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Thread: Free will: The new religion?

  1. #1
    Senior Member Lurker's Avatar
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    Free will: The new religion?

    Any one-size-fits all chant or slogan indicates weakness. If you do that shit, stop.

    It may feel empowering to believe that you are in control of your life, but you are only up to a point. Each of us is limited by our physical and mental capacity. We all live in cages; some of us are lucky enough to wander and explore more than others.

    This is a given in academia, but I'm sure someone will argue against it here.

    So....the icky question is: How can we hold a brain damaged developmentally slow person responsible for his actions. Yes, justice and resolution appeals to people, but none of that is real. It's just a feeling.

    Right and wrong... does understanding the dictionary definition translate to real life? Memorization isn't application.

    A few random thoughts.


  2. #2
    Amen P-O's Avatar
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    Free will is a very old religion.

    My post from the other thread is relevant, so i'll post it here.
    Quote Originally Posted by Deckard View Post
    To what degree can our actions be considered our choice?
    I think if looked at carefully, this question turns out to be bordering on nonsense. Agency isn't something that can be proven. It exists by definition. It's axiomatic.

    You can start with the axiom that citizens are persons (Agents), in which case everybody is entirely responsible for their actions. Inherent in the assumption of personhood is the idea that people have a mind that is somehow distinct from the physical world; or at least a mind that is the starting point from which our actions follow.

    Alternatively you can start with the premise that people are merely physical processes. In this case, you have no need to talk about people or persons. There's just "what will be the behavior of this object named dekard". You will never derive the existence of a person. It's a fundamentally different way to evaluate the meaning of events.

    You will tell me that the latter is factually true: People's actions follow from events outside of their control. My response is that neither position is counterfactual. It's not about the facts of the situation. It's about the perspective from which we evaluate. And I think, even from the second perspective, it's better for society to evaluate the situation using the first perspective.



    Edit: So I guess applying the logic to the OP: The brain damaged mentally slow is either a person who is responsible for his actions, or he is not a person and consequently, not responsible
    Last edited by P-O; 01-13-2017 at 11:07 AM.
    Violence is never the right answer, unless used against heathens and monsters.

  3. #3
    Now we know... Asteroids Champion ACow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lurker View Post
    Any one-size-fits all chant or slogan indicates weakness. If you do that shit, stop.

    It may feel empowering to believe that you are in control of your life, but you are only up to a point.
    This sounds a bit wishy washy to me. Up to a point? What does that "up to a point" mean? Surely either its all determined or its not! Stand by your convictions man, you are not responsible for anything and neither are any of us!

    So....the icky question is: How can we hold a brain damaged developmentally slow person responsible for his actions. Yes, justice and resolution appeals to people, but none of that is real. It's just a feeling.
    Surely brain damaged and developmentally slow is just a relative position.

    To a sufficiently smart human being, wouldn't the average person appear brain damaged and developmentally slow? And to an even greater being?

    No! Stand up and own your fatalism! None of us are responsible for our actions! It is the only defensible position.

    That being said...

    Its a remarkable fatalistic universe. Its managed to arrive at a form that not only apparently erroneously (and presumably necessarily) believes it is capable of choice and comprehending oneself, but which is able to highly correlate these vestigial/useless and irrelevant misconceptions at point of time T1 with the state of the world at T2, and to do it widely, regularly and repeatedly. "I" say this fleshy arm thing will raise in 10 seconds, and lo and behold, even though there is no actual agency in place that either made me have that thought, need to have that thought, or in the subsequent raising of the arm in 10 seconds time, and yet in 10 seconds it still happens. The fatalistic universe seems to have collapsed into a sort of psychic-physical-echo and self-other-referential models capable of remarkable flexibility and relationships of complex patterns through time and space.
    Last edited by ACow; 01-14-2017 at 01:24 AM.

  4. #4
    (╯□)╯︵ ┻━┻ Deckard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by P-O View Post
    Free will is a very old religion.

    My post from the other thread is relevant, so i'll post it here.

    I think if looked at carefully, this question turns out to be bordering on nonsense. Agency isn't something that can be proven. It exists by definition. It's axiomatic.

    You can start with the axiom that citizens are persons (Agents), in which case everybody is entirely responsible for their actions. Inherent in the assumption of personhood is the idea that people have a mind that is somehow distinct from the physical world; or at least a mind that is the starting point from which our actions follow.

    Alternatively you can start with the premise that people are merely physical processes. In this case, you have no need to talk about people or persons. There's just "what will be the behavior of this object named dekard". You will never derive the existence of a person. It's a fundamentally different way to evaluate the meaning of events.

    You will tell me that the latter is factually true: People's actions follow from events outside of their control. My response is that neither position is counterfactual. It's not about the facts of the situation. It's about the perspective from which we evaluate. And I think, even from the second perspective, it's better for society to evaluate the situation using the first perspective.



    Edit: So I guess applying the logic to the OP: The brain damaged mentally slow is either a person who is responsible for his actions, or he is not a person and consequently, not responsible
    I suspect we agree on a lot of the fundamentals here, and let's dispense with the use of "free will" and all the baggage that it comes with for now: Do you see a meaningful distinction in the nature / degree of agency between a simple computer program, a more advanced (non-self-aware) AI and a human brain? Does the ability to reflect on our decisions, analyse our thoughts & feelings and run through scenarios and outcomes in our head alter the kind/degree of agency or personal responsibility we have?

  5. #5
    Member DaDaMan's Avatar
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    Old religion but still elusive, everyone talks about it but no one gets it.

  6. #6
    Amen P-O's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deckard View Post
    I suspect we agree on a lot of the fundamentals here, and let's dispense with the use of "free will" and all the baggage that it comes with for now: Do you see a meaningful distinction in the nature / degree of agency between a simple computer program, a more advanced (non-self-aware) AI and a human brain? Does the ability to reflect on our decisions, analyse our thoughts & feelings and run through scenarios and outcomes in our head alter the kind/degree of agency or personal responsibility we have?
    Yes I think we will 100% agree on this issue in terms of the basic ideas. Yes, in an abstract sense, I think it makes sense to say there are degrees of responsibility depending on degree of consciousness. But this notion of responsibility is distinct from the social responsibility that people take on as part of a society.

    Our disagreement lies in the philosophy/practicalities of where we draw the lines for social/legal purposes.
    Violence is never the right answer, unless used against heathens and monsters.

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    Senior Member Starjots's Avatar
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    I don't get what discussion you are trying to elicit, but your title is catchy.

    Personally I've come to realize that (weak) free will is my religion. It's an act of faith on my part to believe people actually make choices every now and then. It's one of the axioms on which everything else is built.

    Speaking of one size fits all slogans, my latest which I deploy sparingly is 'you either believe in (weak) free will or you don't.' I find it kind of disgusting how some serial fuck ups have to find Jesus before they can control themselves. On the other hand, finding free will is just as much an act of faith, so perhaps my contempt is misplaced.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lurker View Post
    Any one-size-fits all chant or slogan indicates weakness. If you do that shit, stop.

    It may feel empowering to believe that you are in control of your life, but you are only up to a point. Each of us is limited by our physical and mental capacity. We all live in cages; some of us are lucky enough to wander and explore more than others.
    I'll have you know I'm a Secular Humanist! Also, what is this cage you speak of? I'm a free spirited, unscannable hippy.

    So....the icky question is: How can we hold a brain damaged developmentally slow person responsible for his actions. Yes, justice and resolution appeals to people, but none of that is real. It's just a feeling.
    Don't forget mentally ill people. It's shameful we haven't progressed very far in mental healthcare. Inadequate facilities for the mentally ill, very low functioning autism, etc. Who takes care of these individuals who are unable to care for themselves when their family/caretaker dies? I have a friend facing this challenge right now with her 20 year old son.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lurker View Post
    Any one-size-fits all chant or slogan indicates weakness. If you do that shit, stop.

    It may feel empowering to believe that you are in control of your life, but you are only up to a point. Each of us is limited by our physical and mental capacity. We all live in cages; some of us are lucky enough to wander and explore more than others.
    I'll have you know I'm a Secular Humanist! Also, what is this cage you speak of? I'm a free spirited, unscannable hippie.

    So....the icky question is: How can we hold a brain damaged developmentally slow person responsible for his actions. Yes, justice and resolution appeals to people, but none of that is real. It's just a feeling.
    Don't forget mentally ill people. It's shameful we haven't progressed very far in mental healthcare. Shitty caregivers/nurses, inadequate and often times deplorable facilities for the mentally ill, very low functioning autism, etc. Who takes care of these individuals who cannot care for themselves when their family/caretaker dies? I have a friend facing this challenge right now with her 20 year old son. I'll ask her if she chooses free will to help make her decision.

  10. #10
    Married Mouth-breather JohnClay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lurker View Post
    ....It may feel empowering to believe that you are in control of your life, but you are only up to a point. Each of us is limited by our physical and mental capacity. We all live in cages; some of us are lucky enough to wander and explore more than others....
    If we don't think we have free will then we wouldn't keep our eyes open for other choices. If there are parallel histories then different versions of ourselves that make different decisions. The one we are is from chance. Otherwise there is only one future and whatever we eventually choose is inevitable - but we don't know our choice until our decision making process has ended so it seems "free".

    So....the icky question is: How can we hold a brain damaged developmentally slow person responsible for his actions. Yes, justice and resolution appeals to people, but none of that is real. It's just a feeling.
    Often they would be put in an institution which implies they aren't responsible for all of their actions. If they are given the death penalty that is similar to killing a shark - a shark can't help its behaviour and it is done for revenge and ensuring it doesn't happen again.

    Right and wrong... does understanding the dictionary definition translate to real life? Memorization isn't application.
    Have you heard of Kohlberg's stages of moral development?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lawren...al_development
    The stage they're at is what they have internalized.

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