• Leontiskos
    1.6k
    It seems to me the issue for ethics isn’t freedom vs determinism, but what kind of freedom and what kind of determinism.Joshs

    Well, Hanover has already brought up the issue we are now discussing:

    Why am I morally responsible for X if I couldn't have done otherwise?Hanover

    Does Sapolski have anything to say to this issue?

    Let’s take , for instance , the neurobiologist Robert Sapolski’s determinatist account. His target is traditional views of free will , and his claim is that they justify a harsh, retributive justice because the free-willing individual is radically arbitrary with respect to an ordered system of natural forces.Joshs

    That seems mistaken to me, and would certainly require a great deal more argument. Unless Sapolski's target is Kantian freedom, in which case I tend to agree.

    But the exchange might look something like this:

    • Hanover: If I could have done otherwise, then I am morally responsible, and retributive justice is applicable.
    • Sapolski: Retributive justice is bad, and if it is applicable then there is a problem. Therefore I could not have done otherwise.

    If this is right then a curious shift is occurring, but I think Sapolski's value judgments take a back seat to Hanover's logical query. It is now quite common for people to oppose retributive justice per se and this would lead the logically consistent individual to deny moral responsibility and free will, but this seems to me grossly mistaken. In any case, Sapolski seems to agree with Hanover that <I am morally responsible iff I could have done otherwise>; it's just that whereas someone like Aquinas would use moral responsibility to affirm libertarian free will,* Sapolski would apparently deny libertarian free will in order that he might deny moral responsibility (because moral responsibility and the justification of retributive punishment go hand in hand).

    *
    Man has free-will: otherwise counsels, exhortations, commands, prohibitions, rewards, and punishments would be in vain.Aquinas, ST I.83.1
  • Hanover
    12.2k
    The agent's act had to be caused by something else, either deterministic or random. It couldn't have been caused by the agent himself."Leontiskos

    If every event has a cause, then the agent cannot be the originating cause because the concept of an originating cause makes no sense because that would be a event without a cause and we already said every event has a cause.

    But, if we are going to go with uncaused causes, then we're talking about neither determinism or indeterminism, but spontaneity, which means things just zap in and out of existence. If you ask me why I killed my neighbor, if my answer is that I did it because the spontaneity switch flipped, I don't see that I should be held responsible for that.

    And that brings up another issue. If I am a godlike creature with this ability to create as we might imagine God could, why should I be held responsible for my actions, considering I was just sort of given my godlike state by something else I didn't have control over?
  • frank
    14.7k

    Right. Free will is the idea that there are choices and you're responsible for what you pick. If there is only one choice, you have no responsibility.
  • Leontiskos
    1.6k
    If every event has a cause, then the agent cannot be the originating cause because the concept of an originating cause makes no sense because that would be a event without a cause and we already said every event has a cause.Hanover

    Oh? That's quite a syllogism you're stitching together. If you clean it up I think you will find that you are still begging the question. If I say that a certain event is caused by an agent then that event has a cause, namely the agent. So we're clearly not disagreeing on whether the event has a cause; you are merely asserting that an agent cannot be a cause of an event (and this begs the question I first raised). More precisely, you seem to be committed to the position that only events can cause events. Needless to say, an agent is not an event.

    But, if we are going to go with uncaused causes, then we're talking about neither determinism or indeterminism, but spontaneity, which means things just zap in and out of existence. If you ask me why I killed my neighbor, if my answer is that I did it because the spontaneity switch flipped, I don't see that I should be held responsible for that.Hanover

    This is the same false dilemma:

    I don't see it as rational to simply define agent causation out of existence. "Everything is either random or determined, therefore agent causation (and free will) do not exist." But why accept that everything is either random or determined? That premise seems clearly false. A basic datum of our experience is free agents who are the cause of their own acts (i.e. self-movers). An agent's free act is not uncaused; it is caused precisely by the agent.Leontiskos

    -

    And that brings up another issue. If I am a godlike creature with this ability to create as we might imagine God could, why should I be held responsible for my actions, considering I was just sort of given my godlike state by something else I didn't have control over?Hanover

    I think it makes sense to say that we are created in the imago dei, but Aristotle posited moral freedom without this idea, and so I don't think it is necessary.

    The proximate question here is whether everything must be either random or determined. Other questions come later, such as how morality works, or whether an infinite regress of event-causes makes any sense.

    The point being that there is no solution to the free will problem other than to just accept it as a necessary condition for comprehension of the world.Hanover

    There is no solution.Hanover

    What does it mean to say that there is no solution? What is "the problem" to which there is no solution?
  • Joshs
    5.3k


    Sapolski seems to agree with Hanover that <I am morally responsible iff I could have done otherwise>; it's just that whereas someone like Aquinas would use moral responsibility to affirm libertarian free will,* Sapolski would apparently deny libertarian free will in order that he might deny moral responsibility (because moral responsibility and the justification of retributive punishment go hand in hand).

    *
    Man has free-will: otherwise counsels, exhortations, commands, prohibitions, rewards, and punishments would be in vain.
    Leontiskos



    If blameful retributive justice is a function of a belief in the potential arbitrariness, randomness and capriciousness of motive, then what makes Cartesian desert-based approaches , which are assumed to arise from the deliberately willed actions of an autonomous, morally responsible subject, harsher and more ‘blameful' in their views of justice than deterministic , non-desert based modernist approaches and postmodern accounts, which rest on shaping influences (bodily-affective and social) outside of an agent's control? Aren't the latter accounts more ‘arbitrary' interpretations of behavior than the former? On the contrary, the very autonomy of the Cartesian subject presupposes a profound arbitrariness to free will. We say that the subject who has free will wills of their own accord, chooses what they want to choose , and as such has autonomy with respect to ‘foreign' social and internal bodily influences. The machinations of the free will amount to a self-enclosed system.

    This solipsist self functions via an internal logic of values that, while rational within the internal bounds of its own subjectivity, is walled off from the wider community of selves and therefore can choose value in a profoundly irrational or immoral manner with respect to social consensus. Therefore, the very autonomy of the Cartesian subject presupposes a profound potential laxity and arbitrariness to individual free will in relation to the moral norms of a wider social community. Modernist deterministic moral arguments of those like Pereboom and Nussbaum surrender the absolute solipsist rationalism of free will-based models of the self in favor of a view of the self as belonging to and determined by a wider causal empirical social and natural order .If we ask why the agent endowed with free will chose to perform a certain action , the only explanation we can give is that it made sense to them given their own desires and whims. If we instead inquire why the individual ensconced within a modernist deterministic or postmodern relativist world performed the same action, we would be able to make use of the wider explanatory framework of the natural or discursive order in situating the causes of behavior.

    It’s not as if punitive justice is absent from Sapolski’s deterministic account. If human behavior is assumed to be the product of both biological and environmental conditioning influences, then it stands to reason that it is possible to rehabilitate and recondition a person who is exhibiting anti-social behavior. The difference between this sort of reductive deterministic justice and a justice that assumes divine free will is that moral evil implies a more violent, inexplicable and arbitrary deviation from social norms than psychiatric and biological pathology, and so requires a more violent method of corrective justice.

    I happen to think that Sapolski’s reductive determinism is still too punitive and blameful , still too close to traditional free will accounts. There are more human, more sophisticated naturalistic-deterministic models available, like the complex dynamical systems approaches I mentioned.
  • Hanover
    12.2k
    Needless to say, an agent is not an event.Leontiskos

    What causes him to create an event? You seem to be talking about spontaneous events now. Why am I responsible for things that just happen without causes?

    And if your answer is that the agent caused it, you can't just end there. You have to explain what caused the agent to cause it.

    The proximate question here is whether everything must be either random or determined. Other questions come later, such as how morality works, or whether an infinite regress of event-causes makes any sense.Leontiskos

    If everything is determined, then the question of what determines each prior event is the central question in the free will debate.
    What does it mean to say that there is no solution? What is "the problem" to which there is no solution?Leontiskos

    The problem is how we define free will in a way that allows for us to be considered responsible for our actions. If our actions are caused by prior events and those events are pre-determined, probabilistically determined, randomly determined, or are spontaneously determined, none of those actions were within our control. Self-determined is a meaningless concept.

    This is like asking what caused the Big Bang to suddenly bang and then asking what came before it to make it bang. Except in the free will discussion, you seem to be positing a sudden Big Bang every time a decision is made and then attributing that bang to the banger and still being unable to answer the question of what came before the Bang.

    This just strikes me as a God question which is obviously unanswerable, as in where did God come from, and what was there before he was there, and how did he make something out of nothing?

    But, like I said, I accept there is free will, but I take it as a given, without which nothing makes sense, not even the ability to reason and decide what to believe. I'm just willing to admit that the concept of free will in logically incoherent upon deep analysis.
  • Leontiskos
    1.6k
    You seem to be talking about spontaneous events now.Hanover

    No, this conclusion is based on the false dichotomy that if an event isn't deterministic then it must be random/spontaneous. That is the false dilemma I addressed in my first post to you.

    Why am I responsible for things that just happen without causes?Hanover

    What has happened without a cause? I literally just told you that, "If I say that a certain event is caused by an agent then that event has a cause, namely the agent. So we're clearly not disagreeing on whether the event has a cause..."

    What causes him to create an event?Hanover

    So the formal cause of a deliberate choice is rationality and rational motives. Why does an engineer build a bridge one way and not another? Because he (freely) reasons that this is the best way to build a bridge in such-and-such a circumstance. But there are a thousand different ways to build a bridge, and he might have built it differently. He is doubtless aware of all sorts of different ways that he could have built it. The final blueprint (or bridge) is not accounted for by randomness/spontaneity or determinism, for randomness does not produce bridges, and determinism cannot make sense of the fact that he was able—though his rationality—to build the bridge in a thousand different ways.

    You are asking a question like this, "What caused the agent's act? In your answer you are only allowed to appeal to events, random or deterministic." Your whole presupposition is to reduce agents to events, random or deterministic. My point from the start is that this whole presupposition is faulty. The constraints that you are placing on the answers to your questions are not rationally justifiable.

    If everything is determined, then the question of what determines each prior event is the central question in the free will debate.Hanover

    If we say that everything is determined then the free will debate is already over.

    The problem is how we define free will in a way that allows for us to be considered responsible for our actions.Hanover

    Okay, but that is a different question than the one which asks whether free will or determinism is true.

    If our actions are caused by prior events and those events are pre-determined, probabilistically determined, randomly determined, or are spontaneously determined, none of those actions were within our control.Hanover

    I agree.

    Self-determined is a meaningless concept.Hanover

    I disagree. As a lawyer I find it odd that you would say that agents cannot be self-moving.

    This is like asking what caused the Big Bang to suddenly bang and then asking what came before it to make it bang. Except in the free will discussion, you seem to be positing a sudden Big Bang every time a decision is made and then attributing that bang to the banger and still being unable to answer the question of what came before the Bang.Hanover

    Nah, I think this is more question-begging of the false dilemma, but it is instructive that you here literally conflate an agent with an event (i.e. the Big Bang). Agents are not events. What is needed is a broader ontology, one which includes bona fide agents.

    I thought you were inquiring into the question of how agents and events interact, or how freedom and causal realities interact. We don't have a perfect understanding of how they interact, but we have some very good approximations (represented, for example, by legal systems). We know that agents are responsible and that causal laws obtain. One can pit these two realities against one another under the assumption that one must swallow up the other (i.e. idealism vs materialism), but one could also note that agents make no sense without causal laws and causal laws make no sense without agents to know and witness them. It seems to me a matter of irreducible realities, not insoluble problems. The problem to which there is no solution is the problem of how to reduce one irreducible reality to another.

    This just strikes me as a God question which is obviously unanswerable, as in where did God come from, and what was there before he was there, and how did he make something out of nothing?Hanover

    To ask about the cause of an agent's existence is different from asking about the cause of an agent's action. My mother caused me to exist, but she did not cause me to write this post.

    But, like I said, I accept there is free will, but I take it as a given, without which nothing makes sense, not even the ability to reason and decide what to believe. I'm just willing to admit that the concept of free will in logically incoherent upon deep analysis.Hanover

    "Nothing makes sense without free will and free will is logically incoherent upon deep analysis." Is this a substantial criticism? What does it even mean to give a "deep analysis"? As I said earlier:

    But does anything make sense under "deep analysis"? It seems to me that when any totalizing paradigm is pushed too far one falls into nonsense. So when one falls into Scientism they tend to deny (libertarian) free will, and when ancient peoples favored an anthropocentric agent causation they tended to attribute this sort of causation to everything. Maybe we can have both, where neither needs to dominate the other. Maybe there is a middle ground between materialism and idealism.Leontiskos

    I think we can take it as a rule that that thing which nothing makes sense without, is never susceptible to "deep analysis." This is because analysis is an act of dividing or reducing, and the most fundamental and essential realities are always indivisible or irreducible. The Atomists say that nothing makes sense without atoms, but they do not complain that atoms cannot be further analyzed; they recognize it as an irresistible conclusion. The spat between the idealists and the materialists is a spat premised upon the search for a unified theory, where there is only one irreducible reality.
  • Joshs
    5.3k


    So the formal cause of a deliberate choice is rationality and rational motives. Why does an engineer build a bridge one way and not another? Because he (freely) reasons that this is the best way to build a bridge in such-and-such a circumstance. But there are a thousand different ways to build a bridge, and he might have built it differently. He is doubtless aware of all sorts of different ways that he could have built it. The final blueprint (or bridge) is not accounted for by randomness/spontaneity or determinism, for randomness does not produce bridges, and determinism cannot make sense of the fact that he was able—though his rationality—to build the bridge in a thousand different waysLeontiskos

    Would you argue that we must divorce rational human creativity from the evolutionary engine of biological creativity? Is the freedom of human motive and thought completely absent from the rest of the living sphere, is it an emergent function, are there degrees of freedom at different levels of biological complexity? Or did a god gift humans with a freedom which he denied the rest of nature ( in which case we would exist apart from nature)? Piaget argues that human cognition is an internalization of the most general organizing principle on life, assimilation of the substances from the world into the organism’s functioning, and accommodation of that functioning in order to adjust for the novel aspects of what it assimilates.

    On the order of the development of human culture, this reciprocal equilibration between assimilation and accommodation takes the form of cognitive-affective schemes through which we makes sense of our world (assimilation) and the modification of those schemes (accommodation) to adapt to changing circumstances that result from our technologies and other knowledge. the direction of cultural history takes on a spiral shape, as each accommodative adjustment of our cognitive system makes this system simultaneously more complex , more differentiated and more integrated, and thus more stable. This model was a way for Piaget to integrate the religious, the moral and the empirical. And it avoids the reductive determinism of Sapolski while remaining an entirely naturalistic and deterministic model.

    One more thing I should mention is that Piaget , like Dreyfus, phenomenologists and enactivists, beleived that the vast majority of our creative achievements rely not on rational rule-based ‘top-down’ processes , but bottom-up initutice coping directly attuned to contextual
    circumstances.
  • Leontiskos
    1.6k
    Would you argue that we must divorce rational human creativity from the evolutionary engine of biological creativity? Is the freedom of human motive and thought completely absent from the rest of the living sphere, is it an emergent function, are there degrees of freedom at different levels of biological complexity? Or did a god gift humans with a freedom which he denied the rest of nature ( in which case we would exist apart from nature)?Joshs

    I think that, compared to the rest of the living sphere, there is a qualitative difference in human rationality and freedom, but that lower nature is present in the human being, and that lower nature can participate in substantially limited ways in rationality and freedom.

    If blameful retributive justice is a function of a belief in the potential arbitrariness, randomness and capriciousness of motive, then what makes Cartesian desert-based approaches , which are assumed to arise from the deliberately willed actions of an autonomous, morally responsible subject, harsher and more ‘blameful' in their views of justice than deterministic , non-desert based modernist approaches and postmodern accounts, which rest on shaping influences (bodily-affective and social) outside of an agent's control? Aren't the latter accounts more ‘arbitrary' interpretations of behavior than the former? On the contrary, the very autonomy of the Cartesian subject presupposes a profound arbitrariness to free will. We say that the subject who has free will wills of their own accord, chooses what they want to choose , and as such has autonomy with respect to ‘foreign' social and internal bodily influences. The machinations of the free will amount to a self-enclosed system.Joshs

    I am not a Cartesian (in any intentional way). The reason we praise and blame human beings is because they act within a larger system. But the more fundamental fact is that, as Aquinas notes, praise and blame themselves presuppose freedom. I think the pejoratives such as "harsh" are just muddying the waters. If an act came from a person then they are responsible for that act. If it didn't then they aren't. There is nothing "harsh" about this logical fact. The notion of "harsh punishment" presupposes the whole system that Sapolski wishes to undermine, for it imputes blame to the judge who sentences the defendant. If the judge cannot be blamed then his sentence cannot be harsh. More fundamentally, it implies a disproportion between the punishment and the crime, which in turn implies the possibility of a proper proportion.

    This solipsist self functions via an internal logic of values that, while rational within the internal bounds of its own subjectivity, is walled off from the wider community of selves and therefore can choose value in a profoundly irrational or immoral manner with respect to social consensus. Therefore, the very autonomy of the Cartesian subject presupposes a profound potential laxity and arbitrariness to individual free will in relation to the moral norms of a wider social community.Joshs

    If this extreme solipsism follows upon Cartesianism, then you are right. I think that sort of solipsism is obviously a problem to be avoided. I don't at all think it is inseparable from free will.

    It’s not as if punitive justice is absent from Sapolski’s deterministic account. If human behavior is assumed to be the product of both biological and environmental conditioning influences, then it stands to reason that it is possible to rehabilitate and recondition a person who is exhibiting anti-social behavior.Joshs

    Rehabilitation and reconditioning are not punitive. C. S. Lewis' The Humanitarian Theory of Punishment is still quite relevant here.
  • Hanover
    12.2k
    No, this conclusion is based on the false dichotomy that if an event isn't deterministic then it must be random/spontaneous. That is the false dilemma I addressed in my first post to you.Leontiskos

    Random and spontaneous are not the same thing. We can say that quantum movement is random to the extent we can't predict it, but we don't go so far as to say it is uncaused. With spontaneity, you're talking about something just blipping into reality from nothingness.

    So now it's a false trilemma I suppose.

    What cannot be a false dilemma is the statement "Something is either caused or it is not caused." That statement encompasses every logical possibility.

    So, when I choose to pull the trigger, that choice was either (a) caused or (b) not caused. If it was not caused, then I cannot be responsible for it because it occurred from nothing. If I'm walking about and then I pull a trigger with no preceeding cause initiating it, what did I do other than suddenly finding myself pulling a trigger.


    So the formal cause of a deliberate choice is rationality and rational motives. Why does an engineer build a bridge one way and not another? Because he (freely) reasons that this is the best way to build a bridge in such-and-such a circumstance.Leontiskos

    This is just special pleading. You're trying to deny reasons are causes and then trying to claim that an event can occur without a cause because it was a reason, not a cause that brought it about.

    A reason is a type of cause. If I pull the trigger because I have a reason to do it, then the reason is the cause. If the reason sprung from other reasons, then those other reasons are just preceeding causes.

    So, same analysis: Either a reason springs from nowhere (it has no cause) or it arose as the result of other causes (it was determined (i..e it had a cause). In either event, imposing responsiblity upon the actor is non-sensical because the event is just something that happened to the actor beyond his control.

    But there are a thousand different ways to build a bridge, and he might have built it differently. He is doubtless aware of all sorts of different ways that he could have built it.Leontiskos

    The person could have chosen 100 ways to build a bridge, but he chose Choice 87 and the reason he chose Choice 87 was because the various pool balls slamming together in his brain led him to Choice 87. How do you propose he chose Choice 87?

    Assuming State of the Universe A, which includes every fact of the universe, will on some occasions in State A the actor choose Choice 87 and sometimes he choose Choice 88? If so, what varied that resulted in Choice 88? Was it an indeterminate force that offers a degree of randomness to the universe from time to time? If so, is that your Free Will Generator? If it is, how does that impose responsibility on the actor?

    If we say that everything is determined then the free will debate is already over.Leontiskos

    Exactly. Everything is caused by something. That's what determinism is. If something is not caused by something, it's caused by nothing. If it's caused by nothing, we're not responsible for it. That's what I'm saying. The only way out is to accept a pragmatism or just say there is free will and it's all magic. I'm good with either actually.

    I disagree. As a lawyer I find it odd that you would say that agents cannot be self-moving.Leontiskos

    This just shows that my occupation isn't causative of my beliefs in this instance, but you're right to look for the cause of my belief, because every belief, like every other type of event, has a cause.
    Agents are not events.Leontiskos

    All causes are events and all events are causes. An event is just the word we use to describe the cause that immediately followed a prior cause. If you claim an agent is not an event, you are claiming he had no cause, and if you claim he had no cause, then when he does something, he did it for no reason.

    Why did the Agent pull the trigger? Your answer would have to be He pulled it beCAUSE of nothing. I'm not following why I should hold the Agent responsible for something from nothing.
  • Joshs
    5.3k
    The person could have chosen 100 ways to build a bridge, but he chose Choice 87 and the reason he chose Choice 87 was because the various pool balls slamming together in his brain led him to Choice 87. How do you propose he chose Choice 87?Hanover

    I agree with you that each choice belonging to the process of building a bridge belongs to a causal sequence of mental acts, but this is not the kind of linear efficient causality we use to describe the behavior of billiard balls. You cannot arrive at an adequate account of cognition by trying to reduce it to this kind of causation. Cognition is a form of intentional causation, which arises from the spontaneous global organization of subordinate parts. Global organizations produce meaningful normative expectations, out of which creative possibilities emerge. When we try to trace back this behavior to the behavior of its parts, we find that these parts have no identity beyond their role in the global patterns , and as these patterns change, so does the role of the parts.
  • Leontiskos
    1.6k
    - Right, or simpler: for to claim that choice 87 was chosen "because [of] the various pool balls slamming together in his brain," is to claim that there was only one "choice" (and therefore there was no choice at all). If is right that "without [free will] nothing makes sense," then on his theory about "various pool ball," nothing makes sense. And it doesn't; it is completely contrary to sense to claim that we don't reason between multiple options.
  • frank
    14.7k
    Global organizations produce meaningful normative expectations, out of which creative possibilities emerge. When we try to trace back this behavior to the behavior of its parts, we find that these parts have no identity beyond their role in the global patterns , and as these patterns change, so does the role of the parts.Joshs

    Wouldn't that be efficient causality, though? As long as you think of yourself as a causally open system, the logical conclusion is determinism. Your differentiation from the environment around you is just a matter of language. Determinism is associated with a causally monolithic universe, and when you note that cause and effect are interdependent labels, the whole universe dissolves into a united blob.

    For free will, you need to be causally closed. You have to actually be causally separate from the rest of the universe. In other words, determinism/free will is essentially: causally monolithic universe vs. causal dualism, or primal unity vs duality. For free will, you have to be supernatural. There's no way around it.
  • Leontiskos
    1.6k
    Random and spontaneous are not the same thing. We can say that quantum movement is random to the extent we can't predict it, but we don't go so far as to say it is uncaused. With spontaneity, you're talking about something just blipping into reality from nothingness.

    So now it's a false trilemma I suppose.
    Hanover

    If you want to claim that you have given some sort of precise and uncontroversial definition of "spontaneous," then sure, we can call it a false trilemma. Either way you're not intersecting the points at hand.

    What cannot be a false dilemma is the statement "Something is either caused or it is not caused." That statement encompasses every logical possibility.

    So, when I choose to pull the trigger, that choice was either (a) caused or (b) not caused. If it was not caused, then I cannot be responsible for it because it occurred from nothing. If I'm walking about and then I pull a trigger with no preceeding cause initiating it, what did I do other than suddenly finding myself pulling a trigger.
    Hanover

    Is that what you do in court? When you are defending someone accused of murder do you say to the judge, "His choice to pull the trigger was either caused or uncaused. If it was uncaused then it's not his fault. If it was caused then it was the result of spontaneity or pool balls in his brain, and therefore also not his fault. Therefore in no case could the pulling of the trigger be his fault"? You are a lawyer, right?

    This is just special pleading. You're trying to deny reasons are causes and then trying to claim that an event can occur without a cause because it was a reason, not a cause that brought it about.Hanover

    You're putting words in my mouth out of nowhere, again. Reason is an indeterminate cause which is neither determined, random, nor spontaneous. It is free, irreducible to these other options.

    The person could have chosen 100 ways to build a bridge, but he chose Choice 87 and the reason he chose Choice 87 was because the various pool balls slamming together in his brain led him to Choice 87. How do you propose he chose Choice 87?Hanover

    If you think it was just the result of "pool balls slamming together in his brain," how do you propose he could have chosen anything else? Do you even believe in choice? Do you think we reason between multiple options? Is it more irrational for me to say that the engineer could have built the bridge differently, or is it more irrational for you to say that the engineer was determined to build the bridge according to blueprint 87? I think you are being led into absurdity here, namely by slowly committing yourself to the idea that reason and choice are illusory.

    Assuming State of the Universe A, which includes every fact of the universe, will on some occasions in State A the actor choose Choice 87 and sometimes he choose Choice 88? If so, what varied that resulted in Choice 88? Was it an indeterminate force that offers a degree of randomness to the universe from time to time? If so, is that your Free Will Generator? If it is, how does that impose responsibility on the actor?Hanover

    You're still stuck in your false dichotomy. You are assuming that we cannot reason between different options, and that reason is both illusory and reducible to randomness or determinism.

    Exactly. Everything is caused by something. That's what determinism is.Hanover

    This is the most common fallacy regarding determinism. Determinism does not mean that everything is caused by something. Determinism means that everything that happens happens necessarily, that all causes are event causes, and that the present is a necessary result of the past. You are equivocating on "caused" and "deterministically caused." Free agents are causes, but they are free, not determined.

    You are doing this very strange thing where every time I say, "X is caused by a free agent," you conclude, "Right, so X is uncaused!" This is a failure to understand even the basic contours of an agent-causal worldview. If—as you continue to implicitly assert—free agents do not exist, then you must reject the claim that "X is caused by a free agent." But what you ought to do is say that the claim is false, not that it means that X is uncaused. It manifestly does not mean that X is uncaused.

    All causes are events and all events are causes. An event is just the word we use to describe the cause that immediately followed a prior cause.Hanover

    Good. Now you are begging the central question explicitly. This is progress. Recall that I already predicted this:

    So we're clearly not disagreeing on whether the event has a cause; you are merely asserting that an agent cannot be a cause of an event (and this begs the question I first raised). More precisely, you seem to be committed to the position that only events can cause events. Needless to say, an agent is not an event.Leontiskos

    Why in the world would we think that all causes are events? Beyond that, your definition of "event" is manifestly false. An event is not "just the word we use to describe the cause that immediately followed a prior cause." I think this is obvious, but I will give you a link to the dictionary.

    If you claim an agent is not an event, you are claiming he had no cause...Hanover

    How does that follow!?

    Are you an event? Did you have a cause?

    and if you claim he had no cause, then when he does something, he did it for no reason.Hanover

    ...and how does that follow!? :yikes:

    These are just crazy inferences. What sort of principles are you working from? "If X is not an event then it had no cause"? "If X had no cause, then when it acts, it acts for no reason"? Your reasoning here is not only opaque, it is also dubious. It's not just that the things you are saying have no apparent rationale; but also that the things you are saying seem clearly false.

    Why did the Agent pull the trigger? Your answer would have to be He pulled it beCAUSE of nothing. I'm not following why I should hold the Agent responsible for something from nothing.Hanover

    He pulled it because he reasoned that by killing the witness his crime would go unpunished, and he is on trial because reason is not deterministic (i.e. he could have reasoned differently and chosen a different course of action, both in committing the initial crime as well as in committing the murder coverup). Are you in the right profession?

    This just shows that my occupation isn't causative of my beliefs in this instance,Hanover

    It might just show that you are engaged in a profession that you believe to be premised on false notions of moral responsibility, which is a kind of performative self-contradiction.

    The only way out is to accept a pragmatism or just say there is free will and it's all magic. I'm good with either actually.Hanover

    If you posit free will as being a mystery, then you should be logically committed to the idea that the localization of that mystery will necessarily be vague (note too that a mystery could be defined as something which is not explicable in terms of your familiar categories: in your case randomness, spontaneity, and determinism). Likewise, when you fart we can't point to the fart in any exact way. It is diffuse, it spreads, it permeates. Only to the extent that we understand something perfectly can we identify and discern it perfectly.

    Free will exercises influence on the world through free agents, and free agents exercise influence through rational deliberation, and rational deliberation results in the arts, sciences, technology, political arrangements, etc. It doesn't make a lot of sense to say that humans are free but reason is deterministic. That would be unduly localizing the "mystery," much like claiming to specify the exact location of your fart. If you think freedom is a mystery, then how are you so certain about where it begins and ends? If you think we are truly free, then don't you also think that that freedom exercises an influence on reality in one way or another? If so, then it makes no sense to hold that all of reality is perfectly deterministic, including reason and everything that follows from it.

    To deny that free agents have any causal effect on the world is just to deny free will. It is farcical to claim that freedom exists and exercises no influence on the world whatsoever.

    Edit: In a private conversation someone was trying to defend Dennett by defending a thesis that thoughts are causally impotent. This is how I responded:

    The modern period becomes very focused on instrumental reason, and to say that we do not have thoughts would seem to imply that we are not able to affect the world in rational and intelligent ways. "If I press this gas pedal the car will accelerate." That is a thought that is true or false, and undergirding it is a great deal of engineering, which also presupposes true thoughts. The truth or falsity of the engineering thoughts will influence the truth or falsity of the acceleration thought. If thoughts had no causal efficacy, then they would play no part in the claim about the accelerator, but this is clearly false. Thus thoughts have causal efficacy. — Leontiskos
  • Joshs
    5.3k


    For free will, you need to be causally closed. You have to actually be causally separate from the rest of the universe. In other words, determinism/free will is essentially: causally monolithic universe vs. causal dualism, or primal unity vs duality. For free will, you have to be supernatural. There's no way around it.frank

    Juerrero discusses this distinction between a closed and an open system. The key point concerning emergent freedom is that it is made possible top-down self-organizing constraints.

    A system with no external structure—no environment with which it interacts—is a closed and isolated system. Only the entire universe is closed and isolated. A system's external structure can affect its internal structure and not just as efficient cause. This feature falsifies the thesis that secondary or relational properties are epiphenomenal and subjective. That kind of interaction between open systems and their environment also marks the limits of modern scientific methodology. It is possible to get only so far (pretty far, to be sure, with some processes—but not with others) by isolating a system from the context to which it belongs.

    Once Newton's and Descartes' writings became widespread after the mid 17th century our understanding of causality changed drastically. Organisms, which the Aristotelian tradition had treated as systemic totalities, became reducible to causally inert aggregates located but not embedded in their context or environment. Once wholes were reduced to the epiphenomenal sum of their constituent parts and all causality effectively limited to efficient causes that are, moreover, reversible-in-principle, bottom-up causality was eviscerated of any power to create truly emergent new forms, and all forms of top-down causation—from wholes to parts—were disallowed.
  • frank
    14.7k
    Juerrero discusses this distinction between a closed and an open system. The key point concerning emergent freedom is that it is made possible top-down self-organizing constraints.Joshs

    If it's strong emergence, it's dualism. Weak emergent freedom is a contradiction in terms.

    A causally closed system doesn't have to be one that has no environment with which it interacts. Robert Rosen devotes most of his book Life Itself to that. Also, how the heck do you whip out a quote regarding any topic you happen to be talking about? That's amazing.
  • Hanover
    12.2k
    Is that what you do in court? When you are defending someone accused of murder do you say to the judge, "His choice to pull the trigger was either caused or uncaused. If it was uncaused then it's not his fault. If it was caused then it was the result of spontaneity or pool balls in his brain, and therefore also not his fault. Therefore in no case could the pulling of the trigger be his fault"? You are a lawyer, right?Leontiskos

    Sure, that's what I argue because my concern in court centers around exposing the philosophical implications of determinism upon free will as opposed to protecting my client's interests. It's always good to talk about what you feel like talking about as opposed to focusing on the task at hand.

    If your point is that academic philosophy has little impact in real life, I think that's obvious.

    Anyway, to the extent this slippery slope actually does occur in court, a typical gap between the left and the right on personal responsibility does center around how much freedom, if any, someone has over their actions. Arguments related to upbringing, general environment, intelligence, prior exposures with violence, etc are often better received by those on the left that believe that behavior is better informed by external circumstances than the right, who hold firmly to responsibility coming entirely from within.

    These differences in ideology are just that, usually based upon political leanings and the like, but not upon any real analysis of what the implications of determinism are.
    Reason is an indeterminate cause which is neither determined, random, nor spontaneous. It is free, irreducible to these other options.Leontiskos

    And I'm saying you have no meaningful definition of freedom. It's something that happens that you are responsible for but it had no cause and its not spontaneous.
    If you think it was just the result of "pool balls slamming together in his brain," how do you propose he could have chosen anything else? Do you even believe in choice?Leontiskos

    You couldn't have chosen anything other than you did if determinism is true. You could have done otherwise if determinism isn't true, but you wouldn't be responsible for a random or spontaneous event. And there are no other choices, despite you saying there are. That is, if determinism is true or if determinism is false, you are not responsible for what you do.

    I do believe in choice. It's pragmatism. I don't think the world is decipherable without maintaining a superficial acceptance of freedom. It's superficial because upon analysis it fails. I also subscribe to a certain theism that just decrees it. But I don't think any of the explanations provided show how it could possibly exist.
    and if you claim he had no cause, then when he does something, he did it for no reason.
    — Hanover

    ...and how does that follow!? :yikes:
    Leontiskos

    As I stated, your fallacy is special pleading. You have for no reason for saying that "reasons" are not causes other than so that you can treat them differently, but a reason is a cause. If I pull the trigger beCAUSE I hate the man, the reason is the cause. So, substitute the word "cause" in for "reason" in my above sentence and you'll understand how it's logically entailed.

    That is, " if you claim he had no cause, then when he does something, he did it for no cause."
    He pulled it because he reasoned that by killing the witness his crime would go unpunished, and he is on trial because reason is not deterministic (i.e. he could have reasoned differently and chosen a different course of action, both in committing the initial crime as well as in committing the murder coverup). Are you in the right profession?Leontiskos

    The law reflects the beliefs of those who passed it, which means those who passed the laws likely believed in free will. That doesn't make free will the case. I can imagine there are countries that pass laws based upon all sorts of myths and religious beliefs I don't agree with, but I don't know what that adds to truth.
    To deny that free agents have any causal effect on the world is just to deny free will. It is farcical to claim that freedom exists and exercises no influence on the world whatsoever.Leontiskos

    I'm saying that free will is not provable and that it's incoherent under analysis. It shares much in common with God and things beyond description. The farce is in thinking that you've solved the ancient puzzle of free will on TPF in 2024. These problems are fundamental to philosophy and they have no good answers.

    If you're looking for answers, don't look to philosophy. Philosophy is where the unanswerable questions are stored.
  • Leontiskos
    1.6k
    Sure, that's what I argue because my concern in court centers around exposing the philosophical implications of determinism upon free will as opposed to protecting my client's interests. It's always good to talk about what you feel like talking about as opposed to focusing on the task at hand.Hanover

    Er, the implication was that you were defending someone who pulled the trigger. That's why I wrote, "When you are defending someone accused of murder..." It's like you're not even reading my posts.

    Anyway, to the extent this slippery slope actually does occur in court, a typical gap between the left and the right on personal responsibility does center around how much freedom, if any, someone has over their actions.Hanover

    Yes, but my point is that everyone agrees that if someone has no freedom over their action then they cannot be punished for that action, and you are leaning strongly in the direction which says that no one has any freedom over their actions.

    And I'm saying you have no meaningful definition of freedom.Hanover

    Again:

    "Nothing makes sense without free will and free will is logically incoherent upon deep analysis." Is this a substantial criticism? What does it even mean to give a "deep analysis"?

    [...]

    I think we can take it as a rule that that thing which nothing makes sense without, is never susceptible to "deep analysis." This is because analysis is an act of dividing or reducing, and the most fundamental and essential realities are always indivisible or irreducible. The Atomists say that nothing makes sense without atoms, but they do not complain that atoms cannot be further analyzed; they recognize it as an irresistible conclusion. The spat between the idealists and the materialists is a spat premised upon the search for a unified theory, where there is only one irreducible reality.
    Leontiskos

    You couldn't have chosen anything other than you did if determinism is true. You could have done otherwise if determinism isn't true, but you wouldn't be responsible for a random or spontaneous event. And there are no other choices, despite you saying there are. That is, if determinism is true or if determinism is false, you are not responsible for what you do.Hanover

    I am glad the dogmatism is becoming more brazen and visible. So it seems that you are committed to the very strange idea that engineers do not have it within their power to build bridges differently than they did in fact build them.

    I do believe in choice. It's pragmatism. I don't think the world is decipherable without maintaining a superficial acceptance of freedom.Hanover

    So on your theory we can't decipher the world without accepting the existence of something that does not exist. For as you say above, we are not responsible for what we do.

    It's superficial because upon analysis it fails.Hanover

    I asked above what you meant by "deep analysis" quite a few times but you always neglected to give any answer. I don't think you know what you mean, and therefore I don't think yours is a substantial critique.

    I also subscribe to a certain theism that just decrees it.Hanover

    It decrees that there are other choices, even though you are adamant that "there are no other choices"? If there are no other choices then your theism is wrong, and to subscribe to it is to contradict yourself.

    But I don't think any of the explanations provided show how it could possibly exist.Hanover

    More: according to what you say it couldn't possibly exist. You declared above, "If [(p v ~p)] then you are not responsible for what you do." This is nothing less than a claim that we are not responsible for what we do.

    As I stated, your fallacy is special pleading. You have for no reason for saying that "reasons" are not causes other than so that you can treat them differently, but a reason is a cause. If I pull the trigger beCAUSE I hate the man, the reason is the cause. So, substitute the word "cause" in for "reason" in my above sentence and you'll understand how it's logically entailed.Hanover

    How many times do I have to tell you that "cause" does not mean "deterministic cause"? Those of us who believe in free will do not thereby believe that free agents are not causes of effects. (Else, find me one place where I have said that reason is not a cause.) As for the "special pleading," here is what I already said:

    Is it more irrational for me to say that the engineer could have built the bridge differently, or is it more irrational for you to say that the engineer was determined to build the bridge according to blueprint 87?

    That is, " if you claim he had no cause, then when he does something, he did it for no cause."Hanover

    I have never said that he had no cause, and this has been addressed already:

    You are doing this very strange thing where every time I say, "X is caused by a free agent," you conclude, "Right, so X is uncaused!" This is a failure to understand even the basic contours of an agent-causal worldview. If—as you continue to implicitly assert—free agents do not exist, then you must reject the claim that "X is caused by a free agent." But what you ought to do is say that the claim is false, not that it means that X is uncaused. It manifestly does not mean that X is uncaused.Leontiskos

    The law reflects the beliefs of those who passed it, which means those who passed the laws likely believed in free will. That doesn't make free will the case. I can imagine there are countries that pass laws based upon all sorts of myths and religious beliefs I don't agree with, but I don't know what that adds to truth.Hanover

    Law in itself presupposes that humans are responsible actors. It is odd for a lawyer to engage in a practice that presupposes personal responsibility if they do not believe in personal responsibility.

    I'm saying that free will is not provable and that it's incoherent under analysis.Hanover

    You're asserting that, yes. And you give some bad arguments, like the argument that <if an agent is not an event then he had no cause>. You haven't seemed to notice that you yourself are not event and you nevertheless had a cause.

    I don't think free will is provable, but I don't think it is disprovable, and you don't seem to notice that your arguments would disprove it. More precisely, you think you have a good argument against moral responsibility:

    You couldn't have chosen anything other than you did if determinism is true. You could have done otherwise if determinism isn't true, but you wouldn't be responsible for a random or spontaneous event. And there are no other choices, despite you saying there are. That is, if determinism is true or if determinism is false, you are not responsible for what you do.Hanover

    Or do you think that free will could still exist even though responsibility necessarily cannot?
  • Joshs
    5.3k
    Anyway, to the extent this slippery slope actually does occur in court, a typical gap between the left and the right on personal responsibility does center around how much freedom, if any, someone has over their actions. Arguments related to upbringing, general environment, intelligence, prior exposures with violence, etc are often better received by those on the left that believe that behavior is better informed by external circumstances than the right, who hold firmly to responsibility coming entirely from within.

    These differences in ideology are just that, usually based upon political leanings and the like, but not upon any real analysis of what the implications of determinism are.
    Hanover

    But what are the implications of determinism for the courtroom? I have claimed that reductive determinists like Sapolski, even though they reject the concept of personal responsibility, don’t remove the value of declaring a person culpable, if culpability implies that the guilty person’s behavior can be modified through some corrective procedure ( punishment, rehabilitation, etc) administered by the legal system. If our actions are determined by past environmental conditionings, then they can be redirected by new social conditionings. Someone declared legally sane will be assumed to be at least minimally amenable to such conditionings , whereas someone with unmedicated schizophrenia may not be able to process in a coherent way the corrective input.
  • Joshs
    5.3k
    If it's strong emergence, it's dualism. Weak emergent freedom is a contradiction in terms.

    A causally closed system doesn't have to be one that has no environment with which it interacts. Robert Rosen devotes most of his book Life Itself to that. Also, how the heck do you whip out a quote regarding any topic you happen to be talking about? That's amazing.
    frank

    I wasnt familiar with Rosen’s work. After a quick glance I’m impressed with the direction he’s gone in. Yes, for enactivists like Varela, sensory-motor coupling between organism and environment produces an operational closure and resulting autonomy.

    …the crucial property of an autonomous system is its operational closure. In an autonomous system, every constituent process is conditioned by some other process in the system; hence, if we analyse the enabling conditions for any constituent process of the system, we will always be led to other pro­cesses in the system. ( Mog Stapleton)

    But doesn’t Rosen accept that emergence within dynamical
    systems represents a kind of freedom without dualism? Isnt that the point of such systems?

    how the heck do you whip out a quote regarding any topic you happen to be talking about? That's amazing.frank

    I just make it up. I figure nobody will check.
  • Hanover
    12.2k
    Er, the implication was that you were defending someone who pulled the trigger. That's why I wrote, "When you are defending someone accused of murder..." It's like you're not even reading my posts.Leontiskos

    I am reading your emails. My prior comment was sarcasm, as if I'd make arguments in court related to philosophical debates and not the reason I was there.
    Yes, but my point is that everyone agrees that if someone has no freedom over their action then they cannot be punished for that action, and you are leaning strongly in the direction which says that no one has any freedom over their actions.Leontiskos

    It depends upon the purpose of punishment. If the purpose of the punishment is corrective or rehabilitative, punishment could be argued as appropriate. If we're all cogs in a machine, doing that which will cause the cog to achieve the societal goal could be justified.
    I am glad the dogmatism is becoming more brazen and visible. So it seems that you are committed to the very strange idea that engineers do not have it within their power to build bridges differently than they did in fact build them.Leontiskos

    Nor do computers have any way to process data other than the way they do in fact process them. The sun rises and sets in a predictable pattern in a way that results in trees growing and insects flourishing. The fact that an intricate system can work and can result in complex ways doesn't implicate freedom. The honeybee can't make honey a different way.
    I asked above what you meant by "deep analysis" quite a few times but you always neglected to give any answer. I don't think you know what you mean, and therefore I don't think yours is a substantial critique.Leontiskos

    Deep analysis is what we're doing. We're asking ourselves what freedom is and determinism is. When a guy walking down the street is asked if he has the freedom to go home, he doesn't sort through the implications of a deterministic world. He just superfically says that he does have such freedom. Maybe he'd change his mind after he thought about.

    It decrees that there are other choices, even though you are adamant that "there are no other choices"? If there are no other choices then your theism is wrong, and to subscribe to it is to contradict yourself.Leontiskos

    Maybe my theistic beliefs are wrong if I subjected them to strict logic. I'm not defending my faith. It might be stupid, but it is what it is.
    Is it more irrational for me to say that the engineer could have built the bridge differently, or is it more irrational for you to say that the engineer was determined to build the bridge according to blueprint 87?Leontiskos

    I suppose either determinism or indeterminism could be true, but neither allow a basis for placing responsibility on the agent.
    Law in itself presupposes that humans are responsible actors. It is odd for a lawyer to engage in a practice that presupposes personal responsibility if they do not believe in personal responsibility.Leontiskos

    The ad hom that I'm odd is irrelevant even if likely true.

    I do believe in personal responsibility. I told you that. I also believe that our souls depart our bodies upon our death and that we all meet in heaven, which means we have a non-corporeal aspect of ourselves. Physical objects don't do what I just said and "non-physical" is pretty much undefined and meaningless the way I've presented things, but that's what I believe.

    What I'm rejecting is that there are logical and scientific anchors for much of what we take for granted, including such things as free will, moral truths, or purpose generally. That doesn't mean I don't believe in such things. And I'm not trying to prove my faith either or suggesting that faith is necessary for reasons beyond pragmatic. That is, if you want to accept free will isn't a meaningful concept and buy into the implications of determinism, you may do that if your ultimate goal is to allow logic and empirical data to take you where ever it does.
  • frank
    14.7k
    …the crucial property of an autonomous system is its operational closure. In an autonomous system, every constituent process is conditioned by some other process in the system; hence, if we analyse the enabling conditions for any constituent process of the system, we will always be led to other pro­cesses in the system. ( Mog Stapleton)

    That's what Rosen was getting at, but I think he ends up saying that what we're really analyzing here is the way we think about life. We think of it as a causally closed system in the sense that it acts for its own sake. He's focusing more on the concept of purpose rather than autonomy.

    But doesn’t Rosen accept that emergence within dynamical
    systems represents a kind of freedom without dualism? Isnt that the point of such systems?
    Joshs

    If it's weak emergence (all is reducible), then I don't see how any kind of freedom has appeared. If water is weakly emergent, that doesn't mean there's any break in causation. I think to have a real break, you'd have to have causal dualism. To paint a picture of that: God can cause things without being part of a causal chain herself. She's the prime mover in Aristotle's proofs of God. She interacts with the universe while also being beyond it. This is break I'm talking about.

    The monotheistic God is a projection of what we think of ourselves. God has the power to choose and create because we think we have that power. Maybe.

    I just make it up. I figure nobody will check.Joshs

    :lol:
  • Hanover
    12.2k
    But what are the implications of determinism for the courtroom?Joshs

    As @Leontiskos has correctly pointed out the implications are significant, and it's beyond what you've suggested. If the engineer cannot but choose one particular plan to build a building due to his lack of freedom, the judge and jury have no choice, meaning their decisions are not the result of their decisions, but are the result of the various pool balls bouncing around in their heads. They might tell you they convicted because of facts A, B and C, and they may beleive that, but the reason they convicted and the reason they believe facts A, B and C mattered are just because of other causes in their head. That is, free will is necessary for meaningful decision making, and if it doesn't exist, then all decisions are either pre-determined or random.
  • Joshs
    5.3k
    They might tell you they convicted because of facts A, B and C, and they may beleive that, but the reason they convicted and the reason they believe facts A, B and C mattered are just because of other causes in their head. That is, free will is necessary for meaningful decision making, and if it doesn't exist, then all decisions are either pre-determined or random.Hanover

    You act as though no determinists are behaviorists. For behaviorists there are no billiard balls in the head, since nothing going on in the head can be objectively measured. All that counts are the billiard balls outside the head (environmental stimuli) conditioning the body’s observable behavior in consistent and predicable ways. Skinner’s Walden Two was about a socially engineered society based on billiard balls outside the head.You don’t need individual free will for that, just a structure of enculturation that can be identified and modified. It was a behavioral justice system, based on rehabilitation, re-socialization and re-education. A person was responsible to the extent that they were responsive to social conditioning. Is that thinking really so far removed from holding persons accountable with the assumption that they are responsive to the influence of social pressure? There would be two aspects involved here, the system of enculturation beyond the control of the individual which is responsible for their maladaptive , anti-social behavior, and the individual as locus of behavior, responsible not for that history of enculturation but for recognizing it and being amenable to reform by a justice system.
  • Leontiskos
    1.6k
    It depends upon the purpose of punishment. If the purpose of the punishment is corrective or rehabilitative, punishment could be argued as appropriate.Hanover

    No: see: . If you are merely conditioning someone, then you are not punishing them. But as you yourself point out, the sentencing agent would still be undermined in the case of things like rehabilitation.

    Nor do computers have any way to process data other than the way they do in fact process them. The sun rises and sets in a predictable pattern in a way that results in trees growing and insects flourishing. The fact that an intricate system can work and can result in complex ways doesn't implicate freedom. The honeybee can't make honey a different way.Hanover

    It is logically possible that the engineer could not have built the bridge in any other way, but also irrational. You say that free will is neither necessarily true or necessarily false, but then you go on to indulge in necessitarian arguments, and what in fact happened is that you gave an argument that free will necessarily cannot exist.

    Maybe my theistic beliefs are wrong if I subjected them to strict logic. I'm not defending my faith. It might be stupid, but it is what it is.Hanover

    But are you really engaged in strict logic when you declare the axiom that everything must be either random or determined (or spontaneous)?

    I suppose either determinism or indeterminism could be true, but neither allow a basis for placing responsibility on the agent.Hanover

    You very much avoided the question I asked. I'd say the uncontroversial answer is that it is more irrational to say that he could not have built the bridge any other way, albeit not logically impossible.

    I do believe in personal responsibility. I told you that.Hanover

    Well, you also said you don't, here:

    You couldn't have chosen anything other than you did if determinism is true. You could have done otherwise if determinism isn't true, but you wouldn't be responsible for a random or spontaneous event. And there are no other choices, despite you saying there are. That is, if determinism is true or if determinism is false, you are not responsible for what you do.Hanover

    That's an argument that personal responsibility cannot exist. Did you make it by accident?

    If you posit free will as being a mystery, then you should be logically committed to the idea that the localization of that mystery will necessarily be vague (note too that a mystery could be defined as something which is not explicable in terms of your familiar categories: in your case randomness, spontaneity, and determinism). Likewise, when you fart we can't point to the fart in any exact way. It is diffuse, it spreads, it permeates. Only to the extent that we understand something perfectly can we identify and discern it perfectly.

    Free will exercises influence on the world through free agents, and free agents exercise influence through rational deliberation, and rational deliberation results in the arts, sciences, technology, political arrangements, etc. It doesn't make a lot of sense to say that humans are free but reason is deterministic. That would be unduly localizing the "mystery," much like claiming to specify the exact location of your fart. If you think freedom is a mystery, then how are you so certain about where it begins and ends? If you think we are truly free, then don't you also think that that freedom exercises an influence on reality in one way or another? If so, then it makes no sense to hold that all of reality is perfectly deterministic, including reason and everything that follows from it.
    Leontiskos

    What I'm rejecting is that there are logical and scientific anchors for much of what we take for granted, including such things as free will, moral truths, or purpose generally.Hanover

    As I've said, fundamental realities cannot be explained by secondary realities. Numbers are not explained by addition, because addition presupposes numbers. That we think everything should be scientifically or "logically" analyzable is a symptom of our intellectual biases. Science and logic both presuppose free will, they don't explain it.
  • Joshs
    5.3k
    As I've said, fundamental realities cannot be explained by secondary realities. Numbers are not explained by addition, because addition presupposes numbers. That we think everything should be scientifically or "logically" analyzable is a symptom of our intellectual biases. Science and logic both presuppose free will, they don't explain itLeontiskos

    This is not to say that science and logic deal only with secondary realities. That is , an aspect of what science does, the philosophical aspect that allows it to move from one scheme to alternative schemes , frees it from remaining stuck within any particular secondary logic. Meanwhile, there are primary philosophical logics (Hegel’s dialectic, Husserl’s transcendental logic) that describe fundamental realities. There is no inherent limitation in science that should prevent it from addressing fundamental realities, only provisional limitations of the same sort that limit particular philosophies. I would say that the scientific approaches Hanover has in mind don’t destroy freedom in nature (quantum indeterminacy) , but question the coherence of certain unitary notions of the will. I would also question those unitary notions, preferring to see the will as a differential system. But unlike Hanover I don’t see this system as operating via the unfreedom of efficient causality.
  • Leontiskos
    1.6k
    This is not to say that science and logic deal only with secondary realities.Joshs

    The point is that science and logic are secondary realities.

    That is , an aspect of what science does, the philosophical aspect that allows it to move from one scheme to alternative schemes , frees it from remaining stuck within any particular secondary logic.Joshs

    Science is more fundamental than scientific paradigms, but science is also secondary in itself. It presupposes things like sense data, an intelligible world, etc. It is a reorganization of what is pre-given in order to arrive at abstract knowledge.

    Meanwhile, there are primary philosophical logics (Hegel’s dialectic, Husserl’s transcendental logic) that describe fundamental realities.Joshs

    They attempt to, but they always fall short. Hegel's dialectic is not reality, as much as he wants it to be.

    I would say that the scientific approaches Hanover has in mind don’t destroy freedom in nature (quantum indeterminacy) , but question the coherence of certain unitary notions of the will. I would also question those unitary notions, preferring to see the will as a differential system. But unlike Hanover I don’t see this system as operating via the unfreedom of efficient causality.Joshs

    Yes, but my point was an analogy. To explain free will by efficient causality is like trying to explain numbers by addition. Our knowledge of efficient causality depends on reason and free will, and therefore it makes no sense to try to explain free will by efficient causality. There is always vicious circularity involved in such an attempt. See:

    I think we can take it as a rule that that thing which nothing makes sense without, is never susceptible to "deep analysis." This is because analysis is an act of dividing or reducing, and the most fundamental and essential realities are always indivisible or irreducible. The Atomists say that nothing makes sense without atoms, but they do not complain that atoms cannot be further analyzed; they recognize it as an irresistible conclusion. The spat between the idealists and the materialists is a spat premised upon the search for a unified theory, where there is only one irreducible reality.Leontiskos

    So when says that "nothing makes sense" without free will, it does not make sense for him to go on as if free will is a secondary reality, reducible to random or deterministic events. If free will were reducible to such events then not only would things make sense without it; but everything could be fully explained without it. If free will were just the result of random and deterministic events then it wouldn't even exist (except in perhaps an illusory manner), and of course everything still makes sense without a non-existent thing.
  • Hanover
    12.2k
    If free will were reducible to such events then not only would things make sense without it; but everything could be fully explained without it.Leontiskos

    Nothing could be explained if determinism were the case other than to say that you've arrived at an explanation that you were determined to arrive at. There would be no reason to beleive that your conclusions were rational or reasonable, but only that they were the result of pre-existing causes.
  • Leontiskos
    1.6k
    - Right, and for that reason I don't think the explanation presented in your first sentence would even be possible. Given how much we agree on, I think my fart analogy is key.
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