• Paine
    2k

    Nor can any blame be assigned to slander, deceit, or cheating. In this imagined polity, EJ Carroll can only defame herself. Her telling a person to stop could be a way for the attacker to hear go. Each will only hear the sound of one hand clapping. It would make Hobbe's state of nature look like a knitting club.
  • NOS4A2
    8.3k

    If agent's actions were actually determined by "nothing outside the agent," then it should be the case that agent's actions have no relation to the world. You seem to be engaged in a strange sort of variation of Ryle's Regress.

    The agent can affect the world and be affected by the world by virtue of him being embedded within it. But the genesis of all his acts occur within him.

    Why is sharing words a human right?

    It’s how we communicate with one another. We converse to survive, to mate, to live and to enjoy living. It’s a necessary part of the human condition. But as mentioned censorship is a double violation. Not only do you deny the speaker’s right to speak but also everyone else’s right to hear it.

    We respond to threats because survival may depend on it. Evolution has gifted us the ability to fear threats, and rightfully so. So while the state is not responsible for my taking their threat seriously (or not), it is responsible for the threats, for letting us know it will punish us should it not like what we say, and any subsequent acts it makes towards those ends.

    You may not see this as a problem until you end up burning at the stake. You can be forgiven for not speaking because someone threatened you, but the state cannot be forgiven for issuing these threats.

    The rest about being shot and tortured does not apply because no one shoots or tortures another with words. Kinetic force is not in doubt here.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2k


    But the genesis of all his acts occur within him.

    So the genesis — begining — of the process that ends up with the bank teller giving the robber the money begins with the teller, not the robber? This seems implausible on the face of it if the teller would never have given the robber the money but for being threatened.

    So while the state is not responsible for my taking their threat seriously (or not), it is responsible for the threats, for letting us know it will punish us should it not like what we say, and any subsequent acts it makes towards those ends.

    According to your own statements this is impossible. The state can never be responsible for anything. With what arms does the state beat a protestor? How can a state tie anyone to a stake?

    If all actions have their begining and end with the individual agent as you say, it is impossible for a state to be responsible for any such actions. Individual executioners might kill, but not states. Laws might mandate death, but they are words and thus cannot cause any human action. Thus, even if we allow that some forms of censorship are bad, laws mandating execution for speaking of certain things can only be neutral as they can never cause anyone to die. Plus, to preclude such laws from being proclaimed would itself be a form of censorship, which is never justifiable because words can never cause anything.

    but the state cannot be forgiven for issuing these threats.

    It doesn't seem that, by your reasoning, a state even can issue threats. Only people issue threats, right? With what mouth would a state proclaim threats? With what hands might it write them?

    Nor can states wage war. Only individuals wage war right? And all the causes of individuals waging war begin and end with the individual. Very strange then that they should all come to begin waging war at once though. One might wonder, from whence comes this coordination?

    In any event, it seems we must allow that if the managers of any state want to pass a law proclaiming that all schools shall teach the supremacy of the Aryan race and the need to subjugate or destroy all other peoples, they should be allowed to do so. After all, such laws cannot cause anything to be taught or not taught by teachers, and to preclude such laws from being promulgated would be to "steal" them from their audience and posterity.

    Kinetic force is not in doubt here.

    You might want to consider how sound waves propagate. As it stands, your reasoning seems absolutely riddled with contradictions.
  • NOS4A2
    8.3k


    So the genesis — begining — of the process that ends up with the bank teller giving the robber the money begins with the teller, not the robber? This seems implausible on the face of it if the teller would never have given the robber the money but for being threatened.

    That’s right, because the teller could also do otherwise. The teller could also not give the money, trip the alarm, run away, or perform any number of other acts. How does your chain of causation account for this if all subsequent actions are determined by the threat?

    How does your chain of causation skip between human beings, even while they are from a distance from one another? Does the light bouncing from the weapon hit the retina, leading to a predetermined chain of causation throughout her biology until it ends in her handing over the money?

    Your account sounds implausible on basic physical and biological grounds.

    According to your own statements this is impossible. The state can never be responsible for anything. With what arms does the state beat a protestor? How can a state tie anyone to a stake?

    If all actions have their begining and end with the individual agent as you say, it is impossible for a state to be responsible for any such actions. Individual executioners might kill, but not states. Laws might mandate death, but they are words and thus cannot cause any human action. Thus, even if we allow that some forms of censorship are bad, laws mandating execution for speaking of certain things can only be neutral as they can never cause anyone to die. Plus, to preclude such laws from being proclaimed would itself be a form of censorship, which is never justifiable because words can never cause anything.

    The state is composed of and run by individuals. So it’s not impossible. And those that censor according to law do so because they believe in the law and seek to enforce it. One can be confident that they will enforce it because they are employed to do so, not because the words and laws are running things in their brains.

    And one needn’t evoke action at a distance or magical thinking to account for this. No one needs to pretend that a law can force someone to abide by it simply because they read it. According to your reasoning, writing the law should be enough. So long as the law is “don’t fight each other” we’ll have world peace.

    It doesn't seem that, by your reasoning, a state even can issue threats. Only people issue threats, right? With what mouth would a state proclaim threats? With what hands might it write them?

    Nor can states wage war. Only individuals wage war right? And all the causes of individuals waging war begin and end with the individual. Very strange then that they should all come to begin waging war at once though. One might wonder, from whence comes this coordination?

    In any event, it seems we must allow that if the managers of any state want to pass a law proclaiming that all schools shall teach the supremacy of the Aryan race and the need to subjugate or destroy all other peoples, they should be allowed to do so. After all, such laws cannot cause anything to be taught or not taught by teachers, and to preclude such laws from being promulgated would be to "steal" them from their audience and posterity.

    Why would you allow them to do so? It’s such a weird non-sequitur. Of course any objection or dissent wouldn’t matter according to your reasoning. Everyone would follow along because they received their instructions. The chain of causation has begun and the end is predetermined.

    You might want to consider how sound waves propagate. As it stands, your reasoning seems absolutely riddled with contradictions.

    I did in the opening post. “The actual physical and biological effects, such as a sound vibration hitting the cochlea and its subsequent movements throughout the anatomy, do not match the presumed effects, like the incitement of a behavior or emotion. Moreover, the presumed effects vary wildly according to who listens to the words and rarely (if ever) according to what is said.”

    Your account is chalked full of magical thinking, I’m afraid. It’s tantamount to sorcery. But given your special powers can’t you just make me agree with the force of your words?
  • wonderer1
    1.7k
    It’s tantamount to sorcery.NOS4A2

    I personally think, that in your specific case, it may be best to leave you thinking so.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2k


    The state is composed of and run by individuals. So it’s not impossible. And those that censor according to law do so because they believe in the law and seek to enforce it. One can be confident that they will enforce it because they are employed to do so, not because the words and laws are running things in their brains.

    But how do they know what they are being employed to do without words and laws? How do they know what their job entails? It can't be because they read a law or were told something by a superior, right? Because if they do X because they think X is their job, and they only think that X is part of their job because of Y, a verbal communication, it's unclear to me how Y plays no causal role in their acts. It also seems strange that words can't cause human action while an abstract concept like employment can.

    So how do people learn what their jobs entail or what their superiors want them to do?

    Given your explanations, it still seems like only individuals, not states can be held responsible for actions. If the teller can have any response to being threatened, how is it not the case that citizens might have any response to a state decree? If state decrees cannot cause actions, how can states be responsible for citizens' actions?

    The whole, "words cannot play a causal role in other's actions," bit would imply that most war criminals are completely innocent. After all, most high Soviet and Nazi officials never shot a single person. In general, they weren't even speaking to the people who actually carried out the atrocities. They told a subordinate, "liquidate all the Polish officers in the camps," and that person told someone else, who commanded a fourth person to carry out the executions.

    If words have no causal force though, how is the initiator of the mass executions responsible? It would seem that if words are, as you say, inefficacious, then Hitler, who never killed a single Jew with his own hands, must be absolved of responsibility for the Holocaust.

    Likewise, fraud cannot be a crime. Fraud and deception involve getting people to do things they would not have done otherwise but for your words. But fraud seems quite impossible in most of its forms. How does a fraudster cause a senior to send them money by posing as a family member in distress? They can't, their only contact with the victim is via causally inefficacious words sent over a phone!

    The actual physical and biological effects, such as a sound vibration hitting the cochlea and its subsequent movements throughout the anatomy, do not match the presumed effects, like the incitement of a behavior or emotion. Moreover, the presumed effects vary wildly according to who listens to the words and rarely (if ever) according to what is said.”

    Would you agree that sound waves propagate deterministically such that one part in the process can be said to cause later ones?

    Does the skin of the ear drum vibrate deterministically in accordance with the laws of classical physics that predict the behavior of classical scale objects?

    But if these all function deterministically, with a clear causal chain, where in "the brain," does determinism stop? If it doesn't stop, if the brain responds deterministically like the rest of the physical world, if it is not a sui generis substance, then it would seem that causal chains can absolutely be traced from sound waves to actions.

    That you think this is impossible, that the same physical input can lead to myriad outputs vis-á-vis the brain, would seem to be the magical thinking here. If the causes determining acts in the brain only begin with the individual, then it seems we have a sui generis causal power attached to brains that exists nowhere else in nature (and which has yet to be observed in brains either).

    Further, the genesis of human action, if it springs into existence inside the brain with no reference to prior physical states, would seem to eliminate the possibility of free will. After all, if the genesis of human action is determined by nothing that exists prior to that genesis, then it can have nothing to do with who we are, our memories, preferences, desires, etc., since those pre-exist our actions.
  • NOS4A2
    8.3k


    So how do people learn what their jobs entail or what their superiors want them to do?

    People communicate with each other. If you’ve learned a language you can understand the language and words coming out of someone’s mouth. What causes you to hear words? the words or your ears? What causes you to understand the language, a lifetime of learning and understanding the language or the words?

    The whole, "words cannot play a causal role in other's actions," bit would imply that most war criminals are completely innocent. After all, most high Soviet and Nazi officials never shot a single person. In general, they weren't even speaking to the people who actually carried out the atrocities. They told a subordinate, "liquidate all the Polish officers in the camps," and that person told someone else, who commanded a fourth person to carry out the executions.

    There is definitely a dilemma there. But I think it's the other way about. Many war criminals have used your defense, for instance at the Nuremberg trials, that they were just following orders. They weren’t partners to the crime, they were subordinate to the words of another, and therefor innocent. Your doctrine implies people can get away with war crimes, and in fact it was used as such a defense numerous times.

    You could just say the superiors were guilty for what they had done, which was ordering the liquidation of all Polish officers at the camp. I’m not sure the fact they didn’t pull the trigger makes the organization of mass murder any less of a crime.

    Would you agree that sound waves propagate deterministically such that one part in the process can be said to cause later ones?

    Yes.

    Does the skin of the ear drum vibrate deterministically in accordance with the laws of classical physics that predict the behavior of classical scale objects?

    it does, as far as I know.

    But if these all function deterministically, with a clear causal chain, where in "the brain," does determinism stop? If it doesn't stop, if the brain responds deterministically like the rest of the physical world, if it is not a sui generis substance, then it would seem that causal chains can absolutely be traced from sound waves to actions.

    Not sui generis, but causa sui. Once the soundwave hits the ear the chain is over. That's when the biology takes over. Whatever energy is left over is fully under the direction and operation of the biology, and the biology is the sole determining factor in the entire interaction. The energy doesn't direct the body, or determine its motions; the body directs the energy, determines what happens to it. The body converts the wave into mechanical energy, eventually transducing them into electrical energy, and so on. The structures, the processes, the movements, the manipulation of the energy into various forms, are causa sui, all fully determined by the body and nothing besides. The biology and the scope of its operations has been fine-tuned to perform these tasks over millions of years of evolution. We can't just throw it aside and say it provides no determining factor in the lifespan of a soundwave.

    Further, the genesis of human action, if it springs into existence inside the brain with no reference to prior physical states, would seem to eliminate the possibility of free will. After all, if the genesis of human action is determined by nothing that exists prior to that genesis, then it can have nothing to do with who we are, our memories, preferences, desires, etc., since those pre-exist our actions.

    The opposite is the case. If an action is self-caused it would eliminate the possibility of determinism because the genesis of an action cannot be shown to begin elsewhere.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2k



    There is definitely a dilemma there. But I think it's the other way about. Many war criminals have used your defense, for instance at the Nuremberg trials, that they were just following orders. They weren’t partners to the crime, they were subordinate to the words of another, and therefor innocent. Your doctrine implies people can get away with war crimes, and in fact it was used as such a defense numerous times.

    I have not expressed a "doctrine." I have expressed what follows from your claim that "words cannot cause people to act."

    This is not an either/or distinction, either the person who pulls the trigger is responsible for the executions OR the person who ordered them is. You can have an account where both are culpable and culpable in varrying degrees, and such an account seems eminently reasonable here. We should not be forced into claiming that either Hitler is a war criminal or the SS officer who butchered Jewish civilians is, but not both. Both can be war criminals in virtue of the same atrocity, just as no individual player/coach is ever responsible for winning a basketball game.

    You could just say the superiors were guilty for what they had done, which was ordering the liquidation of all Polish officers at the camp.

    But in virtue of what is giving an order a crime? If giving verbal commands can never cause someone else to carry out an execution, because verbal commands can never cause anyone to carry out any act, I don't see how you can justify making "giving verbal commands," a crime.

    I have no problem calling it a crime because I believe it's completely reasonable to claim that the ordering of the executions and their being carried out are causally connected. But per your claim that words can never cause action, there is no way in which giving a verbal order could cause a person hearing the order to carry out an execution.

    This makes verbal orders completely harmless, and if something is completely harmless, why is it a crime? Further, it would seem to go against the total prohibition on censorship you claimed followed as a result of the fact that words were harmless. Now you're down with trying people for war crimes provided they've made certain utterances to certain people. It certainly seems like you can no longer maintain that words are always harmless.

    That's when the biology takes over. Whatever energy is left over is fully under the direction and operation of the biology, and the biology is the sole determining factor in the entire interaction.

    And biology isn't consistent with physics?

    We can't just throw it aside and say it provides no determining factor in the lifespan of a soundwave.

    No one ever said we should throw it aside. You seem stuck on a sort of binary thinking here. Either a given input, say hearing an utterance, absolutely determines the output (behavior) or else hearing an utterance can have absolutely no causal input on behavior.

    The point you raised before about different people responding different ways to words doesn't demonstrate that "words have no influence on behavior." Even in the physics of balls bouncing into one another, the properties of the ball being hit by another ball determines how it behaves in response. All people are different. Why should we expect that they all respond to words in identical fashion?

    If an action is self-caused it would eliminate the possibility of determinism because the genesis of an action cannot be shown to begin elsewhere.

    Yes, it would eliminate determinism. Free will and determinism are not binaries. An absence of determinism does not imply the presence of free will. Where is free will in a random universe?

    Further, causes that are based on nothing, the spring spontaneously into being, are arbitrary and random. If our actions are arbitrary and random, they are not "ours" and so we lack free will. Certainly, our bodies act non-deterministically, but it cannot be we who determine what they do if the causes of our actions depend on nothing that exists before the act occurs.
  • NOS4A2
    8.3k


    I have not expressed a "doctrine." I have expressed what follows from your claim that "words cannot cause people to act."

    This is not an either/or distinction, either the person who pulls the trigger is responsible for the executions OR the person who ordered them is. You can have an account where both are culpable and culpable in varrying degrees, and such an account seems eminently reasonable here. We should not be forced into claiming that either Hitler is a war criminal or the SS officer who butchered Jewish civilians is, but not both. Both can be war criminals in virtue of the same atrocity, just as no individual player/coach is ever responsible for winning a basketball game.

    The doctrine I am speaking about is your defense that words are responsible for a person’s actions. If the words are responsible, how can the officer be responsible? If the words cause him to act, how can he be responsible for acting?

    It is either/or. Either the words caused him to act or they didn’t.

    And biology isn't consistent with physics?

    It is. It’s just that the body is not a Rube Goldberg machine.

    The point you raised before about different people responding different ways to words doesn't demonstrate that "words have no influence on behavior."

    Now we’ve moved from “cause” to “influence”. I’ve called into question the word “influence” in the original post and I must request that we avoid using it (and its various synonyms) because of its figurative upbringing and the action at a distance it implies.

    Why should we expect that they all respond to words in identical fashion?

    We shouldn’t. They are different people. The question is, given the doctrine that words are responsible for a person’s actions, why would they respond so differently to the same cause, the words? Did the word come at their ear drums of at a different angle?

    Yes, it would eliminate determinism. Free will and determinism are not binaries. An absence of determinism does not imply the presence of free will. Where is free will in a random universe?

    Further, causes that are based on nothing, the spring spontaneously into being, are arbitrary and random. If our actions are arbitrary and random, they are not "ours" and so we lack free will. Certainly, our bodies act non-deterministically, but it cannot be we who determine what they do if the causes of our actions depend on nothing that exists before the act occurs.

    The causes are not based on nothing, but on the being itself. If the genesis of an act begins in the actor it implies the presence of free will for the simple reason that the actor determines his own actions and nothing else does. Moreover. if he determines his own actions they are not arbitrary, but rather, they are the acts of a highly-evolved organism, many of them decided without him even noticing, even at the cellular level.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    2k


    The doctrine I am speaking about is your defense that words are responsible for a person’s actions. If the words are responsible, how can the officer be responsible? If the words cause him to act, how can he be responsible for acting?

    Ok, so since Hitler never murdered anyone, and wasn't even in the room when anyone was murdered, he cannot be a criminal. All he did was speak words. If we cannot ever make speech illegal, because speech has no power to cause harm, then leaders are rarely if ever war criminals. Except you have stated that you do sometimes want people punished for speaking certain words...

    It's that or we do make some speech illegal, for instance giving orders to carry out war crimes, while simultaneously maintaining that speech can never cause war crimes to be carried out. Thus, in one breath we declare the harmlessness of the crime, it's absolute inability to have led to any deaths, and with the other we condemn for speaking then.

    It is either/or.

    Tell me, when a plant grows, is it the rain that causes the growth, or the sun? When a solar panel charges an RV, is it the sun's light that causes the charging, or the person who put the solar panel out, or the solar panel itself?

    I'm curious, can a dog's master calling its name cause a dog to come to him? Or are animals also causally uneffected by words?

    If you're unable consider that events have multiple causal elements, or to distinguish between necessary and sufficient causes, you're going to end up with an extremely confused concept of causation.

    We shouldn’t. They are different people. The question is, given the doctrine that words are responsible for a person’s actions, why would they respond so differently to the same cause, the words? Did the word come at their ear drums of at a different angle?

    I can't help your confusion here. It seems like it should be obvious that doing the same thing to different objects doesn't result in the same effects. Are you equally confused by how you can throw the same baseball (cause) at both a wall and a window and only the window responds by breaking? Why does the same cause have disparate effects?

    But you seem to be saying that for words to play any causal role in people's actions the same words should have the same effect on all people. This is like stating that a baseball, if it breaks a window, should shatter everything it is thrown at. Different objects respond to the same causes in different ways.
  • NOS4A2
    8.3k


    Ok, so since Hitler never murdered anyone, and wasn't even in the room when anyone was murdered, he cannot be a criminal. All he did was speak words. If we cannot ever make speech illegal, because speech has no power to cause harm, than leaders are rarely if ever war criminals.

    It's that or we do make some speech illegal, like giving orders to carry out war crimes, while simultaneously maintaining that speech can never cause war crimes to be carried out. Thus, in one breath we declare the harmlessness of the crime, it's absolute inability to have led to any deaths, and with the other we condemn for speaking then.

    He led the Nazi party, which is responsible for millions of murders and war crimes. One doesn’t need to believe speech causes harm and pushes people to do things in order to believe this.

    Tell me, when a plant grows, is it the rain that causes the growth, or the sun? When a solar panel charges an RV, is it the sun's light that causes the charging, or the person who put the solar panel out, or the solar panel itself?

    I'm curious, can a dog's master calling its name cause a dog to come to him? Or are animals also causally uneffected by words?

    If you're unable consider that events have multiple causal elements, or to distinguish between necessary and sufficient causes, you're going to end up with an extremely confused concept of causation.

    I’m curious: since the rooster crows before the sun comes out, does the rooster cause the sun to come out?

    Is a dog’s master calling his name responsible for if dog runs away? Is the leader who orders a soldier to kill an enemy the cause of him refusing?

    Relationships and correlations and the fact that one event occurs before another is not enough to show causation.

    I can't help your confusion here. It seems like it should be obvious that doing the same thing to different objects doesn't result in the same effects. Are you equally confused by how you can throw the same baseball (cause) at both a wall and a window and only the window responds by breaking? Why does the same cause have disparate effects?

    But you seem to be saying that for words to play any causal role in people's actions the same words should have the same effect on all people. This is like stating that a baseball, if it breaks a window, should shatter everything it is thrown at. Different objects respond to the same causes in different ways.

    No, I’m not confused much about the physics. What I am confused about is your suggestion that you can move larger objects with words, like human beings and dogs, but cannot even make a leaf or feather tremble under the might of your voice.

    So why don’t we just test your theory? We’re already half way there. You’ve caused my eyes to read your words. You’ve caused me to consider your arguments and I guess you’ve caused me to disagree.. So let’s see it through. We can name any act you think you are able to make me perform and through the power of your words you can make me perform it. Go make me do something silly. Let’s have some fun with it.
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