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Posted: 02 January 2007 03:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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[quote author=“Acher”]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!).

The common use is the way that most people see it, obviously. The reason I debate free will is because if the majority of people are deluded about this it is likely to be doing a great deal of harm and I have strong reasons to think it is. When I say this I’m not focusing on the judicial system but on every human beings interactions with the other human beings around them and how we treat ourselves.

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.

Ok fine.

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?’.)

Ok so if we go back to the pedophile with a brain tumour.

In this instance what would be the justification for giving him a lesser sentence than another pedophile without a brain tumour? To make it simple, assume each crime was the same except for that one difference.

Do you think it would be unfair to give both a harsh sentence or do you think a harsh sentence is never fair on the person it is given to but in some cases it is of greater benefit to society to do so, than in others?

Stephen

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Posted: 02 January 2007 06:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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There is clearly more to responsibility than having been able to do otherwise. Nevertheless, it is necessary to have the analysis include this sort of modality in order to exclude cases in which the person is tied down or otherwise compelled to do or not do an action. In the case that the person’s own beliefs and desires are not causal antecedents of the act in the right way, clearly the person is not responsible for the act.

To take another example, say someone has a gun to your head and forces you to give the bank teller a robbery note. In that case, the delivery of the note was not done because you wanted to rob the bank. It was done because you wanted to avoid being killed. So you are not responsible for the robbery—the guy with the gun to your head is. (Or, to put it another way, you could not have done otherwise than you did and remained alive, so you are not responsible for this act. It was done under compulsion. The guy with the gun, however, could very well have done other than stick a gun to your head. For example, had he not wished to rob the bank, he would not have stuck a gun to your head).

Another aspect to this sort of causal picture is that the beliefs and desires have to be caused in the right way: that is, the brain has not to be malfunctioning. This is how we exclude people from punishment by reason of insanity. Here we understand that the insane person may believe the grocer is the devil, and desire to kill the devil, and that that made him shoot the grocer. But his insanity means that he is unable to comprehend either ethical truths or the world itself, and hence isn’t responsible in the same sense that a person is who has a fully functional belief/desire mechanism in place.

All of what I have just said is, of course, perfectly compatible with determinism being true.

Now the case of the pedophile is an interesting one, and whether he is or is not responsible must hinge on our analysis of whether his brain tumor truly deranged him in the sense of making him insane (unable to comprehend good and evil in this case) or whether he was perfectly sane (with well-functioning belief/desire mechanisms) and simply a pedophile who stopped being one after an operation.

I don’t know enough of the case to be able to make such a determination, and perhaps nobody does. It also certainly is that such determinations lie along a continuum: there is no bright line separating the sane from the insane.

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Posted: 02 January 2007 09:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]There is clearly more to responsibility than having been able to do otherwise.

Could do otherwise makes sense in terms of other possible worlds and counterfactuals. I don’t think we can therefore make sense of able to do otherwise because able means it is an ability that we have. Like the ability to speak Japanese. Some of us have learnt to speak Japanese but none of us have developed the ability to do otherwise. If we go back to the cup of tea example I did not have the ability to not desire a cup of tea, it is only that it is possible that I might not have desired a cup of tea, if my genes were different or if I had a bad experience with tea as a child.

In the case that the person’s own beliefs and desires are not causal antecedents of the act in the right way, clearly the person is not responsible for the act.

Yes this is clear but it is not clear why a person is responsible for their actions in any circumstances. We need a definition of responsible for your actions and a reason for why acting freely makes us more responsible than if we don’t. It is complicated but we only need to know what the function of acting freely is in giving us responsibility.

To take another example, say someone has a gun to your head and forces you to give the bank teller a robbery note. In that case, the delivery of the note was not done because you wanted to rob the bank. It was done because you wanted to avoid being killed. So you are not responsible for the robbery—the guy with the gun to your head is. (Or, to put it another way, you could not have done otherwise than you did and remained alive, so you are not responsible for this act. It was done under compulsion. The guy with the gun, however, could very well have done other than stick a gun to your head. For example, had he not wished to rob the bank, he would not have stuck a gun to your head).

Either both the guy with a gun and I could have done otherwise or neither of us could have done otherwise. Either we were both compelled to do what we did or neither of us were.

Let’s say the bank robber’s motive was that he didn’t like work. He had a choice, go to work or rob a bank and he chose rob a bank.

The nature of the choice I made was precisely the same. I had a choice, give the bank teller a note or be shot. I chose to give the bank teller a note.

If you are correct to say that the bank robber wished to rob the bank then it would be correct to say that I wished to give the bank teller a note.

Had the bank robber desired to go to work, he would not be robbing the bank.

Had I desired to be shot, I would not be giving the bank teller a note.

You accept that I could not have desired to be shot.

You do not accept that the bank robber could not have desired to go to work.

Why? Counterfactuals won’t work because you would have to apply them to both cases. What does work?

Stephen

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Posted: 03 January 2007 01:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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Responsibility it itself an input.

Our brains are machines that react to external (and internal) stimuli. Responsibility is itself a fact that influences decision making, thus we have to have responsibility even though we actually don’t.

“Responsibility” is just a social pressure to guide behavior.

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Posted: 03 January 2007 03:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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[quote author=“rationalrevolution”]Responsibility it itself an input.

Our brains are machines that react to external (and internal) stimuli. Responsibility is itself a fact that influences decision making, thus we have to have responsibility even though we actually don’t.

“Responsibility” is just a social pressure to guide behavior.

Yes, I think that is a good way of putting it.

The people who’s behaviour it guides successfully are the lucky ones and the ones that have to pay the penalty because the input unfortunately did not create the required response are the unlucky ones.

Stephen

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Posted: 03 January 2007 07:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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[quote author=“StephenLawrence”]If we go back to the cup of tea example I did not have the ability to not desire a cup of tea, it is only that it is possible that I might not have desired a cup of tea, if my genes were different or if I had a bad experience with tea as a child.

But that is just to say that you did have the ability not to desire a cup of tea: it was possible for you to have.

Stephen, you still don’t understand modality, nor the analysis of it that I am providing. Without that understanding, you can’t begin to understand causation or how desires become the will.

[quote author=“StephenLawrence”]If you are correct to say that the bank robber wished to rob the bank then it would be correct to say that I wished to give the bank teller a note.

But this is not correct. You did not wish to give the bank teller the note. You don’t want to do that at all! What you want to do is stay alive, and so you do something you don’t want to do.

One might as well say that a raped woman wants to be raped.

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Posted: 03 January 2007 09:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”][quote author=“StephenLawrence”]If we go back to the cup of tea example I did not have the ability to not desire a cup of tea, it is only that it is possible that I might not have desired a cup of tea, if my genes were different or if I had a bad experience with tea as a child.

But that is just to say that you did have the ability not to desire a cup of tea: it was possible for you to have.

Stephen, you still don’t understand modality, nor the analysis of it that I am providing. Without that understanding, you can’t begin to understand causation or how desires become the will.

No, I am accepting that it is possible that I could have had different genes or a bad experience with tea when I was a child but also accepting the fact that I didn’t. My desires would be different if I had those experiences but as I didn’t I am not able to have different desires.

If I had different genes, it is possible that I could desire to have sex with young children. Given that I do not have different genes I do not have the ability to desire to have sex with young children, thank goodness for that!

Had you considered that you don’t understand what I am saying.
I am unable to make myself have had different genes or have had a bad experience with tea as a child. This is a matter of fact. Some how this gets lost in translation sadly, as I know that you can’t actually disagree, if only I could put my point across. to disagree you’d have to think I have the ability to change the laws of physics or something. Nobody is denying the laws of physics could not be different just that they are not and I suprise suprise don’t have the power to change them. 

[quote author=“StephenLawrence”]If you are correct to say that the bank robber wished to rob the bank then it would be correct to say that I wished to give the bank teller a note.

[quote author=“dougsmith”]But this is not correct. You did not wish to give the bank teller the note. You don’t want to do that at all! What you want to do is stay alive, and so you do something you don’t want to do.

I’m not sure, it depends what wish means, this is interesting and using the compatabalist theory of free will and counterfactuals interests me and I hope to pursue it in this respect.

If I have a choice of two things and I don’t like either, I choose the one that I dislike the least, so you could say that is what I wish to do. What is clear is that it is my prefered option in the circumstances and there is nothing else I would rather do in the circumstances.

Anyway I didn’t say it was true, just that If the bank robber wished to rob the bank then I wished to give the bank teller the note.

If the bank robber didn’t wish to rob the bank then I didn’t wish to give the bank teller the note.

The point is we were both trying to avoid something, for me it was getting shot and for him going to work.

One might as well say that a raped woman wants to be raped.

Well, you could say that we always do what we want to do, in the circumstances we find ourselves in.

None of us have the ability to find ourselves in different circumstances than we do.

We all wish we could sometimes, as the woman who is raped does but we know it is impossible.

The trouble is however I put this fact you don’t seem to see what I mean.

Stephen

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Posted: 04 January 2007 08:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]
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[quote author=“StephenLawrence”]No, I am accepting that it is possible that I could have had different genes or a bad experience with tea when I was a child but also accepting the fact that I didn’t. My desires would be different if I had those experiences but as I didn’t I am not able to have different desires.

But you see, Stephen, this is totally banal. Of course, if you didn’t have those desires, it necessarily follows that you didn’t have those desires. So what you’ve said as something apparently crucial to your notion of free will is in fact logically true, i.e. not enlightening at all.

If it is possible, as you say, that you could have had other genes or other experiences, then ipso facto it is possible for you to have had different desires.

Obviously, if you didn’t have different genes or experiences, you would have had just the desires you had. But that’s irrelevant to the issue of modality that started our discussion, since to figure out modality (possibility) you have to look to situations other than the actual one.

[quote author=“StephenLawrence”]Well, you could say that we always do what we want to do, in the circumstances we find ourselves in.

But the problem with saying this is that it makes a hash of what we mean by “doing what we want to do”. If your mother makes you clean up your room, it is simply false to say you are “doing what you want to do”.

More pertinently: there is a distinction between freedom and slavery. (Or rape and consensual sex). Slaves are people who are made to do things they do not want to do. If on your analysis everyone always does what they want to do, how do you distinguish between freedom and slavery?

It just seems you get all kinds of wrong answers on your particular view, and hence that it is not a good theory at all about desire or freedom.

I can distinguish between freedom and slavery, or between rape and consensual sex, by looking to the etiology of each action, and seeing how it is caused. Is it caused by the right sort of desire? Or not?

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Posted: 05 January 2007 01:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”][quote author=“StephenLawrence”]No, I am accepting that it is possible that I could have had different genes or a bad experience with tea when I was a child but also accepting the fact that I didn’t. My desires would be different if I had those experiences but as I didn’t I am not able to have different desires.

But you see, Stephen, this is totally banal. Of course, if you didn’t have those desires, it necessarily follows that you didn’t have those desires. So what you’ve said as something apparently crucial to your notion of free will is in fact logically true, i.e. not enlightening at all.

Well it is crucial to my notion of free will and I am glad it is logically true.

from this first premise, which we both agree on, we can attempt to make progress.

Now given that when I desire what I desire it is not possible for me not to desire what I desire, in the above sense. What can I do about it? When am I able to change this state of affairs? when can I make my desire be anything other than what it is?

I believe it logically follows that the answer is never.

If you believe there is something I can do about it, you must believe in an illogical construct or have made a leap of faith.

If you don’t believe there is anything I can do about it then your kind of free will cannot make me responsible for my actions, in the way that is commonly meant.

I hope you see what I mean now, the banal, unenlightened fact makes a big difference!

Stephen

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Posted: 05 January 2007 06:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]
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Stephen, this conversation reminds me of correcting freshman philosophy papers, only I am not getting paid for it now. You haven’t even understood the critique I just made.

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Posted: 05 January 2007 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]Stephen, this conversation reminds me of correcting freshman philosophy papers, only I am not getting paid for it now. You haven’t even understood the critique I just made.

Of course I understood the critique. It is just that I used it to hoist you with your own petard.

Stephen

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Posted: 05 January 2007 08:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]
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If you actually understood the critique you would understand how it applies to my position. Hint: it does not.

Exercise left for the reader: why not?

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Posted: 05 January 2007 09:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]If you actually understood the critique you would understand how it applies to my position. Hint: it does not.

Exercise left for the reader: why not?

Well Doug playing guessing games doesn’t interest me.

The fact is, if I had your genes and your experiences I would think, feel and act, the same as you do.

And if you had the same genes and experiences as I have, you would think feel and act as I do.

Now because of these facts I can’t blame you for your behaviour (in the deep sense that people do)

And because of this, you can’t blame me for my behaviour (in the deep sense that people do)

If the reason your patience ran out on the other thread was because of your failure to understand this fact, then it was caused by your belief in an illogical construct.

As always if you don’t believe in the illogical construct, you need to justify your belief that punishment is ever deserved.

We do it for other reasons yes but your belief that punishment is deserved is untenable.

I wonder if you know that and so rather than defend an undefendable belief you resort to accusing me of not understanding or explain that you are running out of patience.

Stephen

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Posted: 07 January 2007 03:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]
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Hi everybody. This is my first post here, and one of the few I have made anywhere, anyway…. Well, my position is this: if you abstract from the physics, there is freedom of choice insofar as your mind (that is, your brain) can figure out two or more alternative course of actions, one of them being ‘do nothing’. For, if there are no alternatives, we cannot choose. Being free to choose implies alternatives paths. Now, free will in the sense of a will that is a cause of our choices but not caused by anything,  that’s nonsense! Take the case of of the Kantian moral imperatives: if I choose because there are moral imperatives, than my “will” chooses because of that imperative, not because the will ‘wants’ (I supose that is why it is called an “imperative).

In fact, I think, there is no free will nor freedom of choice. What there is is the various alternatives our brains conjure up, so we have the illusion of choosing.

P.S. Pardon me my english errors, I’m Portuguese

Paulo Pinheiro

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Posted: 10 January 2007 12:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]
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[quote author=“Paulo Pinheiro”]Hi everybody. This is my first post here,

I’m pleased to meet you.

What there is is the various alternatives our brains conjure up, so we have the illusion of choosing.

Agreed, our brain is able to consider various alternatives, which it has conjured up. When we select one of them we call that choosing.

In what sense is doing that an illusion? Isn’t it simply something we do?

When the writer of the article questions whether we are free to choose. Why is he doing that? We can choose as you have described it, there is no doubt.

Surely he must believe choose means something other than what we experience it to be?

It is this belief that he has and that is widely held that I am questioning.

Stephen

p.s your english is very good. smile

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