1 of 2
1
Moral Responsibility for our actions
Posted: 05 January 2007 08:58 PM   [ Ignore ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5939
Joined  2006-12-20

Two questions.

1.What is it?

2.Why does, if we are acting freely, it therefore follow that we have it?

These are the unanswered questions (apart from responsibility viewed as an input) from the free to choose and free will threads.

I don’t intend to argue for or against the answers on this thread, I’m just trying to find out, what people think they are.

Stephen

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 January 2007 07:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9284
Joined  2006-08-29

I choose to wait until science finds out a little more about what consciousness is and how our brain works. I don’t know if we have a free will, therefre I cannot know what moral responsibilty does/should represent. My feeling is that the more we’ll know about the brain, words like punishment, responsibility, respect, love (?), etc., will begin to lose their meaning. As I said…I’ll wait…

Profile
 
 
Posted: 06 January 2007 10:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Moderator
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5508
Joined  2006-10-22

The following are my beliefs, and I also don’t want to bother having nit-picking arguments about semantic and word definition differences.

As a determinist I believe we do not have free will, however, the causes for our actions are so myriad, complex, and hidden that we act as if we do have free will.  We learn a moral code very early, and we feel guilt if we act at variance from it.  Similarly, to maintain a functioning social structure we have laws to punish actions outside defined moral limits.  These laws act as an additional factor to motivate us to behave morally to avoid punishment.

Occam

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 January 2007 06:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

If by “free will” we mean the complete lack of causation for our behavior apart from some mysterious nonphysical force (souls, consciousness, whatever), then I don’t think we have it. But I agree w/ Occam that the causation, in terms of neurologic events, or even fundamental phsyics, is so complex and obscure that it doesn’t render meaningless the perception we have that we deliberate among alternative choices and that choose to act in a particular way. This capacity for choice, seems to me, to imply some kind of responsiblity for the choices we make. Whether this responsibility is “moral” is a bit of a loaded question, since it implies judgement (by whom?, what criteria?). But I do think we have responsibility. And for the practical and psychological reasons Occam cited, there are ethical implications to our responsibility, and holding people responsible in the sense of providing social, financial, or physical sanctions against some actions we choose makes sense. The devil is in the details, but the underlying p;rinciple seems sound to me.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 07 January 2007 10:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5939
Joined  2006-12-20

Thanks George and Occam for you replies


Brennan

As I’ve said I’m not going to argue for or against the different points of view on this thread. I do want to find out what people mean by certain answers.
I’ll also point out what I do agree with.
[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]If by “free will” we mean the complete lack of causation for our behavior apart from some mysterious nonphysical force (souls, consciousness, whatever), then I don’t think we have it. But I agree w/ Occam that the causation, in terms of neurologic events, or even fundamental phsyics, is so complex and obscure that it doesn’t render meaningless the perception we have that we deliberate among alternative choices and that choose to act in a particular way.


Agreed

This capacity for choice, seems to me, to imply some kind of responsibility for the choices we make. Whether this responsibility is “moral” is a bit of a loaded question, since it implies judgement (by whom?, what criteria?). But I do think we have responsibility.

Agreement on the moral part so we can just call it responsibility. I take responsibility for my actions and by that I mean, I am aware that my actions have consequences and I don’t wish to harm anybody.

When somebody says you are responsible for your actions, then I don’t know what it means and that is what I’m trying to find out. I’m afraid Occam may think this looks like nit-picking but I hope not and I think it isn’t. I believe the subtle differences make a difference.

Most importantly to me, what do you mean by the fact we make choices implies some kind of responsibility?

Is it because when we make a choice, you think it means we could do otherwise? Or something else? Or is it your intuition that makes you think the fact we make choices implies some kind of responsibility?

By responsibility I specifically mean in the sense of being responsible for your actions.

And for the practical and psychological reasons Occam cited, there are ethical implications to our responsibility, and holding people responsible in the sense of providing social, financial, or physical sanctions against some actions we choose makes sense. The devil is in the details, but the underlying p;rinciple seems sound to me.

Agreed we make choices, if we know we may be held responsible for our choice it can be a determining factor in guiding us to make a better choice.

Thanks for your help with my questions.

Stephen

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 January 2007 01:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15305
Joined  2006-02-14

We cannot derive an “ought” from an “is”, so we will never be able to derive a notion of “responsibility” directly from the neural causation of the brain.

What we can do, on the other hand, is to look at a number of paradigmatic examples of responsibility (e.g., a theft or murder), and see which causal pathways were activated, and distinguish those from the causal pathways where we do not believe that people were responsible (e.g., due to insanity).

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 January 2007 05:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Moderator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4052
Joined  2006-11-28

Most importantly to me, what do you mean by the fact we make choices implies some kind of responsibility?

Is it because when we make a choice, you think it means we could do otherwise?

Essentially yes. As I said in the “free to choose” thread, the very word “choice” means to me the deliberate selection among alternative possible actions, and if we could do any one of a number of things, we are responsible for what we choose to do. I could add lots of caveats about factors that limit our freedom of choice, and thus our responsibility, but again I see the freedom to do or not do something as conferring responsibility for the choice we make.

 Signature 

The SkeptVet
The SkeptVet Blog
Militant Agnostic: I don’t know, and neither do you!

Profile
 
 
Posted: 08 January 2007 09:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5939
Joined  2006-12-20

Hi Brennan

Thanks again for your help. From this thread I’m able to show precisely what I agree with. I can also pinpoint what I disagree with, for point of reference rather than making an argument. 

[quote author=“mckenzievmd”]

Most importantly to me, what do you mean by the fact we make choices implies some kind of responsibility?

Is it because when we make a choice, you think it means we could do otherwise?

Essentially yes. As I said in the “free to choose” thread, the very word “choice” means to me the deliberate selection among alternative possible actions,

Close to agreed, although I’d add that I think the alternative possible actions only exist before the action. Choosing is a process that takes place over time.

and if we could do any one of a number of things,

I disagree, I don’t think we could do any number of things. 

we are responsible for what we choose to do. I could add lots of caveats about factors that limit our freedom of choice, and thus our responsibility, but again I see the freedom to do or not do something as conferring responsibility for the choice we make.

I disagree, I would say that choosing does not entail the freedom to do or not to do something.

It seems to me my disagreement actually hinges on what choice means rather than on whether we have free will or not.

Stephen

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 January 2007 07:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  44
Joined  2006-12-30

Stephen, thank you for this thread. Work and other activities interfered with continuing on the Free to Choose thread. Moral Responsibility, the presence or absence of which, whatever it is, occasioned the hand-wringing in the article you alluded to at the beginning of the Free to Choose thread.

What is Moral Responsibility?

I gave a definition of ‘responsibility’ in the earlier thread: “Each person is responsible for his actions; that is, others may require him to answer for or explain them.” If an action causes harm or is contrary to existent laws and mores, the community response may involve a penalty; if an action benefits the community, or particularly exemplifies laws or mores, it will be praised or otherwise rewarded.

‘Moral Responsibility’ to me is one of those expressions like ‘God’ that appear pregnant with meaning until we begin inquiring into it. Questions come to mind: is it ‘Moral Responsibility’ or ‘moral responsibility’, that is, with capitals, does it refer to something substantive, or, without capitals, does it merely indicate a kind of answerability for one’s actions which is apart from legal responsibility; is it transitive, meaning that one is responsible to someone or something, or is it intransitive, representing a supernatural merit or demerit; does it entail Free Will, or is it a separate issue?

My reply to your question would be that by saying “I am responsible for x.” I mean that x occurred of my own uncoerced doing. Now it may not have been deliberately chosen: consider a highway fender-bender: I was not paying sufficient attention to the car in front, or I was too close, when it suddenly stopped and I collided with it. The accident is attributable to me even though it did not happen of my choice. In contrast, suppose I became angered when the other cut in front of me and I purposefully struck his rear (out of road rage). In this case, I would say that I have a particular moral responsibility for the accident; in both cases I have legal responsibility.

Work intrudes again. (I work nights and feel obliged to be well rested when I arrive at work, so I am off to take a nap.)

 Signature 

Robert Burdick

A member of the reality-based community.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 January 2007 11:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5939
Joined  2006-12-20

Thanks Acher.


I have questions but I don’t want to ask them on this thread.

I hope you’ll manage to find time to go back to the free to choose thread and address the questions I asked in response to your last (second I think) post there.

Stephen

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 January 2007 12:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  5
Joined  2007-01-04

[quote author=“dougsmith”]We cannot derive an “ought” from an “is”, so we will never be able to derive a notion of “responsibility” directly from the neural causation of the brain.

I like this statement for the purpose of this argument, but perhaps for the wrong reason.  I disagree with the statement itself, but applaud its underlying relevance to the topic at hand.  Humanity has a knack for doing just that… deriving value from objective observation.  In fact, one might go so far to argue that there is very little objectivity in human perception.  While the scientific community laudibly attempts to remove all such distractors for the purpose of objective observation, I can’t help but think that most scientists are still human and have even sub-conscious (hence, undetected and uncompensated for) value systems that skew the observation according to personal bias.

Taking a more moderate slant, we can choose from a series of actions.  For example, I have the choice to respond to this post (knowing it will meet with some resistance hopefully) and make the decision to enact my choice, or not.  Everything else may be an enabler (the keyboard, blog, etc.) or medium… and I don’t always have control over those factors.  However, there is no predestination or previous series of events (in my opinion) that inevitably led to my choice, but rather it was a real-time decision based on that same series of events that I chalk up as human experience… and from that VALUE, I chose of my own will to focus or shift or direct my energies as I determine moment by moment.

Back to the “ought from is” statement.  I think this pinpoints the primary static on either side of the issue.  Barring the possibility that all is illusory and insubstantial, therefore not real, which negates everything including this conversation… I think perception plays a large role in determining ‘what is free will?’  Is our decision conscious or subconscious?  How much are we acted upon in our decision making as opposed to enacting our decision?  The first scenario with the car accident (not intentional), I think is a fair example.  As stated, while we may not have actively chosen to strike another driver on the roads, it is nonetheless the resultant conflict of our choices with the other driver’s, environmental situations sometimes a substantial contributor.  Very quickly, though, I feel we are sidetracked into muddling ‘blame’ or accountability with responsibility.  Accountability is a more value-laden term and I think more relevant if that’s the point being expressed.  I don’t like bantering semantics, but oftentimes meanings do substantially change with the interpretation of a given word.  This distinction resonates well with me in this case.  The distinction between responsibility and accountability accounts for some of the static for which the term “ought” is responsible.  Sorry, couldn’t resist.

It sounded so much better in inner-monologue.  Hopefully some of that is peeking through.  Just food for thought, but I certainly appreciate the topic for snack.  Hopefully I just don’t choke on it.

 Signature 

~Chandler
"A man talking sense to himself is no more insane than a man talking nonsense, not to himself… or just as insane."  ~Tom Stoppard, "Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead"

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 January 2007 01:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  15305
Joined  2006-02-14

[quote author=“chandler”][quote author=“dougsmith”]We cannot derive an “ought” from an “is”, so we will never be able to derive a notion of “responsibility” directly from the neural causation of the brain.

I like this statement for the purpose of this argument, but perhaps for the wrong reason.  I disagree with the statement itself, but applaud its underlying relevance to the topic at hand.

I wonder what you disagree with in the statement. In fact, it is really more a matter of logic than anything else: one cannot logically derive an “ought” from an “is”. Insofar as we want to speak about ethics (“oughts”) we have to begin from ... naught.

Now, since Aristotle people have been trying to naturalize ethics: to derive it or fix its origins in something natural. And I do that myself sometimes, and I applaud it. So, we might say something like “Certain of our ethical beliefs are hard-wired into us biologically.” OK. Or we might say, “All ethics comes down to pain avoidance, and pain is a physical phenomenon. So we can hope for an analysis of ethics in physical terms.” OK. Or anyway something like that.

But in either case, if we are going to use this analysis to inform our ethics we will be forced into a simple assertion of the key link between “ought” and “is”. In the first case, above, that would be something like: “It is ethical to do what our biologically hard-wired heritage tells us is ethical to do.” Now, we don’t need to believe such a thing. Indeed, we might well say, “OK, but just because it’s hardwired into me biologically to believe such-and-so is ethical, still, is it really ethical?”

I mean, that remains a real question, unless we assume that ethics is essentially linked to biology. (We might do, simply because we cannot see where else it would come from).

But in any case, there must be an assumption made somewhere, because, as I say, logically one cannot derive an “ought” from an “is”; or put another way, we cannot logically derive ethical principles from simple physical descriptions of phenomena.

(BTW, this doesn’t necessarily make ethics any different from any other potential program of naturalization. Heat was identified with molecular motion ... but prior to this identification, one might say “One cannot logically derive principles of heat from principles of motion” ... one might even think that the identification was absurd! Yet nowadays such an identification is accepted wholeheartedly, due to the explanatory and predictive power of the theory).

 Signature 

Doug

-:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:- -:—:-

El sueño de la razón produce monstruos

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 January 2007 10:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5939
Joined  2006-12-20

I am going to copy something from one of my posts on the free will thread because I think it is relevant here.

It is about “Mr Puppet”

I think that if responsibility for our actions can be defined in such a way, so that Mr Puppet has it, then I could agree with that definition

I think that If Mr Puppet is not responsible for his actions, then nobody is and it is false to say that anybody ever is responsible for their actions.

http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~jgreene/GreeneWJH/GreeneCohenPhilTrans-04.pdf

In the film The Boys from Brazil, members of the Nazi old
guard have regrouped in South America after the war.
Their plan is to bring their beloved fuhrer back to life by
raising children genetically identical to Hitler (courtesy of
some salvaged DNA) in environments that mimic that of
Hitler’s upbringing. For example, Hitler’s father died while
Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B (2004)
young Adolph was still a boy, and so each Hitler clone’s
surrogate father is killed at just the right time, and so on,
and so forth.
This is obviously a fantasy, but the idea that one could, in
principle, produce a person with a particular personality
and behavioural profile through tight genetic and environmental
control is plausible. Let us suppose, then, that a
group of scientists has managed to create an individual—
call him ‘Mr Puppet’—who, by design, engages in some
kind of criminal behaviour: say, a murder during a drug
deal gone bad. The defence calls to the stand the project’s
lead scientist: ‘Please tell us about your relationship to
Mr Puppet. . .’
It is very simple, really. I designed him. I carefully selected
every gene in his body and carefully scripted every significant
event in his life so that he would become precisely what he is
today. I selected his mother knowing that she would let him cry
for hours and hours before picking him up. I carefully selected
each of his relatives, teachers, friends, enemies, etc. and told
them exactly what to say to him and how to treat him. Things
generally went as planned, but not always. For example, the
angry letters written to his dead father were not supposed to
appear until he was fourteen, but by the end of his thirteenth
year he had already written four of them. In retrospect I think
this was because of a handful of substitutions I made to his
eighth chromosome. At any rate, my plans for him succeeded,
as they have for 95% of the people I’ve designed. I assure you
that the accused deserves none of the credit.
What to do with Mr Puppet? Insofar as we believe this
testimony, we are inclined to think that Mr Puppet cannot
be held fully responsible for his crimes, if he can be held
responsible for them at all. He is, perhaps, a man to be
feared, and we would not want to return him to the streets.
But given the fact that forces beyond his control played a
dominant role in causing him to commit these crimes, it is
hard to think of him as anything more than a pawn.
But what does the law say about Mr Puppet? The law
asks whether or not he was rational at the time of his misdeeds,
and as far as we know he was. For all we know, he is
psychologically indistinguishable from the prototypical
guilty criminal, and therefore fully responsible in the eyes
of the law. But, intuitively, this is not fair.
Thus, it seems that the law’s exclusive interest in rationality
misses something intuitively important. In our opinion,
rationality is just a presumed correlate of what most
people really care about. What people really want to know
is if the accused, as opposed to something else, is responsible
for the crime, where that ‘something else’ could be the
accused’s brain, genes or environment. The question of
someone’s ultimate responsibility seems to turn, intuitively,
on a question of internal versus external determination.
Mr Puppet ought not be held responsible for his
actions because forces beyond his control played a dominant
role in the production of his behaviour. Of course, the
scientists did not have complete control—after all, they had
a 5% failure rate—but that does not seem to be enough to
restore Mr Puppet’s free will, at least not entirely. Yes, he is
as rational as other criminals, and, yes, it was his desires
and beliefs that produced his actions. But those beliefs and
desires were rigged by external forces, and that is why,
intuitively, he deserves our pity more than our moral condemnation.
4
The story of Mr. Puppet raises an important question:
what is the difference between Mr Puppet and anyone else
accused of a crime? After all, we have little reason to doubt
that (i) the state of the universe 10 000 years ago, (ii) the
laws of physics, and (iii) the outcomes of random quantum
mechanical events are together sufficient to determine
everything that happens nowadays, including our own
actions. These things are all clearly beyond our control. So
what is the real difference between us and Mr Puppet? One
obvious difference is that Mr Puppet is the victim of a diabolical
plot whereas most people, we presume, are not. But
does this matter? The thought that Mr Puppet is not fully
responsible depends on the idea that his actions were externally
determined. Forces beyond his control constrained
his personality to the point that it was ‘no surprise’ that he
would behave badly. But the fact that these forces are connected
to the desires and intentions of evil scientists is
really irrelevant, is it not? What matters is only that these
forces are beyond Mr Puppet’s control, that they’re not
really his. The fact that someone could deliberately harness
these forces to reliably design criminals is an indication of
the strength of these forces, but the fact that these forces
are being guided by other minds rather than simply operating
on their own seems irrelevant, so far as Mr Puppet’s
freedom and responsibility are concerned.
Thus, it seems that, in a very real sense, we are all puppets.
The combined effects of genes and environment
determine all of our actions. Mr Puppet is exceptional only
in that the intentions of other humans lie behind his genes
and environment. But, so long as his genes and environment
are intrinsically comparable to those of ordinary
people, this does not really matter. We are no more free
than he is.

Stephen

Profile
 
 
Posted: 09 February 2007 03:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Jr. Member
Rank
Total Posts:  5
Joined  2007-02-08

I’m coming quite late to this debate, but would like to add a thought if I may?
Morality, responsibility and free will?
Skinner would say that:
‘behaviour is shaped and maintained by its consequences’ (Gross, R.D. Psychology The Science Of Mind And Behaviour - second edition. Pp166-176 London, Hodder & Stoughton, 1992)

If the activity or thought is pleasurable in its conclusion it is then probable that the activity is repeated at other times. So to guage morality we may have to ask how the individual ‘learns’ moral responsibility?

The idea of behavioural or determinist philosophies would perhaps indicate the use of generalised and discrimintive conditioning in some ways, but I’m certain that there must be a degree of pleasure in the replication of good (moral) activities - unless overrided by something that produces a level of pleasure that is by its nature a cause of cognitive dissonance (ie Drug abuse or more specifically resorting to crime to feed the habit).

Forgive me, I’m extremely tired and should have been in bed ages ago (its 4am over here)...

Mark L. Lunn

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 February 2007 10:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5939
Joined  2006-12-20

Hi Mark

Thanks for your response. There is nothing in it I disagree with. We want people to behave in what we call a moral way and that behaviour must give them pleasure or at least less pain than another option, for them to behave in that way.

What I don’t understand is what it actually means to say “we are responsible for our actions.”

My interpretation would be that it means that we are responsible for the fact that we act as we do.

But this can’t be right because we are no more responsible for the fact that we act as we do, than we are for the fact that we have two legs. As far as we are concerned both are a matter of luck.

If my interpretation is wrong, then what is the correct interpretation of the sentence.

Or do people think my interpretation is correct and the fact that we deliberate and make choices or possibly compatibilist free will would give us that kind of responsibility?

Stephen

Profile
 
 
Posted: 27 February 2007 12:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  402
Joined  2003-09-24

Two essays which might help us in this quest

Here are 2 essays from NON Free-Willers which may help us in this quest about moral responsibility:

 

Key part:

“(1) You do what you do—in the circumstances in which you find yourself—because of the way you are.

“(2 ) So if you’re going to be ultimately responsible for what you do, you’re going to have to be ultimately responsible for the way you are—at least in certain mental respects. 

“(3) But you can’t be ultimately responsible for the way you are (for the reasons just given). 

“(4) So you can’t be ultimately responsible for what you do.”

=================================

 

This begins quite philosophically, but thr crux of this essay is thus:

“What does holding people responsible for actions and crediting them with responsibility for actions come to? 

“Doing this is not to be identified with judging actions to be wrong or right. That what I did was wrong is indeed presupposed by my properly being held responsible for it, but it is not the same fact. So with my being credited with responsibility and my being judged to have acted rightly. I can do wrong without being held responsible for the action, do right without being credited with responsibility. 

“Nor is holding someone responsible for a particular action the same as judging her to be a bad or inhuman person, where that is to make a judgement that pertains to much more than one action, but to character or a pattern of life. So with crediting someone with responsibility for an action and judging her to be a good or human person. 

“It seems evident that to hold someone morally responsible for an action is to disapprove of her morally with respect to that action. To credit someone with moral responsibility is to approve of her morally with respect to an action. If holding someone responsible is not the same as judging an action to be wrong, or assessing a person over time, perhaps a lifetime, it is also distinct from what may follow on holding the person responsible, which is an action of blaming or punishing her. The latter is clearly distinct from the former. So with crediting with responsibility and an action of praising or rewarding.” 
“My subject in this paper has been determinism and moral responsibility, and so I have in a way been true to another tradition. It is a philosophical tradition which brings together Compatibilists and Incompatibilists and supposes that determinism is most important with respect to its consequences for moral responsibility. In fact, I doubt this. It is most important, in human terms, with respect to its consequences for what can be called our life-hopes. These are an individual’s principal hopes for her future. As in the case of moral responsibility, we have or are capable of two attitudes here—one involving the conception of an unfixed future, one involving a future of voluntary actions. We have or are capable of two kinds of life-hopes. 

“Determinism, to my mind, also has consequences for what can be called personal as distinct from moral feelings or attitudes. Resentment and gratitude are examples. It is possible to think that these consequences too are more humanly important than the consequences for moral responsibility—and, as can be added, related consequences in connection with attitudes having to do with right actions and good persons. 

“Determinism also has consequences, as already implied, for what we do as a result of holding persons responsible. Punishment is central here, but far from the only such fact. Also, determinism has consequences with respect to our claims to knowledge, our confidence of laying hold on truth. 

“In all these areas of consequence, as I see it, the situation is the same. We have or are capable of two sorts of attitude, and thus we may respond to determinism with dismay or intransigence. But we can also attempt to respond in another way. We can attempt to change our feelings. We can see what we must give up, and what we can keep, and the value of what we can keep. This can be called the response of affirmation. 

“...my contentions have been as follows. There is a philosophy of mind consisting in three hypotheses, free of ancient and modern mystery. It is determinist in character. It or something like it seems to me true. Since we do not share a single settled conception of a free decision, it is pointless to assert, with Compatibilists, that freedom is consistent with determinism. It is exactly as pointless to assert, with Incompatibilists, that freedom is inconsistent with determinism. The problem of determinism and freedom is in a sense not an intellectual or conceptual problem. We have different attitudes, and what we must do, if we accept determinism, is to seek and keep and value those in which we can rationally persist.”

 Signature 

Barry F. Seidman
Exec. Producer of Equal Time for Freethought

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 2
1