animist wrote:... well, "coercive persuasion" is a self-contradiction for a start
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.
Emma wrote:... if dogs are probably not self-conscious, but they do have a self, then what exactly is the self?
you tell me!
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.