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The greatest proof of free will…
Posted: 16 April 2012 12:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1801 ]
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GdB - 15 April 2012 11:59 PM

It should show that society has a justification for punishment. But of course, such justification cannot be metaphysical.

Well, the justification is either correction or deterrent. In the case of harsh punishment it usually woudn’t correct, a person is hardly likely to feel warm and fuzzy about society after that. grin So mostly we are talking about deterrent

There is nothing else.

So what we are doing is making that person suffer as a way of helping others behave.

It’s sickening but there you have it, sometimes it’s the lesser of two evils.

Any other way of looking at it would be metaphysical.

Stephen

[ Edited: 16 April 2012 12:52 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 16 April 2012 12:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1802 ]
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BTW, I read the book (well, pamphlet…) of Harris on free will. I do not have the book here, but I can tell you, in fact he is a compatibilist in denial. He makes a caricature of compatibilism, but then takes compatibilist standpoints himself.

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Posted: 16 April 2012 01:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1803 ]
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GdB - 16 April 2012 12:45 AM

BTW, I read the book (well, pamphlet…) of Harris on free will. I do not have the book here, but I can tell you, in fact he is a compatibilist in denial. He makes a caricature of compatibilism, but then takes compatibilist standpoints himself.

GdB,

Read free will and free will.

It’s not that he doesn’t believe in compatibilism (although he would disagree with you over consciousness I think)

He’s like George, he’s like Jerry Coyne, he’s like Tom Clark, he’s like me, he’s like Vyazma.

He is not denying that version of free will. He is denying free will by the definition: could have done otherwise given the past in a way that makes us deserving of what happens to us.

His problem with compatibilism is that it “changes the subject” Of course free will can be defined in a way compatible with determinism.

What he’s saying is we don’t have a particular version of free will and it’s worth stopping and thinking about it, because it does matter.

Compatibilism is the view that nothing much changes.

Stephen

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Posted: 16 April 2012 01:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1804 ]
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StephenLawrence - 16 April 2012 01:00 AM

He is not denying that version of free will. He is denying free will by the definition: could have done otherwise given the past in a way that makes us deserving of what happens to us.

Yes, but that definition is wrong. He is denying a concept that is incoherent from the beginning. Libertarian free will is as incoherent as ‘sleeping, furiously, colourless and green ideas’. ‘Libertarian free will’ does not mean anything, so there can be nothing in reality that corresponds to it, it is not even a scientific discovery that it does not exist.

StephenLawrence - 16 April 2012 01:00 AM

His problem with compatibilism is that it “changes the subject” Of course free will can be defined in a way compatible with determinism.

Yes, and this way is relevant for our societal praxis. It makes it possible to make people responsible for their actions, but not ultimately. And funny enough, Harris pleads for such a praxis in his booklet.

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Posted: 16 April 2012 01:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1805 ]
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GdB - 16 April 2012 01:16 AM
StephenLawrence - 16 April 2012 01:00 AM

He is not denying that version of free will. He is denying free will by the definition: could have done otherwise given the past in a way that makes us deserving of what happens to us.

Yes, but that definition is wrong. He is denying a concept that is incoherent from the beginning. Libertarian free will is as incoherent as ‘sleeping, furiously, colourless and green ideas’. ‘Libertarian free will’ does not mean anything, so there can be nothing in reality that corresponds to it, it is not even a scientific discovery that it does not exist.

but belief in it is not benign Gdb.

It doesn’t matter that it’s incoherent, it’s still a harmful belief.

Sceptics are usually concerned about erroneous beliefs.

Yes, and this way is relevant for our societal praxis. It makes it possible to make people responsible for their actions, but not ultimately.

Does that mean but not deserved GdB?

If so stop to think. The nature of guilt, blame, praise etc change dramatically if so, not slightly.

And I must protest at this nonsense about it making it possible to hold people responsible. It’s just ridiculous. Deterrent and correction, protection and training people to behave justify that.

Every one, but everyone knows that in the first place. And if anyone doesn’t that’s all you need to say. It beggars belief that anyone would really be defending free will to defind the practice of holding responsible.

And we hold the government responsible, we hold countries responsible, we hold companies responsible, none of which have free will.

Stephen

[ Edited: 16 April 2012 01:35 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 16 April 2012 02:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1806 ]
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StephenLawrence - 16 April 2012 01:32 AM

but belief in it is not benign Gdb.

It doesn’t matter that it’s incoherent, it’s still a harmful belief.

If pushed to the limit, yes. And “libertarian free will” makes that much easier, yes.

Tell me, don’t you try to be as responsible as possible? And don’t you expect that from others?

We must find the middle: it is absurd to make everybody fully responsible for his situation and actions. It is just as absurd that nobody has any responsibility for his situation and actions.

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Posted: 16 April 2012 02:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1807 ]
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GdB - 16 April 2012 02:00 AM
StephenLawrence - 16 April 2012 01:32 AM

but belief in it is not benign Gdb.

It doesn’t matter that it’s incoherent, it’s still a harmful belief.

If pushed to the limit, yes. And “libertarian free will” makes that much easier, yes.

Ok, what Sam Harris is saying is we should spend more time reflecting on this, it does matter.

People generally are Libertarians, there is no doubt, the internet is just littered with examples of it.

Tell me, don’t you try to be as responsible as possible? And don’t you expect that from others?

Yep.

Stephen

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Posted: 16 April 2012 02:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1808 ]
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GdB - 16 April 2012 02:00 AM

We must find the middle: it is absurd to make everybody fully responsible for his situation and actions. It is just as absurd that nobody has any responsibility for his situation and actions.

Ok, sounds good.

The critisism of compatibilism is that this: “Could have if he’d wanted to” without reminding us that the want could not have arisen in the actual situation, is too close to Libertarian free will.

And so it’s not finding middle ground but instead leaving things pretty much unchanged.

Stephen

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Posted: 16 April 2012 02:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1809 ]
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StephenLawrence - 16 April 2012 02:08 AM

Ok, what Sam Harris is saying is we should spend more time reflecting on this, it does matter.

See? He is a compatibilist…

StephenLawrence - 16 April 2012 02:08 AM

People generally are Libertarians, there is no doubt, the internet is just littered with examples of it.

That can be. So educate the masses!

StephenLawrence - 16 April 2012 02:08 AM

Tell me, don’t you try to be as responsible as possible? And don’t you expect that from others?

Yep.

Pfuiii…

But how can you, if everything is determined?

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Posted: 16 April 2012 02:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1810 ]
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GdB - 16 April 2012 02:14 AM
StephenLawrence - 16 April 2012 02:08 AM

Ok, what Sam Harris is saying is we should spend more time reflecting on this, it does matter.

See? He is a compatibilist…

Of course he is if defined in a certain way GdB. he wouldn’t deny that, he would disagree with defining it like that.

And actually he might not even disagree with that. But he would disagree with any other definition being the “wrong definition”.

StephenLawrence - 16 April 2012 02:08 AM

People generally are Libertarians, there is no doubt, the internet is just littered with examples of it.

That can be. So educate the masses!

Well, that’s the point, it’s important for our morality and our well being to get this right. That’s what he’s saying. edit: I think he wants to start with educating atheists, naturalists and humanists, theists might be a bit too far beyond reach. grin

You don’t get it right by saying to someone who asks if they have free will, yes. The answer is no. edit: they aren’t asking if they act in accordance with their beliefs and desires. grin

But how can you, if everything is determined?

OK, here is an example. I spill some oil, I clear it up because if I don’t someone might slip over on it and get hurt.

That is acting responsibly.

Stephen

[ Edited: 16 April 2012 02:30 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 16 April 2012 05:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1811 ]
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StephenLawrence - 16 April 2012 02:26 AM

Well, that’s the point, it’s important for our morality and our well being to get this right. That’s what he’s saying. edit: I think he wants to start with educating atheists, naturalists and humanists, theists might be a bit too far beyond reach. grin

Atheists and naturalists should learn that there is still use for the concepts of free will and responsibility. Humanists might have it right, but some of them may not know why.

StephenLawrence - 16 April 2012 02:26 AM

You don’t get it right by saying to someone who asks if they have free will, yes. The answer is no. edit: they aren’t asking if they act in accordance with their beliefs and desires. grin

Well, for me the simplest definition of free will is still is: you are free if you can do what you want. Isn’t it funny to answer on that: “no, you can’t, because you cannot want what you want”?

StephenLawrence - 16 April 2012 02:26 AM

OK, here is an example. I spill some oil, I clear it up because if I don’t someone might slip over on it and get hurt.

That is acting responsibly.

Yeah, simple and straightforward.

And what if you intentionally spilled the oil in the hope somebody will slip? Is somebody justified to be angry with you? Maybe punish you? Or stroke you over your hear, saying “Poor boy, you surely had a bad youth, behave responsible next time”.

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Posted: 16 April 2012 07:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1812 ]
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GdB - 16 April 2012 05:42 AM

Atheists and naturalists should learn that there is still use for the concepts of free will and responsibility. Humanists might have it right, but some of them may not know why.

We can’t manage without dividing up responsibility and holding people responsible GdB. Certainly not for the forseable future, so i agree with that.

It’s much less clear if the term free will is useful. Clearly the fact that so many have trouble with it is indication they have something else in mind. We can get along pretty well without it, I would have thought. I don’t buy the idea that we need it for our moral theory.

Well, for me the simplest definition of free will is still is: you are free if you can do what you want. Isn’t it funny to answer on that: “no, you can’t, because you cannot want what you want”?

No it’s not funny, the point is we are not causa sui. And the point is we are not asking if we can do what we want.

And what if you intentionally spilled the oil in the hope somebody will slip? Is somebody justified to be angry with you?

Well, how would you go about justifying being angry? You’d have to weigh up whether being angry did good. You’d have to weigh up if that response to that sought of thing works as a deterrent and to change future behaviour.

But this goes without saying Gdb, which is why I can’t help being suspicious of compatibilism.

Maybe punish you?

Well, the first thing is would punishment help me. Might it make me a better person in the future thus avoiding going on to even worse crimes? Secondly would it be a deterrent to others?

Say it’s just a deterrent, we need to be really clear that there is nothing fair about me drawing the short straw, me getting to be the one who suffers for the benefit of others.

I really don’t know how clear you are about that.

Anyhow we might have to do it but we don’t really need a fancy term free will to explain why. In fact better to be much more direct, we are sorry but we need to deter this behaviour.

Or stroke you over your hear, saying “Poor boy, you surely had a bad youth, behave responsible next time”.

As that doesn’t seem likely to work that doesn’t seem like a good idea.

But again, you don’t need to believe in free will to understand that.

Certainly we should be interested in the background, we need to know how to better run society so that less people are caused to do bad things, so that we harm less people.

Stephen

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Posted: 16 April 2012 07:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1813 ]
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So don’t you agree that an action counts as a free action, when it is according to my wishes and believes?
And that this simplified translates “you are free if you can do what you want”. You see, I don’t even mention the preconditions that led to your action. But surely not causa sui.

You mention two grounds as justification for punishment: changing your behaviour in the future, and as deterrent to other who might get the idea to do the same you did. But in my opinion there is a third: to show as society, that we expect people to behave in a responsible way. Being responsible maybe nothing else then being able to give reasons for my behaviour, and anticipate that the society in which I live will not punish me for that.

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Posted: 16 April 2012 07:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1814 ]
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GdB - 16 April 2012 07:44 AM

So don’t you agree that an action counts as a free action, when it is according to my wishes and believes?

I really dunno Gdb.

I’m stuck where I’ve been stuck for ages. You are the competing beliefs and desires. Your will, or your wish is the result.

what this means is every single choice is a free choice.

That can’t be right and so you come up with will or wish by a second definition.

BUT YOU NEVER TELL ANYBODY WHAT THE DEFINITION IS.

And that this simplified translates “you are free if you can do what you want”. You see, I don’t even mention the preconditions that led to your action. But surely not causa sui.

GdB if someone wants to know if they have free will, 999 times out of 1000 they are not asking about that.

 

] But in my opinion there is a third: to show as society, that we expect people to behave in a responsible way.

And that can only be to deter them from doing otherwise, surely?

Stephen

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Posted: 17 April 2012 01:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1815 ]
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StephenLawrence - 16 April 2012 07:57 AM

You are the competing beliefs and desires. Your will, or your wish is the result.

what this means is every single choice is a free choice.

No, no, no. There are many kinds of situations where actions are not really free. In the first place every situation that you are forced to do something. This can be coercion of the terrible kind (your wife will be killed if you do not hand out the money: normally you would never give your money away, and surely not to this unsympathetic guy with the gun pointing at your wife). But also many people would prefer not to pay taxes if that would not have even more unpleasant consequences. There is only strawberry ice cream, but normally, if you have the choice you always take vanilla. And then a different category: you don’t want to smoke, but you are addicted to it; you are tired and want to go to bed, but you feel you cannot let down your friends, so you go for a pub round through the city; you feel psychological dependent on your husband, so you always do what he wants, not what you want yourself; etc, etc.

StephenLawrence - 16 April 2012 07:57 AM

That can’t be right and so you come up with will or wish by a second definition.

BUT YOU NEVER TELL ANYBODY WHAT THE DEFINITION IS.

So no second definition necessary. When I say I am free if I can do what I want, I don’t say that everything I do is what I want (and that seems to be how you see it). This moves free will from the (meta)physical domain to the psychological domain. But that does not mean free will does not exist. Feelings like anger, joy, grief, pain, etc do exist, don’t they? Denying this, saying “but that are all neuronal states of the brain!” one should consistently say that sentences do not mean anything because they are all just ink blobs, or pictures are not images of other things because they are just chemical substances in paper.

I would like to pick up an idea I had in the ‘pragmatic’ free will thread: one day, maybe neurologists might be able to distinguish free actions from none-free actions. The difference will not be that they find some magical and unexplainable causal hole in the brain, but that the actions are connected to certain brain states in certain ways. They could discover which neural states or processes go together with what we in our daily experience call free actions.

StephenLawrence - 16 April 2012 07:57 AM

GdB if someone wants to know if they have free will, 999 times out of 1000 they are not asking about that.

Again, if people have wrong ideas, we should correct them. ‘What people think’ is no argument in a philosophical discussion.

[ Edited: 17 April 2012 11:03 AM by GdB ]
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