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Determinism and moral responsibility

 
Halo2040
 
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Halo2040
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02 February 2013 18:57
 

Hi everyone,

I would like to introduce myself since I’m new to this forum.  I just came from Sam Harris’ other forum which didn’t get many responses.  I was told that this place is more active, so I’m going to give it a whirl.  I’m interested in discussing the topic of determinism relative to moral responsibility because it seems like one negates the other, therefore there’s been no resolution on this issue.  I am glad to be in the company of people who already believe in determinism for the most part.  But this seems to be the crux of the problem between these two positions, and continues to be an unsolvable factor that has eluded the most well-respected philosophers.  It goes something like this:  If man’s will is not free, he is not responsible for what he does, and if he’s not responsible for what he does, he is given a free pass.  This is the elephant in the room and doesn’t sit right with the majority of society. 

I have compiled a book (7 books to be exact) that helps to solve the conundrum of moral responsibility in a deterministic world.  The verdict is encouraging.  The author passed away in 1991 at the age of 72.  I own the rights to his work and I am doing everything I can to bring it to light.  I am also glad that there is tolerance in this forum for many different points of view and that there are moderators who will not tolerate unprovoked ad hominems.  I’ve been on quite a few of these type forums and there aren’t many names I haven’t been called.  I’m not that thick skinned so these comments have a lingering effect (which I get over after a good night’s sleep. wink )  The point I’m making is that nothing good comes from it.  Therefore, I will only attempt conversations with people who are civil and can contain themselves.  We all deserve that much respect regardless of our worldviews.

[ Edited: 18 April 2013 17:57 by MARTIN_UK]
 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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02 February 2013 19:39
 

Greeting and salutations, Halo.

The issue you raise isn’t really much of an issue and can be destroyed is a single line argument, no need for 7 books.

The very simple answer is that if man can’t be held resposible for his actions how can he be held responsible for holding others responsible for theirs (i.e. not giving them a free pass). 

That whole argument that if we are not free we can’t hold people accountable for their actions is inconsistent and self contradicting and pointless. Why people continue to use it is beyond me, but determined I suppose.

Welcome!

 
 
Halo2040
 
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Halo2040
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02 February 2013 19:56
 
GAD - 02 February 2013 06:39 PM

Greeting and salutations, Halo.

The issue you raise isn’t really much of an issue and can be destroyed is a single line argument, no need for 7 books.

The very simple answer is that if man can’t be held resposible for his actions how can he be held responsible for holding others responsible for theirs (i.e. not giving them a free pass). 

That whole argument that if we are not free we can’t hold people accountable for their actions is inconsistent and self contradicting and pointless. Why people continue to use it is beyond me, but determined I suppose.

Welcome!

The books were all on the same subject.  The author just tried to simply the concepts but it turned out to be too simplified, so I tried to put the most important parts of each of his books back together again.  Kind of like Humpty Dumpty.  grin

That’s a good point:  He isn’t being held responsible for holding others responsible for their actions, but if he realizes that holding people responsible is not bringing about the desired effect, he may desire not to hold people responsible of which he cannot be held responsible.  That was a mouthful. lol   I hope you stick around to learn what this is about.  Last but not least, thank you for the warm welcome.

 
 
Halo2040
 
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Halo2040
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02 February 2013 19:58
 
Nhoj Morley - 02 February 2013 06:43 PM

Greetings again, Mr. Halo.


Good luck.

Thank you!  I’m not a Mr, I’m a Ms.  wink

 
 
EN
 
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02 February 2013 20:15
 
halo2040 - 02 February 2013 05:57 PM

If man’s will is not free, he is not responsible for what he does, and if he’s not responsible for what he does, he is given a free pass.  This is the elephant in the room and doesn’t sit right with the majority of society.

No, he is not given a free pass. Even though his will is not free, society (at the very least) will force him in some way to either conform or to lose what ever freedom he has.  A rapist may not be responsible for what he does, as he is just the end result of a long line of causative factors. However, other people, who are also the end result of a long line of causative factors, don’t like to be raped or don’t like their female loved ones to be raped. The rapist doesn’t get a free pass - he is confronted by the others who don’t like what he is doing. And thus he is forced to conform, in some way, to societal norms, or he’s locked up. No free pass. And this process is all part of the deterministic universe. It is tilted in favor of moral norms, which can be interpreted as supportive of a theistic world view, or, alternatively, it can be viewed as simply the end result of natural selection.  Take your pick.

 
GAD
 
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02 February 2013 20:16
 
halo2040 - 02 February 2013 06:56 PM

That’s a good point:  He isn’t being held responsible for holding others responsible for their actions, but if he realizes that holding people responsible is not bringing about the desired effect, he may desire not to hold people responsible of which he cannot be held responsible.

How could he choose otherwise wink

I hope you stick around to learn what this is about.

I’m here year round and do two shows daily and 3 on Sundays.

 
 
GAD
 
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02 February 2013 20:25
 
Ecurb Noselrub - 02 February 2013 07:15 PM
halo2040 - 02 February 2013 05:57 PM

If man’s will is not free, he is not responsible for what he does, and if he’s not responsible for what he does, he is given a free pass.  This is the elephant in the room and doesn’t sit right with the majority of society.

No, he is not given a free pass. Even though his will is not free, society (at the very least) will force him in some way to either conform or to lose what ever freedom he has.  A rapist may not be responsible for what he does, as he is just the end result of a long line of causative factors. However, other people, who are also the end result of a long line of causative factors, don’t like to be raped or don’t like their female loved ones to be raped. The rapist doesn’t get a free pass - he is confronted by the others who don’t like what he is doing. And thus he is forced to conform, in some way, to societal norms, or he’s locked up. No free pass. And this process is all part of the deterministic universe. It is tilted in favor of moral norms, which can be interpreted as supportive of a theistic world view, or, alternatively, it can be viewed as simply the end result of natural selection.  Take your pick.

I feel another 100 page thread coming on full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

 
 
EN
 
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02 February 2013 20:35
 
GAD - 02 February 2013 07:25 PM

I feel another 100 page thread coming on full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

That’s what we do around here, isn’t it?

 
GAD
 
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02 February 2013 20:42
 
Ecurb Noselrub - 02 February 2013 07:35 PM
GAD - 02 February 2013 07:25 PM

I feel another 100 page thread coming on full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

That’s what we do around here, isn’t it?

LOL, 3 points on that!

 
 
helal
 
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helal
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02 February 2013 21:46
 

Greetings miss Halo (I’m glad Nhoj got the Mr. faux pas out of the way).  Determinism is a term that gets thrown around a lot often without getting pinned down to a specific meaning.  I wonder if you could put into a nut shell what determinism means to you.  I know definitions are cheap and easy to come by, every dictionary having several.but the term is nuanced and multifaceted enough that its meaning in any particular context shouldn’t be taken for granted.

 
Halo2040
 
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Halo2040
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02 February 2013 21:59
 
Ecurb Noselrub - 02 February 2013 07:15 PM
halo2040 - 02 February 2013 05:57 PM

If man’s will is not free, he is not responsible for what he does, and if he’s not responsible for what he does, he is given a free pass.  This is the elephant in the room and doesn’t sit right with the majority of society.

No, he is not given a free pass. Even though his will is not free, society (at the very least) will force him in some way to either conform or to lose what ever freedom he has.  A rapist may not be responsible for what he does, as he is just the end result of a long line of causative factors. However, other people, who are also the end result of a long line of causative factors, don’t like to be raped or don’t like their female loved ones to be raped. The rapist doesn’t get a free pass - he is confronted by the others who don’t like what he is doing. And thus he is forced to conform, in some way, to societal norms, or he’s locked up. No free pass. And this process is all part of the deterministic universe. It is tilted in favor of moral norms, which can be interpreted as supportive of a theistic world view, or, alternatively, it can be viewed as simply the end result of natural selection.  Take your pick.

It is true that everything we do is a result of causative factors, including holding someone responsible for wrongdoing.  But the implications of determinism are such that if man’s will is 100% not free, how can he be held blameworthy?  Since this impasse of “no blame”, which is the corollary of determinism, has eluded philosophers down through the ages, they came up with compatibilism which solved this apparent dilemma.  According to this worldview, we can believe in determinism but at the same time we can blame and punish.  How nifty is that?  There’s only one problem:  Determinism and free will are mutually exclusive positions.  We cannot be free and unfree at the same time, but compatibilists don’t seem to be bothered by the contradiction.

 
 
Halo2040
 
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02 February 2013 22:27
 
jboo - 02 February 2013 08:46 PM

Greetings miss Halo (I’m glad Nhoj got the Mr. faux pas out of the way).  Determinism is a term that gets thrown around a lot often without getting pinned down to a specific meaning.  I wonder if you could put into a nut shell what determinism means to you.  I know definitions are cheap and easy to come by, every dictionary having several.but the term is nuanced and multifaceted enough that its meaning in any particular context shouldn’t be taken for granted.

Hi jboo.  Feel free to call me Halo without the Miss, although I’m glad we got the gender thing straightened out.  You’re right that definitions can be cheap and come a dime a dozen.  The definition the author has proposed was based on years and years of careful observation.  In other words, definitions mean nothing where reality is concerned.  They explain reality or they do not, and as such they are either useful or they are not.  There is a lot of information I want to share but I can’t post too much at one time.  I’m a little shell shocked coming from a forum that tore this book to pieces.  I understand there is a lot of skepticism due to his claims, but it got to the point that group think determined this author was wrong and nothing I said was going to change their opinion.  They believed there was a modal fallacy to his reasoning (which is not true), and they also said that he had no proof, just assertions since he did not use the scientific method of empirical testing.  How could he have used this methodology when he did not start out with a hypothesis in which data is collected?  This in no way indicates that his observations were flawed, or that his reasoning was not completely sound.

I want to add here that this does not mean I don’t welcome critical analysis, or that people can’t ask questions.  I don’t expect people to agree with something they aren’t sure about, or to try to appease me so as not to hurt my feelings.  Don’t worry, I can handle it.

[ Edited: 02 February 2013 22:33 by Halo2040]
 
 
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02 February 2013 22:59
 
halo2040 - 02 February 2013 08:59 PM

It is true that everything we do is a result of causative factors, including holding someone responsible for wrongdoing.  But the implications of determinism are such that if man’s will is 100% not free, how can he be held blameworthy?  Since this impasse of “no blame”, which is the corollary of determinism, has eluded philosophers down through the ages, they came up with compatibilism which solved this apparent dilemma.  According to this worldview, we can believe in determinism but at the same time we can blame and punish.  How nifty is that?  There’s only one problem:  Determinism and free will are mutually exclusive positions.  We cannot be free and unfree at the same time, but compatibilists don’t seem to be bothered by the contradiction.

OK, but “blame” doesn’t even need to come into the picture. Whether a criminal is to blame or not is irrelevant from a moral standpoint. He’s acting in a way that is detrimental to the health and well being of others, so he either has to be rehabilitated or put away. May not be his fault that he’s a psychopath, but he’s going to get locked up, one way or the other. I don’t think anyone’s will is completely free, so compatibilism is not even a possible choice for me.

 
GAD
 
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02 February 2013 23:00
 
halo2040 - 02 February 2013 08:59 PM

  But the implications of determinism are such that if man’s will is 100% not free, how can he be held blameworthy?

But if he is blamed and the implications of determinism are such that if man’s will is 100% not free,, how can he NOT be held blameworthy?

Sorry I know you have a book and all that you want to go through, but right here is the impasse, you say that I can’t hold someone accountable for their actions if their (mans) actions aren’t free, but that means my actions aren’t free and like they had no choice in their actions neither do I in mine. The two sides of the argument cancel each other out.

 
 
nv
 
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02 February 2013 23:17
 
GAD - 02 February 2013 10:00 PM
halo2040 - 02 February 2013 08:59 PM

  But the implications of determinism are such that if man’s will is 100% not free, how can he be held blameworthy?

But if he is blamed and the implications of determinism are such that if man’s will is 100% not free,, how can he NOT be held blameworthy?

Sorry I know you have a book and all that you want to go through, but right here is the impasse, you say that I can’t hold someone accountable for their actions if their (mans) actions aren’t free, but that means my actions aren’t free and like they had no choice in their actions neither do I in mine. The two sides of the argument cancel each other out.

Is no one ever able to make a choice, GAD? That doesn’t sound right, considering ordinary dictionaries’ definitions and synonyms, such as “select.”

 
 
GAD
 
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02 February 2013 23:36
 
nonverbal - 02 February 2013 10:17 PM
GAD - 02 February 2013 10:00 PM
halo2040 - 02 February 2013 08:59 PM

  But the implications of determinism are such that if man’s will is 100% not free, how can he be held blameworthy?

But if he is blamed and the implications of determinism are such that if man’s will is 100% not free,, how can he NOT be held blameworthy?

Sorry I know you have a book and all that you want to go through, but right here is the impasse, you say that I can’t hold someone accountable for their actions if their (mans) actions aren’t free, but that means my actions aren’t free and like they had no choice in their actions neither do I in mine. The two sides of the argument cancel each other out.

Is no one ever able to make a choice, GAD? That doesn’t sound right, considering ordinary dictionaries’ definitions and synonyms, such as “select.”

You are free to chose but not what you chose?

 
 
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