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A pragmatic discussion about free will
Posted: 16 February 2014 01:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 526 ]
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But we are responsible, which is where it see the problem. It’s easy enough for me to say that free will is just an illusion when the fact that a murderer is evidently guilty of his crime is not an illusion. I mean, it would have been much easier only a few months back to agree that the murdered is actually not guilty of anything, but somehow it no longer seems right to me. I guess after all these years I don’t want to accept that Doug and GdB were right all along. I am now coming to a point when I see no way out of this no matter how hard I try.

[ Edited: 16 February 2014 01:46 PM by George ]
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Posted: 16 February 2014 02:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 527 ]
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George - 16 February 2014 01:43 PM

But we are responsible, which is where it see the problem. It’s easy enough for me to say that free will is just an illusion when the fact that a murderer is evidently guilty of his crime is not an illusion. I mean, it would have been much easier only a few months back to agree that the murdered is actually not guilty of anything, but somehow it no longer seems right to me. I guess after all these years I don’t want to accept that Doug and GdB were right all along. I am now coming to a point when I see no way out of this no matter how hard I try.

Well, you’re at an interesting stage, good luck with it.

The murderer is responsible in that he did it and morally responsible in so far as he had an appropriate way of doing what he should have done. But this appropriate way is not could have in the actual situation, it’s would have if.. .

The murderer was just unlucky to have the distant past he had and so does not have moral responsible as commonly believed. You were right all along about that. It could not make sense for God to judge him for what he had done and yet it’s this sort of moral responsibility that people usually believe in atheist or not.

http://www.naturalism.org/strawson.htm

[ Edited: 16 February 2014 02:54 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 16 February 2014 07:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 528 ]
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StephenLawrence - 16 February 2014 02:46 PM
George - 16 February 2014 01:43 PM

But we are responsible, which is where it see the problem. It’s easy enough for me to say that free will is just an illusion when the fact that a murderer is evidently guilty of his crime is not an illusion. I mean, it would have been much easier only a few months back to agree that the murdered is actually not guilty of anything, but somehow it no longer seems right to me. I guess after all these years I don’t want to accept that Doug and GdB were right all along. I am now coming to a point when I see no way out of this no matter how hard I try.

Well, you’re at an interesting stage, good luck with it.

The murderer is responsible in that he did it and morally responsible in so far as he had an appropriate way of doing what he should have done. But this appropriate way is not could have in the actual situation, it’s would have if.. .

The murderer was just unlucky to have the distant past he had and so does not have moral responsible as commonly believed. You were right all along about that. It could not make sense for God to judge him for what he had done and yet it’s this sort of moral responsibility that people usually believe in atheist or not.

http://www.naturalism.org/strawson.htm

“Moral responsibility” is in the eye of the beholder.  People are held to be morally responsible or morally irresponsible by other people—though sometime they also blame themselves or give credit to themselves for their actions.  But I say everyon’s actions or judgements are determined and not a matter of free will.  What others see as “responsibility” is also determined by their own determining factors. If everyone in the world were suddenly convinced consciously that our actions are not from free will but are determined without our consent, nothing would change as far as our holding people morally responsible goes because those sitting in judgement are also determined to judge as they/we do and conscious knowledge that they/we are acting by determining factors alone has little or no effect on anyone’s actions or judgements. The vast majority of our determining factors are unknown to us and we have no control over which determining factors are going to take precedence in any situation. We just think we do.

Lois

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Posted: 16 February 2014 11:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 529 ]
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Lois - 16 February 2014 07:06 PM

If everyone in the world were suddenly convinced consciously that our actions are not from free will but are determined without our consent, nothing would change as far as our holding people morally responsible goes because those sitting in judgement are also determined to judge as they/we do and conscious knowledge that they/we are acting by determining factors alone has little or no effect on anyone’s actions or judgements.

I think you’ll find belief in libertarian free will does have a tremendous effect.

Why else would you want to argue against it b.t.w?

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Posted: 17 February 2014 01:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 530 ]
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StephenLawrence - 16 February 2014 11:56 PM
Lois - 16 February 2014 07:06 PM

If everyone in the world were suddenly convinced consciously that our actions are not from free will but are determined without our consent, nothing would change as far as our holding people morally responsible goes because those sitting in judgement are also determined to judge as they/we do and conscious knowledge that they/we are acting by determining factors alone has little or no effect on anyone’s actions or judgements.

I think you’ll find belief in libertarian free will does have a tremendous effect.

Why else would you want to argue against it b.t.w?


Probably for the same reason you want to argue for it. Not believing in libertarian free will has an equal effect.

“Libertarian free will means that our choices are free from the determination or constraints of human nature and free from any predetermination by God. All “free will theists” hold that libertarian freedom is essential for moral responsibility, for if our choice is determined or caused by anything, including our own desires, they reason, it cannot properly be called a free choice. Libertarian freedom is, therefore, the freedom to act contrary to one’s nature, predisposition and greatest desires. Responsibility, in this view, always means that one could have done otherwise.” Wikipedia

I do not accept that we are free from the determintion or constraints of human nature, so why should I argue from that position? Would you argue the point from a perspective you don’t agree with because someone said you “should”?

I don’t for a minute think that “libertarian free will” is essential for moral responsibility. My position is that we have no free will—if that is defined as the ability to consciously override our determining factors—and that we thereby have no conscious control over our sense of moral responsibilty.  We will display as much or as little “moral responsibility” by any definition, as our determining factors make us. We are neither morally responsible nor morally irresponsible by free will. In fact the very definition we apply to moral responsibility is determined by factors we are not conscious of and have no control over. What you think is morally responsible behavior I may disagree with, and vice versa.  There is no absolute moral responsibility so we can’t possibly know what constitutes such an idea. We can make conscious assumptions but those assumptions are driven by our determining factors, not free will.

Why would you want to argue for it, btw?


Lois

[ Edited: 17 February 2014 01:52 PM by Lois ]
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Posted: 17 February 2014 11:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 531 ]
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Lois - 17 February 2014 01:47 PM

Why would you want to argue for it, btw?

I argue against it. I argue against it because I think it’s malignant. I think it lengthens the duration of, and intensifies hatred. I think it blocks empathy. I think it singles out the agent and stops us looking at wider causes. I think it makes us imagine the lottery of life is fair, so those who suffer deserve it, this stops those better off wanting to help and leads people to accept a bigger gap between those better off and worse off, than is necessary. I think it makes us blame dysfunctionally. I could go on.

I think it’s the most pervasive and harmful erroneous belief there is, which is why I argue against it.

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Posted: 18 February 2014 08:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 532 ]
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StephenLawrence - 17 February 2014 11:26 PM
Lois - 17 February 2014 01:47 PM

Why would you want to argue for it, btw?

I argue against it.

Isn’t that funny? Lois did not notice that. And also she answered your original question, by reflecting the question back to you again, i.e. did not give a real answer at all.

StephenLawrence - 17 February 2014 11:26 PM

I argue against it because I think it’s malignant. I think it lengthens the duration of, and intensifies hatred. I think it blocks empathy. I think it singles out the agent and stops us looking at wider causes. I think it makes us imagine the lottery of life is fair, so those who suffer deserve it, this stops those better off wanting to help and leads people to accept a bigger gap between those better off and worse off, than is necessary. I think it makes us blame dysfunctionally. I could go on.

I think it’s the most pervasive and harmful erroneous belief there is, which is why I argue against it.

In the discussion between Dennett and Harris this would mean that you only have ‘political reasons’. But you should accept the truth. If that truth would be ‘libertarian free will’ then we should arrange with that…

It seems to me that Dennett and Harris mean the same but have the same ‘different fronts’ as you and I have: I am worried about the idea that we are not taken as responsible subjects anymore by ‘hardcore neurologists’, and you are worried that we are too hard with each other if we make everybody fully responsible for his/her situation.

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Posted: 18 February 2014 09:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 533 ]
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GdB - 18 February 2014 08:42 AM

It seems to me that Dennett and Harris mean the same but have the same ‘different fronts’ as you and I have: I am worried about the idea that we are not taken as responsible subjects anymore by ‘hardcore neurologists’, and you are worried that we are too hard with each other if we make everybody fully responsible for his/her situation.

Yes and we agree both concerns are important.

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Posted: 19 February 2014 12:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 534 ]
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StephenLawrence - 18 February 2014 09:36 AM
GdB - 18 February 2014 08:42 AM

It seems to me that Dennett and Harris mean the same but have the same ‘different fronts’ as you and I have: I am worried about the idea that we are not taken as responsible subjects anymore by ‘hardcore neurologists’, and you are worried that we are too hard with each other if we make everybody fully responsible for his/her situation.

Yes and we agree both concerns are important.

Yep. But in a forum of a secular, naturalistic organisation it might not be such a huge project to defend that humans for all practical purposes are determined. On the other hand, defending there is an understanding of free will that does not contradict determinism turns out to be herculean task…

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Posted: 20 February 2014 05:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 535 ]
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Response removed by Lois.

[ Edited: 20 February 2014 05:33 PM by Lois ]
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Posted: 20 February 2014 05:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 536 ]
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GdB - 18 February 2014 08:42 AM
StephenLawrence - 17 February 2014 11:26 PM
Lois - 17 February 2014 01:47 PM

Why would you want to argue for it, btw?

I argue against it.

Isn’t that funny? Lois did not notice that. And also she answered your original question, by reflecting the question back to you again, i.e. did not give a real answer at all.

StephenLawrence - 17 February 2014 11:26 PM

I argue against it because I think it’s malignant. I think it lengthens the duration of, and intensifies hatred. I think it blocks empathy. I think it singles out the agent and stops us looking at wider causes. I think it makes us imagine the lottery of life is fair, so those who suffer deserve it, this stops those better off wanting to help and leads people to accept a bigger gap between those better off and worse off, than is necessary. I think it makes us blame dysfunctionally. I could go on.

I think it’s the most pervasive and harmful erroneous belief there is, which is why I argue against it.

In the discussion between Dennett and Harris this would mean that you only have ‘political reasons’. But you should accept the truth. If that truth would be ‘libertarian free will’ then we should arrange with that…

It seems to me that Dennett and Harris mean the same but have the same ‘different fronts’ as you and I have: I am worried about the idea that we are not taken as responsible subjects anymore by ‘hardcore neurologists’, and you are worried that we are too hard with each other if we make everybody fully responsible for his/her situation.


That “we are not taken as responsible subjects any more by ‘hardcore neuroligists’“is an unsupported assumption on your part.  If that is true it is true only because their positions are determined by their own determining factors over which they have no control. But I have seen no evidence that that is true. How many “hardcore neurologists” have you interviewed, and what constitutes a “hardcore neurologist,” anyway? Is it just your opinion as to what “hardcore” is?

Who are you referring to when you say “you are worried that we are too hard with each other if we make everybody fully responsible for his/her situation”? Who is the “we” who are making everybody fully responsible?  Who has that power? Nobody can make a person feel responsible or not responsible for anything.  Responsibility, like everything else, is determined by each person’s individual determining factors.  What other people expect has little if any influence on it except as one more determining factor among millions that nobody can know the strength of. Any feeling of responsibility springs from our experiences, environment and genes. What you think consciously about responsibility has no influence on anyone’s sense of responsibility, not even your own.  In fact, what you think of as responsibility is a product of your own unknown determining influences, not something you have cooked up in your conscious mind.

Lois

[ Edited: 20 February 2014 05:53 PM by Lois ]
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Posted: 20 February 2014 08:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 537 ]
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If we could suddenly, magically become cognizant of every factor that lead to the commitment of an atrocity by an individual, my guess is that we would have difficulty assigning blame to that individual.  Nevertheless, a society cannot function without rules. 

A definition of free will that can acknowledge determinism (i.e., compatibilism), seems to me to provide a reasonable groundwork for establishing and supporting such necessary rules.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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Posted: 20 February 2014 10:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 538 ]
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TimB - 20 February 2014 08:42 PM

If we could suddenly, magically become cognizant of every factor that lead to the commitment of an atrocity by an individual, my guess is that we would have difficulty assigning blame to that individual.

Yes because our concept of blame is ultimate blame. That’s the problem, we have this wrong and it is frankly nasty, it makes us unkind, it makes blame dysfunctional.

“To know all is to forgive all” but of course we don’t need to know all we just need to accept determinism for practical purposes.

Nevertheless, a society cannot function without rules.

Right, so we fully understand our need for rules and can proceed on that basis, Understanding who pays the penalty is just the luck of the draw changes our attitude to this for the better. Knowing that the people on the losing end don’t deserve it changes our attitude to zero sum games, makes us want to keep penalties to a minimum, makes us less accepting of excessive rewards and allows us to address wider causes. not simply blame individuals. All this is true as long as we empathise, which disbelieving in ultimate blame helps with (there but for circumstances go I) and keep our compassion.

A definition of free will that can acknowledge determinism (i.e., compatibilism), seems to me to provide a reasonable groundwork for establishing and supporting such necessary rules.

Yep, but let’s not forget people’s intuitions are that we are ultimately responsible and this does have a negative effect.

http://www.einsteinandreligion.com/spinoza2.html

I do not have the professional knowledge to write a scholarly article about Spinoza. But what I think about this man I can express in a few words. Spinoza was the first to apply with strict consistency the idea of an all-pervasive determinism to human thought, feeling, and action. In my opinion, his point of view has not gained general acceptance by all those striving for clarity and logical rigor only because it requires not only consistency of thought, but also unusual integrity, magnamity, and — modesty.

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Posted: 21 February 2014 12:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 539 ]
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Lois - 20 February 2014 05:51 PM

If that is true it is true only because their positions are determined by their own determining factors over which they have no control.

Nobody can make a person feel responsible or not responsible for anything.  Responsibility, like everything else, is determined by each person’s individual determining factors.  What other people expect has little if any influence on it except as one more determining factor among millions that nobody can know the strength of. Any feeling of responsibility springs from our experiences, environment and genes. What you think consciously about responsibility has no influence on anyone’s sense of responsibility, not even your own.  In fact, what you think of as responsibility is a product of your own unknown determining influences, not something you have cooked up in your conscious mind.

You argue like a child with a philosophical sledge hammer, crushing everything you do not understand with ‘determined by factors you have no control of’.

Don’t you realise that you can use this way of arguing on any philosophical, political, ethical, or aesthetic topic? There is no sense in anything people do if you just see it as ‘they are determined by factors you have no control of’, and discussing it is useless. But on other topics you do argue, sometimes even with valid arguments. Why don’t you here? What is at stake for you, that you refuse even to recognise what it is all about???

Everytime people ask you a question that could reveal that your view point about free will might not be consistent, or might not be what you really think, you avoid to answer and say ‘all what we do is determined by factors we have no control of’, or something similar.

I ask you if a thermostat controls the temperature: you react that a thermostat has no free will. But that was not the question.
I ask you if a match causes a fire: you do not answer with yes or no (and why), but with an ‘if answer’ and a lot of stuff around that avoids the answer.
I ask you if you see that you have reasons when you criticise movie characters: you do not answer at all.
Stephen states there is a difference between ‘a shotgun wedding and two people getting married of their own free will’: you do not tell how you see the difference.

Don’t you realise that everything in the world is the same, because everything is ‘determined by factors that nothing has any control of’? It is true that everything is determined, but repeating that again and again is as useful as repeating that the earth is a sphere.

[ Edited: 21 February 2014 10:06 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 21 February 2014 10:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 540 ]
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StephenLawrence - 20 February 2014 10:10 PM
TimB - 20 February 2014 08:42 PM

If we could suddenly, magically become cognizant of every factor that lead to the commitment of an atrocity by an individual, my guess is that we would have difficulty assigning blame to that individual.

Yes because our concept of blame is ultimate blame. That’s the problem, we have this wrong and it is frankly nasty, it makes us unkind, it makes blame dysfunctional.

“To know all is to forgive all” but of course we don’t need to know all we just need to accept determinism for practical purposes.

Nevertheless, a society cannot function without rules.

Right, so we fully understand our need for rules and can proceed on that basis, Understanding who pays the penalty is just the luck of the draw changes our attitude to this for the better. Knowing that the people on the losing end don’t deserve it changes our attitude to zero sum games, makes us want to keep penalties to a minimum, makes us less accepting of excessive rewards and allows us to address wider causes. not simply blame individuals. All this is true as long as we empathise, which disbelieving in ultimate blame helps with (there but for circumstances go I) and keep our compassion.

A definition of free will that can acknowledge determinism (i.e., compatibilism), seems to me to provide a reasonable groundwork for establishing and supporting such necessary rules.

Yep, but let’s not forget people’s intuitions are that we are ultimately responsible and this does have a negative effect.

http://www.einsteinandreligion.com/spinoza2.html

I do not have the professional knowledge to write a scholarly article about Spinoza. But what I think about this man I can express in a few words. Spinoza was the first to apply with strict consistency the idea of an all-pervasive determinism to human thought, feeling, and action. In my opinion, his point of view has not gained general acceptance by all those striving for clarity and logical rigor only because it requires not only consistency of thought, but also unusual integrity, magnamity, and — modesty.

I agree.  Also, our emotions tend to be at odds with such an understanding.  e.g., our visceral desire for vengeance and our fears.

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As a fabrication of our own consciousness, our assignations of meaning are no less “real”, but since humans and the fabrications of our consciousness are routinely fraught with error, it makes sense, to me, to, sometimes, question such fabrications.

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