• ToothyMaw
    553
    Choices, not actions, if external causes are not to matter, are what should determine whether very specific rules - code law - should be applied in the context of the meta-rules built into the legal machinery governing the application of said rules.

    Let’s say there is an ostensibly relative meta-rule of application. It would determine whether or not a very specific rule needs to be applied because it has been broken, but it is - mostly - not relative because the actor is stipulated not to matter and the circumstances under which the broken rule applies is distinct from the circumstances under which every other rule applies; its application to the very specific rule is non arbitrary and predicated on conditions that are always true (save whether or not the the very specific rule has been broken) - namely that the very specific broken rule applies regardless of actor, and in the distinct circumstances built into it.

    Distinct, in this context, refers to the content of rules that is true regardless of whether or not the content of other laws is true - namely that the actor doesn’t matter, the circumstances under which the very specific rules apply, and the set of conditions that mean they might be broken.

    The application of the meta-rule is dependent upon the fact of the very specific rule being broken, which is dependent upon a physical action, which is a direct result of whether or not someone makes a choice to act in such a way as to break the rule. Thus, the conditions that potentially satisfy the meta-rule shift. But if the rule being broken is viewed as a function of free choice there is no original cause for the rule being broken other than the choice because the related causal chain resulting from the free choice is self-contained and affected only by the quality inherent to a free choice that makes free choices free. This quality is neither a cause (mostly), nor affected by past causes, and thus the self-contained causal chain, traced backwards from the rule being broken, stops with the choice, which causes the action. The action causes the rule to be broken and thus be applied by the meta-rule. But if the causal chain begins with the choice, it implies that there is nothing affecting it other than whatever it is that is inherent to free choices that makes free choices free.

    But that thing is, once again, mostly a qualitative property; free choices might not be affected by external causation, but the thing that is inherent to them that makes them free is not a cause in and of itself - except insofar as it causes the choices to be free. Thus, the choice, while free, is not caused by anything external, meaning that there are no original, external causes that can satisfy the meta-rule if free choice applies. There may be proximate causes, however, and those satisfy the meta-rule, but if the proximate cause is taken to be the action, then the very specific rule would be broken as a function of an action that just exists, and couldn't have been otherwise - unless it was caused by a free choice, which isn't factored in. Thus, the actor, if action is the proximate cause and free choice is to guide our judgements, cannot be held responsible - their (free) choice was not considered. The proximate cause must be taken to be the free choice, and the action follows as a matter of fact, along with the very specific rule being broken, and the application of the very specific rule by the meta-rule.

    Thus, in the context of code law, free choice is the only criterion by which the application of the meta-rule can be satisfied without respect to external causes.

    [See comments below for revised and clarified version of this OP]
  • jgill
    1.5k
    I'm with Feynman on this, let's see some examples that unravel the word scramble. :chin:
  • ToothyMaw
    553


    Is it that difficult to understand?
  • ToothyMaw
    553


    You were active twelve minutes ago and posted that comment seven minutes ago. You spent five minutes reading. You could try a little harder.
  • ToothyMaw
    553


    Okay, here is an example: a deranged philosophy forum poster goes on a sexist tirade. They should only be held responsible if they were making a free choice. If they are so sexist that they are just acting in accordance with their nature, and made no free choice, they shouldn't be held responsible. They should still be banned for being a sexist piece of crap, but they shouldn't be blamed for the tirade per se.

    edit: better example incoming but I don't want to chain post
  • 8livesleft
    126
    Thus, in the context of code law and free choice, one’s choices should be taken as the sole condition necessary for someone to be held accountable for breaking a very specific law, and, thus, people cannot be held responsible for their actions if they did not make a choice to break any such laws.ToothyMaw

    I think modern law already takes this into consideration. That's why we have degrees of murder, for example - from involuntary manslaughter, second degree, first degree etc...
  • jgill
    1.5k
    thus, people cannot be held responsible for their actions if they did not make a choice to break any such lawsToothyMaw

    How does this accord with the judicial "Ignorance of the law is no excuse"?
  • ToothyMaw
    553
    I think modern law already takes this into consideration. That's why we have degrees of murder, for example - from involuntary manslaughter, second degree, first degree etc...8livesleft

    Whether or not something is manslaughter, first degree murder, etc. is dependent upon interpretation of law and circumstances, and is not specific enough to be broken only according to an action. Thus, such things have little to do with my conclusion, which says that if someone does not make a free choice in selecting to break a very specific law, they should not be held accountable for their actions at all.

    How does this accord with the judicial "Ignorance of the law is no excuse"?jgill

    You could stipulate that arbitrarily, but it doesn't follow from anything having to do with free choice.

    edit: even if you stipulate it arbitrarily it comes into contact with free choice I think
  • ToothyMaw
    553
    (Clearer OP)

    I will get this out of the way: this is primarily about the functioning of code law in terms of our moral principles; code law does not need an irrefutable philosophical underpinning to function, but it makes more sense in terms of moral culpability if we keep our laws open to interpretation, which is the main point of this post.

    Some theories of moral culpability are predicated on the idea of freedom of choice, the idea that one could have both chosen otherwise and that one’s choice is unaffected by external causation. This idea of moral culpability based upon freedom of choice - both the ability to act freely and to act free of external causation - is at odds with determinism, which is Pierre-Simon, Marquis de Laplace’s classic formulation that the present state of the universe is the effect of its previous state and the cause of the state that follows it. Furthermore, if a mind, at any given moment, could know all of the forces operating in nature and the respective positions of all its components, it would thereby know with certainty the future and the past of every entity, large or small.

    Determinism and freedom of choice have heavy implications for code law, which is a set of very specific laws. The conditions for a very specific law to be broken are mostly distinct from other very specific laws - they are very specific. Thus, one’s actions, and thus choices, are mostly what determines if they are broken. Well, if one believes in free choice the breaking of these laws is the result of a self-contained causal chain beginning with the free choice. This implies that there is nothing affecting the choice other than whatever it is that is inherent to free actions that is free.

    This quality is not a cause in and of itself except insofar as it causes free actions to be free. Thus, there are no original, external causes for the very specific law to be broken. There are proximate causes, but if the cause is taken to be the action, then the law being broken is a function of something that couldn't have been otherwise; the free choice causing the action is not taken into account.

    Therefore, the proximate cause must be the free choice, which, as a function of cause and effect, satisfies the conditions for the very specific law being broken. Thus, if code law is to be predicated on free choice, there is no room for external causation; the choices resulting in the conditions for the law being broken are externally uncaused.

    I now bring up the idea of PAP (possible alternate possibilities) from the Frankfurt Cases presented by Harry Frankfurt. It dictates that:
    (1) PAP: An agent is responsible for an action only if said agent could have done otherwise.
    (2) An agent could have done otherwise only if causal determinism is false.
    (3) Therefore, an agent is responsible for an action only if causal determinism is false.

    The PAP will become relevant in a moment.

    Since code law, if predicated upon free choice, leaves no room for external causation, there is a contradiction; there are without a doubt mostly or wholly unfree choices that result in very specific laws being broken. Thus, in terms of moral culpability, the application of very specific laws must either necessarily preclude genuine free choice or take into account proximate, external causes for non-arbitrary, non-random choices. If it precludes freedom of choice then, assuming determinism is true, the PAP apply, and no one is morally culpable.

    The escape hatch is to assert that only the freedom to act exists, but, even then, genuine free choice is precluded; external, proximate factors affecting the choice would remain.

    Thus, if determinism is true, our intuitions with respect to moral culpability make little sense, especially in terms of rules that are broken mostly as a result of actions.
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