Determinism

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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Tue Mar 17, 2015 8:57 pm

From "Moral Responsibility in a Deterministic Universe" by Ray Bradford

Philosopher Daniel Dennett provides a sufficient definition of determinism on page one of his book Elbow Room when he states, “All physical events are caused and determined by the sum total of all previous events.” When people conceive of the choices they must navigate in everyday life, they appear to implicitly assume such an outlook on the universe--after all, choosing between alternatives only proves meaningful if one deterministically expects certain choices to result in certain consequences. Yet the application of determinism to human behavior itself elicits overwhelming hostility. A primary criticism tends to center on the issue of moral responsibility. Critics often argue with a mixture of disbelief and indignation that the concession of a deterministic universe (from which human behavior is not exempt) would entail the breakdown of morality and personal responsibility. They contend that if humans lack the capacity to act otherwise given a set of initial conditions in the universe, morality loses its basis of rationality and its raison d’être. They not only find such a world preposterous, but they imagine society would spontaneously disintegrate into anarchy as individuals justify their unbridled selfishness with “I could not have done otherwise.”


Yes, this is an excellecnt summation of the problem that determinism poses for me. In other words, if we do assume that hard determinism is true, what does it mean "for all practical purposes" to speak of moral responsibility at all?
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 Mar 18, 2015 12:43 am

iambiguous wrote:From "Moral Responsibility in a Deterministic Universe" by Ray Bradford

Philosopher Daniel Dennett provides a sufficient definition of determinism on page one of his book Elbow Room when he states, “All physical events are caused and determined by the sum total of all previous events.” When people conceive of the choices they must navigate in everyday life, they appear to implicitly assume such an outlook on the universe--after all, choosing between alternatives only proves meaningful if one deterministically expects certain choices to result in certain consequences. Yet the application of determinism to human behavior itself elicits overwhelming hostility. A primary criticism tends to center on the issue of moral responsibility. Critics often argue with a mixture of disbelief and indignation that the concession of a deterministic universe (from which human behavior is not exempt) would entail the breakdown of morality and personal responsibility. They contend that if humans lack the capacity to act otherwise given a set of initial conditions in the universe, morality loses its basis of rationality and its raison d’être. They not only find such a world preposterous, but they imagine society would spontaneously disintegrate into anarchy as individuals justify their unbridled selfishness with “I could not have done otherwise.”


Yes, this is an excellecnt summation of the problem that determinism poses for me. In other words, if we do assume that hard determinism is true, what does it mean "for all practical purposes" to speak of moral responsibility at all?


Iambiguous, I appreciate your posting this but do you actually think Lessans didn't know this? Do you actually think he overlooked this problem? I hope that after talking to me all this time you will have a little faith that he overcame this problem as he extended the corollary, Thou Shall Not Blame. You won't let me continue because of your doubt that anyone could make such a discovery. What can I say other than you're wrong. =;
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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Wed Mar 18, 2015 8:06 pm

peacegirl wrote:
iambiguous wrote:From "Moral Responsibility in a Deterministic Universe" by Ray Bradford

Philosopher Daniel Dennett provides a sufficient definition of determinism on page one of his book Elbow Room when he states, “All physical events are caused and determined by the sum total of all previous events.” When people conceive of the choices they must navigate in everyday life, they appear to implicitly assume such an outlook on the universe--after all, choosing between alternatives only proves meaningful if one deterministically expects certain choices to result in certain consequences. Yet the application of determinism to human behavior itself elicits overwhelming hostility. A primary criticism tends to center on the issue of moral responsibility. Critics often argue with a mixture of disbelief and indignation that the concession of a deterministic universe (from which human behavior is not exempt) would entail the breakdown of morality and personal responsibility. They contend that if humans lack the capacity to act otherwise given a set of initial conditions in the universe, morality loses its basis of rationality and its raison d’être. They not only find such a world preposterous, but they imagine society would spontaneously disintegrate into anarchy as individuals justify their unbridled selfishness with “I could not have done otherwise.”


Yes, this is an excellecnt summation of the problem that determinism poses for me. In other words, if we do assume that hard determinism is true, what does it mean "for all practical purposes" to speak of moral responsibility at all?


Iambiguous, I appreciate your posting this but do you actually think Lessans didn't know this? Do you actually think he overlooked this problem? I hope that after talking to me all this time you will have a little faith that he overcame this problem as he extended the corollary, Thou Shall Not Blame. You won't let me continue because of your doubt that anyone could make such a discovery. What can I say other than you're wrong. =;


I am considerably less interested in what Lessans claimed to know about this and considerably more interested in the extent to which he was able to demonstrate that what he thought he knew about it is what all rational men and men must believe about it in turn.

And that [for me] will always revolve around the extent to which he was able to offer us a methodology for testing and replicating his observations such that we too must come to embrace the new world as he did.

In any event, very little in his argument seems able to adequately contend with the points I raise regarding dasein, conflicting goods and political economy.

All he seems to be suggesting instead is that the manner in which I have come to understand these relationships is the only manner in which I ever could have come to understand them.

And if that is the case I am always covered no matter what I might think and feel and do. From my perspective, if I am "wrong" here and now, it is only because I must be "wrong" here and now.

Just as you must now react to this only as another necessary component of existence. In fact, there would seem to be no exit from the only possible reality here until we die. Then our matter reconfigures back to "star stuff".

And then the mystery that is mindful matter -- the mystery that is "I" -- is gone forevermore. Or so it seems.
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 Mar 19, 2015 3:40 pm

A quote from Stephen Hawking

If there really is a complete unified theory that governs everything, it presumably also determines your actions. But it does so in a way that is impossible to calculate for an organism that is as complicated as a human being. The reason we say that humans have free will is because we can't predict what they will do.

What is he saying here? Just because the complexity is such that we can't predict what we will do, does not mean that, in a determined world, it can't be predicted.

Right?

And if what we do can be predicted because what we do is only what we must do in order to be in sync [necessarily] with the laws of matter, then free will is no less an illusion.

And thus moral responsibility would seem to be subsumed in that as well.
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 Mar 19, 2015 8:32 pm

From: "Moral Responsibility in a Deterministic Universe"
by Ray Bradford

Any discussion on the bearing of determinism upon issues of moral and personal responsibility first requires an adequate understanding of determinism and its distinction from fatalism. Dennett’s definition of determinism adequately captures the viewpoint as, “All physical events are caused and determined by the sum total of all previous events.” Human behavior, as with all other causal sequences in the universe, is a function of antecedent states and causes. Popular misconception often interprets this viewpoint as the position that all our behaviors, including me writing this paper, are the direct one-to-one result of our genetic composition. While such a position is one form of determinism, genetic determinism, it is not the most widely accepted version. By and large, determinism instead suggests that human behavior results from an incredibly complex function of inherited genetic predisposition, environmental and cultural influences, and prior responses to, and interpretations of, environmental influences (learning). However, the theory holds that given an initial set of conditions external and internal to the mind, only one “choice” or behavior will result. Thus, given any set of actual initial conditions in this world (as opposed to slightly different “possible worlds”), any person’s “choice” could not have been otherwise.

While easy to confuse, determinism carries a subtle but significant distinction from fatalism. Fatalism suggests that certain events will occur regardless of how humans act. This is a significantly different conclusion than determinism. Dennett aptly sketches the distinction in his interview with Reason magazine, “Fatalism is the idea that something’s going to happen to you no matter what you do. Determinism is the idea that what you do depends. What happens depends on what you do, what you do depends on what you know, what you know depends on what you’re caused to know, and so forth--but still, what you do matters. There’s a big difference between that and fatalism. Fatalism is determinism with you left out.”


This distinction has always been one I can never quite seem to grasp "for all practical purposes". How "in the world" is it applicable?

Fatalism, after all, is defined as: "the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable."

Either I must type these words or I have some capacity [however problematic and/or inexplicable] to choose not to. Or to choose other words instead.

I can understand that events will unfold because of how we choose to act. But: if we choose to act only in accordance with the immutable laws of matter, then there is still nothing other than those particular events unfolding in the only possible world.

I still see "choice" here as equivalent to the falling dominoes. Only the dominoes are utterly mindless matter not able to be conscious of toppling over per the natural laws of physics.
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 » Tue Mar 24, 2015 3:50 pm

From "Moral Responsibility in a Deterministic Universe" by Ray Bradford


One option pursued by defenders of the forking paths model of decision making involves focusing on the randomness or indeterminacy involved in obtaining multiple potential effects from a given cause. Libertarian philosopher Robert Kane attempts to locate this indeterminacy on the quantum level. He argues that the mind essentially harnesses the existence of quantum indeterminacy and uses it to generate alternative paths. Many philosophers and physicists, including Einstein, have argued that describing quantum mechanics as indeterminate may ignore a critical, deterministic, hidden variable. However, even if quantum indeterminacy were conceded as ontological for the sake of argument, Kane’s argument still has a large burden to truly support the forking paths model. As Dennett points out, how can random resolutions of quantum-level events provide people with any control over their behaviors? Behavior arguably occurs on a much more macro-level where Newtonian physics apply. Moreover, while the movement of an individual particle on a quantum level may be ontologically indeterminate, its distributions prove easily predictable--hardly a strong starting point for the argument that indeterminacy can percolate up to alternative paths.


This is yet another fascinating aspect of the debate that revolves around free will. The role played by "reality" on the quantum level. Can the mind [does the mind] "essentially harnesses the existence of quantum indeterminacy and use it to generate alternative paths."

And, if so, how does a mind operating on the macro-level even begin to pin this down? How precisely are the macro and micro worlds intertwined re "existence"?

And some [as with Einstein above] suggest the "indeterminacy" that seems to prevail on the level of "quantum mechanics" is really just reflective of the fact that physicists have simply not yet discovered the laws of matter [the bigger picture] that takes this indeterminacy away.

In other words, we will just have to sit back and wait patiently for the next Newton or Einstein to come along and shift the paradigm yet again.

There is always that tricky balance between those things we seem to control with one or another measure of autonomy and the truly mechanical parts that unfold both in and around us like clockwork.

And that always takes us back to the marvel that is mind. Matter like nothing else there has ever been before.
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 » Wed Mar 25, 2015 5:35 pm

From "Moral Responsibility in a Deterministic Universe"
by Ray Bradford


In his essay “Freedom and Resentment,” the philosopher P.F. Strawson provides strong rebuttal for the claim that moral responsibility would evaporate in a deterministic universe. Strawson takes a unique approach to the conflict by challenging the assumption that a theoretical question of determinism could pragmatically alter the reactive attitudes we undergo as part of the human experience. Strawson focuses on what he describes as “personal reactive attitudes” that include feelings of anger or resentment in response to another individual’s demonstration of ill will. He takes great length to show when they do and do not arise in the course of human behavior, and to demonstrate that human existence without such attitudes would be largely inconceivable.


When confronted with claims like this, the first thing that always pops into my head is this: how is the claim more than just an intellectual contraption? In other words, how would it become applicable to Mary "out in the world" when she is confronted with the agonizing predicament of choosing or not choosing to abort her baby?

And, in my discussion with peacegirl above, she seemed of the opinion that our emotional and psychological reactions to the world around us were also wholly subsummed in the "design" -- in the immutable laws of matter.

Thus:

According to Strawson, when we find ourselves knowingly wronged by another individual who exhibits both awareness of the wrongdoing and a normal psychological state, we react with “morally reactive attitudes” of anger or resentment. In contrast, when someone wrongs us under the pretense that “he didn’t realize what he was doing” or “she was not herself at the moment,” or if the perpetrator possesses psychological abnormalities (compulsions, moral underdevelopment in the case of children), we tend to suspend our personal reactive attitudes and take what Strawson calls an “objective attitude” toward the individual. We discuss the ways the individual should be managed or directed most efficaciously. Occasionally we demonstrate such attitudes with fellow human beings in normal psychological states as well. Adopting an objective attitude toward “normal” individuals usually results from either intellectual curiosity or the desire to “avoid the strains of involvement.” On the pragmatic level, Strawson sees the claim that determinism would destroy the basis for moral responsibility as tantamount to claiming that a theoretical conviction of determinism would cause us to abandon personal reactive attitudes altogether in favor of objective attitudes.

What does it mean to make a distinction regarding a "pragmatic level" when all levels of human interaction [including the subjunctive] are subsumed in the only possible reality? How are "normal" and "abnormal" psychological states not also but necessary components the only possible reality?

I keep thinking there must be some aspect of "compatibilism" here that I'm always missing. And perhaps someday it might finally be within my grasp. If in fact it is there to be within one's grasp at all.
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 Mar 26, 2015 5:58 pm

Moral Responsibility in a Deterministic Universe
by Ray Bradford

While Strawson’s arguments appear convincing, some critics may attempt to dispute their significance by stating that his contentions only argue the unavoidability of moral responsibility in a deterministic universe and say nothing of its rationality. These critics ask what the rationale behind such “moral responsibility” could be if people had no alternative courses of action. In response to these counterarguments, strong defense exists in Strawson’s writings. He notes that the question seems to miss the point entirely by failing to understand the inextricability of reactive attitudes from the human experience or the “natural human commitment to ordinary inter-personal attitudes.” As Strawson states, “This commitment is part of the general framework of human life, not something that can come up for review as particular cases can come up for review within this general framework.” Moreover, as Strawson also accurately observes, should we obtain a detached God’s-eye view with which to evaluate the rationality of our morally reactive attitudes, the criteria for evaluating their rationality would not be the truth of determinism, but rather their efficacy in improving or deteriorating the quality of the human condition.


Again, from my perspective, this either revolves around the circular logic of the assumptions made or it devolves altogether into intellectual gibberish.

If, in the only possible material world, Mary must abort her baby, where does that leave us?

Is it really a legitimate "rationale" for moral responsibility "if people have no alternative courses of action"? What does it mean for all practical purposes to speak of the “natural human commitment to ordinary inter-personal attitudes" when the manner in which others will react to her abortion is also in sync with matter unfolding in the only possible world?

And we don't have a "God's eye view" do we? And even from the perspective of an omniscient God, we would seem compelled always to interact only to the extent that it must align itself necessarily with that which God already knows will unfold.

Either way, with or without God, there seems to be no exit from the "brute facticity" that is the laws of matter.

And how would the "efficacy in improving or deteriorating the quality of the human condition" not be embedded in turn in this determined world as well?

What I do here is to suggest the possibility of free will without being able to demonstrate or to prove it; and then situate our moral interactions in dasein, conflicting goods and political economy.

But at least I know the limitations of the language I use here.
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 » Sat Mar 28, 2015 11:30 pm

Moral Responsibility in a Deterministic Universe
by Ray Bradford

Dennett turned to the idea of the prisoner’s dilemma, well-known to economists for its relevance to self-interest models. In the prisoner’s dilemma, two individuals suspected of committing a crime are caught, but there is not enough evidence to convict either unless one confesses. If neither confesses (they cooperate with each other), both will be set free. If one confesses (the defector) but the other does not, the individual who confesses will be set free while the other (the cooperator) receives a long jail sentence. If both confess, they will both go to jail for a shorter, but still significant amount of time (two defectors). Under this scenario, an efficacious and low-risk, short-term policy for a self-interested individual would entail confession. The individual would either receive no jail term or a short jail term (defecting) as opposed to the alternative of a no jail term or long jail term scenario (cooperating). An even more beneficial short-run strategy for the self-interested individual would involve convincing the other prisoner of your intentions to cooperate, but confessing instead (bluffing for self-interest). While these policies may have short-run benefits to the self-interested individual, they are obviously not optimal for the “society” (both individuals). Over the long haul, if the prisoners could develop a way to know they could count on one another to avoid confessing (by obtaining an ability to accurately distinguish other cooperators from bluffing defectors), they both stand to benefit significantly more than they would by pursuing their own short-sighted self-interests as defectors.


How, in a determined world, could any of this be "calculated" other than in accordance with that which each prisoner is compelled to calculate in order to be in sync with the only possible world? Thus it's not a question of doing either what is moral or what is expedient -- only in doing what is always necessary.

How [realistically] can there be a distinction made doing what is or is not in your own self-interest when the "self" itself is just one more inherent component of the only possible reality?

Always I come back here to this: What in the world am I missing when I can only ever miss that which I am compelled to miss?

Then it all becomes entangled [for me] in the, at times, exasperating relationship between words and worlds. The limitations of language in grappling with things like this. Back perhaps to Wittgenstein's,"Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent."
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 bardoXV » Tue Mar 31, 2015 4:39 am

iambiguous wrote:And that [for me] will always revolve around the extent to which he was able to offer us a methodology for testing and replicating his observations such that we too must come to embrace the new world as he did.



Lessans offers nothing of this, he only asserts that it is so. There is no revelation of what he observed, only the assertion that his observations were astute and "spot on". Details were sadly lacking either in the book or in Janis's responses.
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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Tue Mar 31, 2015 6:35 pm

From: "Moral Responsibility in a Deterministic Universe"
by Ray Bradford

Dennett goes on to say that our unadulterated inclinations have a bias toward short-term rewards at the expense of larger benefits down the road. This makes sense from an evolutionary standpoint of survival, since long-term benefits prove meaningless to a dead organism. Yet, as we have found with the prisoner’s dilemma, it is advantageous to us as organisms to pass up these smaller short-term gains for more sizable long-term ones--and convince others of our ability to do so. Thus, we have problems of both self-control and convincing our peers of our capacity for self-control, and it is from these grounds that moral responsibility emerges as the pinnacle of the arms race.


But just as with the choices that are being made regarding the dilemma faced by the prisoners, are not the choices that we make regarding the dilemma embedded in short-term vs. long term benefits, also embedded merely in the illusion of free choice?

Is not the evolution of life on earth just another inherent manifestation of the laws of nature? And of the necessity built right into it? How different really is that from the evolution of planet earth itself? In other words, before the advent of life. Is not the only distinction here that life has evolved to the point of mind -- minds able to grasp that per the inherent laws of matter there really is no distinction to be made between the evolution of matter before and after the creation of life?

Yes, minds become conscious of the choices that they make...whereas before minds matter was consciuous of nothing at all. But the choices that they make would still seem only as they ever could be in the only possible reality there ever could be because reality is matter and matter unfolds only as it must.

This pivotal point for Dennett reflects the fact that our long-term reward consists of a sterling reputation of “moral” character that we must sacrifice short-term benefits’ “temptation” to obtain. What we consider morally responsible behavior emerges as a self-control mechanism, since demonstrating self-control at individual points of temptation proves difficult with our bias toward myopic self-interest. Thus, we essentially co-opt our emotions into “moral responsibility” to control our own behavior with “broad brushstrokes.”

But what can it even mean to speak of this in terms of "self-control" in a wholly determined world? Thus the need to speak of "moral" character rather than of moral character. We are tempted only in that we cannnot not be tempted.

All of the strokes [however broad] would seem to be at one with the mechanism that is the design unfurling itself like clockwork. One tick at a time.
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 gib » Fri Apr 03, 2015 2:52 pm

Hey peacegirl,

I've finally found the time to give you some feedback on Chapter 2 of your father's book. Sorry about the delay. I didn't find as much this time around to pick apart and scrutinize, but there were a few points:

Seymour Lessans wrote:Here is the source of our confusion. Our basic principle or corollary, Thou Shall Not Blame, call it what you will, is not going to accomplish the impossible. It is not going to prevent man from desiring to hurt others when not to make matters work for himself, but it will prevent the desire to strike the very first blow. Once you have been hurt, it is normal and natural to seek some form of retaliation for this is a source of satisfaction which is the direction life is compelled to take.


Is it justified to strike back in retaliation when you are a determinist? I mean, when you know the first person couldn't help but to strike you first? Your father did say:

Seymour Lessans wrote:Consequently, you are compelled to realize that should you desire to hurt me in any way whatsoever you must also take into consideration the knowledge that under no conditions will I strike you back because it can never satsify me to hurt you for doing what I know you are compelled to do.


Seymour Lessans wrote:This last question is a superficial perception of inaccurate reasoning because it is mathematically impossible to shift responsibility, to excuse or justify getting away with something, when we know in advance that we will not be blamed for what we do. It is only possible to attempt a shift of your responsibility for hurting someone or for doing what is judged improper when you are held responsible by a code of standards that criticizes you in advance for doing something considered wrong by others. In fact, the very act of justifying or excusing your behavior is an indication that the person or people to whom you are presenting this justification must judge the behavior unacceptable in some way otherwise there would be no need for it.


I agree with you.

Seymour Lessans wrote:This means that whenever you do anything at all that is risky you are prepared to pay a price for the satisfaction of certain desires. You may risk going to jail, getting hanged or electrocuted, shot, beaten up, losing your eye and tooth, or being criticized, reprimanded, spanked, scolded, ostracized, or what have you, but this is the price you are willing to pay, if caught.


People take risks when they choose that which they might be punished for, but all the more reason to choose when you won't get punished. I realize there is an argument coming up for why someone would have no incentive to strike the first blow when there are no risks (i.e. no blame, no punishment), but that makes me wonder what the current argument is trying to support.

Seymour Lessans wrote:But the moment it fully dawns on you that this hurt to me, should you go ahead with it, will not be blamed in any way because no one wants to hurt you for doing what must now be considered a compulsion beyond your control, ALTHOUGH YOU KNOW IT IS NOT BEYOND YOUR CONTROL AT THIS POINT SINCE NOTHING CAN FORCE YOU TO HURT ME AGAINST YOUR WILL--UNLESS YOU WANT TO--you are compelled, completely of your own free will, so to speak, to reliquish this desire to hurt me because it can never satisfy you to do so under these changed conditions.


This is a point that keeps coming up, and I'm still not clear on it--how can one be free and not free at the same time? Compelled from a 3rd person's point of view but free from your own 1st person point of view. What does "free" mean in this case?

Seymour Lessans wrote:Furthermore, if he knows as a matter of positive knowledge that no one in the entire world is going to blame him or question his conduct, is it possible for him to make others culpable, to extenuate the circumstances, to lie or try to shift his responsibility in any way? As was just demonstrated, it is not possible...


I know I agreed with this earlier, but does this imply that one who knows he will never be blamed or punished will also take full responsibility for his actions? I mean, keep in mind, not all actions are under our control even if it isn't other people who are responsible for them. Being bed ridden because one is sick is no one's fault, not the one who is sick nor other people.

Finally, I'm compelled to question what the ultimate incentive is to refrain from striking the first blow when you know there will be no blame or punishment returned to you. Is it unbearable guilt? Is it risking making enemies or hatred/fear of you? Is it that there is no logical possibility of getting anything out of it (like stealing might get you riches)? Is it just that it wouldn't accomplish anything useful to you?

I would also like to question exceptional circumstances--like when one is compelled by some kind of brain abnormality which results in his compulsive and uncontrollable harming of others (like turrets syndrome), or when one is starving and must steal in order to eat (the desire in this case wouldn't be to harm another, certainly not to retaliate, but to satisfy one's hunger only, which may outweigh the harm caused to others or the deterring effects of causing such harm, and may be carried out with at least the attempt to satisfy one's desire without harming the other)?
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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Fri Apr 03, 2015 6:07 pm

Why Buridan’s Ass Doesn’t Starve?
by Michael Hauskeller

Imagine you go to a restaurant. Looking at the menu, you discover that they serve your two favourite meals – say asparagus and spinach tart. What will you do? You may hesitate for a while, but then you will make your choice. You have to make a choice, don’t you? Even if you’re hungry or greedy enough to order both, you have to decide which to eat first.

Now, how do you decide? Given that you like both equally, why do you choose, say, spinach tart, and not asparagus? There are two possible general answers. You can say either that:

a) There is no reason (no cause) for your choice. You just act, and you could equally well choose the other meal. Or:
b) There is a reason, but it’s unknown to you.

The second answer seems more plausible, because it accords with a principle that’s fundamental to the way we think. This principle is commonly called Leibniz’s Law, or the Principle of Sufficient Reason. It can be stated in various ways:

• Nihil sine ratione: Nothing is without a reason.
• Nothing happens without a sufficient reason/cause.
• For each event A there is another event B (or a combination of events) that precedes it and fully explains why A had to happen.
• Ex nihilo nihil fit: Nothing comes out of nothing.


Just how mysterious are the choices that we make? Leaving aside those that revolve around moral responsibilty, the mere fact of choosing what to eat [or what to eat first] can be made to seem quite perplexing.

We know that "I" is in there somewhere but we don't know if "I" can ever really grapple with this wholly.

Try as I might, I am not able come up with an argument that would seem to contain the whole truth here. I know that my choice of foods is embedded in dasein. Which is to say that I choose the sort of foods that I have become acclimated to choose given the life that I have lived. For example, I don't choose the foods that someone who was raised in a more affluent/cosmopolitan family/community might choose. In other words, those who are more familiar [existentially] with far more exotic, "gourmet" meals from around the world.

That's just never been a part of my life. Now, sure, I could perhaps choose to explore that world. Anyone who has the financial wherewithal, always has that option. But, given the manner in which I have come [again, existentially] to think about food in my life, it is just not something I have any inclination to do. But that too is no less embedded in dasein.

So, the reasons that I choose to eat as I do seem apparent to me. But is there actually the possibility that what seems apparent to me is only that which must seem apparent to me? Is my "agenda" regarding food no different from my moral and political agendas: merely the embodiment of matter unfolding as it only ever could have unfolded?

But then I am back to the seeming futility of devising a methodology for determining this...given all of the conflicting arguments I have come accross over the years that tug me ambivilantly in equal and opposite directions.

As for nothing and something, some seem to argue that everything there is came out of nothing at all. And how do we pin that down?
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 gib » Fri Apr 03, 2015 9:27 pm

iambiguous wrote:Why Buridan’s Ass Doesn’t Starve?


I've always thought Buridan's Ass conflates two philosophical concepts and confuses one for the other: the concept of determinism and the concept of (let's call it) mathematical equality, by which I mean the case in which you have a force F1 counterbalanced with an equal and opposite force F2, the net result being a kind of balance or suspension leading to inaction. Determinism does not necessarily entail mathematical equality between opposing forces, at least not in the consequences. For example, in the Ass's brain there could be some neural circuitry that jumps into action only when other neural circuits are at a standstill. The latter may have computed with some degree of mathematical precision that the choice to go left and the choice to go right are equally justified, and therefore cannot decide which one to act upon. But when such neural circuitry enters into such a state, that's when the former circuitry comes into play, operating by some (possibly arbitrary) rule that says: when at a standstill, choose left. This is a general principle that can be extended beyond neurons and brains. In principle, you can have systems in nature in a state of equilibrium or balance (due to equal but opposite forces keeping each other in suspension) without the end result being a form of inaction. You can have the end result being equivalent to that which would occur if one of the forces overpowered the others. So long as this followed consistently in all such cases, you would still have a deterministic system.
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We're in a situation now where students can go to university and come out dumber than when they went in. They are infantalized by safe space and trigger warning culture, the idea that interogating a new idea, coming into contact with a school of thought or a person that doesn't conform to your prejudices is somehow problematic, that it gives rise to trauma.
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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Sat Apr 04, 2015 7:14 pm

Suppose John Doe has chosen to tether the ass to a stake in the ground. Why? Because, in the manner in which I construe dasein, he had become predisposed to take pleasure in watching the animal starve to death. Given the manner in which you construe determinism [re the human mind] can he then be held morally responsible for doing this? In other words, given the manner in which peacegirl seems to embrace the immutable laws of matter unfolding [out of necessity] into the only possible world, could he have ever freely chosen not to do this to the animal?
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 gib » Sat Apr 04, 2015 8:13 pm

iambiguous wrote:Given the manner in which you construe determinism [re the human mind] can he then be held morally responsible for doing this? In other words, given the manner in which peacegirl seems to embrace the immutable laws of matter unfolding [out of necessity] into the only possible world, could he have ever freely chosen not to do this to the animal?


I suppose not. Why do you ask?
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...we hear about the wage gap, the idea that women are paid significantly less than men--seventy two cents on the dollar--that's absolute shear nonesense--it is absolute nonesense--in 147 out of 150 of the biggest cities in America, women make 8% more money than men do in their peer group. That wage gap is growing, not shrinking.
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We're in a situation now where students can go to university and come out dumber than when they went in. They are infantalized by safe space and trigger warning culture, the idea that interogating a new idea, coming into contact with a school of thought or a person that doesn't conform to your prejudices is somehow problematic, that it gives rise to trauma.
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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:18 pm

gib wrote:
iambiguous wrote:Given the manner in which you construe determinism [re the human mind] can he then be held morally responsible for doing this? In other words, given the manner in which peacegirl seems to embrace the immutable laws of matter unfolding [out of necessity] into the only possible world, could he have ever freely chosen not to do this to the animal?


I suppose not. Why do you ask?


I ask because, as I have noted before on this thread, determinism is of interest to me only to the extent that it is relevant to the manner in which we choose to hold others responsible for what they do. Which, out in the world that we live in, is clearly linked to blame and punishment.

Now, if John Doe must take satisfaction in choosing to torture animals and others must take satisfaction in choosing to punish him for doing so, then we really are no different from the dominoes toppling over only as they must in the only possible world. The one distinction being that the human mind is matter that has evolved to the point of becoming cognizant of it.

Blame and punishment then become merely another manifestation [embodiment] of the mechanism that is the nature of peacegirls "design". Just as is this exchange we are having. It was fated to unfold as it necessarily must from the moment that matter was fated to unfold per whatever it is that brought into existence the laws of matter.

And, just out of curiosity, what do you know of that? Or, rather, what do you think you know about it?
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 gib » Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:52 pm

iambiguous wrote:I ask because, as I have noted before on this thread, determinism is of interest to me only to the extent that it is relevant to the manner in which we choose to hold others responsible for what they do. Which, out in the world that we live in, is clearly linked to blame and punishment.

Now, if John Doe must take satisfaction in choosing to torture animals and others must take satisfaction in choosing to punish him for doing so, then we really are no different from the dominoes toppling over only as they must in the only possible world. The one distinction being that the human mind is matter that has evolved to the point of becoming cognizant of it.

Blame and punishment then become merely another manifestation [embodiment] of the mechanism that is the nature of peacegirls "design". Just as is this exchange we are having. It was fated to unfold as it necessarily must from the moment that matter was fated to unfold per whatever it is that brought into existence the laws of matter.

And, just out of curiosity, what do you know of that? Or, rather, what do you think you know about it?


I haven't been following along in this thread for several months now. I only posted here because I promised peacegirl I'd get back to her with my feedback on Chapter 2. So I don't think I have a thorough grasp of what you're saying--at least not as much as I otherwise could--but what you explain here makes sense. There's not much to elaborate on what I know, or think I know, about this: if the world is exhaustively determined, then of course we are all, and always were, determined to punish and blame since the first punishment and blame. I'm even inclined to say blame and punishment would continue even if we were painfully aware of how determined everything is. Knowing that one couldn't help it doesn't necessarily get rid of the desire to blame and punish.
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I don't care about income inequality, I care about the idea that there are people who have actual obstacles to success.
-Ben Shapiro

...we hear about the wage gap, the idea that women are paid significantly less than men--seventy two cents on the dollar--that's absolute shear nonesense--it is absolute nonesense--in 147 out of 150 of the biggest cities in America, women make 8% more money than men do in their peer group. That wage gap is growing, not shrinking.
-Ben Shapiro

We're in a situation now where students can go to university and come out dumber than when they went in. They are infantalized by safe space and trigger warning culture, the idea that interogating a new idea, coming into contact with a school of thought or a person that doesn't conform to your prejudices is somehow problematic, that it gives rise to trauma.
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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Sun Apr 05, 2015 7:25 pm

gib wrote: I haven't been following along in this thread for several months now. I only posted here because I promised peacegirl I'd get back to her with my feedback on Chapter 2. So I don't think I have a thorough grasp of what you're saying--at least not as much as I otherwise could--but what you explain here makes sense. There's not much to elaborate on what I know, or think I know, about this: if the world is exhaustively determined, then of course we are all, and always were, determined to punish and blame since the first punishment and blame.


Not sure if peacegirl will be back. On the other hand, she was never really able to choose freely to come back.

If I understood her.

Somehow she was able to make this leap from blame and punishment in the world as we know it today [i.e. they're everywhere] to a world in which, once everyone is able to grasp her father's discovery/principle about a world sans free will, blame and punishment would no longer exist.

Well, other than among those who refused to become citizens of her father's utopia...a world where all embody a universal consciousness. Which may or may not include something that may or may not be analogous to God.

But, again, I may have misunderstood her. I may well be the one missing the point.

gib wrote: I'm even inclined to say blame and punishment would continue even if we were painfully aware of how determined everything is. Knowing that one couldn't help it doesn't necessarily get rid of the desire to blame and punish.


We discussed this as well. And she acknowledged that our emotional and psychological reactions to the world were also necessarily subsumed in a design necessarily subsumed in the immutable laws of matter. Our desires, in other words, were no less wholly determined.
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 » Mon Apr 06, 2015 8:14 pm

From "The Information Philosopher" website:

Peter Strawson argued in 1962 that whatever the deep metaphysical truth on the issues of determinism and free will, people would not give up talking about and feeling moral responsibility - praise and blame, guilt and pride, crime and punishment, gratitude, resentment, and forgiveness.

These "reactive attitudes" were for Strawson more real than whether they could be explained by fruitless disputes about free will, compatibilism, and determinism. They were "facts" of our natural human commitment to ordinary inter-personal attitudes. He said it was "a pity that talk of the moral sentiments has fallen out of favour," since such talk was "the only possibility of reconciling these disputants to each other and the facts."


How I translate this:

Even if we are not able [philosophically, scientifically etc.] to pin down the objective relationship between determinism and moral responsibility [out in the world of human interactions] we react to others as though we are in fact choosing our behaviors freely and thus we can be held responsible for the consequences of those behaviors that others do not approve of. And especially regarding those behaviors that others deem harmful to them.

This feels "real" to us and that has to be enough until the objective truth can finally be pinned down.

But it would seem that, however one either talks or does not talk of "moral sentiments", we are still just groping in the dark. We each of us one by one take a more or less educated leap of faith to a point of view that either assigns moral responsibility to ourselves and to others or presumes this is all just an illusion in a world where everything that we think, feel and do is only as it ever could have been.

My own dilemma moreover goes further still. Even if I do take that leap to free will [and I do] I still land on this:

If I am always of the opinion that 1] my own values are rooted in dasein and 2] that there are no objective values "I" can reach, then every time I make one particular moral/political leap, I am admitting that I might have gone in the other direction...or that I might just as well have gone in the other direction. Then "I" begins to fracture and fragment to the point there is nothing able to actually keep it all together. At least not with respect to choosing sides morally and politically.
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 Orbie » Mon Apr 06, 2015 8:24 pm

Exactly.
[size=50][/size]Allone's Obe issance



In answer to your prayer
sincere, the centre of
your circle here,
i stand ; and , without
taking thought,-
i know nothing. But i can

Full well your need-as
you be men
This: Re-Creation. With a
bow,
Then, your obedient

servant now.
One gift is all i find in me,
And that is faithful
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Re: Determinism

Postby iambiguous » Tue Apr 07, 2015 5:36 pm

From "The Information Philosopher" website:

Since Peter Strawson changed the subject in 1962 from free will to moral responsibility, there has been an increasing tendency to equate free will with moral responsibility.

From the earliest beginnings, the problem of "free will" has been intimately connected with the question of moral responsibility. Most of the ancient thinkers on the problem were trying to show that we humans have control over our decisions, that our actions "depend on us", and that they are not pre-determined by fate, by arbitrary gods, by logical necessity, or by a natural causal determinism.


Since I have taken my own "existential leap" to "free will", the question I always focus on is not whether "I" have some capacity to control the choices I make [I presume that I do] but the extent to which "I" can ever really grasp how much control is really within my reach.

Again, some things that we choose to do are more or less embedded in necessity. We can't choose to forgo food and water or we will die. We can't choose to be successful at some task unless we first learn how to do it. We can't choose to ignore the laws of nature or we will suffer the consequences.

Similarly, we can't not choose a moral or a political agenda if we wish to interact with others.

But here the choices are different in that they do not revolve around either/or so much as is/ought. It is one thing to make choices when you are a doctor aborting a fetus, another thing altogether when you are an ethicist arguing which choice is moral and which immoral.

That's the part I focus on pertaining to dasein and conflicting goods.

In other words, some choices revolve around either/or. Either you choose to do the right thing [the thing aligned objectively with reality] or you will not accomplish the task the choice aims toward.

Even if the doctor does presume that she is free to choose to perform abortions, there are particular choices that she must make [of necessity] if she wishes to do this successfully. This transcends dasein and conflicting goods.

But for the ethicist, dasein and conflicting goods are marbled through and through her decisions.

And that's where my "dasein dilemma" comes into play. Just having free will does not enable someone to choose "the right thing to do" when confronted with the conflicting value judgments embedded in the abortion wars. Whereas one can choose the right course of action if the task revolves instead around aborting the baby.
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 Orbie » Tue Apr 07, 2015 6:23 pm

There is a consequential confusion here, as a result , based on the seeming loss of freedom due to the equivocation of freedom with responsibility. If that identity I usage has resulted in the priority of identifying categorically, why the guy replace the term responsibility for freedom, it would go a long way to enable a rationale for it. Was he justified? or did he simplyy refer to a prior 60's book, 'Freedom and Responibility' by I beleive Rollo May. Maybe it was a realization that was based on increasing number of bad trips among young kids on drugs. Who had no idea how to come down. They couldn't because they did not understand how they, individually got there in the first place.

Your problem is similar, in that You are looking for a way to retract from Your leap, and there may not be a way to find the source, or the origin of where You Are coming from.

Please do not misunderstand, it is not Your cognition which may be at question here, but the whole package, maybe You are asking Yourself, whether You leapt before You thought out all of the ramifications not all of which may have depended on an analysis of the right thing, or, the thing to do, but,
Overwhelmed by numerous choices with differing aims, did the choice entail the best choice available, or rather, was based on what appeared to be the right, the only apparent choice, based on some thought of bravado, or a need to make a complete break,where only a clearly identifiable choice would or could prevail?

it's obvious that doing the responsible thing is not always the only, or even the best choice, when that series brings in the sequence of what is best in terms of how one sees it. And this figures on the idea that leaps or breaks are contingent in most part on how one sees or interprets what that is. Within the construct of his own Dasain. That breaks categorically the idea of what one should do, therefore the problem of identifying what one ought to do, with one sees as the best thing to do. The leaps themselves become problematically adverse and contradictory to the sense of what one should do.

Personally, my life, is a chain of contradictions , and like Yours, one can not but love in uncertainty about
The context within which I placed my being. But my rationale consists of a demonstration that my original choices were not really that original, and I was to choose the things I did, on account of concern that others may be effected to a negative degree. Others diminished by uncertainty, by rewarding me with putting them into the equation. But then the dynamic of relinquishing control became a jigsaw puzzle, wherein I had to start a new schematics, of trying to figure out how to retain some control. At least to the degree, that would balance out needs and simply just a power struggle.

Your example of the abortion issue,Mahican I niticed You invariably use as an example has all these elements, except, that the unborn do not have as of yet elements of control deigned to them they are acted upon, and I am not sure, we should not assign to them at least some rights apart from being the products of a pleasurable act. The respect for life, and subsequent responsibility to imbue fetuses with their own possible being, is violated herein. Fetuses were not asked to be borne, as our own children off remind us at times when trouble arises, and we really have no credible way to get out from under such questions, because the question goes way back to the original choice of having respect for the dignity of life. So the leap to nothingness is re, or disqualified by a structural regression from what Freud calls the super ego.
[size=50][/size]Allone's Obe issance



In answer to your prayer
sincere, the centre of
your circle here,
i stand ; and , without
taking thought,-
i know nothing. But i can

Full well your need-as
you be men
This: Re-Creation. With a
bow,
Then, your obedient

servant now.
One gift is all i find in me,
And that is faithful
memory
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Re: Determinism

Postby Orbie » Tue Apr 07, 2015 6:27 pm

I referred to Rollo May, and found a reinforcement to the above, wherein he did not consider freedom and responsibility contradictory. that answers the ontological problem of being, as not subscribing to conventional thought.
[size=50][/size]Allone's Obe issance



In answer to your prayer
sincere, the centre of
your circle here,
i stand ; and , without
taking thought,-
i know nothing. But i can

Full well your need-as
you be men
This: Re-Creation. With a
bow,
Then, your obedient

servant now.
One gift is all i find in me,
And that is faithful
memory
Orbie
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Re: Determinism

Postby GreatandWiseTrixie » Tue Apr 07, 2015 8:05 pm

Silhouette wrote:
Wonderer wrote:do you assume that we will eventually be able to understand our nature to the extent that we can rid ourselves of the need or cause for violence?

The better question is does peacegirl assume that we would want to understand our nature to the extent that we can rid ourselves of the need or cause for violence?

Undoubtedly the reply would likewise be a yes without hesitation, along with the assumption that our true nature is peaceful and that there is a true nature at all.

I find the idea absolutely abhorrent that one day I would inevitably become peaceful with others and within myself. I thrive only on my warlike nature and it is only the cruelty of the inner beast again once it turns on itself - towards 'peace'. The struggle for peace reeks of the oppressed weak who cannot deal or compete with the strong on their own grounds, because the weak can only contemplate a better world insofar as they are consumed by the necessity towards equally cruel bypaths for the overthrowing of strengths that overwhelm and overpower them.

Motivating affirmative urges are disruptive towards motion and action. Peaceful negative urges are ordinal towards neutralisation and death.

I, the God, appreciate your honesty. Honesty is the first step. My body has urges as well.
The Zs, in all their great wisdom, modified their DNA to get rid of all violent and sexual urges.

However, this was not wise. They see to remodify their DNA to revert to the old ways of sexual and violent urges.
I only seek to modify the DNA to eliminate primarily idiotic and selfish traits. This would benefit your species, whilst still allowing you enjoy hedonistic pursuits.

I have not yet read Peacegirl's writings but mere writings are not enough. The human DNA is what's at hand.
I am losing my mind to mandess.
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