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Critique My Philosophy of Life?
Posted: 27 November 2013 09:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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GdB - 27 November 2013 05:22 AM
StephenLawrence - 27 November 2013 01:12 AM

What Swartz is trying to say is we are ultimately responsible because we have control over physical laws since they merely describe what we do when we make a choice.

You interpret Swartz wrong.

Well, you don’t know that and you are probably wrong since he’s trying to overcome the problem which causal determinism is for free will, which is that our actions are necessitated by our distant pasts.

[ Edited: 27 November 2013 12:38 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 27 November 2013 01:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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StephenLawrence - 27 November 2013 09:23 AM

he’s trying to overcome the problem which causal determinism is for free will, which is that our actions are necessitated by our distant pasts.

Please give me the text passage(s) which show(s) that this is Swartz’ aim.

Show me why my ‘Swartz in a nutshell’ (He just says that laws of nature are true descriptions of the world, and therefore also true descriptions of us. But true descriptions follow reality, not the other way round) is a wrong interpretation of hist text.

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Posted: 27 November 2013 06:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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StephenLawrence - 27 November 2013 09:23 AM
GdB - 27 November 2013 05:22 AM
StephenLawrence - 27 November 2013 01:12 AM

What Swartz is trying to say is we are ultimately responsible because we have control over physical laws since they merely describe what we do when we make a choice.

You interpret Swartz wrong.

Well, you don’t know that and you are probably wrong since he’s trying to overcome the problem which causal determinism is for free will, which is that our actions are necessitated by our distant pasts.


But they aren’t according to the deterministic view.  Our actions are necessitated by factors operating at the moment. The distant past would be a very weak factor if it is a factor at all.

I wish everyone on this list could understand what determinism actually is even if they don’t embrace it.  It seems to be a concept that only a few people can get their heads around. Sad.

Lois

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Posted: 27 November 2013 08:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Lois - 27 November 2013 06:24 PM


But they aren’t according to the deterministic view.  Our actions are necessitated by factors operating at the moment. The distant past would be a very weak factor if it is a factor at all.

I wish everyone on this list could understand what determinism actually is even if they don’t embrace it.  It seems to be a concept that only a few people can get their heads around. Sad.

Lois

Lois, why is it you think you understand determinism and others don’t?

A standard definition of determinism is here:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/

1.3 Determinism

A standard characterization of determinism states that every event is causally necessitated by antecedent events.[4] Within this essay, we shall define determinism as the metaphysical thesis that the facts of the past, in conjunction with the laws of nature, entail every truth about the future. According to this characterization, if determinism is true, then, given the actual past, and holding fixed the laws of nature, only one future is possible at any moment in time. Notice that an implication of determinism as it applies to a person’s conduct is that, if determinism is true, there are (causal) conditions for that person’s actions located in the remote past, prior to her birth, that are sufficient for each of her actions.

Lois - 27 November 2013 06:24 PM

Our actions are necessitated by factors operating at the moment.

Which in turn are necessitated by the distant past.

[ Edited: 27 November 2013 08:52 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 27 November 2013 08:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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GdB - 27 November 2013 01:43 PM

Show me why my ‘Swartz in a nutshell’ (He just says that laws of nature are true descriptions of the world, and therefore also true descriptions of us. But true descriptions follow reality, not the other way round) is a wrong interpretation of hist text.

It’s not wrong Gdb, you’re just missing out why he thinks this “dissolves” the free will problem.

What he thinks is this get’s us ultimate responsibility by breaking the necessary link with the distant past.

[ Edited: 27 November 2013 08:55 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 27 November 2013 11:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Lois - 27 November 2013 06:24 PM

But they aren’t according to the deterministic view.  Our actions are necessitated by factors operating at the moment. The distant past would be a very weak factor if it is a factor at all.

I wish everyone on this list could understand what determinism actually is even if they don’t embrace it.  It seems to be a concept that only a few people can get their heads around. Sad.

This time I am with Stephen. What you describe is at most causation. Determinism and causation concepts are very closely related in a naturalistic view, but they are not the same. You should do your homework, instead of saying that others don’t understand determinism.

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Posted: 27 November 2013 11:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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StephenLawrence - 27 November 2013 08:51 PM

It’s not wrong Gdb, you’re just missing out why he thinks this “dissolves” the free will problem.

What he thinks is this get’s us ultimate responsibility by breaking the necessary link with the distant past.

First of all I notice you did not react on my first question, so I suppose you did not find any relevant text passages.

And I did not miss anything, but just gave the relevant outline of Swartz’ thought against your silly idea that he defends that we control physical laws.

And nowhere Swart mentions even the word ‘responsibility’ in the referenced text, so surely not ‘ultimate responsibility’. Your own thinking stands you in the way of understanding others. Just think about it: first you must understand a viewpoint; only then you can start criticising it.

[ Edited: 28 November 2013 12:46 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 28 November 2013 01:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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GdB - 27 November 2013 11:26 PM

And nowhere Swart mentions even the word ‘responsibility’ in the referenced text, so surely not ‘ultimate responsibility’. Your own thinking stands you in the way of understanding others. Just think about it: first you must understand a viewpoint; only then you can start criticising it.

GdB,

The free will problem he is talking about is the problem of how can we be ultimately responsible.

http://www.sfu.ca/~swartz/freewill1.htm#intro

There is an illuminating and particularly disconcerting consequence of Darrow’s views. If Leopold and Loeb were not morally responsible for their behavior, it was because of what others had done to them. But these others, in turn, were not morally responsible for what they had done, since they were the product of what had earlier been done to them. And so on, and so on. The argument works like a line of dominos, it is – in effect – the domino theory of moral nonresponsibility. If someone is to be regarded as not morally responsible for what he does because he is the product of someone else’s actions, then, ultimately, no one is responsible for anything he/she does.

bold by me.


On physical laws yes he thinks certain physical laws depend upon our choices (another way of saying controlled by). He is clear about that.

6.6 “The laws of nature are not of our choosing”

Recall the example (in Section 6.3) of John buying Claudia a bouquet of flowers. In discussing that example, I wrote:
There seems – in this account of the way the universe ‘works’ – to be no opportunity for the exercise of free choice. ... The Natural Laws are ‘given’ (i.e. not of our choosing); and the antecedent conditions, equally, are ‘given’ (i.e. not of our choosing). Our behavior is completely ‘causally determined’ by the laws of nature and antecedent conditions. There is no ‘room’, in this account ..., it would appear, for free choice.
I chose my words carefully. In the first sentence, I wrote “seems”; and in the last, “it would appear”. For, on that earlier occasion, I wanted merely to present the argument; I did not want to endorse it, or to say that I thought the argument correct.

Indeed, I think that that earlier argument is mistaken. And we now have sufficient philosophical and logical tools to address the problem.

I want to suggest that the claim in that argument – the claim that the Laws of Nature are not of our choosing – is a relic of the earlier view that Laws of Nature are God’s inviolable prescriptions to the Universe.

If we fully abandon the view that the Laws of Nature are prescriptions, then the way is open for us to rescue the theory that Free Will exists.

So no, it’s not my own thinking that stands in the way of understanding others, you’ve got this the wrong way around. I take him at face value, you re-interpret to fit with your view.

Really you might be right, it’s not impossible, but the evidence strongly points against it and you just assert that it doesn’t as is what happens when we get to certain sticking points.

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Posted: 28 November 2013 02:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Sigh…

First: you do not refer to the text we were talking about.

Now of course you can take other texts of the same author as help to interpret a text, assuming that he is consistent in his views. (Sometimes one must be careful with that, because it happens that people change their minds. But I think Swartz is consistent in his texts, so we can go on.)

Now you take this quote:

If someone is to be regarded as not morally responsible for what he does because he is the product of someone else’s actions, then, ultimately, no one is responsible for anything he/she does.

as proof for your statement that Swartz defends a form of ultimate responsibility.

But the logical opposite of

  ‘ultimately, no one is responsible’

is not

  ‘we are ultimately responsible’

but

  ‘at least one person is somewhat responsible’.

If I say something is not white, that does not mean it is black, as ‘absolute opposite of white’. It could be red, or even light-grey. So any, however weak kind of responsibility would already do. So it does not follow in any way that Swartz defends that we are ultimately responsible. This becomes clear when we read a little further:

What are the philosophical arguments that we are never free to choose? What are the opposing arguments that we are – at least sometimes – free to choose?

Now ‘the laws of nature are not of our choosing’: what he is arguing for is that laws of nature do not force our action, but that laws of nature are true descriptions of what we in fact do, so also true descriptions of what we choose. In Laws of Nature he clearly states:

It’s true that you cannot “violate” a law of nature, but that’s not because the laws of nature ‘force’ you to behave in some certain way. It is rather that whatever you do, there is a true description of what you have done. You certainly don’t get to choose the laws that describe the charge on an electron or the properties of hydrogen and oxygen that explain their combining to form water. But you do get to choose a great many other laws. How do you do that? Simply by doing whatever you do in fact do.

and:

it’s not that you reflect on choosing the laws. You don’t wake up in the morning and ask yourself “Which laws of nature will I create today?” No, it’s rather that you ask yourself, “What will I do today?”, and in choosing to do some things rather than others, your actions – that is, your choices – make certain propositions (including some universal statements containing no proper names) true and other propositions false.

This clearly contradicts your statement that Swartz says we are in control of physical laws.

Really, except for possibly a few New Age fanatics, no reasonable person would defend that we are in control of laws of physics. To think that a serious philosopher would defend such a view is simply ridiculous. And that Swartz would use this in defence for the position that we are ultimately responsible even more.

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Posted: 28 November 2013 03:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Sigh returned GdB

The problem with the necessary link with the past is that we can’t be morally responsible in the ultimate sense that is commonly believed in.

It is really quite clear that is what Swartz is trying to rescue, otherwise there is no point in the exercise.

There is no reasonable way for you to argue in the opposite direction. To say I might be mistaken or something is fair enough but to say the odds tilt in your favour is perverse.

I’ll leave it there, the evidence is in Swartz’s writings.

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Posted: 28 November 2013 03:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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StephenLawrence - 27 November 2013 08:46 PM
Lois - 27 November 2013 06:24 PM


But they aren’t according to the deterministic view.  Our actions are necessitated by factors operating at the moment. The distant past would be a very weak factor if it is a factor at all.

I wish everyone on this list could understand what determinism actually is even if they don’t embrace it.  It seems to be a concept that only a few people can get their heads around. Sad.

Lois

Lois, why is it you think you understand determinism and others don’t?

A standard definition of determinism is here:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/

1.3 Determinism

A standard characterization of determinism states that every event is causally necessitated by antecedent events.[4] Within this essay, we shall define determinism as the metaphysical thesis that the facts of the past, in conjunction with the laws of nature, entail every truth about the future. According to this characterization, if determinism is true, then, given the actual past, and holding fixed the laws of nature, only one future is possible at any moment in time. Notice that an implication of determinism as it applies to a person’s conduct is that, if determinism is true, there are (causal) conditions for that person’s actions located in the remote past, prior to her birth, that are sufficient for each of her actions.

Lois - 27 November 2013 06:24 PM

Our actions are necessitated by factors operating at the moment.

Which in turn are necessitated by the distant past.

You wrote:Lois, why is it you think you understand determinism and others don’t?


My answer: I am determined to think that way. wink

But seriously, many people I have communicated with cannot seem to accept the premise of determinism. Most would say they do not understand how we cannot have free will. Some take it as a personal affront.

As far as the distant past goes, it is a factor but it is likely that most of it has been superseded by more recent factors—in my opinion.

When I said most people don’t understand determinism I wasn’t referring to you. Just because we disagree on some point regarding determinism doesn’t mean I think you don’t understand it. I was referring to people who have no understanding of it or won’t even consider its most basic principles, and they are legion.

Lois

[ Edited: 28 November 2013 03:49 AM by Lois ]
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Posted: 28 November 2013 04:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Lois - 28 November 2013 03:45 AM
StephenLawrence - 27 November 2013 08:46 PM
Lois - 27 November 2013 06:24 PM


But they aren’t according to the deterministic view.  Our actions are necessitated by factors operating at the moment. The distant past would be a very weak factor if it is a factor at all.

I wish everyone on this list could understand what determinism actually is even if they don’t embrace it.  It seems to be a concept that only a few people can get their heads around. Sad.

Lois

Lois, why is it you think you understand determinism and others don’t?

A standard definition of determinism is here:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/compatibilism/

1.3 Determinism

A standard characterization of determinism states that every event is causally necessitated by antecedent events.[4] Within this essay, we shall define determinism as the metaphysical thesis that the facts of the past, in conjunction with the laws of nature, entail every truth about the future. According to this characterization, if determinism is true, then, given the actual past, and holding fixed the laws of nature, only one future is possible at any moment in time. Notice that an implication of determinism as it applies to a person’s conduct is that, if determinism is true, there are (causal) conditions for that person’s actions located in the remote past, prior to her birth, that are sufficient for each of her actions.

Lois - 27 November 2013 06:24 PM

Our actions are necessitated by factors operating at the moment.

Which in turn are necessitated by the distant past.

You wrote:Lois, why is it you think you understand determinism and others don’t?


My answer: I am determined to think that way. wink

But seriously, many people I have communicated with cannot seem to accept the premise of determinism. Most would say they do not understand how we cannot have free will. Some take it as a personal affront.

As far as the distant past goes, it is a factor but it is likely that most of it has been superseded by more recent factors—in my opinion.

When I said most people don’t understand determinism I wasn’t referring to you. Just because we disagree on some point regarding determinism doesn’t mean I think you don’t understand it. I was referring to people who have no understanding of it or won’t even consider its most basic principles, and they are legion.

Lois

Well Lois, one physically possible future given the distant past is such an important definition. Because we need to be clear that we are merely lucky or unlucky that the distant past was as it was.

Otherwise people invent some kinda supposed compatibilism which relies on freedom from the distant past.

Watch the debate in various places, you’ll see this going on all the time.

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Posted: 28 November 2013 05:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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StephenLawrence - 28 November 2013 03:43 AM

The problem with the necessary link with the past is that we can’t be morally responsible in the ultimate sense that is commonly believed in.

It is really quite clear that is what Swartz is trying to rescue, otherwise there is no point in the exercise.

You do realise that you retract, from Swartz’ texts, to the general problem of determinism and ‘ultimate responsibility’ as you see it, don’t you? And you can only imagine that Swartz makes sense in that context, and therefore it must mean what you think?

You have given no single reason why my interpretation of Swartz’ text would be wrong. You have given no reference to a text passage that positively says that Swartz argues for ultimate responsibility, only the negative position that it might not be true that we are ultimately not responsible for our actions. And that is not enough: not-white does not mean black. And in my citations Swartz explicitly says that we do not choose laws of nature, but that the laws of nature are descriptions of what we do, and so the laws of nature are, as true descriptions, according our choosing, i.e. in sync with the process of choosing.

StephenLawrence - 28 November 2013 03:43 AM

I’ll leave it there, the evidence is in Swartz’s writings.

Then you should be able to show the evidence against what I said in my postings above. Why is what I said wrong? And don’t forget: it is about text interpretation now, not yet the truth of the matter.

[ Edited: 28 November 2013 05:06 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 28 November 2013 05:03 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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StephenLawrence - 28 November 2013 04:17 AM

Otherwise people invent some kinda supposed compatibilism which relies on freedom from the distant past.

You have not understood compatibilism. Compatibilism is freedom of coercion, not of the past, however distant.

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Posted: 29 November 2013 12:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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GdB - 27 November 2013 11:18 PM
Lois - 27 November 2013 06:24 PM

But they aren’t according to the deterministic view.  Our actions are necessitated by factors operating at the moment. The distant past would be a very weak factor if it is a factor at all.

I wish everyone on this list could understand what determinism actually is even if they don’t embrace it.  It seems to be a concept that only a few people can get their heads around. Sad.

This time I am with Stephen. What you describe is at most causation. Determinism and causation concepts are very closely related in a naturalistic view, but they are not the same. You should do your homework, instead of saying that others don’t understand determinism.

Ok, i’ll bite. What’s the difference between determinism and causation?

Lois

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