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Posted: 29 December 2006 06:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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[quote author=“StephenLawrence”]No I make precisely the same claim about rain as I do about desires.

I’m sorry, Stephen, it’s hard to have a conversation with people who contradict themselves.

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Posted: 29 December 2006 09:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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[quote author=“StephenLawrence”]
Why is it you don’t believe we have the power to make it not be raining when it is raining but do believe we have the power to not be desiring a cup of tea when we are desiring a cup of tea?

Perhaps this is a rather silly example, and I apologize in advance if it is..

But say someone were to offer you a choice between three things, lets say X, Y, and Z.

Maybe you truely desire object X, but maybe you also equally desire to prove someone wrong in a debate and choose another of the choices. Would that not be a situation where you would simultaneously desire and not desire a given thing?

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Posted: 29 December 2006 12:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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[quote author=“Crazywumbat”]Maybe you truely desire object X, but maybe you also equally desire to prove someone wrong in a debate and choose another of the choices. Would that not be a situation where you would simultaneously desire and not desire a given thing?

First, welcome to the forum, Crazywumbat.

It’s not a crazy example, although it isn’t an example of self-contradiction. We do the same thing all the time: you may like your coat in winter, but not in summer. You may desire beer with a burrito but not beer with ice cream. It’s the same sort of example you provide: one where you desire one thing for one reason (because it tastes better, for instance), but desire another thing for another reason (to win a debate, for instance).

If your desire to win the debate is stronger than your desire to have something that tastes good, you will choose the second option, and make do with the less tasty food, knowing you have won the debate.

Of course, your desire to win the debate doesn’t make you not desire the better tasting food; it’s just that you can have a stronger and a weaker desire. The stronger desires become part of your “will”, and end up being what you “decide to do”.

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Posted: 30 December 2006 02:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Hi Brennan


But we have the subjective experience of being able to make choices, and no one has yet convinced me that that perception is so erroneous as to invalidate the sense “freedom” I have to make choices in my daily life. Therefore, I still consider myself responsible for those choices, with all the caveats touched upon above regarding factors that constrain my freedom and thus mitigate my responsibility.

I agree we make choices but don’t think I agree that therefore we are responsible for those choices.

When you choose deliberately, without constraint, why does that make you responsible?

Stephen

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Posted: 30 December 2006 02:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”][quote author=“Crazywumbat”]Maybe you truely desire object X, but maybe you also equally desire to prove someone wrong in a debate and choose another of the choices. Would that not be a situation where you would simultaneously desire and not desire a given thing?

First, welcome to the forum, Crazywumbat.

It’s not a crazy example, although it isn’t an example of self-contradiction. We do the same thing all the time: you may like your coat in winter, but not in summer. You may desire beer with a burrito but not beer with ice cream. It’s the same sort of example you provide: one where you desire one thing for one reason (because it tastes better, for instance), but desire another thing for another reason (to win a debate, for instance).

If your desire to win the debate is stronger than your desire to have something that tastes good, you will choose the second option, and make do with the less tasty food, knowing you have won the debate.

Of course, your desire to win the debate doesn’t make you not desire the better tasting food; it’s just that you can have a stronger and a weaker desire. The stronger desires become part of your “will”, and end up being what you “decide to do”.

Agreed

Stephen

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Posted: 30 December 2006 02:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Hi Doug

Here is an attempt to break the cycle and move on from this impass we have.

I think what you may think is when I say I don’t have the power to do otherwise you think I mean, couldn’t do otherwise. Maybe that is where the confusion lies? I’m not sure but I’ll go through what I am saying again in careful steps and I believe with no contradictions and will then take care to study your reply in detail.

To use the running tap example because that is best to make my point.

When the tap is running I do not have the power to make the tap not be running.

Can we agree on that?

This is not the same as saying that the tap could not have been dry at the time.

Can we agree on that?

When I desire a cup of tea I do not have the power to not be desiring a Cup of tea.

I think we disagree on this? What I’m trying to find out, is why you think we have this power.

This is not the same as saying I could not have been desiring a cup of coffee instead, for instance.

If we can agree on this in the case of the running tap, can we agree in the case of my desires? If not why not?

What I am saying is that I have control over my desires in the same sense that I have control over the running tap but in no other sense.

Do you disagree if so why?

I hope this helps us move forward.

I’m not sure what your involvement is with the site but I think it is excellent and am glad to have found it.

Best

Stephen

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Posted: 30 December 2006 03:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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OK Stephen,

[quote author=“StephenLawrence”]When the tap is running I do not have the power to make the tap not be running.

Can we agree on that?

No, you have the power to make the tap not run, by deciding to do so. You had the power to as well, but decided not to use it.

Additionally, the tap itself might not have been running, for one of a million other reasons. The pipe could have been broken, the water could have run out, something could have gotten stuck in the pipe, etc., etc. So the tap itself might not have been running.

(The two cases, of the power you had, and the power the world had, are on all fours with respect to the water not running. It might not have been running because of you, or because of the world).

[quote author=“StephenLawrence”]This is not the same as saying that the tap could not have been dry at the time.

Can we agree on that?

Yes, to say that the tap could not have been dry is to say it was necessarily running, i.e. that it was running in all possible worlds. And that is clearly false.

Unless by “could not have been dry” you mean “might not have been dry” ... and clearly it might not have been dry, in that it was actually wet.

[quote author=“StephenLawrence”]When I desire a cup of tea I do not have the power to not be desiring a Cup of tea.

I think we disagree on this? What I’m trying to find out, is why you think we have this power.

This is not the same as saying I could not have been desiring a cup of coffee instead, for instance.

If we can agree on this in the case of the running tap, can we agree in the case of my desires? If not why not?

When you desire a cup of tea, you have the power not to desire the cup of tea, in this sense: it is possible for you not to have desired the cup of tea. Had the world been slightly different, had your genetic makeup been slightly different, you would not have desired the cup of tea.

Consider the logical space of possible worlds. In one of those worlds Stephen had a bad experience with tea when he was a child and so does not now desire tea. So it is possible for Stephen not to desire tea.

Nota bene: this is precisely the same analysis of possibility we give in cases that have nothing to do with beliefs and desires.

Let me show you, taking a case that has nothing to do with beliefs and desires. Mount St. Helen’s exploded in 1980. Did it “have the power” not to have exploded in 1980? Of course. Had the world been slightly different, had the mountain been slightly different, it might have exploded at some other time, or not at all.

Take the space of possible worlds. In one of those worlds, the magma chamber under Mount St. Helen’s was smaller than in the actual world. In another, there was stronger stone above the chamber. In another, there was weaker stone, and it erupted in 1970. In another, it erupted in 1990. Etc. There are an infinity of possibilities here for when it is possible that Mount St. Helen’s erupted, just as there are an infinity of ways that Stephen might have believed and desired, depending on his genetic makeup and lived experience.

[quote author=“StephenLawrence”]I’m not sure what your involvement is with the site but I think it is excellent and am glad to have found it.

I’m one of the Moderators here ... I have a background in philosophy which helps out in these sorts of cases ...

Glad you enjoy the site. Stick around!

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Posted: 30 December 2006 11:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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I’m one of the Moderators here ... I have a background in philosophy which helps out in these sorts of cases ...

I accept the premise, but I’m not sure the conclusion is always true, speaking as a precisionist nit-picker in my field to another in his field.LOL  LOL  LOL


Occam

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Posted: 30 December 2006 08:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]

When you desire a cup of tea, you have the power not to desire the cup of tea, in this sense: it is possible for you not to have desired the cup of tea. Had the world been slightly different, had your genetic makeup been slightly different, you would not have desired the cup of tea.

I don’t think that I am in any way able to change my mind on free will at the moment and I don’t think you are either but what is interesting is to find out about the theory behind your compatabalist view of free will and try to pinpoint exactly why we disagree and this I think we can do.

Ok I agree with the above quote but I think it also highlights where we disagree.

The reason is I cannot see why it makes a difference.

What you are saying translates to me as I could have different desires if I was in different circumstances.

I can see why counterfactuals make a difference when assessing whether an act was a free act or not but what I don’t understand is how they make a difference when making sense of “could do otherwise”

Of course I could do otherwise if I was in different circumstances but I never am!

This is why i can’t understand where the moral responsibility for my actions comes fomr regardless of whether an act was a free act or not.

Stephen

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Posted: 31 December 2006 05:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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[quote author=“Occam”]I accept the premise, but I’m not sure the conclusion is always true, speaking as a precisionist nit-picker in my field to another in his field.LOL  LOL  LOL

Touch!

LOL

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Posted: 31 December 2006 05:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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[quote author=“StephenLawrence”]Of course I could do otherwise if I was in different circumstances but I never am!

This is why i can’t understand where the moral responsibility for my actions comes fomr regardless of whether an act was a free act or not.

Well, that’s our analysis of responsibility. My sense is that people who don’t like this sort of analysis are too wedded to the incompatibilist (libertarian) notion of free will, so they can’t see how compatibilism would be true.

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Posted: 31 December 2006 10:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”][quote author=“StephenLawrence”]Of course I could do otherwise if I was in different circumstances but I never am!

This is why i can’t understand where the moral responsibility for my actions comes fomr regardless of whether an act was a free act or not.

Well, that’s our analysis of responsibility. My sense is that people who don’t like this sort of analysis are too wedded to the incompatibilist (libertarian) notion of free will, so they can’t see how compatibilism would be true.

I don’t think you have analysed responsibility at all, that is the problem.

You have described a way of finding out when an act is free or not using conterfactuals and alternative possibilities.

You have expressed your belief that when combined with a moral compass
(or something similar) the degree to which an act was a free act increases and diminishes our responsibility for our actions.

But it does not follow that therefore we are more or less responsible for our actions. There is a gap in your reasoning here, I hope you will come back to me on this point. I’ll explain why I think this.

To bridge this gap you again have appealed to understanding could do otherwise in terms of alternative possibilities or counterfactuals but this time rather than succeed the claim fails.

[quote author=“dougsmith”]When you desire a cup of tea, you have the power not to desire the cup of tea, in this sense: it is possible for you not to have desired the cup of tea. Had the world been slightly different, had your genetic makeup been slightly different, you would not have desired the cup of tea. Consider the logical space of possible worlds. In one of those worlds Stephen had a bad experience with tea when he was a child and so does not now desire tea. So it is possible for Stephen not to desire tea.


Imagine drinking a cup of tea was a bad thing and I drank a cup of tea and it was a free act.

It is clear from the above quote that to say moral responsibility depended on could do otherwise if the world was slightly different, doesn’t work.

My world is not slightly different and you could not truthfully claim that I was morally responsible for my actions because my genes were not different or because I didn’t have a bad experience with tea as a child!

I think perhaps compatabalists are divided on this, though I clearly need to read more, it does seem to be that Dennett tries to explain how we can hold people accountable for their actions regardless of whether they could do otherwise and you seem to claim that it is important to be able to do otherwise to be accountable.


Daniel Dennett on “could have done otherwise”

[In this excerpt from Daniel Dennett’s Elbow Room, he argues that the ability to do otherwise is not required in order for a person to be free or accountable.]

“Here I stand,” Luther said. “I can do no other.” Luther claimed that he could do no other, that his conscience made it impossible for him to recant. He might, of course, have been wrong, or have been deliberately overstating the truth. But even if he was…his declaration is testimony to the fact that we simply do not exempt someone from blame or praise for an act because we think he could do no other. Whatever Luther was doing, he was not trying to duck responsibility.

I think we live in dangerous times at the moment. People are being taught the theory of evolution and that the cause of our behaviour is a combination of nurture and nature I don’t think this leaves room for us to be morally responsible in the sense of could have done otherwise and people will increasingly be able to duck responsibility by claiming they could do no other.

The increase of peoples ability to do this could be very harmful to society and the fact that they make this excuse to themselves makes it more likely that they commit a crime in the first place.

I think the answer is to accept the very idea of people being responsible for their actions is not true as Dawkins thinks and to understand that does not have to be the reason for our holding people accountable as it appears (to me at least) that Dennett thinks. Once we accept that people are not responsible for their actions but we will hold them responsible regardless, the excuse of couldn’t do otherwise would no longer be used.

I know this solution looks illogical to you but I don’t think it is and would be happy to discuss.

Best

Stephen

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Posted: 01 January 2007 02:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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One of the claims made in the Economist essay fits with this discussion as it has developed: “Without [Free Will], the idea of responsibility for one’s actions flies out of the window”.”

To me, it seems that the writer is attributing more to ‘responsibility’ than is strictly called for. The article gives as example a man whose pedophilic behavior was caused by a brain tumor. When the tumor was removed, the pedophilia vanished; when the tumor recurred, so did the behavior.

I would say that that tumor or no, the man is responsible for the pedophilic behavior and can be held liable. However, he can answer (respond) that the actions were caused by the tumor, and the community can find that he will not incur the punishment usually given to a pedophile.

What else are we saying when someone is ‘responsible’ or ‘accountable’ or ‘liable’ for his actions?

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Posted: 01 January 2007 09:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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Hello Acher

[quote author=“Acher”]

I would say that that tumor or no, the man is responsible for the pedophilic behavior and can be held liable. However, he can answer (respond) that the actions were caused by the tumor, and the community can find that he will not incur the punishment usually given to a pedophile.

If the community find that he will not incur the punishment usually given to a pedophile, wouldn’t it be because his liability or responsibility was diminished, in which case he was not fully responsible for his actions?

What else are we saying when someone is ‘responsible’ or ‘accountable’ or ‘liable’ for his actions?

What ever we are saying, the term most commonly is used like this; when someone is responsible for their actions it means they deserve to pay the price.

Why doesn’t the pedophile with a brain tumour deserve to pay the same price as one without a brain tumour?

Stephen

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Posted: 02 January 2007 02:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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As commonly used, ‘responsibility’ implies a division between self and body; the former is thinking, but can be over swayed by the demands of the body. In this view, the self is held responsible for its actions unless outside factors, such as a physical disorder, exculpate it. I also think the common use carries with it a ‘God’s eye’ view of morality (like Santa Claus, “He knows when you are sleeping, He knows when you’re awake, He knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!).

I suggest a usage that avoids mind-body duality (and the God’s eye view) and that conforms to practice. For instance, we say “Not guilty by reason for insanity”, rather than “Not responsible”.” Each person is responsible for his actions; that is, others may require him to answer for or explain them. However, how the community judges a person will take into account the mix of deliberation, compulsion, and other factors. For example, A kills B: possible judgments include, ‘guilty of murder’, ‘guilty of manslaughter’, ‘not guilty by reason of insanity’, and so forth.

(In a trial, the first step is to establish responsibility, to answer the question, ‘Did A kill B?’. Above, I take that as given, and go to the next step, which is to answer, ‘How did A come to kill B?’.)

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