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Critism of _Life Without Free Will_
Posted: 10 September 2012 10:19 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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> [...]
>
> Might free will somehow be required for goodness to be manifest? How, for instance, does one become a pediatric surgeon? Well, you must first be born, with an intact nervous system, and then provided with a proper education. No freedom there, I’m afraid.


No. The kid would need to be interested and/or study the material in
order to learn it. That is his choice. Yes freedom.


> You must also have the physical talent for the job and avoid smashing your hands at rugby. Needless to say, it won’t do to be someone who faints at the sight of blood. Chalk these achievements up to good luck as well. At some point you must decide to become a surgeon—a result, presumably, of first wanting to become one. Will you be the conscious source of this wanting?


Sure. You may first have wanted to be a rock musician because you
wanted fame and women. And then you thought about it a lot and
realized that your chances of actually doing that and then you changed
your mind. So then you did some research and thought hard about it and
decided that you wanted pediatric surgeon. So you were the conscious
source of this wanting, yes.


> Will you be responsible for its prevailing over all the other things you want but that are incompatible with a career in medicine? No. If you succeed at becoming a surgeon, you will simply find yourself standing one day, scalpel in hand, at the confluence of all the genetic and environmental causes that led you to develop along this line. None of these events requires that you, the conscious subject, be the ultimate cause of your aspirations, abilities, and resulting behavior.


Ultimate cause? So Sam agrees that he can be *a* cause?


> And, needless to say, you can take no credit for the fact that you weren’t born a psychopath.


No one is born a psychopath. A psychopath has bad moral ideas. A baby
has no moral ideas at all.


> Of course, I’m not saying that you can become a surgeon by accident—you must do many things, deliberately and well, and in the appropriate sequence, year after year. Becoming a surgeon requires effort. But can you take credit for your disposition to make that effort?


Yes. Because one of your options was to not think about it much. And
continue smoking weed and being lazy.


> To turn the matter around, am I responsible for the fact that it has never once occurred to me that I might like to be a surgeon? Who gets the blame for my lack of inspiration? And what if the desire to become a surgeon suddenly arises tomorrow and becomes so intense that I jettison my other professional goals and enroll in medical school?


Your preferences come from your ideas. Your ideas become instantiated
when you think. You can choose to think or choose to be lazy and not
think. For example, in the hypothetical I gave above, you could have
chosen to not think much and tried to do some race car driving for a
few years and then failed at it.


> Would I—that is, the part of me that is actually experiencing my life—be the true cause of these developments? Every moment of conscious effort—every thought, intention, and decision—will have been caused by events of which I am not conscious. Where is the freedom in this?


No. You can choose to think. Or choose to stop thinking. I see it all
the time. I’m thinking about a subject and lets say I’m talking to
someone and then they think that the problem is unsolvable, so they
want to quit thinking, because they think its futile and so they don’t
enjoy it.


> If we cannot assign blame to the workings of the universe, how can evil people be held responsible for their actions? In the deepest sense, it seems, they can’t be. But in a practical sense, they must be. I see no contradiction in this.


Huh? X and Not X contradict each other. Notice how he says *deepest
sense* and *seems*. What does he mean by deep? And seems? It means his
own thinking about the subject is unclear.


> In fact, I think that keeping the deep causes of human behavior in view would only improve our practical response to evil. The feeling that people are deeply responsible for who they are does nothing but produce moral illusions and psychological suffering.


No. Psychological suffering is caused by problems not getting solved.


I am responsible for all my problems, all my mistakes. That means that
its my job to solve them so that I prevent those mistakes in the
future. And all of them are soluble. So why should I feel bad about
being responsible for my mistakes?


One of the reasons people feel bad about their mistakes is if they
believe that they will *stay* mistaken forever. So they believe that
not all problems are soluble.


But the reality is that by being (and taking) responsible for my
mistakes, I can effect change, thus solving my life problems and
reducing my suffering.


If I instead decided that I’m not responsible, then I won’t work on
changing my mistakes, thus my problems would linger and so I won’t
reduce my suffering. Its a self-fulfilling prophecy.


> Imagine that you are enjoying your last nap of the summer, perhaps outside in a hammock somewhere, and are awakened by an unfamiliar sound. You open your eyes to the sight of a large bear charging at you across the lawn. It should be easy enough to understand that you have a problem. If we swap this bear for a large man holding a butcher knife, the problem changes in a few interesting ways, but the sudden appearance of free will in the brain of your attacker is not among them.
>
> Should you survive this ordeal, your subsequent experience is liable to depend—far too much, in my view—on the species of your attacker. Imagine the difference between seeing the man who almost killed you on the witness stand and seeing the bear romping at the zoo. If you are like many victims, you might be overcome in the first instance by feelings of rage and hatred so intense as to constitute a further trauma.


Exactly! You have some underlying ideas about the situation. Those
ideas affect your thinking.


In the bear example, your idea is that its not the responsibility of
the bear to not hurt you. He’s programmed by his DNA to want to kill
and eat you. So you’re not angry cause you think its not his fault.


In the human example, your idea is that it *is* his responsibility to
act morally and choose not to kill you. And you get angry about the
fact that he is an immoral piece of shit.


> You might spend years fantasizing about the man’s death. But it seems certain that your experience at the zoo would be altogether different. You might even bring friends and family just for the fun of it: “That’s the beast that almost killed me!” Which state of mind would you prefer—seething hatred or triumphant feelings of good luck and amazement? The conviction that a human assailant could have done otherwise, while a bear could not, would seem to account for much of the difference.


No. Its the *idea* that I described above.


> A person’s conscious thoughts, intentions, and efforts at every moment are preceded by causes of which he is unaware.


You *can* be unaware, sure. Those are subconscious ideas. But that
doesn’t mean those subconscious ideas have to stay subconscious. You
can discover them, i.e. make them conscious and explicit.


Also, many people have all but perfected their ability to fool themselves.


> What is more, they are preceded by deep causes—genes, childhood experience, etc.—for which no one, however evil, can be held responsible.


Wrong. Because you have the ability to discover those subconscious
ideas, you are responsible for doing so. Why? Because once you’ve
discovered them you can work to change them.


> Our ignorance of both sets of facts gives rise to moral illusions. And yet many people worry that it is necessary to believe in free will, especially in the process of raising children.
>
> This strikes me as a legitimate concern, though I would point out that the question of which truths to tell children (or childlike adults) haunts every room in the mansion of our understanding. For instance, my wife and I recently took our three-year-old daughter on an airplane for the first time. She loves to fly! As it happens, her joy was made possible in part because we neglected to tell her that airplanes occasionally malfunction and fall out of the sky, killing everyone on board. I don’t believe I’m the first person to observe that certain truths are best left unspoken, especially in the presence of young children. And I would no more think of telling my daughter at this age that free will is an illusion than I would teach her to drive a car or load a pistol.


Ah so Sam thinks its human nature that people are afraid of death.
This is not true. People *learn* to fear death. And parents can help
children learn to think about death and thus not fear it. I’ve
discussed death many times with my girls. I started by watching nature
shows with them so they can see death as a common thing. Now my 5 year
old comes to me and says (without emotion), “I know how I could lose
you, you could die from a car accident… or we could be in a forest
and a bear eats you.”


> Which is to say that there is a time and a place for everything—unless, of course, there isn’t. We all find ourselves in the position of a child from time to time, when specific information, however valid or necessary it may be in other contexts, will only produce confusion, despondency, or terror in the context of our life. It can be perfectly rational to avoid certain facts. For instance, if you must undergo a medical procedure for which there is no reasonable alternative, I recommend that you not conduct an Internet search designed to uncover all its possible complications. Similarly, if you are prone to nightmares or otherwise destabilized by contemplating human evil, I recommend that you not read Machete Season. Some forms of knowledge are not for everyone.
>
> Generally speaking, however, I don’t think that the illusoriness of free will is an ugly truth. Nor is it one that must remain a philosophical abstraction. In fact, as I write this, it is absolutely clear to me that I do not have free will. This knowledge doesn’t seem to prevent me from getting things done. Recognizing that my conscious mind is always downstream from the underlying causes of my thoughts, intentions, and actions does not change the fact that thoughts, intentions, and actions of all kinds are necessary for living a happy life—or an unhappy one, for that matter.
>
> I haven’t been noticeably harmed, and I believe I have benefited, from knowing that the next thought that unfurls in my mind will arise and become effective (or not) due to conditions that I cannot know and did not bring into being.


You can know. You can discover your subconscious ideas.


> The negative effects that people worry about—a lack of motivation, a plunge into nihilism—are simply not evident in my life. And the positive effects have been obvious. Seeing through the illusion of free will has lessened my feelings of hatred for bad people.


I too don’t hate bad people. But its not because I think they aren’t
responsible. They *are* responsible. Its just that they haven’t
figured out what to do and how to do it.


> I’m still capable of feeling hatred, of course, but when I think about the actual causes of a person’s behavior, the feeling falls away.


Same for me. Except that one of the causes is one’s own free will.


> It is a relief to put down this burden, and I think nothing would be lost if we all put it down together. On the contrary, much would be gained.


I disagree. I think what would be lost is that people would stop
trying to better themselves. If you believe you aren’t responsible for
your actions/thoughts/emotions, then you won’t think about changing
them. Its a self-fulfilling prophecy.

[...continued in next post…]

[ Edited: 19 January 2013 05:41 AM by Rami Rustom]
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Posted: 10 September 2012 10:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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[... continued from previous post…]


> We could forget about retribution and concentrate entirely on mitigating harm. (And if punishing people proved important for either deterrence or rehabilitation, we could make prison as unpleasant as required.)


Retribution is a bad idea. You can know that its a bad idea without
rejecting free will. Retribution means punishment that is considered
morally right. Its false. No punishment is good. No one gains anything
by it. Punishment doesn’t cause learning (like learning better moral
ideas and thus bettering one’s behavior).


> Understanding the true causes of human behavior does not leave any room for the traditional notion of free will.


This is wrong as I’ve explained above.


> But this shouldn’t depress us, or tempt us to go off our diets. Diligence and wisdom still yield better results than sloth and stupidity. And, in psychologically healthy adults, understanding the illusoriness of free will should make divisive feelings such as pride and hatred a little less compelling.


Well it does in Sam and I guess it would in many people. But, pride
and hatred are wrong for reasons other than the false idea that free
will is illusory.


> While it’s conceivable that someone, somewhere, might be made worse off by dispensing with the illusion of free will, I think that on balance, it could only produce a more compassionate, equitable, and sane society.


And now we see why Sam thinks free will doesn’t exist. First he
guessed the idea that free will doesn’t exist (or he read that someone
guessed it), and then he noticed himself become *less prideful* and
*less hateful* (which happen to be ideas that he believes are good),
and so that helped him believe that free will doesn’t exist, because
he liked his new self-image more than his old one. So his emotions
corroborated his *free will doesn’t exist* theory.


—Rami

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Posted: 12 December 2012 02:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Most of your “refutals” are merly you assertaining that choice and free will exists. You seem to have completely missed the point Sam is trying to make.
I suggest you spend some time investigating your own experience of free will. If you look at your own mind closely enough the illusion becomes apparent. Just go see for your self.

 

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Posted: 28 December 2012 10:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Someone posted a comment on my blog:

Anonymous December 28, 2012 2:15 AM

> Hi there! I noticed in reading this article—and I don’t mean for you to take offense to this—but I couldn’t help notice that you must be very dumb. I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard this and it may be the case that others who have noticed this fact about you have insisted that being dumb leads to, say, unhappiness, no friends, being a loser. And so I understand if you react to the label of “dumb” by attempting to prove that you’re, in fact, not dumb by coming on here and posting your ideas. I’m here to tell you—and not in a facetious way—that it’s okay to be dumb. Being dumb doesn’t disqualify you from being loved and from living a worthwhile life. In the future, when confronted with a task that requires some thinking (e.g. discussing psychiatric disorders, discussing philosophy, voting for a president), make sure to remember that the idea that you are about to have is probably wrong. I think that that will help you out in the long run.


And I replied:

Rami Rustom December 28, 2012 11:56 AM

> Why should I take offense? You’ve said nothing substantive. And even if you did say something substantive, why would I take offense? Either your criticism is correct, in which case I’ve just learned that I was mistaken and I’ve fixed my mistake, or your criticism is wrong, in which case I will criticize your criticism helping you see your mistake. This is good, not bad.
>
> But you didn’t provide me with any (substantive) criticism. A criticism is an explanation of a flaw in an idea. You did not provide me with any explanations of any flaws in my ideas. All you did was assert that I’m dumb, thereby implying that many of my ideas are flawed. So you’ve left me with no way of criticizing your unspoken criticisms.
>
> So who’s the dumb one? The person that says nothing substantive while asserting that someone else is dumb or me?

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Posted: 16 January 2013 07:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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I am reading a lot of posts where people seem to be misunderstanding what Dr. Harris means with regards to the illusion of free will.

Decisions, intentions, efforts, goals, willpower, etc., are causal states of the brain, leading to specific behaviors, and behaviors lead to outcomes in the world. Human choice, therefore, is as important as fanciers of free will believe. But the next choice you make will come out of the darkness of prior causes that you, the conscious witness of your experience, did not bring into being. Therefore, while it is true to say that a person would have done otherwise if he had chosen to do otherwise, this does not deliver the kind of free will that most people seem to cherish— because a person’s “choices” merely appear in his mind as though sprung from the void. From the perspective of your conscious awareness, you are no more responsible for the next thing you think (and therefore do) than you are for the fact that you were born into this world.

Harris, Sam (2012-03-06). Free Will (pp. 34-35). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.


We are not a thinker thinking thoughts, rather thoughts arise in consciousness, of which we are a witness, leading to behaviors due to a chain of cause and effect that in theory could be traced backward through our life experiences, our birth, untold generations of our ancestors, formation of the solar system and the earth, back and back and back, through all of evolutionary time and space to the big bang itself. Where is the free will in that?

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Posted: 17 January 2013 06:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Cypher - 16 January 2013 07:57 PM

I am reading a lot of posts where people seem to be misunderstanding what Dr. Harris means with regards to the illusion of free will.

Decisions, intentions, efforts, goals, willpower, etc., are causal states of the brain, leading to specific behaviors, and behaviors lead to outcomes in the world. Human choice, therefore, is as important as fanciers of free will believe. But the next choice you make will come out of the darkness of prior causes that you, the conscious witness of your experience, did not bring into being. Therefore, while it is true to say that a person would have done otherwise if he had chosen to do otherwise, this does not deliver the kind of free will that most people seem to cherish

Most people don’t understand the relationship between the conscious and the subconscious, so I can see why they would confuse the idea of free will to mean that one has direct control over his subconscious.

Cypher - 16 January 2013 07:57 PM

— because a person’s “choices” merely appear in his mind as though sprung from the void. From the perspective of your conscious awareness, you are no more responsible for the next thing you think (and therefore do) than you are for the fact that you were born into this world.

Harris, Sam (2012-03-06). Free Will (pp. 34-35). Simon & Schuster, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

No. Lets say a guy hits his wife. Say he judges hitting to be bad, but he did it while angry, and regretted it afterwards. The relevant question is not whether or not he could have chosen better in the past, but rather what he should do in the future. He should realize that he has a problem. He should not fool himself into denying that he has a problem. He should take big steps to solve this problem. This might include seeking professional help, and/or reading books on anger, psychology, etc. With this sort of real effort, he can solve his problem. Part of the solution will involve having identified some of his subconscious ideas that are causing his anger reactions, and changing them, thus changing his emotional habit of anger.

Cypher - 16 January 2013 07:57 PM

We are not a thinker thinking thoughts, rather thoughts arise in consciousness, of which we are a witness, leading to behaviors due to a chain of cause and effect that in theory could be traced backward through our life experiences, our birth, untold generations of our ancestors, formation of the solar system and the earth, back and back and back, through all of evolutionary time and space to the big bang itself. Where is the free will in that?

Consider my hypothetical above. If the guy puts in effort to solve his problem (and solves it), he won’t hit his wife again. If he doesn’t put in effort to solve his problem, then he won’t solve his problem, and he’ll hit his wife again. Its his choice (to put in effort or not). This is free will. Or do you disagree that he has a choice?

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Posted: 17 January 2013 07:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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I don’t disagree that he has a choice. He does choose. But where does that choice come from?

If a man’s choice to hit his wife is determined by a certain pattern of neural activity, which is in turn the product of prior cause — say perhaps he himself was beaten as a child —  Why was he beaten as a child? Because he broke his mother’s mirror. Why or how did he break his mother’s mirror? Because of Z. Why did Z occur? Because of Y. Why did Y occur? Because of X. Why did X occur? And so on… back into the opaque mists of time. What can it possibly mean to say that his will is “free”?

If a man’s choice to NOT hit his wife again is determined by a certain pattern of neural activity, which is in turn the product of prior causes — perhaps because he realized he himself had been abused — Why had he been abused or why did he realize this? Because of Z. Why did Z occur? Because of Y. Why did Y occur? Because of X. Why did X occur? And so on… back into the opaque mists of time. Again, what can it possibly mean to say that his will is “free”?

The truth is the causal chain is not in reality that simplistic - there are umpteen reasons or causes which branch out and encompass the entire universe when it gets right down to it.

BTW, have you stopped beating your wife? Yes or No.

[ Edited: 17 January 2013 07:53 AM by Cypher]
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Posted: 17 January 2013 07:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Cypher - 17 January 2013 07:23 AM

I don’t disagree that he has a choice. He does choose. But where does that choice come from?

If a man’s choice to hit his wife is determined by a certain pattern of neural activity, which is in turn the product of prior cause — say perhaps he himself was beaten as a child —  Why was he beaten as a child? Because he broke his mother’s mirror. Why or how did he break his mother’s mirror? Because of Z. Why did Z occur? Because of Y. Why did Y occur? Because of X. Why did X occur? And so on… back into the opaque mists of time. What can it possibly mean to say that his will is “free”?

If a man’s choice to NOT hit his wife again is determined by a certain pattern of neural activity, which is in turn the product of prior causes — perhaps because he realized he himself had been abused — Why had he been abused or why did he realize this? Because of Z. Why did Z occur? Because of Y. Why did Y occur? Because of X. Why did X occur? And so on… back into the opaque mists of time. Again, what can it possibly mean to say that his will is “free”?

The truth is the causal chain is not in reality that simplistic - there are umpteen reasons or causes which branch out and encompass the entire universe when it gets right down to it.

What is the significance of your explanation?


Are you saying that the guy that hits his wife is not responsible for his actions? That he’s not even responsible, going forward, for solving his problems that are causing his actions?


If you answer ‘yes he is responsible’, then what is the point of your explanation?


What problem does it solve? What does it say about responsibility? What does it say about morality?


What does it say about how the law should be applied to criminal situations? And what about non-criminal situations like someone having suicidal and/or homicidal thoughts?

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Posted: 17 January 2013 08:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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Cypher - 17 January 2013 07:23 AM

. . . Again, what can it possibly mean to say that his will is “free”?

The truth is the causal chain is not in reality that simplistic - there are umpteen reasons or causes which branch out and encompass the entire universe when it gets right down to it.

BTW, have you stopped beating your wife? Yes or No.

Yes or no, indeed. I realize your last sentence is a play on words, Cypher. But lots of people seem to view real issues in terms of yes/no, black/white, right/wrong, funny/sad, clean/dirty, etc., as the list goes on and on. Harris seems to view the individual’s freedom to choose as being an empty illusion, yet useful in some way that I must admit doesn’t add up very well for me.


People either act with absolute freedom of will or we lack any freedom of will whatsoever? That sounds like a shallow shell of a hypothesis, lacking anything approaching maturity or wisdom. Few things in this world are entirely this or that, especially philosophical ponderings, wouldn’t you say? Dogmatists feel differently.

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Posted: 17 January 2013 08:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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The significance of my explanation is this: If an infinite regress in which our actions are determined by character and our character determined by prior actions then determinism is true, and we are not free. Ultimately, the guy is not responsible, but that doesn’t mean to say he should not be punished for his actions. The punishment is just another cause. What effect will this have on our wife beater? He may straighten up his act and be paroled early and go on the lecture circuit or he may become even more despondent in prison and kill his cell mate and be given the death penalty. Who knows? Who cares? It doesn’t change a thing other than one’s perspective. Perhaps you will become a little more compassionate or perhaps you will just freak out because it means that, ultimately, neither you or anybody else is really in control.  With regards to morality, read “The Moral Landscape”.  Also, I am NOT a Lawyer or a Psychologist. I am an amateur philosopher just like everybody else.

BTW, have YOU stopped beating your wife? Answer Yes or No please.

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Posted: 17 January 2013 08:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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nv - 17 January 2013 08:33 AM

Few things in this world are entirely this or that, especially philosophical ponderings, wouldn’t you say? Dogmatists feel differently.

You got that right nv. Personally, I don’t see a problem. If determinism is true I will still continue to live my life, as If I have free will, knowing that everything happens for a reason but without the need for a god to explain it all. And, as a result, I may just be a bit kinder to my fellow travellers knowing that we are all in this thing together. We are all like fleas on a hot griddle, and the flea who falls must jump, and the flea who jumps must fall.

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Posted: 17 January 2013 09:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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Cypher - 17 January 2013 08:34 AM

The significance of my explanation is this: If an infinite regress in which our actions are determined by character and our character determined by prior actions then determinism is true, and we are not free.

You’re mistaken.

Cypher - 17 January 2013 08:34 AM

Ultimately, the guy is not responsible, but that doesn’t mean to say he should not be punished for his actions.

What problem does punishment solve? Does it help him learn that he made a mistake? Does it help him learn what problem he has that led to the mistake?

Do you think that a parent should say to their kids that they are “ultimately not responsible”?

Do you think that a parent should punish his kids?

Cypher - 17 January 2013 08:34 AM

The punishment is just another cause.

Punishment is evil. Are you advocating punishment?

Cypher - 17 January 2013 08:34 AM

What effect will this have on our wife beater?

Do you know the answer to that?

Do you think he’ll learn? How do you think learning works? Do you think punishment is conducive to learning?

Cypher - 17 January 2013 08:34 AM

He may straighten up his act and be paroled early and go on the lecture circuit or he may become even more despondent in prison and kill his cell mate and be given the death penalty. Who knows?

In advance, no one can know. Do you agree?

Cypher - 17 January 2013 08:34 AM

Who cares?

I’m sure lots of people care, like the people getting hurt by it.

Cypher - 17 January 2013 08:34 AM

It doesn’t change a thing other than one’s perspective. Perhaps you will become a little more compassionate or perhaps you will just freak out

In a philosophical discussion, why would anyone freak out?

And why did you only give emotional reactions as possible outcomes? What about reason?

Cypher - 17 January 2013 08:34 AM

because it means that, ultimately, neither you or anybody else is really in control.

I don’t agree with your assertion that we are not “really in control”.

Cypher - 17 January 2013 08:34 AM

With regards to morality, read “The Moral Landscape”.

Are you deferring to that book because you don’t know?

If you don’t know, and if you also don’t know about how your free will theory connects with psychological and legal issues, then what *do* you know about how your free will theory connects to the rest of reality?

Cypher - 17 January 2013 08:34 AM

  Also, I am NOT a Lawyer or a Psychologist. I am an amateur philosopher just like everybody else.

I know many amateur philosophers who discuss legal and psychological matters.

Cypher - 17 January 2013 08:34 AM

BTW, have YOU stopped beating your wife? Answer Yes or No please.

You shouldn’t mistake hypothetical situations for reality. Philosophers routinely use hypothetical situations in discussion. Its a tradition.

I routinely use hypotheticals that involve evil ideas, like *punishment is evil*.

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Posted: 18 January 2013 07:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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Rami, you ask some good questions, but I am now convinced, after looking at your blog, that you are looking for answers which only confirm what you already believe to be true. I am finished with this discussion.

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Posted: 18 January 2013 07:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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Cypher - 18 January 2013 07:27 AM

Rami, you ask some good questions, but I am now convinced, after looking at your blog, that you are looking for answers which only confirm what you already believe to be true. I am finished with this discussion.


Huh? My blog doesn’t tell you that. It says the opposite. For example, this is one of my quotes:


> We are all fallible—anyone of us can be wrong about any one of our ideas. So shielding any one of my ideas from criticism means irrationally believing that I have the truth.


This is talking about situations where someone is being close-minded about an idea.


You’ve just said that my blog tells you that I am “looking for answers which only confirm what I already believe to be true.” I read that as you calling me closed-minded about an idea (or ideas). Is that what you mean?


If so, which idea(s) do you think I’m being closed-minded about? If I’m being closed-minded about an idea, I want to fix it, so please show me my blind spot.


If you didn’t mean that I’m being closed-minded about an idea, then what did you mean?

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Posted: 19 January 2013 05:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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Cypher - 17 January 2013 08:53 AM

Personally, I don’t see a problem. If determinism is true I will still continue to live my life, as If I have free will,

If you think you are not ultimately responsible for your actions, then how do you choose? Do you act on your whims without considering the possible consequences? Or do you take responsibility for your actions by judging the efficacy of your proposed actions?

Cypher - 17 January 2013 08:53 AM

knowing that everything happens for a reason

What does “everything happens for a reason” mean? I’m asking because I’ve only seen that phrase in the context of an omniscient being that plans out our lives—you know, destiny. Do you believe in destiny?

Cypher - 17 January 2013 08:53 AM

but without the need for a god to explain it all.

Huh? I don’t believe in destiny AND I don’t believe in the existence of a god or gods. Are you saying that you *want* an explanation that says “everything happens for a reason”? Why do you *want* an explanation like that? What problem does it solve (for you)?

Cypher - 17 January 2013 08:53 AM

And, as a result, I may just be a bit kinder to my fellow travellers knowing that we are all in this thing together.

Why don’t you “be a bit kinder to your fellow travelers” for the purpose of being kinder to your fellow travelers? Why do you need this anti-freewill concept to help you do that?

Cypher - 17 January 2013 08:53 AM

We are all like fleas on a hot griddle, and the flea who falls must jump, and the flea who jumps must fall.

Humans are not like fleas, at least not in any relevant sense, especially not in the context of a discussion on free will. Fleas do not have the capacity for reason, while humans do.

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Posted: 19 January 2013 01:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
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Rami, I am not anti-free will. How can I be against something I think is unreal to begin with? I am for using Science to reveal the underlying Reality of the Universe, whatever that may be, using facts, reason and logic. I think you are still missing the point of Dr. Harris’ original argument. It seems to me you are actually proving the point about the illusion of free will with your incessant questioning. The regress argument, which is another problem in philosophy, states that any proposition requires a justification and any justification itself requires further support. This means that any proposition whatsoever can be endlessly (infinitely) questioned, like a child who continues to ask “why?” over and over again. In the same way, any choice or decision you make requires a cause, reason or justification and any cause, reason or justification itself requires further support. It would seem then that Free Will would entail an infinite regress of intentional states. Where does the buck stop? The only way to escape from such regress would be by postulating some arbitrary intentional starting state. Are you saying that you are the uncaused cause and the unmoved mover of yourself? That is what the religionists or theists call God. Are you God? Nevermind that question because I don’t believe in God either.

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