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I’m mostly just interested in hearing from other compatibilists, in this thread.
Posted: 05 May 2011 04:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Occam. - 02 May 2011 06:13 PM

Back to your second post:  I think a philosophy instructor who taught Free Will (“uncaused”) is either unethical or unintelligent.  At best, s/he should present both Free Will and Determinism with the strongest arguments the proponents of each have presented and let the students make up their own minds.  (And, s/he damned wlll better not penalize any student who chooses a different view from his/hers.)

Occam

Just to be clear: I didn’t mean to imply that i even knew of an instructor who had done that.  I was wondering if it might be a good idea to be one-sided the other way—as biology has justifiably done on the question of evolution.

(but i wasn’t concluding that teachers ought to be required to teach compatibilism as true… just speculating.)

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Posted: 05 May 2011 04:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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dougsmith - 02 May 2011 07:12 PM

I’ve stayed away from this thread both because we’ve dealt with free will EXHAUSTIVELY in several other threads in this folder and because I can’t figure out what you’re after. The libertarian notion of free will (the ‘uncaused cause’) is IMO incoherent. Yet I say we have free will because to act freely is to act in accord with (= caused by) our beliefs and desires.

thank you for joining us, doug.  I actually had you especially in mind—along with gdb—for this thread, because i’ve seen apparently compatibilist posts from each of you.  So… i’m glad to see you confirm that we agree on the basics, but… a bit sad that you “can’t figure out what [i’m] after.”

First, as a fellow—and, i was guessing, better educated—compatibilist, i was wondering if you knew of any arguements which, while not changing your opinion, could give you even a wee bit of doubt.  Or, does it seem to you like even a better “slam dunk” than evolution.  [It does to me in terms of “objective truth”, but not in terms of it being something which other people need to accept.]

Second, i’ve heard and seen vague references to Aristotle’s compatibilism, so i googled it and found a good-looking SEP article on moral responsibility… but it’s long.  I only got as far as a general presentation of the competing ideas of reward and punishment being for “learning” or based on “deserving”, which i felt were “compatibilizable” ideas themselves.  [so i started the new thread also on this board about that.]

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Posted: 05 May 2011 05:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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StephenLawrence - 03 May 2011 11:36 PM

It proves we don’t have that version of free will.

 

absolutely!

And it’s useful to deny we have a version of free will too. People express the wish that certain wrongdoers burn in hell for eternity. This is not just emotion, they really think that people have a power that makes it possible for them to be deserving of that.

It’s very important to deny we have that power.

why?

I’m a compatibilist in that I believe the way compatibilists make sense of the ability to do otherwise is correct.

But it’s worth pointing out that there is a fudge in there somewhere.

Compatibilism turns out to mean compatible with determinism with a little bit of indeterminism some place, some time in this world or at least in another possible world.

Stephen

why do you need indeterminism?

Btw, i’d say you need exactly the same arguements to make free will compatible with a rational view of a non-deterministic universe as of a deterministic one.

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Posted: 05 May 2011 05:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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GdB - 04 May 2011 12:01 AM
StephenLawrence - 03 May 2011 11:36 PM

Compatibilism turns out to mean compatible with determinism with a little bit of indeterminism some place, some time in this world or at least in another possible world.

AAARGH…!  shock

Calm down, GdB, calm down… Let it be… oooohhhhmmmm….
After all discussions here and here shut eye ...

Glad you showed up, gdb, but… i was especially hoping for discussion among compatiblists, yet you thought your energy was better spent being given to something you found irritating?

Maybe i shouldn’t have opened it up to everyone… but Stephen seems like an interlocutor of good will…

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Posted: 05 May 2011 06:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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isaac - 05 May 2011 04:58 PM

First, as a fellow—and, i was guessing, better educated—compatibilist, i was wondering if you knew of any arguements which, while not changing your opinion, could give you even a wee bit of doubt.  Or, does it seem to you like even a better “slam dunk” than evolution.  [It does to me in terms of “objective truth”, but not in terms of it being something which other people need to accept.]

Second, i’ve heard and seen vague references to Aristotle’s compatibilism, so i googled it and found a good-looking SEP article on moral responsibility… but it’s long.  I only got as far as a general presentation of the competing ideas of reward and punishment being for “learning” or based on “deserving”, which i felt were “compatibilizable” ideas themselves.  [so i started the new thread also on this board about that.]

I’m not familiar enough with Aristotle’s views on free will to be able to explicate them here. At any rate it doesn’t matter so much what an individual person said as what the right theory is.

There are some interesting anti-Compatibilist arguments. If you want a raft of them, look for Peter van Inwagen. I have his book on free will somewhere; he’s IIRC a Christian, libertarian about free will. Problem is that once you begin to scratch the surface of the theory (libertarianism about free will) you see quite quickly that it makes no sense at all.

I couldn’t compare it to evolution because it isn’t a matter of an empirical argument, as evolution is. It’s more a conceptual argument as to what free will amounts to and what it means to act freely.

For more on this, there are several threads already on free will, one of which is VERY long indeed. If this becomes a similar thread I’ll merge it.

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Posted: 05 May 2011 07:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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dougsmith - 05 May 2011 06:53 PM

I’m not familiar enough with Aristotle’s views on free will to be able to explicate them here. At any rate it doesn’t matter so much what an individual person said as what the right theory is.

I agree that it’s less important; but it’s quite interesting to me, so eventually i guess i’ll read up.  I mean… if Ari figured it all out well enough ages ago, and people have been reading that all of these years and just not getting it… that tells me something about history.  If it’s more recent, that tells me something else.

There are some interesting anti-Compatibilist arguments. If you want a raft of them, look for Peter van Inwagen. I have his book on free will somewhere; he’s IIRC a Christian, libertarian about free will. Problem is that once you begin to scratch the surface of the theory (libertarianism about free will) you see quite quickly that it makes no sense at all.

Well, i suppose that answers my question… it sounds as if you don’t know of any arguements that give you the slightest pause.  How about the mere fact that so many believe differently—does that give you pause?

I couldn’t compare it to evolution because it isn’t a matter of an empirical argument, as evolution is. It’s more a conceptual argument as to what free will amounts to and what it means to act freely.

ok; but statements can be clearly demonstrated to be logical or illogical, meaningful or obfuscatory, no?  And as to how to teach it in school—any opinion?

For more on this, there are several threads already on free will, one of which is VERY long indeed. If this becomes a similar thread I’ll merge it.

thanks for the nice clear threat, instead of just taking action.  Does this mean that i should stop responding to arguements, or even unclarities, from someone who seems to already consider himself to be a compatibilist?  (I’m hoping we’re not quite right up against the wall, yet.)

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Posted: 05 May 2011 10:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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isaac - 05 May 2011 05:11 PM
StephenLawrence - 03 May 2011 11:36 PM

 

And it’s useful to deny we have a version of free will too. People express the wish that certain wrongdoers burn in hell for eternity. This is not just emotion, they really think that people have a power that makes it possible for them to be deserving of that.

It’s very important to deny we have that power.

why?

Because people harm others because they believe they deserve it. Because people don’t just believe that we need there to be winners and losers in order to encourage and discourage behaviour, people believe the losers deserve it in a sense that is incompatible with their losing being the luck of the draw. This stops us from keeping inequality of outcome to the minimum required.

Why do you need indeterminism?

Given the past and the laws of nature we could not do otherwise.

But compatibilists say it’s the modal scope fallacy to follow through and say that means that what is true is necessarily true.

But it’s only a fallacy if the past or the laws of nature or both could have been otherwise.

How could they have been??

In a universe with a beginning there is only one answer which is indeterminism some place, some time (even if just in another possible world.)

I think compatibilism is misleading if this isn’t pointed out early on because people get the impression that 100% determinism isn’t necessitarianism when in fact it is.

Stephen

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Posted: 06 May 2011 01:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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isaac - 05 May 2011 05:16 PM

Glad you showed up, gdb, but… i was especially hoping for discussion among compatiblists, yet you thought your energy was better spent being given to something you found irritating?

Maybe i shouldn’t have opened it up to everyone… but Stephen seems like an interlocutor of good will…

The links I provided should show Stephen’s, Doug’s and my positions at nauseam.

I am just disappointed that Stephen still comes with such meaningless sentences as the one I cited. His reaction on my posting shows his confused way of thinking. A compatibilist thinks determinism and free will are compatible, so why should he introduce indeterminism? I spent a hell of a lot of time to explain the more or less standard compatibilist position in one of the hyperlinked threads (see also the very clear postings of faithlessgod there). He retracts on the point that ‘we, academic philosophers’ have a wrong insight in these matters. I would be very glad to pass the baton to you… I think I lean back for a while with a bag of crisps and a beer and see how you are doing…

About the teaching matter: philosophy is the activity of critical thinking about matters that traditionally are seen as philosophical and are not usurped by sciences yet. In periods of methodological crises science must sometimes draw back on philosophy again. Also, philosopher play a role when scientists cross the border of their science, and present themselves to know things they cannot know, e.g. simply because it is not their specialty anymore (physicists who claim to know that we need nuclear energy), or draw wrong conclusions outside their area of knowledge.

In the last category belong neurologists who claim we have no free will. If you want, my personal quest is on one side to save the great insight we have thanks to science from the stupidity of some scientists crossing their borders of expertise and the religious honouring of science by some kind of lay persons; on the other side from people who don’t have real insight in science and philosophy, and proclaim their stupid theories as valuable criticism or extensions of science.

Sorry for the detour… A noncombatibilist determinist or freewiller must demonstrate convincingly where the error in the compatibilist view lies. The other way round: there is hell of a lot of reasons the compatibilist can show why people believed in libertarian free will, or believed that free will does not exist in a determined world. A noncompatibilist theory must at least achieve the same for compatibilism to be taken seriously. And that, I would say, can be taught in the classroom.

In the 19th century it is was perfectly OK to teach Newtonian physics as the last truth in mechanics, but at the moment relativity turned up, in which it can also be understood why people believed Newtonian physics to be correct (small velocities and distances) it cannot be taught anymore as last truth in mechanics. Same for incompatibilist determinism and free will on one side, and compatibilism on the other side. At this moment we should teach compatibilism until some unknown time when we eventually know better.

But nothing against training in arguments in the classroom for other standpoints. As long as one uses his tool set (logic, argumentation theory) correctly, and does not tell obvious falsities (especially about science!), I have nothing against it.

[ Edited: 06 May 2011 01:36 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 06 May 2011 04:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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isaac - 05 May 2011 07:48 PM

There are some interesting anti-Compatibilist arguments. If you want a raft of them, look for Peter van Inwagen. I have his book on free will somewhere; he’s IIRC a Christian, libertarian about free will. Problem is that once you begin to scratch the surface of the theory (libertarianism about free will) you see quite quickly that it makes no sense at all.

Well, i suppose that answers my question… it sounds as if you don’t know of any arguements that give you the slightest pause.  How about the mere fact that so many believe differently—does that give you pause?

No. But if you look at most practicing philosophers nowadays, I’d speculate that the majority, perhaps the vast majority, are compatibilists.

isaac - 05 May 2011 07:48 PM

I couldn’t compare it to evolution because it isn’t a matter of an empirical argument, as evolution is. It’s more a conceptual argument as to what free will amounts to and what it means to act freely.

ok; but statements can be clearly demonstrated to be logical or illogical, meaningful or obfuscatory, no?  And as to how to teach it in school—any opinion?

As to the first, of course. As to the second, I don’t know what you mean. Free will is a complex issue and should be taught in its complexities. That includes counterarguments, of course, even if finally they’re shown not to be persuasive.

isaac - 05 May 2011 07:48 PM

For more on this, there are several threads already on free will, one of which is VERY long indeed. If this becomes a similar thread I’ll merge it.

thanks for the nice clear threat, instead of just taking action.  Does this mean that i should stop responding to arguements, or even unclarities, from someone who seems to already consider himself to be a compatibilist?  (I’m hoping we’re not quite right up against the wall, yet.)

No threat here, just a fact. This conversation duplicates others in this folder and should be merged with at least one of them. If you thought I said that the conversation would end with its merger into another thread, you read something I never wrote nor intended. Though in my case the issues have been hashed over so many times already that they become tiresome. That’s a separate issue however.

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Posted: 06 May 2011 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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I’d very much like to keep this as a separate thread.

7 years ago, i had figured out compatibilism for myself, having no idea that it was a mainstream position in academia, and not even knowing what to call it.  I went online (something new to me, at the time) to the Center for Naturalism’s website and discussion group, and was distressed to find no mention at all, in their discussions of free will, of my point of view. I posted a post looking for compatibilism, and got zero replies.

In fact, the head of cfn—a cfi affiliate—Tom Clarke, seemed to be solidly “no free will”.  Does anyone know if that impression was or is accurate?

Anyway, i have some difficulties… and if i weren’t so fortunate as to have a sister with a friend who happens to be a professor of philosophy—or hadn’t gotten up the nerve and bother to send her a copy of my note—then it might have been years more before i found out that i was “not alone” (and also that i hadn’t done anything particularly earth-shaking or dangerously controversial in coming up with what i did).

A have a vague impression that compatibilist viewpoints are more readily available now than they were then—Dennet’s videos on youtube, for instance—but it may just be that i’m more aware of them now.  At any rate, i was happy to find to find active expression of compatibilist viewpoints here.

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Posted: 06 May 2011 11:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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isaac - 06 May 2011 10:54 AM

In fact, the head of cfn—a cfi affiliate—Tom Clarke, seemed to be solidly “no free will”.  Does anyone know if that impression was or is accurate?

Tom is solidly no contra causal free will Isaac. Solidly no free will of the variety we agree we don’t have.

He thinks we do have freedom compatible with determinism though, so he’s not so dissimilar to you as a compatibilist,  it’s just he wants to counter the negative effects belief in CCFW have whilst affirming the freedom we do have.

He’s done a couple of podcasts here at CFI

Stephen

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Posted: 06 May 2011 11:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Yes, Dennett is a particularly good (because smart and relatively easy to read and understand) professional philosopher who writes about free will and is a compatibilist. Honestly I think the free will debate is pretty well over in most philosophy and so it’s become sort of a backwater in terms of interest.

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Posted: 06 May 2011 11:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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GdB - 06 May 2011 01:33 AM

A compatibilist thinks determinism and free will are compatible, so why should he introduce indeterminism?

Because it’s the only way to produce alternative possibilities in a universe with initial conditions, obviously.

It’s the only way to produce contingent if’s.

So historically and generally compatibilism is determinism with one special indeterministic moment, the initial conditions.

Given the initial conditions we couldn’t do otherwise.

So how could we do otherwise? How are there alternative possibilities.

Only one answer GdB, the initial conditions could have been indeterministically different.

We’ve discussed another version which is David Lewis’ local miracle version (again a bit of indeterminism)

Without indeterminism somewhere, in a universe with a beginning everything that happens, happens necessarily, obviously.

You’ve not come up with any argument against this, it would be folly to even try.

Stephen

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Posted: 06 May 2011 09:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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GdB,

Surely you see that you have a fudge in the mix somewhere.

Same past, same laws of nature, same future.

You’ve got to fiddle with something somewhere in your model to get alternative possibilities.

I think the options are between two fudges:

1) introduce indeterminism and again it’s worth pointing out this is normal for compatibilists, not abnormal, as you suggest. The traditional view is infinite possible initial conditions and the universe running like clockwork from the one that is actual. We could do otherwise because the initial conditions could have been otherwise.

2) Fudge the meaning of could be actual.

I don’t object to either if you explain how we get from the fudge to influencing the future.

It’s the denial of the fudge and the lack of explanation I object to.

Stephen

[ Edited: 06 May 2011 09:22 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 06 May 2011 10:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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GdB - 06 May 2011 01:33 AM

If you want, my personal quest is on one side to save the great insight we have thanks to science from the stupidity of some scientists crossing their borders of expertise and the religious honouring of science by some kind of lay persons; on the other side from people who don’t have real insight in science and philosophy, and proclaim their stupid theories as valuable criticism or extensions of science.

Stephen,

You were one of the people I had in mind writing the italic sentence.

This is a thread about another topic, please do not smudge this thread with imagined fudges. Your version of ‘compatibilism’ I propose to call confusionism (not Confucianism). I won’t discuss with you in this thread, and surely not about this exact same point again and again. Start reading real books about these matters. If you think an academic study is not worth more than googling your way through the internet, then I possibly have nothing to say to you anymore, except maybe as a philosophy teacher.

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