6 of 6
6
Is there true charity in the world?
Posted: 18 November 2013 08:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2602
Joined  2012-10-27
Rupert - 16 November 2013 06:59 AM
Lois - 14 November 2013 06:03 PM

Yes. All of our choices are involuntary but we tend to assume they are voluntary.

Lois

Presumably I can still say “Well, I wasn’t under the influence of mind-altering drugs, and I wasn’t suffering symptoms of mental illness, and no-one used any threat of coercion to try to get me to do what I didn’t want to do”.

That might all be true but there are factors you are not aware of. Neither you nor I nor anyone else can say we are not under the influence of factors we don’t know about. You may know you are not inder the influence of mind-altering drugs or suffering from any mental illnesses you know about, but how can you know what you don’t know? For example, how can you be sure you aren’t breathing in some unidentified and undetected gas you don’t know is present that is affecting your decisions? Or how can you know that you are not suffering from some mental condition that has not yet been identified but which is affecting your decisions? Those are just two things you may not know about. What of the thousands (or millions) of other factors you have no knowledge of but which are affecting your decisions?

Lois

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 November 2013 09:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2602
Joined  2012-10-27
Rupert - 17 November 2013 03:58 AM
Lois - 16 November 2013 10:12 PM

We are also determined to place blame, and to punish. It doesn’t matter if we’re determinists or believe in free will. We are all going to act according to our determining factors and that means we will have a tendency to blame people.

I can only say that since I developed a deterministic stance I am much more forgiving and understanding of everyone’s shortcomings, including my own. I have no idea how I would react to someone murdering a loved one. We react both intellectually and emotionally and both of those reactions will be present at the same time. Emotionally, we can blame while intellectually we can be more understanding. I often imagine that our emotional self is like a child inside us, immature, uncontrollable, unable to think rationally, while our intellectual self is like a knowing parent trying to teach the “child” to calm down and think things through.

I have a friend who is a social worker who is also a skeptic about moral responsibility. He often works with people who suffer from mental illness or who have been incarcerated and he believes that no-one is ever blameworthy for anything they do.

But I mean, would it follow from your stance that guilt is always an irrational emotion? Any time I feel guilty about something I should think to myself that my feeling is irrational? Or not?

Not necessarily. It’s just that you can’t know all of the factors that drove whatever you did (or didn’t do) that you are feeling guilty about. It’s part of our nature (driven by deterministic factors), to feel guilty. Guilt is not an irrational emotion. In fact emotions are never irrational. They are products of our determining factors over which we have no control. One person may feel guilty about something another person feels no guilt at all about.

Your social worker friend is, in my opinion, right about no one being blameworthy about whatever they do. Blame is a human concept.  We all have our own view of who should be blamed for anything.  But placing blame and feeling guilt are just human concepts that are also driven by unconscious dtermining factors, like everything else. There are no standards of blame or guilt.  We each have our determined stance. Nothing changes if we recognize this.  We will continue to blame and feel guilt and wish to punish because we have no control over those feelings arising within us.

Lois

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 November 2013 12:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4520
Joined  2007-08-31
Lois - 18 November 2013 09:17 PM

Guilt is not an irrational emotion. In fact emotions are never irrational. They are products of our determining factors over which we have no control.

You are making a huge category error here, Lois. You confuse the content of an emotion with the physical conditions of its appearance. Using your line of thought one can say that “2 + 2 = 5” is not wrong, because it is a product of determining factors: every falsehood said by anybody is determined by its causes. You cannot use the determined/not-determined distinction to see the difference between true or false propositions.

Same with voluntary or non-voluntary actions: if you look at them from the viewpoint of ‘are they determined or not’ then of course there is no difference between them. Both are determined. But if you look more carefully how they are determined, then there are differences, and some of these differences are sanctioned by our social practice. If, as Rupert says, I “wasn’t under the influence of mind-altering drugs, and I wasn’t suffering symptoms of mental illness, and no-one used any threat of coercion to try to get me to do what I didn’t want to do”, then the action is voluntary. You cannot use the determined/not-determined distinction to see the difference between voluntary and non-voluntary actions.

 Signature 

GdB

“The light is on, but there is nobody at home”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 November 2013 01:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  45
Joined  2013-10-29
Lois - 18 November 2013 09:17 PM

Your social worker friend is, in my opinion, right about no one being blameworthy about whatever they do. Blame is a human concept.  We all have our own view of who should be blamed for anything.  But placing blame and feeling guilt are just human concepts that are also driven by unconscious dtermining factors, like everything else. There are no standards of blame or guilt.  We each have our determined stance. Nothing changes if we recognize this.  We will continue to blame and feel guilt and wish to punish because we have no control over those feelings arising within us.

Do you think that your view has normative implications for how we should run our criminal justice system?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 November 2013 03:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  4520
Joined  2007-08-31
Rupert - 19 November 2013 01:13 AM
Lois - 18 November 2013 09:17 PM

Your social worker friend is, in my opinion, right about no one being blameworthy about whatever they do. Blame is a human concept.  We all have our own view of who should be blamed for anything.  But placing blame and feeling guilt are just human concepts that are also driven by unconscious dtermining factors, like everything else. There are no standards of blame or guilt.  We each have our determined stance. Nothing changes if we recognize this.  We will continue to blame and feel guilt and wish to punish because we have no control over those feelings arising within us.

Do you think that your view has normative implications for how we should run our criminal justice system?

Here is the crux.

If it is true that ‘Nothing changes if we recognize this’ as Lois writes, then it has no consequences. That would mean that neurologists who discover how the brain works and reveal how our feelings, beliefs and actions are determined have no reason to call for a reformation of our criminal justice system. I think exactly that is the case. The problem arises where two valid but different discourses are mixed: on one side the ‘physical discourse’, in which we have the role of external observers, and on the other side the discourse in which it is about the content and the meaning of our feelings, beliefs and actions (see my posting above). Then people make sweeping statements about non-existing voluntary actions or free will etc. It is a category error, an example of unclear thinking.

And of course it is not true that ‘there are no standards of blame or guilt’. But they are not discovered by science, but established in the ongoing moral discourse of societies and cultures. That has nothing to do with determinism. Declaring ‘standards of blame or guilt’ as nonsense is just the same category error as mentioned above.

 Signature 

GdB

“The light is on, but there is nobody at home”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 November 2013 05:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  45
Joined  2013-10-29
GdB - 19 November 2013 03:11 AM

If it is true that ‘Nothing changes if we recognize this’ as Lois writes, then it has no consequences. That would mean that neurologists who discover how the brain works and reveal how our feelings, beliefs and actions are determined have no reason to call for a reformation of our criminal justice system. I think exactly that is the case. The problem arises where two valid but different discourses are mixed: on one side the ‘physical discourse’, in which we have the role of external observers, and on the other side the discourse in which it is about the content and the meaning of our feelings, beliefs and actions (see my posting above). Then people make sweeping statements about non-existing voluntary actions or free will etc. It is a category error, an example of unclear thinking.

 

I’m pretty open to Lois’ view that no-one is ever blameworthy for anything, really. I can think of arguments in favour in that view which I find pretty compelling.

But, I mean, obviously I can imagine a situation where I might say to someone “How could you have done that?” This suggests to me that there are substantial practical difficulties with really sincerely holding such a view.

[ Edited: 19 November 2013 09:07 AM by Rupert ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 November 2013 09:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]
Jr. Member
RankRank
Total Posts:  45
Joined  2013-10-29

I mean, I’m a meta-ethical anti-realist so I don’t think that there is any objective truth of the matter about whether anyone is ever blameworthy for anything. So I guess I should say “I can see considerations that count in favour of the stance that no-one is blameworthy for anything, but I have difficulty in actually adopting such a stance in a completely consistent way”.

Profile
 
 
   
6 of 6
6