• litewave
    569
    It's about as self evident to reason that rape is wrong as that 2 + 2 = 4. Thus some acts are wrong.Bartricks

    I agree that rape is wrong (except perhaps for extreme situations where it would be the only way to enable survival of mankind by reproduction). But I have a reason for thinking so: rape causes needless suffering to the woman. I think that the facts of "right" and "wrong" are derived from the experience of pain and pleasure.
  • Bartricks
    3.9k
    For my argument - the ought from is one - to go through, an act needs to be wrong or possibly wrong. So the argument goes through. You can get enough from an is. Easily. We don't need to discuss which normative theory is correct.
  • TheMadFool
    11.9k
    XingSolarWind

    Xing fu - was there the other day. The company was top notch - a judge, an environmental engineer, a surgeon, and two businessmen, and a lady with her baby - but the food could've been better although I quite liked the soup.
  • Bartricks
    3.9k
    The correct normative theory is pluralism. There are a host of features that typically make actions wrong, not just one (sometimes an act is wrong because it causes suffering; sometimes an act is wrong because it hasn't been consented to; sometimes an act is wrong because it expresses a bad character trait; and so on). Hence the partial credibility of consequentialist, deontological and virtue-based theories. The bottom line is that for the most part our rational intuitions about an auction's moral status are our most reliable guide. You don't need a theory to know a wrong act when one is described to you. And it would be perverse to judge an act wrong because one's favourite normative theory predicts that it will be, if one's rational intuitions- and the rational intuitions of informed others - says otherwise.
    The exception is when we have good independent reason to distrust our rational intuitions about certain sorts of activity. If, for instance, one lives in a culture in which, say, homophobic attitudes are constantly promoted, then one's intuitions about the morality of same sex relations should be viewed with suspicion, especially if the denizens of other cultures do not share the same rational intuitions. That's when theorizing has a role.

    But anyway, to bring this back to the topic at hand: hard determinism entails that we lack all obligations, as free will is surely something obligations require? Yet as we clearly do have obligations, hard determinism should be rejected. For any case for hard determinism will have a premise less plausible than that we are obliged not to do x, where x is some clearly wrong act.
  • Bartricks
    3.9k
    So if no woman wants to procreate, you think rape is now right? My reason says that'd be wrong.
    The human species isn't a human. It doesn't die and you can't kill it and it has no interests. It does not experience pleasure or pain and it has no will.
    Obligations are more clearly owed to persons than species. But anyway, if people freely decide not to procreate, no wrong has been done. And it'd be wrong to make them breed - very wrong.
  • litewave
    569
    So if no woman wants to procreate, you think rape is now right? My reason says that'd be wrong.
    The human species isn't a human. It doesn't die and you can't kill it and it has no interests. It does not experience pleasure or pain and it has no will.
    Bartricks

    Ok, but if mankind went extinct it would cancel the opportunity for further human experiences and their evolution. Surely it would prevent a lot of experiences of pain but also of pleasure, which are apparently more prevalent (since most people value life more than death).
  • litewave
    569
    But anyway, to bring this back to the topic at hand: hard determinism entails that we lack all obligations, as free will is surely something obligations require?Bartricks

    Why? Obligations are just something we want to fulfill to avoid pain of punishment or conscience. They seem compatible with the fact that ultimately all our acts are completely determined by factors that are out of our control.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    938
    Correct. Inclination is any internal force that drives, though does not compel, you to do something.
  • litewave
    569
    Correct. Inclination is any internal force that drives, though does not compel, you to do something.Samuel Lacrampe

    You think that the power of will can overcome any inclination to sleep?
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    938
    [...] A low frequency of recidivism, on the other hand, would mean we can override our "programming."TheMadFool
    Indeed, I think that may work. The following assumptions would have to be true:
    1. The inclination for recidivism would always or almost always have to be present.
    2. If free will exists, many criminals would freely choose to not repeat the crimes.

    we can compare humans with artificial entitiesTheMadFool
    That sounds correct. The robot would have to be virtually the same as the human subject in every way - e.g. same memories, inclinations, situation, etc. - minus free will.

    Hopefully there exist arguments on free will that don't rely on waiting on this level of technology haha.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    938
    Yes, as along as that the drive to sleep is merely an inclination and not a necessity. E.g. if you pass out from exhaustion, then this is too strong to be an inclination.
  • litewave
    569
    Yes, as along as that the drive to sleep is merely an inclination and not a necessity. E.g. if you pass out from exhaustion, then this is too strong to be an inclination.Samuel Lacrampe

    Why would it matter how strong an inclination is if free will is not a force? You said that free will is not a force and can choose against all inclinations no matter their intensity.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    938
    Inclination is an "internal force", not in the sense of a physical force F=ma, but a drive, desire, or temptation. Free will can resist temptations no matter how strong, but not physical forces like lifting boulders. Passing out from exhaustion would be more like a physical force.
  • litewave
    569
    Inclination is an "internal force", not in the sense of a physical force F=ma, but a drive, desire, or temptation. Free will can resist temptations no matter how strong, but not physical forces like lifting boulders. Passing out from exhaustion would be more like a physical force.Samuel Lacrampe

    Inclination is not a physical force? But inclination to fall asleep is a physical force in the brain. All physical forces give acceleration to mass and their strength is equal to acceleration x mass.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    938
    There is a difference between falling asleep because you choose to, and falling asleep because you have to. Example of the former: you could work late but have no desire for it, and decide to go to bed instead. Example of the latter: You fall asleep from being awake for 3 days. Free will can resist the former but not the latter.
  • litewave
    569


    Let's clarify what you are saying. Free will can overcome an internal force in the brain, such as inclination to fall asleep, no matter how strong the internal force is, but only up to a certain point of strength of the internal force. If the internal force is stronger than this point, free will cannot overcome it. Is that what you mean? If so, why would there be such a point in the strength of the internal force?
  • TheMadFool
    11.9k
    [...] A low frequency of recidivism, on the other hand, would mean we can override our "programming."
    — TheMadFool
    Indeed, I think that may work. The following assumptions would have to be true:
    1. The inclination for recidivism would always or almost always have to be present.
    2. If free will exists, many criminals would freely choose to not repeat the crimes.

    we can compare humans with artificial entities
    — TheMadFool
    That sounds correct. The robot would have to be virtually the same as the human subject in every way - e.g. same memories, inclinations, situation, etc. - minus free will.

    Hopefully there exist arguments on free will that don't rely on waiting on this level of technology haha.
    Samuel Lacrampe

    The ability to negate/say no to is the key to freedom and thus, by extension, also free will. To comply/agree/say yes to means one has surrendered to forces beyond oneself and to the will of others, basically losing one's autonomy.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    938
    Hmmm... Let's take a step back. A better description of inclination would be a drive towards pleasure and comfort, and away from pain and discomfort. If the drive to fall asleep in your example is purely a physical force and says nothing about comfort, then that drive is not an inclination.

    Maybe a better example: You have the choice to help a friend move or to watch a movie. You have an inclination towards the latter because it is more comfortable, but are still free to choose the former.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    938
    Was this meant to refute something that I have previously said? Otherwise, I agree with that description of free will. I would just add that you also have the ability to say yes to the will of others, if that is also your will.
  • TheMadFool
    11.9k
    Was this meant to refute something that I have previously said? Otherwise, I agree with that description of free will. I would just add that you also have the ability to say yes to the will of others, if that is also your will.Samuel Lacrampe

    Affirmation (yes) is what inanimate, non-free, objects do. They follow (comply with) the laws of nature - falling, flowing, breaking, etc. - and our will too - moving to wherever we wish and staying put until we decide to move them elsewhere.

    Animals to some extent but humans for certain are notoriously rebellious; not to say we don't obey rules/laws but we can, if we so desire, resist/defy any and all regulations, only fear keeping us in line as it were. Negation (no) then is what free will is about.
  • litewave
    569


    Drives towards pleasure and away from pain are constituted by forces in the brain (neurotransmitters, hormones, electrical signals). Even if we suppose there are also non-physical forces acting in the brain, these non-physical forces must cause physical forces in the brain in order to control the behavior of our physical bodies. So all physical acts of will, whether of physical or non-physical origin, are immediately caused by physical forces in the brain and are dependent on the strengths of these forces. If free will is something non-physical, then in order to overcome some physical force in the brain it must cause a greater counter-force in the brain.
  • Bartricks
    3.9k
    Two reasons First, to have any obligations one needs to be an agent. That is, one needs to be reason responsive - one needs, in other words, to be able to recognize and respond to normative reasons.

    To recognize that there are reasons to do things involves recognizing that one has options - that there are alternative possibilities available and thus one needs to consider what one has most reason to do or believe.

    Well, that's what taking oneself to be free involves. As Kant said, to act is to act under the idea of freedom. The very notion that we have obligations then, presupposes that we have free will, for one can't take seriously that one has any reason to do anything without presupposing alternative possibilities and the ability to select which one be actualized.

    Second, it is manifest to the reason of most that if you ought to do something, then you can do it. And if you ought not to do x, then you can refrain from doing it. As Kant said, 'ought implies can'.
    If, then, we have obligations, we have the possibility of not fulfilling them, and thus the possibility of doing and not doing them and the ability to select which one is the case.

    All you are doing is describing behaviour. And yes, one does not need free will to go through the motions, mental or otherwise. But one does seem to need it in order for any of one's behaviour to qualify as the fulfilling of, or violation of, an obligation. And it is plausible that unless some of one's behavior can so qualify, one does not have any obligations. That is, once more, because it seems a condition on having obligations that one is able to fulfill or fail to fulfill them.
  • litewave
    569
    To recognize that there are reasons to do things involves recognizing that one has options - that there are alternative possibilities available and thus one needs to consider what one has most reason to do or believe.Bartricks

    Yes, we choose the option that seems to maximize our pleasure and minimize our pain (according to our evaluation). We are programmed that way. An autonomous car is programmed to stop at red lights and go at green lights; it too has options when reaching a crossroad: stop, go, turn left, turn right...

    Second, it is manifest to the reason of most that if you ought to do something, then you can do it. And if you ought not to do x, then you can refrain from doing it.Bartricks

    An autonomous car is programmed to stop at red lights and usually it can do it. But if it malfunctions it can keep moving.

    What you call "obligations" can be rephrased as "programming", which doesn't require free will.
  • Bartricks
    3.9k
    Yes, we choose the option that seems to maximize our pleasure and minimize our pain (according to our evaluation). We are programmed that way. An autonomous car is programmed to stop at red lights and go at green lights; it too has options when reaching a crossroad: stop, go, turn left, turn right...litewave

    Well, that's a highly controversial and fairly obviously false pyschological thesis. It's not clear what bearing it has on the current issue - if we're programmed to behave in any way, then we lack free will in that respect and thus will lack any obligations. We'll engage in the behaviour, but none of it will qualify as satisfying or violating obligations. So you're talking past the issue.

    An autonomous car is programmed to stop at red lights and usually it can do it. But if it malfunctions it can keep moving.litewave

    Yes, and cars are not agents and do not have obligations. My car is not obliged to start when I turn the key, is it? When Basil Fawlty thrashed his car for breaking down, his behaviour was absurd (and therein lay the humour) precisely because he was treating his car as if it was an agent.

    The point is that if hard determinism is true - which it isn't - then we lack free will and thus lack obligations (not just moral ones either, but instrumental and epistemic ones as well).

    What I have done is explain why this would be the case: obligations presuppose free will. They presuppose possession of reason, and possessing reason means one acts under the idea of free will. And one is not obliged to do something unless one has the ability to do it or refrain from doing it - and so again, the notion of an obligation is intimately bound up with the notion of free will.

    One can have free will and no obligations, but one can't have obligations and no free will. So, if we have no free will, then we have no obligations.
  • litewave
    569
    Well, that's a highly controversial and fairly obviously false pyschological thesis.Bartricks

    Is it? If you mean cases where someone sacrifices his own pleasure for someone else or for some honorable principle, don't you think such a sacrifice has given him a good feeling of satisfaction that was worth the sacrifice and therefore prevailed over the sacrificed pleasure?

    It's not clear what bearing it has on the current issue - if we're programmed to behave in any way, then we lack free will in that respect and thus will lack any obligations.Bartricks

    We still have free will in the compatibilist sense.

    Yes, and cars are not agents and do not have obligations.Bartricks

    Obligations are just a special word for "programming" when referring to humans. We are driven by obligations like machines are driven by their programming. And we can fail to fulfill our obligations like machines can fail to work according to their programming (because of a malfunction, some external interference or a flaw in the program).

    My car is not obliged to start when I turn the key, is it?Bartricks

    The car is programmed to start when you turn the key, like we are programmed to fulfill our obligations.
  • Bartricks
    3.9k
    Is it? If you mean cases where someone sacrifices his own pleasure for someone else or for some honorable principle, don't you think such a sacrifice has given him a good feeling of satisfaction that was worth the sacrifice and therefore prevailed over the sacrificed pleasure?litewave

    Yes, it is highly controversial - it is known as psychological egoism and has virtually no defenders. It's exposed to so many prima facie counterexamples that it just isn't plausible.

    We still have free will in the compatibilist sense.litewave

    That's confused. If compatibilism is true, then hard determinism is false. This thread is about what hard determinism entails. So it must be granted that compatibilism is false, for compatibilism is incompatible with hard determinism (hard determinists are incompatibilists about free will).

    The car is programmed to start when you turn the key, like we are programmed to fulfill our obligations.litewave

    Question begging. We don't have any obligations if hard determinism is true. See earlier reasoning for why - reasoning you've not challenged.
  • litewave
    569
    Yes, it is highly controversial - it is known as psychological egoism and has virtually no defenders. It's exposed to so many prima facie counterexamples that it just isn't plausible.Bartricks

    What counterexamples? Like the one I gave about self-sacrifice?

    That's confused. If compatibilism is true, then hard determinism is false. This thread is about what hard determinism entails. So it must be granted that compatibilism is false, for compatibilism is incompatible with hard determinism (hard determinists are incompatibilists about free will).Bartricks

    Ok, so what is the difference between hard determinism and "ordinary" determinism (compatibilism)? Both views say that all our actions are ultimately completely determined by factors over which we have no control. The only difference seems to be a trivial one: compatibilists say that even in this situation we still have a capability called "free will" (because we can still do what we want) while hard determinists say that this capability is not worthy of being called "free will".

    Question begging. We don't have any obligations if hard determinism is true.Bartricks

    We still have our programming, which includes our obligations and everything else that motivates us.
  • Bartricks
    3.9k
    What counterexamples? Like the one I gave about self-sacrifice?litewave

    Yes, there are tons of them.

    Let's say I proposed that everyone is concerned for the welfare of others and does nothing out of self-interest at all. That's known as psychological altruism. Is it plausible? No. Sometimes - often - we appear to do things for the sake of ourselves alone, and sometimes - often - partially out of self-interest. ONe could reinterpret those cases as involving self-deception - but at that point one is following one's theory and not following the evidence. So, psychological egoism is no more or less plausible than psychological altruism - that is, not very plausible at all.

    The plausible thesis is banal: we are motived by other-directed and self-directed desires. Sometimes we do things for the sake of ourselves, sometimes for the sake or others or some cause or what-not; and sometimes a mixture.

    A thesis that says we are only subject to one class of desires - be they exclusively self-directed or other-directed - is implausible on its face (though it may tell one something about the proponent of the view, namely that they themselves are predominantly self-interested or predominantly altruistic, for it is hard to see why else, apart from confusion, they would find such a view prima facie plausible).
  • Bartricks
    3.9k
    Ok, so what is the difference between hard determinism and "ordinary" determinism (compatibilism)?litewave

    Compatibilism is not a form of determinism. Determinism is a thesis about how events are unfolding - it is the thesis that every event that occurs had to occur given the past and the laws of nature. It is not a theory about free will.

    Compatibilism is the view that free will is 'compatible' with determinism. So compatibilism isn't the view that determinism is true, or that it is false. It is a view about what can co-exist with what. (Many contemporary compatibilists are agnostic on whether determinism is true or not - they think it simply doesn't matter where free will is concerned, for we have it either way).

    The opposite of determinism is indeterminism.

    The opposite of compatibilism is incompatibilism.

    The incompatibilist believes that free will and determinism are incompatible. They do not, qua incompatibilist, take a stand on whether determinism is true or not.

    An incompatibilist who believes that we have free will and thus that determinism is false is known as a 'libertarian'. (Not to be confused with 'libertarian' in political philosophy).

    An incompatibilist who believes that determinism is true and thus that we lack free will is known as a 'hard determinist'.

    An incompatibilist who believes that determinism is false but that we still lack what is needed for free will is known as a 'hard incompatibilist'.

    Anyway, hard determinism is, by definition, incompatible with compatibilism.
  • Samuel Lacrampe
    938
    Again, I mostly agree. Now this may be splitting hair, but I wonder if it's worth making the distinction between passively following the will of others and willingly following it. What I have in mind is the Christian notion that ought to will the will of God. This act is different than a non-agent following the will of God in a deterministic way.
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