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Free will

Enter here to explore ethical issues and discuss the meaning and source of morality.
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animist
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Re: Free will

#61 Post by animist » February 5th, 2011, 8:35 am

Latest post of the previous page:

Wilson wrote:
Nick wrote:Of course, this has nothing in particular to do with free will....
It does, sort of. The practical reason for worrying about whether we have free will is, as Emma indicated, is that without free will, nobody is, at some level, responsible for what they do. And if they are not responsible, is it fair to punish them?
you have sort of answered this question for yourself in your previous post - the answer was "yes" - there is a practical need to punish. Since it is also possible, if not ethical, to "punish" non-human animals in order to train them in a certain way, it seems to follow that a degree of free will really does exist in both humans and so-called lower animals

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animist
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Re: Free will

#62 Post by animist » February 5th, 2011, 8:37 am

Radius wrote:
robzed wrote:
Radius wrote: are you a philosophical naturalist
What does that mean?
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=philosophical+naturalism
IMO not a very useful or understandable label - of which there are too many in philosophy, so why do you keep using it?

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robzed
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Re: Free will

#63 Post by robzed » February 5th, 2011, 1:21 pm

Radius wrote:
robzed wrote:
Radius wrote: are you a philosophical naturalist
What does that mean?
http://lmgtfy.com/?q=philosophical+naturalism

Yeah, cute.

But I did google it. (I always do)

Still don't understand it in context.

Try this one: http://lmgtfy.com/?q=Arrogant
thundril wrote:You spend 48 hours in the pissing rainforest setting up cameras and waiting about. The purple footed treefrog peeps round the corner, you reach for your camerabutton and some soddin bird drops out o the sky and eats the bloody frog.
You shrug, say 'Ah well that's life' and brew cup of tea.

If you can do that, you're a philosophical naturalist.
Thanks Thundril. The definitions I found were basically useless because there were too many subtle variations, IMHO.

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Re: Free will

#64 Post by thundril » February 5th, 2011, 1:26 pm

animist wrote:
Wilson wrote:
Nick wrote:Of course, this has nothing in particular to do with free will....
It does, sort of. The practical reason for worrying about whether we have free will is, as Emma indicated, is that without free will, nobody is, at some level, responsible for what they do. And if they are not responsible, is it fair to punish them?
you have sort of answered this question for yourself in your previous post - the answer was "yes" - there is a practical need to punish. Since it is also possible, if not ethical, to "punish" non-human animals in order to train them in a certain way, it seems to follow that a degree of free will really does exist in both humans and so-called lower animals
I'm getting confused on this one, Animist.
Are you saying 'We have to believe in free will because if it doesn't exist we won't be able to sustain our justice system?'
And is that the same as saying 'Even if it doesn't exist, we'll have to pretend it does.'?

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animist
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Re: Free will

#65 Post by animist » February 5th, 2011, 6:41 pm

thundril wrote:
animist wrote:
Wilson wrote:The practical reason for worrying about whether we have free will is, as Emma indicated, is that without free will, nobody is, at some level, responsible for what they do. And if they are not responsible, is it fair to punish them?
you have sort of answered this question for yourself in your previous post - the answer was "yes" - there is a practical need to punish. Since it is also possible, if not ethical, to "punish" non-human animals in order to train them in a certain way, it seems to follow that a degree of free will really does exist in both humans and so-called lower animals
I'm getting confused on this one, Animist.
Are you saying 'We have to believe in free will because if it doesn't exist we won't be able to sustain our justice system?'
And is that the same as saying 'Even if it doesn't exist, we'll have to pretend it does.'?
I am certainly not talking about pretending anything (did you read the PN article on moral fictionalism by any chance?) I do think that we have free will and that animals do as well - but like almost everything in life (as opposed to academic philosophy and labels) it is a matter of degree and varies positively with consciousness and intelligence as well as with absence of the things I have mentioned already - constraint, coercion and manipulation. Punishment seems to depend on it - except that the purely "putting away" reason for imprisonment (or capital punishment for that matter) clearly does not; but deterrence and reform both IMO presuppose some degree of free will

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Re: Free will

#66 Post by thundril » February 5th, 2011, 9:35 pm

animist wrote:
I am certainly not talking about pretending anything
I didn’t think so… I felt pretty certain you weren’t going down the ‘If god didn’t exist we’d have to invent him’ route.. But I had to check, just in case.
animist wrote: (did you read the PN article on moral fictionalism by any chance?)
No, it’s only available to subscribers. But I read the outline, then googled ‘Moral Fictionalism’. Looked at a synopsis of a book on it by Mark Eli Calderon in OUP, and a definition in Stanford Dictionary.
Baffled by both; way past my ability so far. But if that’s not where you’re going, I don’t need to worry about it just now.
animist wrote: I do think that we have free will and that animals do as well - but like almost everything in life (as opposed to academic philosophy and labels) it is a matter of degree and varies positively with consciousness and intelligence as well as with absence of the things I have mentioned already - constraint, coercion and manipulation.
I read through this whole thread again to see where the arguments come from and lead to.. I think I mostly agree with Emma W, broadly. And I suppose that means I broadly agree with you, apart from yor ‘quibble’ about determined/predetermined. But I still smell a rat somewhere…
animist wrote: Punishment seems to depend on it - except that the purely "putting away" reason for imprisonment (or capital punishment for that matter) clearly does not; but deterrence and reform both IMO presuppose some degree of free will
Are you saying here something like ‘If punishment works it is evidence for free will..’ ie that the potential re- offender is faced with a choice; re-offend, with the possible gratification (fistful of dollars) and the risk of punishment, or turn away from both.? Can we really take the fact that some (few) punished offenders ‘choose’ not to re-offend as evidence of free will?
How would that be any more evidence than any of the other ‘choices’ we make in our lives?

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Re: Free will

#67 Post by Lord Muck oGentry » February 6th, 2011, 2:37 am

* ploughs lonely furrow *

I cordially detest philosophical and theological discussions of " free will" not because most of what is said is poorly evidenced or indeed obviously false but because most of it does not rise to that level. It is generally nonsense.

As far as I can tell, the phrase free will has a use in ordinary ( nonphilosophical ) language: lawyers may take a keen interest in whether a person performing an act with legal significance, such as making a will or entering into a contract, was acting in the absence of coercion, duress, fiduciary abuse, deceit, undue influence or the like. In this context, the question of free will applies to acts, not to persons: the question whether persons in general have free will has no obvious sense.

I may well be wrong about this area of the law — and I shall cheerfully accept correction from those who know better about this rather obscure and out-of-the-way use of ordinary language.

However, this use has to be distinguished from philosophical or theological talk in which we are invited to suppose that having free will ( whatever that may be) is the same as being able to make choices or take decisions. There is no sane or indeed literate, let alone reasonable, doubting that we make choices. If I ask Coffee or tea? and you respond Coffee, please I have offered and you have made a choice.

But that doesn't stop the metaphysicking coves. Aha ( they say) , how do we know you are really free to choose coffee or tea? To which I can only say that the teapot and coffee pot are in plain view. What more — in the name of all that is literate — could they want? To which, I suspect, the answer is that, having abused the word choice, they are now emboldened to commit illiteracy on the word really.

As for decisions: they typically entail choices, but, unlike choices, they may have to be justified. You neither have nor need reasons for saying Coffee, please, but you had better have reasons handy if you say Small spade, please and the contract goes down.

Now, let's have a look at the relevance of determinism ( whatever that may be) to the questions I have raised. This won't take us very long: the answer is none.
What we can't say, we can't say and we can't whistle it either. — Frank Ramsey

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animist
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Re: Free will

#68 Post by animist » February 6th, 2011, 8:31 am

thundril wrote:Are you saying here something like ‘If punishment works it is evidence for free will..’ ie that the potential re- offender is faced with a choice; re-offend, with the possible gratification (fistful of dollars) and the risk of punishment, or turn away from both.? Can we really take the fact that some (few) punished offenders ‘choose’ not to re-offend as evidence of free will?
How would that be any more evidence than any of the other ‘choices’ we make in our lives?
I was not especially meaning to "prove" free will from showing that "punishment works", and I am not sure that punishment like imprisonment does necessarily "work" - it can instead lead to criminalisation by association with hardened criminals, to institutionalisation, and so on - I suppose I got onto this because Wilson mentioned a hypothetical case about criminals from different backgrounds. Institutionalisation in mental hospitals or prisons ("total institutions", to use the Erving Goffman phrase) is in fact an important limitation on free will because it is a form of conditioning of a not-very-positive kind. I don't think there is anything that mystical about free will, and agree roughly with the views of Lord Muck.

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Re: Free will

#69 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » February 7th, 2011, 1:41 am

animist wrote:yes they are free, because I am doing what I want. All freedom is just that, ie the absence of coercion or manipulation or constraint. It is a negative thing, not a positive (and I think power is much the same, but I won't go further into that).
Well, that that only works if we define coercion or manipulation or constraint in terms of being forced to act against one's desires, or being prevented from acting in accordance with them. That's one way of defining freedom (in the context of free will) but it's not the only way. And I don't think it's a satisfactory way, for reasons I'll come to later ,,,
animist wrote:Your argument also involves an infinite regress, since even if I could claim that I had chosen my desires, you could say that that this choice was determined and therefore not free. So your freedom is a chimaera, IMO, and therefore irrelevant to whether we are "really" free.
What if our desires are more obviously forced on us? What about someone who has been brainwashed, subject to some kind of deliberate mind control or coercive persuasion? If such a person has desires as a direct consequence of being subject to such techniques, and acts according to those desires, are his or her acts freely chosen? If not, then we need another definition. "Doing what I want" does not necessarily mean being free.
animist wrote:
Emma wrote:But a sense of free will is surely not the same as free will as philosophers use the term (let alone as theologians use it).
I think it is the same, because I am not sure what having the delusion that I was free could amount to.
I didn't say delusion. I said sense. I don't mean to be dismissive of such a sense. It isn't a mere delusion, some worthless shadow of the real thing, any more than the experience of love is a delusion. The experience of freedom is valuable. I also believe that our experience of freedom, our sense of being free to do whatever we want, and our sense of personal responsibility, all contribute to determining our behaviour. If we believe that we are bound to act in a certain way, for whatever reason, that belief in itself contributes to determining how we act. But the kind of free will that is widely discussed in the context of arguments about determinism is definitely more than just a sense of being free. It's the ability to act ... otherwise; it's being the causal agent of one's own actions, rather than being caused by events beyond one's control.
animist wrote:Of course, if, say, I applied for a job because I thought I wanted it but then found my partner had somehow maneouvred me into this "desire" for the job, then my choice to apply would not really have been that free. But surely there has in principle to be some definite human or other outside factor which has influenced or constrained us in some deceptive way in order for our choices NOT to be free.
Why "in some deceptive way"? What if your desire had been shaped by your partner quite inadvertently? Or what if your partner were encouraging you with the best intentions? Why do the motives of whoever or whatever is doing the shaping determine whether or not your desires, and hence your actions, are free? As far as your own psychology is concerned, and your own personal responsibility, those motives are irrelevant.
animist wrote:I don't see how one can have a sense of self without in some sense it being true; we are not talking about an immortal soul or indefinable spirit, and how I can be actually wrong in having a sense of self?
I didn't say you could. I have agreed that we have a sense of self. And if "self" were defined as a "sense of self", then I'd agree that we have a self. What I am sceptical of is the existence of a self that can somehow rise above all the biological and environmental factors that have shaped a person's particular set of desires, a self that has control, agency, responsibility.
animist wrote:Consciousness is an emergent property, so that dogs are conscious but probably not self-conscious - nevertheless they have personality, a degree of free will, and certainly a self; we are self-conscious, so we have what they have, plus a bit more
Oh. So if dogs are probably not self-conscious, but they do have a self, then what exactly is the self?
animist wrote:
Emma wrote:In my view, the question of whether free will exists, and what exactly it is, is less significant than the question of whether, or to what extent, we are responsible for our actions. That's the question I really struggle with.
but surely the two questions are strongly connected. If you deny free will you seem to deny responsibility for one's actions, and this is an excellent reason for believing in free will - as long, of course, that we recognise that freedom and responsibility are matters of degree and not cut and dried
No, it's not an excellent reason for believing in free will. An excellent reason for believing in free will would be the existence of evidence for free will. The issue of responsibility might perhaps be a reason for pretending to believe in free will, or acting as though there were such a thing. But if we do not have free will in the sense that implies responsibility [---][/---] and I don't think the "doing what we want" sense does necessarily imply it [---][/---] then perhaps we need to face up to the full implications of that. There's a book that I want to read, called Living without Free Will, by Derek Pereboom, which claims that absolving ourselves of moral responsibility for our actions might not be as catastrophic as many might think, and might even be beneficial. I'm hoping that it's very persuasive. Because at the moment my problem with the issue of moral responsibility is that I don't think we really have it (not as a consequence of not believing in free will, but as a consequence of believing in determinism) but I think that we're better off (as individuals and as societies and as a world) if we believe that we do. And that's not very satisfactory. It's as bad as thinking that God doesn't exist but that we're better off if we believe that it does.

Emma

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Re: Free will

#70 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » February 7th, 2011, 5:08 pm

Wilson wrote:It's fun to try to figure out and argue about free will and determinism and all that, but there's not much practicality until you get to the issue of responsibility that you raised.

Take two young men. One is an inner city youth raised by a mostly absent crack-addicted mother. He has experienced very little kindness and observed very little compassion. His peers value power and are contemptuous of conscience. The other is the son of a CEO and has been given all the advantages of money - the best schools, a Porsche, nice clothes. His parents are concerned about his future, tell him how smart he is, and are happy to do anything to ensure that his future is bright.

Each young man rapes a woman and kills her.

Should they be punished equally harshly?
Should either of them be punished at all harshly?

There's too little information here. But what we cannot conclude, in my view, is that the first young man committed the crime because of his terrible upbringing and early experiences, and was less in control of his behaviour, while the second young man committed the crime in spite of his wonderful upbringing and early experiences, and was perfectly capable of acting differently. Both young men ended up committing rape and murder as a consequence of both their genetic make-up and all the things that had happened to them in their lives so far. There's no reason to assume that the second young man somehow had more free will than the first. I think it's a perfectly natural reaction for us to feel more sympathy for the first young man than for the second, but the second young man's behaviour was as much caused as the first's was. The causes might not be as obvious, but I believe that if we could somehow trace them, and trace their causes, we'd find that they are just as much outside the second young man's control as were the causes of the first young man's behaviour outside his control. The alternative is that the second young man had a greater degree of free will, in the sense that he had a self that was capable of rising above all the biological and environmental factors that had shaped him and acting independently of them, and I find that notion implausible.

There are widely accepted reasons for imprisoning people who have committed violent crime, or imposing other penalties on them, other than for the purpose of retribution, and those reasons include deterrence, incapacitation and rehabilitation. (I'd add a fourth, though I'm not sure what to call it. Restitution and restoration seem inappropriate terms when we're talking about things like rape and murder. Compensation, perhaps [---][/---] or reparation, or atonement?) Retribution means causing harm to those who have harmed others, because they deserve it. If we were to conclude that determinism (or near determinism) implies that we are not morally responsible for any of our actions, then it would follow that no one deserves to be punished. But we would still have a need to stop people committing violent crimes, and to stop those who have already committed violent crimes from committing more of them. And it may well be that we can't do that without causing harm to those who have committed violent crimes. Punishment of some kind might be unavoidable. But its harshness is relevant only in terms of its impact on the punishment's effectiveness in deterring others from committing similar crimes, stopping offenders from committing more crimes, both in the short and in the long term, and enabling offenders to make amends in some way for their crimes. If those things can be achieved without harsh punishment, then so much the better (from a utilitarian perspective, anyway).

I think it might well be the case that prison sentences make violent criminals more likely to commit other violent crimes, both within prison and when they're released, because they place violent individuals together, in a way that makes them likely to influence each other to become more violent. I think there's also evidence that the fear of being sent to prison does not deter people from committing a crime in the first place (see, for example, this article in Slate). So it may well be that prison is effective only at incapacitating people. I have a feeling that we could devise better ways of dealing with violent criminals, even rapists and murderers, if we put our minds to it. But I think people's desire for retribution gets in the way of any progress along those lines.

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Re: Free will

#71 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » February 7th, 2011, 6:08 pm

animist wrote:... the answer was "yes" - there is a practical need to punish. Since it is also possible, if not ethical, to "punish" non-human animals in order to train them in a certain way, it seems to follow that a degree of free will really does exist in both humans and so-called lower animals
It doesn't seem to follow at all, in my view. If anything, I'd have thought that it implies rather the opposite. The behaviour of certain non-human animals, like dogs, responds very well to operant conditioning. One can use positive and negative reinforcement and positive and negative punishment to control a dog's behaviour to an extraordinary degree. (Actually, one doesn't really need the positive punishment, i.e. causing harm. One can do very nicely with just positive reinforcement [---][/---] i.e. rewards [---][/---] and negative punishment [---][/---] i.e. removal of rewards). One can see so clearly how a dog's behaviour is shaped by its environment and its genes, whether it's behaving obediently or not. One might talk of a dog being "willful", but what we really mean is that it's doing what it wants to do, and it wants to do it because that behaviour is more rewarding (or more obviously rewarding) than the alternatives. I see absolutely no evidence for free will, or moral responsibility, in dogs. That's not to say that I think of them as automata, because the compexity of their biology and of their environments mean that their behaviour is somewhat unpredictable. But unpredictability does not imply free will.

Human behaviour is much more complex than canine behaviour. But although behaviourism has been largely discredited as far as human behaviour is concerned, and humans don't respond as obviously well to operant conditioning as dogs do, it still seems to be widely accepted that human behaviour, like canine behaviour, is shaped by both genes and environment, albeit not in such a direct way. If free will is defined in a way that fits in with that understanding of human behaviour (and maybe it can be), then it is not the kind of free will that implies moral responsibility. If punishment really is effective in shaping human behaviour in a positive way (and I'm not convinced of that), it still does not follow that it is ethically right to punish people.

Emma

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Re: Free will

#72 Post by robzed » February 7th, 2011, 9:33 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote: The behaviour of certain non-human animals, like dogs, responds very well to operant conditioning. One can use positive and negative reinforcement and positive and negative punishment to control a dog's behaviour to an extraordinary degree. (Actually, one doesn't really need the positive punishment, i.e. causing harm. One can do very nicely with just positive reinforcement [---][/---] i.e. rewards [---][/---] and negative punishment [---][/---] i.e. removal of rewards). One can see so clearly how a dog's behaviour is shaped by its environment and its genes, whether it's behaving obediently or not. One might talk of a dog being "willful", but what we really mean is that it's doing what it wants to do, and it wants to do it because that behaviour is more rewarding (or more obviously rewarding) than the alternatives. I see absolutely no evidence for free will, or moral responsibility, in dogs. That's not to say that I think of them as automata, because the compexity of their biology and of their environments mean that their behaviour is somewhat unpredictable. But unpredictability does not imply free will.
Have dogs been affected by domestication? Regarding wolves: As a pack hunting animal I could see why a good level of cooperation between the would lead to a tendency to learn acceptable pack behaviour as a pup. Has this been enhanced in dogs - or are they the same as wolves?

Whilst I agree generally with your previous arguments (and do not doubt there is a good level of difference between ape and canine thought processes and behaviours) I cannot really imagine that some level of free will does not exist in all mammals. Sure, I could imagine it's higher developed in humans. But does that ability totally not exist in other mammals? I'd find that difficult to understand.

But then again, as I've said before, things like free will seem to me to difficult to pin down - hence the long discussions...

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Re: Free will

#73 Post by Wilson » February 7th, 2011, 10:30 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:There's too little information here. But what we cannot conclude, in my view, is that the first young man committed the crime because of his terrible upbringing and early experiences, and was less in control of his behaviour, while the second young man committed the crime in spite of his wonderful upbringing and early experiences, and was perfectly capable of acting differently. Both young men ended up committing rape and murder as a consequence of both their genetic make-up and all the things that had happened to them in their lives so far. There's no reason to assume that the second young man somehow had more free will than the first. I think it's a perfectly natural reaction for us to feel more sympathy for the first young man than for the second, but the second young man's behaviour was as much caused as the first's was. The causes might not be as obvious, but I believe that if we could somehow trace them, and trace their causes, we'd find that they are just as much outside the second young man's control as were the causes of the first young man's behaviour outside his control. The alternative is that the second young man had a greater degree of free will, in the sense that he had a self that was capable of rising above all the biological and environmental factors that had shaped him and acting independently of them, and I find that notion implausible.
Perfect! That's exactly what I believe, and the point I was trying to make.

Where we probably differ is that I see a valid place for vengeance in the justification for punishment. We evolved to believe in fairness and justice - which is unquestionably a good thing - and most of us sense that someone who has committed a terrible crime should pay for his or her transgression. It's only fair. Now at some level it's true that the behavior of each of us is, as you said, only the product of heredity and life experience. So is it fair to punish anyone? Maybe not, but it feels right to me that we should. And because of the above, I feel that we pretty much should punish according to the crime, and not so much because of background.

Followup question: Should I feel guilty about feeling satisfaction in knowing that a brutal killer will spend the rest of his life in prison? And that part of that satisfaction is pleasure in knowing that his life will be miserable?

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Re: Free will

#74 Post by Alan C. » February 7th, 2011, 11:43 pm

Wilson
I feel that we pretty much should punish according to the crime, and not so much because of background.
Do you agree with 30 year sentences for stealing money (the train robbers) as opposed to 9 years (average) for rapists and murderers?
Followup question: Should I feel guilty about feeling satisfaction in knowing that a brutal killer will spend the rest of his life in prison?
No, you should only ever feel guilty about your own actions.
And that part of that satisfaction is pleasure in knowing that his life will be miserable?
Miserable? Where do you think he is Alcatraz?
Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers.

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Re: Free will

#75 Post by Wilson » February 8th, 2011, 2:00 am

Alan C. wrote:Do you agree with 30 year sentences for stealing money (the train robbers) as opposed to 9 years (average) for rapists and murderers?
No, of course not. Punishment should be appropriate for the crime. What I was saying is that if a person brutally rapes and kills a woman, the punishment should be the same whether he's an inner city poor kid who was sexually abused or a rich kid with all the advantages.
Miserable? Where do you think he is Alcatraz?
I'd be miserable if I had to spend the rest of my life locked up. Wouldn't you?

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Free will

#76 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » February 8th, 2011, 12:22 pm

Wilson wrote:Perfect! That's exactly what I believe, and the point I was trying to make.
Ah yes. Sorry, I hadn't read your earlier post before I responded. You'd already made the point well.
Wilson wrote:Where we probably differ is that I see a valid place for vengeance in the justification for punishment. We evolved to believe in fairness and justice - which is unquestionably a good thing - and most of us sense that someone who has committed a terrible crime should pay for his or her transgression. It's only fair.
Yes, but what do you mean by "pay for"? I think there's a strong case for saying that someone who has committed a terrible crime should at least try do something to make up for it. It's difficult to think of what that something might be, in the case of rape and murder, but I don't think that locking up the perpetrator of a terrible crime (at enormous expense) for many years means that, on that criminal's eventual release, he or she has paid for his or her crime. That doesn't make any sense to me. Never has, even before I started thinking about determinism and moral responsibility. Payment surely requires that something is gained, and not merely that something is lost. But if a person who has done something bad is subsequently able to do something very good, something that's of benefit to someone, even if it's not the victim of that crime who benefits, then maybe, just maybe, it might be possible to think of them as having atoned in some way for their crime. That seems much more valuable than "paying for it" by their own suffering. (Hmm, looks as though I'm still a utilitarian after all.)
Wilson wrote: Now at some level it's true that the behavior of each of us is, as you said, only the product of heredity and life experience. So is it fair to punish anyone? Maybe not, but it feels right to me that we should. And because of the above, I feel that we pretty much should punish according to the crime, and not so much because of background.
I'm still not quite sure why you think we should punish at all. Because it feels right? That doesn't seem to be a strong enough reason. I don't see how punishment for punishment's sake can be justified if we don't accept that everyone has moral responsibility.
Wilson wrote:Followup question: Should I feel guilty about feeling satisfaction in knowing that a brutal killer will spend the rest of his life in prison? And that part of that satisfaction is pleasure in knowing that his life will be miserable?
I don't see any point in feeling guilty about it [---][/---] though I think it's worth questioning that satisfaction, in the light of your other beliefs. I can accept that we have evolved (or have learned, or a bit of both) to experience pleasure when we see people getting their comeuppance, or their "just deserts" (even if deep down we don't believe that they're really deserved). I'm certainly not immune to that (as I've just been reminded, after reading an article in the Guardian about a man being stabbed to death by a fighting cockerel with a knife strapped to its leg). But there's a huge difference between individual people experiencing Schadenfreude in such circumstances and having that sense of satisfaction sanctioned by the state, and being used to justify the entire penal system.

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Re: Free will

#77 Post by animist » February 8th, 2011, 3:20 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
animist wrote:yes they are free, because I am doing what I want. All freedom is just that, ie the absence of coercion or manipulation or constraint. It is a negative thing, not a positive (and I think power is much the same, but I won't go further into that).
Well, that that only works if we define coercion or manipulation or constraint in terms of being forced to act against one's desires, or being prevented from acting in accordance with them. That's one way of defining freedom (in the context of free will) but it's not the only way. And I don't think it's a satisfactory way, for reasons I'll come to later
well it's my way and I think it works. I expressed the types of negation of freedom as the terms coercion, constraint and manipulation: the first forces undesired action, the second prevents desired action, and the third more subtly influences desire itself.
Emma wrote:
animist wrote:Your argument also involves an infinite regress, since even if I could claim that I had chosen my desires, you could say that that this choice was determined and therefore not free. So your freedom is a chimaera, IMO, and therefore irrelevant to whether we are "really" free.
What if our desires are more obviously forced on us? What about someone who has been brainwashed, subject to some kind of deliberate mind control or coercive persuasion? If such a person has desires as a direct consequence of being subject to such techniques, and acts according to those desires, are his or her acts freely chosen? If not, then we need another definition. "Doing what I want" does not necessarily mean being free.
well, "coercive persuasion" is a self-contradiction for a start, but anyway, that is where we differ; you demand some impossible abstraction of freedom, but I (and Lord Muck, who admirably expressed what I feel) don't. What you have not taken from my previous post is the idea of DEGREES of freedom - it is not all-or-nothing. You mention the effect of brainwashing quite rightly as an example of a delusory freedom (or rather, a delusory degree of freedom), but I covered this in my previous post with the (rather weaker) example of partner manipulation. However, I would not use the word "force" (as you have) in the context of even of brainwashing; given that, historically, the technique was used on POWs, force/coercion and constraint would have been necessary to induce initial compliance with the technique, but the process itself is not one of force but of manipulation.
Emma wrote:
animist wrote:
Emma wrote:But a sense of free will is surely not the same as free will as philosophers use the term (let alone as theologians use it).
I think it is the same, because I am not sure what having the delusion that I was free could amount to.
I didn't say delusion. I said sense. I don't mean to be dismissive of such a sense. It isn't a mere delusion, some worthless shadow of the real thing, any more than the experience of love is a delusion. The experience of freedom is valuable. I also believe that our experience of freedom, our sense of being free to do whatever we want, and our sense of personal responsibility, all contribute to determining our behaviour. If we believe that we are bound to act in a certain way, for whatever reason, that belief in itself contributes to determining how we act. But the kind of free will that is widely discussed in the context of arguments about determinism is definitely more than just a sense of being free. It's the ability to act ... otherwise; it's being the causal agent of one's own actions, rather than being caused by events beyond one's control.
I know you did not say it was a delusion, but that is the implication: that one is somehow not really free even if one is in a rational and non-constrained frame of mind and doing what one wants or thinks is best, so that one is indeed the causal agent of one's action. This is the implied delusion - which IMO is nonsensical. And what do you mean by "acting otherwise"? Otherwise than what?
Emma wrote:
animist wrote:Of course, if, say, I applied for a job because I thought I wanted it but then found my partner had somehow maneouvred me into this "desire" for the job, then my choice to apply would not really have been that free. But surely there has in principle to be some definite human or other outside factor which has influenced or constrained us in some deceptive way in order for our choices NOT to be free.
Why "in some deceptive way"? What if your desire had been shaped by your partner quite inadvertently? Or what if your partner were encouraging you with the best intentions? Why do the motives of whoever or whatever is doing the shaping determine whether or not your desires, and hence your actions, are free? As far as your own psychology is concerned, and your own personal responsibility, those motives are irrelevant.
I am not sure what point you are making. I did not suggest that motives were especially important in this example, simply that this would be an obvious case of manipulation; yes, the partner could in effect manipulate me either for the best of reasons (as s/he saw them) or inadvertently as you say, it is just that the last case in particular would be less likely to "work" and would arguably not merit the description "manipulative" - the brainwashing example is a better one, I suppose
Emma wrote:
animist wrote:I don't see how one can have a sense of self without in some sense it being true; we are not talking about an immortal soul or indefinable spirit, and how I can be actually wrong in having a sense of self?
I didn't say you could. I have agreed that we have a sense of self. And if "self" were defined as a "sense of self", then I'd agree that we have a self. What I am sceptical of is the existence of a self that can somehow rise above all the biological and environmental factors that have shaped a person's particular set of desires, a self that has control, agency, responsibility.
but what do you mean by "rising above" these factors? I never said that the self did this, but why should this prevent us from having "control, agency and responsibility"? I thought that you and I more or less agreed about determinism; anyway, I don't see determinism as negating either the self or free will
Emma wrote:
animist wrote:Consciousness is an emergent property, so that dogs are conscious but probably not self-conscious - nevertheless they have personality, a degree of free will, and certainly a self; we are self-conscious, so we have what they have, plus a bit more
Oh. So if dogs are probably not self-conscious, but they do have a self, then what exactly is the self?
you tell me! I think there is a danger of imagining that because a word exists, there must be some distinctive entity to correspond to it, and on one level the word "self" is simply the reflexive pronoun minus the specific prefix (eg "myself" is not necessarily "my self" but simply how I refer to myself). But beyond this, as I implied, since dogs have individual personalities and are not automata, what is so difficult in thinking of them as having selves? I suppose the problem is that consciousness of self, which is distinctively human, means conscious thought about one's own personality, self-esteem and characteristics as well as desires, and animals don't quite have this - although they seem to need esteem (hence the undoubtable jealousies between higher animals for, say, human attention) as well as having more obviously physical desires
Emma wrote:
animist wrote:
Emma wrote:In my view, the question of whether free will exists, and what exactly it is, is less significant than the question of whether, or to what extent, we are responsible for our actions. That's the question I really struggle with.
but surely the two questions are strongly connected. If you deny free will you seem to deny responsibility for one's actions, and this is an excellent reason for believing in free will - as long, of course, that we recognise that freedom and responsibility are matters of degree and not cut and dried
No, it's not an excellent reason for believing in free will. An excellent reason for believing in free will would be the existence of evidence for free will.
but what ever could count as evidence of this? If nothing could count as evidence then the concept is meaningless. That is what I was trying to get at when I said that to deny free will (even in the face of the sensation of it) seems to imply that one could be deluded about feeling it, and you have not answered this point; also, I don't see the point of your analogy with being in love - if one believes one is in love, one probably is. I agree, however, that the need to establish responsibility for actions is only a good reason to believe in free will in a pragmatic way, not a theoretical one - that is actually what I meant.
Emma wrote:The issue of responsibility might perhaps be a reason for pretending to believe in free will, or acting as though there were such a thing. But if we do not have free will in the sense that implies responsibility [---][/---] and I don't think the "doing what we want" sense does necessarily imply it [---][/---] then perhaps we need to face up to the full implications of that. There's a book that I want to read, called Living without Free Will, by Derek Pereboom, which claims that absolving ourselves of moral responsibility for our actions might not be as catastrophic as many might think, and might even be beneficial. I'm hoping that it's very persuasive. Because at the moment my problem with the issue of moral responsibility is that I don't think we really have it (not as a consequence of not believing in free will, but as a consequence of believing in determinism) but I think that we're better off (as individuals and as societies and as a world) if we believe that we do. And that's not very satisfactory. It's as bad as thinking that God doesn't exist but that we're better off if we believe that it does.
oh dear, I either don't understand or disagree with all of this. I don't know why you, one minute, seem to be linking free will and responsibility ("if we do not have free will in the sense that implies responsibility") and then next minute dissociating them ("not as a consequence of not believing in free will, but as a consequence of believing in determinism"). Anyway, I don't think it (ie the moral responsibility "fictionalism" that I think you refer to) is quite like fictionalism about belief in God, as the latter is in principle an objective matter - either God exists or not, so so-called fictionalism about God is simply lying about one's beliefs, to others or to oneself (back to the absurdity of Pascal's wager). Maybe this "moral responsibility" fictionalism is more like "moral fictionalism" in general. Leading on from this, have you read the "Philosophy Now" articles which thundril and I have been talking about? One is on moral fictionalism, and Pereboom sounds as though he is on this same track of "liberation". Any talk like this makes me want to scream, TBH, because of its stupid and self-defeating dishonesty in relation to actual behaviour. We do have moral responsibility (by which of course I mean we can have it in principle and sometimes actually do in some degree) because we do (in the same way) have free will. When you say you think we don't "really" have moral responsibility, what do you really mean? Do you not behave to other people as though they sometimes do have moral responsibilities (eg to pay you for your work) and do you not really believe that they do have this responsibility? Do you only feign anger if someone intentionally wrongs you? If not, why is moral obligation, and the responsibility and free will on which it depends, not real?

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Re: Free will

#78 Post by animist » February 9th, 2011, 6:51 pm

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
animist wrote:... the answer was "yes" - there is a practical need to punish. Since it is also possible, if not ethical, to "punish" non-human animals in order to train them in a certain way, it seems to follow that a degree of free will really does exist in both humans and so-called lower animals
It doesn't seem to follow at all, in my view. If anything, I'd have thought that it implies rather the opposite. The behaviour of certain non-human animals, like dogs, responds very well to operant conditioning.
yes it does, to what I would call manipulation, which is the weakest of what I have called the three limitations on free will (the others being constraint and coercion). As you agree that dogs are not automata, and because they have a degree of intelligence in order to be trainable, I think they have a modest amount of free will, viz to be able to decide whether to accept the reward or to reject it and do their own thing; this is I suppose at the "cost" of a greater freedom of sorts that they might have in the wild. One could not say this of an insect, maybe. But I am not saying that dogs have free will because they are trainable; cats have about the same amount despite their not being trainable, since free will is a function of consciousness and hence of intelligence
Emma wrote:One might talk of a dog being "willful", but what we really mean is that it's doing what it wants to do, and it wants to do it because that behaviour is more rewarding (or more obviously rewarding) than the alternatives.
yes, that is just what I mean.
Emma wrote:I see absolutely no evidence for free will, or moral responsibility, in dogs. That's not to say that I think of them as automata, because the compexity of their biology and of their environments mean that their behaviour is somewhat unpredictable. But unpredictability does not imply free will.
I am surprised that you even mention moral responsibility in connection with dogs or any other animal, as I
have never heard anyone attributing this to them, though I know that some people are starting to claim that animals do behave in ways which we call "ethical"; I am not sure that this is the same thing as their having moral responsibility, and I would say not. To me, free will is a necessary but not sufficient condition for this responsibility. I agree that unpredictability in itself does not imply free will; however, actually turning this point back to human free will, it seems to me that unpredictability is the only form of human behaviour that fits the bill for the concept of free will that you seem to recognise.
Emma wrote: If punishment really is effective in shaping human behaviour in a positive way (and I'm not convinced of that), it still does not follow that it is ethically right to punish people.
so what is the alternative?

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Emma Woolgatherer
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Re: Free will

#79 Post by Emma Woolgatherer » February 10th, 2011, 1:25 pm

animist wrote:... well, "coercive persuasion" is a self-contradiction for a start
The term is not mine; it's Edgar Schein's. And I suspect that it's a deliberate oxymoron. (Although perhaps that's a tautology, since oxymora are, traditionally, deliberate by definition. Um ...)
animist wrote:you demand some impossible abstraction of freedom
No, I don't. I am sceptical about the existence of the kind of "free will" (perhaps I can call it Free Will) that implies moral responsibility, the kind of moral responsibility that means that a person deserves to be blamed and punished for their bad actions or credited and praised for their good actions. I don't think that free will as you are defining it [---][/---] the subjective experience of being free to do what one wants, the absence of constraint, coercion or manipulation [---][/---] does imply that kind of moral responsibility. I am not demanding an "impossible abstraction of freedom", but, as I understand it, moral responsibility, in that strong sense, does demand it. (See, for example, George Arthur Campbell's essay, "Has the Self 'Free Will'?" (pdf).)
animist wrote:What you have not taken from my previous post is the idea of DEGREES of freedom - it is not all-or-nothing.
I did note that. But I wanted to clarify what you meant by free will first. If you're talking about freedom to do what one wants, without deliberate constraint, coercion or manipulation, then yes, there are degrees of freedom. If one is talking about the kind of free will that would enable someone to choose to do something differently, given exactly the same circumstances, and exactly the same past events, then I don't think it's particularly meaningful to talk about degrees of it until one has decided whether we have it. I don't think we do. And there can't be degrees of something that isn't there.
animist wrote:I know you did not say it was a delusion, but that is the implication: that one is somehow not really free even if one is in a rational and non-constrained frame of mind and doing what one wants or thinks is best, so that one is indeed the causal agent of one's action. This is the implied delusion - which IMO is nonsensical.
I fall into the trap of using expressions like "really free" (hmm, now I've got John Otway and Wild Willy Barratt in my head), but it's misleading. Frankly, I would prefer to avoid the term "free will" altogether, and stick to the questions of determinism and moral responsibility. But for the purposes of this message, I'll use Free Will to refer to that kind of free will that I don't believe in!
animist wrote:And what do you mean by "acting otherwise"? Otherwise than what?
Otherwise than how one has acted. If one has Free Will, apparently, one could have behaved differently, one could have stopped oneself from throwing the punch, or lighting the cigarette, or writing the message, purely by exercising that will. By not exercising that will, one has effectively chosen to act in the way one did, and therefore one has responsibility for that action.
animist wrote:I am not sure what point you are making. I did not suggest that motives were especially important in this example, simply that this would be an obvious case of manipulation
You said, "surely there has in principle to be some definite human or other outside factor which has influenced or constrained us in some deceptive way in order for our choices NOT to be free". I asked, why "in some deceptive way"? If you'd missed out those words, I'd probably have agreed with you. Yes, there has in principle to be some definite human or other outside factor which has influenced or constrained us in order for our choices not to be free. And I'd say that there always is some outside factor which has influenced or constrained us. Or rather, loads of outside factors that have been influencing and constraining us, and shaping our desires, from conception onwards. The obvious case of manipulation is just that: an obvious case.
animist wrote:... but what do you mean by "rising above" these factors? I never said that the self did this, but why should this prevent us from having "control, agency and responsibility"? I thought that you and I more or less agreed about determinism; anyway, I don't see determinism as negating either the self or free will
I'm sorry that I'm not explaining this very well. But I do, at the moment at least, see determinism as negating responsibility. It seems to me that if we are wholly determined (or nearly wholly determined, allowing for some element of true randomness), by our genetic make-up and by all the things that happen to us, not just influenced, not just constrained, not just coerced, not just manipulated, but determined, then there is no room for anything else, whatever you want to call it, that would give rise to moral responsibility, in a strong sense, implying that we deserve blame or credit for our actions. I am open to being persuaded otherwise. But I just don't see it.
animist wrote:
Emma wrote:... if dogs are probably not self-conscious, but they do have a self, then what exactly is the self?
you tell me!
:D Why? You were the one claiming that dogs have a self; I wasn't. Surely it was reasonable to ask what you meant by it, if you didn't mean "a sense of self".
animist wrote:I think there is a danger of imagining that because a word exists, there must be some distinctive entity to correspond to it ...
Oh, absobloodylutely, yes. I completely agree!
animist wrote:... and on one level the word "self" is simply the reflexive pronoun minus the specific prefix (eg "myself" is not necessarily "my self" but simply how I refer to myself). But beyond this, as I implied, since dogs have individual personalities and are not automata, what is so difficult in thinking of them as having selves? I suppose the problem is that consciousness of self, which is distinctively human, means conscious thought about one's own personality, self-esteem and characteristics ... and animals don't quite have this ...
Yes, that's the problem. If we're defining the "self" as the "thing" we're aware of when we're self-aware, or the "thing" we're conscious of when we're self-conscious, then I can accept that humans have that kind of self, even if I don't really think of it as a thing. If we're saying that dogs have a self, I need a different definition. But if "self" is just a word, useful in certain grammatical constructions but with no distinctive entity corresponding to it, then that's not important.
animist wrote:but what ever could count as evidence of this? If nothing could count as evidence then the concept is meaningless. That is what I was trying to get at when I said that to deny free will (even in the face of the sensation of it) seems to imply that one could be deluded about feeling it, and you have not answered this point
OK. Let me try. If we're talking about free will as a sensation, a subjective experience of being free to choose according to one's own desires, then it is clear that we "have" it. There can be no delusion. If we're talking about free will as the absence of constraint, coercion and manipulation, which is I think what some philosophers have called "voluntariness", then I'm happy to agree we have that. (Though there's the potential there for delusion.) What I'm sceptical about is Free Will, as I've attempted to define it above. My understanding is that no evidence for that has, yet, been found by the people who might have found it, such as neuroscientists and cognitive psychologists, and my not being able to imagine what exactly that evidence might be doesn't make the concept meaningless. What I am pretty sure of is that our subjective experience of being free to choose according to our own desires is not evidence of Free Will.
animist wrote:also, I don't see the point of your analogy with being in love - if one believes one is in love, one probably is.
My "point", though it was not a significant one, was simply that being in love is a subjective experience. Love is what we feel. As is the sense of having free will, or indeed of having Free Will. People do talk about being deluded about being in love. They do say, "I thought I was in love, but I wasn't really." But I'm sceptical about true love, too. Love is what you feel, when you're feeling it, even if you change your mind about it afterwards.
animist wrote:I agree, however, that the need to establish responsibility for actions is only a good reason to believe in free will in a pragmatic way, not a theoretical one - that is actually what I meant.
Right. OK. That's what I'm uncomfortable with. I don't see how one can actually believe something for pragmatic reasons.
animist wrote:I don't know why you, one minute, seem to be linking free will and responsibility ("if we do not have free will in the sense that implies responsibility") and then next minute dissociating them ("not as a consequence of not believing in free will, but as a consequence of believing in determinism").
I am not trying to dissociate free will (and certainly not Free Will) from moral responsibility. My point was simply that it isn't necessary to get into the issue of free will in order to question the existence of moral responsibility. One can leap there straight from determinism, in my view.
animist wrote:Anyway, I don't think it (ie the moral responsibility "fictionalism" that I think you refer to) is quite like fictionalism about belief in God, as the latter is in principle an objective matter - either God exists or not, so so-called fictionalism about God is simply lying about one's beliefs, to others or to oneself (back to the absurdity of Pascal's wager). Maybe this "moral responsibility" fictionalism is more like "moral fictionalism" in general.
I wasn't suggesting that one was like the other, merely that one was as unsatisfactory as the other. But I'd have thought a moral responsibility fictionalism would still involve lying about one's beliefs, to others or to oneself, since I don't see how one can actually believe something for pragmatic reasons.
animist wrote: Leading on from this, have you read the "Philosophy Now" articles which thundril and I have been talking about? One is on moral fictionalism, and Pereboom sounds as though he is on this same track of "liberation".
I've just read Richard Joyce's article, "Moral Fictionalism". Very, very interesting in light of some of our other discussions. Is that the one you meant?
animist wrote:Any talk like this makes me want to scream, TBH, because of its stupid and self-defeating dishonesty in relation to actual behaviour.
Hang on. Before I get all defensive, what exactly are you calling stupid and self-defeating and dishonest? :)
animist wrote:We do have moral responsibility (by which of course I mean we can have it in principle and sometimes actually do in some degree) because we do (in the same way) have free will.
Could you elaborate a little here? Do you mean that we have a subjective experience of moral responsibility, in the same way that we have a subjective experience of free will? If so, what if we don't have that subjective experience?
animist wrote:When you say you think we don't "really" have moral responsibility, what do you really mean?
Again, I'm sorry for the "really". It's lazy, I know, but it's meant as emphasis, to indicate that I'm talking about moral responsibility in a strong sense. When someone acts in a particular way, I don't think he or she could have acted otherwise, given all the external things that have influenced her, and the genes he or she was born with. So, for that reason, I don't think he or she is "really" to blame. I don't think he or she can "really" help him- or herself. That's what I meant by not "really" having moral responsibility.
animist wrote:Do you not behave to other people as though they sometimes do have moral responsibilities (eg to pay you for your work) and do you not really believe that they do have this responsibility?
I do behave to other people as though they sometimes do have moral responsibilities (and in the case of paying me for my work, legal responsibilities). We all do. That's the norm. That's how our culture is. Whether I believe that they do is more complicated to answer. I suppose, at the moment, I believe they have responsibility in one sense, in a weak sense, given that their actions were not coerced, and they had the mental capacity to understand their consequences, but not in a stronger sense, the sense that requires that they could have chosen to act otherwise. But I'm not sure. I don't really know.
animist wrote:Do you only feign anger if someone intentionally wrongs you?
Of course not. I feel angry. But then, sometimes, I feel angry when someone wrongs me unintentionally. Sometimes I feel angry (briefly) with my dog. I understand that people sometimes feel angry with small children, and with those who have severe mental illness or mental dysfunction, and with others who obviously can't help behaving in a particular way. Sometimes people even feel angry with inanimate objects. I have been known to swear at door handles or table corners when I bash my hip against them. Occasionally I rail against the weather. None of this indicates that I am attributing moral responsibility to those beings or things with whom I am feeling angry. And even if I did attribute moral responsibility to someone, it doesn't follow that that someone has it, in the sense that he or she deserves that blame or anger.
animist wrote: If not, why is moral obligation, and the responsibility and free will on which it depends, not real?
Why should that imply that it is real? Most people's view of the way the world works is not deterministic. Our culture, our language, our legal system [---][/---] everything is geared up to the idea that we are in control of our own lives (if we have the mental capacity), that we do have moral responsibility for our actions, that we do deserve to be blamed and punished if we deliberately do bad things, and credited and praised and rewarded if we do good things. That is, I think, the norm. It is very difficult to extricate oneself from it. It is particularly difficult to use language that doesn't imply it.

Having said that, I do often feel, and have done for a long time, since long before I started to get interested in the determinism question, that when people do things that have bad consequences, even if they appear to be doing them deliberately, they aren't really to blame, even if my immediate inclination is to blame them. I'm talking about my own feelings now, my subjective experience. I'm not saying that because I feel that way it must be true. But neither is the opposite the case. I don't think the answer to these questions is just a simple matter of down-to-earth common sense. I don't agree with you and Lord Muck that there's only one definition of free will that makes any kind of sense, and I don't think that philosophical discussions about these issues, even when they refer to impossible abstractions, are necessarily nonsense. Though perhaps some of them are. :D

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Re: Free will

#80 Post by Wilson » February 10th, 2011, 8:23 pm

Emma: On a couple of basic levels - the quantum level and the "We are only the products of our heredity and environmental influences", I agree that we don't have true free will. So technically and philosophically I agree that on those levels moral responsibility doesn't make sense. The problem with using that conclusion as a basis for how we should behave is that it would excuse a government for torture and cruelty, including execution for minor offenses - because that society and those officials are only the product of nature and nurture and therefore not morally responsible for what they do.

Likewise, on a philosophical level I believe that in the absence of God the rulemaker, there is no absolute morality. But we cannot live happily in a world without standards of behavior. Therefore we have to agree among ourselves on rules of law, and rules of law require punishment. In my opinion, there is a sort of natural morality that most of us have based on empathy and compassion, and that is what our society should use as its guidelines. Evolution gave us those emotions - and it also made most of us selective in our empathy, with the capability of placing certain people outside our circle of empathy. In olden times every tribe outside our own was denied empathy, because sharing food and protecting strangers would imperil our group's survival. Nowadays, with wide media-based knowledge of the world, we mostly have empathy for everybody - but most of us also lose a degree of empathy for those who are cruel and appear to be evil and don't follow the rules of civilized society. That's why most of us think punishment, applied properly, is just fine.

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Re: Free will

#81 Post by Lord Muck oGentry » February 11th, 2011, 12:26 am

Emma Woolgatherer wrote:
animist wrote:I don't agree with you and Lord Muck that there's only one definition of free will that makes any kind of sense, and I don't think that philosophical discussions about these issues, even when they refer to impossible abstractions, are necessarily nonsense. Though perhaps some of them are. :D

Emma
Well, Emma, it's for animist to respond as he chooses, of course, since you were addressing him. But I hope that I may be allowed a word, since my views were mentioned.

My point is not that there is only one definition of free will that makes sense but that the expression does not ( with the out-of-the-way exception I mentioned) figure at all in ordinary talk: it is a peculiarly philosophical term, cropping up only in discussions such as this.

The trouble is that these discussions are so common that we have come to assume that the expression just must have a meaning, although it might need a bit of teasing out. My view is that our ordinary talk of responsibility, capacity, culpability, choice, exculpation, excuses, mitigation and so on would carry on regardless if the phrase free will dropped out of the language.
What we can't say, we can't say and we can't whistle it either. — Frank Ramsey

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