• The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    I think compatibilism is nonsense. This topic is not about its merits. Rather, I want to look a little at something compatibilists often claim -- that the important notion of free will is that we are not being coerced by anyone, not that we are metaphysically non-determined. I think this is plainly false, but whatever, let's look at the weaker version of free will.

    Are we ever not coerced by anyone? A compatibilist will have to say, I suppose, that if coerced into a bad situation, say of being a slave, anything one does in that position within the confines of slavery is not really a free choice, in the same way that handing over our wallet is not a free choice with a gun pointed at us, because we are being coerced on pain of being killed, beaten, or whatever it might be.

    Unfortunately, life itself is such a coercive situation, since it is impossible to consent to being born, and all 'decisions' made while alive are within the context of that coercive establishment. So even if we give the compatibilist everything he wants, he is still wrong about free will insofar as he further makes the positive claim that people actually can be, or are, free.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    I think you are extending definitions too much. At the very least, there is a massive difference in degree between being coerced into slavery, mining diamonds your whole life (in Sierra Leone perhaps) and being forced into life itself. For in the former, someone else has authority over your life, while in the latter you are the one that has the authority over at least the decision to continue your life.

    Also, I would contend that if you dislike society so much, nobody is stopping you from becoming a hermit or killing yourself. This shows that in the romantic existential sense, we are indeed forced into a situation that we did not ask for, but in the day-to-day basis I would think that to find one's life to be enslavement itself would either warrant a trip to the psychologist or a quick death. Otherwise you're grabbing at straws and being disingenuous.

    Nobody is stopping you from doing anything, but you best be prepared for the consequences of your actions. That's all compatibilism is. It's unfree will, with emphasis on the will.
  • Hanover
    5k
    Unfortunately, life itself is such a coercive situation, since it is impossible to consent to being born, and all 'decisions' made while alive are within the context of that coercive establishment. So even if we give the compatibilist everything he wants, he is still wrong about free will insofar as he further makes the positive claim that people actually can be, or are, free.The Great Whatever

    A compatibilist holds that free will is compatible with determinism, the belief that everything is pre-determined. He's not disagreeing with the notion that every single event in his life (including being born) is beyond his control and subject to pre-existing causes. The compatibilist defines a free will (and there are alternate ways the theory is presented) as one that is acting on one's own motivations, wants, or desires as opposed to one that feels coerced. It points to the fatally obvious difference between eating a bowl of ice-cream because one enjoys ice-cream as opposed to eating a bowl of ice-cream in order to avoid being shot in the head.

    That being said, it's not as if the compatibilist argument has no problems or that it is an ultimately acceptable solution to the free will question. I don't think, though, that the problem with it is that it doesn't accept the consequences of determinism. It tries to distinguish between different types of deterministic forces in distinguishing which it will designate as a free choice or a not free choice. It holds that whether a choice is determined or not has nothing to do with it being free because every choice is ultimately determined.
  • The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    I think you are extending definitions too much. At the very least, there is a massive difference in degree between being coerced into slavery, mining diamonds your whole life (in Sierra Leone perhaps) and being forced into life itself. For in the latter, someone else has authority over your life, while in the latter you are the one that has the authority over at least the decision to continue your life.darthbarracuda

    You do not have authority over decisions made under coercion or duress, and being born is coercive.

    There is no question of 'degree' here; and in fact, the coercive institution of birth is a prerequisite to that of slavery.

    Also, I would contend that if you dislike society so much, nobody is stopping you from becoming a hermit or killing yourself. This shows that in the romantic existential sense, we are indeed forced into a situation that we did not ask for, but in the day-to-day basis I would think that to find one's life to be enslavement itself would either warrant a trip to the psychologist or a quick death. Otherwise you're grabbing at straws and being disingenuous.darthbarracuda

    There is nothing romantic about it. It is a very real thing, as are its effects (the suffering that ensues under coercion).

    Nobody is stopping you from doing anything, but you best be prepared for the consequences of your actions. That's all compatibilism is. It's unfree will, with emphasis on the will.darthbarracuda

    'Nobody is stopping you from keeping your wallet, but you best be prepared for the consequences of your actions' (getting shot by your mugger).

    Yet the perosn who gives up his wallet is in no way freely doing so. Same for anything done in life.
  • The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    A compatibilist holds that free will is compatible with determinism, the belief that everything is pre-determined. He's not disagreeing with the notion that every single event in his life (including being born) is beyond his control and subject to pre-existing causes. The compatibilist defines a free will (and there are alternate ways the theory is presented) as one that is acting on one's own motivations, wants, or desires as opposed to one that feels coerced. It points to the facially obvious difference between eating a bowl of ice-cream because one enjoys ice-cream as opposed to eating a bowl of ice-cream in order to avoid being shot in the head.Hanover

    The point is that all things in life are coerced, in that they take place within a coercive institution (birth). While the ice cream does not hold a gun to your head, it does hold a smaller consequence over you -- the pain of desiring, but not getting, ice cream. But it doesn't matter, because the desire for ice cream is itself a product of a coercive institution (birth).

    And of course, in being alive you do have a gun held to your head at all times, in a very real sense: you must work perpetually to eat or die (and all the attendant suffering of starvation).

    That being said, it's not as if the compatibilist argument has no problems or that it is an ultimately acceptable solution to the free will question. I don't think, though, that the problem with it is that it doesn't accept the consequences of determinism. It tries to distinguish between different types of deterministic forces in distinguishing which it will designate as a free choice or a not free choice. It holds that whether a choice is determined or not has nothing to do with it being free because every choice is ultimately determined.Hanover

    What I am saying is that the compatibilist's weaker notion of freedom as being free from coercion or in accordance with one's own (metaphysically determined) desires is not even right, even if you grant him everything else.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    You do not have authority over decisions made under coercion or duress, and being born is coercive.

    There is no question of 'degree' here; and in fact, the coercive institution of birth is a prerequisite to that of slavery.
    The Great Whatever

    Being brought into the world by means of coercion does not mean that you are a slave once born.

    There is nothing romantic about it. It is a very real thing, as are its effects (the suffering that ensues under coercion).The Great Whatever

    No doubt there is suffering. But there's also no doubt that I don't consider myself a slave because I have a will that can be satisfied at any time. I am not physically restrained. I am free to do what I want to do. And so this romanticized idea of everyone being captive in their bodies and unable to become free is rubbish.

    There's a reason why the existentialists thought that freedom and happiness might be mutually exclusive. They surely didn't feel captive in the sense of being physically restrained. They felt captive by the responsibility of being completely free.

    'Nobody is stopping you from keeping your wallet, but you best be prepared for the consequences of your actions' (getting shot by your mugger).

    Yet the perosn who gives up his wallet is in no way freely doing so. Same for anything done in life.
    The Great Whatever

    Such as? What consequences and actions are you thinking of here? Of course we are going to condemn those who murder other people or steal their wallets. The existence of a law of the land does not mean life is necessarily enslavement.

    What kind of freedom do you want/were you expecting and continue to be disappointed by the lack therefore?

    Again if you don't fancy this whole life thing, you don't have to continue.
  • bert1
    313
    In reply to OP:

    Yeah. I got very upset at university when compatibilism came up. It was plainly just a (not very) special case of determinism and seemed like an abuse of language to me.

    Anyway, one might be able to defend a notion of degrees of freedom. Total freedom is, arguably, only possible after death, as to exist is to be constrained and differentiated in some way, and perhaps non-existence is just total lack of constraint. So no existing person can be free. But one person can be more free than another. While no one is free from the need to eat, for example, some people are free from the need to eat nothing but millet every day. Consider also that relative to a particular decision, some people are free while others are not. Someone who doesn't give a shit about politics, for example, is therefore free with regard to what party to vote for, whereas the person who gives a shit is constrained to vote for the party that is conducive to his shit giving.

    EDIT: I guess also that one could take the non-shit-giving to its logical conclusion. We don't give a shit about anything and act totally arbitrarily for as long as we lived, which wouldn't be that long, as it is highly unlikely that any food or drink would happen to go into our mouths by accident. I guess this is the closest approximation to free will we could have without ceasing to exist.
  • The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    Being brought into the world by means of coercion does not mean that you are a slave once born.darthbarracuda

    A slave lives only within coercively determined confines.

    But there's also no doubt that I don't consider myself a slave because I have a will that can be satisfied at any time. I am not physically restrained. I am free to do what I want to do. And so this romanticized idea of everyone being captive in their bodies and unable to become free is rubbish.darthbarracuda

    You are not free to do what you want to do. If you actually think that, it's possible you are suffering from a psychotic delusion.
  • The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    Anyway, one might be able to defend a notion of degrees of freedom. Total freedom is, arguably, only possible after death, as to exist is to be constrained and differentiated in some way, and perhaps non-existence is just total lack of constraint. So no existing person can be free. But one person can be more free than another. While no one is free from the need to eat, for example, some people are free from the need to eat nothing but millet every day. Consider also that relative to a particular decision, some people are free while others are not. Someone who doesn't give a shit about politics, for example, is therefore free with regard to what party to vote for, whereas the person who gives a shit is constrained to vote for the party that is conducive to his shit giving.bert1

    I think that within the confines e.g. of being a slave, these degrees are trivial: you're still a slave. And they do not allow the compatibilist's weaker assertions to go through. That is, the coercion involved in being born is so complete, and what 'choices' you might be offered once it is finished so trivial, that it doesn't matter.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    A slave lives only within coercively determined confines.The Great Whatever

    If you go over the other forum, you'll see a post I made a while back in the religion section that was about how if god existed, our lives would be a nightmare because there would be no escape from him. This is enslavement.

    To say that you want to be able to fly, and you have a will to fly, and yet you don't have wings, and so therefore you're a slave is really just...meh. So what if you can't fly? The only thing restricting you is an impersonal biological factor, not an actual agent. To expect anything more is to just set yourself up for disappointment.

    You've basically just re-defined what counts as a charitable interpretation of freedom of the will in order to make your argument work.

    You are not free to do what you want to do. If you actually think that, it's possible you are suffering from a psychotic delusion.The Great Whatever

    Ooo, tell me more how I am a delusional shill while not backing up any of your assertions. You can't just say that I'm not free to do what I want to do and expect me and everyone else to be content with your claim.
  • The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    The only thing restricting you is an impersonal biological factor, not an actual agentdarthbarracuda

    An actual agent placed you in the position by choosing to birth you.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    And like I said above, that doesn't mean you're restricted for the remainder of your life. A prisoner escaping from jail is no longer restricted.

    Once again...if you find your life to just be filled to the brim with repression and slavery, nobody is stopping you from ending it. You have that freedom as well as many others.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k

    If you were locked in a cage and tied up by rope, you would be denied your free will in the important sense seen by the compatibilist.

    If you stand on the edge of a building and want to fly but can't because you don't have wings, you are not denied an unacceptable amount of your free will. It doesn't matter that our will is unsatisfied by our biological bodies, so long as we don't find this to be overwhelming. I wish I could fly, but alas, I cannot. Shucks. But I move on because it's really not that important. What's important are the times that my will, my ability to act, is so severely restricted that I cannot operate and live a good life.
  • The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    You already are in such a situation by virtue of being born. The one who birthed you knew what the world was like and how it would restrict you, and how it would be inevitable that some terrible things would be forced upon you, but they decided to go through with birthing you anyway. So you were effectively put in a cage, purposely, by a person -- a cage that doesn't allow you to fly, no, but there are more pressing things (like that you are held with the threat of pain and death for not perpetually working and moving in certain ways to avoid it). All this was wished on you by an actual person.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    All this was wished on you by an actual person.The Great Whatever

    NO. You are insane if you think that every parent knowingly and willingly wished pain and burdensome worries upon their child. Bullshit. Parents have children because they: 1.) want children, 2.) want a relationship with their children, 3.) want to see a part of them live on after they die, 4.) "re-live" aspects of their lives through their children, 5.) because they genuinely think they are doing a good thing by having a child, ... etc.

    Everyone was once a child themselves and was placed into this world by their parents, who were also children themselves at one point. We can see this as somewhat tragic/ironic, but we can't say that parents are evil, wicked, mwahaha let me bring more children into the world to torture!!! Grow up.

    Basically what this thread has turned into is an exhibit of how far you are willing to go to justify your negative value of life.

    To have a child is, in the words of Rivka Weinberg, a risk imposition. Life is not inherently a gift. We have to continue to move, eat, shit, sleep, etc. just to stay alive. If you wanted more, too damn fucking bad. Either be more resilient and rebel like Camus advocated or get on with the logical conclusion of your apparent disgust with the way things are.
  • The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    NO. You are insane if you think that every parent knowingly and willingly wished pain and burdensome worries upon their child.darthbarracuda

    But they did. They knew full well that life entailed these things and wished life on me.

    Everyone was once a child themselves and was placed into this world by their parents, who were also children themselves at one point. We can see this as somewhat tragic/ironic, but we can't say that parents are evil, wicked, mwahaha let me bring more children into the world to torture!!! Grow up.darthbarracuda

    I never said they were evil or wicked. They did something terrible, but I don't think they, any more than anyone else, are responsible for their choices, since they likewise were coerced into living. Responsibility isn't a useful ethical notion; what is important is stopping the act.

    To have a child is, in the words of Rivka Weinberg, a risk imposition. Life is not inherently a gift. We have to continue to move, eat, shit, sleep, etc. just to stay alive. If you wanted more, too damn fucking bad. Either be more resilient and rebel like Camus advocated or get on with the logical conclusion of your apparent disgust with the way things are.darthbarracuda

    I am getting on with the logical conclusion, which is that people should not give birth.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    But they did. They knew full well that life entailed these things and wished life on me.The Great Whatever

    So it's now about you instead of every child? This thread is quite personal it seems.

    Regardless, there are worse things your parents could have done to you than to merely give birth to you. From the looks of it, it seems like you basically hate life since you're willing to go to the extreme of saying your parents are culprits that are guilty of a heinous crime.

    When you drive your car (assuming you have one that is), you usually don't spend the time worrying about all the consequences of driving your car. You could hit a child and paralyze them. So if this actually happens to a person on accident, are they responsible for paralysis or even the death of the child? No, we call it manslaughter. There was no motive. Similarly, I highly doubt that your parents "knew full well" the trials of life they were placing upon you. They were high on endorphins and other neurotransmitters, they were keen for some sex, they were interested in starting a family. I doubt they actually considered what they were actually doing might be a mistake. What they were doing was all too human.

    I never said they were evil or wicked. They did something terrible, but I don't think they, any more than anyone else, are responsible for their choices, since they likewise were coerced into living. Responsibility isn't a useful ethical notion; what is important is stopping the act.The Great Whatever

    So then why are you complaining about your parents "wishing" life upon you as if they did so in a highly reprehensible fashion of neglect?

    I am getting on with the logical conclusion, which is that people should not give birth.The Great Whatever

    Well, that's part of the logical conclusion.
  • The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    So it's now about you instead of every child? This thread is quite personal it seems.darthbarracuda

    No, it is typical in philosophical discourse to use pronouns like "I" and "you" to serve as examples for general cases to make general points.

    Regardless, there are worse things your parents could have done to you than to merely give birth to you. From the looks of it, it seems like you basically hate life since you're willing to go to the extreme of saying your parents are culprits that are guilty of a heinous crime.darthbarracuda

    Yes, but all bad things a parent can do to a child are predicated on them giving birth to them.

    When you drive your car (assuming you have one that is), you usually don't spend the time worrying about all the consequences of driving your car. You could hit a child and paralyze them.darthbarracuda

    Actually, I do worry about this: once I crashed into a tree on a sidewalk, and the car was out of my control, so had things gone differently, there is a very real chance I could have killed someone. I think automobiles are very dangerous and should not be treated lightly.

    So if this actually happens to a person on accident, are they responsible for paralysis or even the death of the child? No, we call it manslaughter. There was no motive.darthbarracuda

    That depends: they could have been driving irresponsibly, and been doing so even knowing that this would increase their chances of killing someone. In the case of giving birth, we all know that being alive entails large amounts of suffering (it is not avoidable), yet people give birth anyway knowing full well how the world is.

    So then why are you complaining about your parents "wishing" life upon you as if they did so in a highly reprehensible fashion of neglect?darthbarracuda

    Because giving birth to children is a terrible thing to do, and it would be better if people came to understand this so that they would stop doing it.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    No, it is typical in philosophical discourse to use pronouns like "I" and "you" to serve as examples for general cases to make general points.The Great Whatever

    This is coming from the person who has repeatedly made it clear that he rejects the notion of a "traditional" philosophical method...

    Yes, but all bad things a parent can do to a child are predicated on them giving birth to them.The Great Whatever

    Of course, but have they happened to you? That's why birth is a risk imposition, you are risking someone else's life. And that's not just the things parents can do their children...

    Actually, I do worry about this: once I crashed into a tree on a sidewalk, and the car was out of my control, so had things gone differently, there is a very real chance I could have killed someone. I think automobiles are very dangerous and should not be treated lightly.The Great Whatever

    Agreed. I almost got into an accident the other day. A vehicle is a weapon.

    That depends: they could have been driving irresponsibly, and been doing so even knowing that this would increase their chances of killing someone. In the case of giving birth, we all know that being alive entails large amounts of suffering (it is not avoidable), yet people give birth anyway knowing full well how the world is.The Great Whatever

    What you fail to realize is that people have this weird idea that their lives are typically better than what you suppose they are. Strange, huh? Not everyone is acutely aware of their existential dilemma, and if they are, most seem to distract themselves. It's not like birth is the most rational action. Nobody in their right mind has a child if they know how much they will suffer and care about this fact.

    So instead of characterizing parents as culprits, perhaps you ought to characterize them as being misled by their hormones and emotions.

    Because giving birth to children is a terrible thing to do, and it would be better if people came to understand this so that they would stop doing it.The Great Whatever

    What's done is done. If you don't like it, there are ways out. Get on with your life.
  • The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    This is coming from the person who has repeatedly made it clear that he rejects the notion of a "traditional" philosophical method...darthbarracuda

    I have rejected no such thing, I believe in the traditional Socratic method, and that has nothing to do with these posts anyway.

    Of course, but have they happened to you? That's why birth is a risk imposition, you are risking someone else's life. And that's not just the things parents can do their children...darthbarracuda

    Large amounts of suffering are guaranteed in every life, though for some people more than others.

    Agreed. I almost got into an accident the other day. A vehicle is a weapon.darthbarracuda

    Then you should probably retract the car analogy.

    What you fail to realize is that people have this weird idea that their lives are typically better than what you suppose they are. Strange, huh? Not everyone is acutely aware of their existential dilemma, and if they are, most seem to distract themselves. It's not like birth is the most rational action. Nobody in their right mind has a child if they know how much they will suffer and care about this fact.darthbarracuda

    I am aware that people not thinking about or understanding how bad their actions are plays a role in why they commit them. This is why the abolition of ignorance is important.

    So instead of characterizing parents as culprits, perhaps you ought to characterize them as being misled by their hormones and emotions.darthbarracuda

    So are all culprits, though.

    What's done is done. If you don't like it, there are ways out. Get on with your life.darthbarracuda

    There are actually no ways to get out; suicide is a temporary solution to a permanent problem. Offering apologetics for atrocities will not stop them -- you must face up to them.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    I have rejected no such thing, I believe in the traditional Socratic method, and that has nothing to do with these posts anyway.The Great Whatever

    Nor do I see how your apparent inability to get on with your life has any weight against compatibilism.

    Large amounts of suffering are guaranteed in every life, though for some people more than others.The Great Whatever

    True, but these "large amounts" are usually spread apart. They generally pass even if they suck while going through them. It's a matter of how tough, how resilient you are. If you can't handle it, sorry, nobody said life was fair. That's why birth is so problematic, because you don't know if the child will be able to cope with the burdens of life.

    Then you should probably retract the car analogy.The Great Whatever

    Why should I?

    I am aware that people not thinking about or understanding how bad their actions are plays a role in why they commit them. This is why the abolition of ignorance is important.The Great Whatever

    And what an unfailingly noble pursuit this must be! Tell me truly, how many people have you talked to today about birth?

    So are all culprits, though.The Great Whatever

    No, they are fellow sufferers who make mistakes. Being a culprit implies having intention.

    There are actually no ways to get out; suicide is a temporary solution to a permanent problem. Offering apologetics for atrocities will not stop them -- you must face up to them.The Great Whatever

    Pretty sure if you die, and that reincarnation/afterlife is not a thing, you'll stop suffering.

    Do you ever think that perhaps the reason why nobody seems to get our line of reasoning is that they have the necessary psychological walls? Advocate all you want, you're really not going to change anything.
  • The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    You seem to be upset with me and are not engaging the points I am making, so I don't think a response here would be fruitful.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k

    I'm not upset at all. Come, stop trying to move the goalposts and avoid answering my questions.
  • The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    I do not think there are any questions that you raised to be answered, only voicing of being upset.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    Such as? I gave responses to your points which you are now ignoring.
  • The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    If you would like to restate them after you have calmed down, I will answer.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    I have rejected no such thing, I believe in the traditional Socratic method, and that has nothing to do with these posts anyway.The Great Whatever

    Nor do I see how your apparent inability to get on with your life has any weight against compatibilism.

    Large amounts of suffering are guaranteed in every life, though for some people more than others.The Great Whatever

    True, but these "large amounts" are usually spread apart. They generally pass even if they suck while going through them. It's a matter of how tough, how resilient you are. If you can't handle it, sorry, nobody said life was fair. That's why birth is so problematic, because you don't know if the child will be able to cope with the burdens of life.

    Then you should probably retract the car analogy.The Great Whatever

    Why should I?

    I am aware that people not thinking about or understanding how bad their actions are plays a role in why they commit them. This is why the abolition of ignorance is important.The Great Whatever

    And what an unfailingly noble pursuit this must be! Tell me truly, how many people have you talked to today about birth?

    So are all culprits, though.The Great Whatever

    No, they are fellow sufferers who make mistakes. Being a culprit implies having intention.

    There are actually no ways to get out; suicide is a temporary solution to a permanent problem. Offering apologetics for atrocities will not stop them -- you must face up to them.The Great Whatever

    Pretty sure if you die, and that reincarnation/afterlife is not a thing, you'll stop suffering.

    Do you ever think that perhaps the reason why nobody seems to get our line of reasoning is that they have the necessary psychological walls? Advocate all you want, you're really not going to change anything.
  • The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    I am not going to respond to a bunch of zebra-posting snide remarks. I would prefer to discuss the ideas and am uninterested in your personal affection towards me or my opinions.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    I would like to know where in my post are these zebra snide remarks. I would also like to know why you're not responding to any of my responses. This is hilariously petty.
  • The Great Whatever
    2.2k
    I am not responding because I think you dislike me or what I am posting and are uninterested in the issues regarding coercion, compatibilism and birth that I have been trying to discuss. Most of your responses raise no points, and only shoot back pointless remarks like 'Why should I?' Answering these so you can come back with another upset retort is not interesting or conducive to a discussion on these issues.
  • darthbarracuda
    2.9k
    I don't dislike you but I certainly don't have a high approval of your forum conduct elsewhere.

    Furthermore, you are not the big boss who gets to decide what is discussed and what is not. I think that this entire discussion stems from your extreme negative view on life. If you disagree then you are going to have to give good reasons for this, because otherwise your entire OP falls apart.

    Now, if you don't want to respond, that's fine. I won't, in fact I can't, restrict your will to respond or not. But please don't make it seem like it's my fault that you're not willing to have a discussion.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.