that morality is doomed and groundless without a god, or without heaven, or without karma, or without “objectivity.”  At the minimum, as long as we are animals who care what other animals of our kind(or not our kind maybe…) feel and think about us, morality is going to be safe and secure.  Deep Breath.

If people believe we are responsible in a way we are not and that therefore we are to blame, guilty, praiseworthy, etc all in ways that we are not, then the belief is significantly affecting how we think feel and behave towards and about ourselves and each other.

I doubt feelings of guilt, blame, shame, and pride feel essentially different whether they are buoyed by CCFW, an elaborate compatiblism, or a magical turtle. 

Still waiting on your response to the rest of my previous post by the way :)

Posted on Aug 21, 2009 at 2:28am by Ulysses Bonobo Comment #188

Hi Stephen,

I’ll try it once again.

When you are discussing if people may be blamed or praised because we assume that they are determined, then you are anticipating the faculty of your discussing partners that they are able to change (or continue) their practice of blaming and praising, based on good grounds. With this you are assuming they have free will, otherwise it would not make sense to discuss this, in other words, they have a real choice. Then obviously, because your discussing partners can choose their behaviour based on good grounds, you can expect from a murderer that he has this faculty too. Punishment is then our reaction on his deed, based on for us unacceptable grounds.

A ‘real choice’ means that the behaviour of people is based on grounds: what they do, is determined by their choice. If you reflect on this, you will see that the experience that you really could have done otherwise, does not exist. When you are making a very conscious choice, you experience that what you choose, will determine (at least part of) the future. When you look back you know you could have chosen otherwise, but you do not have the experience that this was a real, physical, option. Your choice being determined by your biology and history is not completely accessible to you, and therefore is just not ‘part of the equation’. The will is free when it can express itself: this does not mean that the will itself is not determined. That you do not like brussels sprouts, that you love chocolate, that you are heterosexual, etc, is outside your control. That you can leave brussels sprouts aside, can eat chocolate, and can love a woman, is your freedom.

See also the absurdity of the opposite: imagine a hard core incompatibilist determinist sitting in the restaurant choosing from the menu. Should he just wait until the choice appears? Is he forced to his choice? By whom? By himself? But then he is free!

Again, the whole confusion stems from mixing the mental discourse, where persons, will, thoughts, grounds and morality exists, with the physical discourse, where we have atoms, natural laws, causality, and nerve cells. You cannot be forced by your neurons to do something, because you are constituted by your neurons. At most you are forced by yourself, which is what freedom is. The whole discourse of coercion and being forced by other people or circumstances does not belong in the explanation of how you are constituted by your brain. It is a category error.

So what rests is to convince the ‘common people’ that CCFW was an impossible idea from the beginning, and that our practice of praising and blaming cannot be based on this, but can only be based on determinism.

GdB

Posted on Aug 21, 2009 at 11:10am by GdB Comment #189

I don’t know how relevant a god is, particularly a singular omnipotent one, to CCFW.  Historically and anthropologically, I don’t think it would be the case that cultures that didn’t embrace a monotheistic god did not believe in CCFW, or believed it any less than cultures that do embrace a monotheistic god.  Philosophically, at least regarding western philosophy and theology following the birth of Christianity, it may turn out that CCFW is often used as a poor way of exonerating a god’s ineffable behavior—but I don’t think that because CCFW is often used to exonerate a god it therefore could not exist without one, or has or was believed never to exist without one.  And just briefly—it may pose an odd contradiction for a god who created and designed some beings to hold those beings responsible for what they do, but there isn’t the same contradiction for those same beings to hold one another responsible for what they do, as they arent individually causally responsible for creating the kind of being each of them is. 

The point of the story is to illustrate the sense of responsibility, fairness and justice people believe in. Just as what we do is ultimately out of our control if God made us, it’s ultimately out of our control if determinism is true. whether the reasons we are what we are and do what we do can be traced back to God or traced back to the circumstances of our birth and beyond makes no difference, the result is the same, it’s luck as far as we are concerned what we get to be and what we get to do and so it cannot be fair that we have a better or worse experience as a result of this.

But the omnipotent god and non-CCFW problem is only a problem for those people who are theistic.

Not at all, the problem is the same whether one believes in God or not. What matters is the life we get is ultimately out of our control. 

I doubt feelings of guilt, blame, shame, and pride feel essentially different whether they are buoyed by CCFW, an elaborate compatiblism, or a magical turtle. 

Sure they do, they go from being deeply deserved to a functional thing with an understanding that the one to blame or guilty or recieving praise is merely fortunate or unfortunate. The difference is tremendous.

If you don’t see the difference then you still actually believe we are ultimately responsible as I suspect GdB does too. 

Stephen

Posted on Aug 21, 2009 at 12:40pm by StephenLawrence Comment #190

Hi Stephen,

I’ll try it once again.

When you are discussing if people may be blamed or praised because we assume that they are determined, then you are anticipating the faculty of your discussing partners that they are able to change (or continue) their practice of blaming and praising, based on good grounds. With this you are assuming they have free will, otherwise it would not make sense to discuss this, in other words, they have a real choice. Then obviously, because your discussing partners can choose their behaviour based on good grounds, you can expect from a murderer that he has this faculty too. Punishment is then our reaction on his deed, based on for us unacceptable grounds.

A ‘real choice’ means that the behaviour of people is based on grounds: what they do, is determined by their choice. If you reflect on this, you will see that the experience that you really could have done otherwise, does not exist. When you are making a very conscious choice, you experience that what you choose, will determine (at least part of) the future. When you look back you know you could have chosen otherwise, but you do not have the experience that this was a real, physical, option. Your choice being determined by your biology and history is not completely accessible to you, and therefore is just not ‘part of the equation’. The will is free when it can express itself: this does not mean that the will itself is not determined. That you do not like brussels sprouts, that you love chocolate, that you are heterosexual, etc, is outside your control. That you can leave brussels sprouts aside, can eat chocolate, and can love a woman, is your freedom.

See also the absurdity of the opposite: imagine a hard core incompatibilist determinist sitting in the restaurant choosing from the menu. Should he just wait until the choice appears? Is he forced to his choice? By whom? By himself? But then he is free!

Again, the whole confusion stems from mixing the mental discourse, where persons, will, thoughts, grounds and morality exists, with the physical discourse, where we have atoms, natural laws, causality, and nerve cells. You cannot be forced by your neurons to do something, because you are constituted by your neurons. At most you are forced by yourself, which is what freedom is. The whole discourse of coercion and being forced by other people or circumstances does not belong in the explanation of how you are constituted by your brain. It is a category error.

So what rests is to convince the ‘common people’ that CCFW was an impossible idea from the beginning, and that our practice of praising and blaming cannot be based on this, but can only be based on determinism.

GdB

Sure GdB but what you ignore is as a result of this, blame, responsibility etc shift in nature dramatically because “luck swallows everything” there but for circumstances go you or I.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 21, 2009 at 12:43pm by StephenLawrence Comment #191

  Can the concept of desert be applied to lab rats?  Perhaps.  If scientists want the rats to get through the maze, and the condition of the cheese is getting through the maze, it would make sense to say the rats got what they deserved when they received the cheese; if they don’t make it through the maze, and the condition of not getting through the maze is getting shocked, then it would make sense to say the rats got what they deserved when they received the shock.  Since the shock is a form of harm, it logically follows that the rats deserved to be harmed when they did not make it through the maze, at least from the scientist’s vantage point.  The rats may beg to differ.

If you can come up with a reasonable argument for the rats deserving to be harmed that would be very interesting. I very much doubt it’s possible. And this is the crux of the matter, rats can’t, we can’t.

And another question:  do you think you personally praise, blame, admonish, or disdain people or their actions?

Not sure about disdain (I’d like to think not). Yes to the rest.

What are you getting at when you talk about fairness?

I think I’ve answered with the heaven and hell example but the rats is another good example. It can’t be fair or just to harm one of the rats in the sense that it’s fair to them. The scientists know this but do it anyway, justifying it for some other reason, or perhaps not even worrying about justifying it. Or perhaps they aren’t harming the rats, I dunno but for the purposes of this discussion it’s useful to imagine an example in which they are. 

Stephen

Posted on Aug 21, 2009 at 2:32pm by StephenLawrence Comment #192

Stephen,

The point of the story is to illustrate the sense of responsibility, fairness and justice people believe in. Just as what we do is ultimately out of our control if God made us, it’s ultimately out of our control if determinism is true. whether the reasons we are what we are and do what we do can be traced back to God or traced back to the circumstances of our birth and beyond makes no difference, the result is the same, it’s luck as far as we are concerned what we get to be and what we get to do and so it cannot be fair that we have a better or worse experience as a result of this.

If the point of the story is to demonstrate in some way how what we do is out of our control if determinism is true, then the story fails to make that point.  If determinism is true, there is still a point where “we” are a significant agent in the events of our lives.  What we get to be before the point of our conception is not in any way causally related to what we are (we don’t exist yet, so we could’t causally be an agent in what caused our conception), but once that conception takes place, what we are then, I suppose starting from when we are a wee embryo, with our DNA, does affect what we are now.  It depends on how you identify what we are—and if you identify what we are as an organism that includes a brain, central nervous, and genitals, then these things—brain, central nervous system, etc—consists in what we are and what we do.  If I am at the minimal, my body and its processes, then it is not at all true that I am not in any way in control of what I do, as I am responsible, causally, for typing on this keyboard, for watching star showers, or even pumping blood from my heart to my feet.  Now, my volition may not be responsible for many of these things, for example, my blood pumping, but yet, I am.  Historically tracing the causal agents that preceded the processes of my body, looking back at the big bang, or looking at the conditions of my surrounding environment, doesn’t change the fact that I am, and my body is, an agent of my own behavior and processes here and now, and was in the past, and will be in the future.

Not at all, the problem is the same whether one believes in God or not. What matters is the life we get is ultimately out of our control. 

What we are at conception was not in our control, as I just previous defined what we are and what we control, but neither is what we are at conception a matter of “luck” as you have suggested.  Luck is an idea as fraught with problems as CCFW, unless you mean by luck “some thing that is subjectively favored acquired that has little to do with intended behavior or expectations”—but I suspect that you mean the more nebulous metaphysical luck, or you are just using it carelessly without much consideration for its meaning in the larger context of what we have been talking about.  Which I wouldn’t have any problem with if we weren’t having such a nuanced discussion.

Sure they do, they go from being deeply deserved to a functional thing with an understanding that the one to blame or guilty or recieving praise is merely fortunate or unfortunate. The difference is tremendous.

If you don’t see the difference then you still actually believe we are ultimately responsible as I suspect GdB does too.

You are using language, like “deeply deserved”, that merely reflects emotional intensity on your part.  You have yet to explain the difference between “deeply” deserved and merely deserved.  I have already given you an example of deservedness that does not require CCFW. 

I suspect you feel a difference between the two that is not warranted.  For some reason or another, you may have developed a moral attachment to the idea of CCFW, and have a hard time accepting moral feelings without the concept of CCFW grounding them.  Since we are somewhat conditioned to place a lot of emphasis on CCFW as we grow up in our culture, maybe not explicitly, it might explain why there is such cognitive dissonance when someone has to integrate some form of compatiblism into their moral reasoning. 

If you do see some significant difference, you still strongly believe that we should somehow evaluate people differently because they dont have CCFW.  When I first considered the relationship between CCFW and moral reasoning, I thought there might be a big shift that would have to occur if there was no CCFW, but as I have thought about it more, I don’t think that shift is necessary or or even possible.  And furthermore, I don’t think CCFW actually factors into most peoples’ everyday moral reasoning; it only becomes a “problem” when it is first philosophically investigated, but I think after further investigation that problem seems illusory.

If you can come up with a reasonable argument for the rats deserving to be harmed that would be very interesting. I very much doubt it’s possible. And this is the crux of the matter, rats can’t, we can’t.

I don’t understand.  My example about the rats was a reasonable argument for how they were deserved to be harmed.  If you don’t think it was, could you explain why?

Not sure about disdain (I’d like to think not). Yes to the rest.

What problem do you have with disdain?

And if you do actually experience the others, and yet purportedly do not believe in CCFW, what exactly do you think people who believe in CCFW experience that you do not? [and have you yourself in the past ever believed in CCFW?] That something is just or fair?  Which brings me to a question I’ve already asked:  [Next Post]

Posted on Aug 21, 2009 at 5:07pm by Ulysses Bonobo Comment #193

Stephen,

I think I’ve answered with the heaven and hell example but the rats is another good example. It can’t be fair or just to harm one of the rats in the sense that it’s fair to them. The scientists know this but do it anyway, justifying it for some other reason, or perhaps not even worrying about justifying it. Or perhaps they aren’t harming the rats, I dunno but for the purposes of this discussion it’s useful to imagine an example in which they are. 

Your explanation of what you mean by fair and just is incomplete.  You have only given examples of what you feel are fair and just.  For example, here is one meaning of “fair” :  giving the same treatment to one person as to another person.  The rat example can be easily fair in that sense, as as long as the scientists treats all the rats the same, the scientists are being fair.  And in my example, they are treating all the rats the same, or there is no indication they aren’t; so they are being fair.  Even a punitive god can be fair, even if CCFW were not to exist; for as long as that god treated each person the same, then it would be fair; if the god sent everyone who had purple eyes to a hell and everyone with brown eyes to a heaven, and did it consistently, it would be fair on some level.  That way of understanding fairness has most to do with equality and consistency, in which CCFW is irrelevant.  Furthermore, I would bet that many people would find that sort of fairness to be ethically inadequate in many scenarios.

Posted on Aug 21, 2009 at 5:12pm by Ulysses Bonobo Comment #194


I don’t understand.  My example about the rats was a reasonable argument for how they were deserved to be harmed.  If you don’t think it was, could you explain why?

I saw no argument I’d like to see one.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 21, 2009 at 10:48pm by StephenLawrence Comment #195

Stephen,

The point of the story is to illustrate the sense of responsibility, fairness and justice people believe in. Just as what we do is ultimately out of our control if God made us, it’s ultimately out of our control if determinism is true. whether the reasons we are what we are and do what we do can be traced back to God or traced back to the circumstances of our birth and beyond makes no difference, the result is the same, it’s luck as far as we are concerned what we get to be and what we get to do and so it cannot be fair that we have a better or worse experience as a result of this.

If the point of the story is to demonstrate in some way how what we do is out of our control if determinism is true, then the story fails to make that point. 

The story illustrates the type of responbsibility people actually believe in.

What we are at conception was not in our control, as I just previous defined what we are and what we control, but neither is what we are at conception a matter of “luck” as you have suggested.  Luck is an idea as fraught with problems as CCFW, unless you mean by luck “some thing that is subjectively favored acquired that has little to do with intended behavior or expectations”—but I suspect that you mean the more nebulous metaphysical luck, or you are just using it carelessly without much consideration for its meaning in the larger context of what we have been talking about.  Which I wouldn’t have any problem with if we weren’t having such a nuanced discussion.

Getting the meaning of any word at all is fraught with problems. As always what we can do is give examples. So if a baby is born in circumstances in which he or she is going to make terrible choices, that is his or her bad luck. The baby is not responsible for it’s circumstances and the adult has only one thing s/he can do given those birth circumstances, which is the adults bad luck too.  What the person doesn’t have is the right kind of way of accessing better choices, by that I mean a way that would make the person deserving of having a bad life as a consequence of those choices. If determinism is true the way of accessing better choices is if the birth circumstances had been different, luck as far as we are concerned. 

We live in a world in which there are consequences of choices but not deserved consequences, in the sense which denies it’s ultimately luck, or out of our control, what circumstances we are born in and therefore what choices we get to make as a result.

You are using language, like “deeply deserved”, that merely reflects emotional intensity on your part.  You have yet to explain the difference between “deeply” deserved and merely deserved.  I have already given you an example of deservedness that does not require CCFW. 

Well there is a difference in emotional intensity and that is very importance. A reduction in hatred being one very important element.

But that’s not all. Deeply deserved is the denial that it’s luck in the sense that I’ve explained.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 21, 2009 at 10:59pm by StephenLawrence Comment #196

Stephen,

The story illustrates the type of responbsibility people actually believe in.

Well some people maybe, particularly people who believe in a very punitive monotheistic god and CCFW.  And of course, whether that sort of story is necessary for responsibility, deservedness, etc to make sense, is a different problem.  And I have contended that that kind of story isnt necessary.

Getting the meaning of any word at all is fraught with problems. As always what we can do is give examples. So if a baby is born in circumstances in which he or she is going to make terrible choices, that is his or her bad luck. The baby is not responsible for it’s circumstances and the adult has only one thing s/he can do given those birth circumstances, which is the adults bad luck too.  What the person doesn’t have is the right kind of way of accessing better choices, by that I mean a way that would make the person deserving of having a bad life as a consequence of those choices. If determinism is true the way of accessing better choices is if the birth circumstances had been different, luck as far as we are concerned.

We live in a world in which there are consequences of choices but not deserved consequences, in the sense which denies it’s ultimately luck, or out of our control, what circumstances we are born in and therefore what choices we get to make as a result.

Well, it may be difficult to explain the meaning of the words you use, but in order to communicate effectively and think clearly, it is important nonetheless.  And you use the word luck again, without any explication of what you mean by it.  Let me help…  Why not use destiny?  Thus, if a baby is born in circumstances which he or she is going to make terrible choices, that is his or her destiny.  Or fate?  Do you also feel that people should not be judged if its their destiny or fate to do something or to be a certain way? 

And why does a person need to have access to better choices before they deserve to have a bad life?  You seem to have opinions about what people do and do not deserve even when you simultaneously deny there is such a thing. 

I think “luck” is as shaky of an idea as free-will, but you seem to be convinced there is plenty of it in the universe.  And you also seemed to have ignored my whole explanation of what is and is not in our control in a previous post of mine which does not rely on CCFW. 

Your understanding of deservedness lacks the necessary subjectivism that would be helpful to reconcile it with compatiblist free will.  Deservedness is partially a value judgment, and that requires some person doing the valuing, which depends on some person’s values, desires, etc.  Whether or not someone is said to be deserving is as informative about the person evaluating as the person being evaluated.  Even your insistence on the importance of CCFW for deserving is a value judgment; not all people find CCFW as important as you do when measuring what they feel people are deserving of. Hitler believed only the Aryan race deserved to be the ruling people.  Do you think he also believed people who were not among the aryan race were somehow ultimately responsible for the fact that they werent?  Did his disinterest in CCFW make his genocidal hatred of certain people any less intense?  After all the concept of race somewhat precludes the possibility that a person had any choice about his or her race, but that fact alone, which hasn’t ever been disputed that I know of, has not eliminated the various intense racial animosities and prejudices throughout history. 

Do you believe there is some kind of objective morality?

Well there is a difference in emotional intensity and that is very importance. A reduction in hatred being one very important element.

But that’s not all. Deeply deserved is the denial that it’s luck in the sense that I’ve explained.

Yet, hatred was not seemingly reduced in Nazi Germany even though Jews, for example, had no choice of whether they were Jewish, and the Nazis recognized this; indeed, I don’t think it would be wrong to argue that the element of “luck” as you put it actually made the Nazis even more fervently hateful—after all, it was destiny for the Aryan race to rule. I think you are so interested in the lack of CCFW for what you believe to be the moral improvement that would result, and see a lot of what you feel are moral failings in people to be causally connected to CCFW.

Again, have you ever believed in CCFW?

And yet again, you haven’t explained luck, you have only given examples that you ascribe the descriptor of luck to, but I dont know what aspect of the examples is the part that is “luck.”  For example, if I said “Killing people is hoobajooba” it would be very difficult for you to gather from that alone what I meant by hoobajooba.  In fact, any meaning you gathered from it would be complete guesswork.  In my comment about Nazis, Jews, and luck, I practiced a little guesswork myself.  How did I do?  Not bad I bet.

Posted on Aug 22, 2009 at 3:37am by Ulysses Bonobo Comment #197

Stephen.

I saw no argument I’d like to see one.

Okay… I guess I can reprint my argument for desert without CCFW for you:
Can the concept of desert be applied to lab rats?  Perhaps.  If scientists want the rats to get through the maze, and the condition of the cheese is getting through the maze, it would make sense to say the rats got what they deserved when they received the cheese; if they don’t make it through the maze, and the condition of not getting through the maze is getting shocked, then it would make sense to say the rats got what they deserved when they received the shock.  Since the shock is a form of harm, it logically follows that the rats deserved to be harmed when they did not make it through the maze, at least from the scientist’s vantage point.  The rats may beg to differ.  Whether the rats have CCFW is irrelevent in this example—desert is dependent on the simple criteria whether the rats get through the maze

Posted on Aug 22, 2009 at 3:38am by Ulysses Bonobo Comment #198

When you are discussing if people may be blamed or praised because we assume that they are determined, then you are anticipating the faculty of your discussing partners that they are able to change (or continue) their practice of blaming and praising, based on good grounds. With this you are assuming they have free will, otherwise it would not make sense to discuss this, in other words, they have a real choice. Then obviously, because your discussing partners can choose their behaviour based on good grounds, you can expect from a murderer that he has this faculty too. Punishment is then our reaction on his deed, based on for us unacceptable grounds.

Again, the whole confusion stems from mixing the mental discourse, where persons, will, thoughts, grounds and morality exists, with the physical discourse, where we have atoms, natural laws, causality, and nerve cells. You cannot be forced by your neurons to do something, because you are constituted by your neurons. At most you are forced by yourself, which is what freedom is. The whole discourse of coercion and being forced by other people or circumstances does not belong in the explanation of how you are constituted by your brain. It is a category error.
GdB

Sure GdB but what you ignore is as a result of this, blame, responsibility etc shift in nature dramatically because “luck swallows everything” there but for circumstances go you or I.

Stephen

Hi Stephen,

And what you completely ignore is that your critique on blaming and praising when compatibilist free will is a fact, is logically impossible, because you mix two levels of human discourse. But you seem to be determined not to react on this point. You want people to change their practice of blaming and praising based on moral grounds, denying that people are able to be responsible on moral arguments.

GdB

Posted on Aug 23, 2009 at 6:01am by GdB Comment #199

From the “.Arizona pastor calling for Obamas death” thread


“Pastor Steven Anderson delivered an hour-long sermon devoted to nothing but describing in extreme and vitriolic detail the depths to which he hates Barack Obama, appropriately titled “Why I Hate Barack Obama.” Further, Anderson went out of his way to explain that he doesn’t just hate Obama’s values or politics, but everything about him and that, according to Anderson, so does god. Also in the sermon, Anderson repeatedly emphasized how he planned to pray for Obama’s death, how Obama was going to burn in Hell, and how he wanted Obama to “melt like a snail.” “

I think it almost always takes belief in ultimate responsibility to have sustained harmful wishes towards others. We are all capable of them in the heat of the moment but a lasting strong desire, usually takes belief in ultimate responsibility.

Yes, I’ve picked an extreme case but this type of feeling is not so unusual at all. For instance my brother hates Tony Blair with a passion, which I’m sure would not be present if he didn’t believe in Ultimate responsibility.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 31, 2009 at 11:20pm by StephenLawrence Comment #200

Hi Stephen,

And what you completely ignore is that your critique on blaming and praising when compatibilist free will is a fact, is logically impossible, because you mix two levels of human discourse. But you seem to be determined not to react on this point. You want people to change their practice of blaming and praising based on moral grounds, denying that people are able to be responsible on moral arguments.

GdB

Hi Gdb

I don’t want people to change their practices of praising and blaming based on moral grounds. I would like it if belief in free will were to appropriately shift from incompatible with determinism to compatible with determinism and as a follow on for the nature of responsibility, praise, blame and so on to appropriately shift too.

I think there would be numerous benefits. People looking for cooperative win win situations more often, rather than win/ lose, as one example. Increased empathy and understanding, as another.

Stephen

Posted on Aug 31, 2009 at 11:34pm by StephenLawrence Comment #201

I don’t want people to change their practices of praising and blaming based on moral grounds. I would like it if belief in free will were to appropriately shift from incompatible with determinism to compatible with determinism and as a follow on for the nature of responsibility, praise, blame and so on to appropriately shift too.

I think there would be numerous benefits. People looking for cooperative win win situations more often, rather than win/ lose, as one example. Increased empathy and understanding, as another.

Hi Stephen,

I think I do not understand you. How should I read your first sentence:
- you don’t want people to change their practices of praising and blaming
- you do want people to change their practices of praising and blaming, but not on moral grounds

I think you intend to the second reading, in which case I do not agree: the question is, if people ‘just have determinism compatible free will’ (and not CCFW), is then our practice of praising, punishing and blaming morally justified. Simply said: you should not punish somebody who could not do otherwise than he did. But such statements are moral in their core! I don’t get it.

BTW, I only yesterday listened to Tom Clarke’s podcast. He seems to take more or less your standpoint? ‘Consquentionalism’ instead of ‘retributionalism’ based on compatabilist free will. I do not agree. I think there are good grounds for preferring ‘Consquentionalism’ above ‘retributionalism’, but compatabilist free will is not one of them.

GdB

Posted on Aug 31, 2009 at 11:52pm by GdB Comment #202

I don’t want people to change their practices of praising and blaming based on moral grounds. I would like it if belief in free will were to appropriately shift from incompatible with determinism to compatible with determinism and as a follow on for the nature of responsibility, praise, blame and so on to appropriately shift too.

I think there would be numerous benefits. People looking for cooperative win win situations more often, rather than win/ lose, as one example. Increased empathy and understanding, as another.

Hi Stephen,

I think I do not understand you. How should I read your first sentence:
- you don’t want people to change their practices of praising and blaming
- you do want people to change their practices of praising and blaming, but not on moral grounds

I think you intend to the second reading, in which case I do not agree: the question is, if people ‘just have determinism compatible free will’ (and not CCFW), is then our practice of praising, punishing and blaming morally justified. Simply said: you should not punish somebody who could not do otherwise than he did. But such statements are moral in their core! I don’t get it.

BTW, I only yesterday listened to Tom Clarke’s podcast. He seems to take more or less your standpoint? ‘Consquentionalism’ instead of ‘retributionalism’ based on compatabilist free will. I do not agree. I think there are good grounds for preferring ‘Consquentionalism’ above ‘retributionalism’, but compatabilist free will is not one of them.

GdB

All I’m saying is this:

CCFW is very different to CFW

CCFW is the free will usually actually believed in

And so

the responsibility we have is very different to the responsibility usually actually believed in

And so blame is very different

And praise is very different.

And guilt is very different

And shame is very different

And so on

I think I’m pointing out the obvious. Change one and the others change too.

That’s it.

Stephen

Posted on Sep 01, 2009 at 12:46am by StephenLawrence Comment #203

All I’m saying is this:

CCFW is very different to CFW

CCFW is the free will usually actually believed in

And so

And here is the step into morality…

the responsibility we have is very different to the responsibility usually actually believed in

And so blame is very different

And praise is very different.

And guilt is very different

And shame is very different

And so on

I think I’m pointing out the obvious. Change one and the others change too.

That’s it.

Stephen

Responsibility is a moral category. You are just hiding it, by making responsibility (even worse: ‘ultimate responsibility’) to a (meta)physical category, instead of a social one.

So my point keeps standing: you appeal to man’s moral capability in order to say that man cannot be (moral) responsible. This is inconsistent.
And further you are hiding behind ‘what people believe in’. If people believe something that is wrong, you should try to convince them that they are wrong.

GdB

Posted on Sep 01, 2009 at 1:59am by GdB Comment #204

Is the “illusion of free will” ... an illusion?

illusion = an erroneous perception of reality.

  I am a newbie here so let me begin by apologizing if I am simply rehashing once again some ideas that have been throughly hashed already. With thousands of free will postings to read through on this site, seems anything possible to say about free will has already been said several times from several angles. I’ll readily acknowledge that I haven’t read all of them. So, if I am out of order, I meekly submit to my deserved punishments whatever they are, and I will proceed to the appointed place in the discourse to begin my studies.

  Evolutionary theory tells us that we are evolved animals with physical characteristics that are tuned to our environment.  One such characteristic, the human mind, is implemented in a physical brain and sensor system within this animal. This brain is designed to extract and process “information” from the environment with the evident purpose of deciding or “choosing” what to do next. 

  The “information” extracted by human minds appears to be little more than a summary of repeated experiences as presented to the brain by the sensor system. If something happens repeatedly in response to a given set of circumstances, it is expected to happen again if those circumstances present themselves again. This is the essence of cause and effect reasoning and the resulting interconnected relationship network called “understanding.” It seems highly unlikely that the design of the human brain will allow us to extract anything other than those repeating patterns. After all, trying to summarize NON repeating events with a view to expecting them to repeat would clearly be impossible and so a waste of time and energy. Natural selection tends to eliminate organisms which waste time and energy. (Everyone reading this may be in danger.)

  Today’s best physical science, implemented as it is in a physical brain which is designed to extract repeating patterns from its sensor system, leads us to the conclusion that free will as commonly understood and practiced by ordinary people is a physical impossibility. It is believed that our physical brains simply fool us into believing that we are in “direct control” of our actions whereas careful examination of the physical substrate reveals that those actions are the passive response to antecedent causes over which the brain has no control.

  On the other hand, free will, as commonly understood, requires a “free” or uncaused effect.- not simply a random effect, but a willful but still unpredictable CHOICE by the organism which has not been dictated by antecedent causes.  (“contra-causal free will” in the terminology of Tom Clark and other radical Naturalists, ccfw in the jargon of this site)

  Given these observations, it appears likely that the design of the human brain is such that it is inherently incapable of understanding free will. Instead, operating within the dictates of its evolved Cause=>Effect structure, it is forced to the conclusion that any evidence or experience of free will must be an error, in other words, an illusion.

  Notice that there is no physical basis for this conclusion other than the fact that human brains seem to be designed to encode the world as a collection of causes and effects. Given a viewpoint that proves reasonably productive in many situations, while at the same time remaining blind to the existence of other possibilities, the mechanism then assumes that its parochial experience of Cause=>Effect accurately copies the nature of all of reality including the operating characteristics of itself. It could very well be that “the illusion of free will” is itself an illusion generated by the human mind.

  In the end, it seems there is little difference in the assumptions underlying the poorly anchored human intuition that all of reality obeys the rule that every effect must either have an antecedent cause or be random chance and the also poorly anchored intuition that we humans are equipped with a capability of uncaused or freely made choice.

  I remain skeptical of anti-free will theories and the conclusions to be drawn from them. Ultimately, it seems to me that the free will argument is a proxy for the dualism argument and cannot be resolved without first resolving that issue. In other words, one cannot have real free will without accepting some form of dualism. Various sorts of dualism are found throughout ordinary scientific theories. In fact, dualisms (particle/wave, electric/magnetic fields, mass/energy, etc, etc) are a defining characteristic of science. Yet, dualism, with respect to theory of mind issues (mind/matter) is generally considered ridiculous nonsense in most serious discussion. Doesn’t add up for me.
DonPaul Olshove

Posted on Sep 27, 2009 at 4:53pm by DonPaul Comment #205

Hi DonPaul,

I hope you realise I will not repeat all the arguments again, but I consider it a good exercise for me to try a short outline.

CCFW does not exist in our experience, if you are honest. The only experience you have, is that what will happen next depends on you and your considerations. The idea you could have decided otherwise is just that: an idea. It is of the same category as that it could have been that the earth had no moon. So trying to defend CCFW is trying to defend something that is not given in our experience from the beginning.

The opposite of freedom is coercion: if I decided to do something, but then my arm is kept by somebody else, I am not free. If I want to go back to my mountain hotel, and an avalance comes down blocking the way, I am not free. To defend that we are not free because of determinism must show such a kind of situation. But for that we need a soul that on one side is separated, i.e. can make its considerations independent from the physical universe, but on the other side is forced to do things by the same physical universe, especially the brain. This is of course ridiculous: the ‘soul’ is a function of the physical universe (i.e. of this entity ‘brain’ in it), an opposition is logical impossible. There is no causal relationship between the ‘soul’ (mind) and the physical universe: the ‘soul’ is a higher order phenomenon supervening on its physical basis.

There is an interesting passage in Schopenhauer’s ‘The world as will and representation’. He paraphrases Spinoza, that ‘if a stone would have consciousness, it would think it had a free will’. To which Schopenhauer adds: and the stone would be right, because as a ‘thing in it self’ it is will. Not that I agree with Schopenhauers metaphysics, but this twist is thought stimulating.

The physical alternative to determined is chance. As a basis for free will this is unusable of course. This rules out QM as basis for free will. Free will is only possible in a determined universe. (So if QM shows the world is not totally determined, then it at most explains some ‘glitches’ of our mind.)

Is our practice of praising and blaming justified by such a view on free will? Asking the question is only possible when you presuppose what you are asking for: one can justify, or despise what people are doing. (This is of course the last part of the discussion between Stephen Lawrence and me in this thread.) The only thing needed for justifying punishment is seeing that ‘the object to be punished’ is a moral capable subject in the situation under consideration.

‘Free will’ is a confusing shorthand for: ‘free expression of the will’. Somebody is free when he can do what he wants. Asking if he can want what he wants, which is suggested by the words ‘free will’, is a ridiculous extension of the concept of freedom. The question where our will comes from is not part of the ‘free will equation’. That is the reason I think the results of brain sciences have no influence on the free will discussion at all. Same for your evolutionary considerations.

As for your final remark on dualism, I really do not understand what you mean. ‘Dualism’ is nothing in itself, as long as you are not saying which dualism you are talking about: white opposed to black? Colour against black and white? Wave against particle? Mass against energy? Mind against matter (or better in this context: matter against mind ;-)) Dualism just says there is this and there is that, and it only means something in a specific context.

Amen. (Which is short for HTH, which is short for ‘hope this helps’. ;-))

GdB

PS
I like your ‘disclaimer’.
PPS
What is mind? It does not matter.
What is matter? Never mind.
PPPS
Time flies like an arrow.
Fruit flies like bananas.
(This has nothing to any more with the posting. But I find it funny.)

Edit: typo

Posted on Sep 28, 2009 at 1:53am by GdB Comment #206

Nicely written GdB, your skill with English is great. Right on with the dualism!
Electro Magnetic….Electro Chemical….what’s dualistic about this? Ohhh there’s 2 “fields” in one word! 2 studies in one word.
Here’s one for ya…Dual Purpose Cleaner. “Cleans windows and Countertops!” NO….that’s not dual purpose. The stuff has one purpose, cleaning!
What could possibly be multi-purpose, or dualistic about the human body? Psycho-somatic? Just a term to describe mechanics of brain.
We could easily state that our entire bodies are one big brain. We are just brains walking around. Every part of our bodies are extensions of our brains.(and this is true)Our arms, toes, eyes, nose, knees, genitals etc..just extensions of our brains. The body(the Brain) moves around on the Earth seeking to create a Social-Fabric(continuing the social system)with other brains- just as it has been pre-programmed to do by it’s “creator?” DNA. This is primarily Reproducing. And creating a setting which is conducive to mating/reproducing and survival(repeating the process).
All the fluff we see. You see. That’s this process. Wait stop. Before you say “but what about?...” or “yeah, but….” NO, no!
That’s it. All the “perceived” anomolies, or divergences, or mutations(!) are part of the process. Evolution.
Just because we can talk to ourselves in our heads, and think doesn’t create dualism. For all we know, aside from “thinking up” new ways to shelter, or eat, or Mate, all the rest of these thoughts are just “coolant” like radiator fluid. Don’t kid yourself though. Most of these thoughts, and interactions can be traced back to your program of survival/reproduction.

Posted on Sep 28, 2009 at 4:31am by VYAZMA Comment #207

Nicely written GdB, your skill with English is great.

Oops, thanks. I do my best. But I looked up a few words…
Just try to hear a dutch accent in what I am writing.

GdB

Posted on Sep 28, 2009 at 5:23am by GdB Comment #208

CCFW does not exist in our experience, if you are honest. The only
experience you have, is that what will happen next depends on you and your
considerations. The idea you could have decided otherwise is just that: an
idea. It is of the same category as that it could have been that the earth
had no moon. So trying to defend CCFW is trying to defend something that is
not given in our experience from the beginning

I have read this several times and it only seems to describe how you think people think. That is, it is your opinion. (A belief or conclusion held with confidence, but not substantiated by proof)  Opinions are ok, but if one is going to lay claim to a label of “scientific” then you must present me with physical evidence. Some sort of physical test I can perform to confirm your assertions. Otherwise it is NOT scientific.

The opposite of freedom is coercion: .... But for that we need a soul that on one side is separated,
i.e. can make its considerations independent from the physical universe, but
on the other side is forced to do things by the same physical universe,
especially the brain.

Not sure why one must introduce the term “soul.” I prefer to stick to “mind.” as it is less loaded with historical baggage. But basically I agree here. What you describe is a situation where physical matter must assume different properties. Metaphorically like an electron vs magnetic field. They are both material. They are different from one another and yet can interact bidirectionally. The only question is could one act independently of the other as the “forcing” function. In fact they do.

This is of course ridiculous: the ‘soul’ is a
function of the physical universe (i.e. of this entity ‘brain’ in it), an
opposition is logical impossible. There is no causal relationship between
the ‘soul’ (mind) and the physical universe: the ‘soul’ is a higher
order phenomenon supervening on its physical basis

This passage is not at all clear to me. How does this soul/mind phenomenon supervene on its basis? What exactly forms the physical connection? How do I test for it? I mean the mind is either connected or its not. It cannot simply hang over like some sort of mystical cloud or something, a ghost in the machine.

There is an interesting passage in Schopenhauer’s ....

Interesting. Yes. Relevant?

The physical alternative to determined is chance.

The ONLY alternative? How do you know this?

As a basis for free will
this is unusable of course. This rules out QM as basis for free will. Free
will is only possible in a determined universe. (So if QM shows the world is
not totally determined, then it at most explains some ‘glitches’ of our
mind.)

OK

Is our practice of praising and ....

Questions of morality, praise, blame, punishment, and reward are much beyond the fundamental issue under discussion here. Is there real free will? You claim there isn’t. My question is: how do you know?

‘Free will’ is a confusing shorthand for: ‘free expression of the
will’. Somebody is free when he can do what he wants. Asking if he can want
what he want, which is suggested by the words ‘free will’, is a ridiculous
extension of the concept of freedom.

I beg to differ. Consider the following. Dr Jeffery Schwartz has written a book (The Mind and the Brain) in which he describes his success in treating patients with intractable obsessive compulsive disorder. He only accepted patients for which all other treatments had proven unsuccessful. These people are absolutely miserable, doing things (like hand washing till they bleed.) they do NOT want to do despite their best efforts to stop. In some cases this has gone on for years. Clearly their physical brain was in control in a way in which their mind found unacceptable. (And he did the brain scans to see exactly where the problem lie) How can this conflict between what a person wants and what he wants exist? After all, the mind is generated by the brain right? How can a discrepancy exist? As you say “that’s ridiculous.” But it gets better. His treatment consists of convincing these people to STOP WANTING TO DO THAT, do something else instead.  He has the brain scans to show the people were able by “force of will” (he calls it self-directed neuroplasticity or “mental force”) to change their brain function by literally rewiring their own brains in the area of difficulty.

Now I’m sure you will assert that all the little molecules in each patient’s head conspired to make the patients “choose” to follow the doctor’s orders, but that is simply restating your belief that real free will is impossible. Do you have any physical evidence that shows this beyond your personal assertions?

The question where our will comes from
is not part of the ‘free will equation’. That is the reason I think the
results of brain sciences have no influence on the free will discussion at
all. Same for your evolutionary considerations.

So your basic “scientific” argument is that science does not apply????  What kind of “scientific” Naturalism is that?  You leave me very confused about what exactly you are asserting. If you are doing real science, you can’t simply dismiss evidence and brush aside arguments you find inconvenient. You are making very clear the reason I chose to call your position radical Naturalism rather than scientific Naturalism. In particular, you cannot on the one hand claim the mind “supervenes” on the physical brain and then on the other hand fail to recognize that physical brain could produce a mind which sees a distortion of reality (in fact numerous studies show it does exactly that). It sure looks like you are simply attempting to give your opinions a respectable and authoritative cloak with the “scientific” label.
I’m out of space here so will finish in the next posting.

Posted on Sep 28, 2009 at 3:12pm by DonPaul Comment #209

continued from previous post.

As for your final remark on dualism, I really do not understand what you
mean. ‘Dualism’ is nothing in itself, as long as you are not saying which
dualism you are talking about: ....

Yes, I was unclear. However, that you do not understand my comments about dualism I suspect simply means that you never seriously considered any alternative to the anti-free will position. Most people who discuss theory of mind issues would recognize the reference to good ol’ Cartesian dualism. I think Descartes was partly right in his insights, but because of prevailing politics of his time, he could not put forth his full opinion without editing and then incorporating it into a bunch of irrelevant religious stuff to keep the powers that be off his back. But the issue of dualism is a different, although connected can of worms. And of course its mention set off all the dualism alarms in the audience.  I’m sorry I mentioned anything. I’ll try to stick to my topic: What is the scientific basis of the claim that real free will does not and cannot exit?

Your skeptical friend, DonPaul Olshove.

Posted on Sep 28, 2009 at 3:42pm by DonPaul Comment #210

Don Paul-

I beg to differ. Consider the following. Dr Jeffery Schwartz has written a book (The Mind and the Brain) in which he describes his success in treating patients with intractable obsessive compulsive disorder. He only accepted patients for which all other treatments had proven unsuccessful. These people are absolutely miserable, doing things (like hand washing till they bleed.) they do NOT want to do despite their best efforts to stop. In some cases this has gone on for years. Clearly their physical brain was in control in a way in which their mind found unacceptable. (And he did the brain scans to see exactly where the problem lie) How can this conflict between what a person wants and what he wants exist? After all, the mind is generated by the brain right? How can a discrepancy exist? As you say “that’s ridiculous.” But it gets better. His treatment consists of convincing these people to STOP WANTING TO DO THAT, do something else instead.  He has the brain scans to show the people were able by “force of will” (he calls it self-directed neuroplasticity or “mental force”) to change their brain function by literally rewiring their own brains in the area of difficulty.

This isn’t a good example, the OCD thing. If were calling it a disease-which is fair, then obviously people are distraught when they are sick. They want the disease to go away.
However, if it is something else, then who’s to say that the whole experience for these folks wasn’t part of the behavior? In other words they really liked pain, and bleeding, and talking about it, “getting help” for it.
There’s all kinds of diseases though- Terets(sp?) Syndrome, Parkinsons Disease, Nervous ticks. People suffer from these too. It’s no different than washing hands a thousand times a day.
The problem lies in your statement-“Clearly their physical brain was in control in a way in which their mind found unacceptable.”
Objectively, their brains weren’t in control. Brains aren’t supposed to make people do that behavior. “Aren’t supposed…” Right that’s all relative. There is no “supposed” in Brains, alarm clocks, or pizza dough- things breakdown…they follow the arrow of time erratically. If a brain is defective, then we can observe all kinds of anomalies.
As for free will, given these chain of events I can’t see how any choices were made. These people arrived at the Doctor for reasons which led them there by the nose. Then the Doctor led the people by the nose, and cured them.

Posted on Sep 28, 2009 at 5:42pm by VYAZMA Comment #211

Hi VYAZMA,

These people arrived at the Doctor for reasons which led them there by the nose. Then the Doctor led the people by the nose, and cured them.

So, given the circumstances as they presented themselves to these individuals, there is no way the people nor the Doctor “could have chosen different behaviors”?

Posted on Sep 28, 2009 at 8:28pm by DonPaul Comment #212

Hi VYAZMA,

These people arrived at the Doctor for reasons which led them there by the nose. Then the Doctor led the people by the nose, and cured them.

So, given the circumstances as they presented themselves to these individuals, there is no way the people nor the Doctor “could have chosen different behaviors”?

I knew that was going to come up. Yes it was a generalization. A simplification. But it does point towards Naturalism.
Tell me if this isn’t a good descriptor: Dualism. The way in which the Human Being through use of his/her mind can contemplate Nature(everything)and take steps to compensate, integrate, or foresee, forestall, and generally harmonize with nature to his/her advantage(ie. survival).
This certainly seems the way it is. But it’s my belief that it isn’t. It would take an unnatural force to do the above. We are Natural objects too. Sure we interact within nature. It seems as if we have power to “fly over the top of Natures Reality”, choosing paths or outcomes, or relations as we see fit.
1. The “choices” are extremely limited. They are limited due to the laws of physics. The laws of probability etc. We can’t choose to jump over the Golden Gate Bridge. We can’t bring back people from the Dead. These are few things which people would want to do though.
2. Now choices are even more limited due to resources, timing, and chance. “Bill couldn’t have a meeting with Joe because he couldn’t afford a Bus Ticket.” The man couldn’t escape the Tsunami because he was infirm. These folks wanted to though.
(so we see the choice generator is in play here, but it is only warmed up)
And yes, this is “Free-Will” examples, and we see that free-will is being stymied. And we haven’t even entered the Mind yet.
3. Of course due to the Natural Setting of Society we create for ourselves.(just like Bees make Honeycombs) There are tons of restrictions that occur. Laws, Money, Mores, Culture, Taboos etc. These all limit choices.
Somewhere along the way you may be saying: Yeah but these could all be Free-will generators, Will-Opportunities. Not really. These happen all automatically due to DNA. There’s a reason the man chose to become a Baker, and it had nothing to do with his choices ultimately.
4. Now for the restrictions of the Mind. Many choices “occur” to folks. But not all the choices. Why? We are only confronted with a handful of choices really. And the one we “pick” is our preprogrammed behavior.
Jerry had to decide whether he was going to build a desk, or a rocking chair. Why didn’t Jerry think about building a bureau? It didn’t occur to him. It never would have. It wasn’t in his mind. There are no choices being made.
The bank robber sat in jail and wondered why he picked such a slow get away car. He was also mad that he chose Dan to be his partner. Well, he never chose Dan really! Dan just came up. He never thought about why he chose to be a bank robber. He never thought about becoming a bricklayer. Why? These weren’t in his programming. It wasn’t even possible for Dan to choose to be bricklayer. Through all of the previous stimuli of Dan’s life-outside influences, chance, societies pressures and rewards, plus his own Mental make-up(that which excluded bricks and bricklaying from his mind) he wasn’t going to be a bricklayer.
There is no Scientific way to prove these points for Dualism, or Naturalism. I thought you knew this Don Paul. But after the OCD thing and the brainwave charts- I wonder.
Something generates our choices for us. Right down to the unconscious mind to the rays of the sun and everything in between. We do not generate choices. There is an illusion that we do. That’s why we have the word “choice” or “Free”.
The things which generate choice are numbered above. That and our unconscious following of the Evolutionary program.

Posted on Sep 29, 2009 at 5:07am by VYAZMA Comment #213

Hi DonPaul,

Otherwise it is NOT scientific.

The problem of free will is not a scientific problem. If you think it is, then in the same manner as your required from me, give me a description of the kind of an experiment that would prove one or the other.
It is a philosophical problem, i.e. we need subjective experience, scientific input, and last but not least, conceptual analysis of it all. Conceptual analysis shows that CCFW is a square circle. I even don’t need scientific research for that. Or do you need an excluding empirical experiment to show that square circles do not exist? Or what you like to discuss the colour of an electron here?

That is, it is your opinion

Nope. If people would think as I do, the ‘free will problem’ would melt away. If they think there is an opposition between determinism and ‘free will’ then the problem lies exactly there: that they think that the past (biographical or biological) determining who and what I am is relevant for free will.

Not sure why one must introduce the term “soul.” I prefer to stick to “mind.”

I use the word ‘soul’ because very often people say ‘mind’ but mean exactly the same a soul. Something independent of, but still causal influenced by, the material world. It is my rhetoric to sharpen my intuitions what people really think. You may use ‘mind’ of course.

Metaphorically like an electron vs magnetic field

No, totally different. The electron and the magnetic field are both physical phenomena, and therefore causal interactions between them are possible theoretically. And in this case they have practically. But between mind and brain there is no causal relationship. If you think there is, then please turn off the first neuron after the 500Hz sensor in your left ear. Alcohol changes the mind, I become more talkative, others get aggressive. Not exactly a causal relationship, because there you can define one to one relationships (if I do exactly this, then exactly that happens.) Mind is an higher order phenomenon of the brain. The same way as the colour of material objects is based on electrons (among others) but has nothing to do with the colour of electrons (which is like a square circle).

What exactly forms the physical connection? How do I test for it? I mean the mind is either connected or its not.

How do I test for an higher order phenomenon? For the mind, only something as the Turing test comes to my mind. How do I test that my higher order description is correct?

Interesting. Yes. Relevant?

Not literally,  I said that already. But trying to follow this line of argumentation shows the crux where modern incompatibilists stand still in astonishment.

The ONLY alternative? How do you know this?

Give me another one (but physical!), and let’s investigate if it can bear the burden of free will in a material world.

Questions of morality, praise, blame, punishment, and reward are much beyond the fundamental issue under discussion here.

Yes, that is true. But it is one of the strongest motivators for trying to solve the ‘free will problem’. And it surely is the area where a wrong answer has the strongest consequences.

Is there real free will? You claim there isn’t. My question is: how do you know?

Obviously you did not understand what I mean: yes, there is a free will, with all its consequences for our daily life, and it is perfectly consistent with determinism, even stronger, free will exists because determinism is true (except the QM glitches of the mind). However we are not talking about square circle freedom, but about real freedom.

He has the brain scans to show the people were able by “force of will” (he calls it self-directed neuroplasticity or “mental force”) to change their brain function by literally rewiring their own brains in the area of difficulty.

A computer can change its hardware. Where is the problem? ‘You’ (higher order entity) have no access to your physical implementation. But changing something at a higher order level of course changes something on the lower order level. If you could be able to do it, you could even see physical causes for the brain changes. But that is not the level where this Dr. Schwartz is accessing his patients.

<Aside>
I happen to have some experience with my brain. In daily life I am more often stressed then I should be. To help me to get grips on this, I am practising neurofeedback. In one session I had a very clear case: I was not content with my results, and instead of trying to keep a relaxed attention, I thought the graph should go down. It did not come down, but there is a very clear point where the pattern changes. So on a higher order level, I changed my lower order brain. See graph below. Interestingly, in my long term progress, the influence of my Zen meditation is visible: an improvement shortly after a Zen retreat.
<End of aside>

So your basic “scientific” argument is that science does not apply????  What kind of “scientific” Naturalism is that?

I’ll try to stick to my topic: What is the scientific basis of the claim that real free will does not and cannot exit?

I hope that is clear by now.

Surely I realise that I am stating a lot here without argumentation. If you want to know these, then please read this thread, and the biiiigggg ‘free will’ thread in the philosophy forum (more than 100 pages!) I have some postings there too.

GdB

Posted on Sep 29, 2009 at 5:27am by GdB Comment #214

This is getting back to “An argument for Spiritual Consciousness” by Domokato. It’s in the Philosophy Section.
Let’s make this simple-where does the Seeing, knowing mind reside? Nowhere! It is the mind. It is an illusion for you to sanely operate in this world. It creates the Duality you are “experiencing”. Without it you would be dead, or extremely “crazy”.
The duality thing is how your mind processes the flow of time and catalogs past events with incoming, “now” events. It’s that simple!

Posted on Sep 29, 2009 at 5:38am by VYAZMA Comment #215

Hi DonPaul,

Forgot to react on this one:

These people are absolutely miserable, doing things (like hand washing till they bleed.) they do NOT want to do despite their best efforts to stop. In some cases this has gone on for years. Clearly their physical brain was in control in a way in which their mind found unacceptable. (And he did the brain scans to see exactly where the problem lie) How can this conflict between what a person wants and what he wants exist?

There is an assumption hiding in your remark: that the brain ‘generates’ exactly one and unified mind. Usually one can say that a brain generates one mind, which a little bit more practically translates as ‘having one continuous stream of history’. (Or even in a more buddhist way: having a consistent set of memories.) ‘Split personalities’ (if they really exist) would be the exceptions.
But the real problem behind your position lies in the ‘unified’. Nobody has a unified mind: if you had, choosing would always be very easy. But you can do things you later regret. You can do something that is the most rational to do, but regret that you now cannot enjoy the delicious taste of the cake. Now in the case you are mentioning, people consistently ‘fall for the taste’, i.e. they consistently do things of which they know the results are bad for them. This is where the compulsive disorder comes from (from a philosophical point of view): these people see clearly that their acting makes life worse for them, and, this is the point where they really feel not free: they do not identify themselves with their disadvantageous drive.
In my opinion there is only a gradual difference between people having compulsive disorders and ‘normal people’. We have our difficulties to give up bad habits too. They are just not as bad as the CD patients, and more accepted in the social and cultural context.

From these musings of course follows a ‘higher order recipe’ of how to become free: get rid of the habits you know after careful considerations are bad, intensify the habits you know after careful considerations are good, and unify your mind, i.e. get rid of possible inconsistencies that still exist. And then completely identify with all your motivations (theoretically the last point would be enough. But you would be a very happy person if you do not need above mentioned ‘mental cleansing’ before).

Hope this makes some sense.

GdB

Posted on Sep 29, 2009 at 11:24pm by GdB Comment #216

Tom Clark discusses the implications of a thorough-going scientific naturalism for the concepts of the self and of free will. He contrasts “contra-causal free will” ....

Good job D.J.
I’m behind in these—this is a comment on the interview not on the thread—-

On the free will discussion in the interview, I think there is too much emphasis on the notion that if everything were identical, of course the decision would be identical.  The “everything being identical” view of things might be flawed,  because everything is never “identical”. I’ll check if this point came up in the thread and if not try to explain it.

Posted on Oct 01, 2009 at 5:38pm by Jackson Comment #217

Tom Clark discusses the implications of a thorough-going scientific naturalism for the concepts of the self and of free will. He contrasts “contra-causal free will” ....

Good job D.J.
I’m behind in these—this is a comment on the interview not on the thread—-

On the free will discussion in the interview, I think there is too much emphasis on the notion that if everything were identical, of course the decision would be identical.  The “everything being identical” view of things might be flawed,  because everything is never “identical”. I’ll check if this point came up in the thread and if not try to explain it.

Hi Jackson,

I’m not sure if there is a problem with the way Tom puts this in analytical philosophical terms or not? We talk about scientists doing two identical experiments, or put differently, experiments which are the same, and surely science wouldn’t work unless we could do this in some sense?

But either way I think Tom is trying to put his point in simple terms that laymen can relate to. We could put the point another way and say given the preceeding and surounding circumstances there was only one action that could have arisen. As always it’s not a question of whether this is true or not, the point is free will must be compatible with this because if there could be more than one possible outcome as a result of a given set of variables there is no way it could be up to us which one actually occurs.

And so the correct way to make sense of could have done otherwise, when thinking about freedom and responsibility is as the compatibilists say, which is, could have done otherwise if the circumstances had been appropriately different.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 04, 2009 at 7:58am by StephenLawrence Comment #218

On the free will discussion in the interview, I think there is too much emphasis on the notion that if everything were identical, of course the decision would be identical.  The “everything being identical” view of things might be flawed,  because everything is never “identical”. I’ll check if this point came up in the thread and if not try to explain it.

Hi Jackson,

I’m not sure if there is a problem with the way Tom puts this in analytical philosophical terms or not? We talk about scientists doing two identical experiments, or put differently, experiments which are the same, and surely science wouldn’t work unless we could do this in some sense?

But either way I think Tom is trying to put his point in simple terms that laymen can relate to. We could put the point another way and say given the preceeding and surounding circumstances there was only one action that could have arisen. As always it’s not a question of whether this is true or not, the point is free will must be compatible with this because if there could be more than one possible outcome as a result of a given set of variables there is no way it could be up to us which one actually occurs.

And so the correct way to make sense of could have done otherwise, when thinking about freedom and responsibility is as the compatibilists say, which is, could have done otherwise if the circumstances had been appropriately different.

Stephen

You can’t do two experiments which are literally identical.  You do experiments which you judge are identical for practical purposes. In addition a lot of thought goes into randomizing the experiment so that even though conditions aren’t identical, you will be able to see and quantify the effect you are after.  Maybe not a good analogy to the topic.

“given the preceeding and surrounding circumstances there was only one action that could have arisen”.  I, perhaps naively, think this is flawed because a finite time “preceding” gives time for things to come out differently.  If we quantify what we mean by “differently”, we will see that the amount of
“difference” increases exponentially with the size of the “preceding” window.

Making the “preceding” window infintesimally small will of course result in an infintestimal change in the outcome.

When a human makes a decision, they get to think not just about the decision, but the process for making the decision, and how long they want to think about changing the process for making the decision.  The whole sequence is hardly instantaneous.  The conundrum of this “only action that could have arisen” is , in my naive and nonphilosophical opinion, sort of a latter-day Zeno’s Paradox.

Posted on Oct 04, 2009 at 7:23pm by Jackson Comment #219

On the free will discussion in the interview, I think there is too much emphasis on the notion that if everything were identical, of course the decision would be identical.  The “everything being identical” view of things might be flawed,  because everything is never “identical”. I’ll check if this point came up in the thread and if not try to explain it.

It just says that the decision function ‘D’, for every rigorously defined biological (B1), biographical (B2)and situational (S)history has exactly one result (R).

D(B1,B2,S

That we are not able to reproduce any combination of B1,B2,S has nothing to do with it. That ‘D’ is of a complexity that we will never be able to find it neither. Even if we know a few simple versions of it: if a stone is thrown to somebody, this person ducks. Or this one (direct use of my function):

Yelling D(blonde,learned zombies kill youzombie approaching

That the function ‘D’ exists cannot be empirically proven, but is a presupposition of natural science in general. Natural science’s successes suggest that we can take ‘D’ as true, except in some well defined cases (QM).

Determinism newly explained. ;-)

GdB

PS In some clear cases one of the variables does not play any role. E.g. that with the stone, the function reduces to :

duck=(humannullstone approaching head

with one of the exceptions:

not (duck=(humanlearned that being a martyr is goodstone approaching head)). 
Posted on Oct 05, 2009 at 12:44am by GdB Comment #220

On the free will discussion in the interview, I think there is too much emphasis on the notion that if everything were identical, of course the decision would be identical.  The “everything being identical” view of things might be flawed,  because everything is never “identical”. I’ll check if this point came up in the thread and if not try to explain it.

It just says that the decision function ‘D’, for every rigorously defined biological (B1), biographical (B2)and situational (S)history has exactly one result (R).

 

This seems very much like Zeno’s paradox.

Posted on Oct 05, 2009 at 4:14am by Jackson Comment #221

This seems very much like Zeno’s paradox.

Even if I read your previous posting, I don’t get the connection with Zeno. Can you please explain? I don’t see what time has to do with, it is not a component of my function D.

GdB

Posted on Oct 05, 2009 at 5:00am by GdB Comment #222

Jackson

“given the preceeding and surrounding circumstances there was only one action that could have arisen”.  I, perhaps naively, think this is flawed because a finite time “preceding” gives time for things to come out differently.  If we quantify what we mean by “differently”, we will see that the amount of
“difference” increases exponentially with the size of the “preceding” window.
Making the “preceding” window infintesimally small will of course result in an infintestimal change in the outcome.

Time is not relevant in this. In as much as time is a factor in every other last item we could possibly discuss. Trying to segment the “minds process” into “windows” or “moments of action” is neither supportive or detracting from any argument.
This is probably because the mind is what(somehow) lets us perceive the passage of time. I think that’s where the duality comes in.
Everything is just memory, or what’s coming into your head right now. What do we “see” when we contemplate the future? Memories.
So if your “thinking of making choices” concerning the future, you’re only basing them on memory. Now how much control do we actually think we have when we remember the past to think about the future. What’s actually saying this in your minds conversation?: “Hmnn, I better not take that shortcut, there was a big dog in that yard, and it chased me”. OK there was a “choice”.
The person “chose” to not cross the backyard. It was premeditated. The only big question we have now is defining this “voice”, this duality in our heads that makes us choose. And defining whether that really was a choice. I don’t know. It seems like it was a choice. But was it? There were flight or fight dynamics there. How about the hairstyles we “choose”? Mating ritual. Almost certainly precognitive behavior when it all gets boiled down.
Ok choosing between 2 career opportunities- both pay equal, both are new and exciting. It’s one of these choices that’s tough to make. The kind you talked about above, the one where there is lots of time to contemplate. Certainly these kinds of thoughts are the toughest to pin down, and are excellent examples of “Free-Will”. What really ends up making you choose one or the other?
Maybe you didn’t take either choice in the end- for some unforeseen reason. Maybe you chose one because it had less of a commute. Maybe one paid a little better, but the other had duties which were slightly more appealing. Maybe the woman who interviewed you was attractive in one place, and in the other place the interviewer was less attractive. On and on. The list goes on.
I think it all depends on how deep we want to go into the mechanics of the “Mind”(that which the brain creates to process input in relation to time). If we stay up near the cognitive top, yes it definitely appears as if we have Free-Will. And this is all that matters anyways. Because after all, it is a necessary mechanic of our thinking. This is where all the relevant things about society revolve.
Accountability, reward-punishment, judging, interacting. It makes up all the parts of our social order.
Bingo!!! That’s the segue! “It makes up the parts of our social order”. Our social order is precognitive. It is evolutionary-DNA.
Down in this “contemplation” or study of the mind, there is no free-will. It’s just a computer program running. That program is designed to take random inputs from external sources and react and continue running in accordance with the prime directive of the program. That prime directive being-carry out the DNA. Reproduce-evolve.(and NO, it is not conscious of itself. This is just an analogy) So down here, there is no Free-Will. And in my opinion, it is what’s “down here” that makes what’s “up there”. In total!

When a human makes a decision, they get to think not just about the decision, but the process for making the decision, and how long they want to think about changing the process for making the decision.  The whole sequence is hardly instantaneous.  The conundrum of this “only action that could have arisen” is , in my naive and nonphilosophical opinion, sort of a latter-day Zeno’s Paradox.

I know it’s been worded like that by me as well, but don’t think of it as “the only action that could have arisen”. Many different outcomes could have happened. And anyone of them could be reactions to the action you did. But that doesn’t mean you “ultimately” chose any of those actions.

Posted on Oct 05, 2009 at 5:30am by VYAZMA Comment #223

On the free will discussion in the interview, I think there is too much emphasis on the notion that if everything were identical, of course the decision would be identical.  The “everything being identical” view of things might be flawed,  because everything is never “identical”. I’ll check if this point came up in the thread and if not try to explain it.

Hi Jackson,

I’m not sure if there is a problem with the way Tom puts this in analytical philosophical terms or not? We talk about scientists doing two identical experiments, or put differently, experiments which are the same, and surely science wouldn’t work unless we could do this in some sense?

But either way I think Tom is trying to put his point in simple terms that laymen can relate to. We could put the point another way and say given the preceeding and surounding circumstances there was only one action that could have arisen. As always it’s not a question of whether this is true or not, the point is free will must be compatible with this because if there could be more than one possible outcome as a result of a given set of variables there is no way it could be up to us which one actually occurs.

And so the correct way to make sense of could have done otherwise, when thinking about freedom and responsibility is as the compatibilists say, which is, could have done otherwise if the circumstances had been appropriately different.

Stephen

You can’t do two experiments which are literally identical.  You do experiments which you judge are identical for practical purposes. In addition a lot of thought goes into randomizing the experiment so that even though conditions aren’t identical, you will be able to see and quantify the effect you are after.  Maybe not a good analogy to the topic.

“given the preceeding and surrounding circumstances there was only one action that could have arisen”.  I, perhaps naively, think this is flawed because a finite time “preceding” gives time for things to come out differently.  If we quantify what we mean by “differently”, we will see that the amount of
“difference” increases exponentially with the size of the “preceding” window.

Making the “preceding” window infintesimally small will of course result in an infintestimal change in the outcome.

When a human makes a decision, they get to think not just about the decision, but the process for making the decision, and how long they want to think about changing the process for making the decision.  The whole sequence is hardly instantaneous.  The conundrum of this “only action that could have arisen” is , in my naive and nonphilosophical opinion, sort of a latter-day Zeno’s Paradox.

There is no relevance to any of this stuff.

There is either one possible thing that could happen (in the circumstances meaning given what in fact happened and happens minus the action), or more than one.

If there is more than one it can not be any more up to us which one it is than if there is one. And so free will must be compatible with determinism.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 05, 2009 at 6:22am by StephenLawrence Comment #224

This seems very much like Zeno’s paradox.

Even if I read your previous posting, I don’t get the connection with Zeno. Can you please explain? I don’t see what time has to do with, it is not a component of my function D.

GdB

[ Wikipedia link to Zeno’s paradoxes]

In the arrow paradox, Zeno states that for motion to be occurring, an object must change the position which it occupies. He gives an example of an arrow in flight. He states that in any one instant of time, for the arrow to be moving it must either move to where it is, or it must move to where it is not. However, it cannot move to where it is not, because this is a single instant, and it cannot move to where it is because it is already there. In other words, in any instant of time there is no motion occurring, because an instant is a snapshot. Therefore, if it cannot move in a single instant it cannot move in any instant, making any motion impossible. This paradox is also known as the fletcher’s paradox—a fletcher being a maker of arrows.

Whereas the first two paradoxes presented divide space, this paradox starts by dividing time—and not into segments, but into points.[7]

If you go to the link, the more familiar versions are there as well.

The explanation of the paradox is that only an instant of time is considered;

I don’t think there is any inscrutable about “Free Will” except one can make it paradoxical by compressing or defining the decision-making to a single action or a single instant—in which case of course everything is deterministic and it’s hard to see where “Free Will” enters.  But if one considers that every action involves a period of time in which the chemical reactions running the brain excite neurons somewhat at random (even when we make a decision,  it only means a majority of the neurons ‘fired’).  If the rationale for two choice is precisely balanced the decision could be affected 10 minutes later by something external—hunger, thirst, sleepiness or a need for a bathroom break.

Posted on Oct 05, 2009 at 5:36pm by Jackson Comment #225

Jackson

.... Many different outcomes could have happened. And anyone of them could be reactions to the action you did. But that doesn’t mean you “ultimately” chose any of those actions.

I probably don’t disagree with you. 

When we post comments to this forum, do you folks think that your comments come out deterministically?  I backspace enough that I have my doubts…

Posted on Oct 05, 2009 at 5:48pm by Jackson Comment #226

Jackson

.... Many different outcomes could have happened. And anyone of them could be reactions to the action you did. But that doesn’t mean you “ultimately” chose any of those actions.

I probably don’t disagree with you. 

When we post comments to this forum, do you folks think that your comments come out deterministically?  I backspace enough that I have my doubts…

I can’t get my head around “posting comments”. Dialog. Obviously backspacing would be an indicator of choosing words or phrases.
We type these words out as fast as we can…translated over from our mind. What do we utilize in coming up with comments or replies?
Memory. You or I wouldn’t type out some gobbly-gook, or something that didn’t come from our “reasoned reply, or reasoned thoughts”.
Most replies on here constitute facts or opinions. Both are identical in that they come from our minds. We have these “ideas” already in our heads. That’s why people type out “frogs are green”. Because they “know” frogs are green.
If a few of us type out varied responses, and counterpoints to the subject of Religion(ie.) we are drawing from notions we already have in our heads. They could be right or wrong-opinion or fact. As we type to one another our thoughts get modified by increasing interaction. Learning- and memorizing these new ideas.
Backspacing is just “talking”. We probably backspace when we talk too-sometimes. It just happens really fast. Or backspacing is thinking. We backspace when we think too. Thinking your thoughts onto a keyboard make it more pronounced.
So when we backspace when we think, what are we doing? Sifting. Recalling. Shuffling. Taking all the stuff in our databases(that is pre-determined) and speaking it out. Or thinking about it.
Like this response to you:
I “chose” to reply to you. Why did I not reply? I don’t know. But I know-for starters, that the choice never crossed my mind. I just did it. And the stimuli reasons are all very obvious. I’m involved in this discussion. You prompted me by quoting me. Etc.
I took awhile to type this out because I had to think about what your response meant. Then I came up with a reasoned response which is based on the “thoughts” already in my head. Including new ones which may have just occurred to me. This was based on new data interfacing with the data already in my memory.(most of that new data coming from your post).People with stronger mental power, and deeper memories would come up with a better response, or a different response. But it would still come from their memory. Nobody could give a response that was based on their choosing different “ideas”.
What would that be like? It couldn’t be. This is a good area to get to the concrete of naturalistic determinism. The only reply anyone is going to give is one that “automatically” come out(the correct response in your minds view). You don’t have the choice of replying “correctly” incorrectly” “surrealistically” or “other”. Yes you could reply “incorrectly”- but that would be your CORRECT response relative to whatever interactions were taking place.

Posted on Oct 05, 2009 at 6:40pm by VYAZMA Comment #227

Hi Jackson,

I know Zeno’s paradoxes, but I do not get why the duration of a decision, and its being overruled by new circumstances, says anything about ‘identical situations’.

My

D(B1,B2,S) => 

does not say how, and how long this takes.

Maybe I get more understanding for your argument if we look at the following (using my formula on dead objects):

B1 window glass
B2 
null 
S  
throwing a big stone to it 

Normally

glass breaks 

will happen.

But it takes at least a second before the stone reaches the glass. It could even happen that somebody catches the stone before it hits the glass (in which cases we must change S in my determinist function, it is not the same anymore).

Where is the difference with making a decision, in the light of your ‘time’ considerations?

GdB

Posted on Oct 06, 2009 at 12:13am by GdB Comment #228

Hi Jackson,

I know Zeno’s paradoxes, but I do not get why the duration of a decision, and its being overruled by new circumstances, says anything about ‘identical situations’.

Hi GdB I should have prefaced “as I’m sure you know…”

Here is an another example - I’m making a decision and part of that decision involves using infomation that I remember. If I take a little more time, I might remember something which would actually change the decision.  Maybe it’s a fact or maybe it’s an emotional component.  The point is the decision takes a finite time, and if we were to replay it a second time the neurons processing the memories might recall things a little differently to change the balance.

Maybe we could rephrase this as a la Turing and say that if from a practical perspective it looks like we have free will that suffices.

Posted on Oct 06, 2009 at 3:03am by Jackson Comment #229

Hi GdB I should have prefaced “as I’m sure you know…”

Sorry, I’ll work on my style…

Here is an another example - I’m making a decision and part of that decision involves using infomation that I remember. If I take a little more time, I might remember something which would actually change the decision.  Maybe it’s a fact or maybe it’s an emotional component.  The point is the decision takes a finite time, and if we were to replay it a second time the neurons processing the memories might recall things a little differently to change the balance.

But then the situation is just not exactly the same B1 (or S, if you prefer). You are introducing a random component, in which case we are back on the question if we need chance, or that only determinism can explain free will. The time a decision takes is, when the situation is exactly the same, also the same. When there is a difference there must be a cause for this difference, which means the sitauation was not exactly the same.

GdB

Posted on Oct 06, 2009 at 4:24am by GdB Comment #230

Hi Jackson,

I know Zeno’s paradoxes, but I do not get why the duration of a decision, and its being overruled by new circumstances, says anything about ‘identical situations’.

Hi GdB I should have prefaced “as I’m sure you know…”

Here is an another example - I’m making a decision and part of that decision involves using infomation that I remember. If I take a little more time, I might remember something which would actually change the decision.  Maybe it’s a fact or maybe it’s an emotional component.  The point is the decision takes a finite time, and if we were to replay it a second time the neurons processing the memories might recall things a little differently to change the balance.

Maybe we could rephrase this as a la Turing and say that if from a practical perspective it looks like we have free will that suffices.

I couldn’t have put it any better. The narration that the mind plays out for us makes it seem like we have free-will. It obviously has to be that way. It’s part of sanity. It’s part of social interaction.
1.we are held accountable for our Free-will.
2.we feel creative with our free-will
3.we create hierarchys with this free-will etc.
4.of course interacting with other people must bolster the illusion of free-will. We can compare and calculate lot’s of different views, behaviors, ideas etc. This would all highlight ones own Free-will “expressions”.

Posted on Oct 06, 2009 at 4:38am by VYAZMA Comment #231

....Maybe we could rephrase this as a la Turing and say that if from a practical perspective it looks like we have free will that suffices.

I couldn’t have put it any better. The narration that the mind plays out for us makes it seem like we have free-will. It obviously has to be that way. It’s part of sanity. It’s part of social interaction.
1.we are held accountable for our Free-will.
2.we feel creative with our free-will
3.we create hierarchys with this free-will etc.
4.of course interacting with other people must bolster the illusion of free-will. We can compare and calculate lot’s of different views, behaviors, ideas etc. This would all highlight ones own Free-will “expressions”.

I think we are all naturalists and agree there isn’t anything magic going on.  Can you or GdB explain the difference between free will and the illusion of free will.  Does the term “free will” mean magic and “illusion of free will” means “complex but deterministic decision making resembling if not indistinguishable from free will”

Posted on Oct 07, 2009 at 3:00am by Jackson Comment #232

Does the term “free will” mean magic and “illusion of free will” means “complex but deterministic decision making resembling if not indistinguishable from free will”

No.

In my view there are (at least) two concepts of free will:
1. the free will as unmoved mover, can operate unconditioned (which does not mean it cannot have conditioned elements. Even CCFW supporters can get drunk. ;-)). Even if all conditions are exactly the same, several options are open for us, because the mind is an independent source of actions.
2. the free will as description of the fact that we are a source of actions, and we identify with this source.

Number 1 is a square circle from the beginning. So this one needs magic, normally called ‘soul’, but in modern days often sneakily replaced by ‘mind’. (See previous postings of mine in this thread)
Number 2 is fully compatible, even completely build on top of determinism.

Now CCFW proposers say only 1) really counts as free will. But as I said in a previous posting in this thread, we do not have the (introspective) experience that we could have done otherwise in exactly the same circumstances. I have 2 experiences:

a. when still in the decision process, my future is open, but it depends on me only (all other conditions staying the same). When I can execute my decision, I am free
b. I have the memory of my self in the decision process. I remember that I hesitated for a long time, and I was very close to deciding something else. This gives us the idea of ‘could have done otherwise’. But I state there is no difference between ‘could have been otherwise’ in purely physical processes. ‘The earth could have had no moon’. ‘The bread could have fallen on the floor with the downside under, but no….’

So there is no experience of 1), and determinists who see ‘real free will’ as 1), will say we have no free will, and therefore there is at most an ‘illusion of free will’.

Determinists who see 2) as the correct concept of free will, will say that ‘free will’ really exists, and that the only way it can exist at all is because determinism is true. *)

I belong to this category.

GdB

*) And because ‘free will’ really exists, there is no consequence for our treatment of other people in the area of responsibility, morals and justice, when we adhere to determinism.

PS So obviously I do not agree with VYAZMA on this point.

Posted on Oct 07, 2009 at 5:12am by GdB Comment #233

Jackson-

I think we are all naturalists and agree there isn’t anything magic going on.  Can you or GdB explain the difference between free will and the illusion of free will.  Does the term “free will” mean magic and “illusion of free will” means “complex but deterministic decision making resembling if not indistinguishable from free will”

Well the best way is to simply realize there is no free-will. So there is no difference. There is only the illusion of free-will. It’s that simple. We can’t explain the difference between one concept and something that doesn’t exist.
How does the illusion work? Did you partake in the conversation in another thread(by Domokato) concerning the Spirituality of the Mind? This was a key discussion in regards to the “illusions” the brain projects. The word illusion is a bad word, but I’ll stick with it. It isn’t an illusion, and that word implies “duality”. In other words something is tricking something else. NO! That’s why we shouldn’t use the word illusion. How about “projection”, or “mind”. Really!-just mind! Because that’s what it is. What is mind? There is no tangible mind either. That’s just a concept we use to “grasp” or “explain” what our brains are doing. I’ve said it is just a reference point our brains make in our thought process so we can keep track of time passing in relation to new data input.
Other than that, you have to be aware of what our brains are doing. What is their purpose? If your placing to much emphasis on what our brains project, or the minds they create, you lose sight of the only real purpose of the brain. That is to operate the human body.
Eating, reproducing, building tools. The brain controls all those functions. Your reproductive organs don’t have a mind of their own. Your arms don’t have minds of their own. Your stomach doesn’t have a mind of it’s own.
Each human has a mind of it’s own. When we interact, these “minds” bump into one another. One mind has basically the same program as the other-survival. But they are both filled up with all kinds of remembered experiences. Learned techniques. Behavioral idiosyncracies caused by environmental influences etc.. So how do these minds come together? They form Social units. Right out of the evolutionary playbook. It’s automatic. In otherwords it’s precognitive. Social units must have rules, hierarchies, mores, morals, desserts, laws, judges, punishments etc etc..(why they have to have this is another discussion). This evolutionary autopilot of creating social units creates the illusion of free-will to a large degree.(not the other way around).
If you watch the TV shows with the Baboons. Those baboons beat the crap out of one another. Or they groom one another. They show all the signs of a social unit. But every baboon, just like us, is just acting instinctively. “Oooh look at that, one of them snuck up and tried to steal the Alpha male’s figs- the Alpha didn’t like that and beat him up. The whole tribe went crazy” How did the choice arrive for the baboon to think of stealing? He didn’t think up the idea. He may have been aware that there might be consequences, but he didn’t choose to steal the nuts. He either wanted to snack, or more likely, he was challenging the hierarchy. Another baboon may want to snack, but he has already been badly mauled for attempting that, he has the scars to prove it. So there is no choice. There is only memories and now fear. That guides this baboon. Not free-will. The whole tribe looks upon this scared baboon and says to itself “Ohh my! He “chose” not to mess with the Leader” “Wise Choice”!! He didn’t choose. There were no options- other than the options instinct might have played out for him.
So in closing, I think this illusion is the way in which we view, and come up with terms to describe how we see the carrying out of instinctive processes. We also use it on ourselves in our introspective thinking. “Damn, I should have never went to that party”. As if you really had a choice at the time. You didn’t.
So we use this “illusion” to carry out society. “He chose to kill that lady” “Now he must pay for it”. A good way to eliminate undesirables, and teach lessons to the rest of the herd.
Wow he invented a cure for Polio-accolades, rewards etc…A good way to promote continued furtherance of the betterment of the tribe. And it creates helpful role models, and broadens, and complicates the hierarchal system.
You see the social-evolutionary processes going on here? The illusion of free-will evolved right along with it.
Just remember, every action you do, or somebody else does, is instinctual. They all come from the deep recesses of your mind-designed to carry out survival. That’s all you need to know.

Posted on Oct 07, 2009 at 5:42am by VYAZMA Comment #234

GdB

*) And because ‘free will’ really exists, there is no consequence for our treatment of other people in the area of responsibility, morals and justice, when we adhere to determinism.

PS So obviously I do not agree with VYAZMA on this point.

I’d like to understand this more. I don’t get it.
1. There is no free-will.
2. There are consequences for our treatments of people under “naturalism”. See above(directly above about 20 cm) about the evolution of Social-hierarchy. The illusion of free-will is a mechanism we “visualize” as we carry out the instinctual process of Society.

Posted on Oct 07, 2009 at 6:13am by VYAZMA Comment #235

A word on how/why these “illusions” evolved right along with the social-evolutionary process.
Ok! Same dynamics….Exactly the same…..What if a person were to walk into 7-11 Buck naked?  “Ahhhh” People would be shocked. They’d be insulted, aroused, freaked out, surprised etc….one things for sure, it isn’t supposed to be that way!
People are to have clothes on. Sexual erogenous zones must be covered up, or carefully revealed given the societies given cultural modes. But not buck naked- or near to it. Why? Why is this freaky? Everyone knows what’s underneath our clothes. We all have the same tools built onto us. It isn’t a mystery.
It evolved that way… concealment. Create an illusion. A subtle undertone that creates the dynamics of social-order. In this case primarily for sexual reasons.
Now somewhere along the way….as we got smarter and more complex, perhaps PERHAPS, we had to conceal instinct. We had to slowly start fooling ourselves into thinking there were complicated reasons for the things we do.(when there really isn’t).But society gets more and more complicated. It has for alonggggg time. Now this instinct concealment probably started to happen as we became more and more conscious of our instincts-what the consequences of these instincts are. The evolution of social order conveniently latched onto this and “Free-will” was beginning to become a good method for advancing the evolution of social order. Now there were rewards and punishments for members of the tribe. This accelerated the efficiency of the social order.

Posted on Oct 07, 2009 at 6:34am by VYAZMA Comment #236

I’d like to understand this more. I don’t get it.
1. There is no free-will.

Well, as written in my previous posting: I think there is free will, just not this magic, soul-born, square circle kind of freedom of the unmoved mover.

2. There are consequences for our treatments of people under “naturalism”. See above(directly above about 20 cm) about the evolution of Social-hierarchy. The illusion of free-will is a mechanism we “visualize” as we carry out the instinctual process of Society.

That is what you state, and illustrate with a kind of historical reconstruction. It is not my opinion. For me it is enough that ‘objects to be judged’ are ‘functioning moral subjects’.

I realise I am not argumenting very much. I think I did that before in previous postings in this thread (discussion with Stephen L) and in the infamous 100 pages ‘freedom of the will’ thread in the philosophy forum.

GdB

Posted on Oct 07, 2009 at 8:56am by GdB Comment #237

I’d like to understand this more. I don’t get it.
1. There is no free-will.

Well, as written in my previous posting: I think there is free will, just not this magic, soul-born, square circle kind of freedom of the unmoved mover.

2. There are consequences for our treatments of people under “naturalism”. See above(directly above about 20 cm) about the evolution of Social-hierarchy. The illusion of free-will is a mechanism we “visualize” as we carry out the instinctual process of Society.

That is what you state, and illustrate with a kind of historical reconstruction. It is not my opinion. For me it is enough that ‘objects to be judged’ are ‘functioning moral subjects’.

I realise I am not argumenting very much. I think I did that before in previous postings in this thread (discussion with Stephen L) and in the infamous 100 pages ‘freedom of the will’ thread in the philosophy forum.

GdB

Well I don’t know how reconstructed it is. I don’t think it is very reconstructed.
What is all this “magic” stuff? The correct approach is to define this process against what we know and see to be actions, and processes. Not to define some “real” definition of Free-will vs. “Magic”.

Posted on Oct 07, 2009 at 9:04am by VYAZMA Comment #238

Jackson-

I think we are all naturalists and agree there isn’t anything magic going on.  Can you or GdB explain the difference between free will and the illusion of free will.  Does the term “free will” mean magic and “illusion of free will” means “complex but deterministic decision making resembling if not indistinguishable from free will”

Well the best way is to simply realize there is no free-will. So there is no difference. There is only the illusion of free-will. It’s that simple. We can’t explain the difference between one concept and something that doesn’t exist.
.....

thanks to you & GdB for patience. I’m thinking about this…

sounds like a TV commercial explaining the Turing quality test for margarine—- “I can’t believe it’s not free will”

Posted on Oct 07, 2009 at 3:39pm by Jackson Comment #239

Jackson-

I think we are all naturalists and agree there isn’t anything magic going on.  Can you or GdB explain the difference between free will and the illusion of free will.  Does the term “free will” mean magic and “illusion of free will” means “complex but deterministic decision making resembling if not indistinguishable from free will”

Well the best way is to simply realize there is no free-will. So there is no difference. There is only the illusion of free-will. It’s that simple. We can’t explain the difference between one concept and something that doesn’t exist.
.....

thanks to you & GdB for patience. I’m thinking about this…

sounds like a TV commercial explaining the Turing quality test for margarine—- “I can’t believe it’s not free will”

Believe me Jackson, I’m trying to think this stuff out as I go along. It’s not easy to put into words. Plus I don’t have any vocabulary for this topic. Instead of “I can’t believe it’s not Butter”....“I can’t believe it’s not better”...hee hee hee.
Scientific Naturalism-still provides you with 100% of your daily requirements for Expression, Inquiry, and a feeling of Freedom.
I like the term Scientific Naturalism.
What would free-will be if we had it? What is Free-Will? Choosing above and beyond the natural instinctual actions that come to you. Making every single last choice that came up every micro-second in dealing with every event that was in your environment.
Now someone would argue…yeah but we don’t need to make every last choice, just the ones we want to freely choose, or decide. Oh really? Where is the line drawn? When does the Free part of you start making choices and the automatic instinctual “decider” end? There is a “pre-recorded tape” running of our lives, where do you fit in above that tape picking and choosing what parts you want to edit?
Free-Will is thinking that “I decide all the colorful, accentual bits of life, and I leave the dull mundane instinctual choosing to the….to the what? The other half? The unconscious brain?
Duality keeps bubbling up to the surface. I have to backspace alot because I put examples in the context of Dualism. That’s how strong the illusion is.
I think I said above somewhere(I’ll check it out) for all intents and purposes there is duality and Free-will. Knowing that we don’t have free-will does help us. Having free-will does help us. As individuals and a society.
GdB is making great strides at attempting to put past and present dynamics into the equation. Plus doing it in a foreign tongue. I keep getting tempted to put the Time dynamics into the choices. IE: What you decided and how you reflect on those decisions-would it have been done differently? Acchhh!! Ah It’s rugged. Trying to do that is tough. I think mine and GdB’s views are actually similar.
Whereas he says There is Free-Will, I say there is the illusion of Free_will. But both of our “items” are exactly the same thing.
I’ve read his posts. I agree with all of it. Some I can’t understand, because he actually speaks better Science/Philosophy English than I do.
I’m trying to keep it simple. Approaching it from the direct view of how the brain works.So-yes I do choose things! But I am my brain. My brain chooses things. Even referring to it as “my” brain is skewed. That’s why Free-Will doesn’t exist. Because we keep wanting to think that there is a Separate “I” experiencing these choices that the brain makes. And for all intents there is a “separate I”- an illusion of duality. But, it’s only an illusion. Really your brain is just up there running on auto pilot.
Imagine if your brain made an error-and chose for you to jump off a cliff. We’d like to think we would be horrified. Terrified. But what would that brain be thinking? Just the pre-programmed “clips” of fear, and surprise, and excitement.
Then say- “but brain, why are you sending these signals now? Normally you send them for flight or fight, or other instinctual reasons, but here in this case we are surely dead. This cliff is 300ft. up the bottom is jagged rocks…why send these redundant signals now?” The brain says: “What are you talking about, I can’t control it-it’s automatic- a stimuli comes, I send the signals”!
By the way… you jumping off that cliff would be an example of free-will.(counting out all the suicide reasons or other stuff). No you don’t choose to jump off cliff or not jump off cliff. Just like every other choice.

Posted on Oct 07, 2009 at 4:29pm by VYAZMA Comment #240

....Maybe we could rephrase this as a la Turing and say that if from a practical perspective it looks like we have free will that suffices.

I couldn’t have put it any better. The narration that the mind plays out for us makes it seem like we have free-will. It obviously has to be that way. It’s part of sanity. It’s part of social interaction.
1.we are held accountable for our Free-will.
2.we feel creative with our free-will
3.we create hierarchys with this free-will etc.
4.of course interacting with other people must bolster the illusion of free-will. We can compare and calculate lot’s of different views, behaviors, ideas etc. This would all highlight ones own Free-will “expressions”.

I think we are all naturalists and agree there isn’t anything magic going on.  Can you or GdB explain the difference between free will and the illusion of free will.  Does the term “free will” mean magic and “illusion of free will” means “complex but deterministic decision making resembling if not indistinguishable from free will”

Free will (the type you believe in) is more an erroneous belief than an illusion.

You believe we would have more freedom and responsibility if there were more than one possible future, given our circumstances, than if there is one.

That is the error.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 08, 2009 at 1:01pm by StephenLawrence Comment #241

....Maybe we could rephrase this as a la Turing and say that if from a practical perspective it looks like we have free will that suffices.

I couldn’t have put it any better. The narration that the mind plays out for us makes it seem like we have free-will. It obviously has to be that way. It’s part of sanity. It’s part of social interaction.
1.we are held accountable for our Free-will.
2.we feel creative with our free-will
3.we create hierarchys with this free-will etc.
4.of course interacting with other people must bolster the illusion of free-will. We can compare and calculate lot’s of different views, behaviors, ideas etc. This would all highlight ones own Free-will “expressions”.

I think we are all naturalists and agree there isn’t anything magic going on.  Can you or GdB explain the difference between free will and the illusion of free will.  Does the term “free will” mean magic and “illusion of free will” means “complex but deterministic decision making resembling if not indistinguishable from free will”

Free will (the type you believe in) is more an erroneous belief than an illusion.

You believe we would have more freedom and responsibility if there were more than one possible future, given our circumstances, than if there is one.

That is the error.

Stephen

Stephen, your comment is helpful.  Is this a statement about reality (for example, there is only one future and the results of the 2012 election are fixed and there is nothing we can do to change them) rather than a statement about “free will”.  So it is not about “us”, it is a matter of perspective?

Posted on Oct 08, 2009 at 6:24pm by Jackson Comment #242

You believe we would have more freedom and responsibility if there were more than one possible future, given our circumstances, than if there is one.

That is the error.

Stephen, your comment is helpful.  Is this a statement about reality (for example, there is only one future and the results of the 2012 election are fixed and there is nothing we can do to change them) rather than a statement about “free will”.  So it is not about “us”, it is a matter of perspective?

Tell me the practical difference between thinking that the 2012 election is fixed, or it is dependent on (many) free will(s).

1. Thinking that it is fixed does not mean you know it (science is not far enough to predict in so much detail). So your future is essentially open.

2. But for the sake of argument, imagine we would know Obama will win again. In the meantime you have convinced 10,000,000 voters who wanted to vote Obama that everything is fixed. So what the hack? They stay at home. And Obama loses.

3. Even if everything is fixed, your deliberating if you behave responsible by taking another beer before driving home is pre-programmed. No way to get rid of the burden.

“You are born. So you are free. So happy birthday”
Laurie Anderson

4. The process of finding natural laws in science presupposes free will. How else do you think it is possible to change initial conditions of experiments at will?

The point for me here is not to argument for my version of free will, but to show that whatever you believe about determinism, it has no impact on any relevant human practice.

GdB

Posted on Oct 08, 2009 at 11:44pm by GdB Comment #243

1. Thinking that it is fixed does not mean you know it (science is not far enough to predict in so much detail). So your future is essentially open.

2. But for the sake of argument, imagine we would know Obama will win again. In the meantime you have convinced 10,000,000 voters who wanted to vote Obama that everything is fixed. So what the hack? They stay at home. And Obama loses.

3. Even if everything is fixed, your deliberating if you behave responsible by taking another beer before driving home is pre-programmed. No way to get rid of the burden.

“You are born. So you are free. So happy birthday”
Laurie Anderson

4. The process of finding natural laws in science presupposes free will. How else do you think it is possible to change initial conditions of experiments at will?


The process of “finding” requires no Free-will. The process of discovery requires no free-will. There never was an “initial condition”, or an initial expirement. The action of “changing” something is switching it from one position to the other. Yes we have highly complicated brains that can do very complex levels of thinking. What causes a brain to want to “discover”? Why should humans “seek out” new ideas? We have all kinds of glorious descriptors for exploration, and discovery-in science, and in history. Is it possible for Humans to STOP poking around? I doubt it.

The point for me here is not to argument for my version of free will, but to show that whatever you believe about determinism, it has no impact on any relevant human practice.

GdB

It does have some impacts. It has already. Like the liberalization of Laws for example. People used to get executed for all kinds of crimes. Enlightenment has shown that people are not always(I know, I know, but it is an example)responsible for their actions.
I know some laws are much more liberal in Europe-they call them “crimes of passion”. An example of the “Public” using scientific naturalism. Yes it is modified, and usually there still is some accountability.
These scientific naturalism ideals can also be used to enlighten people about their faiths in gods. By showing someone that they certainly never “chose” to accept jesus.(and they didn’t) these ideals, or principles can show the mechanics behind folks beliefs.

Posted on Oct 09, 2009 at 3:48am by VYAZMA Comment #244

The process of “finding” requires no Free-will. The process of discovery requires no free-will. There never was an “initial condition”, or an initial expirement.

To find the relation between input and output parameters, a scientist changes the input parameters (or possibly just one), to see how this change influences the output parameters he measures. The fact that we can in such a way that natural laws are ‘revealed’ is a strong indication for me that we can change these parameters at will. ‘Freedom of the will’ is a necessary presupposition of the ability to change input parameters. (I did not say anything about an initial experiment, I don’t know what you mean by that. My reference is to daily praxis in a lot of physical and chemical laboratories.)

It does have some impacts. It has already. Like the liberalization of Laws for example. People used to get executed for all kinds of crimes. Enlightenment has shown that people are not always(I know, I know, but it is an example)responsible for their actions.

No, no, that is something different! I know it looks similar, but it isn’t. There certainly are people that are sometimes not held responsible for their actions, but I assure you, it was never because of the physical kind of determinism what we are talking about here.

In the early days it was easy to declare somebody guilty: the only question was ‘did he do it or not’. In its simplicity, this rule was even applied to dogs and church bells! (The church bell did not refuse to help the devil. Sorry I have no sources for this). Now it was found out that some people for psychological reasons were not able to see things right, or were not capable of moral judgement. This can be e.g. being completely psychological dependent on somebody else.  Given that humans are free in principle, there are situations were their freedom is reduced, and therefore their ‘responsibility capability’. But this is on the level of coercion, external (forcement by others) or internal (psychological dependency or illness), not on the level of firing neurons.

Try to plead ‘not guilty’ based on your firing neurons! Do you think you would succeed? Do you even want to succeed?

O I know Mr Hitler, because of your genetics and upbringing, your morality subsystem in the frontal cortex is disturbed, you cannot help that you murdered 6,000,000 jews. We’ll start the treatment with prozac, and then in a therapy we will practice ethical reasoning. If we are lucky you are a free man again in at most a year.’

This would be the extreme of your reasoning. I assume you would not accept that.

GdB

Posted on Oct 09, 2009 at 5:27am by GdB Comment #245

Hi Jackson,

Stephen, your comment is helpful.  Is this a statement about reality (for example, there is only one future and the results of the 2012 election are fixed and there is nothing we can do to change them) rather than a statement about “free will”.  So it is not about “us”, it is a matter of perspective?

It simply was a statement, which was the free will you believe in and most others do too, is that we would have more freedom and responsibility if there was more than one future we could get to from the circumstances in which we are in, than if there were one.

It’s belief in this type of free will that I fight against because of the harm it does.

Sure there is something we can do about the 2012 elections because we have causal power and so can influence the future. We can’t literally change the future, that is impossible, as when we refer to the future, we refer to what is going to happen, we can’t change that!

Whether we “really” influence the future depends upon whether causality is real, not whether we have free will.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 09, 2009 at 12:47pm by StephenLawrence Comment #246

Hi Jackson,

Stephen, your comment is helpful.  Is this a statement about reality (for example, there is only one future and the results of the 2012 election are fixed and there is nothing we can do to change them) rather than a statement about “free will”.  So it is not about “us”, it is a matter of perspective?

It simply was a statement, which was the free will you believe in and most others do too, is that we would have more freedom and responsibility if there was more than one future we could get to from the circumstances in which we are in, than if there were one.

It’s belief in this type of free will that I fight against because of the harm it does.

Sure there is something we can do about the 2012 elections because we have causal power and so can influence the future. We can’t literally change the future, that is impossible, as when we refer to the future, we refer to what is going to happen, we can’t change that!

Whether we “really” influence the future depends upon whether causality is real, not whether we have free will.

Stephen

 

Your statement that we cannot “literally” change the future seems rather a personal perspective.  What people mean is that they influence the trajectory which the future takes.  Changing the future vs. Changing the direction of the future—

Posted on Oct 09, 2009 at 3:54pm by Jackson Comment #247

 

 

Your statement that we cannot “literally” change the future seems rather a personal perspective.  What people mean is that they influence the trajectory which the future takes.  Changing the future vs. Changing the direction of the future—

Ok, and that is what having causal power does. Rocks and trees influence the future too, the difference with us and I guess some other animals is that we have knowledge of our causal power and are motivated to act based on that knowledge and the outcome we prefer.

Unless having causal power requires there to be more than one future we can get to from the current circumstances, then there is no need for there to be more than one possible future we can get to from the current circumstances in order to change the future. Further it would seem that if there were, it would give us no more ability to change the future than if there weren’t and could even be debilitating.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 10, 2009 at 12:31am by StephenLawrence Comment #248

Sure there is something we can do about the 2012 elections because we have causal power and so can influence the future.
...
Whether we “really” influence the future depends upon whether causality is real, not whether we have free will.

We can do something about the 2012 elections…. Then I am responsible, am I not (at least partially, there are too many others that can do something too)?
What is ‘free will’ different from having causal powers? That these causal powers are the outcome of conscious deliberations is enough to praise, blame and convict people.

In my opinion you are falling in the inconsistent ‘free will’ concept I mentioned in an earlier posting: that ‘free will’ means that I can change my ‘free will’. My momentary assumption is that we have the (introspective) experience that we are not clear unified persons: I hesitate, should I go for the immediate gain or for the long term, is it better to use my money for a new TV or give to the good work of CFI, etc. On basis of this kind of deliberations I might change my ‘mind’, even become another person in the eyes of myself and others. But the source of the changes was something existing in me already: one motivation in me becomes stronger than another. But it was still ‘me’. It is no argument against determinism. When you stick to ‘one level free will’, i.e. a will is free when it can express itself, then we have enough basis for our practice of blaming and praising. And no contradiction with determinism.

Your firing neurons are not forcing you to do something, you are your firing neurons, just seen from another level.

GdB

Posted on Oct 10, 2009 at 1:40am by GdB Comment #249

Ok, and that is what having causal power does. Rocks and trees influence the future too, the difference with us and I guess some other animals is that we have knowledge of our causal power and are motivated to act based on that knowledge and the outcome we prefer.

I think that I am sort of with GdB that if we agree there is no “illusion” of our ability to consciously deliberate and make choices which cause changes in the future (so something different happens compared to if we had chosen differently),  then part of the “free will” discussion takes care of itself.

There is another view of reality as you & GdB probably know that the other futures do happen but not in this ‘universe’, but as far as I know this is only an abstract idea.

Posted on Oct 10, 2009 at 4:28am by Jackson Comment #250

There is another view of reality as you & GdB probably know that the other futures do happen but not in this ‘universe’, but as far as I know this is only an abstract idea.

Yep, the ‘many worlds interpretation’ of QM. I think it is not relevant for the free will discussion for 2 reasons:

1. We are stuck to feeling one person with a single history. I have no information about these other universes. The whole universe, including me, the observer, splits up every time a quantum measurement is done. I have no idea how this could help us in the free will discussion.

2. It brings the QM back into the discussion with no difference at all with the indeterminate character of QM in general. As in my opinion free will exists while determinism is true, QM is explains only the glitches of the mind (indeterminate firing of neurons).

GdB

Posted on Oct 10, 2009 at 4:43am by GdB Comment #251

Jumping into realms of other dimensions or futures, or possible outcomes is not my area of interest. I’ve said all I can say to support my opinion, and understanding on this issue.
My angle is based on the functioning of the brain, and how it projects a mind, and consequently a feeling of Free-will. The Duality illusion, and the illusion of free-will.
Why do we think that because “events in life” offer up a limited (always limited)number of choices, that by choosing one choice, that is free-will? Free-will is making the choices up too. Which we don’t do! Even if you think you are doing that, you’re not, because you are just arranging a finite number of choices.
Free-will is choosing C, when the only 2 choices are A or B. Free-will is designing C. That’s true free-will. Free-will is NOT being happy because you chose the right curtain on “Let’s Make A Deal”.

Posted on Oct 10, 2009 at 5:06am by VYAZMA Comment #252

The process of “finding” requires no Free-will. The process of discovery requires no free-will. There never was an “initial condition”, or an initial expirement.

To find the relation between input and output parameters, a scientist changes the input parameters (or possibly just one), to see how this change influences the output parameters he measures. The fact that we can in such a way that natural laws are ‘revealed’ is a strong indication for me that we can change these parameters at will. ‘Freedom of the will’ is a necessary presupposition of the ability to change input parameters. (I did not say anything about an initial experiment, I don’t know what you mean by that. My reference is to daily praxis in a lot of physical and chemical laboratories.)

What I meant is that there are no initial changes to be made to changing outputs or inputs into experiments. All Input parameters are based on previous input parameters, from other experiments. Nobody has ever just “conjured” up an Idea for an experiment. They always base it on previous knowledge. Previous experimentation.(memory-in our brains)
Just like Edison never Invented the light bulb. Nobody really did. It was an evolution of ideas. Of course sometimes maybe chance is involved…is chance part of free-will too? I mean if we let in all these other “event designers” then I guess we can broaden the ability to have Free-will.

Posted on Oct 10, 2009 at 5:18am by VYAZMA Comment #253


I think that I am sort of with GdB that if we agree there is no “illusion” of our ability to consciously deliberate and make choices which cause changes in the future (so something different happens compared to if we had chosen differently),  then part of the “free will” discussion takes care of itself.

 

Ok we do agree there is no illusion on his point and that is why I’m anti calling free will an illusion because people are confused about what the illusion is.

And so I’d rather call it an erroneous belief. As I’ve said, the error is to believe we would have extra freedom and responsibility if we could get to more than one possible future from our current circumstances than if we could get to only one.

Of course whether we have causal power or not isn’t ewhat the free will debate is about or else the debate would simply be about whether causality is real or not.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 10, 2009 at 1:22pm by StephenLawrence Comment #254


We can do something about the 2012 elections…. Then I am responsible, am I not (at least partially, there are too many others that can do something too)?
What is ‘free will’ different from having causal powers? That these causal powers are the outcome of conscious deliberations is enough to praise, blame and convict people.


GDB

 

The point you miss is that praise and blame are very different things if we only have compatiblist free will rather than the free will people actually believe in. As you can’t see this, it means there is an error in your theory, and you still really believe in free will incompatible with determinism.

The point you miss is ultimately it is out of our control if we make good choices or bad choices. So if we make a bad choice that we are to blame for we could have made a better choice if we’d had a will to do so. BUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the only way we could have had a will to do so is if the universe had in fact been in a different state 1,000 years before our birth (if determinism is true)

It’s completely obvious that it’s totally out of our hands what state the universe was in 1,000 years before our births and so a matter of luck what life we happen to get, because we have no way of avoiding what we do that is not complete luck i.e we could have avoided it if the universe were in a different state 1,000 years before our births but unfortunately for some of us it wasn’t. LUCK SWALLOWS EVERYTHING

You are in denial about this and are not a true compatibilist as a true compatibilist would acknowledge this.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 10, 2009 at 1:36pm by StephenLawrence Comment #255

Hi Stephen,

We get repeatedly at this point. I say: if you want to change our practice of blaming and praising based on your argument, you presuppose we momentarily change our position based on moral deliberations (it is not justified to convict somebody who was determined to do his crime anyway). And that is exactly what you deny we are able to because this was fixed already 1000 years ago. If we are able to change our practice based on this deliberation, then Raskolnikow was able not to kill the landlady based on correct moral deliberations. And therefore we condemn him to Siberia.

I understand your point that on the surface (common understanding of what free will is) this does not seem plausible, but how implausible it might look on the surface, it is correct. Please don’t hide behind “common understanding of ‘free will’”, because this is a question of ‘public relations’. This hiding would be an example of ‘mauvaise foi’.

Please also see my posting above to VYAZMA: there are reasons to diminish guilt because somebody cannot held responsible completely, but this is not on the level of physical determinism. As one short subsidiary remark to VYAZMA: it is an improvement of enlightenment that not everybody who did the crime is held responsible completely, but again, it is not on the level of physical determinism.

GdB

Posted on Oct 10, 2009 at 2:25pm by GdB Comment #256

Please also see my posting above to VYAZMA: there are reasons to diminish guilt because somebody cannot held responsible completely, but this is not on the level of physical determinism. As one short subsidiary remark to VYAZMA: it is an improvement of enlightenment that not everybody who did the crime is held responsible completely, but again, it is not on the level of physical determinism.

GdB

I understand GdB. I know the parameters you are setting.

Posted on Oct 10, 2009 at 2:51pm by VYAZMA Comment #257

I understand GdB. I know the parameters you are setting.

Sorry. Just wanted to accentuate your remark that we have some important improvements in our society because Enlightenment’s insights in why people behave as they do.

GdB

Posted on Oct 10, 2009 at 2:56pm by GdB Comment #258

I’m not subscribing to the Physical determinism item here. I’m presuming that it is stating that “a domino tipped over 1000 yrs ago set events into motion, and they are pre-determined.” In otherwords all atomic particles or smaller are on a pre-determined path. This includes all particles-obviously the same ones that make up the chemicals we are made out of.
While there are strict laws governing how all these particles interact, there are too many variables of Chaos, chance and randomness. So variation does ensue. BUT although we can presume to talk about alternate variations(presumably on other planes of existence) there is only one reality. That’s my opinion. And even if there is more than one, the one we are in is the only one that concerns us.
That reality plays out in real-time for us. (for us humans).
Whatever else is theoretically going on, it has no effect on Our Brains and the “mind” it projects.
My groundings for this discussion are based in evolutionary/biological functions. Simply, I’m stating that there is no free-will because we are Naturally carrying out our genetic programming. The mind, as it is, paints a highly complex, and colorful world for us. This is primarily to aid in the construction of social-units.(family, city, workplace, barroom, churches, internet forums)Also mating, comfort giving(grooming),flight or fight, child rearing etc.
So like that Domino, our genes, and our precognitive behavior determine what we will do. We think(the illusion) that a separate “I” is doing the choosing. The separate “I” being able to watch ourselves like a 3rd party.( and we do! We talk to ourselves in our heads. The best example is: maybe you are driving down the street and you miss a turn. Either inside your head, or vocally you may say something like” Damn it! You idiot, now I have to turn around and go back….ughhh wake up!) That is the duality our minds project.
Without that duality, we would be completely insane, or dead. That 3rd party “buddy” upstairs is making you think you are doing all the choosing. Actually it’s just you…like a dog, going down the street following it’s nose. Ooops the dog is sniffing a hydrant! He didn’t choose to.
Now a quick word on why so many people can’t accept this. The world we have made, and the complexity of our social-nets makes available zillions of routes for us to go. Just remember that even the most non-natural actions or behaviors are totally natural, and fall under scientific naturalism.
Playing Frisbee-dancing-Murder- Having a picnic in the park-painting with watercolors-microwaving a baby-reading a book-doing drugs-measuring the distance between two planets orbits-all of it. Especially the most unnatural stuff-That’s the most natural.

Posted on Oct 10, 2009 at 3:26pm by VYAZMA Comment #259

I understand GdB. I know the parameters you are setting.

Sorry. Just wanted to accentuate your remark that we have some important improvements in our society because Enlightenment’s insights in why people behave as they do.

GdB

Hey mein Freund, no need to be sorry. I think that enlightenment may have gotten to where it is from seepage. You know? Leaks. The things we are discussing slowly come up to the conscious mind, and guide the way. Real smart scientists and philosophers probably helped along the way too. :lol: This works in my definition, because I believe it is totally a biological question.(and why wouldn’t it be? we are talking about the brain-with our brains

Posted on Oct 10, 2009 at 3:31pm by VYAZMA Comment #260

We get repeatedly at this point. I say: if you want to change our practice of blaming and praising based on your argument, you presuppose we momentarily change our position based on moral deliberations (it is not justified to convict somebody who was determined to do his crime anyway).

I don’t think that.

And that is exactly what you deny we are able to because this was fixed already 1000 years ago. If we are able to change our practice based on this deliberation, then Raskolnikow was able not to kill the landlady based on correct moral deliberations. And therefore we condemn him to Siberia.

I know he was able to, because able to means he could. But in order to do what he could have done, the world would have needed to be in a different state than it was 1,000 years before his birth. Unfortunately for him it wasn’t.

I understand your point that on the surface (common understanding of what free will is) this does not seem plausible, but how implausible it might look on the surface, it is correct. Please don’t hide behind “common understanding of ‘free will’”, because this is a question of ‘public relations’. This hiding would be an example of ‘mauvaise foi’.

It’s got nothing to do woth plausibility.

Please also see my posting above to VYAZMA: there are reasons to diminish guilt because somebody cannot held responsible completely, but this is not on the level of physical determinism. As one short subsidiary remark to VYAZMA: it is an improvement of enlightenment that not everybody who did the crime is held responsible completely, but again, it is not on the level of physical determinism.

GdB

I might agree, we can’t argue we are not guilty because of physical determinism, but the nature of guilt, praise, blame etc do alter tremendously.

You might be going to commit a murder next week. If so the chance you have to avoid it, is if the universe had been in a different state 1,ooo years before your birth.

It’s out of your hands whether it was or it wasn’t. This is an incredibly significant fact that you are unwilling to recognise, probably because you are confident that you are not determined to commit murder next week. But some people are and if you were one of them, you’d soon change your mind about free will, you’d understand that given the world was as it was 1,000 years ago, you were stuffed.

Face facts.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 13, 2009 at 1:28pm by StephenLawrence Comment #261

Face facts.

Face morality.

GdB

Posted on Oct 13, 2009 at 1:53pm by GdB Comment #262

You might be going to commit a murder next week. If so the chance you have to avoid it, is if the universe had been in a different state 1,ooo years before your birth.

It’s out of your hands whether it was or it wasn’t. This is an incredibly significant fact that you are unwilling to recognise, probably because you are confident that you are not determined to commit murder next week. But some people are and if you were one of them, you’d soon change your mind about free will, you’d understand that given the world was as it was 1,000 years ago, you were stuffed.

Face facts.

Stephen

Are you serious or are you being sarcastic to show the problem with the idea? To say it is out of your hands is, to me, getting causality itself backwards.  We don’t have next week’s newspaper and the headlines may change.  The question might not be with the free will in humans but with causality period.

Posted on Oct 13, 2009 at 3:51pm by Jackson Comment #263

You might be going to commit a murder next week. If so the chance you have to avoid it, is if the universe had been in a different state 1,ooo years before your birth.

It’s out of your hands whether it was or it wasn’t. This is an incredibly significant fact that you are unwilling to recognise, probably because you are confident that you are not determined to commit murder next week. But some people are and if you were one of them, you’d soon change your mind about free will, you’d understand that given the world was as it was 1,000 years ago, you were stuffed.

Face facts.

Stephen

Are you serious or are you being sarcastic to show the problem with the idea? To say it is out of your hands is, to me, getting causality itself backwards.  We don’t have next week’s newspaper and the headlines may change.  The question might not be with the free will in humans but with causality period.

Of course I’m serious. There is no problem with the idea, it’s the position we find ourselves in and we would change if we accepted that. Some of us think that would be a change for the better, which is why we debate the subject.

Of course it is out of our hands whether the universe was or wasn’t in a certain state 1,000 years before our birth and of course that’s not getting it backwards.

You are an incompatibilist, you believe we have freedom and control incompatible with determinism but have no evidence.

On the other hand GdB claims to be a compatibilist but refuses to accept what that entails and so really isn’t.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 13, 2009 at 11:46pm by StephenLawrence Comment #264

On the other hand GdB claims to be a compatibilist but refuses to accept what that entails and so really isn’t.

Sigh….  :-/

Your ‘entailment’ can only be consistent from the viewpoint of our moral God: your position needs exactly the morality, in order to argue that we should change this morality. You put yourself on a ‘higher order’, denying you are using a moral argument.

The contents of your argument is not consistent with the action of you arguing.

Another try…

I am Raskolnikow, at the point of killing the landlady, but am hesitating. At that moment I just think about your argument, that everything was fixed already 1000 years ago. So I say, ‘what the heck, it is all fixed, I’ll just do it. I will not be punished too hard, because it is all fixed’. Good luck to me in court, defending myself on this basis…

GdB

Posted on Oct 14, 2009 at 12:28am by GdB Comment #265

On the other hand GdB claims to be a compatibilist but refuses to accept what that entails and so really isn’t.

Sigh….  :-/

Your ‘entailment’ can only be consistent from the viewpoint of our moral God: your position needs exactly the morality, in order to argue that we should change this morality. You put yourself on a ‘higher order’, denying you are using a moral argument.

The contents of your argument is not consistent with the action of you arguing.

Another try…

I am Raskolnikow, at the point of killing the landlady, but am hesitating. At that moment I just think about your argument, that everything was fixed already 1000 years ago. So I say, ‘what the heck, it is all fixed, I’ll just do it. I will not be punished too hard, because it is all fixed’. Good luck to me in court, defending myself on this basis…

GdB

I don’t think it’s all fixed.

I think that the way in which Raskolnikow could have avoided killing the landlady is if the the universe had been in a different state 1,000 years before his birth (or at least the freedom and control he had was compatible with this)

Therefore if the universe was not in the state that would allow him to avoid killing the landlady 1,000 years before his birth, he was unfortunate because obviously there was nothing he could do about that

If the universe had been in a particvular state before you were born, you would be a paedophile. Another state you would be a rapist. Another state a born again christian and so on and so on.

Obviously it is your fortune good or bad what particular state the universe happened to be in 1,000 years before your birth. If it’s the case that you are not a paedophile or a rapist, then thank your good luck that the universe was not in such a state that would have led to you being in one of those states.

There are some genuine compatibilists, Tom Clark being one, myself, I hope, and perhaps Doug Smith (not sure) But most so called compatibilists simply haven’t bitten the bullet and really believe in freedom and control incompatible with determinism, as you surely do, despite your unconvincing protests.

 

Stephen

Posted on Oct 15, 2009 at 1:00pm by StephenLawrence Comment #266

I am a compatibilist.
No you are not!
Yes I am!
No you’re not.
Come on, this is not an argument.
Yes it is.
No it isn’t.

Your position is that our practice of praising, blaming and convicting should change based on determinism. Is that compatibilism? Because we are not that free as we thought we are, we must change our practice?

My position: we don’t need the concept of ‘unconditioned freedom’, that is a square circle from the beginning, but the kind of freedom I am proposing is consistent with our introspective experience and with determinism. No need to change our practice of praising, blaming and convicting.

You think I am inconsistent, and keep coming back on the same point: that I cannot help being me. And I say that is not necessary, it is only necessary that all other conditions staying the same, my action depends on me only.

You did not answer my Raskolnikow question, taking the outside, ‘God view’ again. I ask a little bit clearer:

You are Raskolnikow, at the point of killing the landlady, but are hesitating. At that moment you think about your argument, that everything was fixed already 1000 years ago. So you say what the heck, it is all fixed, I’ll just do it. I will not be punished too hard, because it is all fixed’. Would you plead punishment reduction for the court, based on this thought?

It is you we are talking about, not some external psychological, philosophical or divine third person! Please answer the italic question.

GdB

Posted on Oct 15, 2009 at 11:36pm by GdB Comment #267

You did not answer my Raskolnikow question, taking the outside, ‘God view’ again. I ask a little bit clearer:

You are Raskolnikow, at the point of killing the landlady, but are hesitating. At that moment you think about your argument, that everything was fixed already 1000 years ago. So you say what the heck, it is all fixed, I’ll just do it. I will not be punished too hard, because it is all fixed’. Would you plead punishment reduction for the court, based on this thought?

It is you we are talking about, not some external psychological, philosophical or divine third person! Please answer the italic question.

GdB

How do they decide what ending to put on a movie—- the writers collaborate, they each think of ideas, they confer, and come to a decision. Sometimes they actually film two alternate endings. There are books with alternate endings in them too.

The mind’s decision making process may be a something like an internal conference whose final decision is based on many interacting factors and is in some finely balanced cases unpredictable from a practical point of view.  While “unpredictable” isn’t what Stephen means by ‘free will’, it may be part of what Tom Clark calls the illusion.

Posted on Oct 16, 2009 at 2:56am by Jackson Comment #268


Your position is that our practice of praising, blaming and convicting should change based on determinism.

Not true.

My position: we don’t need the concept of ‘unconditioned freedom’, that is a square circle from the beginning, but the kind of freedom I am proposing is consistent with our introspective experience and with determinism. No need to change our practice of praising, blaming and convicting.

So we agree, and Tom agrees too.

You think I am inconsistent, and keep coming back on the same point: that I cannot help being me. And I say that is not necessary, it is only necessary that all other conditions staying the same, my action depends on me only.

It absolutely matters that what you are depends upon the way the universe was 1,000 years before you were born if determinism is true. It absolutely matters that it’s your fortune good or bad what state the universe was in 1,000 years before you were born and that the way we think and feel should be in line with the truth of that (or the truth that the freedom we have is compatible with that.)

You are Raskolnikow, at the point of killing the landlady, but are hesitating. At that moment you think about your argument, that everything was fixed already 1000 years ago. So you say what the heck, it is all fixed, I’ll just do it. I will not be punished too hard, because it is all fixed’. Would you plead punishment reduction for the court, based on this thought?

I don’t think that it’s all fixed.

I think deterrent and correction are necessary in the forseable future. I think punishment can be for a persons own good. I think in some cases it does harm, like in this case. I think the harm cannot be justified by the resipient deserving to be harmed. I think perhaps it can be justified as the lesser of two evils. I think as the defendant does not deserve to be harmed, any harm should be kept to the minimum necessary, as the lesser of two evils. I think we should be horrified at needing to harm people who don’t deserve it (which is everybody who we harm) and do everything in our power to prevent it.

I think that belief in free will ( the type people generaly believe in) is what makes us think some people deserve to be harmed and that in the case of Raskolnikow if he hadn’t believed the landlady deserved it, he might not have done it. So I think one part of the solution to preventing people harming each other is to reduce belief in free will and I believe greater compassion and empathy and caring for each other would arise, reducing immoral actions.

It is you we are talking about, not some external psychological, philosophical or divine third person! Please answer the italic question.

GdB

Well if it was me and people intended to harm me I’d try to prevent it, if they thought I deserved it they would be wrong and if they were doing it as the lesser of two evils, I think it would be right to try to defend myself by what ever means, fair or foul.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 16, 2009 at 1:58pm by StephenLawrence Comment #269

I am a compatibilist.
No you are not!
Yes I am!
No you’re not.
Come on, this is not an argument.
Yes it is.
No it isn’t.

No you come on!

I’m merely stating facts that you are in denial of. It’s because you are in denial of the facts that you are not really a compatibilist.

I’ve said why over and over (nothing to do with everything being fixed btw) I’ll say it one more time and then if you stubbornly refuse to face facts I’ll leave it there, as I risk harming others by boring them to death.

Although whatsisname could have avoided killing the landlady, the way he could, assuming determinism is true, is if the world had been in a different state 1,000 years ago.

He would have not killed the landlady if the universe were in an appropriately different state 1,000 years before his birth but unfortumately for him it wasn’t and there was nothing he could do about that.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 16, 2009 at 11:49pm by StephenLawrence Comment #270

You did not answer the italic question.

You are Raskolnikow, at the point of killing the landlady, but are hesitating. At that moment you think about your argument, that everything was fixed already 1000 years ago. So you say what the heck, it is all fixed, I’ll just do it. I will not be punished too hard, because it is all fixed’. Would you plead punishment reduction for the court, based on this thought?

Don’t you see that when reacting on my question, you shift into “3rd party philosopher’s mode”? Imagine that you are Raskolnikov, and plead ‘not guilty’ (or ‘less guilty’) in court based on ‘I could have acted differently if the universe would have been in a different state 1000 years ago’.

Your position is that our practice of praising, blaming and convicting should change based on determinism.

Not true.

Then correct me. But here I see that you think:
- we should reduce believe in free will (based on ‘1000 years ago?)
- we will be more compassionate because of that:

So I think one part of the solution to preventing people harming each other is to reduce belief in free will and I believe greater compassion and empathy and caring for each other would arise, reducing immoral actions.

What is the difference with ‘our practice of praising, blaming and convicting should change based on determinism’?

I’m merely stating facts that you are in denial of.

No, I am not. I am denying the relevance of it. That is not the same.

Again, defend yourself for court based on the 1000 years ago argument.

It’s because you are in denial of the facts that you are not really a compatibilist.

So what am I?
o A libertarian? (in the ‘free will relevant’ meaning of the word)
o A determinist (there is no free will at all)?
o Inconsistent?
o A bad philosopher after all?

GdB

Posted on Oct 17, 2009 at 12:27am by GdB Comment #271


The mind’s decision making process may be a something like an internal conference whose final decision is based on many interacting factors and is in some finely balanced cases unpredictable from a practical point of view.  While “unpredictable” isn’t what Stephen means by ‘free will’, it may be part of what Tom Clark calls the illusion.

Unpredictability might be part of the reason for the illusion but is not the illusion itself

The clue about what the illusion is, is in the title, Contra causal free will. The illusion or erroneous belief is that despite the universe having been in a state 1,000 years before our births in which someone was going to make bad choices which led them to having a bad life, that they could somehow have made different choices, given that factual past. The illusion is to believe it’s not the luck of the draw. As always the claim is not that determinism is true but that indeterminism cannot give us any more freedom, control or responsibility, it just adds a different kind of luck.

A necessary condition of being able to make choices, is that we are uncertain about the future, which we are. This means our epistemic options are open.

So the options we consider are possible in at least two senses.

1) logical possibilities.

2) Epistemic possibilities, (we may be going to pick any one of them for all we know).

but not 3) if determinism is true, which is: Could get to a situation in which we select anyone of the options from the current circumstances.

As far as I can see if we watch our experience closely it doesn’t seem like 3) is true . It always seems to me (although I’m led to believe it’s not true), that there is one thing I can do in the circumstances. So if I’m driving my car it seems I could put my foot on the brake and swerve left into a garden wall, when in fact I’m following the road . But it would take a child running into the road, or something to get me to do it. So the only sense of could do otherwise I have, is if the circumstances were appropriately different. In normal circumstances I feel I’m prevented from hitting the garden wall (just as well).

So I think what we experience when choice making, is real, which is why I think calling free will an illusion is very confusing. The experience is real we have erroneous beliefs about the experience. These come partly from an incorrect understanding of the senses in which the options are possible and this is linked to unpredictability, by the subject at least, a condition necessary for the options to be epistemic possibilities.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 18, 2009 at 1:37am by StephenLawrence Comment #272

You did not answer the italic question.

Then correct me. But here I see that you think:
- we should reduce believe in free will (based on ‘1000 years ago?)
- we will be more compassionate because of that:

I’ll put it this way. We would be better off if our thoughts and feelings were aligned with the truth, which is that “luck swallows everything” as Galen Strawson puts it. What that means is the difference beween you and a murderer is your good fortune that the universe was not in a state 1,000 years before your birth, such that the only possible future that could follow from those circumstances, is that you commit murder. Remember you might still have that misfortune, I hope not. If so there is a very real sense in which there is nothing you can do about it, which is you can’t go back and change the state of the universe 1,000 years ago.

So what am I?
o A libertarian? (in the ‘free will relevant’ meaning of the word)
o A determinist (there is no free will at all)?
o Inconsistent?
o A bad philosopher after all?

GdB

The free will I argue against is the type that denies that “luck swallows everything” in the way I’ve described, call it what you like, it’s what most people believe in and is incompatible with determinism (and indeterminism).

You apparently don’t deny that but simply deny the relevance and so nothing changes for you.

I guess if you think nothing changes, then you might as well be denying that luck swallows everything and so for simplicities sake, I’d class you as an incompatibilist.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 18, 2009 at 5:22am by StephenLawrence Comment #273


What is the difference with ‘our practice of praising, blaming and convicting should change based on determinism’?

The way in which people believe we are praisworthy, blameworthy, guilty etc includes an element of deservedness that would not be there if they fully accepted luck swallows everything.

This element of deservedness can be contrasted with , “there but for circumstances go I” or the French proverb “to know all is to forgive all”

Edit: I put this another way by saying noboy can deserve to be harmed.

So to answer your question in italics if I was Raskolnikow I would say I was not guilty in a sense which would make me deserving of being harmed. So I would say the court could not harm me using “I deserve it” as the justification for doing it.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 18, 2009 at 5:47am by StephenLawrence Comment #274

The free will I argue against is the type that denies that “luck swallows everything” in the way I’ve described, call it what you like, it’s what most people believe in and is incompatible with determinism (and indeterminism).

You apparently don’t deny that but simply deny the relevance and so nothing changes for you.

I guess if you think nothing changes, then you might as well be denying that luck swallows everything and so for simplicities sake, I’d class you as an incompatibilist.

Stephen

Yep, that is too simple.
- I think determinism is true (except irrelevant QM exceptions)
- I think free will can only exist in a determinist universe
- I think this is exactly the free will we need for our present practice of blaming, praising and conviction

So at least at the surface I am a compatibilist. So my only option (in your eyes) is that I am an inconsistent thinker.

Your ‘hammer argument’ (‘luck swallows everything’) is an argument about fairness: it is not fair to convict somebody for something he could not help not doing so. But with your appeal to fairness, you are supposing I could change my mind: seeing that my convictions are not fair, I should change my behaviour. Doesn’t that suppose freedom, real freedom? Or is your argument just a causal wheel in the deterministic machine, and we just do not know if your argument will succeed?

So now we come to you, Raskolnikow (I am your judge now…): you claim I should not be too hard with you based on your ‘luck swallows’ everything. But you had these thoughts already before killing the landlady. With this argument, you can do the worst things, and say everytime ‘sorry, I can’t help it, it was the universe 1000 years ago’. Don’t you see, with this standpoint, it takes the ground of any moral argument? This includes you expecting me to be fair with you, so there is no need for you reasoning to be nice with you. To Siberia with you!

The problem as I see it, is that you are changing discourse again and again. I say you must stick to one.

—Or you keep your argument in the physical discourse: then you, the judge and everybody just do what they do, based on natural laws and initial conditions (laid out 1000 years ago. It struck me to see that you made a light shift here. Originally you were argumenting with the big bang and ultimate responisbility. I never understood this ‘ultimate’). Then you we all are objects, seen through the eyes of the external observer. And the judge cannot help convicting Raskolnikow: it was laid out 1000 years ago.

—Or you stick to the moral discourse, and in this discourse it is wrong to kill landladies, and people are correctly punished for doing so

As soon as you expect from me to change my position (and of all judges of course) based on a moral argument (and it is moral: ‘one should not punish people too hard for a crime they could not help not doing’), then (potential) criminals can make moral deliberations too.

The physical discourse is a description from the outside, the moral discourse is a description from the inside. Only in the moral discourse fairness and conviction have any relevance. And they only function on the basis of the assumption of the existence of free will. Your argumenting with me based on moral categories shows that you subscribe to this view. So you should subscribe to the view that we can convict people for crimes (crimes also exist in a moral universe only, otherwise there is just ‘splashing of haemoglobin’). It is a mixup of discourses (a category error) to look for freedom in the physical universe.

GdB

Posted on Oct 18, 2009 at 8:49am by GdB Comment #275

Hi Gdb,

Your ‘hammer argument’ (‘luck swallows everything’) is an argument about fairness:

Yes that’s right.

it is not fair to convict somebody for something he could not help not doing so.

It’s not fair to him that he is harmed. I think we’d be better off if we didn’t think it was fair to certain people that they are harmed. It’s imporatnt to remember that although we tend to focus on the judicial system we do this all the time, at school, at work, at home with family members. The belief influences us tremendously.

But with your appeal to fairness, you are supposing I could change my mind: seeing that my convictions are not fair, I should change my behaviour. Doesn’t that suppose freedom, real freedom? Or is your argument just a causal wheel in the deterministic machine, and we just do not know if your argument will succeed?

I’m not sure about what should means here. I don’t see why it just can’t be a matter of fact that something is not fair which you think is fair. I don’t know what you are getting at with this real freedom you talk of. I’m not sure if it’s accurate to say you can change your mind, rather than your mind can change. But either way it can happen although whether it is going to is another matter and my arguments might cause it to happen or be one factor that plays a part in it happening.

I can’t see the problem I’m afraid.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 18, 2009 at 1:29pm by StephenLawrence Comment #276

it is not fair to convict somebody for something he could not help not doing so.

It’s not fair to him that he is harmed. I think we’d be better off if we didn’t think it was fair to certain people that they are harmed. It’s imporatnt to remember that although we tend to focus on the judicial system we do this all the time, at school, at work, at home with family members. The belief influences us tremendously.

It is all “Fair” in the end. The “perpetrator” who is jailed for actions he didn’t choose, will be tried and punished by “jailors” who’s actions and reactions they aren’t choosing either. There is no fairness from any angle. Fairness is just part of the illusion. Just like “evil”.
It is “fair” if he is harmed. We did all this before Steve. It is scientifically natural for him to be harmed-in a judgmental way.

Posted on Oct 18, 2009 at 1:41pm by VYAZMA Comment #277

it is not fair to convict somebody for something he could not help not doing so.

It’s not fair to him that he is harmed. I think we’d be better off if we didn’t think it was fair to certain people that they are harmed. It’s imporatnt to remember that although we tend to focus on the judicial system we do this all the time, at school, at work, at home with family members. The belief influences us tremendously.

It is all “Fair” in the end. The “perpetrator” who is jailed for actions he didn’t choose, will be tried and punished by “jailors” who’s actions and reactions they aren’t choosing either. There is no fairness from any angle. Fairness is just part of the illusion. Just like “evil”.
It is “fair” if he is harmed. We did all this before Steve. It is scientifically natural for him to be harmed-in a judgmental way.

So if you are kidnapped and hanged tonight by a bunch of mad religious fanatics for some unfathomable reason, it will be fair because it’s scientifically natural.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 18, 2009 at 1:45pm by StephenLawrence Comment #278

it is not fair to convict somebody for something he could not help not doing so.

It’s not fair to him that he is harmed. I think we’d be better off if we didn’t think it was fair to certain people that they are harmed. It’s imporatnt to remember that although we tend to focus on the judicial system we do this all the time, at school, at work, at home with family members. The belief influences us tremendously.

It is all “Fair” in the end. The “perpetrator” who is jailed for actions he didn’t choose, will be tried and punished by “jailors” who’s actions and reactions they aren’t choosing either. There is no fairness from any angle. Fairness is just part of the illusion. Just like “evil”.
It is “fair” if he is harmed. We did all this before Steve. It is scientifically natural for him to be harmed-in a judgmental way.

So if you are kidnapped and hanged tonight by a bunch of mad religious fanatics for some unfathomable reason, it will be fair because it’s scientifically natural.

Stephen

First, I put fair in quotes above. Second, we were speaking of the jailed man you spoke of. Him not being harmed for his Naturalistic actions. And rightly so-except that, the naturalistic actions of the “mob”, or Govt. are just as justified in the naturalistic sense. This is of course how society is based. We can view it as free-will or determinism, or Scientifically Natural but it all comes out in the end as fair(more or less).
I wouldn’t bother to express to the Mad Religious Fanatics about fairness. I really wouldn’t. Would you? Obviously you would realize that what they were doing seemed fair to them. I didn’t like the word fair in regards to this. Fair is a word or concept we use to put value on the balances of transactions.
Just because I couldn’t fathom their reasons doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons. Just because I don’t think it is “right” for them to kill me, doesn’t mean they don’t have a reason to kill me. If their reason is insanity, that’s as good a reason as any other. If it came time for my friends to avenge me so the “good reasons” would continue on. In all of this other parties view these goings on and decide what is fair and what is not. I have my own Ideas about fairness. Lot’s of people wouldn’t agree with them. So where does that leave fairness?
We are right back at square one. You don’t think “he” should be harmed. Great. Others do. Who’s right? You? Because of your higher moral principle? What happens when your moral principle comes in contact with basic behavioral instincts?
Social groups all develop methods of punishments and desserts for economical continuity. Efficiency. Selection. Protection.
Funny enough your religious mob from above has always existed. It still does. It doesn’t have to be religious. It just has to be the dominant social force. Lot’s of people were killed and still are for no apparent logical reason-due to these strange and many layered social dynamics.

Posted on Oct 18, 2009 at 8:32pm by VYAZMA Comment #279

The problem as I see it, is that you are changing discourse again and again. I say you must stick to one.

I am sure I’m not changing discourse but don’t want to get side tracked in any case.

I think we have reached this point.

You agree with the way in which Raskolnikow could have done otherwise, which is if the universe had been in a different state 1,000 years befire his birth.  (of course I realise it is the same for the judge btw.)

I think you also agree there is a sense in which this means it’s the luck of the draw whether we become murders, doctors, beggers etc etc. and the sense is that if the universe were in an appropriate state 1,000 years before our births we would become anyone of these things but it is totally out of our control what state the universe was in at that point. This is the meaning of there but for circumstances go I.

I think it therefore follows that nobody can deserve to be harmed, meaning it cannot be fair to them.

As you disagree with me I think it must be with this point you disagree.

So I think I know the situation is this:

You believe people can deserve to be harmed (it can be fair to them)

In order for this to be true people would in fact need freedom and control incompatible with determinism.

as you believe people have this freedom, you are therefore an incompatibilist.

You believe you are a compatibilist because there is an error in your theory.

The error is to believe it is the luck of the draw, in the way I’ve described but reject that it follows that therefore nodody can deserve to be harmed i.e it can’t be fair to them that they are harmed.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 19, 2009 at 5:22am by StephenLawrence Comment #280

The problem as I see it, is that you are changing discourse again and again. I say you must stick to one.

I am sure I’m not changing discourse but don’t want to get side tracked in any case.

It is not a side track, it is the main track! I’ll try to make two distinct but consistent stories about Raskolnikow:

1. Physical discourse
Raskolnikow and the judge both have no power to do different then they do, based on their histories. This is the essence of determinism. We (the outside observer, maybe an alien civilisation?) notice a lot of neuron firing in their brains, that give rise to sounds, which on their turn result in a lot of other neuron firings. We see that the natural laws according to which all these processes take place are deterministic, i.e. every single event follows completely from all observable previous events. It turns out that the object called ‘judge’ produces sounds, which trigger other objects, called ‘policemen’ take the object ‘Raskolnikow’ and transport it to another area at the planet with and object with some signs on it, look like S.I.B.E.R.I.A.

2. Moral discourse
Raskolnikow has killed a woman, and the judge, as representative of the law, being the representative of the biggest common denominator of general moral feelings of the people they belong to, convicts him to deportation to Siberia. The judge justifies his conviction with the fact that Raskolnikow was very much able to see that this killing was wrong. His argumentation for court, that his conviction is not fair, shows he is very well able to make moral deliberations. He is punished for his wrong decision to kill the landlady.

Now these two versions, describing the same process, should not be mixed. Only then your delusion arises: by saying that R could not have done otherwise (discourse 1), you conclude that it is not fair to punish him (discourse 2). If you stick to discourse 1, you can only say that the judge could not help convicting R, he is under the same circumstances as R. Fairness has nothing to do with this.
Or you say: it is not fair for the judge to harm him, presupposing he is able to change his position, based on your argument, but then, you must apply the same kind of reasoning to R, saying that he should not have killed the landlady based on fairness (it is not fair to kill any person just for money). R should be able to change his position too.

So it is the mixing of these 2 discourses, these 2 different views on the same process, that lead to the ‘free will’ problem. Take your pick, but do not mix them up. By saying that it is not fair to harm R, you are in the moral discourse, but then you support it with an argument from discourse 1. But in discourse 1 you should not be bothered at all: everything just happens as it does.

Compatibilism is the view that both discourses are valid (moral discourse is a higher order description of some physical phenomena), but they cannot be mixed. The aporia arises where both views are mixed.
‘Freedom’ is not a physical category, and it is wrong to seek it in any form of flexibility or indeterminism in physical nature. But ‘freedom’ is just as real as ‘love’, or ‘marriage’ or ‘justice’. These are not of physical nature either.

GdB

Posted on Oct 19, 2009 at 6:18am by GdB Comment #281

‘Freedom’ is not a physical category

Oh come on Gdb! You have solved nothing by pretending these views are not connected. They are either really truly (physically) connected or they aren’t. What sort of “category” is there other than physical? If they are not connected, like for example, if one is “mental” then you get all the problems of classical dualism. Unless you are prepared to believe the one view is somehow above physical reality, ie“spiritual”, there must be a real physical connection. However if they are connected, then we can PHYSICALLY search for and find the connection. Certainly the claim that they are two “views” of the same thing, says they are indeed truly connected, and your “solution” to the free will problem is useless.

(By the way, neuroscientists have pretty conclusively shown they are connected. HOW they are connected is much more unclear. But I know you don’t care since, as you say, this is a philosophical discussion which you claim has nothing to do with science.)

You guys produce a lot of reasoned arguments here, and, of course, they are all very reasonable on the surface. How else could it be? They are, after all, based on reason. On the other hand, there is very little examination of the assumptions underlying those arguments. I have found it most fruitful to avoid logical arguments such as these for two reasons. #1 Most of the disagreements have to do with differences in understandings of the meanings of words. #2 Once a common understanding of word meanings is established, differences in conclusions are generally found to arise in differences in assumptions. Basically, all the logical argument is just a passive conduit which expresses each individual’s base assumptions using his particular vocabulary. It can be very difficult to uncover the base assumptions, especially when they are mostly unconscious. In the end, however, the base assumptions are actually much more interesting and informative than the convoluted arguing people produce to justify their assumptions.

Posted on Oct 19, 2009 at 5:42pm by DonPaul Comment #282

Don Paul, like I said before. My opinion is that the illusion of duality (physical & spiritual(consciousness)) is created PHYSICALLY by the mind in order to catalog incoming real-time data(through the senses) and correlate(collate too) it with memory.
Herein lies my reasoning of why there is no free-will.

Posted on Oct 19, 2009 at 6:25pm by VYAZMA Comment #283

Hi VYAZMA, My comment above is directed to Gdb, but I welcome your views. I agree completely the what we experience must be physical, but that does not explain WHAT (physically) it is that we experience. Your reference to “mind” is an admission that there is something different about this “alternate view” to use the terms of Gdb. Based on your past comments, I think (correct me if I am wrong.) that the word “physical” for you implies either determinate or random, certainly not anything compatible with real free will.

Posted on Oct 19, 2009 at 6:37pm by DonPaul Comment #284

Hi VYAZMA, My comment above is directed to Gdb, but I welcome your views. I agree completely the what we experience must be physical, but that does not explain WHAT (physically) it is that we experience. Your reference to “mind” is an admission that there is something different about this “alternate view” to use the terms of Gdb. Based on your past comments, I think (correct me if I am wrong.) that the word “physical” for you implies either determinate or random, certainly not anything compatible with real free will.

I know, I though I would jump in here. GdB and S. Lawrence get too metaphysical for my tastes. Too inter-dimensional.
If I stated it wrong above, I’m sorry. Mind is the duality. Mind-consciousness-spiritualism-whatever you wanna call it.
There is only Physical. That’s it. The mind is an illusion. A physically created illusion. No No! There is nothing “different”, or alternate. Or separate. The only thing left is to figure out(like you said) the neurons, or clusters that create this. The brain, the whole body? Who knows? That part doesn’t even interest me. I’m not too interested in the mechanics. I’d like to know why the brain evolved this way.
I have some clues. It definitely enhances social order, and advanced social networks. It also probably has alot to do with creative instincts. Art, culture etc…On and on. It makes a higher order Brain…but why? Why did evolution take us to this point? What caused things to keep mutating to create art? Again social-networking advantages?

Posted on Oct 19, 2009 at 6:53pm by VYAZMA Comment #285

To have an illusion, you have to have an observer of the illusion. You can pretend to ignore it, but you are advocating dualism.
ps and of course the mind has evidently evolved with the purpose of making more minds.
PPs gotta go, but I will check in tomorrow.  DonPaul.

Posted on Oct 19, 2009 at 7:07pm by DonPaul Comment #286

Hi DonPaul,

Welcome back.

Of course they are connected. Having more possible ways of talking about one and the same does not mean we are not talking about the same thing. But the ways of talking might still have nothing to do with each other.
There is no metaphysical dualism (VYAZMA!) hidden in having different discourses about one and the same thing! If I look at a painting I can have a cultural or aesthetical discourse about it on the one side, but a chemical (what is the paint made of?) on the other side. But I will never be able to conclude from the beauty of the painting to the chemical compounds used, nor from the chemical compounds to its beauty.

I repeat my point to Steve once again: by saying that it is not fair of the judge to do harm to Raskolnikow, he is presupposing that the judge is able to reflect his verdict on basis of moral deliberations. But if the judge is able to do that, then R was too when killing the landlady. This means Steve’s argument presupposes the judge and R are free to change their behaviour based on moral deliberations. (Moral discourse)

If we look at R as determined, then we should look at the judge in the same way. And then we should understand the judge in the same way as R, that he cannot help doing differently then he does: convicting R to Siberia. (Physical discourse)

Steve falls in the pitfall of the ‘performative self contradiction’ (Karl-Otto Apel). The contents of his proposition cannot go together with he doing it. By doing the proposition he presupposses free will (for the judge), which he in the contents of the proposition denies (looking at R). He addresses the judge as ‘second party subject’ (he should be fair), but R as ‘third party object’, thereby even forgetting he is human himself, who once could be in the role of (the family of) the landlady, of Raskolnikow, or of the judge.

GdB

Posted on Oct 19, 2009 at 10:58pm by GdB Comment #287

To have an illusion, you have to have an observer of the illusion. You can pretend to ignore it, but you are advocating dualism.
ps and of course the mind has evidently evolved with the purpose of making more minds.
PPs gotta go, but I will check in tomorrow.  DonPaul.

Yeah so? How is that dualism? The observer is the Brain. The brain is the observer.
Besides, I already stated that for all intents Dualism exists. The illusion is strong. That doesn’t mean that I can’t try to flesh it out..so to speak. This doesn’t mean I’m advocating dualism. Because I have an idea on how the illusion of dualism plays out doesn’t mean I’m advocating it.
Back to-“The observer is the Brain” I said just above. The brain is an observer no? Of course it is. It’s a smeller, a thinker, a seer, a hearer, a feeler etc. Somehow it “observes” this “alternate”-that “observing” we call the Mind.
Show me a person who doesn’t carry on a conversation with themselves in their heads? You can’t. We even go so far as to scold ourselves verbally when we have made a wrong “choice”. This is how we feel we have free-will.(partly)
Like you said, Let the Neuro-scientists figure out how this works. For all we know various animals have some semblance of this dualism too. There’s no way of knowing. Only guessing. And usually the guessing is coming from a seriously Homo-centric, or Neuro-centric point of view.

Posted on Oct 20, 2009 at 5:38am by VYAZMA Comment #288

 

I repeat my point to Steve once again: by saying that it is not fair of the judge to do harm to Raskolnikow, he is presupposing that the judge is able to reflect his verdict on basis of moral deliberations. But if the judge is able to do that, then R was too when killing the landlady. This means Steve’s argument presupposes the judge and R are free to change their behaviour based on moral deliberations. (Moral discourse)

I don’t see why it follows that I presuppose that the judge is able to reflect his verdict on the basis of moral deliberations. As it happens I do suppose that the judge is able to do that. I mean why on earth not? As always we are talking about able in the compatibilist sense. Able means could. And could means could if the big bang had banged appropriately differently. If that is not what able means to you, then you are not a compatibilist!

Of course the judge and R are free to change their behaviour based on moral deliberations, which means moral deliberations could change their behaviour and would if the big bang had banged differently.Again if this is not what it means to you, you are not a compatibilist.

Frankly, I think you are just kidding yourself. If you want to get real and honest with yourself, I’ll be interested. Otherwise we’ve gone as far as we can go.

Stephen

 

 


Stephen

Posted on Oct 20, 2009 at 12:51pm by StephenLawrence Comment #289

GdB

Of course they are connected. Having more possible ways of talking about one and the same does not mean we are not talking about the same thing. But the ways of talking might still have nothing to do with each other..

I see you sincerely do not understand why you aren’t allowed to simply give up and just keep the “discourses” separate. But you are cheating.  You must either incorporate, or discredit the Stephen Lawrence claims.  (“Luck swallows everything.”  - I love it Stephen, but I don’t believe it.)

This may seem roundabout, but let me approach this with a discussion of the difference between the words “correct” and “true.”  Start out with the observation that a mind/brain is evidently in the business of creating a model or map of its experiences. A great deal of effort goes into making sure that the map is an accurate model of the reality it is intended to represent. Reason is a valuable tool in making sure that the map is correct, but notice, “correct” only implies that logic has been properly applied. - That the rules of reason have been faithfully upheld. This is nice, but actually circular since the logic itself is a creation of the mind/brain to aid in copying reality. Basically, “logically correct” only says the mind/brain agrees with itself. “True” on the other hand implies that the map accurately copies the reality it is attempting to interpret. To be true implies that it actually suggests a mapping to something real beyond the boundaries of the imaginary map. Of course, it is entirely possible that the map is false or maybe illusory. It could also be sheer nonsense. That the map cannot ever be a completely true copy of the reality is obvious. In fact, it is quite impossible for the limited mind/brain to accurately copy reality. Any “truth” which we can access can be only approximately accurate or true at best.

OK, so why not keep the two perfectly logical “discourses” in the mind/brain separate? Because there is only ONE reality and if the map is going to be even remotely accurate it must reflect that fact. You can produce two discourses which are both correct and maybe even relatively “true” each within its own limited domain of application, but to gain a larger truth, the two views have to be integrated. Failure to accomplish this simply sets up the conditions for inevitable conflict between the alternatives. The classical dualism problem.

Notice that dualism per se is not in itself a problem except for the debilitating duplephobia it stimulates in people. Philosophers in particular are very susceptible to duplephobia. Real people are usually immune to the affliction. In reality, dualisms are only a problem when there is a lack of an adequate “discourse” (to use Gdb terminology) which connects the two views in a reasonable way. To claim they are connected but still have nothing to do with each other not only leaves the problem unsolved, it is quite contradictory and very unsatisfactory.

DonPaul

Posted on Oct 20, 2009 at 6:11pm by DonPaul Comment #290

VYAZMA

Yeah so? How is that dualism? The observer is the Brain. The brain is the observer.
Besides, I already stated that for all intents Dualism exists. The illusion is strong. That doesn’t mean that I can’t try to flesh it out..so to speak. This doesn’t mean I’m advocating dualism. Because I have an idea on how the illusion of dualism plays out doesn’t mean I’m advocating it.

OK, advocating is too strong a word, let’s say instead that you accept a dualism of sorts. You try to weasel out by claiming it’s an illusion, an error on the part of this observer brain. So what does that mean? The illusion doesn’t really exist, but it is creating an illusion? How does it do that if it doesn’t actually exist? People are dodging a lot of observable facts under the banner of “illusion.” As Descartes points out, that you are conscious and thinking is the most fundamental observation one can make. To claim it’s an illusion is to claim you aren’t here when it is unquestionable (at least to yourself) that you are. It’s not very realistic to think you are an illusion to yourself.

What we have here is some matter, a conscious brain, “observing”, by way of some sense organs, some other matter, the apparently unconscious matter surrounding it. It seems to me this makes a clear distinction in the functional operations of the matter at the boundaries of this particular lump of matter. Different matter has different functional properties = dualism. Alternatives to this view might be the claim that all the matter is consciously observing stuff. Another alternative is that none of the matter is conscious. Both of these alternatives seem downright silly, and I can’t think of any others. Consequently, I am forced to agree with your statement, “The observer is the Brain” and also conclude therefore, that physical dualism is real.

But that alone does not resolve the issue of whether any given observation by this device is an accurate observation or a false one, an illusion.

Also, you didn’t respond to this: I think (correct me if I am wrong.) that the word “physical” for you implies either determinate or random, certainly not anything compatible with real free will.  So let me ask directly, Do you think that if an artifact (any artifact not necessarily just a brain) is assigned the descriptive word “physical” that automatically implies that any process undertaken in this artifact is either determinate or random in its outcomes with no possibility of anything else in between? Regardless your answer, my next questions will be: How do you know? What is your evidence?

DonPaul

Posted on Oct 20, 2009 at 8:11pm by DonPaul Comment #291

I don’t see why it follows that I presuppose that the judge is able to reflect his verdict on the basis of moral deliberations.

Because you are expecting it from him, by giving your ‘luck swallows everything’ argument. You appeal to his capability to change his views about responsibility and punishment.

As always we are talking about able in the compatibilist sense. Able means could. And could means could if the big bang had banged appropriately differently. If that is not what able means to you, then you are not a compatibilist!

But I am a compatibilist! It just does not follow that we should change our practice of punishment based on it. But in daily life we surely mean something else with ‘could have done otherwise’. But this does not stand under determinism, of course. But what I am saying is that this is not relevant. Our practice of praising, blaming and punishment is based on the fact that people are causal agents.

Of course the judge and R are free to change their behaviour based on moral deliberations, which means moral deliberations could change their behaviour and would if the big bang had banged differently. Again if this is not what it means to you, you are not a compatibilist.

No. ‘Freedom’ means that we are able to determine our actions, especially based on (moral) deliberations. ‘Freedom’ means I am a conscious causal agent. I am not forced to do what I do by the physical universe, this would be dualistic to say so. I am (part of) the physical universe! The way the big bang banged does not force me to do things, it creates me as I am, it expresses itself in me, so to speak. The universe acts through me. (Remember Spinoza’s concept of freedom: Someting is free when it develops according its own necessity.)

Frankly, I think you are just kidding yourself. If you want to get real and honest with yourself, I’ll be interested. Otherwise we’ve gone as far as we can go.

Please Stephen, these kind of remarks have nothing to do in a philosophical discourse. With the same right I could say you are kidding your self, that you are not a compatibilist, because in your view our practice of blaming and praising should change, because it is not compatible with determinism. (Ups may be you call yourself a deterministic incompatibilist?) If you get tired of the discussion, OK, be it so, but do not claim that you stop because I would be dishonest or something.

GdB

Posted on Oct 20, 2009 at 11:08pm by GdB Comment #292

OK, so why not keep the two perfectly logical “discourses” in the mind/brain separate? Because there is only ONE reality and if the map is going to be even remotely accurate it must reflect that fact. You can produce two discourses which are both correct and maybe even relatively “true” each within its own limited domain of application, but to gain a larger truth, the two views have to be integrated. Failure to accomplish this simply sets up the conditions for inevitable conflict between the alternatives. The classical dualism problem.
DonPaul

The problem is that even if we would know everything about the brain, how observations, thought and morality arise in the brain, we have not solved our moral problems. Stephen just shows that in all clarity: standing with one foot in determinism, he makes a moral judgement about the fairness of our practice of blaming, praising and punishment.

If you think about other characteristics of this ‘integrated view’, then let me know.

GdB

Posted on Oct 20, 2009 at 11:20pm by GdB Comment #293

I see you sincerely do not understand why you aren’t allowed to simply give up and just keep the “discourses” separate. But you are cheating.  You must either incorporate, or discredit the Stephen Lawrence claims.  (“Luck swallows everything.”  - I love it Stephen, but I don’t believe it.)

I am not cheating!

Stephen uses two different measures: the deterministic on Raskolnikow, and the moral on the judge. One should use the same measure on both. In which case either R is punished for immoral behaviour, or the judge is determined by his brain to punish R (his brain’s moral circuits are as they are). The outcome is the same.

GdB

Posted on Oct 20, 2009 at 11:34pm by GdB Comment #294

OK, advocating is too strong a word, let’s say instead that you accept a dualism of sorts. You try to weasel out by claiming it’s an illusion, an error on the part of this observer brain. So what does that mean? The illusion doesn’t really exist, but it is creating an illusion? How does it do that if it doesn’t actually exist? People are dodging a lot of observable facts under the banner of “illusion.” As Descartes points out, that you are conscious and thinking is the most fundamental observation one can make. To claim it’s an illusion is to claim you aren’t here when it is unquestionable (at least to yourself) that you are. It’s not very realistic to think you are an illusion to yourself.

No not an error. Is eyesight an error? It is obviously an evolutionary sensory perception. I t probably developed along with our growing brains and our more complicated social-networking systems.
OK, I use the term illusion loosely. It is a function of the brain. Just like sleeping, or seeing, or talking. It is only an internal dialogue.
There’s nothing special about it. It only becomes special when we express our individuality, or try to talk about “it”. Now, I thought you had said earlier that “it” can’t be located. I agree. It isn’t separate, or independent from the brain. It just manifests itself from the mechanics of the brain. It is the conscious mind. It doesn’t have an ether, or an aura.
Just like eyesight manifests a “view” in front of your head. That’s how we interpret the environment. A wasp, or an infrared camera may see things differently. So forget “illusion”. The illusion part only come into play when we are led to believe we are making choices consciously. Here is the crux of the illusion of free-will. The brain is the observer, the brain is the chooser(the executer). So far so good. One brain making choices-sounds like free-will. Except the brain, I believe, is making a consciousness for us to “watch” all of the choices it makes.
The thing is…the brain is making tons of choices all the time that we don’t ever consciously think about. Choices. Choices. That word is also misleading. Big Time! Most of everything isn’t choices. They are actions and reactions. There’s very little “choosing” going on anyways.
So with this consciousness, sometimes actions and reactions “bubble up” to the surface for us to “think about”.
Your brain, for example has decided to go after a girl. You are attracted to her. The brain automatically sets things in motion. However some little tidbits “bubble-up” to the surface, “Should I call her Tonite, should I take her to the opera, or to a Football game?”
Back to this “observer”, this creator of consciousness. Look at dreams. Even when we are out like a light, this “minds eye” is still running. Like a machine that can never be shut off. What is it doing? It’s going through files. Sifting, random or who knows. But that is that “observer”. When you awaken, he starts hearing, seeing and smelling etc. (yes, it is the brain) and creating a dialogue in your head. Like I said the brain creates this consciousness to “correlate incoming data with memory that is already stored.”
Alot of this is uncharted territory. Scientists can’t figure this stuff out. These are just my opinions.

What we have here is some matter, a conscious brain, “observing”, by way of some sense organs, some other matter, the apparently unconscious matter surrounding it. It seems to me this makes a clear distinction in the functional operations of the matter at the boundaries of this particular lump of matter. Different matter has different functional properties = dualism. Alternatives to this view might be the claim that all the matter is consciously observing stuff. Another alternative is that none of the matter is conscious. Both of these alternatives seem downright silly, and I can’t think of any others. Consequently, I am forced to agree with your statement, “The observer is the Brain” and also conclude therefore, that physical dualism is real.

Again, what is dreaming? Dreaming. That is an “observation” while we are unconscious. While we are conscious, another form of “Dreaming” takes place: this perception. This “minds eye”- Consciousness Again we don’t fully understand it scientifically. Mechanically. But it’s there. Eyesight is there. That’s all mechanical. So is this “inner eye”- it seems dualistic. If we want to refer to this phenomenon as Dualism, and say it exists-OK. For ease of discussion, or labeling-OK. BUT, there isn’t 2 parts. There isn’t a separate “matter”.

But that alone does not resolve the issue of whether any given observation by this device is an accurate observation or a false one, an illusion.

This is going to sidetrack us. I don’t want to go here. That doesn’t interest me.

Also, you didn’t respond to this: I think (correct me if I am wrong.) that the word “physical” for you implies either determinate or random, certainly not anything compatible with real free will.  So let me ask directly, Do you think that if an artifact (any artifact not necessarily just a brain) is assigned the descriptive word “physical” that automatically implies that any process undertaken in this artifact is either determinate or random in its outcomes with no possibility of anything else in between? Regardless your answer, my next questions will be: How do you know? What is your evidence?

DonPaul

Let’s keep this one on the back burner. Let’s first see if we can agree on how the brain works. Besides I need you to clarify some words. Thanks.

Posted on Oct 21, 2009 at 6:06am by VYAZMA Comment #295

Here’s an interesting thought. Did you ever think about what kind of dialouge went on inside our heads when we were babies. Before we knew language? For a brief time there, you or I weren’t thinking in English, or Dutch, or Swahili.
There wasn’t much memory at that point either. Not like now at 40 or 30, or 18, or 75. So it was mainly just “sucking in” everything it could. Then the correlation with memory starts, collating, filing, and you are learning. Languages. Obviously sounds you start hearing bounce around in your head, you try to articulate them in your mind, then you start to squawk them out. They aren’t “words”, they are just the beginnings of language. All the time these squawks must be the language of your internal mind. This dualism.
Ok…there is the beginning of “dualism”.
It’s too bad we couldn’t remember being that young. But I bet we sometimes do in our dreams.

Posted on Oct 21, 2009 at 6:31am by VYAZMA Comment #296

Hello DonPaul

I see you sincerely do not understand why you aren’t allowed to simply give up and just keep the “discourses” separate. But you are cheating.  You must either incorporate, or discredit the Stephen Lawrence claims.  (“Luck swallows everything.”  - I love it Stephen, but I don’t believe it.)

Well perhaps you are not a compatibilist?

If determinism is true then it’s a matter of fact that luck swallows everything. All that means, to give an example, is if the big bang had banged appropriatly differently, you would be a mad axe murderer. Glad it didn’t btw.

I think we are dealing with obvious matters of fact, that people just don’t want to accept.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 21, 2009 at 1:50pm by StephenLawrence Comment #297

I think we are dealing with obvious matters of fact, that people just don’t want to accept.

You might think that. But you can’t help it. It was banged already 14 billion years ago.

When I am making a comment as above, do you feel being taken seriously? So how could your ‘luck swallowing idea’ help seeing humans as humans, being capable of giving reasons why they do things: murdering landladies, convicting murderers and having philosophical arguments about free will?

Judge:       Why did you kill the landlady?
RaskolnikowI needed her money.
Judge:       Did you realise she had a loving family that has no income anymore?
RaskolnikowHeyI can't help it that I did it! I just played my part in the consequences of the big bang!
Judge:       As I do: I cannot help to convict you to 20 years Siberia. 

R tries to flee from his responsibility with your argument, but then the judge can too. Why should the judge accept this argument of R?

GdB

Posted on Oct 21, 2009 at 11:58pm by GdB Comment #298

Well perhaps you are not a compatibilist?

If determinism is true then…

Multi-syllabic animals like “compatibilist” frighten me. I honestly don’t know if I are one. I’m just a simple engineer and I only recently learned to spell engineer. I had to look up compatibilism at Wikipedia. Wow! There is a whole ecosystem of multi-syllabic animals under this heading. It looks like one can choose to be anything they want to on this subject. As I have said before, I think such logical debates are largely useless. Initial assumptions determine the final outcomes. Different starting points result in different conclusions. Without common assumptions, arguments will go round and round endlessly. Basically, my position is, If you want me to believe something, show me the evidence! That’s my preferred starting point. Then we can go from there. You guys have expended hundreds of thousands of words on the subject and still do not seem close to agreement.  I’m not sure what to make of the phrase “If determinism is true” Am I supposed to think determinism is true or not? If I’m to think it’s true, what is the evidence? If not, what is the evidence? Sadly, for a question such as this, the evidence will never be sufficient to establish a definitive answer. For determinism to be true, the laws of physics must be fully complete and comprehensive - no gaps can exist. To be able to make that assertion requires a degree of access to real world data that no human or group of humans will ever possess, either now or at any foreseeable future time. In the absence of definitive evidence, a person is pretty much free to believe in whatever multi-syllabic animal they want. Actually, I think an examination of what evidence we do have, points to the hypothesis that the laws are indeed incomplete, and therefore, the kind of determinism you seem to espouse is very possibly simply false.
DonPaul
ps I wish I had time to respond to everything you guys post. Sorry I can’t but that doesn’t mean I’m uninterested. I’ll respond as time allows.

Posted on Oct 22, 2009 at 6:07pm by DonPaul Comment #299

Hi Don Paul,

 

I’m not sure what to make of the phrase “If determinism is true” Am I supposed to think determinism is true or not? If I’m to think it’s true, what is the evidence? If not, what is the evidence? Sadly, for a question such as this, the evidence will never be sufficient to establish a definitive answer

No, you are not to think it’s true, so we do not need to worry about evidence for it being true or not true.

What the compatibilist claims is that you would have no more freedom, control or responsibility, if there were numerous futures you could get to from current circumstances, than if there were just one.

The evidence for that is plentiful, I’d start with we can’t imagine how multiple futures that we could get to from current circumstances would give us more freedom etc and we have no good reason to think they would, in the first place. 

Stephen

Posted on Oct 24, 2009 at 12:27am by StephenLawrence Comment #300

I think we are dealing with obvious matters of fact, that people just don’t want to accept.

You might think that. But you can’t help it. It was banged already 14 billion years ago.

It depends what you mean by can’t help it. It wasn’t exactly banged already but we agree or at least ought to that there was one future that could arise from the way that the big bang in fact banged, if determinism is true. If the big bang had banged differently I’d be an incompatibilist who thought he was a compatibilist, like you.

When I am making a comment as above, do you feel being taken seriously? So how could your ‘luck swallowing idea’ help seeing humans as humans, being capable of giving reasons why they do things: murdering landladies, convicting murderers and having philosophical arguments about free will?

The free will people believe in is a type that denies luck swallows everything and leads to belief in people deserving what happens to them, in a way which is not true. This increases hatred, reduces empathy and much more.

Judge:       Why did you kill the landlady?
RaskolnikowI needed her money.
Judge:       Did you realise she had a loving family that has no income anymore?
RaskolnikowHeyI can't help it that I did it! I just played my part in the consequences of the big bang!
Judge:       As I do: I cannot help to convict you to 20 years Siberia. 

R tries to flee from his responsibility with your argument, but then the judge can too. Why should the judge accept this argument of R?

This is irrelevant, I’ve not said anyone can’t help it and my argument is simply that Raskolnikow doesn’t deserve to be harmed. That it is not fair to him that he is sent to Siberia for 20.
If Raskolnikow tried to escape Siberia with my argument ” I don’t deserve to be harmed”, he would be correct and the judge’s response that you’ve given would not address that at all. If the judge were to say I know it is not fair, I know yoiu are not being treated justly (as justice includes fairness) but I have to weigh that against the need for a deterrent against people committing crimes like yours, then the judge might have a case. But most people are only content with that because really they believe Raskolnikow deserves it, so justice is being done in the sense that he is getting what he deserves.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 25, 2009 at 2:44am by StephenLawrence Comment #301

Hi Don Paul,

 

I’m not sure what to make of the phrase “If determinism is true” Am I supposed to think determinism is true or not? If I’m to think it’s true, what is the evidence? If not, what is the evidence? Sadly, for a question such as this, the evidence will never be sufficient to establish a definitive answer

No, you are not to think it’s true, so we do not need to worry about evidence for it being true or not true.

What the compatibilist claims is that you would have no more freedom, control or responsibility, if there were numerous futures you could get to from current circumstances, than if there were just one.

The evidence for that is plentiful, I’d start with we can’t imagine how multiple futures that we could get to from current circumstances would give us more freedom etc and we have no good reason to think they would, in the first place. 

Stephen

OK Stephen, So, let me get this right:  I am not to think determinism is true, yet your entire argument hinges on the condition that “determinism is true”? I’m lost here. WHY give this phrase such status then refuse to actually address its validity? Why am I to bother with anything else unless you can establish that “determinism is true” is at least semiempirical? What gives? Please explain:

1.  If the question of whether determinism is true is irrelevant, why hold it out as a precondition on the remaining part of your claim, “If determinism is true then it’s a matter of fact that luck swallows everything.” ?

2. Seems like the ability of a given mechanism such as the human brain to create (imagine) and analyze multiple alternative behaviors with different potential futures, then choose and execute one or more (or none) of the alternatives is pretty close to a good definition of what ordinary people refer to as free will. Is your claim that there is only one fixed future and that the alternatives do not exist? What exactly is your definition of free will and what exactly is your claim about it with respect to the properties of the human brain? Please clarify.

3. If you actually believe that the discourse or “map” concerning determinism you are presenting is not true (true=connected to the rest of reality outside the confines of a human brain), what makes it and the remaining parts of your claim different than any other claim of some sort of special revelation from on high? You are providing a perfect example of the idea that without evidence, a person can believe whatever they want. The beliefs are, after all, just some patterns on some brain matter.

4. It is the human brain we are talking about isn’t it? Not some spirit or something? Your thoughts are the patterns on your brain circuits right? Not some “separate” stuff of some sort. I mean the “compatibilism” animal can’t claim anything. It’s not a person with a brain that can make claims, and I gather that by “the compatibilist” you actually mean yourself, your brain.

I think you need to explain your claims more clearly.  You are not coming through.


DonPaul.

Posted on Oct 25, 2009 at 4:55pm by DonPaul Comment #302

If the big bang had banged differently I’d be an incompatibilist who thought he was a compatibilist, like you.

I would like you to stop calling me an incompatibilist. We do not agree on the point of the consequences to draw from determinism. I say that CCFW does not exist, and that the kind of freedom that exists (freedom of action, not freedom of the will) is strong enough to bear the load of our practice of praising, blaming and punishing.

This is irrelevant, I’ve not said anyone can’t help it and my argument is simply that Raskolnikow doesn’t deserve to be harmed. That it is not fair to him that he is sent to Siberia for 20.
If Raskolnikow tried to escape Siberia with my argument ” I don’t deserve to be harmed”, he would be correct and the judge’s response that you’ve given would not address that at all. If the judge were to say I know it is not fair, I know yoiu are not being treated justly (as justice includes fairness) but I have to weigh that against the need for a deterrent against people committing crimes like yours, then the judge might have a case. But most people are only content with that because really they believe Raskolnikow deserves it, so justice is being done in the sense that he is getting what he deserves.

Ah, here is the point where I might be blind. You think that we are only allowed to punish somebody when he deserves it, in some metaphysical way. Metaphysical guild, ‘ultimate responsibility’ as the only ground for punishing somebody! The judge as God’s representative on earth!

This is a point, but I don’t think that ‘retribution in the name of God’ is the only ground for putting people behind bars. It is true, a lot of people like criminals to be punished with some ‘payment idea’. You did evil, so you are done evil. It is true: a lot of people are driven by revenge only (Polanski!). I agree that this is not a good ground for punishing people. But there other grounds, and the one you mention is one: deterrence.  Keeping dangerous individuals from the streets is another one. And for me it is still an open question if ‘doing justice’ sometimes isn’t a good ground too. (Hitler?). But I think that the question of determinism has not much to do with it. This whole discussion can be held without reference to the ‘free will problem’.

We do not see an individual really as individual, when we say to him ‘O you think you did it because you needed the money. But I know it was the big bang that caused you to do it. Therefore I will not punish you.’ We then completely leave out the fact that our actions are based on grounds, for short, that we are acting persons.

GdB

Posted on Oct 26, 2009 at 12:51am by GdB Comment #303

   

OK Stephen, So, let me get this right:  I am not to think determinism is true, yet your entire argument hinges on the condition that “determinism is true”? I’m lost here. WHY give this phrase such status then refuse to actually address its validity? Why am I to bother with anything else unless you can establish that “determinism is true” is at least semiempirical? What gives? Please explain:

The entire argument hinges on the condition that freedom control and responsibility are compatible with determinism, which is different than the argument hinging on determinism being true.

We can think of the universe running like clockwork or like dominoes or we can think of it being dicey or perhaps dicey dominoey. Either way it looks like luck swallows everything. It’s simpler to think in terms of dominoes, if adding dice, or dicey dominoes makes no difference to freedom, control and responsibility.

It looks like dice or dicey dominoes would just add another luck factor and when we look at cases of freedom, control and responsibility, dice or probability or randomness or probabilistic causation, call it what you will, simply have nothing what so ever to do with it.

1.  If the question of whether determinism is true is irrelevant, why hold it out as a precondition on the remaining part of your claim, “If determinism is true then it’s a matter of fact that luck swallows everything.” ?

Because any freedom, control or responsibility we have is compatible with determinism, it follows that luck swallows everything in these respects.

2. Seems like the ability of a given mechanism such as the human brain to create (imagine) and analyze multiple alternative behaviors with different potential futures, then choose and execute one or more (or none) of the alternatives is pretty close to a good definition of what ordinary people refer to as free will.

That is a definition of making choices, not a definition of free will. We experience doing this. Free will is an unexperienced and unimaginable accompanying belief.

It is that when someone is making one choice, they could have got to a situation in which they were making a different choice, from prior circumstances, in a way that denies luck swallows everything but instead makes them responsible in such a way that makes them deserving of the consequences of their choices.

Is your claim that there is only one fixed future and that the alternatives do not exist?

No, the alternatives do exist . What happens is often due to our considering the possibilitities and being motivated to make one of them happen. So I believe we make choices, just as you do.

The claim is that this does not require it being possible to get to more than one future from your current circumstances. The claim is if you can, it get’s you no more freedom, control, responsibility or ability as a choice maker, than if you can’t.

We do now make choice making machines, chess playing computers for instance. They do pretty well without apparently being able to get to more than one future from current circumstance (perhaps they can but if so there is one future which is so highly probable that we don’t notice anything else.)

And when we make them we don’t think about how to get them to be able to select any of the options in the future from current circumstances because it’s obvious that it’s superflous to requirements, it would not enhance their choice making capabilities in any way. It’s equally obviously true for humans too.

What exactly is your definition of free will and what exactly is your claim about it with respect to the properties of the human brain? Please clarify.

I’ve given a definition of the free will we don’t have. It doesn’t exist, so I can’t answer the second part of the question but living in the society that you do, you are conditioned to believe in it.

3. If you actually believe that the discourse or “map” concerning determinism you are presenting is not true (true=connected to the rest of reality outside the confines of a human brain), what makes it and the remaining parts of your claim different than any other claim of some sort of special revelation from on high? You are providing a perfect example of the idea that without evidence, a person can believe whatever they want. The beliefs are, after all, just some patterns on some brain matter.

Not at all. There is no evidence that randomness, probability or a probabilistic element to causation have anything to do with responsibility, freedom or control and so that is why I believe these things are compatible with determinism and it is legitimate to view the universe as deterministic when thinking about these things.

It is up to someone who believes that randomness or the probabilistic element of causation (if there is such a thing) can give us more freedom, control and responsibility, to show how, or why they believe that. Otherwise it is those people who are believing what ever they want.

Either there is more than one future we can get to from current circumstances or there is one. I don’t know which but I know if there is one then luck swallows everything and I know that if there is more than one, then luck swallows everything.

What people believe is that somehow if there is more than one, that this gives us extra control, freedom and responsibility, in a sense which denies that luck swallows everything. There is no evidence for that and so I repeat, it is those people, obviously you included, who are believing what ever they want.

4. It is the human brain we are talking about isn’t it?

Yes.

I think you need to explain your claims more clearly.  You are not coming through.

Well, there is another try.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 26, 2009 at 2:09am by StephenLawrence Comment #304

Don Paul,

 

OK Stephen, So, let me get this right:  I am not to think determinism is true, yet your entire argument hinges on the condition that “determinism is true”? I’m lost here. WHY give this phrase such status then refuse to actually address its validity? Why am I to bother with anything else unless you can establish that “determinism is true” is at least semiempirical? What gives? Please explain:

Having given my longer explanation I thought something much shorter and simpler might help.

There are two possibilities which are determinism is true or indeterminism is true.

when I talk to Gdb, as he is a determinist I say if determinism is true luck swallows everything.

As you are an indeterminist, I now say to you, to avoid confusion, if indeterminism is true luck swallows everything.

It would seem I should hardly need to explain why that is, as what indeterminism tends to mean to us humans is an element of chance an element of luck, this might happen, that might happen. Still I will give an explanation. Luck swallows everything if indeterminism is true because if there are numerous possibilities that can arise from a given set of circumstances, then which one of them in fact happens is not dependant on the circumstances. By that I mean there is nothing about the circumstances that tells us why one thing happens rather than any of the other things that could arise in those circumstances. This means it cannot be up to us which one of the possibilities that could arise from the given set of circumstances does arise.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 26, 2009 at 3:45am by StephenLawrence Comment #305

when I talk to Gdb, as he is a determinist I say if determinism is true luck swallows everything.

As you are an indeterminist, I now say to you, to avoid confusion, if indeterminism is true luck swallows everything.

In other words, luck swallows everything.

Yet, if every phenomenon is a matter of luck, then what does “luck” mean?

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/luck

If the third definition is favored (that’s the one that makes the best sense of Stephen’s argument, IMO), then how do we understand “chance”?  If determinism is true, then is “A causes B” mere chance?  No matter the probability distribution?  Likewise, if indeterminism is true and entity A’s intentions always correspond to outcomes, is that mere chance?

I’ve suggested it before and I’ll suggest it again.  This argument (it is Galen Strawson’s argument) results in emptying the term “luck” of any meaning.  And saying “Luck swallows everything” where “Luck” has no meaning doesn’t resolve anything.

Posted on Oct 26, 2009 at 11:28pm by Bryan Comment #306

Ah, well, this ‘luck swallows everything’ is just short for something else. From the article by Strawson:

In the end, luck swallows everything: This is one (admittedly contentious) way of putting the point that there can be no ultimate responsibility, given the natural, strong conception of responsibility that was characterized by reference to the story of heaven and hell. Relative to that conception, no punishment or reward is ever ultimately just or fair, however natural or useful or otherwise humanly appropriate it may be or seem.

For me, I do not understand why we need ultimate responsibility when we punish somebody. As long as it is not an ultimate punishment, and do not seek for ultimate fairness. Of course I am against capital punishment.

Stephen seems to miss somebody on God’s throne, since ‘naturalism took over’. Because we do not know how the ‘old man’ would have decided now that he is gone, we should take extreme care when praising, blaming or punishing.

Sometimes, Stephen, I am wondering if we are just quarrelling about measures and sizes. Maybe I am already at the point where other people (the other people) you think about are not yet. I think our practice should do without reference to ultimate responsibility, but this is, at least in the parts of Europe where I am living, normal practice. I do not see any grounds to change that practice because of determinism. Maybe you want to change the idea of ultimate punishment, that some hardcore, rightwing christians still have: that murderers should be murdered too. Of course I agree with that.

So maybe the practice that you want to change, is not the practice I have experience with here in Europe, and we were not talking about the same object all the time.

GdB

Posted on Oct 27, 2009 at 3:29am by GdB Comment #307

Ah, well, this ‘luck swallows everything’ is just short for something else. From the article by Strawson:

In the end, luck swallows everything: This is one (admittedly contentious) way of putting the point that there can be no ultimate responsibility, given the natural, strong conception of responsibility that was characterized by reference to the story of heaven and hell. Relative to that conception, no punishment or reward is ever ultimately just or fair, however natural or useful or otherwise humanly appropriate it may be or seem.

If you follow the whole of Strawson’s argument, it does amount to the contention that both determinism and indeterminism represent luck with respect to decisions of the will.  Irrespective of statistics.

For me, I do not understand why we need ultimate responsibility when we punish somebody. As long as it is not an ultimate punishment, and do not seek for ultimate fairness. Of course I am against capital punishment.

You need responsibility beyond mechanical responsibility in order to punish in a morally justifiable manner.  I can burn the baseball that breaks my window, punishing it for its transgression.  And that makes equal moral sense to shaking down the thrower for the cost of the window if his decision to throw the ball could not have been otherwise given the situation in which he found himself.  The ball makes the same excuse.  Suppose the ball possesses consciousness and wants to break the window (yet is set on its course inalterably by the thrower).  Does it then make sense to punish the ball?

Compatibilist arguments for moral responsibility seem more like rationalizations than rationale.

For me, the issue seems simple and compelling:  Until the machine does its own programming and that programming is not, in turn, the direct result of another entity or entities, that machine is not morally responsible for its actions.  In other words, if the programming the machine does for itself was set as to the particulars via the same means that the machine’s prior programming was set, nothing has changed with respect to the machine’s ability to act as a moral agent.

Posted on Oct 27, 2009 at 8:54am by Bryan Comment #308

Punishment which is intended to change the desirability of a form of action makes perfect sense on a compatibilist view. Even assuming we were perfectly rational computers, a rational computer which wanted to maximize happiness would make up a table of ends, and calculate means to those ends. The possibility of punishment for certain of those means (stealing, killing, etc.) would change the hedonic calculation, making them less desirable. If it made them less desirable, it would make them occur less often. If society wants to make certain forms of action less prevalent, then punishment for them is one way to do so.

One could even argue for a form of retributive justice on compatibilist lines, if one could demonstrate that the psychological benefit to the aggrieved, and the sociopolitical benefit to society, were worth the expenditure of effort for the punishment. A deeper moral argument might defeat this rationale, of course.

Posted on Oct 27, 2009 at 9:05am by dougsmith Comment #309

Punishment which is intended to change the desirability of a form of action makes perfect sense on a compatibilist view.

I agree.  But that is not a moral justification.  It is entirely pragmatic.

Even assuming we were perfectly rational computers, a rational computer which wanted to maximize happiness would make up a table of ends, and calculate means to those ends. The possibility of punishment for certain of those means (stealing, killing, etc.) would change the hedonic calculation, making them less desirable. If it made them less desirable, it would make them occur less often. If society wants to make certain forms of action less prevalent, then punishment for them is one way to do so.

I do not know what is “rational” given determinism.  Are not all decisions “rational” given that they follow perfectly according to preceding conditions?

As for the wants of society, if society’s wants are a fixed result of preceding conditions then how could society determine otherwise?  What is it that makes society’s wants an “ought” rather than an “is”?

One could even argue for a form of retributive justice on compatibilist lines, if one could demonstrate that the psychological benefit to the aggrieved, and the sociopolitical benefit to society, were worth the expenditure of effort for the punishment. A deeper moral argument might defeat this rationale, of course.

Let’s at least try to assume that the sociopolitical benefit to society was worth the expenditure of effort for the punishment.  “Worth it” is itself a value judgment, and that value judgment is made, in a determinist case, based entirely on preceding conditions one way or another.  What is it that makes that judgment an “ought” rather than merely an “is”? 

Bottom line, given that everything in a deterministic world is an “is”, how do we make sense of “ought”?  Does it make sense to say that anything should be different than it is given causal determinism?  Other than merely noting that if somebody is causally determined to say such a thing that therefore it makes sense to do it?

Posted on Oct 27, 2009 at 9:32am by Bryan Comment #310

There are two possibilities which are determinism is true or indeterminism is true.

As you are an indeterminist, I now say to you, to avoid confusion, if indeterminism is true luck swallows everything.

It would seem I should hardly need to explain why that is, as what indeterminism tends to mean to us humans is an element of chance an element of luck, this might happen, that might happen. Still I will give an explanation. Luck swallows everything if indeterminism is true because if there are numerous possibilities that can arise from a given set of circumstances, then which one of them in fact happens is not dependant on the circumstances. By that I mean there is nothing about the circumstances that tells us why one thing happens rather than any of the other things that could arise in those circumstances. This means it cannot be up to us which one of the possibilities that could arise from the given set of circumstances does arise.

Stephen

This paragraph simply asserts that you cannot see how free will could possibly exist.  If something is indeterminate, why should “the circumstances always be able to tell why one thing happens rather than any of the other things that could arise in those circumstances”? if the circumstances can tell then you have a determinate cause/effect pair.

Stephen, a truly indeterminate outcome is not necessarily random nor does it require that you or anyone else should be able understand or systematize why any particular choice has been made.  Just because you can’t understand it, it does not follow that it has to be random and/or uncontrolled. (Also, I have to agree with GdB here, you are not authorized to assign my philosophical stance for me. ->  “As you are an indeterminist….” You have neither the knowledge nor authority to do this.)

“There are two possibilities which are determinism is true or indeterminism is true.” Yes, if you are equating indeterminate with random and these are the only possible alternatives, then your conclusions follow.  How do you know this? What is the evidence that proves there are no other alternatives? Two other easy alternatives are: Neither is true. And, Both are true. I think the evidence justifies a serious consideration of the possibility that both determinism and indeterminism are partly true and neither is universal.

You seem prepared to admit that all your opinions originate in your brain, but still continue to approach this analysis WITHOUT consideration of what sort of opinions your brain is capable of producing. Instead, you approach this as some sort of all-seeing god with a massive intellect whose thoughts floats above and separate from the limitations of the brain producing the thoughts. From this perch you provide insights that are clear to the edges of the physical universe, never mind you don’t know anything but what has entered through some VERY limited sense channels and then mushed around in a map on a bunch of ad-hoc neuronal nets whose information capabilities are thousands of orders of magnitude less than the information complexities of what you are claiming to understand. You continue to ignore the fact that your brain has been designed and attached to the rest of you with the sole purpose of providing useful support services, mostly for reproduction, to a little biological mechanism. It is not designed to understand a concept like free will.

In fact, the design your brain, like all brains, appears to be purposely configured to avoid uncertainties and to quickly code all it sees into simple binary categories and historical cause/effect pairs with the purpose of making simple choices and snap judgements from its immediate information. The design purposely installs a necessary arrogance that prevents you from realizing the limitations of your own analysis. This is necessary for if you knew how limited in scope your capabilities were, you would be paralyzed, unable to function to fulfill your support mission to your host body. It is by purposeful design, Stephen Lawrence’s brain, that you are willing to jam all choices into simple statements such as, “There are two possibilities which are determinism is true or indeterminism is true.”

Since Stephen Lawrence’s brain, is dedicated to cause/effect coding it very difficult for it to conceive the possibility of a purely uncaused event such as a freely made choice would require. In short, even confronted with an evidently uncaused and non-random event such as the “big bang” or better still, the fundamental observation that, as a conscious animal, it is originating uncaused events all the time, the design of Stephen Lawrence’s brain is such that when asked to analyze those events, it rejects all conflicting data even its own first-hand, personal experience as some sort of “error.” Instead, it is by inherent design, forced to understand that every event MUST either have an associated cause or be a “random” occurrence. It is from its inherent design that Stephen Lawrence’s brain is forced to proceed with the creation of a complex justification to negate even its own direct experience. Quite a piece of work you are O brain of Stephen Lawrence!

Let me finish my little diatribe with a story about an occasion where I was briefly stranded by the side of the road with a broken fan belt. (I tend to drive my cars till the wheels fall off.)  I was busy installing the spare belt I carried under the driver’s seat when someone stopped to ask if I needed help. He saw that I was installing the belt and asked, “So the fan belt broke huh?”
“Yea,” I replied.
“So you had one with you huh?” 
“Yea,” I replied.
“Boy you sure were lucky!” he said. 

According to Stephen Lawrence the good Samaritan was 100% correct. Nothing forced me to carry the spare (determinism) so it must have been pure chance, a lucky accident (indeterminism). Right Stephen?

Posted on Oct 27, 2009 at 2:14pm by DonPaul Comment #311

Darn it Don. Can you just sum all that up please. I totally agree with how you say the brain works, but I got lost in there.(I’m trying to eat too).
Does this brain run on auto-pilot, and our mind just thinks we are making choices or not? I believe, our mind just thinks we are making choices. And this is a massive oversimplification of words and concepts. I get the “brain” as you speak it.

Posted on Oct 27, 2009 at 2:50pm by VYAZMA Comment #312

 

This paragraph simply asserts that you cannot see how free will could possibly exist.

Me nor anyone else + we have no reason to think it does in the first place, isn’t that enough?

Stephen, a truly indeterminate outcome is not necessarily random nor does it require that you or anyone else should be able understand or systematize why any particular choice has been made.  Just because you can’t understand it, it does not follow that it has to be random and/or uncontrolled.

So it’s reasonable to believe in some form of indeterminism that none of us understand, that somehow gives us more freedom, control and responsibility than if it didn’t exist, despite it being undetectable, unimaginable and despite having no justification for believing in it what so ever? Utter Nonsense. You simply believe anything you want.

(Also, I have to agree with GdB here, you are not authorized to assign my philosophical stance for me. ->  “As you are an indeterminist….” You have neither the knowledge nor authority to do this.)

I have the knowledge because you’ve told me and authority has nothing to do with it. You don’t believe luck swallows everything, doubt determinism and I’m sure can see that luck would swallow everything if determinism is true.

“There are two possibilities which are determinism is true or indeterminism is true.” Yes, if you are equating indeterminate with random and these are the only possible alternatives, then your conclusions follow.  How do you know this?What is the evidence that proves there are no other alternatives? Two other easy alternatives are: Neither is true. And, Both are true. I think the evidence justifies a serious consideration of the possibility that both determinism and indeterminism are partly true and neither is universal.

From current circumstances you can either get to one future or more than one future, nothing else is possible, obviously.

Let me finish my little diatribe with a story about an occasion where I was briefly stranded by the side of the road with a broken fan belt. (I tend to drive my cars till the wheels fall off.)  I was busy installing the spare belt I carried under the driver’s seat when someone stopped to ask if I needed help. He saw that I was installing the belt and asked, “So the fan belt broke huh?”
“Yea,” I replied.
“So you had one with you huh?” 
“Yea,” I replied.
“Boy you sure were lucky!” he said. 

According to Stephen Lawrence the good Samaritan was 100% correct. Nothing forced me to carry the spare (determinism) so it must have been pure chance, a lucky accident (indeterminism). Right Stephe

It was lucky in the sense we’ve been discussing. But in the sense the good samaritan was talking about it was not lucky, it was skill, it was judgement, it was being prepared and more I’m sure.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 27, 2009 at 3:02pm by StephenLawrence Comment #313

If something is indeterminate, why should “the circumstances always be able to tell why one thing happens rather than any of the other things that could arise in those circumstances”?

Maybe it shouldn’t, the point is that in this case there is no reason why one thing happens rather than the other or if there is a reason, the reason is not part of the circumstances.

Either way, as our brains are part of the circumstances, it would have nothing to do with us.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 27, 2009 at 3:31pm by StephenLawrence Comment #314


I’ve suggested it before and I’ll suggest it again.  This argument (it is Galen Strawson’s argument) results in emptying the term “luck” of any meaning.  And saying “Luck swallows everything” where “Luck” has no meaning doesn’t resolve anything.

Bryan I’m sure it has meaning to say If the big bang had banged appropriately differently I’d be on death row right now and I’m lucky that I’m not.

I’ll have a go at saying what I think it means:

It would take an event out of my control not happening and something else out of my control happening instead, in order for me to act differently.

This works for determinism I believe but we’ll see what you have to say about cases of indeterminism.

 

Stephen

Posted on Oct 27, 2009 at 4:11pm by StephenLawrence Comment #315


I’ve suggested it before and I’ll suggest it again.  This argument (it is Galen Strawson’s argument) results in emptying the term “luck” of any meaning.  And saying “Luck swallows everything” where “Luck” has no meaning doesn’t resolve anything.

Bryan I’m sure it has meaning to say If the big bang had banged appropriately differently I’d be on death row right now and I’m lucky that I’m not.

I’d call that one definition #2 at the online dictionary link I provided.  That definition makes poor sense of “luck swallows everything.”  If you catch a nasty case of herpes you’re not likely to call yourself “lucky.”  That kind of luck doesn’t seem to swallow nasty cases of herpes particularly well.

I’ll have a go at saying what I think it means:

It would take an event out of my control not happening and something else out of my control happening instead, in order for me to act differently.

This works for determinism I believe but we’ll see what you have to say about cases of indeterminism.

Good.  You anticipated the problem.  It does work for determinism, which I take as a sign that you take determinism for granted for the sake of your statement (intentionally or otherwise).

X, from available and accessible options (a,b,c,d,e,f) chooses a,c, and f 22 percent of the time each.  X chooses b 20 percent of the time, d 14 percent of the time, and never chooses e.

Compatibilists offered that causation must be understood as increasing the probability that a given event occurs.  I think that notion is flawed, which is why I had one of the options never happen.  I think a decreased probability can help indicate that a decreased probability of lesser degree may be caused.  But I digress.

According to the proffered definition of causation, a,c and e are caused events given identical starting conditions.  I stipulate that in each case, the outcome corresponds to the intent of X.  That gives X control equal to the compatibilist notion of control at least for a,c, and e (leaving b and d out of it for now—no pun intended). 

This model is clearly indeterminist and just as clearly features control for differing outcomes.

Posted on Oct 27, 2009 at 10:42pm by Bryan Comment #316

You need responsibility beyond mechanical responsibility in order to punish in a morally justifiable manner.

1. If I only have mechanical responsibility, then I also only need mechanical responsibility to justify punishment. (or better, I need no justification at all, I just do what I am determined to do)
2. If I have more than mechanical responsibility, then the criminal has too, and moral responsibility for him is given.

The stance that we need moral justification for punishment, and do not grant moral responsibility to the criminal is inconsistent. In both cases 1 and 2 we punish the criminal. In case 1 we do it because we cannot help doing differently, in case 2 because we assign moral responsibility to the criminal.

Compatibilist arguments for moral responsibility seem more like rationalizations than rationale.

To demand moral responsibility from the judge, and not from the criminal is irrational.

For me, the issue seems simple and compelling:  Until the machine does its own programming and that programming is not, in turn, the direct result of another entity or entities, that machine is not morally responsible for its actions.  In other words, if the programming the machine does for itself was set as to the particulars via the same means that the machine’s prior programming was set, nothing has changed with respect to the machine’s ability to act as a moral agent.

In other words, there is a hole in our causal universe: this means that moral actions are uncaused, or….??? What could that other entities be? What is the positive of your sentence ‘Until .... actions’? ‘A machine is morally responsible when it programs itself and by itself only’. Is this what you want to say? What about ‘indirect result of other entities’? What should that be?

GdB

PS

If you follow the whole of Strawson’s argument, it does amount to the contention that both determinism and indeterminism represent luck with respect to decisions of the will.  Irrespective of statistics.

When Strawson gives an exacter proposition than ‘luck swallows everything’ I would prefer to stick to that. Of course, in my eyes Strawson falls in the same ‘performative self contradiction’ as you do. Otherwise the problem would not even arise.

Edit: Added the ‘better’ phrase in case 1.

Posted on Oct 28, 2009 at 12:44am by GdB Comment #317


I’ll have a go at saying what I think it means:

It would take an event out of my control not happening and something else out of my control happening instead, in order for me to act differently.

This works for determinism I believe but we’ll see what you have to say about cases of indeterminism.

Good.  You anticipated the problem.  It does work for determinism, which I take as a sign that you take determinism for granted for the sake of your statement (intentionally or otherwise).

Ok, I’m pleased to have got that far, as often determinists tell me that luck has no meaning too.

I’m very concerned about so called compatibilism, where the so called compatibilist will not acccept that luck swallows everything, if compatibilism is true or will not accept that blame, moral responsibility, guilt, deservedness, justice and so on all contain an element which is in contrast with luck swallows everything for most people, including themselves. Really these so called compatibilists are incompatibilists whether they like it or not.

I will try and follow what you are saying about indeterminism and come back to you, I’m afraid it always looks like smoke and mirrors to me, complicating what is really a simple subject, trying to get us something that I see no reason to suppose we have and is not “worth wanting” as Dennett says.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 28, 2009 at 1:16am by StephenLawrence Comment #318


Good.  You anticipated the problem.  It does work for determinism, which I take as a sign that you take determinism for granted for the sake of your statement (intentionally or otherwise).

No, it’s that indeterminism looks like luck to me too but it makes my head spin, so not sure if the same definition of luck applies. 
I’m a determinist at heart Bryan but I have been given enough information to know there is good reason to doubt determinism is true.

One of at least two reasons I’m a determinist at heart is like many, actually I think most people, I think there is something that would happen in any given scenario, we may argue over what it is but we rarely say to each other, there is no such thing as what would happen.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 28, 2009 at 1:32am by StephenLawrence Comment #319

Hi DonPaul,

You seem to say in several postings that there is another possibility for events then ‘being caused’ or ‘being random’. May I know what you are thinking about? Or is the relationship between an agent and its actions unintelligible? In which case of course it makes no sense to argument (or speculate) any further.

GdB

Posted on Oct 28, 2009 at 7:40am by GdB Comment #320

You need responsibility beyond mechanical responsibility in order to punish in a morally justifiable manner.

1. If I only have mechanical responsibility, then I also only need mechanical responsibility to justify punishment.

“If I only have a wet sponge, then I also only need a wet sponge in order to build a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and ride away into the sunset.”

I can’t tell why your statement is less a non sequitur than mine.

2. If I have more than mechanical responsibility, then the criminal has too, and moral responsibility for him is given.

Is the criminal given moral responsibility via assumption or what?
Do we intend to use reason or shall we simply assume what we wish to believe?

The stance that we need moral justification for punishment, and do not grant moral responsibility to the criminal is inconsistent. In both cases 1 and 2 we punish the criminal. In case 1 we do it because we cannot help doing differently, in case 2 because we assign moral responsibility to the criminal.

Pish posh.  You act as though it is not possible to punish somebody while claiming that the punishment is morally justified when the truth is that it is not morally justified.  Your statement is another non sequitur.  It does not follow that since we punish criminals that therefore the punishment is justified.  Some metaphysical basis and justification for punishment is required.  Good luck wringing it out of determinism.

Compatibilist arguments for moral responsibility seem more like rationalizations than rationale.

To demand moral responsibility from the judge, and not from the criminal is irrational.

Who’s doing that and where?  If we need to destroy a strawman then let’s get our boots on and light some torches.

For me, the issue seems simple and compelling:  Until the machine does its own programming and that programming is not, in turn, the direct result of another entity or entities, that machine is not morally responsible for its actions.  In other words, if the programming the machine does for itself was set as to the particulars via the same means that the machine’s prior programming was set, nothing has changed with respect to the machine’s ability to act as a moral agent.

In other words, there is a hole in our causal universe: this means that moral actions are uncaused, or….???

Oh, dear!  Have I appeared to challenge the assumption that the universe is wholly determined?  How dare I (especially given what scientists call the uncaused formation of quantum particles!)?

The term you’re looking for is “freely caused,” and it is hard to see that “uncaused” actions could have any more moral dimension to them than causally determined actions.  Unless we’re using the term very loosely.
:)

If you wish assert that moral actions are uncaused, then go ahead.  And if you wish to assert that anything not causally determined is random, then go ahead.  Your burden of proof is taller than my contention that it isn’t at all clear that we are limited to either determinism or randomness (I think that perception stems from a fallacy of equivocation).

What could that other entities be? What is the positive of your sentence ‘Until .... actions’? ‘

Libertarian free actions.  Actions that are not inevitably the same if we could repeat the same incident endlessly.  Actions under the control of the agent (outcome corresponding to intent).

A machine is morally responsible when it programs itself and by itself only’. Is this what you want to say?

No.  If I said that then I’d have a problem explaining how the machine programmed itself to program itself in order to achieve freedom.  Do I look like an idiot to you?  ;)

What about ‘indirect result of other entities’? What should that be?

Let’s say you were programmed to prefer chocolate ice cream through no fault of your own.  And let’s say you program yourself to try other flavors every once in a while.  That means that your original programming does not causally determine the outcome on those occasions you choose chocolate ice cream.  It is not a causally determined outcome in the sense that it would always occur under identical conditions.  So it’s ok for the original programming to play a role in outcomes.  Just not an absolute role.

If you follow the whole of Strawson’s argument, it does amount to the contention that both determinism and indeterminism represent luck with respect to decisions of the will.  Irrespective of statistics.

When Strawson gives an exacter proposition than ‘luck swallows everything’ I would prefer to stick to that.

Fine.  But Strawson’s the one who titled his essay “Luck Swallows Everything” so it looks like we have his implicit permission to use that phrase to describe his argument.  You can call it “peanut butter sandwich” for all I care.

Of course, in my eyes Strawson falls in the same ‘performative self contradiction’ as you do. Otherwise the problem would not even arise.

Please attempt to explain where you think you see “performative self-contradiction” in my argument.

Posted on Oct 28, 2009 at 9:33am by Bryan Comment #321

I’m very concerned about so called compatibilism, where the so called compatibilist will not acccept that luck swallows everything, if compatibilism is true or will not accept that blame, moral responsibility, guilt, deservedness, justice and so on all contain an element which is in contrast with luck swallows everything for most people, including themselves. Really these so called compatibilists are incompatibilists whether they like it or not.

A couple of things:

I think it wise to allow people to apply their own labels.  Rather than labeling somebody contrary to their wishes, simply demonstrate that the label is a misnomer.  Leave it to the one wearing the label to sort it out after that.

For myself, I don’t quite understand why you think compatibilists are incompatibilists.

I will try and follow what you are saying about indeterminism and come back to you (...)

Ok, then.  :)

Posted on Oct 28, 2009 at 9:40am by Bryan Comment #322


A couple of things:

I think it wise to allow people to apply their own labels.  Rather than labeling somebody contrary to their wishes, simply demonstrate that the label is a misnomer.  Leave it to the one wearing the label to sort it out after that.

Thanks for your advice, I’m in the mood to ignore it at the mo.  :vampire: 

For myself, I don’t quite understand why you think compatibilists are incompatibilists.


If one believes that we have freedom control or responsibility that we wouldn’t have if luck swallows everything, then one must be an incompatibilist. The word deserved suggests a sense of fairness (fairness of punishment for instance) that could not be so if luck swallows everything.

Many so called compatibilists do indeed believe in these things and so they must be incompatibilists.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 28, 2009 at 11:15am by StephenLawrence Comment #323

For myself, I don’t quite understand why you think compatibilists are incompatibilists.


If one believes that we have freedom control or responsibility that we wouldn’t have if luck swallows everything, then one must be an incompatibilist. The word deserved suggests a sense of fairness (fairness of punishment for instance) that could not be so if luck swallows everything.

Many so called compatibilists do indeed believe in these things and so they must be incompatibilists.

An incompatibilist believes that free will and determinism are compatible.  Whether they are correct or not doesn’t really matter with respect to applying the label, even if they hold other beliefs that contradict their belief in compatibilism.

Posted on Oct 28, 2009 at 11:28am by Bryan Comment #324

An incompatibilist believes that free will and determinism are compatible.  Whether they are correct or not doesn’t really matter with respect to applying the label, even if they hold other beliefs that contradict their belief in compatibilism.

If somebody believes it’s possible to deserve to be harmed and that belief is based on belief in freedom incompatible with determinism which makes that so, then it makes no difference if they are mistaken in thinking that freedom is compatible with determinism.

The fact is they believe in that freedom and it is incompatble with determinism. They believe in freedom incompatible with determinism.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 28, 2009 at 11:39am by StephenLawrence Comment #325

The fact is they believe in that freedom and it is incompatble with determinism. They believe in freedom incompatible with determinism.

 

Right, but I’ve already touched on this.  They also believe in freedom compatible with determinism.  The other person deserves the courtesy of being allowed to choose which horn of the dilemma suits him best.

Posted on Oct 28, 2009 at 12:09pm by Bryan Comment #326

The fact is they believe in that freedom and it is incompatble with determinism. They believe in freedom incompatible with determinism.

 

Right, but I’ve already touched on this.

Yep, that’s the point I’m getting at.

They also believe in freedom compatible with determinism.  The other person deserves the courtesy of being allowed to choose which horn of the dilemma suits him best.

Ok I’ll give the other person that courtesy, after all incompatibilists deserve to be treated courtiously every bit as much as compatibilists. ;-)

Posted on Oct 28, 2009 at 1:08pm by StephenLawrence Comment #327

Bryan,

There are at least 2 possible ways to look at the criminal and his judge:

Stance 1: We can see the universe as determined (for the sake of argument). Then what the criminal does is determined, and what the judge does too. In such a description of the universe the words ‘moral justification’ do not apply. Not to the criminal, and not to the judge.

Stance 2: If we appeal to the judge’s capability of morally justifying his actions, then we can do this with the criminal too. In that case he is as morally responsible for his crime, as the judge is for his verdict.

The justification problem only arises by taking the criminal on stance 1, and the judge on stance 2.

For the rest I dislike your debating style so much, that I let it be with that. This is not worth my energy.

GdB

Posted on Oct 29, 2009 at 12:29am by GdB Comment #328

Bryan,

There are at least 2 possible ways to look at the criminal and his judge:

Stance 1: We can see the universe as determined (for the sake of argument). Then what the criminal does is determined, and what the judge does too. In such a description of the universe the words ‘moral justification’ do not apply. Not to the criminal, and not to the judge.

It suits me to have my point readily conceded.  But it’s more interesting to dispute it with those who disagree.  :)

Stance 2: If we appeal to the judge’s capability of morally justifying his actions, then we can do this with the criminal too. In that case he is as morally responsible for his crime, as the judge is for his verdict.

The justification problem only arises by taking the criminal on stance 1, and the judge on stance 2.

On the contrary, the justification problem I’m pointing out is precisely what you concede in stance 1.  If justification applied in a causally determined universe then it would not be a problem applying justifications in such a universe.  Admitting that justifications do not apply does not solve the problem.

 

Edit to add:  I suppose this means I do not get treated to an exposition as to how my argument supposedly manifests the problem of “performative self-contradiction.”

Posted on Oct 29, 2009 at 12:35am by Bryan Comment #329

Admitting that justifications do not apply does not solve the problem.

Why not? When I define a fish as an animal that can only breath in water, why should I see it as a problem that I see no air breathing fish?
When the universe is deterministic, moral categories do not apply at all. Then asking for a moral justification is ridiculous. Unless I do not understand your point, this is an example of a ‘performative self contradiction’. By saying that the universe is deterministic, and on the same time ask for a moral justification, by the act of asking for moral justification, you are ‘jumping out’ of the determinist universe you proclaimed your self.

2 Options:
1. Don’t ask for justification.
2. State that the universe is not (completely) determined.

2 Is obviously your stance, that is OK for the sake of argument for the moment. But 1. is a perfect logical solution too, which means that one cannot criticise determinism for not giving moral justification of punishment. And that is exactly what you are doing.

GdB

Posted on Oct 29, 2009 at 1:09am by GdB Comment #330

Admitting that justifications do not apply does not solve the problem.

Why not?

I had just explained it succinctly:

“If justification applied in a causally determined universe then it would not be a problem applying justifications in such a universe.”

The converse of that statement:  If justification doesn’t apply in a causally determined universe then it would be a problem applying justifications in such a universe.  That’s about as self-evident as things get.

When I define a fish as an animal that can only breath in water, why should I see it as a problem that I see no air breathing fish?

You shouldn’t.  You should, however, recognize that the idea of air-breathing fish is a problem according to your definition.

When the universe is deterministic, moral categories do not apply at all. Then asking for a moral justification is ridiculous. Unless I do not understand your point, this is an example of a ‘performative self contradiction’. By saying that the universe is deterministic, and on the same time ask for a moral justification, by the act of asking for moral justification, you are ‘jumping out’ of the determinist universe you proclaimed your self.

Yeah, you missed the point.

I am the skeptic who doubts that moral categories apply in a deterministic universe.  I am, however, quite willing to entertain arguments from compatibilists who think otherwise.  You’re one step beyond me, willing to assert in no uncertain terms that moral categories do not apply in a deterministic universe.  And you’re also willing to suggest that I commit the “peformative self-contradiction” simply for allowing compatibilists to make their arguments for moral responsibility in a causally determined universe.  I think you clearly go too far with that supposition.

2 Options:
1. Don’t ask for justification.

Here’s an option for you:  Recognize that it’s ok to ask the *compatibilist* for a justification.

2. State that the universe is not (completely) determined.

2 Is obviously your stance, that is OK for the sake of argument for the moment. But 1. is a perfect logical solution too, which means that one cannot criticise determinism for not giving moral justification of punishment. And that is exactly what you are doing.

GdB

No, not exactly.  The compatibilist will think that he can offer coherent moral justifications for punishment, and it is perfectly OK for me to invite the attempt (even if I think it futile). 

Have another look at your initial response to my post.  You should have been agreeing with me, but from the first you worked to place yourself in opposition.
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/77764/

Posted on Oct 29, 2009 at 9:16am by Bryan Comment #331

Yes what Bryan is trying to say, although he’s using circumlocution so as to seem in line with open-minded thinking, and rational discourse on neurological issues, is that God gave us a Free-Will with which we are to use in obeying or disobeying the morals he also provided us with. I wish you would just cut to the chase Bryan, instead of leading everyone on like this.

Posted on Oct 29, 2009 at 9:23am by VYAZMA Comment #332

Let’s go back to why I brought the argument: Stephen says we should change our practice of blaming, praising and punishment based on determinism. I say this is not needed: if we ask from the judge moral justification, then, to be consistent, we should also use moral categories for the criminal. If, on the other hand, we see the criminal as determined, we should see the judge in the same way, and it does not make sense to ask moral justification of the judge, as he would be determined then too.

I might have been a little bit careless in my wordings about a ‘deterministic universe’.

For the rest I don’t think we need a Baron Münchhausen kind of freedom to see that we have freedom of action in a deterministic universe (yes now I mean it). The only kind of people we do not convict are those who have no freedom of action. Freedom of action is of course to be a causal agent. Being a causal agent does not mean that the agent is not caused.

I think I understand VYAZMA: your non-deterministic agent causality, is ‘soul causality’ in different clothes.

I leave it at that. Analyse me to the bones if you want.

GdB

Posted on Oct 29, 2009 at 9:49am by GdB Comment #333

Yes what Bryan is trying to say, although he’s using circumlocution so as to seem in line with open-minded thinking, and rational discourse on neurological issues, is that God gave us a Free-Will with which we are to use in obeying or disobeying the morals he also provided us with. I wish you would just cut to the chase Bryan, instead of leading everyone on like this.

Libertarian free will, per se, does not require the existence of a god or gods.  It simply requires us to refrain from assuming either causal determinism or a hard dichotomy between causally determined and uncausedness.

A practical method of learning about morality may require the existence of a god or gods, but that’s a different argument.

I don’t think it’s fair to characterize my argument as “leading everyone on” if that claim is intended in even the mildest way to disparage.

Posted on Oct 29, 2009 at 11:26am by Bryan Comment #334

Let’s go back to why I brought the argument: Stephen says we should change our practice of blaming, praising and punishment based on determinism. I say this is not needed: if we ask from the judge moral justification, then, to be consistent, we should also use moral categories for the criminal. If, on the other hand, we see the criminal as determined, we should see the judge in the same way, and it does not make sense to ask moral justification of the judge, as he would be determined then too.

You and I do not disagree on this.  So it doesn’t explain any of your disagreement with me, nor your supposition that I was committing a fallacy.

On the other hand (and I thank you for asking me to review, since I had forgotten to place a focus on this), you said this:

“For me, I do not understand why we need ultimate responsibility when we punish somebody. As long as it is not an ultimate punishment, and do not seek for ultimate fairness. Of course I am against capital punishment.”

Do you not believe in causal determinism?  Might you just as well say (if you were in favor of capital punishment) “Of course I am in favor of capital punishment.”  Your phrasing hints at a belief in valid moral moral justification given determinism.

I might have been a little bit careless in my wordings about a ‘deterministic universe’.

For the rest I don’t think we need a Baron Münchhausen kind of freedom to see that we have freedom of action in a deterministic universe (yes now I mean it). The only kind of people we do not convict are those who have no freedom of action. Freedom of action is of course to be a causal agent. Being a causal agent does not mean that the agent is not caused.

If we have freedom of action in a deterministic universe then why don’t we have moral responsibility as well?
I hope you can briefly but accurately explain what you mean by “freedom of action” and how one distinguishes it from instances where one does not have freedom of action.  It seems to me that at least half the point of asserting compatibilist free will is to locate moral responsibility in determined entities.  You get all the difficulty of the argument without the perks!  ;)

I think I understand VYAZMA: your non-deterministic agent causality, is ‘soul causality’ in different clothes.

I think the clothing we choose for it is very probably of no real consequence.  It’s not like the Bible explicitly describes Cartesian theater, is it?

I leave it at that. Analyse me to the bones if you want.

Nah.  We’ll end on the note of the analyzing you and VYAZMA did of me.

Posted on Oct 29, 2009 at 12:11pm by Bryan Comment #335

Yes what Bryan is trying to say, although he’s using circumlocution so as to seem in line with open-minded thinking, and rational discourse on neurological issues, is that God gave us a Free-Will with which we are to use in obeying or disobeying the morals he also provided us with. I wish you would just cut to the chase Bryan, instead of leading everyone on like this.

Libertarian free will, per se, does not require the existence of a god or gods.  It simply requires us to refrain from assuming either causal determinism or a hard dichotomy between causally determined and uncausedness.

A practical method of learning about morality may require the existence of a god or gods, but that’s a different argument.

I don’t think it’s fair to characterize my argument as “leading everyone on” if that claim is intended in even the mildest way to disparage.

Well you’ve bringing up morals lately in this thread. I was wondering what they had to do with a discussion on Determinism, or Free-will. Aren’t we all in agreement that morals are just part of evolutionary behaviorism, and as such the idea of morals is as objective as any other observable action of behavior. Ultimately it is just as Objectively Natural to commit adultery as it is to crave butterscotch ice cream.

Posted on Oct 29, 2009 at 12:17pm by VYAZMA Comment #336

Yes what Bryan is trying to say, although he’s using circumlocution so as to seem in line with open-minded thinking, and rational discourse on neurological issues, is that God gave us a Free-Will with which we are to use in obeying or disobeying the morals he also provided us with. I wish you would just cut to the chase Bryan, instead of leading everyone on like this.

Libertarian free will, per se, does not require the existence of a god or gods.  It simply requires us to refrain from assuming either causal determinism or a hard dichotomy between causally determined and uncausedness.

A practical method of learning about morality may require the existence of a god or gods, but that’s a different argument.

I don’t think it’s fair to characterize my argument as “leading everyone on” if that claim is intended in even the mildest way to disparage.

Well you’ve bringing up morals lately in this thread.

Yes, I have.  But so have others, and I certainly wasn’t the first.  Should I simply avoid certain topics since discussing them automatically reveals my, eh, hidden agenda?

I was wondering what they had to do with a discussion on Determinism, or Free-will.

Morality is the holy grail of the compatibilist.  Compatibilism is probably the key issue where free will and determinism are concerned.  And both theists (Calvinism) and atheists have compatibilists in their camp.

Aren’t we all in agreement that morals are just part of evolutionary behaviorism, and as such the idea of morals is as objective as any other observable action of behavior. Ultimately it is just as Objectively Natural to commit adultery as it is to crave butterscotch ice cream.

Your evaluation seems to discount any identification of a moral realism.  Many atheists/determinists claim some form of moral realism.

Posted on Oct 29, 2009 at 1:26pm by Bryan Comment #337

Hi DonPaul,

You seem to say in several postings that there is another possibility for events then ‘being caused’ or ‘being random’. May I know what you are thinking about? Or is the relationship between an agent and its actions unintelligible? In which case of course it makes no sense to argument (or speculate) any further.

GdB

I really wish I could answer this in 6000 or even 12000 characters or less, but it simply is not possible without considerable preparatory work. It requires a major shift of several moving parts in the way we have learned to view physical reality. It is highly unintuitive and I can appreciate the scepticism this will receive as I am quite a bit more of a skeptic than you guys with all your “isms” animals. Actually, I do not receive a warm reception wherever I go. Creationists think I’m an evolutionary fanatic. The evolutionary fanatics think I’m a creationist. Spiritualists think I’m an atheist. The atheists think I’m a spiritualist. And so forth. In spite of the flake this will probably generate, I can try to outline a couple major features. 
1. Our present understanding of reality is designed by brains which provide a highly edited and distorted view of reality. The limitations and distortions make recognition of ALL features of reality very difficult.
2. The “laws” of physical reality seem to be incomplete. In other words, not ALL results (including the statistics of outcomes) of any given physical process are completely specified by antecedent conditions.
3. Physical minds can exist in the “space” remaining where determinate physical laws are incomplete. I have (perhaps unwisely) chosen to call this space “metaphysical reality” because it provides a place on top of basic physical reality where active minds can reside.
4. Free will is not a binary quantity such as is discussed on this forum, but comes in several kinds and in varying amounts depending on a given mind’s complexity and organization. (I like to compare the ordinary concept of free will, the one you guys call an illusion, with the belief that milk comes from a carton in the refrigerator. Milk, of course, comes from cows, so the idea that it comes from a refrigerator is false, but the idea is not as clearly false as you claim. On the other hand, it is not really true either. It is simply too naive.)
5. The truly interesting and important aspects of reality for human purposes are mostly the creations of various kinds of minds. I’m talking about the biological organisms and artifacts we find surrounding us in the narrow sliver of altitude near the surface of the earth. I emphasize creativity because it is the wellspring of free will as I understand it.

Since I’m already on my soapbox, I’m going to add that I find the questions of responsibility and punishment that you, Stephen Lawrence and now Bryan are arguing here is the equivalent to former arguments concerning the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin. It’s pretty much irrelevant unless you can first establish the existence and properties of angels. Assigning responsibility and punishments to entities that are not equipped with free will may make some people feel better, but is really pretty stupid - something like whacking your toaster because it burned the toast.

The real issue which should be under discussion here is: Does free will exist? If it does, responsibility and maybe even punishments might follow. Otherwise, nothing means anything. It’s all luck and we can stop bothering ourselves with thinking about anything. Without free will NOTHING has any meaning. All of our existence becomes the equivalent of winds blowing here and there without purpose. Now I know you guys all think that the hard statement of“free will is an illusion” is a forgone “scientific” conclusion at this point, and I have received a certain amount of ridicule and I’m sure I’ll get some more for suggesting things might not that clear.
(continued next post)

Posted on Oct 29, 2009 at 1:55pm by DonPaul Comment #338

(continued from previous post)
As I’ve already stated, it is my opinion that the ordinary version of free will is indeed somewhat of an illusion, but that fact does not negate the existence of true free will. For the most part, serious thinkers reject the idea of true free will because it MUST be uncaused, and it is felt that any choice made without “reasons” to support it MUST be basically “random.” From there we go to the idea that if a choice has antecedent causes then it also is MUST not truly free. Ergo, no free will. These beliefs simply reflect the human mind’s ongoing attachment to determinism - the idea that everything EVEN FREE WILL must have a “cause.” A “self-caused” mind is pretty much inconceivable. However, if that were indeed the case, no-one could ever produce anything truly original. Creativity would not exist. In fact, a mind, and a human mind in particular, can think up six impossible things before breakfast, and some of that stuff sometimes works too.

In any case, I continue to retain my open mind. I’m still waiting for some serious evidence to support the stated belief in this hard “illusion of free will” so I can abandon my present efforts at understanding things the way I presently see them. Yes, I have read how“free will is an illusion” is stated over and over here, and that it cannot possibly be otherwise, but where’s the evidence?? Basically you guys come off pretty much like any religious group. It seems you find your views self-evident, you can’t understand why other people don’t see them as clearly as you, and do not want to seriously consider alternative views. I understand that it is always more comfortable to remain safely within the bounds of your existing paradigm, the little map to reality that has been drawn for you. (Deviation is not allowed, so don’t even think of it.)

My task right now is simply to get people to consider the validity of what it is that our brains provide us when they provide us this experience of being conscious and thinking of stuff like all these various “isms” animals. This has proven to be very difficult in whatever venue I have tried it. There is a fundamental error that is almost universal (as near as I can tell) whenever people attempt to analyze any aspect of reality that involves the human mind/brain. It is so universal I have taken to calling it the Philosopher’s Error. Look at it this way, as I’ve talked about before, our brain and sensor system produces a logical “map” of reality that fills the purpose of providing us a sort of “camera” with which to view the real world out there. The camera is very clever at converting a very complex environment into some simple symbolic patterns that are small enough for a very limited mechanism to process. I’m sure you experience your reality much as I do - Here I am surrounded by familiar artifacts, the computer and such. I think about other things, many of which are quite abstract. Now it truly seems like I really am right here in the midst of my physical reality, but I know that all this experience is happening in my head, the computer, the abstractions, all of it, just patterns on my brain. I am a pattern living in my brain patterns, my personal map of reality. OK, given that, it is reasonable to ask, How accurate is my map? I know it is “correct”, that is, it is logically consistent within itself, but is it “true”? Does it match closely with reality? This is an extremely tricky question because all I am actually aware of is the map, so a direct comparison to reality is not possible. Now the majority of people will not bother to consider this question. They simply assume that whatever they see, think, and understand is what IS. And that is where the error takes place. Basically the Philosopher’s Error is to confuse the properties of the camera such as cause/effect coding, rules for logical deduction, and so forth, for the properties of that external reality under consideration. I call it the Philosopher’s Error because philosophers seem more inclined than most to believe that if something is logically correct within the confines of their personal map, then it must also be true.

I tried to get Stephen to see this but I guess I was pretty clumsy so he got his panties all in a bunch, stopping thinking clearly, and the big dog had to jump in to straighten them out for him.  Hopefully he’s calmed down and can consider the idea rationally now. (It’s OK Stephen. We love you anyway. We understand that it’s the big bang’s fault that you are an arrogant, name-calling numbskull.)

Posted on Oct 29, 2009 at 1:59pm by DonPaul Comment #339

You’re right Steven seems to dwell on morality too. That’s how this whole topic gets sidetracked. Endless pages are used up in a discussion about whether the death penalty is natural or not. Of course it is!
The murderer’s actions were natural too.
The whole question is, did the murderer actually “choose” to murder? I say no. Under any circumstances.
Did the judges or jury or executioner “choose” to execute the man? I say no again.

Posted on Oct 29, 2009 at 2:05pm by VYAZMA Comment #340

GdB-

For me, I do not understand why we need ultimate responsibility when we punish somebody. As long as it is not an ultimate punishment, and do not seek for ultimate fairness. Of course I am against capital punishment.

Bryan-

You need responsibility beyond mechanical responsibility in order to punish in a morally justifiable manner.  I can burn the baseball that breaks my window, punishing it for its transgression.  And that makes equal moral sense to shaking down the thrower for the cost of the window if his decision to throw the ball could not have been otherwise given the situation in which he found himself.  The ball makes the same excuse.  Suppose the ball possesses consciousness and wants to break the window (yet is set on its course inalterably by the thrower).  Does it then make sense to punish the ball?

As far as I can tell this is the first mention of morals. What would be the resposibility beyond mechanical responsibilty?
What goes beyond mechanics Bryan?
It stands to reason that whatever you punish is the only outcome that could have happened, as well as if you didn’t punish at all. Your actions in regards to punishment were not chosen by you. They were automatic mechanical reactions. Brought about by yours/our programming.
The whole problem here is: “Morally Justifiable”. This has nothing to do with Free-will or Scientific Naturalism.

Posted on Oct 29, 2009 at 2:19pm by VYAZMA Comment #341

That’s the thing “Morally Justifiable”. What’s the word for two words together that are redundant? Dipthong? What’s that word?
Anyways, “morally justifiable”. You can use either of these words independently from one another and still come up with the same result.
No it isn’t dipthong sorry.

Posted on Oct 29, 2009 at 2:38pm by VYAZMA Comment #342

GdB-

For me, I do not understand why we need ultimate responsibility when we punish somebody. As long as it is not an ultimate punishment, and do not seek for ultimate fairness. Of course I am against capital punishment.

Bryan-

You need responsibility beyond mechanical responsibility in order to punish in a morally justifiable manner.  I can burn the baseball that breaks my window, punishing it for its transgression.  And that makes equal moral sense to shaking down the thrower for the cost of the window if his decision to throw the ball could not have been otherwise given the situation in which he found himself.  The ball makes the same excuse.  Suppose the ball possesses consciousness and wants to break the window (yet is set on its course inalterably by the thrower).  Does it then make sense to punish the ball?

As far as I can tell this is the first mention of morals.

It’s not.
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/71343/
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/71422/
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/71426/
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http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/75753/
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/75754/ (my second favorite)
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/75768/
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/75918/
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/76009/
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http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/76447/
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/76540/ (my favorite)
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/76571/
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/76740/
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http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/76874/
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/76875/

Each of these mentions occurs prior to mine.

What would be the resposibility beyond mechanical responsibilty?

Moral responsibility, which I see as a combination of consciousness, reasonable expectation of outcomes (necessitating a predominantly causally determined matrix—at least in terms of appearance), control (correspondence of intent with action), and accessible options such that the agent could have done otherwise under the exact same conditions.

What goes beyond mechanics Bryan?

Consciousness, among other things.

It stands to reason that whatever you punish is the only outcome that could have happened, as well as if you didn’t punish at all.

Correct, if we assume causal determinism.  But why would we assume causal determinism?

Your actions in regards to punishment were not chosen by you. They were automatic mechanical reactions. Brought about by yours/our programming.
The whole problem here is: “Morally Justifiable”. This has nothing to do with Free-will or Scientific Naturalism.

That’s great.  You won’t need any excuse for falsely suggesting that I introduced the term “moral” to the thread.  You can’t be blamed.  Either that or others can’t be blamed for blaming you.  Or something like that.  ;)

Posted on Oct 29, 2009 at 10:44pm by Bryan Comment #343

You’re right Steven seems to dwell on morality too. That’s how this whole topic gets sidetracked.


I put the point as simply as I can. Nobody deserves to be harmed. My concern is that believing some people deserve to be harmed when in fact they don’t is a bad thing so again not directly to do with morality although indirectly it is. the belief influences us negatively and is likely to make us behave immorally because it makes us believe when people are suffering that they deserve it, or even makes us think we ought to inflict suffering on people and even take delight in it.

the belief is an absolute curse.

The judicial system is a tiny part of it, we have feelings resulting from belief in contra causal free will when dealimg with each other all the time

 

pages are used up in a discussion about whether the death penalty is natural or not. Of course it is!

Piffle. I don’t think the question of whether the death penalty is natural or not has even come up.

The whole question is, did the murderer actually “choose” to murder?

No it isn’t . The debate is about free will not about whether we choose or not.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 30, 2009 at 12:17am by StephenLawrence Comment #344

As far as I can tell this is the first mention of morals.

Well, I think Tom Clark started it…

As soon as you start thinking about the consequences of your view on free will, e.g. for our legal system, you are in the moral discussion. And for me it is obvious that the most important consequences of the free will debate seem to lie in how we justify (morally) our legal practice. There are a few german neuro scientist who loudly yell that we should change our practice of punishment based on their discoveries. There I must oppose.

My ‘performative self contradiction’ argument is meant to show that a criminal cannot use the idea that he was determined as an argument for punishment reduction, because the simple fact that he assumes on one side the capability of moral deliberation of the judge, and that the judge can change his behaviour on these grounds, and on the other side shows he himself is very capable of moral deliberations, but being able to do that, killed somebody, and claiming that he was not free to do otherwise. This is inconsistent, and therefore my opinion is that it does not matter what we think about free will for our legal practice.

And this, Bryan, also shows when we do not make somebody too responsible for his criminal act: if it shows the ‘criminal’ is not able to make moral considerations (psychiatric disturbance), or was not able under the circumstances, we see reduced liability. Of course this is not always easy to establish, but important is: the idea that somebody had a free will or not, in the CCFW sense, plays no role in this. The kind of ‘free will’ involved is that we assert that somebody was a moral capable agent at the moment of his deed. We do not need more.

So the free will debate (CCFW, incompatible determinism, incompatible libertarian, compatibilist, whatever your position is) is not relevant where it seems to have the most important impact: our legal practice.

There is something funny about these neuro scientists. They claim they discover that everything is determined by the brain, but is not not already a presupposition of their scientific work? Does any of them, or of us, expect that if they go on long enough, they will find a place in the brain where the free will resides, i.e. the place where the brain is not completely determined by conditions just before? That one day they could be able to announce ‘Free will found! We found the causal hole in the brain where we actually have influence on the physical universe!’ What would this place be? A homunculus made of soul substance? So in my opinion any discovery of these neuro scientists is irrelevant. The main point, determinism, was already there as presumption for their research, before they even made the first picture of the living brain.

GdB

Posted on Oct 30, 2009 at 12:44am by GdB Comment #345

It’s not.
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/71343/
...
...
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/76875/

Please Bryan, we don’t need this. Could you please stop like behaving as a lawyer?

GdB

Posted on Oct 30, 2009 at 12:48am by GdB Comment #346

My ‘performative self contradiction’ argument is meant to show that a criminal cannot use the idea that he was determined as an argument for punishment reduction, because the simple fact that he assumes on one side the capability of moral deliberation of the judge, and that the judge can change his behaviour on these grounds, and on the other side shows he himself is very capable of moral deliberations, but being able to do that, killed somebody, and claiming that he was not free to do otherwise. This is inconsistent, and therefore my opinion is that it does not matter what we think about free will for our legal practice.

It’s only inconsistent if it is impossible in one universe to have behaviors both contra-causal and causal.

So why shouldn’t there be such universe?

And this, Bryan, also shows when we do not make somebody too responsible for his criminal act: if it shows the ‘criminal’ is not able to make moral considerations (psychiatric disturbance), or was not able under the circumstances, we see reduced liability. Of course this is not always easy to establish, but important is: the idea that somebody had a free will or not, in the CCFW sense, plays no role in this. The kind of ‘free will’ involved is that we assert that somebody was a moral capable agent at the moment of his deed. We do not need more.

It isn’t yet clear to me how you find a “moral capable agent” in a causally determined universe.  It seems to me that you have asserted that causal determinism rules out morality except as an “is”—IOW we regard certain things as “oughts” yet moral realism is false.  The things we regard as “oughts” are illusory.

Perhaps that’s what you mean.  We “assert” the moral capability regardless of the reality, and we need no more than the assertion.  If that’s the case then perhaps we can do with even less (just punish without asserting culpability).  ;)

So the free will debate (CCFW, incompatible determinism, incompatible libertarian, compatibilist, whatever your position is) is not relevant where it seems to have the most important impact: our legal practice.

I don’t see how that follows, unless you’ve reconciled moral realism with determinism.  That seems like it would be hard to square with your other assertions.

Posted on Oct 30, 2009 at 1:03am by Bryan Comment #347

Hi DonPaul,

In calling the ‘map forgetting thing’ the Philosopher’s Error, you seem to leave out a lot of philosophers…

If you say the brain makes a map of reality, you are supposing already a lot of ideas. Is the brain real then? If you would be a neuro scientist, my brain is part of your ‘map’. Then what about your own brain? I think if you consistently further on your path, there is not much left. In the mean time you might be overridden by a car (is it real?), or be convicted to death by somebody who says you are ultimate free, and therefore ultimate responsible…

There are some interesting ideas in you posting, but yes, it is very long… I’ll pick out a few.

Free will is not a binary quantity

Sure. But I think this makes no difference for the discussion. If, e.g. free will would not exist at all then your remark is rather empty. So we discuss the possibility of free will per se. Then we can discuss about if ‘less free’ or ‘more free’ exists.

Milk, of course, comes from cows

And there it comes from nowhere? It miraculously comes into existence in the cow? I hope you see the relevance of this remark for the free will discussion… Your actions come from somewhere. I somehow did not find an answer to my original question: what is a possible third option next to determinism or randomness?

As I’ve already stated, it is my opinion that the ordinary version of free will is indeed somewhat of an illusion, but that fact does not negate the existence of true free will. For the most part, serious thinkers reject the idea of true free will because it MUST be uncaused, and it is felt that any choice made without “reasons” to support it MUST be basically “random.” From there we go to the idea that if a choice has antecedent causes then it also is MUST not truly free. Ergo, no free will. These beliefs simply reflect the human mind’s ongoing attachment to determinism - the idea that everything EVEN FREE WILL must have a “cause.” A “self-caused” mind is pretty much inconceivable. However, if that were indeed the case, no-one could ever produce anything truly original. Creativity would not exist.

‘True free will’ is an illusion, indeed. If you mean with that that if every atom in the universe is at the same place, in de same condition, you still could have decided otherwise. But if ‘free will’ means ‘what happens next depends on me only’, then it is OK. And I say that is enough. ‘Creativity’ is generating new ideas. But they can surely be based on old ones. We do not need ‘true free will’ for that. If I am standing for an empty piece of linen, and start painting, then my movements, and with that the painting, comes from somewhere. This does not mean it cannot be new!

GdB

PS

I tried to get Stephen to see this but I guess I was pretty clumsy so he got his panties all in a bunch, stopping thinking clearly, and the big dog had to jump in to straighten them out for him.  Hopefully he’s calmed down and can consider the idea rationally now. (It’s OK Stephen. We love you anyway. We understand that it’s the big bang’s fault that you are an arrogant, name-calling numbskull.)

That is not very kind. Of course I think Stephen doesn’t see my point. But he thinks I doesn’t see his. That is a ‘draw’ for the moment…

Posted on Oct 30, 2009 at 1:35am by GdB Comment #348

It’s only inconsistent if it is impossible in one universe to have behaviors both contra-causal and causal.

No. It is inconsistent for the criminal to say he was ‘causally determined’ but the judge should change his behaviour for good moral reasons. I did not say anything about the universe. My point is that it is not relevant in what kind of universe we live in this respect. We only ask of the criminal to be consistent.

It isn’t yet clear to me how you find a “moral capable agent” in a causally determined universe.

If somebody is argumenting in a moral context, he is moral capable, isn’t he? What I am saying is that there is no 3rd party stance, where I as a kind of God see that humans behave as if they are responsible, but I see, from the outside, they are determined, and therefore know that the humans are cheating themselves. I am the first (criminal), or second party (judge), and the only thing I ask of these parties is to be consistent.

You, Bryan, are also looking for ultimate responsibility, like Stephen. Why is ‘practical responsibility’ not enough: seeing somebody as the source of actions, and seeing him identifying with this? Or is a source only a source when the water is created there?

A ball is capable of crashing a window. Humans are capable of moral reasoning.

In a previous posting you asked:

Suppose the ball possesses consciousness and wants to break the window (yet is set on its course inalterably by the thrower).  Does it then make sense to punish the ball?

The answer is ‘yes’ of course! Because the ball wants it. Because he identifies with his will to break the window. If you think it is absurd to convict the ball, then please see that this absurdity was introduced by the assumption that it has consciousness and that it is his will to break the glass. I do not plead for convicting unconscious, non-willing balls of course.

I don’t see how that follows, unless you’ve reconciled moral realism with determinism. 

It is easy to see: come down from the 3rd party view. As soon as you do this you see you are determined to make moral deliberations. Or you see yourself and your fellow humans as free agents, and make your moral deliberations. There is no difference.

GdB

Posted on Oct 30, 2009 at 2:09am by GdB Comment #349

What goes beyond mechanics Bryan?

Bryan-

Consciousness, among other things.

That’s all I needed to see.

Posted on Oct 30, 2009 at 4:32am by VYAZMA Comment #350

Bryan-

It isn’t yet clear to me how you find a “moral capable agent” in a causally determined universe.  It seems to me that you have asserted that causal determinism rules out morality except as an “is”—IOW we regard certain things as “oughts” yet moral realism is false.  The things we regard as “oughts” are illusory.

Let me clarify it for you then. That agent is called evolution. The slow development over time, of adapting, and changing behavioral systems designed to create efficiency.
We could just simplify this and call that agent “life”. But evolution fit’s nicely within the framework of causal determinism.
I don’t know why I’m wasting my time here, as I know that you have a more hocus-pocus idea of morals. And that you believe consciousness to be of a higher order.
You keep this long string of posts alive Bryan with complicated layers of nonsense. Overly complicated philosophical extrapolations of concepts, that I’d be willing to bet the few participants who have all hoveled off into their own ideologies now, no longer have any idea what this discourse is about.
The overly complicated discourse on your part Bryan is deceiving, and time consuming. Because you aren’t willing to reveal where you think these “important” morals come from. You have stated that none of us can say where morals come from, yet you are not willing to state that you have “faith” that morals come from a super-being. And that these are imbued within us in a special “consciousness” which has no known boundaries, and isn’t tangible, yet is beyond the confines of the physical brain.
Once again, all of your posts here are nothing more than slow calculated Chess moves, to try and corner people into a defacto acceptance of the possibility of higher power-which is the “capable moral agent”, or the “agent behind determinism”.

Posted on Oct 30, 2009 at 5:12am by VYAZMA Comment #351

What would be the responsibility beyond mechanical responsibilty?

Bryan-

Moral responsibility, which I see as a combination of consciousness, reasonable expectation of outcomes (necessitating a predominantly causally determined matrix—at least in terms of appearance), control (correspondence of intent with action), and accessible options such that the agent could have done otherwise under the exact same conditions.

Yes, you see that is all mechanical. Except for the consciousness part. Who knows what that means? Oh that might be the place where people have the accessible options of choosing good from evil. Is that it?
People retire to the lair of their consciousness to access options. Options which they choose from, ideally choosing the most “moral”, and “right” course of action.
Maybe there’s a little man peeking in through a hole in the ceiling? “I’m watching you, I see you there in the lair of your consciousness, make sure you pick the right accessible option. There’ll be consequences if you don’t.” This must be where the responsibility comes from in “Moral Responsibility”.

Posted on Oct 30, 2009 at 5:54am by VYAZMA Comment #352

It’s only inconsistent if it is impossible in one universe to have behaviors both contra-causal and causal.

No. It is inconsistent for the criminal to say he was ‘causally determined’ but the judge should change his behaviour for good moral reasons. I did not say anything about the universe. My point is that it is not relevant in what kind of universe we live in this respect. We only ask of the criminal to be consistent.

I wasn’t aware that I would be unable to refer to “the universe” if you did not.  Thanks for the heads up on that one.

It *is* relevant, and the criminal is not inconsistent to ask the judge to act morally if the criminal’s action was a causally determined action beyond his normal ability to control.  That, in fact, is the normal operation of the “insanity defense” in law, which was originally tied to crimes of passion.  You’re simply wrong.  It *would* be inconsistent under the assumption of a causally determined universe (may I say that, please?) for it would bring all actions (including criminal ones) down to the same level as crimes of passion.

It isn’t yet clear to me how you find a “moral capable agent” in a causally determined universe.

If somebody is argumenting in a moral context, he is moral capable, isn’t he?

Is he?  Is that the definition you’re using?  Let’s say I program an android to argument in a moral context.  That, by this definition, makes the android morally capable.  Does it also give him moral responsibility given causal determinism?

What I am saying is that there is no 3rd party stance, where I as a kind of God see that humans behave as if they are responsible, but I see, from the outside, they are determined, and therefore know that the humans are cheating themselves. I am the first (criminal), or second party (judge), and the only thing I ask of these parties is to be consistent.

Your criterion for inconsistency, as detailed above, is fatally flawed.

You, Bryan, are also looking for ultimate responsibility, like Stephen. Why is ‘practical responsibility’ not enough: seeing somebody as the source of actions, and seeing him identifying with this?

I’ve already explained what I see as the requirements of responsibility, among them the ability to do otherwise (as described).  Do you need a deeper explanation than I’ve already given?  And do I get an answer as to how practical responsibility *is* enough?  Is it proper argument style to answer a question with a question, in other words?

Or is a source only a source when the water is created there?

A ball is capable of crashing a window. Humans are capable of moral reasoning.

By analogy, yes, the water needs to be created; I don’t see the analogy as particularly useful except to bias the issue.

By saying “Humans are capable of moral reasoning” you imply that humans are capable of acting as moral agents.  But that isn’t really what you’re saying, is it?  That would contradict your statements about determinism if you apply the statement to deterministic worlds, wouldn’t it?

In a previous posting you asked:

Suppose the ball possesses consciousness and wants to break the window (yet is set on its course inalterably by the thrower).  Does it then make sense to punish the ball?

The answer is ‘yes’ of course! Because the ball wants it. Because he identifies with his will to break the window. If you think it is absurd to convict the ball, then please see that this absurdity was introduced by the assumption that it has consciousness and that it is his will to break the glass. I do not plead for convicting unconscious, non-willing balls of course.

OK, so if it was possible to mesmerize you and make you want to kill your neighbor, then you should be convicted of murder because (after all), you wanted it.  You identified with your will to kill your neighbor.  No?

What do you do if you’re not certain whether or not the ball is conscious, btw?

I don’t see how that follows, unless you’ve reconciled moral realism with determinism. 

It is easy to see: come down from the 3rd party view. As soon as you do this you see you are determined to make moral deliberations. Or you see yourself and your fellow humans as free agents, and make your moral deliberations. There is no difference.

Um—there’s no difference between LFW (CCFW) and CFW?  Or do I misunderstand you?
Do you argue for this point or merely assert it?

Posted on Oct 30, 2009 at 9:30am by Bryan Comment #353

I put the point as simply as I can. Nobody deserves to be harmed. My concern is that believing some people deserve to be harmed when in fact they don’t is a bad thing so again not directly to do with morality although indirectly it is. the belief influences us negatively and is likely to make us behave immorally because it makes us believe when people are suffering that they deserve it, or even makes us think we ought to inflict suffering on people and even take delight in it.

the belief is an absolute curse.

Stephen,

Could you unpack “Nobody deserves to be harmed” for us a bit?

Does it mean that there is no morally real prescriptive such as “Wrongdoer Y deserves to have his knuckles rapped with a ruler”?

Or does it constitute its own prescriptive to the effect that “Thou shalt not harm”?

There’s a big difference between the two, but it’s possible to read you either way.

Posted on Oct 30, 2009 at 10:01am by Bryan Comment #354

It *is* relevant, and the criminal is not inconsistent to ask the judge to act morally if the criminal’s action was a causally determined action beyond his normal ability to control.

He should show that even if he now he is perfectly able to build a moral argumentation, he wasn’t when he killed the landlady.

That, in fact, is the normal operation of the “insanity defense” in law, which was originally tied to crimes of passion.  You’re simply wrong.  It *would* be inconsistent under the assumption of a causally determined universe (may I say that, please?) for it would bring all actions (including criminal ones) down to the same level as crimes of passion.

No. Give me just one example, where a criminal asked for punishment reduction because he pleaded for not guilty because the universe is deterministic.

Is he?  Is that the definition you’re using?  Let’s say I program an android to argument in a moral context.  That, by this definition, makes the android morally capable.  Does it also give him moral responsibility given causal determinism?

Yep, of course. But do not think that you get an android programmed like that without a lot of other stuff. Your intuition pump here is ridiculous.

Your criterion for inconsistency, as detailed above, is fatally flawed.

Thanks for letting me know. See above too.

I’ve already explained what I see as the requirements of responsibility, among them the ability to do otherwise (as described).  Do you need a deeper explanation than I’ve already given?  And do I get an answer as to how practical responsibility *is* enough?  Is it proper argument style to answer a question with a question, in other words?

Yes. And I described already why it is enough.

Or is a source only a source when the water is created there?.

By analogy, yes, the water needs to be created; I don’t see the analogy as particularly useful except to bias the issue.

But there? You leave out the essence of my argument.

By saying “Humans are capable of moral reasoning” you imply that humans are capable of acting as moral agents.  But that isn’t really what you’re saying, is it?  That would contradict your statements about determinism if you apply the statement to deterministic worlds, wouldn’t it?

No. You forget that your android is able to reason morally too. You are blinded by your own assumptions.

OK, so if it was possible to mesmerize you and make you want to kill your neighbor, then you should be convicted of murder because (after all), you wanted it.  You identified with your will to kill your neighbor.  No?

Ah, a specialist in hypnosis! Well, assume that such hypnosis would exist, if I wake up after the killing I would not identify with the killing, so yes, I would plead not guilty. If I do not wake up, and really still identify with it, yes of course, I should be punished. What if you are the other neighbour: if the hypnosis continues, and I am defending it was correct to kill my neighbour, wouldn’t you have me behind bars, or at least in a closed psychiatric clinic?

What do you do if you’re not certain whether or not the ball is conscious, btw?

I am not even sure Bryan, if you are conscious. You might be the first convincing program that passes the Turing test! But if I have the ball in front of me, convincing me of his moral capability by argumenting he was just forced to break the window, yes, I would assign consciousness to it. Eh, him, sorry.

I don’t see how that follows, unless you’ve reconciled moral realism with determinism. 

It is easy to see: come down from the 3rd party view. As soon as you do this you see you are determined to make moral deliberations. Or you see yourself and your fellow humans as free agents, and make your moral deliberations. There is no difference.Um—there’s no difference between LFW (CCFW) and CFW?  Or do I misunderstand you?

Yes. But I think it is no use explaining it.

Sorry for answering in the same stile you react on postings of others.

GdB

Posted on Oct 30, 2009 at 11:20am by GdB Comment #355

He should show that even if he now he is perfectly able to build a moral argumentation, he wasn’t when he killed the landlady.

Of course.  That forms the basis of his appeal.

That, in fact, is the normal operation of the “insanity defense” in law, which was originally tied to crimes of passion.  You’re simply wrong.  It *would* be inconsistent under the assumption of a causally determined universe (may I say that, please?) for it would bring all actions (including criminal ones) down to the same level as crimes of passion.

No. Give me just one example, where a criminal asked for punishment reduction because he pleaded for not guilty because the universe is deterministic.

Such arguments are made through attorneys.  Clarence Darrow was famous for using exactly that appeal when defending accused murderers.  And he won all save one of his murder cases.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clarence_Darrow

And obviously it doesn’t really matter whether I give an example or not.  You alleged an inconsistency.  I can grant only the inconsistency of a baseball pitcher who doesn’t throw strikes all the time.  But there’s nothing logically inconsistent with a pitcher throwing a strike at times and a ball at other times.  Not sure how to translate that into cricket for you, sorry.  :)

If you alleged a logical inconsistency then it rightly falls to you to show the inconsistency, not for me to demonstrate its non-existence.

More later.

Posted on Oct 30, 2009 at 12:51pm by Bryan Comment #356

Such arguments are made through attorneys.  Clarence Darrow was famous for using exactly that appeal when defending accused murderers.  And he won all save one of his murder cases.

Nice example of a ‘performative self contradiction’:

It is interesting to note that one of Darrow’s biographers reports that although Darrow constantly insisted that his clients did not deserve blame, he himself was a very vain, prideful, man who thought that he, himself, deserved high praise. That biographer comments that Darrow never quite saw, or admitted, this inconsistency in his own views.

From here. You know that web page, don’t you?

Surely you have the reasons why he won his murder cases?

And obviously it doesn’t really matter whether I give an example or not.  You alleged an inconsistency.  I can grant only the inconsistency of a baseball pitcher who doesn’t throw strikes all the time.  But there’s nothing logically inconsistent with a pitcher throwing a strike at times and a ball at other times.  Not sure how to translate that into cricket for you, sorry.  :)

You intentionally interpret the word ‘inconsistent’ in the wrong way, and you know that. See above bold, in the citation of Schwartz.

Again, you debate like a lawyer. Getting tired.

GdB

Posted on Oct 30, 2009 at 1:22pm by GdB Comment #357

 

Stephen,

Could you unpack “Nobody deserves to be harmed” for us a bit?

I think so Bryan, I’ll have a go.

Does it mean that there is no morally real prescriptive such as “Wrongdoer Y deserves to have his knuckles rapped with a ruler”?


I think we need to separate out punishment which harms from punishment which doesn’t. Many people who have had their knuckles rapped with a ruler will say it did them good.

In cases in which punishment harms, it’s not deserved meaning that there is nothing fair about the person being harmed. It being fair to someone being harmed is impossible if luck swallows everything. Let’s say one person has a life which it would be better not to have and another has a “good” life.  If this is a question of luck, then neither person can deserve their good or bad fortune, in the sense that it is fair to them. The reason I think this matters is that we would treat each other better if we didn’t mistakenly think these things were fair/deserved.

Or does it constitute its own prescriptive to the effect that “Thou shalt not harm”?

I wouldn’t say thou shalt not harm, I would simply say if someone harms because they think someone deserves it, then they are wrong to believe that justification is true. Again I would add that I think if people didn’t think some deserve to be harmed we would harm each other less. I think as one philosopher put it “free will is a mean social myth”.

Now, if harming others can be justified is another matter. Sometimes we seem to be faced with the situation in which a person or group of people will be harmed whatever we do. It seems in these case harm might be justified as the lesser of two evils. But we humans hate these moral dilemmas and I think we would do much more to try and avoid them in the first place if we didn’t think someone deserve to be harmed in these situations. 

There’s a big difference between the two, but it’s possible to read you either way.

Well I hope that’s helped.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 30, 2009 at 1:43pm by StephenLawrence Comment #358

Hi GdB,
Conspicuous by absence is all the things you do not mention from my post. I see you do not want to think about them and I will not try to induce you. You are still stuck at “free will is an illusion.” I told you my ideas were not intuitive. So I will leave you where you presently are in your thinking. Before I take my leave, I will make a couple comments.

I spent a great number of words explaining why the intuitions of logic should be suspect. Of course, I include my own logic in this! That is why I keep asking for data. Where’s your evidence? It is much too easy for a person to fool themselves unless something checks conclusions against reality. It is precisely the adherence to evidence that makes for science. To see how easily logic can lead one astray, consider how confusing it must have been for researchers who were trying to figure out electromagnetic theory. They knew a great deal about waves, how to define them mathematically and so forth, but there was this puzzle. All known waves existed on some sort of base medium, water, air or something. Their mathematical descriptions also involved the properties of the medium, yet no-one had been able to find the “ether” on which these electromagnetic waves propagated themselves. If one adheres to the very logical assumption that waves require a substrate, one is trapped by their own logic into searching for a substance that doesn’t exist.

Milk, of course, comes from cows

And there it comes from nowhere? It miraculously comes into existence in the cow? I hope you see the relevance of this remark for the free will discussion…

This is an interesting question. Where exactly DID the milk come from? Milk is a pretty special stuff. As far as we know, it exists only on the surface of the earth. Why would that be? If I dump the elements of which milk is composed in a beaker and stir it up I do not get milk. I can claim, well it’s just random chance so I probably have to do the experiment over and over again. Do you seriously think milk will ever appear in the beaker? The answer, which you will not like and will not accept because it violates your mental map, is that the cow CREATED the milk. In fact, it is pretty amazing. We don’t think it a miracle because we can trace the operations back through a chain of events and even a long evolutionary history. History is interesting, but that history does not explain why THIS chain of events occurs. The elements that make milk simply do not come together by random chance any more than it is random chance that a new fan belt was stored under the seat of my car. We can tie this to evolution, but then one has to ask why is evolution only taking place HERE at the surface of the earth? Why don’t we see things evolving all over the place? Are there some sort of hydrogen-based organisms inhabiting the sun? Why not?

‘True free will’ is an illusion, indeed. If you mean with that that if every atom in the universe is at the same place, in de same condition, you still could have decided otherwise.

GdB that is precisely what I am asserting. Think carefully what it would mean if the laws of physics are incomplete. It would become impossible to trace everything to an originating “cause.” Some things can and will be “uncaused.” Determinate and random are artificial human terms to describe human experience. In actual fact, QM has shown that all physical events are random. What we think is determinate simply has pretty good statistics so the fuzziness is small enough for us to ignore. But what if there are no statistics for some details? What I am suggesting is that ordinary matter has some properties that are regulated by determinate process such as QM and some properties which are not so determined. It is in this leftover “space” that self-generated organisms can produce free, SELF-DETERMINED and UNCAUSED choices. If you want more details take a look in my book, Mind Made Real.

Your actions come from somewhere. I somehow did not find an answer to my original question: what is a possible third option next to determinism or randomness?

Yes, that really is the question for you isn’t it? The great barrier - GdB’s ether.  It seems sooo intuitive.  What could there be besides determinate or random? Everything has to come from somewhere. I gave you an answer in the previous post, and you repeated it in your followup. I’ve stated it as explicitly as I can above, but you still go on ignoring it. And, since there can be nothing but determinate or random there can be no free will. Very tight and clean.  And of course, having concluded that, it is also impossible to escape the conclusion that no-one is responsible for anything. It is entertaining to watch the contortions of logic that result as you attempt to escape from the logical conclusions of your own assumptions. Sorry GdB that will not be possible unless you slip some error or added assumption into your chain of logic. Having made your initial assumptions and accepted the rules of logic, you are stuck. If you ever decide to consider alternatives, let me know.
Take care, DonPaul Olshove

Posted on Oct 30, 2009 at 1:59pm by DonPaul Comment #359

Such arguments are made through attorneys.  Clarence Darrow was famous for using exactly that appeal when defending accused murderers.  And he won all save one of his murder cases.

Nice example of a ‘performative self contradiction’:

It is interesting to note that one of Darrow’s biographers reports that although Darrow constantly insisted that his clients did not deserve blame, he himself was a very vain, prideful, man who thought that he, himself, deserved high praise. That biographer comments that Darrow never quite saw, or admitted, this inconsistency in his own views.

From here. You know that web page, don’t you?

I do.

Surely you have the reasons why he won his murder cases?

He won because he convinced the juries that the accused had no choice in the matter.  And the point is (or should be) that not only is the argument self-consistent so long as acts other than those resulting in the murder accusation were done given LFW (CCFW), but that I don’t even need an example to drive the point.  It’s still up to you to support the assertion of contradiction.

And obviously it doesn’t really matter whether I give an example or not.  You alleged an inconsistency.  I can grant only the inconsistency of a baseball pitcher who doesn’t throw strikes all the time.  But there’s nothing logically inconsistent with a pitcher throwing a strike at times and a ball at other times.  Not sure how to translate that into cricket for you, sorry.  :)

You intentionally interpret the word ‘inconsistent’ in the wrong way, and you know that.

Poppycock.  I interpreted it as you seemed to intend it (logical inconsistency), and finding none I granted one sense in which I *could* grant an inconsistency.  And after noting that one altered sense in which I could grant an inconsistency I repeated the point that there is no logical inconsistency apparent (“there’s nothing logically inconsistent with a pitcher throwing a strike at times and a ball at other times”).

See above bold, in the citation of Schwartz.

Yes, it can be called inconsistent for Darrow to hold to causal determinism and yet find something creative in his application of causal determinism.  But that doesn’t make the legal argument any less powerful for either the defendant or for others who hold to LFW (CCFW) while also allowing that some actions might be beyond personal control in *some* instances (as with crimes of passion).

Again, you debate like a lawyer. Getting tired.

I can’t blame you for feeling tired.  Your argument is getting pummeled.

But I’m not arguing like a lawyer.  Lawyers gravitate toward the use of logical fallacies.  They know that juries are likely to fall for fallacious reasoning.  I try to scrupulously avoid fallacious reasoning.  If you’re trying as well then you’re having less success (shifting the burden of proof, for example).

Posted on Oct 30, 2009 at 6:52pm by Bryan Comment #360

Is he?  Is that the definition you’re using?  Let’s say I program an android to argument in a moral context.  That, by this definition, makes the android morally capable.  Does it also give him moral responsibility given causal determinism?

Yep, of course. But do not think that you get an android programmed like that without a lot of other stuff. Your intuition pump here is ridiculous.

Ridiculous in what way?  Do we get any specifics at all?

“I say that CCFW does not exist, and that the kind of freedom that exists (freedom of action, not freedom of the will) is strong enough to bear the load of our practice of praising, blaming and punishing.”
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/77630/

“If I only have mechanical responsibility, then I also only need mechanical responsibility to justify punishment. (or better, I need no justification at all, I just do what I am determined to do)”
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/77764/

“We can see the universe as determined (for the sake of argument). Then what the criminal does is determined, and what the judge does too. In such a description of the universe the words ‘moral justification’ do not apply. Not to the criminal, and not to the judge.”
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewreply/77999/

Those three statements make it look likely that you have a self-contradictory view of things.  In what sense do we have a type of freedom, given determinism, that would “bear the load” for (morally justify?) punishment?

Thanks for letting me know. See above too.

You don’t have anything “above” that mitigates the failure of your criterion for inconsistency.

I’ve already explained what I see as the requirements of responsibility, among them the ability to do otherwise (as described).  Do you need a deeper explanation than I’ve already given?  And do I get an answer as to how practical responsibility *is* enough?  Is it proper argument style to answer a question with a question, in other words?

Yes. And I described already why it is enough.

Meh.  Which question are you answering?  And how about some guidance as to where you believe you have addressed the issue of practical responsibility being enough?

By analogy, yes, the water needs to be created; I don’t see the analogy as particularly useful except to bias the issue.

But there? You leave out the essence of my argument.

I don’t see the location as important so long as the causal relationship between cause and effect is a given.  If Tinkerbell creates the milk in a cow then Tinkerbell is the source of the milk regardless of the location.  I hope that wasn’t really the essence of your argument.

By saying “Humans are capable of moral reasoning” you imply that humans are capable of acting as moral agents.  But that isn’t really what you’re saying, is it?  That would contradict your statements about determinism if you apply the statement to deterministic worlds, wouldn’t it?

No. You forget that your android is able to reason morally too. You are blinded by your own assumptions.

rofl

Androids are irrelevant, here.  We can lump androids in with humans, if you like, if they are likewise “capable of moral reasoning.”  So, what assumption (or assumptions) do you think is blinding me?  It simply remains unclear as to how you resolve the irrelevancy of moral judgment with the capacity for moral reasoning, both in a deterministic setting.  Are we giving credit for moral judgment even if morality is an illusion?

OK, so if it was possible to mesmerize you and make you want to kill your neighbor, then you should be convicted of murder because (after all), you wanted it.  You identified with your will to kill your neighbor.  No?

Ah, a specialist in hypnosis! Well, assume that such hypnosis would exist, if I wake up after the killing I would not identify with the killing, so yes, I would plead not guilty. If I do not wake up, and really still identify with it, yes of course, I should be punished.

So what’s the difference between that and changing your mind after the fact that you should kill your neighbor?

What if you are the other neighbour: if the hypnosis continues, and I am defending it was correct to kill my neighbour, wouldn’t you have me behind bars, or at least in a closed psychiatric clinic?

Sure.  But what does that have to do with moral guilt?

What do you do if you’re not certain whether or not the ball is conscious, btw?

I am not even sure Bryan, if you are conscious. You might be the first convincing program that passes the Turing test! But if I have the ball in front of me, convincing me of his moral capability by argumenting he was just forced to break the window, yes, I would assign consciousness to it. Eh, him, sorry.

You conspicuously avoided the question.

Posted on Oct 30, 2009 at 7:44pm by Bryan Comment #361


Stephen,

Could you unpack “Nobody deserves to be harmed” for us a bit?

Does it mean that there is no morally real prescriptive such as “Wrongdoer Y deserves to have his knuckles rapped with a ruler”?


A shorter and I hope clear answer.

Yes it does mean that in cases in which punishment harms.

Or does it constitute its own prescriptive to the effect that “Thou shalt not harm”?

No.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 31, 2009 at 12:43am by StephenLawrence Comment #362

Your posts are far more concerned with destroying other people’s positions than stating one of your own, and this does, IMHO, make your posts more destructive than constructive. It discourages participation in the discussion by anyone who is not as combative and confident as yourself, and I don’t frankly think people’s opinions are only as valuable as the certainty and confidence with which they are willing to present them in a forum like this. Other members have complained to me that they are reluctant to participate in threads with you since having their posts (as distinct, I might add, from their ideas) dissected as you do it is unpleasant and not helpful.

From here. mckenzievmd stated it better then I can.

End of discussion.

GdB

Posted on Oct 31, 2009 at 12:47am by GdB Comment #363

Your posts are far more concerned with destroying other people’s positions than stating one of your own, and this does, IMHO, make your posts more destructive than constructive. It discourages participation in the discussion by anyone who is not as combative and confident as yourself, and I don’t frankly think people’s opinions are only as valuable as the certainty and confidence with which they are willing to present them in a forum like this. Other members have complained to me that they are reluctant to participate in threads with you since having their posts (as distinct, I might add, from their ideas) dissected as you do it is unpleasant and not helpful.

From here. mckenzievmd stated it better then I can.

End of discussion.

GdB

Extremely Relevant. Watch this go right over his head.

Posted on Oct 31, 2009 at 4:53am by VYAZMA Comment #364

Free-will. This could be shortened to just “Will”. Somewhere along the lines “free” gets attached. Language. Very influential. We think in language. Our consciousness is based on language.
“I’d be willing to let that go for 3 dollars.” There’s an example of the thought/word “will”. To me there is nothing in that statement that doesn’t stem from previous events/thoughts/interactions.
You have something. That doesn’t involve will. Why did you get it in the first place? Because you wanted to? I doubt it. Even if they were Porcelain figurines that served no purpose, there was a reason you wanted those items. It wasn’t will.
The illusion: Possession, property. “These are mine-therefore I wanted them. I chose them, I actively sought out these items, and obtained them” One can only ask “why?” There had to be a reason you wanted these. A real reason, based on your behaviorism. Based on your previous experiences.
So now your “willing” to let them go. One just “Willed The Idea” of getting rid of something. Out of thin air! No.
You became bored with them. Did you “will” yourself to get bored? No! Just like you didn’t will yourself to obtain them, and get excited about them.
Or- You got better ones. So now you have better Porcelain Figurines. This person really likes figurines. Is this person “willing”; making this happen from the sheer desire to affect his outcomes and paths; or is he just following a compulsion. A behavioral compulsion.
There’s “Willing” and there’s “Compulsory”. What do we do that is really “willing”?” Not much. If anything.
The thing is we convinced ourselves we do. It’s in our language. I think it is only in our language. Where is it out side of language? I’d like to discuss why it’s in our language. How it must be there to enhance Social Interaction.
As for determinism- I think this is getting taken too literally here. Most of the Determinism is in our heads. The collection of memories we have. Those are all the previous events that shape what comes next. The guy walking down the street is running the same system off memory. He runs into you and whammo-this is also what shapes the future!
It’s all chaotic, and kind of random, and kind of determined at the same time.
The fact we use language with each other, and in our heads helps to build the illusion we are doing all this with will-power. Actively deciding our futures. Consciousness/mindseye. Like the dog going down the street. The dog turns and crosses the street to a hydrant, then pees. There was no choice there. We are that dog-all the time. We just remember doing it and can use language to convey the memory to people. We relay our consciousness too others and to ourselves.
“Yeah, I let Bill buy my figurines.” See the language here.
“I didn’t have money for the show so I snuck in through the back”. Using language to convey something to somebody else in describing what you did. The language automatically conveys “will” or “want” or “made happen”.
But really you sneaking in to the show was exactly like what the dog did. The dog didn’t have to pee at that hydrant, but he did. Why?( cause technically he DID have to, that’s why he crossed, he had no choice-behavior guided him)

Posted on Oct 31, 2009 at 6:19am by VYAZMA Comment #365

By the way, don’t say language has anything to do with free-will. It doesn’t. This is how we can get to the bottom of the illusion. One way. Language! It is a key part of the illusion.
Some others are our behavioral mechanics involved with social interaction. Memory is a huge part. The dualism we discussed before.
These tough nuts. Crack these open, and you will see there is no free-will.
It’s like what Don Paul keeps getting at, we have to determine how to address this “Mind” of ours. What is it? How is it projecting itself?
Is it even projecting itself?(language?)
It’s like trying to chop an axe, with an axe. The same axe!!! Cuckoo-Cuckoo-Cuckoo!

Posted on Oct 31, 2009 at 6:34am by VYAZMA Comment #366

Your posts are far more concerned with destroying other people’s positions than stating one of your own, and this does, IMHO, make your posts more destructive than constructive. It discourages participation in the discussion by anyone who is not as combative and confident as yourself, and I don’t frankly think people’s opinions are only as valuable as the certainty and confidence with which they are willing to present them in a forum like this. Other members have complained to me that they are reluctant to participate in threads with you since having their posts (as distinct, I might add, from their ideas) dissected as you do it is unpleasant and not helpful.

From here. mckenzievmd stated it better then I can.

End of discussion.

If anything discourages discussion, it’s “End of discussion.”

At least think, if you will, about the objection lodged by good Dr. Mckenzie.

Let’s supposed I advance my own view of things from the start.  What response can I expect?  “Oh, I already have a view that works just fine, thanks!”  Add to that the fact that those advancing the compatibilist view routinely trash and ridicule LFW based on their own presuppositions.  It seems to me the right place to start is the testing of the claims already existing in a thread, not introducing competing claims that might not even fit the thread topic.

We also have the judgment that my posts are “destructive.”  I’d say that can be a good thing.  We want faulty ideas destroyed, don’t we?  But added to that is the notion that my posts supposedly discourage discussion (unlike ridiculing LFW, I suppose), based simply on the supposed confidence with which I express myself.  Whether or not that charge fits elsewhere, it doesn’t fit here.  I have been very patiently trying to coax your view out of you, GdB, and only offering my criticisms to the degree that I understand your position.  I have simply offered that it looks to me so far as though your position *may* be contradictory.  To me, that encourages discussion unless you happen to think I’m right.

Here’s something else that discourages discussion.  Make posts to the effect that the views of others should not be dissected/criticized.

Maybe this place needs a shallow end and a deep end, so combative folks like me can have discussions with people just as self-confident and combative as we are.  ;)

Posted on Oct 31, 2009 at 9:35am by Bryan Comment #367

Your posts are far more concerned with destroying other people’s positions than stating one of your own, and this does, IMHO, make your posts more destructive than constructive. It discourages participation in the discussion by anyone who is not as combative and confident as yourself, and I don’t frankly think people’s opinions are only as valuable as the certainty and confidence with which they are willing to present them in a forum like this. Other members have complained to me that they are reluctant to participate in threads with you since having their posts (as distinct, I might add, from their ideas) dissected as you do it is unpleasant and not helpful.

From here. mckenzievmd stated it better then I can.

End of discussion.

GdB

Extremely Relevant. Watch this go right over his head.

Well it’s gone over my head, looks like claptrap to me.

Stephen

Posted on Oct 31, 2009 at 1:09pm by StephenLawrence Comment #368

Your posts are far more concerned with destroying other people’s positions than stating one of your own, and this does, IMHO, make your posts more destructive than constructive. It discourages participation in the discussion by anyone who is not as combative and confident as yourself, and I don’t frankly think people’s opinions are only as valuable as the certainty and confidence with which they are willing to present them in a forum like this. Other members have complained to me that they are reluctant to participate in threads with you since having their posts (as distinct, I might add, from their ideas) dissected as you do it is unpleasant and not helpful.

From here. mckenzievmd stated it better then I can.

End of discussion.

If anything discourages discussion, it’s “End of discussion.”

At least think, if you will, about the objection lodged by good Dr. Mckenzie.

Let’s supposed I advance my own view of things from the start.  What response can I expect?  “Oh, I already have a view that works just fine, thanks!”  Add to that the fact that those advancing the compatibilist view routinely trash and ridicule LFW based on their own presuppositions.  It seems to me the right place to start is the testing of the claims already existing in a thread, not introducing competing claims that might not even fit the thread topic.

We also have the judgment that my posts are “destructive.”  I’d say that can be a good thing.  We want faulty ideas destroyed, don’t we?  But added to that is the notion that my posts supposedly discourage discussion (unlike ridiculing LFW, I suppose), based simply on the supposed confidence with which I express myself.  Whether or not that charge fits elsewhere, it doesn’t fit here.  I have been very patiently trying to coax your view out of you, GdB, and only offering my criticisms to the degree that I understand your position.  I have simply offered that it looks to me so far as though your position *may* be contradictory.  To me, that encourages discussion unless you happen to think I’m right.

Here’s something else that discourages discussion.  Make posts to the effect that the views of others should not be dissected/criticized.

Maybe this place needs a shallow end and a deep end, so combative folks like me can have discussions with people just as self-confident and combative as we are.  ;)

My suggestion to the moderators would be to shift this discussion to “philosophy” because folks are not really discussing the podcast.

I think Bryan’s discussions are worthwhile but sometimes hard to read (the dissection business).

On “free will” I think the discussion needs to be anchored in a discussion of physics, reality, and how we really think rather than an abstract discussion. The term “free will” itself is fuzzy and as far as I can see meaningless unless anchored in physics, reality, and how we really think. Otherwise it becomes somewhat tautological.

Posted on Oct 31, 2009 at 1:26pm by Jackson Comment #369

Jackson-

On “free will” I think the discussion needs to be anchored in a discussion of physics, reality, and how we really think rather than an abstract discussion. The term “free will” itself is fuzzy and as far as I can see meaningless unless anchored in physics, reality, and how we really think. Otherwise it becomes somewhat tautological.

The thing that would go over his head was the idea of him changing his discussion techniques. His constant confrontation, and line by line ad hoc dissemination.(with the result of slowing dialogue, and constant sidetracks). He doesn’t realize nobody can endure this type(his type) discussion for long-it’s tedious. That’s the point!
Secondly this topic isn’t about physics-it’s about Neurology first and foremost. Philosophy, and metaphysics second. It can only be discussed using reasoning- not absolutes. Definitely NOT ideology.

Posted on Oct 31, 2009 at 1:47pm by VYAZMA Comment #370

Jackson-

On “free will” I think the discussion needs to be anchored in a discussion of physics, reality, and how we really think rather than an abstract discussion. The term “free will” itself is fuzzy and as far as I can see meaningless unless anchored in physics, reality, and how we really think. Otherwise it becomes somewhat tautological.

The thing that would go over his head was the idea of him changing his discussion techniques. His constant confrontation, and line by line ad hoc dissemination.(with the result of slowing dialogue, and constant sidetracks). He doesn’t realize nobody can endure this type(his type) discussion for long-it’s tedious. That’s the point!
Secondly this topic isn’t about physics-it’s about Neurology first and foremost. Philosophy, and metaphysics second. It can only be discussed using reasoning- not absolutes. Definitely NOT ideology.

1. I agree that even if I’m interested in the topic Bryan’s style wears me down.
2. I disagree that physics has absolutely nothing to do with it but I agree 100% on including neurology, and when I said “how we really think” perhaps I should have just said neurology (and don’t have a problem with it being first on the list).
3. The style also makes it hard for someone coming in to figure out what is being talked about….

Posted on Oct 31, 2009 at 2:55pm by Jackson Comment #371

Jackson-

On “free will” I think the discussion needs to be anchored in a discussion of physics, reality, and how we really think rather than an abstract discussion. The term “free will” itself is fuzzy and as far as I can see meaningless unless anchored in physics, reality, and how we really think. Otherwise it becomes somewhat tautological.

The thing that would go over his head was the idea of him changing his discussion techniques. His constant confrontation, and line by line ad hoc dissemination.(with the result of slowing dialogue, and constant sidetracks). He doesn’t realize nobody can endure this type(his type) discussion for long-it’s tedious. That’s the point!
Secondly this topic isn’t about physics-it’s about Neurology first and foremost. Philosophy, and metaphysics second. It can only be discussed using reasoning- not absolutes. Definitely NOT ideology.

1. I agree that even if I’m interested in the topic Bryan’s style wears me down.
2. I disagree that physics has absolutely nothing to do with it but I agree 100% on including neurology, and when I said “how we really think” perhaps I should have just said neurology (and don’t have a problem with it being first on the list).
3. The style also makes it hard for someone coming in to figure out what is being talked about….

Yes Jackson, I did see you mentioned the “way we think”. Sorry about that. I must admit that my defensiveness comes from the fact that I’m also frustrated like you for the same reasons. There is way too much “ether” talk, and philosophical “schools” here. This talk about possible outcomes, alternate realities, etc…
I’m sorry if I was “fronting up” in my reply to you.
Oh yeah, all the talk about justice, morals, points of view….it doesn’t interest me either, I just want to talk about why we think the way we do in regards to Free-will, behavior, causes of behavior, and scientific perspectives on what is “mind”, what is “perception” etc..
None of that other stuff has any real connection to The illusion of Free-Will. That’s my opinion. I’ll go with you on physics, but I wouldn’t know how to start from that angle.

Posted on Oct 31, 2009 at 3:43pm by VYAZMA Comment #372

Jackson-

On “free will” I think the discussion needs to be anchored in a discussion of physics, reality, and how we really think rather than an abstract discussion. The term “free will” itself is fuzzy and as far as I can see meaningless unless anchored in physics, reality, and how we really think. Otherwise it becomes somewhat tautological.

The thing that would go over his head was the idea of him changing his discussion techniques.

Meh.  Except I’ve done that before on request.

His constant confrontation, and line by line ad hoc dissemination.(with the result of slowing dialogue, and constant sidetracks). He doesn’t realize nobody can endure this type(his type) discussion for long-it’s tedious.

Of course I won’t realize that nobody can endure it.  It’s perfectly normal on Usenet (and carries over to quite a few discussion boards as a result).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posting_style#Trimming_and_reformatting

Posted on Oct 31, 2009 at 8:23pm by Bryan Comment #373

 

My suggestion to the moderators would be to shift this discussion to “philosophy” because folks are not really discussing the podcast.

I think we can just move across to there, I’ll do that soon.

On “free will” I think the discussion needs to be anchored in a discussion of physics, reality, and how we really think rather than an abstract discussion. The term “free will” itself is fuzzy and as far as I can see meaningless unless anchored in physics, reality, and how we really think. Otherwise it becomes somewhat tautological.

It’s not fuzzy.
Free will for compatibilists is: Could have done otherwise in appropriately different circumstances in such a way that makes us responsible for the choice.

Free will for incompatibilists is: Could have done otherwise in the circumstances in such a way that makes us responsible for the choice.

Having seen many of your posts I think I do have enugh information to say you intuitively believe in the latter, especially as a person is bound to if they haven’t changed their minds, as that is what we are conditioned to believe in.

Physics has absolutely nothing to do with it, all physics can perhaps do is tell us if there is more than one thing that can happen in a given set of circumstances or just one. What it can’t do is show how if there is more than one thing, that it would give us responsibility. 

Stephen

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 4:06am by StephenLawrence Comment #374

Jackson-

On “free will” I think the discussion needs to be anchored in a discussion of physics, reality, and how we really think rather than an abstract discussion. The term “free will” itself is fuzzy and as far as I can see meaningless unless anchored in physics, reality, and how we really think. Otherwise it becomes somewhat tautological.

The thing that would go over his head was the idea of him changing his discussion techniques.

Meh.  Except I’ve done that before on request.

His constant confrontation, and line by line ad hoc dissemination.(with the result of slowing dialogue, and constant sidetracks). He doesn’t realize nobody can endure this type(his type) discussion for long-it’s tedious.

Of course I won’t realize that nobody can endure it.  It’s perfectly normal on Usenet (and carries over to quite a few discussion boards as a result).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Posting_style#Trimming_and_reformatting

Personally I wouldn’t waste your time with this Bryan, let’s get back to the debate, posters are free to use the ignore button.

Best,

Stephen

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 4:08am by StephenLawrence Comment #375

Hi DonPaul,

Sorry for my late reaction on your posting. I assume I am a ‘child of this time’, a child of the ‘internet generation’, that cannot digest texts that are too long (at least not behind the computer…) So obviously I missed your point. I hope I can directly answer on it now.

My point is that physics has no ‘metaphysical free will’ on offer: it offers us determinism (classical physics) or randomness (QM). If there is a 3rd possibility (or 4th, or even more), then it should be possible to find it: it should show in some physical effect. If I express my will in an action, and this action should count as ‘free will’, then somewhere this free will must ‘enter’ into the material universe. In actions there always is a physical component, e.g. bodily movements. This place then, should be empirically found, if neurologists search long enough. But when it is empirically found, then it will be part of physics! (Superfluous to say that the neurologists are the loudest in saying we have no free will.)

At his moment only QM knows about ‘indeterminate natural laws’, but these are essentially random. And not to forget: it looks very much that quantum effects play no essential role in the brain. Quantum states die out too soon (decoherence) in the wet brain tissue that they make it into the visible world. (Think about it that we have to put nature ‘on the rack’ to find quantum effects.) See here. So neurons can be seen as complex, but deterministic switches. That an observation collapses the wave function can be explained as the decoherence of a quantum state in a macroscopical system. No consciousness needed, even though consciousness of course is a function of a macroscopical system, the brain.

So if you still think I have a blind spot in my logic, then be it so. Progress in science must show me otherwise. Or maybe you can still try to convince me?

To Jackson:

From above argumentation, you can conclude that I really think that physics has nothing to do with free will. My position is that if we are looking for the possibility of free will in physics, we are looking at the wrong place. Again, I do not say free will does not exist! Does marriage exist? Promises? Beauty? Values? Contracts? If a physicist says that the atoms of which a contract is build up do not differ from atoms that makes up a piece of wood, and that he did not find ‘contractness’ in his analysis, and therefore contracts do not exist, would you agree with him? So also looking for the possibility of ‘could have done otherwise’ in physics is a category error.

To VYAZMA:

If physical determinism is true, then we get neurological determinism for free, don’t we? Neurons are physical objects…

I can imagine that you are not interested in the moral stuff. But at least I stick to the point that in this domain, the discussion about free will could have its hardest consequences. (See Stephen’s crusade with ‘luck swallows everything’) Again, when neurologists yell that we should change our legal system, because of their ‘discoveries’, then I must react… Free will exists! (i.e. freedom of action). If freedom would mean the freedom to be who you want to be (doesn’t this sound already a bit silly?), then you could change your taste, sexual orientation, aesthetic preferences based on ... yeah, based on what? But freedom to do what you want makes sense, and we can even distinguish different degrees of this capability. And that is relevant in deciding if somebody was fully responsible for his crime or not. We do not need ‘ultimate’ (physical?) responsibility.

A last remark about Bryan: I find his way of argumenting back-breaking, this ‘constant confrontation, and line by line ad hoc dissemination’ (thanks for this phrase, VYAZMA). He is only interested in winning a debate (that’s why I call his style ‘lawyer like’), not in convincing others: to convince others, you must at least keep them on the line. Even when addressing his style, he responds in exactly the same way. Maybe I gave him some more to reflect on in his blog? (See here, and here). Somehow I have the impression he does not take us serious…

GdB

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 6:23am by GdB Comment #376

One other very practical point. Tomorrow I start a new job. I want to make a good start, so I will not have so much time for this forum. So if you see nearly no posting of me anymore, it is mainly that. But I might sneek in again in the weekends…

Best to you all,

GdB

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 6:29am by GdB Comment #377

One other very practical point. Tomorrow I start a new job. I want to make a good start, so I will not have so much time for this forum. So if you see nearly no posting of me anymore, it is mainly that. But I might sneek in again in the weekends…

Best to you all,

GdB

All the best to you in your new job GdB

Stephen

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 6:58am by StephenLawrence Comment #378

One other very practical point. Tomorrow I start a new job. I want to make a good start, so I will not have so much time for this forum. So if you see nearly no posting of me anymore, it is mainly that. But I might sneek in again in the weekends…

Best to you all,

GdB

Yes, we do hope to see you here again, at your convenience, of course. Hope the new job is interesting and fruitful.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 7:00am by dougsmith Comment #379

Thanks, Doug and Stephen,

Of course the new job is databases again… But yes, that can be interesting!

GdB

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 7:19am by GdB Comment #380

Viel Glueck! Machts Gut. Wir sehen Uns spaeter!

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 8:39am by VYAZMA Comment #381

Viel Glueck! Machts Gut. Wir sehen Uns spaeter!

Du hast keinen Umlaut auf deinem Tastatur!  :-)

Bis später!

GdB

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 8:42am by GdB Comment #382

Viel Glueck! Machts Gut. Wir sehen Uns spaeter!

Du hast keinen Umlaut auf deinem Tastatur!  :-)

Bis später!

GdB

Nein glaub Ich nicht. Nein Ich hab’ kein. Bis spaeter!

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 8:44am by VYAZMA Comment #383

GdB-

If physical determinism is true, then we get neurological determinism for free, don’t we? Neurons are physical objects…

I can imagine that you are not interested in the moral stuff. But at least I stick to the point that in this domain, the discussion about free will could have its hardest consequences. (See Stephen’s crusade with ‘luck swallows everything’) Again, when neurologists yell that we should change our legal system, because of their ‘discoveries’, then I must react… Free will exists! (i.e. freedom of action). If freedom would mean the freedom to be who you want to be (doesn’t this sound already a bit silly?), then you could change your taste, sexual orientation, aesthetic preferences based on ... yeah, based on what? But freedom to do what you want makes sense, and we can even distinguish different degrees of this capability. And that is relevant in deciding if somebody was fully responsible for his crime or not. We do not need ‘ultimate’ (physical?) responsibility.

Maybe what exists in this case is not free-will. It is the existence of social-behavioral “laws” that say-Individuals react naturally to the natural actions of others. Of course we see this in animals too. A person is “bound” to be physically determined to react to the actions of someone else’s determined actions. The rules that loosely form these reactions are Social-Human Behavior systems.
We have “evolved” to describe these interactions as Free-will. In otherwords, our minds are pre-programmed to “perceive” free-will, so that the continuation of Social Behavior goes forward.
I mean afterall, I don’t want to dehumanize things but take “Love”. This is on the same level as the concept of Free-will. We perceive a wonderful, warm, longing and spiritual coexistence with people. This is love. But, we know what causes it. The mechanics are readily studied, and dissected. But the actual Feeling, or (ahem,illusion) of love overrides what we can Scientifically/Naturally observe.(and thank Zeus for that!)
The same with free-will. Somehow we are Behaviorally-Genetically encoded to “use” the system of free-will. Because without this behaviorism, we would never be able to form social units(of any size).

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 9:29am by VYAZMA Comment #384

Maybe as a ‘final present’ to this discussion:

Raymond M. Smullyan wrote a very funny, but, in my eyes philosophical correct, story:  Is God a Taoist?

If you do not want to read the whole, then start close to the end:

Mortal:
  Anyway, it is reassuring to know that my natural intuition about having free will is correct. Sometimes I have been worried that determinists are correct.

God:
  They are correct.

Mortal:
  Wait a minute now, do I have free will or don’t I?

But I suggest you read everything, it’s worth the time.

GdB

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 9:34am by GdB Comment #385

That was very good GdB. Except as we know there is no super-being god, who do we realistically replace “God” with in that little dialogue? My answer is DNA. In this little dialogue is also a good illustration of the “illusion”(where does mind end, and universe begin?)
Outside of language, where does individual end, and social group begin? This is really a good crux! Take this question and relate it to the concept of “mind”, the projection of the mind. Dualism. We are a social unit ourselves. That’s why we talk to ourselves(with language) in our minds.(consciousness)
In our heads we are “weighing” a decision.(an upcoming reaction, or action) “Hmmmn, should I paint my door red or blue?”
Where is the choice here? It is already made, I think.(and this is simplifying it) The dialogue in our head is just a byproduct, the end result of the automatic action. The “fluff” that goes round in our Mind. It goes round and round. It’s just quantifying, collating, cataloging. Remember! What made you say in your head: “Red or Blue?” What “made” you ultimately “want” Blue, instead of red?
Who knows? But it wasn’t 2 different “people” in our minds. One who likes blue the other who likes red.
The end result is going to be 1 person who paints the door blue.
I know this concept is highly vulnerable to critique, and refutation, I can’t argue against that. And right now, I can’t explain it any better. It’s tough to wrap your head around.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 10:04am by VYAZMA Comment #386


Mortal:
  Wait a minute now, do I have free will or don’t I?

 

A correct answer to this question would be no you don’t have free will.  The reason is the mortal does not have what he is refering to when he asks do I have free will.

Another correct answer would be yes you do have free will but it’s not what you think it is.

Stephen

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 11:03am by StephenLawrence Comment #387

A correct answer to this question would be no you don’t have free will.  The reason is the mortal does not have what he is refering to when he asks do I have free will.

Another correct answer would be yes you do have free will but it’s not what you think it is.

I would suggest you read the complete text… It is fun, and it is very to the point about this topic. Please tell me in due time what you think of this dialogue.

GdB

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 11:39am by GdB Comment #388

A correct answer to this question would be no you don’t have free will.  The reason is the mortal does not have what he is refering to when he asks do I have free will.

Another correct answer would be yes you do have free will but it’s not what you think it is.

I would suggest you read the complete text… It is fun, and it is very to the point about this topic. Please tell me in due time what you think of this dialogue.

GdB

I read it sometime ago, I’ll gve it another go and come back.

I got crime and punishment and was happy to find Raskolnikoff only got eight years with the chance of happiness with Sophie at the end of it, good on the judge :-)

Stephen

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 12:09pm by StephenLawrence Comment #389

Maybe what exists in this case is not free-will. It is the existence of social-behavioral “laws” that say-Individuals react naturally to the natural actions of others. Of course we see this in animals too. A person is “bound” to be physically determined to react to the actions of someone else’s determined actions. The rules that loosely form these reactions are Social-Human Behavior systems.
We have “evolved” to describe these interactions as Free-will. In otherwords, our minds are pre-programmed to “perceive” free-will, so that the continuation of Social Behavior goes forward.
I mean afterall, I don’t want to dehumanize things but take “Love”. This is on the same level as the concept of Free-will. We perceive a wonderful, warm, longing and spiritual coexistence with people. This is love. But, we know what causes it. The mechanics are readily studied, and dissected. But the actual Feeling, or (ahem,illusion) of love overrides what we can Scientifically/Naturally observe.(and thank Zeus for that!)
The same with free-will. Somehow we are Behaviorally-Genetically encoded to “use” the system of free-will. Because without this behaviorism, we would never be able to form social units(of any size).

Vyazma,

This isn’t it at all, when you look back at what you could have done and get upset that you didn’t do such and such or are pleased with yourself for doing such and such , you are conditioned to believe that you could or couldn’t in those circumstances. That’s the erroneous belief and by that I mean it makes no difference whether you could or couldn’t do such and such in those circumstances, the only appropriate feelings to have about this are about what you could have done if you were in appropriately different circumstances.

Stephen

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 1:53pm by StephenLawrence Comment #390

Hi DonPaul,

Sorry for my late reaction on your posting. I assume I am a ‘child of this time’, a child of the ‘internet generation’, that cannot digest texts that are too long (at least not behind the computer…) So obviously I missed your point. I hope I can directly answer on it now.

no apologies needed, and I apologize for sucking up your time with overly wordy posts. I guess I don’t know how to be brief. And of course, I also wish you well in the new endeavor.

My point is that physics has no ‘metaphysical free will’ on offer: it offers us determinism (classical physics) or randomness (QM). If there is a 3rd possibility (or 4th, or even more), then it should be possible to find it: it should show in some physical effect. If I express my will in an action, and this action should count as ‘free will’, then somewhere this free will must ‘enter’ into the material universe. In actions there always is a physical component, e.g. bodily movements. This place then, should be empirically found, if neurologists search long enough. But when it is empirically found, then it will be part of physics! (Superfluous to say that the neurologists are the loudest in saying we have no free will.)

So far, we are 100% in agreement with the minor exception that I would say CURRENT physics has no ...  The current paradigm is what I am out to change with some new theory. Nor am I alone in this attempt. At this point, no theory has really gotten off the ground to the point of considering serious testing.

At his moment only QM knows about ‘indeterminate natural laws’, but these are essentially random. And not to forget: it looks very much that quantum effects play no essential role in the brain. Quantum states die out too soon (decoherence) in the wet brain tissue that they make it into the visible world. (Think about it that we have to put nature ‘on the rack’ to find quantum effects.) See here. So neurons can be seen as complex, but deterministic switches. That an observation collapses the wave function can be explained as the decoherence of a quantum state in a macroscopical system. No consciousness needed, even though consciousness of course is a function of a macroscopical system, the brain.

So if you still think I have a blind spot in my logic, then be it so. Progress in science must show me otherwise. Or maybe you can still try to convince me?

There is nothing wrong with your LOGIC GdB and that is my current point. You are trapped in a set of assumptions and conclusions that not only lead to contradiction with your direct experiences of free will and its consequences, but they prevent you from making the very progress that is needed. The most obvious erroneous assumption is that physics is static. Physics is a LONG way from figuring everything out. Makes me think of the time near the end of the nineteenth century when the physics experts of the time felt they had almost everything figured out. There were just a couple of little details left that didn’t seem to quite fit into the overall theories. One of these details lead to QM the other to relativity theory. Believe me things are still a very long way from settled in physical science.

Another dangerous assumption you make is that mind and its free will have nothing to do with physical reality. 

To Jackson:

From above argumentation, you can conclude that I really think that physics has nothing to do with free will.
GdB

and I will rope in Stephen here too.

Physics has absolutely nothing to do with it, all physics can perhaps do is tell us if there is more than one thing that can happen in a given set of circumstances or just one. What it can’t do is show how if there is more than one thing, that it would give us responsibility.

Stephen

Guys, if physics has nothing to do with free will, you are saying that our minds are irrelevant, or to use the philosophical term, they are epiphenomena. You can’t have things both ways. Either minds are connected to physical reality (this is pretty solidly established.) or they are not. If they aren’t attached, then free will is irrelevant because it can have no effect anyway. If minds are attached in some way then they end up as physical quantities, but that fact alone does NOT mean that free will cannot exist. What is required is a theory that connects mind and brain in some sensible way. Then one can decide if the theory which explains mind allows for something that one can call free will.
DonPaul.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 2:23pm by DonPaul Comment #391


There is nothing wrong with your LOGIC GdB and that is my current point. You are trapped in a set of assumptions and conclusions that not only lead to contradiction with your direct experiences of free will and its consequences, but they prevent you from making the very progress that is needed.

We do not directly experience free will. Free will is inexperiencable assuming we don’t have it and if we do have it, it’s inexperiencable in another looser sense. I’m sitting still in my living room, you could say I’m experiencing hurtling around in space but it doesn’t seem like I’m experiencing it, that is the looser sense that I mean free will is inexperiencable, I think people can get what I mean by we don’t experience hurtling around in space when we are sitting still in our living rooms.

What we experience is this:  “2. Seems like the ability of a given mechanism such as the human brain to create (imagine) and analyze multiple alternative behaviors with different potential futures, then choose and execute one or more (or none) of the alternatives is pretty close to a good definition of what ordinary people refer to as free will.”

Obviously that is choice making and not free will.


Stephen

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 2:53pm by StephenLawrence Comment #392

Obviously that is choice making and not free will.


Stephen

Too esoteric for me. What physical test would I perform to distinguish a “choice” from a “free will” by some device or organism? In other words, How will I know free will when I see it?

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 3:05pm by DonPaul Comment #393

Earlier GdB had mentioned the lack of a boundary between a person and the universe. Obviously there is no boundary. On many levels we are the same as a Marshmallow, or the Planet Saturn. Does Saturn have free-will? How about a marshmallow?
But we are sentient. We are more than that though-we are conscious. Still, this has no reason to give us free-will. In fact Free-will is just an idea. How much Free-will does a spider have? I bet none.
Still, like the spider we have DNA. Evolution in other words.
Causal determinism could be applied to evolution. We have tons of prerecorded codes in us. Genes-DNA. All products of past actions and environments. In fact these pre-recorded codes soundly make us who we are-as a species and as individuals. That and environment.
The DNA, and environment shape our Behavior Soundly.
OK, what are we left with? Oh, that consciousness. That projected mind. Which, unless some of you wish to state has an ether all it’s own, or some extraneous connection with a soul, or spirit, is nothing more than a type of projection that the brain “sees” and “hears”.
A tricky item no doubt. And locked within this narrowed down item(consciousness) we perceive free-will. That’s it. It’s short shrift.
We know DNA and genes control. We know we are controlled by environment. Behavior, hormones, chemicals etc….these all are Definitely “Free-Willing”(that’s a joke). But now we have this little teeny item, which we don’t know much about, and It gives us the idea of freedom.
Well I say free-will would have to be evolutionary. Right? I mean we came from protozoa, and then little furry creatures etc….
Somewhere evolution decided to start building Free-will. Right! When was that? When our brains became big enough, and complex enough! Right! Why would Free-will evolve? There can only be one answer. To make social behavior more efficient. Why would evolution relinquish it’s control? Of course! IT WOULDN’T. It didn’t give us free-will. It gave us something that was just as good as free-will…without all the mind control, and changing REAL outcomes. Without the ability to ACT OUTSIDE OF BEHAVIORAL BOUNDARIES. Without the ability to supersede evolution!
It gave us social behavior. It gave us something which philosophers started calling free-will. It gave us something which we could rightly call the illusion of free-will. It’s not free-will.(the ability to change logic, or behavior at will) it’s a perceptive behavioral stance. It’s a mechanism whereby we form more complex social units.(cities, courts, love triangles, TV shows etc..)
Yes we can apply it to the past, present or future. Regrets, Hopes, surprises, etc…..
It is instrumental in creating Complex Modern Hierarchies.
But for the mind-there would be no Free-will. And frankly the mind isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s practically an illusion itself. All the real stuff is going on in your brain, you ain’t controlling any of it. The mind is an afterthought, it says: “Gee I wish I would have done that differently.” So what? You didn’t. You did it one way. Now you can laugh as you and your mind ponder it.(this last is to emphasize the incredible part of duality-another wonderful product of the Brain.)
So, those of you who recognize this duality, and this minds projection, I still am amazed at how you want to tinker with Physics, and Metaphysics, or Philosophy.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 4:09pm by VYAZMA Comment #394

OK, what are we left with? Oh, that consciousness. That projected mind. Which, unless some of you wish to state has an ether all it’s own, or some extraneous connection with a soul, or spirit, is nothing more than a type of projection that the brain “sees” and “hears”.

It is here that your assumptions are particularly ill-suited.  If consciousness is an epiphenomenon then it seems as though we could do entirely without it.  Just let unconscious matter carry on with all the physical actions without bothering with consciousness.  Consciousness as an evolutionary feature seems to make no sense at all as an epiphenomenon.  How is it supposed to contribute to survival?

We know DNA and genes control. We know we are controlled by environment. Behavior, hormones, chemicals etc….these all are Definitely “Free-Willing”(that’s a joke). But now we have this little teeny item, which we don’t know much about, and It gives us the idea of freedom.
Well I say free-will would have to be evolutionary. Right? I mean we came from protozoa, and then little furry creatures etc….
Somewhere evolution decided to start building Free-will. Right! When was that? When our brains became big enough, and complex enough! Right! Why would Free-will evolve? There can only be one answer. To make social behavior more efficient. Why would evolution relinquish it’s control? Of course! IT WOULDN’T. It didn’t give us free-will. It gave us something that was just as good as free-will…without all the mind control, and changing REAL outcomes. Without the ability to ACT OUTSIDE OF BEHAVIORAL BOUNDARIES. Without the ability to supersede evolution!
It gave us social behavior. It gave us something which philosophers started calling free-will. It gave us something which we could rightly call the illusion of free-will. It’s not free-will.(the ability to change logic, or behavior at will) it’s a perceptive behavioral stance. It’s a mechanism whereby we form more complex social units.(cities, courts, love triangles, TV shows etc..)
Yes we can apply it to the past, present or future. Regrets, Hopes, surprises, etc…..
It is instrumental in creating Complex Modern Hierarchies.
But for the mind-there would be no Free-will. And frankly the mind isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s practically an illusion itself. All the real stuff is going on in your brain, you ain’t controlling any of it. The mind is an afterthought, it says: “Gee I wish I would have done that differently.” So what? You didn’t. You did it one way. Now you can laugh as you and your mind ponder it.(this last is to emphasize the incredible part of duality-another wonderful product of the Brain.)
So, those of you who recognize this duality, and this minds projection, I still am amazed at how you want to tinker with Physics, and Metaphysics, or Philosophy.

Do I need to point out again that libertarian free will (LFW/CCFW) is not necessarily inseparable from dualism?  I guess I do.  Libertarian free will does not rely on dualistic assumption.  All that is really essential is the model of causation that allows for probabilities.  More than one outcome stemming from the exact same set of circumstances, in other words.

You suggest that the conscious perception of the will (I’m not going to call it free will since that term typically refers to LFW/CCFW) is an evolved feature that assists in making social behavior more efficient.  But why would it be more efficient than the same physical state minus the conscious state?  If the physical state reflects data that effectively represent the social environment, then what additional role is filled by the consciousness?  Without crediting consciousness as something more than an epiphenomenon, that is?

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 4:26pm by Bryan Comment #395

It is here that your assumptions are particularly ill-suited.  If consciousness is an epiphenomenon then it seems as though we could do entirely without it.  Just let unconscious matter carry on with all the physical actions without bothering with consciousness.  Consciousness as an evolutionary feature seems to make no sense at all as an epiphenomenon.  How is it supposed to contribute to survival?
Do I need to point out again that libertarian free will (LFW/CCFW) is not necessarily inseparable from dualism?  I guess I do.  Libertarian free will does not rely on dualistic assumption.  All that is really essential is the model of causation that allows for probabilities.  More than one outcome stemming from the exact same set of circumstances, in other words.
You suggest that the conscious perception of the will (I’m not going to call it free will since that term typically refers to LFW/CCFW) is an evolved feature that assists in making social behavior more efficient.  But why would it be more efficient than the same physical state minus the conscious state?  If the physical state reflects data that effectively represent the social environment, then what additional role is filled by the consciousness?  Without crediting consciousness as something more than an epiphenomenon, that is?

Well the consciousness is there. We know that. It could be just a simple by-product of ears, eyes, and other sensory items. I don’t know. It contributes to survival…again, it might just be some by-product of the brain. I said many pages ago, my idea of consciousness is a way to catalog incoming sensory data, and correlate it with memory. These would be processes of environment that we behave in accordance with. But I say again..like above it is a tricky matter.(mind)
Well, I don’t know what your idea of dualism is. I’m not certain about the actual definition, but I use it to describe the actual dualism that goes on inside the mind. The ability to refer to oneself. The ability to talk to yourself in your head-(thinking).
Consciousness could have evolved along with language. It serves a purpose of thought-no doubt. But I don’t think that alone gives us Free-will. Just like our eyes don’t give us free-will(that’s the crux of my position).
I don’t see how you could have more than one outcome from the same set of circumstances. Give me an example of this, or explain it please.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 4:43pm by VYAZMA Comment #396

Bryan said:

It is here that your assumptions are particularly ill-suited.  If consciousness is an epiphenomenon then it seems as though we could do entirely without it.  Just let unconscious matter carry on with all the physical actions without bothering with consciousness.  Consciousness as an evolutionary feature seems to make no sense at all as an epiphenomenon.  How is it supposed to contribute to survival?

I don’t see how you could have more than one outcome from the same set of circumstances. Give me an example of this, or explain it please.

I think you are missing his point about evolution VYAZMA. This is a valuable data point. You seem to accept evolution, so look at it this way. Evolution does drive toward efficiency, especially efficiency in matters of energy expenditure. The human brain sucks up about 30% of a human beings expended energy. Now for any situation that was completely random, a brain could have no effect on real outcomes anyway, so a brain won’t help. Similarly, for any situation that was completely determined, again, a brain could have no effect on real outcomes anyway, so a brain won’t help. Evolution HAS given us big gas-guzzling brains, so there must be some situations that are neither determined nor random on which it can have effect otherwise evolution would weed out the more energy-inefficient members of the group. As unituitive as it seems this is an indication that a brain CAN select more than one outcome from the same set of circumstances.
DonPaul.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 5:12pm by DonPaul Comment #397


Mortal:
  Wait a minute now, do I have free will or don’t I?

 

A correct answer to this question would be no you don’t have free will.  The reason is the mortal does not have what he is refering to when he asks do I have free will.

Another correct answer would be yes you do have free will but it’s not what you think it is.

Stephen

It depends on the defintiion of free will, and by Stephen’s definition the answer is no. But Stephen my understanding of your definition is that it makes free will impossible by definition.

That is, how would you test whether a being has free will.

And why do you know humans fail that test.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 5:16pm by Jackson Comment #398

Well the consciousness is there. We know that. It could be just a simple by-product of ears, eyes, and other sensory items. I don’t know. It contributes to survival…again, it might just be some by-product of the brain. I said many pages ago, my idea of consciousness is a way to catalog incoming sensory data, and correlate it with memory. These would be processes of environment that we behave in accordance with. But I say again..like above it is a tricky matter.(mind)
Well, I don’t know what your idea of dualism is. I’m not certain about the actual definition, but I use it to describe the actual dualism that goes on inside the mind. The ability to refer to oneself. The ability to talk to yourself in your head-(thinking).
Consciousness could have evolved along with language. It serves a purpose of thought-no doubt. But I don’t think that alone gives us Free-will. Just like our eyes don’t give us free-will(that’s the crux of my position).
I don’t see how you could have more than one outcome from the same set of circumstances. Give me an example of this, or explain it please.

We are aware of our own consciousness.  That’s it.

Your first paragraph, stating your view of consciousness, does not address my questions.  It seems that you lean toward the view that consciousness must contribute to survival in some respect.  But you’ve stopped short of explaining how that is accomplished without consciousness being more than an epiphenomenon.  Why shouldn’t a p(sychological)-zombie perform just as well as a conscious person?

Computers communicate with one another, albeit they had their language created for them by their creators.  Are computers conscious on the basis of the ability to use language to communicate?

(more):

More than one outcome from the same set of circumstances is the assumption of LFW (or CCFW).

Consider “Joe” in environment X at time t.  Joe is in the ice cream shop.  Determinism assumes that under those conditions Joe can only choose, say, chocolate ice cream.  Indeterministic views of freedom propose that Joe might choose some other type of ice cream at time t, if we were able to repeat the same scenario.  It’s very easy to model the way it works.  But it is very difficult to explain in terms of causal determinism for the simple reason that it is not causal determinism.  I would hope that GdB would quickly point out my fallacy were I to attempt it.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 5:23pm by Bryan Comment #399

I think you are missing his point about evolution VYAZMA. This is a valuable data point. You seem to accept evolution, so look at it this way. Evolution does drive toward efficiency, especially efficiency in matters of energy expenditure. The human brain sucks up about 30% of a human beings expended energy. Now for any situation that was completely random, a brain could have no effect on real outcomes anyway, so a brain won’t help. Similarly, for any situation that was completely determined, again, a brain could have no effect on real outcomes anyway, so a brain won’t help. Evolution HAS given us big gas-guzzling brains, so there must be some situations that are neither determined nor random on which it can have effect otherwise evolution would weed out the more energy-inefficient members of the group. As unituitive as it seems this is an indication that a brain CAN select more than one outcome from the same set of circumstances.
DonPaul.

Most of our interactions with other people are random. If a girl suddenly came into my life, my brain would execute a possible courting ritual.
A determined event: fan belts wear out. Hence you had a spare under your seat.
What events are there besides determined or random?(random being the randomness of the natural world)
How can there be any different set of outcomes from the same identical circumstances?

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 5:25pm by VYAZMA Comment #400

I think you are missing his point about evolution VYAZMA. This is a valuable data point. You seem to accept evolution, so look at it this way. Evolution does drive toward efficiency, especially efficiency in matters of energy expenditure. The human brain sucks up about 30% of a human beings expended energy. Now for any situation that was completely random, a brain could have no effect on real outcomes anyway, so a brain won’t help. Similarly, for any situation that was completely determined, again, a brain could have no effect on real outcomes anyway, so a brain won’t help. Evolution HAS given us big gas-guzzling brains, so there must be some situations that are neither determined nor random on which it can have effect otherwise evolution would weed out the more energy-inefficient members of the group. As unituitive as it seems this is an indication that a brain CAN select more than one outcome from the same set of circumstances.
DonPaul.

That’s close to my point, but I’m happy to allow the evolutionist to have the energy-sucking brain.  I can imagine a brain working minus consciousness, however, as we suppose computers operate between memory and microprocessor.  I want to know what evolutionary advantage is offered by consciousness apart from unconscious possession and processing of data such as we see in computers.  And, no, of course the analogy isn’t perfect.  It shouldn’t need to be in order to make the point.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 5:35pm by Bryan Comment #401

We are aware of our own consciousness.  That’s it.

Your first paragraph, stating your view of consciousness, does not address my questions.  It seems that you lean toward the view that consciousness must contribute to survival in some respect.  But you’ve stopped short of explaining how that is accomplished without consciousness being more than an epiphenomenon.  Why shouldn’t a p(sychological)-zombie perform just as well as a conscious person?

Computers communicate with one another, albeit they had their language created for them by their creators.  Are computers conscious on the basis of the ability to use language to communicate?

I thought I tried to relate that we don’t know alot about consciousness. I said it could be a mechanism which enables language, or it is a by-product of sensory abilities. Yes? These are a few examples. I could theorize more. You could too.
I mean what do you think it might be? It definitely enables dualism. This could all be part of how we translate environment to suit behavioral responses.
The zombie argument is a dead end. That’s not relevant. There are no zombie examples to draw from. There are no zombies.
Yes so in essence, computers are just extensions of us humans. Like telephones. They transmit language too. Come on Bry. You’ll soon have 3 people jumping in here to talk about AI and we’ll lose this thought. The computer/zombie argument is not relevant. We are reasoning about humans and minds. I just have theories. I’m trying to reason this through.
You didn’t answer my question about multiple outcomes. What are your thoughts on consciousness?

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 5:35pm by VYAZMA Comment #402

Bryan-

Consider “Joe” in environment X at time t.  Joe is in the ice cream shop.  Determinism assumes that under those conditions Joe can only choose, say, chocolate ice cream.  Indeterministic views of freedom propose that Joe might choose some other type of ice cream at time t, if we were able to repeat the same scenario.  It’s very easy to model the way it works.  But it is very difficult to explain in terms of causal determinism for the simple reason that it is not causal determinism.  I would hope that GdB would quickly point out my fallacy were I to attempt it.

I didn’t catch your edit.
First we couldn’t repeat time T. It is in the past. There would be a new time. A new circumstance.
Secondly, Joe is determined to choose chocolate because that is his favorite flavor. So in times T,U,V,W he always picks chocolate.
But on time X he picks Pistachio. Because his behavior said it is time for a change, or the last 2 times he got chocolate, he got a headache or something.
Try another one please. Remember SAME circumstances.(the central hub of circumstance being time.)
We can’t do it actually, because no 2 identical circumstances will ever exist. EVER.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 5:42pm by VYAZMA Comment #403

I thought I tried to relate that we don’t know alot about consciousness. I said it could be a mechanism which enables language, or it is a by-product of sensory abilities. Yes? These are a few examples. I could theorize more. You could too.

I have.  I haven’t come up with anything that meets the challenge I’m offering to you.  I find that LFW (CCFW) models seem to fill the bill.  But I doubt you’d go there with me at this point.

I mean what do you think it might be? It definitely enables dualism.

I don’t know what “definitely enables dualism” means other than LFW logically entails dualism.  I do not agree, and I am able to argue for the point with an illustration if you would like.  I would hope that you would be able to back up your counter-assertion just as well.

The zombie argument is a dead end. That’s not relevant. There are no zombie examples to draw from. There are no zombies.

I’ve already pointed out that we can only confirm our own consciousness.  Do you disagree with that?  If you agree, then you must allow for the potential real-life existence of p-zombies even if you deny the existence of Geoge A. Romero-style zombies.

Yes so in essence, computers are just extensions of us humans. Like telephones. They transmit language too. Come on Bry. You’ll soon have 3 people jumping in here to talk about AI and we’ll lose this thought. The computer/zombie argument is not relevant. We are reasoning about humans and minds. I just have theories. I’m trying to reason this through.

I hope that folks can focus on the issue suffiiciently so that I can get away with the occasional analogy.  :)
If you want to reason this through, I don’t see how you can proceed without getting a handle on p-zombies.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 6:09pm by Bryan Comment #404

Bryan-

Consider “Joe” in environment X at time t.  Joe is in the ice cream shop.  Determinism assumes that under those conditions Joe can only choose, say, chocolate ice cream.  Indeterministic views of freedom propose that Joe might choose some other type of ice cream at time t, if we were able to repeat the same scenario.  It’s very easy to model the way it works.  But it is very difficult to explain in terms of causal determinism for the simple reason that it is not causal determinism.  I would hope that GdB would quickly point out my fallacy were I to attempt it.

I didn’t catch your edit.
First we couldn’t repeat time T. It is in the past. There would be a new time. A new circumstance.

Or an alternate universe perfectly identical to ours.  We can accomplish it as a thought-experiment.  That is my purpose in bringing it up.  If your thought-experiment only allows you one outcome from the same set of circumstances, then the thought experiment is hinting that your thoughts include a presupposition of causal determinism.

Secondly, Joe is determined to choose chocolate because that is his favorite flavor. So in times T,U,V,W he always picks chocolate.
But on time X he picks Pistachio. Because his behavior said it is time for a change, or the last 2 times he got chocolate, he got a headache or something.
Try another one please. Remember SAME circumstances.(the central hub of circumstance being time.)
We can’t do it actually, because no 2 identical circumstances will ever exist. EVER.

So much for the theory of infinite universes.  ;)

Seriously, it should be relatively easy to do as a thought experiment.  Give it another try, please.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 6:14pm by Bryan Comment #405

What events are there besides determined or random?(random being the randomness of the natural world)
How can there be any different set of outcomes from the same identical circumstances?

Why bother to have a big brain, conscious or otherwise, if there cannot be different outcomes from the same set of identical circumstances?

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 6:15pm by DonPaul Comment #406

What events are there besides determined or random?(random being the randomness of the natural world)
How can there be any different set of outcomes from the same identical circumstances?

Why bother to have a big brain, conscious or otherwise, if there cannot be different outcomes from the same set of identical circumstances?

To sort through situations of great complexity?  We make computers with ever-larger hard drives and ever-faster microprocessors.  It’s not because computers do not operate deterministically, is it?

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 6:17pm by Bryan Comment #407

I thought I tried to relate that we don’t know alot about consciousness. I said it could be a mechanism which enables language, or it is a by-product of sensory abilities. Yes? These are a few examples. I could theorize more. You could too.

I have.  I haven’t come up with anything that meets the challenge I’m offering to you.  I find that LFW (CCFW) models seem to fill the bill.  But I doubt you’d go there with me at this point.

I mean what do you think it might be? It definitely enables dualism.

I don’t know what “definitely enables dualism” means other than LFW logically entails dualism.  I do not agree, and I am able to argue for the point with an illustration if you would like.  I would hope that you would be able so back up your counter-assertion just as well.

The zombie argument is a dead end. That’s not relevant. There are no zombie examples to draw from. There are no zombies.

I’ve already pointed out that we can only confirm our own consciousness.  Do you disagree with that?  If you agree, then you must allow for the potential real-life existence of p-zombies even if you deny the existence of Geoge A. Romero-style zombies.

Yes so in essence, computers are just extensions of us humans. Like telephones. They transmit language too. Come on Bry. You’ll soon have 3 people jumping in here to talk about AI and we’ll lose this thought. The computer/zombie argument is not relevant. We are reasoning about humans and minds. I just have theories. I’m trying to reason this through.

I hope that folks can focus on the issue suffiiciently so that I can get away with the occasional analogy.  :)
If you want to reason this through, I don’t see how you can proceed without getting a handle on p-zombies.

Bry, The P-zombie thing is contriving a false scenario to use to explain a concept. We MUST assume all other people are conscious. As much as you want to go to the Zombie example, I must insist that we accept that others are conscious as well. If not, then YES there are really zombies walking around. This absolute about only confirming our own consciousness is non-productive. We know others are conscious. Come on Dude. I know the zombie argument, it is irrelevant.
I agree analogies are good in these threads but we’ve seen massive decay caused by them. That’s all good though, I’m not meaning to stifle your expression.
Don’t use Zombies! Use humans. Make your point by showing human actions or behaviors! Use the mind as much as we can know it.
That’s where we differ anyways. What the mind does.
I think the mind definitely enables dualism. Yes. Psychological dualism. I think this dualism goes along way into tricking us into thinking we have free-will.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 6:22pm by VYAZMA Comment #408

Bryan-

So much for the theory of infinite universes.  ;)

Seriously, it should be relatively easy to do as a thought experiment.  Give it another try, please.

I may be getting lost here. I don’t believe in alternate universes. Period. If there are any, they definitely have nothing to do with us.
That’s nothing with a capital “N”.
I don’t believe in alternate realities, or different time paths, or anything like that. I know QM deals with that stuff, but I’m all about the human mind, and behavior. If, as I’ve seen previously, this discussion must revolve around QM and the mechanics of behavior, and neurology, then I’ll gladly step aside.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 6:27pm by VYAZMA Comment #409

What events are there besides determined or random?(random being the randomness of the natural world)
How can there be any different set of outcomes from the same identical circumstances?

Why bother to have a big brain, conscious or otherwise, if there cannot be different outcomes from the same set of identical circumstances?

Give me an example of alternate outcomes from the same set of circumstances. You can’t do it.
There is only one set of circumstances at any given time. Time being a very integral part of circumstances.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 6:30pm by VYAZMA Comment #410

I don’t believe in alternate universes. Period. If there are any, they definitely have nothing to do with us.
That’s nothing with a capital “N”.
I don’t believe in alternate realities, or different time paths, or anything like that. I know QM deals with that stuff, but I’m all about the human mind, and behavior. If, as I’ve seen previously, this discussion must revolve around QM and the mechanics of behavior, and neurology, then I’ll gladly step aside.

If there are alternate universes, then they have to do with us at least to the extent that they make it unwise to make unverifiable claims such as “We cannot repeat what happens at time t.”

We need not deal with QM, but we do need to deal with our respective presuppositions.  If you are unable to relinquish the presupposition of causal determinism, then you will tend to run into the problem of fallaciously begging the question when it comes to LFW/CCFW.  Random generation of quantum particles, however, is my favorite real-life illustration as to why the presumption of causal determinism is inappropriate.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 6:35pm by Bryan Comment #411

Give me an example of alternate outcomes from the same set of circumstances. You can’t do it.

Oh, please.  It’s dead easy.  You probably mean to stipulate an example from real life.  But once you do that, your challenge is meaningless.  It’s meaningless because you can’t confirm determinism (the supposition that the outcome is always the same given identical conditions at t).  You can’t claim higher ground from a level playing field, sorry.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 6:39pm by Bryan Comment #412

I don’t believe in alternate universes. Period. If there are any, they definitely have nothing to do with us.
That’s nothing with a capital “N”.
I don’t believe in alternate realities, or different time paths, or anything like that. I know QM deals with that stuff, but I’m all about the human mind, and behavior. If, as I’ve seen previously, this discussion must revolve around QM and the mechanics of behavior, and neurology, then I’ll gladly step aside.

If there are alternate universes, then they have to do with us at least to the extent that they make it unwise to make unverifiable claims such as “We cannot repeat what happens at time t.”

We need not deal with QM, but we do need to deal with our respective presuppositions.  If you are unable to relinquish the presupposition of causal determinism, then you will tend to run into the problem of fallaciously begging the question when it comes to LFW/CCFW. Random generation of quantum particles, however, is my favorite real-life illustration as to why the presumption of causal determinism is inappropriate.

Could you please explain the Bold Highlighted portion further. Give an example of what I may run into. The question begging part?
Random generation of Quantum Particles don’t think. They only exist in mathematical equations, and probably super-controlled experiments in accelerators or some such thing. Again, I thought we were discussing the Mind.
Much of this speculation on alternate realities is great for a Star Trek script, but I see little connection with how the Mind views the world, evolutionary behavioral mechanics, and the concept of the Illusion of Free-Will.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 6:45pm by VYAZMA Comment #413

Give me an example of alternate outcomes from the same set of circumstances. You can’t do it.

Oh, please.  It’s dead easy.  You probably mean to stipulate an example from real life.  But once you do that, your challenge is meaningless.  It’s meaningless because you can’t confirm determinism (the supposition that the outcome is always the same given identical conditions at t).  You can’t claim higher ground from a level playing field, sorry.

Then give an example. The conditions which happen at “T” are dependent on the conditions of what happens at “S”. And so on, back through time.
Give an example Bryan. If it’s dead easy.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 6:47pm by VYAZMA Comment #414

Give me an example of alternate outcomes from the same set of circumstances. You can’t do it.

Oh, please.  It’s dead easy.  You probably mean to stipulate an example from real life.  But once you do that, your challenge is meaningless.  It’s meaningless because you can’t confirm determinism (the supposition that the outcome is always the same given identical conditions at t).  You can’t claim higher ground from a level playing field, sorry.

Then give an example.

OK.

A under conditions C at time t does X at t+1
A under conditions C at time t does ~X at t+1

We can substitute any specific behavior you like for X.
A equals exactly A in both examples.
C equals exactly C in both examples.

The conditions which happen at “T” are dependent on the conditions of what happens at “S”. And so on, back through time.

That is a statement of causal determinism.  If we assume causal determinism then we will tend to have big problems with the fallacy of begging the question wrt LFW/CCFW.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 6:54pm by Bryan Comment #415

That is the weakest thing I have ever seen. That wasn’t an example. That was a selection of letters and numbers which illustrate the concept of different outcomes from the same set of circumstances by adding or subtracting some imaginary value.
I’m done. You are just obfuscating.
Your right, my S   T example did show determinism, and guess what Bry-I can give a million examples of determinism. With real values and quotients.
Here’s one now. Yesterday it rained, today my basement was a little damp. I can keep going.
You can’t. Multiple outcomes from the same circumstances are impossible.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 7:03pm by VYAZMA Comment #416

That is the weakest thing I have ever seen. That wasn’t an example. That was a selection of letters and numbers which illustrate the concept of different outcomes from the same set of circumstances by adding or subtracting some imaginary value.
I’m done. You are just obfuscating.

Perhaps you read this post too quickly and missed what I was saying.

There was no adding or subtracting some imaginary value.  “t=1” occurs in recognition of the fact that conditions preceding an action are not the same as the conditions accompanying the action.  Action requires time, thus t is the starting point and t+1 is the subsequent point.

Your right, my S   T example did show determinism,

Actually, I was off by a bit.  Your example did hint at a presumption of determinism, but it isn’t explicitly determinism until it takes the shape of something along the lines of this:

A under conditions C at time t does X at t+1
A under conditions C at time t does X at t+1
...
etcetera, ad infinitum.

and guess what Bry-I can give a million examples of determinism. With real values and quotients.

All you can do is assume determinism for actual outcomes.  You can never conduct an experiment under the exact same conditions twice as a practical matter (as you’ve already pointed out).  Therefore you can’t know that A under conditions C at time t always results in A does X at t+1.

Here’s one now. Yesterday it rained, today my basement was a little damp. I can keep going.
You can’t. Multiple outcomes from the same circumstances are impossible.

Great.  Now tell me that the same outcome from the same circumstances is impossible.  You will have falsified determinism, at least in terms of the logic you think vacates my position.

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 8:33pm by Bryan Comment #417

Hello Jackson,

 


It depends on the defintiion of free will, and by Stephen’s definition the answer is no. But Stephen my understanding of your definition is that it makes free will impossible by definition.

People believe we could do otherwise in the circumstances in a way which gives us freedom, control and responsibility.
We can define free will in all sorts of ways but what concerns me is the free will people believe in.

You believe in it too, so why do you say free will by my definition is impossible?

That is, how would you test whether a being has free will.

It’s undetectable. This is one reason I don’t believe in it b.t.w, people say I can exercise my free will, If I had it I’d be able to detect it and use it!

And why do you know humans fail that test.

How do you know or why do you believe there is no God? whatever your reasons, mine are the same + one more reason. God is at least supposed to be an explanation for something that we have no other explanation for, incompatibilist free will explains nothing.

It’s a myth, the only reason the debate goes on is because people believe that negative consequences follow from not having it and so are unwilling to let it go. The truth is quite the opposite.

Stephen

Posted on Nov 01, 2009 at 11:43pm by StephenLawrence Comment #418

While I agree with Tom’s argument about the absence of a traditionally defined real will I still wonder if this idea isn’t a useful fiction.  Because individuals are strategic in their behavior we can’t predict the ramifications of accepting a naturalized self on behavior.  Maybe the belief in a traditional free will evolved in a Darwinian sense to cause us to be moral agents.  In a game theoretic setting, I can easily see individuals more frequently “choosing” the immoral choice once personal responsibility as its been traditionally defined is dropped.  Also, how does Tom or anyone else know whether moving away from harsh punishment won’t cause more immoral “choices.”

Posted on May 09, 2010 at 10:08pm by mnadler Comment #419

While I agree with Tom’s argument about the absence of a traditionally defined real will I still wonder if this idea isn’t a useful fiction.  Because individuals are strategic in their behavior we can’t predict the ramifications of accepting a naturalized self on behavior.  Maybe the belief in a traditional free will evolved in a Darwinian sense to cause us to be moral agents.

(bold emphasis added)

That last idea seems to fly in the face of understanding of evolution as a purposeless process.

In a game theoretic setting, I can easily see individuals more frequently “choosing” the immoral choice once personal responsibility as its been traditionally defined is dropped.

Some experiments appear to support that view, FWIW.

Posted on May 10, 2010 at 4:59am by Bryan Comment #420

Bryan, while it’s true that natural selection is a blind process it nevertheless better adapts individuals to things like resource scarcity, etc.  Individuals possessing a sense of “free will” (randomly generated, genetic basis) might have been better able to deal with their environment and thus provided the necessary feedback to maintain and expand its frequency among humans.

Mark

Posted on May 10, 2010 at 10:01am by mnadler Comment #421

Bryan, while it’s true that natural selection is a blind process it nevertheless better adapts individuals to things like resource scarcity, etc.  Individuals possessing a sense of “free will” (randomly generated, genetic basis) might have been better able to deal with their environment and thus provided the necessary feedback to maintain and expand its frequency among humans.

Mark

I think this could only be true if the sense of free will were something more than just a mere “sense.” In other words, if our “decisions” are made on the unconsciousness level, as some neurological studies seem to indicate, then it is this mechanism, this very source of the cause that shapes our future behaviour, that may be detectable by natural selection. The “sense of free will” (the “illusion” of free will) appears to me more like a by-product of something else.

Posted on May 10, 2010 at 10:36am by George Comment #422

Mark,

Just to explain further why I think the sense of free will can not be an adaptation: Imagine a billiard game where ball #5 hits ball #7 and makes it sink. Ball #7 is selected and so is ball #5, which is basically the cause of why ball #7 was selected. Now, let’s say ball #7 is conscious but unaware of the hit coming from ball #5 just like we are unaware (once again, according to the neuroscientists) of the causes for our actions. The conscious thought of the ball #7 approaching the hole is completely irrelevant here and therefore blind to natural selection.

Posted on May 10, 2010 at 12:26pm by George Comment #423

I agree with George.

Virtually any set of behaviors is just as easily explained via causal determinism as by libertarian free will.  But the impression of free will is better explained by the reality of free will than by the illusion of free will simply because, as George points out, the illusion of free will ultimately has no utility.

Posted on May 10, 2010 at 12:41pm by Bryan Comment #424

Excellent article. I also believe that free will is nothing more than illusion. I see no way to overcome what seems to be the true, namely, that the electrical and chemical actions at the synapses of our brains are the cause of our thoughts and ideas, there is simply no way to “control” those thoughts, without turning the concept of an idea into magic.

Karl (similar article)
http://questions4christians.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/beings-with-freewill-or-player-pianos/

Posted on Jul 12, 2011 at 9:49am by kkemerait Comment #425

I don’t believe in the illusion of free will, I usually know what is preventing me from doing otherwise.

I take the same view as Sam Harris on this point.

http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/free-will-why-you-still-dont-have-it/

It is not that free will is simply an illusion: our experience is not merely delivering a distorted view of reality; rather, we are mistaken about the character of our experience. We do not feel as free as we think we do. Our sense of our own freedom results from our not paying close attention to what it is like to be ourselves in the world. The moment we do pay attention, we begin to see that free will is nowhere to be found, and our subjectivity is perfectly compatible with this truth. Thoughts and intentions simply arise in the mind. What else could they do?  The truth about us is stranger than many suppose: the illusion of free will is itself an illusion.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 12, 2011 at 12:29pm by StephenLawrence Comment #426

Stephen,

I’m open. can you give me an explanation then of how “free will” works. In other words…if thoughts are the result of synaptic activity…and you cannot have a thought without synaptic activity…then how can you “decide” in other words how can you generate a thought, outside of, and apart from the electrical activity of your brain, which we obviously can’t control?

Posted on Jul 12, 2011 at 12:40pm by kkemerait Comment #427

Stephen,

I’m open. can you give me an explanation then of how “free will” works. In other words…if thoughts are the result of synaptic activity…and you cannot have a thought without synaptic activity…then how can you “decide” in other words how can you generate a thought, outside of, and apart from the electrical activity of your brain, which we obviously can’t control?

We can’t.

I just don’t accept that we experience the illusion that we can. I take the same view as Sam Harris, which is if we pay attention to the experience we don’t appear to have (incompatibilist) free will.

Stephen

Posted on Jul 12, 2011 at 12:51pm by StephenLawrence Comment #428

Stephen,

I’m open. can you give me an explanation then of how “free will” works. In other words…if thoughts are the result of synaptic activity…and you cannot have a thought without synaptic activity…then how can you “decide” in other words how can you generate a thought, outside of, and apart from the electrical activity of your brain, which we obviously can’t control?

http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/10024/
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/10609/
http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/474/
http://www.sfu.ca/~swartz/freewill1.htm

Do tell us when you you are ready reading and have evaluated the different concepts of free will and their their pro and contra arguments.

To add: as a newcomer I think it is a nice idea to look first what is already written about the subject in these fora.

Thank you.

Posted on Jul 15, 2011 at 9:39am by GdB Comment #429