2 of 2
2
Free will: A question
Posted: 10 June 2007 02:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  22
Joined  2007-04-13
[quote author=“waltercat”]Suppose you are a determinist and believe that there is no free will. You believe that everything that will happen is unchangeable; whatever is going to happen is going to happen and there is nothing I can do to stop it.

This looks a little bit like a straw man to me. Determinism is not identical to fatalism. Under determinism, choices and decisions do affect the future, being included in the causal chain themselves. Yes, it’s true that “whatever is going to happen is going to happen,” but that’s a pretty useless tautology. That which is “going to happen” is the result of prior causes, including human actions and decisions.

[quote author=“Guest”]For example, if you deny free will, it does not make sense to make ethical judgments on people’s actions; that is, you can only be held responsible for what you did or did not do if you had a choice to act otherwise.

I don’t really see why that is. Under a deterministic naturalism, desires, happiness, suffering and all the other underpinnings of morality are still present, and we can still evaluate things that cause happiness or suffering as “good” or “bad.” We just need to be a bit more thoughtful about what we’re really saying. Without free will, it doesn’t make sense to say that a person’s magical self or “soul” make an immoral, freely willed decision, and just stop there; but we can say that the person made an immoral decision provided we keep in mind that the causes of that decision lay outside him.

If a tree fell on a child and killed her, we wouldn’t say “Oh well, we can’t call this ‘bad,’ since the tree didn’t freely choose to fall on her,” so we obviously don’t think that good and bad depend on free agency. “Moral” and “immoral” are just the words for good and bad that we use when there is an agency behind a given good or bad event. And agency doesn’t disappear under determinism, it just needs some reinterpreting.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 10 June 2007 03:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  5404
Joined  2006-09-27

[quote author=“AmericanHumanist”]Under a deterministic naturalism, desires, happiness, suffering and all the other underpinnings of morality are still present, and we can still evaluate things that cause happiness or suffering as “good” or “bad.” We just need to be a bit more thoughtful about what we’re really saying. Without free will, it doesn’t make sense to say that a person’s magical self or “soul” make an immoral, freely willed decision, and just stop there; but we can say that the person made an immoral decision provided we keep in mind that the causes of that decision lay outside him.

If a tree fell on a child and killed her, we wouldn’t say “Oh well, we can’t call this ‘bad,’ since the tree didn’t freely choose to fall on her,” so we obviously don’t think that good and bad depend on free agency. “Moral” and “immoral” are just the words for good and bad that we use when there is an agency behind a given good or bad event. And agency doesn’t disappear under determinism, it just needs some reinterpreting.

I thought it would be interesting to cross-pollinate two threads. Your remarks are now in the thread which contains the following remarks of burt’s (Absurd Theologians and Atheists, in the Letter to a Christian Nation forum):

[quote author=“burt”]I assume three basic instincts that have evolved, self-preservation, social relations, and orientation within an environment.  None of these has any direct contact with morality: animals have them as well.  But, in human beings, there is a foundation of neural machinery that allows contact with pure consciousness which, in my view, is prior to spacetime and matter.  Thus human beings have individual egos, but also we all share the same underlying consciousness.  Objective morality arises when a person comes into contact with this pure consciousness and acts in accord with that recognition in a situation dependent way.  There is also an aspect of knowledge here: nobody can act in an optimal way unless they know what the situation is.  All formal moral codes, biblical injunctions, religious prescriptions, and so on are simply guesses made at general rules-of-thumb to substitute for true morality.  Further, they are made in specific historical and cultural contexts and are relative to those contexts.  Unfortunately, people tend to grasp onto some fixed set of rules and proclaim that it is “objective morality” and decreed so by God, the laws of dialectical materialism, genetic determinism, or whatever.  Then, because it is “natural” they try to enforce it universally.

In the above, there are some strong ideas and some weak ones. Blue for strong, red for weak. I’m not sure I can articulate with respect to what they are strong and weak. Maybe with respect to each other. Maybe another way to say this is that I detect an intrinsic contradiction in the presentation. If not a contradiction, then perhaps the assumption of the conclusion that the author wishes to make.

In red, burt seems to be concocting something like a human soul. I could be wrong, because I don’t know what the situation is.

Because of all that what-the-bleeping quantum stuff, we never know what the situation is until the situation has changed. This probably accounts for 90 per cent of the screwed-upness of “the situation”. If only we knew what the situation was!

As mahahaha says: Those who say, don’t know; those who know, don’t know either. Man, I could be a mystic just like that.

 Signature 

INVEST in cynicism!

Profile
 
 
   
2 of 2
2
 
‹‹ Fate      Sophiology & History ››
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed