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Critique My Philosophy of Life?
Posted: 29 November 2013 04:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Lois - 29 November 2013 12:44 AM

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

Causation is a relationship between events. Often this is interpreted as immediate cause, which means a cause immediately is followed by an effect, but it is also used in a slightly looser meaning as ‘when this cause would not have happened, then that effect would not have happened either’. Interpreted in this sense there can be a considerable time between a cause and its effect. If this time is too long however, a lot of other events might also have contributed to its occurrence, which then also would be causes of the event. So the idea that a cause a long time ago is a cause of an event is so to speak ‘diluted’ by many other causes. I think this is what you wanted to say above.

Determinism on the other hand is the view that all future events are already fixed. In the modern naturalistic view determinism mostly takes the form of causal determinism, which means that if every event is caused by a previous event, then all events are causally connected, which in its turn means that given a certain past (a collection of events a while, or a billion years ago), exactly only one future can happen. But determinism can also exist in theological contexts (God made his plans and so everything will happen according his plans (then determinism sometime comes under the flag of ‘pre-determination’, God made his plans ages before the events really occur)), or more exotic versions of causation, like the law of karma in Hinduism. So a deterministic world view does not necessarily entail causation.

On the other hand, if causality would be rigidly true in the universe, then the universe must be determined. Therefore my remark that causation and determinism are closely related in a naturalistic world view (in which there is no God or law of karma).

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Posted: 29 November 2013 06:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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GdB - 29 November 2013 04:50 AM
Lois - 29 November 2013 12:44 AM

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

Causation is a relationship between events. Often this is interpreted as immediate cause, which means a cause immediately is followed by an effect, but it is also used in a slightly looser meaning as ‘when this cause would not have happened, then that effect would not have happened either’. Interpreted in this sense there can be a considerable time between a cause and its effect. If this time is too long however, a lot of other events might also have contributed to its occurrence, which then also would be causes of the event. So the idea that a cause a long time ago is a cause of an event is so to speak ‘diluted’ by many other causes. I think this is what you wanted to say above.

Determinism on the other hand is the view that all future events are already fixed. In the modern naturalistic view determinism mostly takes the form of causal determinism, which means that if every event is caused by a previous event, then all events are causally connected, which in its turn means that given a certain past (a collection of events a while, or a billion years ago), exactly only one future can happen. But determinism can also exist in theological contexts (God made his plans and so everything will happen according his plans (then determinism sometime comes under the flag of ‘pre-determination’, God made his plans ages before the events really occur)), or more exotic versions of causation, like the law of karma in Hinduism. So a deterministic world view does not necessarily entail causation.

On the other hand, if causality would be rigidly true in the universe, then the universe must be determined. Therefore my remark that causation and determinism are closely related in a naturalistic world view (in which there is no God or law of karma).

 


That’s not the determinism as I define it, use it and  have written about. What you refer to here is predestination. That is a completely different concept.

There are many definitions  of the word “determinism.” In the definition I use all events are caused by many factors unknown to the participants and the participants have no control (otherwise called free will) over those events. The factors are not fixed but change every moment depending on conditions in the universe and in the person over which no one has control. Nothing is fixed beforehand.  You are talking about predeterminism and theological determinism. I have never suggested that anything is predetermined and nothing I have written has anything to do with the concept of predetermination or a god.  

“The standard argument against free will, according to philosopher J. J. C. Smart focuses on the implications of determinism for ‘free will’. However, he suggests free will is denied whether determinism is true or not. On one hand, if determinism is true, all our actions are predicted and we are assumed not to be free; on the other hand, if determinism is false, our actions are presumed to be random and as such we do not seem free because we had no part in controlling what happened.“http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Determinism


“Everything in nature is worthy of respect-including all persons. We define respect as representing that attitude (thought and feeling) resulting from understanding the concept of total determinism. Applied to humanity, this implies, ‘There but for the differences in our determinants go I.’

“All persons are totally selfish. This makes sense when we define selfishness neutrally, to mean responding to one’s own motivations (determinants). The question of whether one’s actions are selfish or unselfish thus becomes irrelevant. The real issue is whether one’s actions are intelligently, healthily, and socially selfish, or stupidly, neurotically, and anti-socially selfish.

“There are no bad people, only persons who have a greater or lesser degree of mental health.

“Healthy behavior is social, equitable, tolerant, cooperative, and respecting to all.

“Morality represents man’s traditional attempt to formulate practical rules for living one’s life.

“To the extent that they are neurotic, the powerful tend to mislead, deceive, or lie to the weak.

“Parents tend to corrupt. Power brings out corruption (neurotic behavior)-with apologies to Lord Acton.

“Consistent with the Psychosomatic Principle, there is no life of the personality (mind, soul, spirit, psyche) after the death of the body. Death only results in the recycling of our constituent chemicals.

“All concepts of heaven, hell, purgatory, limbo, and the like, are false.

“There is no anthropomorphic god with a knowledge of, concern and plan for, individual organisms.”

Determinism.com

When I speak of determinism, these are the definitions I refer to, which constitutes an argument against free will. The problem is that there are many definitions, concepts and uses of the term “determinism” that have nothing to so with the kind of determinism that I am speaking of. I wish there were another term for it that is more specific to the definition and concept i use,  but there isn’t one that I know of so I am often stuck having to elaborate the definition I am using, especially to people who confuse it with predestination.

[ Edited: 29 November 2013 06:54 AM by Lois ]
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Posted: 29 November 2013 07:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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I gave a the traditional meaning of determinism as it is used in philosophy and physics. It exists on its own, also without any reference persons and to free will. E.g. Quantum physics shows that determinism is not true for all kinds of quantum processes. This can be discussed without reference to persons.

Determinism is a philosophical position stating that for everything that happens there are conditions such that, given those conditions, nothing else could happen.
<snip>
Determinism often is taken to mean simply causal determinism, which in physics is the idea known as cause-and-effect. It is the concept that events within a given paradigm are bound by causality in such a way that any state (of an object or event) is completely determined by prior states.

From wikipedia.

It also has nothing to do with the fact if we know the factors that determine us, it is about the plain fact that we are determined, independent of our knowledge of which factors determine us.

See also here:

Determinism: The world is governed by (or is under the sway of) determinism if and only if, given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things go thereafter is fixed as a matter of natural law.

It seems to me that you are more oriented in the direction of the social sciences for the meaning of ‘determinism’. In the philosophical sense I would say that it is an open question if knowledge of the factors that determine you are a necessary condition of free will.

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Posted: 06 January 2014 04:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Reaction on Bryan’s post in this thread.

Bryan - 05 January 2014 11:47 AM

Rather, he simply insists that my critique has failed while not offering a coherent support for his claim.

You should point your arguments at the description Philosofer123 gives in his document. Nowhere he is claiming that he is discussing Strawson and Kane. It is clear that he borrowed his arguments from them, but his standpoint can be discussed on its own merit. I also am not interested in who represents who’s ideas wrong. At most I am interested in the topic of free will. But given my past experiences discussing the topic with you I might bailout very soon. Paraphrasing you:

Meaning no offense, Bryan, but my experience with you is that your rhetorical slyness nearly always ends up serving as a wall blocking effective communications.

So just one remark about Kane: his concept of self-forming actions is rather ridiculous. It is just meant as an ad hoc quick fix of an infinite regress:

Kane holds that a free decision or other free action is one for which the agent is “ultimately responsible”. Ultimate responsibility for an action requires either that the action not be causally determined or, if the action is causally determined, that any determining cause of it either be or result (at least in part) from some action by that agent that was not causally determined (and for which the agent was ultimately responsible).

SEP

But being uncaused means being random: physics has nothing else on offer. Random actions however can hardly make somebody responsible.

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Posted: 06 January 2014 11:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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GdB - 06 January 2014 04:26 AM

Reaction on Bryan’s post in this thread.

Bryan - 05 January 2014 11:47 AM

Rather, he simply insists that my critique has failed while not offering a coherent support for his claim.

You should point your arguments at the description Philosofer123 gives in his document. Nowhere he is claiming that he is discussing Strawson and Kane.

On the contrary, he specifically mentions Kane and Strawson and it is clear to anyone familiar with their arguments that the infinite regress in Phil’s document is Strawson’s response to Kane’s argument.  So, when I point out flaws in Strawson’s argument I’m showing a failure in the argument in Phil’s statement.

It is clear that he borrowed his arguments from them, but his standpoint can be discussed on its own merit.

I’ve done that.  Phil uses Strawson’s argument as his rationale for negating the influence of negative emotions in his life.  I pointed out that his reasoning isn’t rational, given the failure of Strawson’s argument.

I also am not interested in who represents who’s ideas wrong.

Why not?  Do you think there’s nothing wrong with arguing straw men and basing one’s conclusions on such arguments?

At most I am interested in the topic of free will. But given my past experiences discussing the topic with you I might bailout very soon. Paraphrasing you:

Meaning no offense, Bryan, but my experience with you is that your rhetorical slyness nearly always ends up serving as a wall blocking effective communications.

You resemble that remark, with your current suggestion that I am hijacking Phil’s newest version of this thread serving as merely the latest example.  Where’s your example of my slyness serving as a wall blocking effective communications?

So just one remark about Kane: his concept of self-forming actions is rather ridiculous. It is just meant as an ad hoc quick fix of an infinite regress:

Kane holds that a free decision or other free action is one for which the agent is “ultimately responsible”. Ultimate responsibility for an action requires either that the action not be causally determined or, if the action is causally determined, that any determining cause of it either be or result (at least in part) from some action by that agent that was not causally determined (and for which the agent was ultimately responsible).

SEP

But being uncaused means being random: physics has nothing else on offer. Random actions however can hardly make somebody responsible.

Randomness isn’t a cause of anything.  It is a statistical description of an outcome, and it would fit statistically even for outcomes reflecting deep personal responsibility (thus it’s a non-sequitur or a straw man to say it can’t make somebody responsible).  I’ve explained this to you before (slyly?).  I’d love to see you address the point someday.  But if you won’t, then it at least gives you another opportunity to put up a wall.

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Posted: 07 January 2014 04:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Bryan - 06 January 2014 11:07 AM

Randomness isn’t a cause of anything. 

Where did I write that randomness causes something?

Bryan - 06 January 2014 11:07 AM

It is a statistical description of an outcome, and it would fit statistically even for outcomes reflecting deep personal responsibility (thus it’s a non-sequitur or a straw man to say it can’t make somebody responsible). 

No idea what you are saying here.

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Posted: 07 January 2014 09:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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GdB - 07 January 2014 04:52 AM
Bryan - 06 January 2014 11:07 AM

Randomness isn’t a cause of anything. 

Where did I write that randomness causes something?

Why do you ask?  Did somebody accuse you of writing it?

Bryan - 06 January 2014 11:07 AM

It is a statistical description of an outcome, and it would fit statistically even for outcomes reflecting deep personal responsibility (thus it’s a non-sequitur or a straw man to say it can’t make somebody responsible). 

No idea what you are saying here.

Right, or else you wouldn’t suggest that randomness isn’t consistent with deep moral responsibility and LFW.

Randomness is a feature of LFW, not a bug.

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Posted: 07 January 2014 10:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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StephenLawrence - 26 November 2013 02:39 PM
Philosofer123 - 26 November 2013 12:46 PM
GdB - 26 November 2013 09:55 AM

However: for general well-being in society and for your peace of mind, I think it is also wholesome to take as much responsibility as you can (but not more, because then you would fall back into regret, shame, remorse, as you say). You mention these as ‘attempt to rectify the situation, and vow to act differently in the future’. Point for me is that the sheer possibility of being able to do so means you have some form of free will. Not the form that goes along with ‘ultimate responsibility’, but the one that fits to our ability to act according our wishes and beliefs, and to act for reasons: combatibilist free will.

I think we are in agreement.  I agree that we have compatibilist free will, and you agree that we do not have ultimate responsibility.

Yes!

What matters and why this is of enormous practical importance is the difference between the two, since we do know most people believe in ultimate responsibility.

Stephen

Believing in ultimate responsibility and actually having it are two different things. People feel exactly the amount of responsibility they are determined to have, not a jot more or less. We don’t “decide” how much responsibility we will feel any more than we “decide” what our next thought or action will be. Responsibility is a human mental construct as are other thoughts and actions—no more and no less. It doesn’t exist outside of our individual minds any more than god does.

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Posted: 07 January 2014 10:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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GdB - 29 November 2013 07:29 AM

I gave a the traditional meaning of determinism as it is used in philosophy and physics. It exists on its own, also without any reference persons and to free will. E.g. Quantum physics shows that determinism is not true for all kinds of quantum processes. This can be discussed without reference to persons.

Determinism is a philosophical position stating that for everything that happens there are conditions such that, given those conditions, nothing else could happen.
<snip>
Determinism often is taken to mean simply causal determinism, which in physics is the idea known as cause-and-effect. It is the concept that events within a given paradigm are bound by causality in such a way that any state (of an object or event) is completely determined by prior states.

From wikipedia.

It also has nothing to do with the fact if we know the factors that determine us, it is about the plain fact that we are determined, independent of our knowledge of which factors determine us.

See also here:

Determinism: The world is governed by (or is under the sway of) determinism if and only if, given a specified way things are at a time t, the way things go thereafter is fixed as a matter of natural law.

It seems to me that you are more oriented in the direction of the social sciences for the meaning of ‘determinism’. In the philosophical sense I would say that it is an open question if knowledge of the factors that determine you are a necessary condition of free will.

Of course, they can’t be.  No human being can know all or even most , maybe not even any,  of the factors that drive thoughts and actions. It would be like trying to pick out the individual ingredients in a stew, though millions of times more complicated. We don’t even know what those “ingredients”  might be.

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Posted: 07 January 2014 10:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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GdB - 06 January 2014 04:26 AM

Reaction on Bryan’s post in this thread.

Bryan - 05 January 2014 11:47 AM

Rather, he simply insists that my critique has failed while not offering a coherent support for his claim.

You should point your arguments at the description Philosofer123 gives in his document. Nowhere he is claiming that he is discussing Strawson and Kane. It is clear that he borrowed his arguments from them, but his standpoint can be discussed on its own merit. I also am not interested in who represents who’s ideas wrong. At most I am interested in the topic of free will. But given my past experiences discussing the topic with you I might bailout very soon. Paraphrasing you:

Meaning no offense, Bryan, but my experience with you is that your rhetorical slyness nearly always ends up serving as a wall blocking effective communications.

So just one remark about Kane: his concept of self-forming actions is rather ridiculous. It is just meant as an ad hoc quick fix of an infinite regress:

Kane holds that a free decision or other free action is one for which the agent is “ultimately responsible”. Ultimate responsibility for an action requires either that the action not be causally determined or, if the action is causally determined, that any determining cause of it either be or result (at least in part) from some action by that agent that was not causally determined (and for which the agent was ultimately responsible).

SEP

But being uncaused means being random: physics has nothing else on offer. Random actions however can hardly make somebody responsible.

That’s right, they can’t. But other factors do make us FEEL as if we are responsible. We are no more “responsible” for our thoughts and actions than a lion, a bear or an amoeba is. We will do what weare determined to do. And if a sense of responsibility comes into the picture, that is determined, too.

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Posted: 07 January 2014 11:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Lois - 07 January 2014 10:45 AM
StephenLawrence - 26 November 2013 02:39 PM
Philosofer123 - 26 November 2013 12:46 PM
GdB - 26 November 2013 09:55 AM

However: for general well-being in society and for your peace of mind, I think it is also wholesome to take as much responsibility as you can (but not more, because then you would fall back into regret, shame, remorse, as you say). You mention these as ‘attempt to rectify the situation, and vow to act differently in the future’. Point for me is that the sheer possibility of being able to do so means you have some form of free will. Not the form that goes along with ‘ultimate responsibility’, but the one that fits to our ability to act according our wishes and beliefs, and to act for reasons: combatibilist free will.

I think we are in agreement.  I agree that we have compatibilist free will, and you agree that we do not have ultimate responsibility.

Yes!

What matters and why this is of enormous practical importance is the difference between the two, since we do know most people believe in ultimate responsibility.

Stephen

Believing in ultimate responsibility and actually having it are two different things. People feel exactly the amount of responsibility they are determined to have, not a jot more or less. We don’t “decide” how much responsibility we will feel any more than we “decide” what our next thought or action will be. Responsibility is a human mental construct as are other thoughts and actions—no more and no less. It doesn’t exist outside of our individual minds any more than god does.

Under compatibilism, the same may be said of rationality.

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Posted: 12 January 2014 05:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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Bryan - 07 January 2014 09:01 AM

Randomness is a feature of LFW, not a bug.

I know this sentence of many a deliverer of software…

Please explain why randomness is needed for free will, and its relationship with responsibility.

Why would a random action be a free action, for which I can take responsibility?

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Posted: 12 January 2014 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Lois - 07 January 2014 10:45 AM

Responsibility is a human mental construct as are other thoughts and actions—no more and no less. It doesn’t exist outside of our individual minds any more than god does.

Yeah, right. You say it - no less. Of course somebody is not responsible by nature. Somebody takes responsibility, or is made responsible by others in a discourse about actions and their reasons. If a person can act according his or her reasons, then this person acts freely. The concept of ‘free will’ functions exactly in this discourse. Somebody is responsible if he is aware of his reasons for an action, acts according his reasons, and is able to response on our questions why he acted as he did. That is all there is to free will and responsibility - but not less. Free will and responsibility are founded in a societal discourse, not in metaphysics. To say free will does not exist because it has no metaphysical basis is a category error.

[ Edited: 12 January 2014 07:40 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 12 January 2014 08:20 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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GdB - 12 January 2014 05:21 AM
Bryan - 07 January 2014 09:01 AM

Randomness is a feature of LFW, not a bug.

I know this sentence of many a deliverer of software…

Please explain why randomness is needed for free will, and its relationship with responsibility.

Why would a random action be a free action, for which I can take responsibility?

I’ll address this question at greater length when time permits, but in the meantime consider this:

If by “free will” you mean LFW, then your question is absurd.  LFW explicitly identifies a requirement for an ability to act otherwise given the same starting conditions.  We expect one well-versed in the debate to recognize this distinction.

So, if I read you charitably then you’re really asking why not compatibilist free will, essentially asking that I disprove compatibilism.  But the compatibilist position is the minority position among philosophers.  Apart from the burden of proof that accompanies anyone who wants somebody else to believe something, the burden of proof tends to fall on those holding the minority position.  So that’s people like you.

No matter.  I’ll bear the burden of proof.  But I’d like for you to consider how you resemble the charge you recently laid against me in a recent thread.  You’re communicating ambiguously, and that’s not desirable in a debate as complicated as the one surrounding free will.

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Posted: 12 January 2014 10:26 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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GdB - 12 January 2014 05:21 AM
Bryan - 07 January 2014 09:01 AM

Randomness is a feature of LFW, not a bug.

I know this sentence of many a deliverer of software…

Please explain why randomness is needed for free will, and its relationship with responsibility.

Why would a random action be a free action, for which I can take responsibility?

As noted in my pre-reply here, I charitably take GdB’s challenge not as any kind of challenge to LFW but rather as a challenge to preferring LFW over CFW (compatibilist free will, a version of free will its advocates say is compatible with determinism).

LFW is an explicitly indeterminist conception, so it makes no sense at all to ask why randomness is a requirement for LFW.  It’s a requirement by definition.  And to explain why LFW requires it by definition one has to explain why CFW is an inadequate model for free will.

LFW features indeterminism (randomness) because it is absolutely necessary to the concept of an ability to do otherwise given the same set of conditions (again, part of the definition of LFW).  Advocates of LFW insist on the ATDO (Ability To Do Otherwise given the same set of conditions, since I’ll be using it often) because of the perception that the lack of accessible options that accompany a deterministic conception of LFW implies a lack of freedom.  It’s like being on a highway where changing lanes is forbidden and the one lane leads the driver on their entire journey.

The compatibilist argues that the driver is free to the extent that his desired destinations correlate to the destinations to which his driving lane leads him.  This is the concept of “control.”  The compatibilist says if one has control of one’s actions in this sense, then one has free will (CFW).  Obviously this leaves behind the ATDO requirement of LFW, and it leads us to consider other requirements for freedom.

The problem of coercion

If one had a device that permitted control of another’s thoughts, then one could direct the actions of another and the controlled person would have control of their actions under CFW.  Some compabitilists argue that external coercion negates control, but this seems like special pleading.  Given hard determinism, for example, all actions are externally coerced by the initial set of starting conditions.  It falls on the compatibilist to say why conscious external coercion is different in kind to the point where it affects freedom.

In this specific example, we can derive an example of the superiority of the LFW model:  Coercing entity R creates a desire in subject P to perform action X.  Subject P rejects the desire to perform action X and substitutes in its place a desire to perform action ~X, which produces action ~X in a way the compatibilist should recognize as an action under the control of subject P.  R’s design, needless to say, is foiled.  Viewed as an indeterministic outcome, the preceding example shows the LFW model accurately expressing our intuitions about free will while presenting a major challenge to CFW models (can external coercion negate CFW in some instances but not in others without special pleading).  The LFW model is consistent in regarding all such external coercion of actions as interfering with freedom.

In the example of coercion, we assume it serves as a model of indeterminism.  Here it’s appropriate to address GdB’s concern about how indeterminism relates to responsibility.

The problem of responsibility

From our preceding example, why is subject P responsible for action ~X if ~X was defined as an indeterministic outcome?

Subject P is responsible for the action because the action originates with P rather than externally, P could have acted otherwise (indeterminism), and P controlled the action in a sense any compatibilist should recognize.

And this is a good time to remind everyone that there are two different kinds of responsibility:  Responsibility in terms of causation and responsibility in the sense of moral culpability.  It is the latter, in fact, that primarily concerns Robert Kane in his descriptions of self-forming actions that lead in turn to actions for which one is “ultimately responsible.”

I’ll pause here to allow for responses, particularly those addressing the two issues of responsibility.

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