Actually I do know how compatiblism is defined but wanted to hear from compatibilists how they define it,in case they had a different spin on it. I thought we might be able to toss it around. I think you’re right that it only messes things up. I’m a hard determinist and I am likely to remain one. It’s the only stance that makes sense to me. I think some people are so reluctant to accept that they have no control over their actions that they try to create impossible middle grounds.
Dougsmith: Lois, your questions throughout these threads demonstrate that you still haven’t understood compatibilism.
Lois: I think it’s more likely that you don’t understand determinism.
Dougsmith: You say “I am a hard determinist and I am likely to remain one” as though compatibilists were not hard determinists and were trying to get you not to be a determinist. But compatibilism is defined as that free will is compatible with determinism.
Lois: I don’t think it is. To me, that’s like saying that atheism is compatible with theism. IMO, you are trying pound the round peg of free will into the square hole of determinism. Your sentence above is the same as if a person who didn’t want to give up a belief in god we’re to say,“your questions throughout these threads demonstrate that you still haven’t understood compatibilism. You say ‘I am an atheist and I am likely to remain one’ as though compatibilists were not atheists and were trying to get you not to be an atheist. But compatibilism is defined as that atheism is compatible with theism.” It makes as much sense. Either there is free will or there is not. Its the same as saying either there is a god or there isn’t. The fact that “compatibilists” agree that determinism exists has no bearing on whether free will exists. If we have free will we can overcome determined thoughts and actions, so that means determined thoughts and actions are subject to our will. Where does this will come from? Doesn’t it come from the same mind that is determined? Or are you suggesting that we have a will that is separate from and independent of our determined minds?
Dougsmith: You talk about “impossible middle grounds” as though compatibilism asserted that it was some kind of indeterminism that made us free. So long as you suffer under that misconception, you won’t have begun to understand
Lois: I have no idea what that means. I have never said or implied such a senseless notion.
Dougsmith: Compatibilism says that in order to be free, we must be determined: without deterministic causal forces affecting our perceptual organs, we would have no knowledge of the world. Without deterministic causal forces between desire and perception, desire would not be properly calibrated to the world. Without deterministic causal forces between desire, will, and action, our actions would not be properly directed at what we want.
Lois: Our actions are not directed as we want if they are in opposition to our determined decisions.
Dougsmith: Think of us as robots: we’re Data from Star Trek. (We really are, in the relevant sense). Yet there are some times when Data acts because he wants to do the action,
Lois:How does he do that if his actions are determined by factors beyond his control? (or in this case, beyond his programmed responses?)
Dougsmith: and other times he is compelled to act by some bad guy with a gun.
Lois: No, he’s not compelled to act by some bad guy with a gun. The bad guy with a gun sets off Data’s determining factors,he will be unaware of how they are working and he will not be able to step out of his determined mind and make a contradictory decision, no matter how much he or you think he can.
Dougsmith:In both cases determinism is true, yet in the second case his actions did not come from his own desires, they came from the desires of the other guy.
Lois: No, they didn’t come from the desires of the other guy. They came from Data’s determined responses to what his mind perceives. Data has no independent control over what actions his determined factors compel him to perform under any set of circumstances.
Dougsmith: So he was compelled. So he would not be held responsible if the other guy forced him to steal money from the bank.
Lois: Whether he’s held responsible would be a result of people’s determined responses to the situation. We don’t hold people responsible if our determining factors decide to not hold them responsible (based on our genes, our experience and our environment, not our “free will”.) Then our mind tries to justify our decisions by creating ideas about responsibility. But when we do that it is also determined by factors beyond our control.
Dougsmith: None of this picture has anything non-deterministic in it anywhere. (At least, not necessarily. On one very influential interpretation of quantum mechanics, atoms behave stochastically rather than deterministically. If so, determinism is false, but that has no relevance to our picture, since it has nothing to do with free will).
Lois: it’s free will that has no relevance. You are bringing up a red herring. Quantum mechanics means only that we don’t know why particles are acting as they do and we are unable to predict what they will do. We can’t predict what our determining factors will do, either. If there is randomness in the universe there is randomness inour determining factors, it is simply one more factor that determines our decisions, over which we have no independent control. Randomness or quantum mechanics is an argument for determinism, not free will. Or are you saying that you believe that free will can overcome the effects of quantum mechanics? If so, by what mechanism would that take place?