Determinism

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Wed Feb 25, 2015 6:44 pm

Pec of Uliar wrote:
I have tried to formalize [peacegirl's] argument (see upthread) with premises and a conclusion. Are you satisfied with this formalization? If not, point out any changes, repairs or additions that need to be made, and we can go from there. Formalizing arguments like this is pretty standard in philosophical disucussions.


I will be the first to admit that this may well be the way in which "serious philosophers" go about the business of bringing logic and rational thought to bear on a "big question" like determinism. Questions which philosophers broach in order that they might attain wisdom. Or, as Marcus Tullius Cicero once suggested, "philosophy, rightly defined, is simply the love of wisdom.”

But to what extent is the wisdom we derive from logic and rational thought of limited value with respect to answering questions this big? Back again to the gap between what we think we know and all that will need to be known in order to resolve it once and for all.

Or, in focusing the beam more on the relationships that most interest me, with respect to the behaviors we choose that come into conflict with others because there is, in turn, a conflict regarding value judgments? Value judgments predicated on conflicting goods derived in large part from subjective points of view?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:14 pm

Pec of Uliar wrote:If the above is a fair summation, I find it to be an interesting and original argument.


Most of your quick overview is okay but there are gaps. The reason a person will find greater satisfaction in not striking a first blow (there are three forms) is because he needs some kind of justification to hurt others if there is no provocation. Knowing he will be blamed and punished allows his conscience to be eased because he can come up with excuses or rationalize his behavior, which allows him to act on his desire. Knowing that he will NOT be blamed by anyone anywhere prevents him from being able to shift his responsibility to someone or something else as the cause of his behavior. When he is not being blamed, how is it possible for him to come up with excuses when he knows he is already excused?
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

“Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health,
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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:25 pm

Pec of Uliar wrote:Let me offer two additional premises:

6. People strike a first blow (i.e., find greater satisfaction in striking a first blow, then in refraining from doing so) precisely because they know in advance that they will be blamed or punished for striking a first blow: This prospective blame or punishment constitutes their justification for striking a first blow.

7. One everyone knows that they will not be blamed or punished for striking a first blow, they will no longer be able to strike a first blow, because their justification (blame or punishment) for acting in this way has vanished. Thus, the direction of "greater satisfaction" will always be to refrain from striking a first blow.


I missed this. That is true but there are two other justifications aside from the knowledge one will be blamed or punished that would allow this hurt to others. The second justification would be if not to hurt others would cause one to be a loser. For example, if a person does not have enough money to support his family, he may steal or do any number of things in order to survive, even if others are hurt as a result. In this case, the principles of no blame cannot work. The third justification is if he has already been hurt. Then he would be justified to retaliate. When these three justifications are removed, a person cannot gain satisfaction in hurting others because it would be a first blow, which his conscience would not allow.
Last edited by peacegirl on Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
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“Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health,
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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Wed Feb 25, 2015 7:52 pm

Pec of Uliar wrote:I think this issue of God's omniscience v. human free will should be split off to another thread, since it seems tangential to what peacegirl is talking about.

But, briefly, Mary has genuine free choice even if God knows what she will do, before she does it. This particular issue is a subset of a broader issue called the Problem of Future Contingents, most famously mooted in Aristotle's Sea Battle Argument. The allegation that God's foreknowledge of human acts precludes human freedom is sometimes called the the problem of epistemic determinism; but it is a subset of the Problem of Future Contingents, also called the problem of logical determinism.

Both problems are easily resolved by employing a possible worlds heuristic.


peacegirl wrote:I don't know what you have read, but I explained that just because Mary can choose between options without external constraint does not mean she has free will. Her choices are contingent upon her heredity, environment, and all of her experiences up to the moment of choice. Out of necessity she is COMPELLED to choose that which gives her greater satisfaction, therefore her choice is NOT free. In other words, if it is impossible for her to choose B over A because it gives her less satisfaction under the conditions, she is NOT free to choose A.

What do you mean it's not my argument? It is my argument as far as why man's will is not free. Let me repeat: it is impossible to choose the less preferable choice when there is a better choice available. In other words, we cannot choose what would offer us less satisfaction since desire is always moving in the direction of "greater" satisfaction. Now you can try to dissect this, pull it apart as much as you want, but the bottom line is that this an invariable law.

Pec of Uliar wrote:As I explained, this is a separate topic, and NOT your argument. Which is why, if anyone wants to discuss it, I think it should be in a separate thread.

My point was simply that free will cannot be precluded in virtue of omniscience by itself. I explicitly stated that there may be other reasons that preclude free will -- your argument may be one of them. So, again, this is a side discussion at best: tangential, as I noted, to your argument.

I have tried to formalize your argument (see upthread) with premises and a conclusion. Are you satisfied with this formalization? If not, point out any changes, repairs or additions that need to be made, and we can go from there. Formalizing arguments like this is pretty standard in philosophical discussions.


I am still waiting for someone to actually read the book in its entirety. I compiled 7 of his books. Some of the examples are mine, but the rest is his writing. I feel like I'm not doing this work justice. You have gotten the basics. I would think that the book would interest you.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

“Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health,
lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys
information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.” – Michael Ellner



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Re: Determinism

Postby Pec of Uliar » Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:00 pm

iambiguous wrote:But how is that not just you [once again] asserting it to be true? Where are the points that deconstruct my points regarding God's omniscience, Mary's abortion and free will? Or the points I raised regarding the Come Reason Ministries argument pertaining to the child and the cookie?


I already explained this to you, in some detail. I did not "assert" anything. I offered a logical demonstration that omniscience, by itself, does not impugn free will. Please re-read what I wrote.
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Re: Determinism

Postby Pec of Uliar » Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:04 pm

peacegirl wrote:
Pec of Uliar wrote:If the above is a fair summation, I find it to be an interesting and original argument.


Most of your quick overview is okay but there are gaps.


That's fine, then. Let's work on the gaps.

Show me what they are, and we'll formalize your argument.
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Re: Determinism

Postby Pec of Uliar » Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:07 pm

OK, I missed your post beginning with "I missed this." :mrgreen:

So, fine. Let's take the formalization of the argument I offered, and add any premises from the above that you think are needed.

Work with me here; I'm trying to help you. O:)
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Re: Determinism

Postby Pec of Uliar » Wed Feb 25, 2015 9:31 pm

Peacegirl,

As it happens, I have read much of the book. I would like to work with you on formalizing the argument about free will and determinism.

I can tell you now, however, that the stuff on light and sight is pure nonsense. If you want the book to be taken seriously, you should remove all that stuff.

I think I understand why the author wrote what he did about light and sight. His intuition is correct. We are not simply passive receptors of reality. Our brains construct reality, and our constructions may be false. I think that is substantially what he is trying to say.

But what he said about light and sight is demonstrably false. It does not even make sense.

Remove that stuff, and focus on his discussion of free will and determinism.
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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Thu Feb 26, 2015 1:08 am

Pec of Uliar wrote:Peacegirl,

As it happens, I have read much of the book. I would like to work with you on formalizing the argument about free will and determinism.

I can tell you now, however, that the stuff on light and sight is pure nonsense. If you want the book to be taken seriously, you should remove all that stuff.

I think I understand why the author wrote what he did about light and sight. His intuition is correct. We are not simply passive receptors of reality. Our brains construct reality, and our constructions may be false. I think that is substantially what he is trying to say.

But what he said about light and sight is demonstrably false. It does not even make sense.

Remove that stuff, and focus on his discussion of free will and determinism.


I would never do that. And who are you to state with such dogmatism that he was wrong? You really don't know that. Our brains do not construct objective reality. We may have perceptions about what we see that are unique to us based on our experiences, but we all see the same thing. If I see a dog, you don't see a cat, if we're looking at the same object unless you have something wrong with your eyes or your brain. I have no desire to discuss his second discovery right now. I'm wondering where you were introduced to the book. You sound very similar to someone I already had a discussion with regarding necessity and contingency. Just because our choices are contingent on antecedent events does not make them not necessary. It is also true that nothing (not God, not a designer, not an omniscient being, not one's heredity or environment) can take away one's free will (and in this context the term "free will" only means one's ability to choose which Lessans clarifies in Chapter One. He uses the phrase, "I did of my own free will" all the time, which only means I did it because I wanted to, nobody forced me to do it). This though does not mean we actually have freedom of the will, and if you had read this book carefully you would have understood this. I cannot formalize these concepts in a way that reduces them to nothing more than a shell of his explanation, just because people don't want to take the time to read the text in full.
Last edited by peacegirl on Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:17 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

“Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health,
lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys
information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.” – Michael Ellner



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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Thu Feb 26, 2015 5:53 pm

Pec of Uliar wrote:
iambiguous wrote:But how is that not just you [once again] asserting it to be true? Where are the points that deconstruct my points regarding God's omniscience, Mary's abortion and free will? Or the points I raised regarding the Come Reason Ministries argument pertaining to the child and the cookie?


I already explained this to you, in some detail. I did not "assert" anything. I offered a logical demonstration that omniscience, by itself, does not impugn free will. Please re-read what I wrote.


Let us then just agree to disagree about this.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:27 pm

From "Whither Morality in a Hard Determinist World?"
by Nick Trakakis

One might contend that even if there is little or no evidence that we are free and morally responsible, the consequences of denying moral responsibility are so grave that we should continue living under the (perhaps false) impression that we were free in the sense required for moral responsibility. This line of thought goes as far back as Kant, and has been vigorously defended in more recent times by Saul Smilansky. According to Smilansky, libertarian free will does not exist, but once we remove it from our picture of reality, our fundamental values, practices and attitudes -- such as the belief in our potential for blameworthiness according to what we do, our appreciation of achievement in ourselves and others, the sense of value and meaning in our lives, and so on -- would be placed under great risk, if not largely destroyed.


I have always found reasoning of this sort to be rather peculiar.

If, in a hard determined world, everything that we think is only as we must/can think then thinking like this would merely be part and parcel of that as well. We can no more freely remove determinism from our thoughts then we can freely insert it.

Either we have some capacity to freely choose our thoughts or we don't. This "let's pretend that we do have free will even though we know that we do not" approach is simply bizarre to me.

I always come back to, "what the hell am I missing here"?

So, what am I missing?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:34 pm

iambiguous wrote:From "Whither Morality in a Hard Determinist World?"
by Nick Trakakis

One might contend that even if there is little or no evidence that we are free and morally responsible, the consequences of denying moral responsibility are so grave that we should continue living under the (perhaps false) impression that we were free in the sense required for moral responsibility. This line of thought goes as far back as Kant, and has been vigorously defended in more recent times by Saul Smilansky. According to Smilansky, libertarian free will does not exist, but once we remove it from our picture of reality, our fundamental values, practices and attitudes -- such as the belief in our potential for blameworthiness according to what we do, our appreciation of achievement in ourselves and others, the sense of value and meaning in our lives, and so on -- would be placed under great risk, if not largely destroyed.


I have always found reasoning of this sort to be rather peculiar.

If, in a hard determined world, everything that we think is only as we must/can think then thinking like this would merely be part and parcel of that as well. We can no more freely remove determinism from our thoughts then we can freely insert it.

Either we have some capacity to freely choose our thoughts or we don't. This "let's pretend that we do have free will even though we know that we do not" approach is simply bizarre to me.

I always come back to, "what the hell am I missing here"?

So, what am I missing?


I don't know who you are addressing this to, but I will take a stab at it. I think all he was saying here is that in order to hold people accountable, we must pretend that will is free in order to blame and punish. He seems to have a similar train of thought to you in that if will is not free, we can't take blame or credit for our actions, which would take away all meaning. I don't subscribe to that dismal conclusion at all.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

“Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health,
lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys
information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.” – Michael Ellner



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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:53 pm

peacegirl wrote:I don't know who you are addressing this to, but I will take a stab at it. I think all he was saying here is that in order to hold people accountable, we must pretend that will is free in order to blame and punish. He seems to have a similar train of thought to you in that if will is not free, we can't take blame or credit for our actions, which would take away all meaning. I don't subscribe to that dismal conclusion at all.


Actually his argument revolves more around this:

There are, however, a growing number of dissenters who maintain that the consequences for morality, given hard determinism, are not as dire as is ordinarily feared. Indeed, some have gone on to argue that hard determinism offers us a `purer' or `higher' form of morality than would otherwise be available.


Here: http://sorites.org/Issue_19/trakakis.htm

He goes on:

The question, however, remains as to what people with a psychology like ours would likely do once they discovered that libertarian free will is merely an illusion. Smilansky's answer seems to be that the illusion of free will fulfills such important emotional needs in people that it is unlikely that many people would be able to accept the harsh reality with regard to free will. But surely some people will hit upon the truth and will be brave enough to accept it -- Smilansky himself is a case in point. Would these brave souls be required to engage in some sort of self-deception in order to carry on with their daily lives? It is not clear, in other words, how someone in Smilansky's shoes, who is fully aware of the illusory character of free will, can (without discounting this awareness) continue thinking of himself and others as free and morally responsible agents.


Now, my reaction here tends to revolve around the assumption that in a hard determined world any of our reactions here can and must be simply as they are. And they are as they are simply because they could not have been any other way.

If we "hit upon the truth" that is because we could not not have hit upon it. If we construe those who admit to the implications of hard determinism as being "brave" that is only because we were determined to do so as mere components of matter unfolding as all components of matter must: fully in accordance and in sync with the laws of matter.

In any event, moral repsonsibility [as we have come to understand it in a world with some measure of free will] would still remain an illusion.

More later from his argument.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Thu Feb 26, 2015 6:53 pm

dupe
Last edited by iambiguous on Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:12 pm

Nick Trakakis:


More perspicuously, hard determinism -- at least as classically expressed by such thinkers as Spinoza and Holbach -- is committed to the following three theses:

(1) Free will (in the strong sense required for moral responsibility and moral desert) is not compatible with determinism.
(2) There is no free will (in the above sense), because:
(3) All events are determined.

Contemporary hard determinists, however, are unlikely to accept the third of these theses, preferring instead to remain non-committal about the truth of universal determinism (particularly in the light of developments in twentieth-century physics).


This is yet another factor that will muddy the water here.

And it does so because the "developments in twentieth-century physics" pertain largely to the world of quantum mechanics. Which is just another way of noting that the "laws of matter" may not be nearly as "deterministic" as some supposed. After all, if the laws of matter are somehow intertwined with the role of those observing the interaction of matter, what does that tell us about what we can [or, perhaps, cannot] know about the laws themselves?

Which, from my frame of mind, is just another layer to be added in/to the gap between what we think we know about these things here and now and all that will need to be known in order to grasp the reality of human will objectively.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Thu Feb 26, 2015 8:51 pm

iambiguous wrote:
peacegirl wrote:I don't know who you are addressing this to, but I will take a stab at it. I think all he was saying here is that in order to hold people accountable, we must pretend that will is free in order to blame and punish. He seems to have a similar train of thought to you in that if will is not free, we can't take blame or credit for our actions, which would take away all meaning. I don't subscribe to that dismal conclusion at all.


Actually his argument revolves more around this:

There are, however, a growing number of dissenters who maintain that the consequences for morality, given hard determinism, are not as dire as is ordinarily feared. Indeed, some have gone on to argue that hard determinism offers us a `purer' or `higher' form of morality than would otherwise be available.


Here: http://sorites.org/Issue_19/trakakis.htm

He goes on:

The question, however, remains as to what people with a psychology like ours would likely do once they discovered that libertarian free will is merely an illusion. Smilansky's answer seems to be that the illusion of free will fulfills such important emotional needs in people that it is unlikely that many people would be able to accept the harsh reality with regard to free will. But surely some people will hit upon the truth and will be brave enough to accept it -- Smilansky himself is a case in point. Would these brave souls be required to engage in some sort of self-deception in order to carry on with their daily lives? It is not clear, in other words, how someone in Smilansky's shoes, who is fully aware of the illusory character of free will, can (without discounting this awareness) continue thinking of himself and others as free and morally responsible agents.


Now, my reaction here tends to revolve around the assumption that in a hard determined world any of our reactions here can and must be simply as they are. And they are as they are simply because they could not have been any other way.

If we "hit upon the truth" that is because we could not not have hit upon it. If we construe those who admit to the implications of hard determinism as being "brave" that is only because we were determined to do so as mere components of matter unfolding as all components of matter must: fully in accordance and in sync with the laws of matter.

In any event, moral repsonsibility [as we have come to understand it in a world with some measure of free will] would still remain an illusion.

More later from his argument.


That is one side of Lessans' equation (you are missing the other side). It states that we are not responsible for our actions and why, if we are to extend the reasoning long enough, we will see that not blaming is actually better than blaming insofar as achieving what punishment could not. Punishment deters some people, but it won't deter people who want something badly enough even if it hurts others. This law of our nature does just that; it prevents the desire to hurt others not because it's morally wrong but because our conscience will not allow actions that may hurt others when those actions cannot be justified. One of the ways in which we can justify our actions is if we know that we will be blamed if caught. This is what allows us to come up with reasonable excuses. This, in turn, eases our conscience to do the very thing that threats of blame and punishment are trying to prevent. But if we're not being blamed how can we come up with excuses or rationalizations when we know we already excused? This is key because the minute a person is questioned about his behavior it offers him an opportunity to shift his responsibility (not in a moral sense but in an actual sense if he performed the behavior) to someone or something else as the cause which affords him the rationalization he needs in order to follow through with the undesirable behavior.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

“Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health,
lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys
information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.” – Michael Ellner



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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Thu Feb 26, 2015 10:19 pm

peacegirl wrote:That is one side of Lessans' equation (you are missing the other side). It states that we are not responsible for our actions and why, if we are to extend the reasoning long enough, we will see that not blaming is actually better than blaming insofar as achieving what punishment could not. Punishment deters some people, but it won't deter people who want something badly enough even if it hurts others. This law of our nature does just that; it prevents the desire to hurt others not because it's morally wrong but because our conscience will not allow actions that may hurt others when those actions cannot be justified. One of the ways in which we can justify our actions is if we know that we will be blamed if caught. This is what allows us to come up with reasonable excuses. This, in turn, eases our conscience to do the very thing that threats of blame and punishment are trying to prevent. But if we're not being blamed how can we come up with excuses or rationalizations when we know we already excused? This is key because the minute a person is questioned about his behavior it offers him an opportunity to shift his responsibility (not in a moral sense but in an actual sense if he performed the behavior) to someone or something else as the cause which affords him the rationalization he needs in order to follow through with the undesirable behavior.


Okay, you have typed these word. I am reading them.

If you could not not have typed them and I could not not have reacted to them such that I am now compelled to type these words in response, what real difference does it make which of our arguments is closest to the objective truth?

Nothing that we think, feel or do can ever be other than what is true objectively. Why? Because it is the only thing that we could ever have thought, felt and done period.

And if a woman is never blamed and punished for aborting her unborn baby in the new world how can this produce a world in which fewer women will choose abortion?

The objective truth here is always what must happen.

And if the "law of our nature" is such that "it prevents the desire to hurt others not because it's morally wrong but because our conscience will not allow actions that may hurt others when those actions cannot be justified" than how do you explain all of the choices that millions upon millions of human beings make in the here and the now that do result in the hurting of others.

And many make these choices precisely because they are convinced that if everyone else made the same choices we would live in a just world. But those who make the opposite choices are convinced of the very same thing.

And what does it mean to "come up with reasonable excuses" when any excuses that we do come up with are only the excuses that we ever could come up with?
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

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Re: Determinism

Postby Pec of Uliar » Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:05 am

peacegirl wrote:
Pec of Uliar wrote:Remove that stuff, and focus on his discussion of free will and determinism.


I would never do that.


Your loss.

And who are you to state with such dogmatism that he was wrong?


Because it's empirically, demonstrably wrong. It's easily shown to be wrong, and I'm sure that others have explained this to you before.

You really don't know that.


I do know for a fact that his claims about light and sight are false.

You sound very similar to someone I already had a discussion with regarding necessity and contingency.


No surprise there, this is standard stuff in logic. You'll note, though, that I was not addressing your argument, but that of Iambiguous, which, as I repeatedly pointed out, was a different topic.

I cannot formalize these concepts in a way that reduces them to nothing more than a shell of his explanation, just because people don't want to take the time to read the text in full.


Your loss. You still have not said what, if anything, is wrong with my formalization of the argument. If the formalization is correct, it will help you. It will make it much easier for you to make your argument. Of course, even if the formal construction is correct, you still need to show the argument is valid (conclusion follows from premises) and sound (all premises are in fact true). What is odd is that you keep asking people to explain the two-sided equation to you, which itself is a request for a formalization. I just formalized your two-sided equation. Is it right or wrong?

As mentioned, this kind of formalization is standard stuff in philosophy. If your argument can't be reduced to a formalization that can be tested for soundness and validity, that's a sure sign the argument is incoherent. Coherent arguments without exception can be formalized.
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Re: Determinism

Postby Pec of Uliar » Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:13 am

I notice that this thread started in 2009, and you've been on other boards running this argument. Have you made any progress?

If you present a formal argument, people can come to grips with it. One can present formal arguments about anything in philosophy; it's a standard method. One doesn't have to read the collected works of Hume, or any philosopher, to distill their ideas down to premises and a conclusion. These are not empty simplifications, as you seem to think. This would help you in particular, as much of the first two chapters you insist that everyone read consists mostly of irrelevant blather, I'm sorry to say. That doesn't mean the author hasn't come up with something: it just means he didn't present it very well. He could have presented his argument in a few pages; it's not that hard to understand, and so far as I can tell, I have accurately distilled his fundamental argument.
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Re: Determinism

Postby Pec of Uliar » Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:21 am

iambiguous wrote:
Pec of Uliar wrote:
iambiguous wrote:But how is that not just you [once again] asserting it to be true? Where are the points that deconstruct my points regarding God's omniscience, Mary's abortion and free will? Or the points I raised regarding the Come Reason Ministries argument pertaining to the child and the cookie?


I already explained this to you, in some detail. I did not "assert" anything. I offered a logical demonstration that omniscience, by itself, does not impugn free will. Please re-read what I wrote.


Let us then just agree to disagree about this.


That's fine, especially since it's largely off-topic, but I merely note that this is not a matter of opinion, about which people can disagree because their opinions may differ. You're making a logical error.
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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Fri Feb 27, 2015 5:32 am

Pec of Uliar wrote:That's fine, especially since it's largely off-topic, but I merely note that this is not a matter of opinion, about which people can disagree because their opinions may differ. You're making a logical error.


If by that you mean I refuse to accept your logic, well, I here that a lot from the objectivist ilk here. Again, let's just agree to disagree and move on.
He was like a man who wanted to change all; and could not; so burned with his impotence; and had only me, an infinitely small microcosm to convert or detest. John Fowles

Start here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=176529
Then here: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=185296
And here: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=194382
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Re: Determinism

Postby Pec of Uliar » Fri Feb 27, 2015 6:00 am

iambiguous wrote:
Pec of Uliar wrote:That's fine, especially since it's largely off-topic, but I merely note that this is not a matter of opinion, about which people can disagree because their opinions may differ. You're making a logical error.


If by that you mean I refuse to accept your logic, well, I here that a lot from the objectivist ilk here. Again, let's just agree to disagree and move on.


Logic is logic, and this has nothing to do with the ravings of Objectivists. This involves a branch of logic called modal logic. So we're not agreeing to disagree. Your argument has a logical flaw. I'll state it one more time:

You're confusing two ideas that must be kept distinct. It is true that I will not do, other than what God foreknows, in virtue of God's omniscience. After all, if I did other than what God foreknew, God would not be omniscient, would he?

The fallacy lies in the jumping to the conclusion, from the above, that I cannot do, other than what I in fact do.

But I CAN do, other than what I do. It's just that, if I do y instead of x, God will foreknow y; and if I do x instead of y, God will foreknow x.

I can do x or y: That is free will, or free choice, assuming free will or free choice is not impugned for some other reason.

In the possible worlds (modal) heuristic, there are two possible worlds:

1. I do x and God foreknows x.
2. I do y and God foreknows y.

There are two non-possible worlds:

1. I do x and God foreknows y.
2. I do y and God foreknows x.

The latter two worlds are impossible because of God's omniscience. But the former two worlds are possible, and clearly show that I can do either x or y: free will.

The sticking point in arguments like this is the uncomfortable notion that I can freely do an act, even though the outcome of the act is known in advance by God. But I CAN freely do the act, or choose; it's just whatever I do or choose, God will foreknow. That's why the Ministry's example of the father the cookie was not very good, though it was close. The father "knows" in a loose sense what his son will do; and the son does it freely, even if the father knows it. Of course, in the example, the father could still be wrong. The difference between the father, and the alleged God, is that God cannot be wrong. But the act is still free.

Finally, as mentioned, this argument is a subset of the general Problem of Future Contingents. There is a lot of literature out there on this subject, whole books in fact, so if you are interested in looking into it further, I can give you links. I assure you I'm not talking out of my hat.

The other basic sticking point is the idea that free will requires I do OTHER than what God foreknows; but free will does not require this. All that is required is that I can choose x or y. If I can do that, it is logically irrelevant whether God knows in advance what I will choose.
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Re: Determinism

Postby Pec of Uliar » Fri Feb 27, 2015 6:23 am

If you're interested:

Foreknowledge and Free Will, the Internet Encylopedia of Philosophy

The intro (bold mine):

Suppose it were known, by someone else, what you are going to choose to do tomorrow. Wouldn't that entail that tomorrow you must do what it was known in advance that you would do? In spite of your deliberating and planning, in the end, all is futile: you must choose exactly as it was earlier known that you would. The supposed exercise of your free will is ultimately an illusion.

Historically, the tension between foreknowledge and the exercise of free will was addressed in a religious context. According to orthodox views in the West, God was claimed to be omniscient (and hence in possession of perfect foreknowledge) and yet God was supposed to have given humankind free will. Attempts to solve the apparent contradiction often involved attributing to God special properties, for example, being "outside" of time.

However, the trouble with such solutions is that they are generally unsatisfactory on their own terms. Even more serious is the fact that they leave untouched the problem posed not by God's foreknowledge but that of any human being. Do human beings have foreknowledge? Certainly, of at least some events and behaviors. Thus we have a secular counterpart of the original problem. A human being's foreknowledge, exactly as would God's, of another's choices would seem to preclude the exercise of human free will.

In this article, various ways of trying to solve the problem---for example, by putting constraints on the truth-conditions for statements, or by "tightening" the conditions necessary for knowledge---are examined and shown not to work. Ultimately the alleged incompatibility of foreknowledge and free will is shown to rest on a subtle logical error. When the error, a modal fallacy, is recognized and remedied, the problem evaporates.
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Re: Determinism

Postby Sauwelios » Fri Feb 27, 2015 8:40 am

Pec, I think what the article says is nonsense. Look:

    Ordinary grammar beguiles us and misleads us. It makes us believe that if α is true, then it is impossible for β to be false. But it is possible for β to be false. β is a contingent proposition. Recall the principle of the fixity of modal status. Even if the falsity of β is guaranteed by the truth of some other proposition (in this case α), β does not 'become' impossible: it 'remains' contingent, and thereby possible.

    Whatever impossibility there is lies in jointly asserting α and denying β. (See (1b) above.) The proposition "it is false that β" does not 'become' impossible if one asserts α. [http://www.iep.utm.edu/foreknow/#H6]

First it says: "Ordinary grammar [...] makes us believe that if α is true, then it is impossible for β to be false. But it is possible for β to be false." Yes, and? It did not say ordinary grammar makes us believe that it's impossible for β to be false; it said ordinary grammar makes us believe that if α is true, then it is impossible for β to be false. "English prose is a poor tool for expressing fine logical distinctions" indeed, when it's this sloppily written...

Then it says: "Whatever impossibility there is lies in jointly asserting α and denying β. (See (1b) above.) The proposition 'it is false that β' does not 'become' impossible if one asserts α." Indeed, the proposition--or rather that which is proposed by it--does not become impossible by any mere assertion or denial. In fact, it's perfectly well possible to jointly assert α and deny β: "Diane planted only six rosebushes, yet she planted more than seven rosebushes."
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Re: Determinism

Postby peacegirl » Fri Feb 27, 2015 12:32 pm

iambiguous wrote:
peacegirl wrote:That is one side of Lessans' equation (you are missing the other side). It states that we are not responsible for our actions and why, if we are to extend the reasoning long enough, we will see that not blaming is actually better than blaming insofar as achieving what punishment could not. Punishment deters some people, but it won't deter people who want something badly enough even if it hurts others. This law of our nature does just that; it prevents the desire to hurt others not because it's morally wrong but because our conscience will not allow actions that may hurt others when those actions cannot be justified. One of the ways in which we can justify our actions is if we know that we will be blamed if caught. This is what allows us to come up with reasonable excuses. This, in turn, eases our conscience to do the very thing that threats of blame and punishment are trying to prevent. But if we're not being blamed how can we come up with excuses or rationalizations when we know we already excused? This is key because the minute a person is questioned about his behavior it offers him an opportunity to shift his responsibility (not in a moral sense but in an actual sense if he performed the behavior) to someone or something else as the cause which affords him the rationalization he needs in order to follow through with the undesirable behavior.


Okay, you have typed these word. I am reading them.

If you could not not have typed them and I could not not have reacted to them such that I am now compelled to type these words in response, what real difference does it make which of our arguments is closest to the objective truth?

Nothing that we think, feel or do can ever be other than what is true objectively. Why? Because it is the only thing that we could ever have thought, felt and done period.

And if a woman is never blamed and punished for aborting her unborn baby in the new world how can this produce a world in which fewer women will choose abortion?

The objective truth here is always what must happen.


Only when the environment supports her having a baby instead of aborting it will it produce what everyone would hope for. Blame and punishment do nothing to prevent a woman from aborting if she feels it is the best choice possible, but when she is happily married and has financial stability, her desiring to abort as the preferable choice would be gone.

iambiguous wrote:And if the "law of our nature" is such that "it prevents the desire to hurt others not because it's morally wrong but because our conscience will not allow actions that may hurt others when those actions cannot be justified" than how do you explain all of the choices that millions upon millions of human beings make in the here and the now that do result in the hurting of others.

And many make these choices precisely because they are convinced that if everyone else made the same choices we would live in a just world. But those who make the opposite choices are convinced of the very same thing.


Aside from abortions, most of the world is convinced that if we stop murdering each other it will be a better world, so there is no conflict in values here. You are picking a few conflicting values that you believe will ruin any chances for a better world. You are not looking at what most people are not in conflict with. Most people want to see war, crime, hatred, and poverty come to an end.

iambiguous wrote:And what does it mean to "come up with reasonable excuses" when any excuses that we do come up with are only the excuses that we ever could come up with?


That is true but when I say reasonable, the person who was caught doing something "wrong" wants to make the mitigating circumstances believable in the hope that he will not get a harsh punishment.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested: that is, some books are to be read only in parts, others to be read, but not curiously, and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

“Just look at us. Everything is backwards, everything is upside down. Doctors destroy health,
lawyers destroy justice, psychiatrists destroy minds, scientists destroy truth, major media destroys
information, religions destroy spirituality and governments destroy freedom.” – Michael Ellner



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