Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

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Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby Tab » Thu Sep 16, 2010 11:46 am

Okay so Pav says:

Compatibilism: Agree that Cause/Effect chain has led us to this point, disagree that future effects have necessarily been pre-determined because choices have not yet been made.


And Tab says:

from my point of view, those choices do not matter because the system imposes certain results. I call it 'inevitabilism' - things are bound by their nature to unfold in a certain way
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby Tab » Thu Sep 16, 2010 11:48 am

Somebody will start here presently.
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby Tab » Thu Sep 16, 2010 12:51 pm

Hi Anon, thanks for your comments. However, this is to be a quick dust up between me and Pav as a six-post debate-challenge, so forgive me if I ask you to postpone our own discussion till after it's over. There'll be votes and cake and streamers and stuff.

[Either me or Pav] will start below.
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby Tab » Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:36 pm

Anyway, looks like Pav's doing stuff in what he euphemistically supposes is his "real life", and me being a creature of low boredom tolerance, I'll start.

I'd best try to explain what I term inevitabilism a little more fully.

To begin with, it doesn't discount free-will. For two reasons, one rather long, the other quite short.

The Long one:

http://writeitorbust.blogspot.com/2010/02/indeterminacy-of-will.html

That was quicker than you expected huh..? Anyway, to cut that very long blog-post down to the basics, quantum indeterminacy, coupled with the *possiblity* of quantum-event-sensitive brain-state criticalities... Allows me to beileve there is an empiric case for free-will, or at least true novelty in decision-making.

The Short one:

We feel as if we live our lives with the option of choice. We experience freedom when choosing, we feel as if we could have made a different decision at a given point in time, we experience regret and pride when remembering the things we have chosen and done. It is impossible to think the feeling of free-will away. And impossible to live without feeling/experiencing it.

To borrow a line from John Searle: Even someone absolutely convinced of determinism does not sit down at a table in a restaurant and, when the waiter comes to take his or her order, just say "My order is determined anyway, so, you know, whatever."

Regardless of the truth of the matter, a society believing, and acting upon the belief, that it possesses freedom of choice will act very differently from one that does not. The simple existence of the concept in the group mind, frivolous or real, has effect.

So, remembering that Pav said:

Compatibilism: Agree that Cause/Effect chain has led us to this point...


We diverge in view almost instantly, because I believe that simple cause and effect alone has not brought us to this point, there is also the unpredictability of happenstance in the purely physical world, and later the novelty of choice expressed in the world of the mind, once a sufficiently sentient breed of agents came into being. The classic chaos-theory snowball rolling downhill, tapped by the tiny finger of quantum indeterminacy early enough on in its path, will end up in a wildly different place than its utterly determined fellows.

Moving on.

The second thing that Pav said about compatabilism was this:

disagree that future effects have necessarily been pre-determined because choices have not yet been made.


And here, considering I've just spent a paragraph or two saying "freedom of choice prevents strict cause/effect pre-determination of the future", you'd be forgiven for assuming I'd have to agree with him. But, cantankerous scum-baggery dictates I once again beg to differ.

It's a question of scale. And probability, and that some decisions are just damn better than others. Let's pause for a picture.

Image

If you look at life in general as a series of conflicts on a population-wide scale, all occurring concurrently - maybe between individuals or groups of people, or perhaps more initially between those individuals/groups and the enviroments they occupied... Then, as illustrated above, some decisions are always better than others.

Sure, it's not impossible that the fisticuff guy could win, maybe the sword-guy has a chest cold that slows him down, maybe a cow swept up miles away by a tornado falls out of the sky with pin-point accuracy, squashing sword guy into a pulp before fisticuff guy even lands a punch. But it's dubious. In a hundred fights of a similar pairs, I think the sword guys would come out ahead - there just ain't that many tornado-cows around.

Let's ask history. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Cajamarca

Numbers: Pizzaro: 106 infantry, 62 cavalry, 4 cannons, 12 harquebus [old rifles]

Atahualpa: 7,000 of Atahualpa's personal attendants.

"At the signal to attack, the Spaniards unleashed gunfire at the vulnerable mass of Incas and surged forward in a concerted action. The effect was devastating: the shocked and unarmed Incas offered so little resistance that the battle has often been labeled a massacre. Contemporary accounts by members of Pizarro's force explain how the Spanish forces used a cavalry charge against the Inca forces, who had never seen horses, in combination with gunfire from cover (the Inca forces also had never encountered guns before). Other factors in the Spaniard's favor were their steel swords, helmets and armor, against the Inca forces which only had leather armor and were unarmed. The Spanish also had 4 small cannons commanded by a Greek artillery captain which were used to great effect in the crowded town square. The first target of the Spanish attack was the Inca Emperor[6] and his top commanders; once these had been killed or captured the Inca forces were disorganized as the command structure of the army had been effectively decapitated..."


Final Score: Spain (aka sword guys) - 1 wounded /// Aztecs (aka fisticuff guys) : 6000+ dead


What I mean to say by this is, throughout history, despite there being implicitly a diversity of choices to be made at any one point, overall, mimicking pre-determinism, only a select section of the starting populations would ever remain in existence, namely the ones who acted to follow exactly the path delineated by the best solutions to certain problems. Solutions which existed, in hypothetic form, prior to the event.

Let me expand the scale upward still further: Just follow the arrows as primitive man and woman make choices as they attempt to stay alive on their journey through the landscape of decision/solution:

Image

Very basically, due to the principle of the "last man standing must have done something right" and despite individual free-will, the universe acts as if the future is pre-determined right from the very beginning, at least with respect to life, because *best* solutions to given situations and problems exist, eternal, outside of time.

Whoo. Cthulhu fhtagn.
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby PavlovianModel146 » Tue Sep 21, 2010 4:05 am

There should be no doubt that simple Cause/Effect is what has led us (both individually, and as a people) to the point at which we find ourselves today. The reason for this is because, while this may not be Pangloss' "Best of all possible worlds," it can rightly be stated that the present as it stands, could not exist without the past. This becomes evident when one considers all of the hypothetical future results that could have occurred, and the consequences derived therefrom (whether intended or unintended) even based upon the smallest possible decision.

For example, consider a man who has already decided he wants a bowl of cereal for breakfast, and opening up his pantry, has to choose between Cheerios and Cocoa Puffs. He chooses the Cocoa Puffs. The decision to eat the Cocoa Puffs seems to be a very minor decision that couldn't possibly have that great of an effect on the causal chain, and certainly could not have an affect on anyone aside from the individual eating the Cocoa Puffs, but that's only how it seems.

Imagine that the amount of Cheerios in the box was such that, shaking the box at a later day prior to going to the store, he decided that he did not need anymore Cheerios. However, had he eaten a bowl of Cheerios on the previous day, he would have shaken the box and decided that he required more Cheerios.

The individual in question took with him $200 in cash to the store, without the Cheerios, the bill was $198.72, and so he paid the bill and left. Had the gentleman added Cheerios to his list, the grocery total would have been $201.89, and he would not have had enough money. At this point, the gentleman may have chosen to have the cashier put the Cheerios back so that he could pay the bill.

Around this same time, a lady is pushing a shopping cart through the cereal aisle, and said cart has her two-year-old in it as well as some grocery items, including a dozen eggs.

In the scenario where the guy does not buy the Cheerios, (and has enough to pay his bill) this little kid gets ahold of the dozen eggs, and throws them out of the cart whereupon they break all over the floor. The Mother of the child takes the shopping cart and the child to find an employee to clean the spill, but while she is doing this, another individual walking through the cereal aisle fails to see the eggs and slips and becomes an instant quadripalegic.

The store settles the lawsuit for $1,000,000 and closes.

All of the employees of the store are now out of work and there aren't enough jobs in this particular town for all of them to find a place to work. As a result, all of the employees attempt to sell their homes and move elsewhere. Due to the fact that there are so many houses up for sale all at once, the property values plummet (Besides, the town has no jobs anyway) and with the decline in the amounts properties appraise for, there is also a decline in tax revenue for the city.

The city can no longer afford to keep its elementary school open because of the loss in revenue, (and improvements needed on the school) so they have to send all the kids to a different school thirty miles away. Many of the parents find this unacceptable and decide to put their houses on the market and re-locate.

The property values dive even further.

After ten years, you would have a ghost town, albeit a ghost town with a really low cost of living. However, had the clerk had to put the Cheerios back on the shelf, she would have noticed the eggs on the floor and cleaned it up and everything would have went along smoothly.

All of this because some guy wanted Cocoa Puffs for breakfast.

Of course, this is an extreme example, but the overall point is, that a decision that seems to be minute and inconsequential to everyone except for the individual making the decision can have vast intended and unintended consequences.

It is for that reason, that simple Cause and Effect has resulted in us being where we are presently, and given the fact that the Causes that have resulted in the Effects that make up the present have already happened, it cannot, when viewing the situation pragmatically, be any other way.

Of course, future effects have not been pre-determined because the decisions (Causes) have not yet been made to yield the results. (Effects)

In brief, Tab makes an argument that essentially amounts to Natural Selection with respect to determining what societies/individuals will or will not survive. While it is true that certain, "Pre-Determined," factors may give a particular individual/society a better chance of survival, it is not necessarily the case. For example, if we consider a weak individual (from a survival standpoint), such as an individual that is mentally handicapped to the extent that he cannot provide for himself or herself, people in American (and other) societies behave irrationally (but, not necessarily wrongly) with respect to this individual.

This individual is taken care of, cleaned, clothed, fed, all with resources that the individual could not possibly provide from himself/herself, so once can see that Natural Selection has broken down in this case. The reason that this behavior is not pragmatic, in the strictest sense, is because an individual that cannot create resources is being allocated resources that someone else must have created.

The point of the matter is, any concept of pre-determinism doesn't exist strictly as such. Nothing is actually pre-determined, however, as Tab mentioned with the fisticuffs vs. swords scenario, there are simply liklihoods and unliklihoods. Inevitabilism requires an absolute 100%, "This is the way it's going to be," and that is simply not the case.

Irrational behavior prevents it. Rationality results in the ability to make predictions pertaining to decisions that people will make, and provided every being behaves rationally, (and in accordance with their personal history) then these predictions will be made with unerring accuracy and the Causal Chain can be determined before it's, well, determined. When irrationality is part of the mix, however, future events cannot be predicted or known with 100% accuracy.

However, when a given point in the future becomes the present, there is still a Cause/Effect chain that led to that point.

0 and 00, combined, only have a 1/19 (5.26%) chance of appearing on a Roulette Wheel given a single spin, and it would be irrational to assume that 0 or 00 will be the result of a single spin. Nevertheless, the house counts on it.
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby Tab » Tue Sep 21, 2010 3:24 pm

A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.

Dunno why, but that's what imediately sprung to mind after reading Pav's excellent post. The second thing was Minority Report.

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Pav wrote:Of course, this is an extreme example, but the overall point is, that a decision that seems to be minute and inconsequential to everyone except for the individual making the decision can have vast intended and unintended consequences.


The thing with that example, or any from history that are equally bizarre: (This from Cracked.com) Is that they are too focussed.

In 1925, Greece and Bulgaria were locked in a simmering state of near-conflict. This had been a fairly common state of affairs between the two ever since Bulgaria had the gall to become a country. World War I had ended just a few years prior, and neither nation wanted to risk full-out armed conflict with the other until they'd both had a decade or two to recover. So a tense peace settled over the region right up until a Greek soldier lost control of his dog.

The sentry dog darted away from his master and crossed the Macedonian border into Bulgaria, perhaps because his master made an arm motion similar to throwing a ball. The panicked Greek soldier ran after the dog and was immediately shot dead by Bulgarian sentries, sparking a conflict that would come to be known as "The War of the Stray Dog."


Now, okay, from one perspective, if it hadn't been for a couple of funky neurones firing over-enthusiastically in that dog's head, a whole war would have been postponed, or perhaps averted. Or in the case of Pav's scenario, a different choice of cereal would have prevented the death of a town. It's a great perspective, it allows both the blame to be placed, and promotes general hilarity over the stupidity of history.

But, is it a useful perspective..? Basically, from this perspective you sit back and say "Ooh the future is so fucking weird you may as well just forget it. There is noooooooooo-waaaaaaaaaay you can ever predict anything useful at all...!!!"

I wrote a little earlier:
It's a question of scale. And probability.


With the whole Dog scenario - the important thing to notice is that Greece and Bulgaria were on the brink of war anyway... And the thing with Pav's story, that supermarket - no accident insurance apparently - innsufficient cleaning staff - insufficient capital to cover losses - That supermarket was in trouble anyway... And the town. How many people work at a supermarket..? The job-market of that town was so tight as to not be able to absorb that number..? The property market was so on the brink of a dive that a few houses coming onto the market was enough to push it over..? The city's funds were so low that a blip in the tax revenue caused a drastic cut in education..? The education resources of the city were so poor that only one elementary school was available..? And etc. etc. etc.

All symptoms of a city on the brink anyway...

Do you see what I mean..? The dog didn't matter, the situation was in such an unbalanced state that almost anything could have sparked it off. The guy with the cereal didn't matter, sooner or later, that supermarket was going to run into the wall. The supermarket didn't matter, that city was in such dire straits that any minor catastrophe was gonna send it right down the tube.

That's the thing about anything, it always happens.

They were not robust, stable systems. This will seem a bit crazy, but bear with me. Let's revisit The Greek/Bulgaria thing. The dog again crosses the border, again the guy gets filled full of holes... But imagine that this minor event imediately results in the standing down of all troops, lasting peace between the two countries, massive inter-marriage between the two ethnic groups, and the eventual merging of the two states into a single country called Greekobulge. And now the Supermarket. The egg-slipper again slips, but this somehow saves the town from deriliction and propels it onto a path which results in it becoming the new LA.

As I said. Doesn't scan. You're sitting here reading and thinking "What a fucking waste of a paragraph." Why..? If you accepted prior that just such a minor event could produce such a huge negative effect in these contexts - why not the reverse..?

Unless of course you'd realised the situation was totally fucked anyway, and the actual trigger was unimportant.

And this is what I mean by scale, and inevitabilism.

So, let's move on. This is the second post of three, so I'd better do a little more drum-banging, rather than just shooting ducks. Too much text, time for a pic.

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Very basically, let's say the future is looking kinda Barbarella-shaped. In a determinist universe, we can look at the present, remember the past, do a few sums, and 'ping' - out pops a fully defined 60's Sci-fi queen. In Pav's universe however, the present and the past are no good to predict the future, because of all the mini-mini-details having such a 'huge' effect, and this snowballs - adding so much noise to the future that it becomes impossible really to see anything.

Inevitabilism is the middle path. It doesn't pretend to be completely accurate in the details, it simply looks at things on a larger scale, a scale where individual actions largely cancel out. Looks at the stage, rather than just the players, and reads the future from that.
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby PavlovianModel146 » Sat Sep 25, 2010 3:40 am

I would also like to devote my first sentence to giving Tab a nod, and to also express my appreciation to him for taking the time to have this Debate with me. Win, lose or draw, Tab is certainly an individual that will bring out the best in you during a Debate.

It should be mentioned, that in the Comapatabilism introduction, the cereal example was defined as, "An extreme example." Compatabilism does not deny the existence of probability, and it should be mentioned that probability is a term that essentially describes qualitative or quantitative assumption. The Compatabilist understands that not only can things be assumed, but also that things should be assumed in many cases. With respect to the cereal example, it would not be pragmatic at all for an individual to consider all of the long-shot, yet possible, ramnifications of choosing one particular type of cereal over another. The Compatabilist merely acknowledges the possibility (100% - % Probability = Possibility) that an unintended consequence could come as a result of any particular action. It is exactly that possibility that indicates that Inevitabilism is a Philosophy that one should not strictly adhere to because Inevitabilism moves past assumption into the realm of conviction that because a, b.

The very definition of inevitable being that something will (absolutely) happen as a result (or independently of) something else. Experience leads us to believe that the only event that will absolutely happen to a person in the future, is death, and the knowledge (based on empirical observation) that death will come is certainly not enough upon which to establish an entire Philosophical outlook. To suggest otherwise would be to state that because we know that one event will happen that we must also be able to pinpoint other specific events and be able to declare with absolute certainty that those events will happen.

Tab mentions in his retort that the example points to a town that was on the brink of catastrophe (i.e. did not have the proper safeguards in place) anyway, but the same can certainly be said for just about anything else. For evidence of this fact, we need look only to the (nearly) worldwide market crash, the 9/11 attacks, and most importantly, our own individual lives. The end of a person's life can often come as the result of unintended consequences of actions taken by many people. For example, a pedestrian could leave a coffee shop five minutes earlier than he was originally planning to at the same time that a bus is speeding down Main Street because a car that refused to yield three blocks back caused a temporary traffic jam which put the bus off schedule. So, the bus is speeding, the pedestrian is not doing his job making sure he has adequate time to cross the street and...

SPLAT!

Game over, you have zero continues.

Many people would suggest that this points to Inevitabilism, citing that for a person to fall victim to such an inordinate set of circumstances that would result in that person's demise, destiny must have had it in for him. Of course, when one goes beneath the surface, the clear answer to this scenario is not Inevitabilism, but is Compatabilism. In this scenario, free choices were made and those free choices led to a result. If an individual were to be able to simultaneously view the entire scenario, (as presented) then upon seeing the final result, the individual could easily point to a clear causal chain that led to this person's demise, which supports the first tenet of Comapatabilism proposed. The second tenet of Compatabilism is actually supported, not detrimented, by the fact that had any of these free agents behaved differently, then this person would not have died.

Tab stated, "Unless of course you'd realised the situation was totally fucked anyway, and the actual trigger was unimportant." With respect to what it is to be human, Tab is correct in his analysis that the situation is totally fucked anyway, and his misstep is not in suggesting that the actual trigger is unimportant, but rather in being of the conviction that there will be a trigger. Inevitabilism would indicate that anytime a fucked situation exists that there will be a trigger to set it off, however, this fails to take into account the fact that an unstable system not presented with a trigger will still maintain. The only exception, of course, being human life. Again, it is difficult to posit that the mere fact that we will die is enough to support the Inevitablist Philosophy because that only points to one inevitable event.

Tab reiterates that the Comaptabilist viewpoint is such that the present and the past are no good to predict the future, and unfortunately, Tab is mistaken in this analysis. A prediction, as it were, is nothing more than a statement of probability which also serves as a statement of assumption. The Compatabilist can and should predict that nothing catastrophic will derive from an individual choosing one cereal over another, but simply acknowledges the possibility that something catastrophic could happen as a result. Again, 100% - % Probability = Possibility. Reagrdless of how infinitesimal the percentage of the possibility is, the fact that a percentage of possibility is there is what prevents almost all future events from being absolute, or inevitable.

Tab mentions looking at the stage, rather than the players, and thus unwittingly initiates an excellent Compatabilist metaphor for life.

In life, there are many aspects that are set and absolute in the present. There are props, there is a cast (Because, to lack a cast would mean nobody is alive), there are props and there is an audience. However, the Inevitabilist is of the opinion that there is also a script, a loose script, possibly, but a script nonetheless. The Compatabilist belives that the cast is presented with the stage and props and is told to improv (improvise) the whole thing.

When there is a script, that is in any way set, the audience members must remain in the audience as mere spectators and cannot take an active part in the action. In the Compatabilist world, you have your audience. The audience is rational, they laugh when they should laugh, they sigh when something sad or touching happens and they gasp when they are scared. You also have your cast, the movers and shakers that all want to transform the show into something closer to resembling what they deem to be an ideal design. Interestingly, from the Compatabilist standpoint, an audience member can join the cast, join the improv at anytime.

Enough spectating, it is time to behave irrationally!

The audience members (and individuals already in the cast) may create personas for themselves. They can be heroes or villians, they can be lovers or fighters, persecutors or martyrs. They bend the production to their own design, sometimes positively and sometimes negatively. Adolf Hitler got up from his seat in the audience and became a castmember, John F. Kennedy became a castmember, Gandhi became a castmember, Franklin D. Roosevelt even went from the handicapped section up to the stage and became a castmember.

All of these people changed the production in difference ways. Human beings who, by way of their own decisions and actions, exist outside probability and exist within possiblity. The outliers, a statistical analyst might categorize them, yet the outliers can make all the difference in deciding the mean average, can they not?

Every human being either finds himself as a member of the audience or the cast in productions of varying sizes and scopes. Occasionally, a person may be a member of the cast in one production and simply an audience member in another, a different person may be a cast member in multiple productions, but it is the individuals that strive to create an influential and believable character for themselves that can change the direction of a production.

The crowd is rational, predictable. Every cast member is irrational in his own way.

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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby PavlovianModel146 » Sat Sep 25, 2010 5:09 am

(Post above edited only to correct errors due to my, "I," button sticking.)
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby Tab » Sat Sep 25, 2010 7:42 pm

Okay, since this is to be my swan-song on this particular debate, I'll resist the typical quote-and-shoot fun-fest, and just write a story.

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One sunny Tuesday afternoon the Inevitabilist was sitting at home when the telephone rang. It was Goldie. He liked her because she possessed the uncanny ability, when presented with three options, to always choose the one that was just right.

"Hey Mr. I, I'm bored stupid, y'wanna take me out to the theatre..?"
"Sure. One condition though."
"Okaay - what is it..?"
"Whichever one we go to, it's gotta have gravity..."
"You're never gonna let me live that one down are you. I said sorry about a million times already."
"Can't help it - we sat there for 14 billion years and nothing happened. My arse got so numb I forgot I had one."
"Gravitygravity I get it, no more minimalist art. Okay -
"And planets this time, gotta have planets."
- fuck, okay planets too - I'm checking the listings here. That leaves us with three."
"Fine, let's go check them out."
"What..? Now..? It's far too early, none of the plays are even scheduled to start till seven or so."
"Well, you know me, I like to know the initial conditions."
"Oof - can't you just get off the whole inevitabilist schtick for one fucking second..?"
"No."
"Jesus. You're about as spontaneous as a concrete beam you know that..?"
"It's my nature."


The two of them got out of the car and pushed open the gilt-framed doors of the first theatre. The receptionist agreed to let them tour the premises on the proviso they both signed the release forms, and called over the usher. The usher passed them each oxygen tanks and hard radiation suits. After instructing them in the basic safety protocols, he ushered them into the theatre.

Even with the masks on, it was hard to breathe. The air tasted of vinegar and the spotlights threw out such immense heat that the outer layers of their suits began to smolder. Beneath their boots the jagged terrain heaved as the magma underneath convusled to some unknown rhythm. They lasted about three minutes before they fled, noses streaming and sweat sluicing off their skins.

"Too hard" Said Goldie.
"Yeah, I'm guessing lichen at best, and even then only in the deeper crevices."
"Crick neck..?"
"Crick neck."


So they went to the next.

This time the usher passed them both aqualungs and flippers. Sunlight filtered down from the ornate ceiling, turning the water to gold. Green motes of dust-sized life hazed the tide. The water, warm nearer the top, cooled slowly, in steps almost, as they glided down to the sandy bottom of the theatre, weightless, turning fat lazy spirals in the deepening dark.

"So, whaddya think..?" Said the inevitabilist, dragging a towel through his hair.
"Too soft." Said Goldie.
"Dolphins can be fun you know - hoops and stuff."
"Hah, you're just testing me again you bastard. Can't have dolphins without an interim on land, even I know that. No land, easy life, no complex problems to solve - that place'll be just fish, fish and more fucking fish. Bor-ing..."
"You swear too much to ever be a real lady."
"And fuck you too." Goldie smiled, "C'mon - time's a wastin'."


The third theatre was vast, and they were told it had three salons, rather than just the one. The usher looked at them strangely when they asked if they had to wear any special equipment. Inside the theatre the air was cool, the spotlights were again huge, but dimmed - though they looked as if they could make things hot if need be. In the wings however there were titanic air-conditioning units, ready to pump out mini-ice-ages should events call for them. There was water, there were mountains. Trees to climb and grass to wade through. Animals in every shape and form rustled through the underbrush, whales and minnows flopped and tumbled in the waves.

"Just right." Said Goldie.
"Yeah - Diversity." Relipied the Inevitabilist. "Always a good sign. C'mon - Let's go for a drink in the bar and look at the programmes."
"k."


The bar was cool and pleasantly crowded. Goldie and the Inevitabilist took seats in a booth that had a good view of the room.

"Screwdriver please, amaretto if you goddit."
"I'll have a beer. No, just whatever comes without fruit stuck out of the top. Yeah, that'll be fine. Cold glass."


"That sea theatre reminded me of a funny story I heard yesterday. Y'wanna hear it..?" Said Goldie over the top of her cocktail glass.
"All ears."
"Did you know octopuses, -pi whatever, have elbows..?"
"Really..?"
"Yeah. Listen -


A three-jointed human arm has only seven degrees of freedom, which are defined as the types of movements each joint can perform. Your shoulder and wrist each have three degrees of freedoms—each can tilt up and down, turn left and right, and can roll in a circular motion. Your elbow, however, only has one degree of freedom, which is tilting up and down.

Scientists consider each of an octopus' eight arms to possess a virtually infinite number of degrees of freedom, allowing them to bend and twist freely. But when it's time to eat, octopuses use their flexible muscles to form temporary, quasi-articulated joints that work similar to how human joints function.

Researchers recorded muscle activity in octopus limbs, and found that an arm generates two waves of muscle contractions that propagate toward each other. When the waves collide, they form a part-time joint.

This process occurs three times, forming a shoulder where the arm meets the body, a wrist where the suckers have grasped their food, and an "elbow" somewhere in between. The elbow typically exhibits the most movement during food retrieval.

The researchers say this is a remarkably simple and apparently optimal mechanism for adjusting the length of arm segments according to where the food item is grasped along the arm.

The similarity of structural features and control strategies between jointed vertebrate arms and flexible octopus limbs suggests that these configurations evolved separately in octopuses and vertebrates, a result scientists call an example of convergent evolution.


- so you see, they have elbows. Isn't that just like totally fucking amazing..?" Goldie said, eyes widening into great glittery pools of khôl.
The Inevitabilist waggled his head. "Not really, I keep tellling you there are optimal solutions to problems inherrent in the physical world, and that life will naturally arrive at them, from whatever direction. Eyes have been invented twice, and wings three times - they're inevitable, if there's light, if there's air. Just a matter of time."
"Yeah-yeah, so you've said. I get it I get it. But I still don't think that idea translates to human society." She let out her breath in an orangey-vodka tinted cloud, still thinking about octopi with elbows and wrists, suckered little fingers.

"You read that book I gave you..? Machiavelli..?"
"Sure, not exactly Mills and Boon."
"You remember when he wrote it..?"
"Uh - fifteen hundred and something I think."
"Yeah - 1513AD. What would you say if I said someone else wrote damn near the same book half the world away in India about 1800 years before he did..?"
"I'd say you were fucking shitting me."

"It's called the Arthashastra written by some guy to advise the Maharajas of the Maurya Empire."
"Okay, so I'm suitably amazed at the depth of your useless knowledge, but so what..?"

"What I mean is the Prince is still read and put into practice today, except by business execs rather than kings. And stuff like 'The Art of War' by some Chinese guy back in 6th century BC - still on the syllabus of military service examinations in many East Asian countries."
"And this is relevant because..."
"Because it means that some social situations demand the same answers, whenever these situations arise. These solutions are timeless - doesn't matter if it's cavemen or techno-fetishist geek droid soldiers. The underlying rules of obtaining power, keeping power, protecting power within a group of sentient beings with conflicting interests never changes. A bit like your octopus and its elbows. The same solutions arising time and time again throughout evolution, except this time throughout social history as well. The time, the people, not as important as you'd think, you know..?"
“Yeah, well those are just books, I mean maybe Machiavelli just like got that Indian guy’s book out of the library and totally ripped it off y’know – ever think of that..?”
“Okay. Not utterly impossible I suppose. Massively unlikely but still. Okay. Jesus.”
“Haha – I killed your theory.”
“Jesus.”
“Stop saying Jesus, it’s disrespectful.”
“No, I mean Jesus.”
“I said stop –
“No I mean Jesus for another example. ‘Turn the other cheek’ and all that jazz. Do you think Jesus and Von Neuman ever knew each other..?”
“Now you’re being ridiculous.”
“You ever heard of game theory..? Well, think about the old testament – ‘eye for an eye’ - vengeful God and all that..? And then Jesus saying ‘forgive those who fuck you over’ – at least once depending on your number of cheeks..?”
“Yes, yes, yes and yes, but again – so what..?”
“Well, it turns out that game theory, when run as a basis for computer models proves that the second best strategy for producing stable populations of co-operative agents is eye-for-an-eye, where an agent repays another agent’s trespasses with a trespass of its own… And the best strategy is turn-the-other-cheek, where an agent forgives another’s first trespass on the off-chance it was a mistake, and the pair resume mutual co-operation without falling into vendetta. And don’t tell me Jesus had a laptop stashed under his robe.”
"Well, he was supposed to be the son of God, that'd probably boost his IQ a bit -
"Hah - The point I'm trying to make is that there are underlying rules to any system, physical, social, doesn't matter, and that these rules were as good two thousand years ago as they are now, as good as they will be two thousand years hence."
"'Hence'..? Why are you coming over all shakespearean on me..?"
"Yeah-yeah, but you know what I'm saying right..?"

"All I know is I need another drink. Are we gonna look at these programmes or what Mr. Scintillating..?"
"Kinda, I'll do you a deal."
"Arrgh."
"You verry funnee. Anyway - You just show me the pictures of the cast and the set, and I'll tell you what's gonna happen in the play, okay..?"
"I love it when you come over all prophetic..."


Salon 1:
Image

"Hmm. Okay. A weary and defeated people in the midst of severe economic crisis, looking for any kind of solution, any way to restore some kind of national pride, looking for scapegoats toward whom to shift the blame. I'm thinkng - huge power vaccuum. Guy with moustache and an eye for symbolistic art. Dinky uniforms. Eagles. A hearkening back to earlier, more heroic ancestors. Probably some kind of exceptional gene-stock forefather myth thang going on. "Pure race brought low by injudicious interbreeding" blurb maybe -

- huge expansionist drive. State takes over the economy. Everybody gets crappy jobs. Hard times, low pay, sacrifice. Severe work ethic requires propping up by propaganda. Deification of traits necessary to support wobbley economy embodied as inherrent in the ethnic group in power, demonization in contrast of any ethnic group conflicting with the still flakey control of the dictatorship...

...This one's gonna end in tears. I'm seeing genocide at least, world-wide dominance of the ruthlessly expansionist regime at most, if they aren't stopped early enough. Am I right..?"

"Scarily."

"Next plz."


Salon 2:
Image

"Okay, let's see... A restless people under the rule of an imperial power, one -
"Look, no offence, this is all very entertaining and everything, but any grade-school kid with an interest in history could do what your doing right now."
"Um."
"I mean, blah blah, unrest, blah blah, civil disobedience, blah blah happy ending. What's your point..? Bad shit happens and someone always steps out of the crowd and saves the day - Hitler picks up a fucked-over post-WWI Germany and turns it into a juggernaut, India gets sucked dry by the Brits and up pops Ghandi and saves the day - and so it goes. What's that got to do with you claiming to know the future..? All this shit happened in the past, of course it's fucking obvious now... That doesn't mean it was obvious then. Things get all fucked up, and someone special comes along and unfucks them."
"Yeah, okay, you got me. Okay, question for you now."
"Shoot. I'm feeling fucking smart right now."
"Why Hitler..? Why Ghandi..? - I mean they both saved their countries, however temporarily on Hitler's part - but why wasn't Hitler like Ghandi, and why wasn't Ghandi like Hitler..?"
"Er. I dunno. Hitler wasn't Indian for a start."
"Exactly."
"I always worry when you agree with me."
"What I mean is we live under the illusion that just *anybody* can stand up out of the crowd and suddenly the world spins around their little finger. But, it's not true. Do you know how many others there were, pre-Ghandi who tried and failed to do what he did..?"
"No."
"Of course you don't cos no-one ever talks about them. "Did you hear about that guy who totally didn't succeed in freeing India..?" Never comes up in conversation. No-one makes movies about the losers, not unless they lost in an utterly heroic fashion."
"You've seen 300 Spartans once too often."
"THIS IS SPAR-[spit]-TA!!!!"
"Euww - a bit of your phlem went in my drink..! Get me another one right now."
"In a minute. Look - the Indian independence rumblings started in 1857, nearly 60 years before Ghandi ever set foot in India. The independence movement had any number of leaders, the first being the Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah II - a fucking emperor for God's sake."
"You swear too much to ever be a real gentleman."
"Screw you too. Anyway, the emperor and all his cronies totally fucked the situation up, made it worse in fact - the Brits abolished the East India company and replaced it with direct rule. And after that there were at least five or six other leaders between them and the arrival of Ghandi."
"Still lacking a point to all this."
"All these guys - heroic, charismatic, full up to the gills with convictions etc. etc. and none of them could fix India."
"Well, they weren't Ghandi. Duh."
"No. That's not it - the trouble was that none of them could fit into the Ghandi-shaped hole in the universe."
"What, you're saying that the man doesn't matter..?"
"Yeah, that's kinda what I'm saying. From my perspective the situation in India 'waited' for 60 years, until the right-shaped man fell into the right place, and if Ghandi hadn't come along in 1915, it would have gone right on waiting, for as long as the situation persisted."
"Whooo - straight over my head. Maybe I won't have that other drink."
"Okay look. You remember those toys you had when you were a kid - the ones where you have to put the right shapes in the right holes..? Course you do. Imagine the world is a really big one of those - some of the holes are pretty simple, and they get filled real quick. Some of the holes are really complicated. Thing is though, the world's in no hurry, and there are tonnes and tonnes of shapes knocking about. Millions, billions of them. All the world does is sit there and shake the box patiently, and wait for each hole to be filled. And when the world is fucked up, all it does is shake harder."
"Fuck, I must be drunk. That kinda makes sense."
"Study the situation hard enough, and you'll find the man or woman to fill it. Or wait long enough, and the situation will manufacture that person for you."
"Now I've completely lost you. People make their own decisions, they have free-will and stuff... Don't they..?"

"You've heard of something called the Stanford Prison experiment..? and Stockholme syndrome..?"
"Yeah, I remember you talking about that stuff before. Cut to the chase."
"Okay, basically, they make me think we're led into becoming who we are not so much through any personal aesthetic, but by the situations we find ourselves in, and the social expectations of the circles we move in. You with me..?"
"Let's just say I am, but after all the evolutionary crap we've been through to develop these huge and, I dunno, 'unique', brains of ours why would we suddenly chuck it all in for group-think..? What's so fatal about striking out alone..?"
"It's all about Hydra and Hercules."

"Er... Okay, I'm getting the many heads vs. one vibe here - but didn't Hercules win..?"
"Sure, but why was the Hydra so feared that they had to send Hercules after it in the first place..?"
"Erm, because the Hydra had killed a fucking huge bunch of people beforehand..?"
"Bingo. The Hydra lost one battle out of a gazillion, and Hercules had help anyway. Some chariot guy with a torch - Iolaus. Plus, he was the son of Jupiter."
"Okay, I'm starting to get your drift now. Let me do the next bit. You're trying to say that from an evolutionary POV. It's always better to be part of the Hydra, than to go it alone. That way, the only thing that can beat you is a real out of context problem - hah - gotcha now - "son of Jupiter" - a fucking huge meteorite or something - a real planet killer."

"Go on."
"Okay. So if you say Hydra represents the majority, no, hang on, represents whatever part of society that is winning all the battles, it's better to join 'em, rather than fight them - that way your kids get to live, especially if you haven't had them yet. And for humans, it's not enough to just say 'Gee okay, I'm gonna join you guys', you've gotta work out how they got to win all those battles in the first place - because it's indicative of them being, I dunno, somehow 'fitter' within the socio-political/physical enviroment or something. But that's still not enough, you've gotta do more - you've gotta become them."
"Because..."

"Goddamn you - because the situation has already dictated what strategies will succeed the best, not them in particular. Fuck. I'm convinced - I'm a believer. I mean - basically you're saying that we're like psychic chameleons or something, except we end up believing we were always the same colour we find ourselves to be, even if we only turned that colour like, five minutes ago..?"
"Yes - right on the money. But you're forgetting something. Ghandi - and people like him - the real paradigm changers - don't they seem different..? Truely unique..?"
"Er. I've a feeling you want me to say "Oh yeah" and then you'll turn out to have an ace up your sleeve..."
"Hah. You know me too well. But yeah. Y'see, Ghandi didn't just drop out of the sky and land in India with a solution he made up on the spot. He'd already been molded by his experiences in South-Africa."


Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (also known as Mahatma Gandhi), had been a prominent leader of the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa, and had been a vocal opponent of basic discrimination and abusive labour treatment as well as suppressive police control such as the Rowlatt Acts. During these protests, Gandhi had perfected the concept of satyagraha, which had been inspired by the philosophy of Baba Ram Singh (famous for leading the Kuka Movement in the Punjab in 1872). The end of the protests in South Africa saw oppressive legislation repealed and the release of political prisoners by General Jan Smuts, head of the South African Government of the time.


"What I mean is, he wasn't a man alone, he was just another head of a successful hydra that grew in another country. His only difference - He moved."
"Whoo."


The two sat back, and slugged back what was left of their drinks contemplatively.

"Anyway - What's the last play..?" The Inevitabilist asked.
"Ooh - this one you won't get so easy - it's set in the future, so your fucking history books won't be any help to ya."
"Whatever - just show me the pic and I'll tell you exactly what the aliens are going to look like...


Salon 3:
Image

...Okay they'll -
Goldie held up her hand. "No, don't fucking tell me - they'll be so like us it'll be scary... Right..?"
"Someone give the girl a gold star."
"Suddenly I'm bored by the whole idea of the theatre."
"Me too, seen it all before. Hmm... We could go back to my place and I'll put on my bear suit..?"
"Thought you'd never ask."
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby PavlovianModel146 » Sun Oct 03, 2010 2:50 am

I would like to first express my appreciation to Tab for accepting my open challenge, and to whoever decides they want to participate in this Debate by Judging. That having been said, my final post will mirror Tab's in that I am not going to, "Quote and shoot," but it will differ from Tab's in that I am going to approach my conclusion more traditionally and will not be telling a story.

If this Debate has established anything, it is that respectable, sound and logical arguments can be made both for the Compatabilist position, and for the Inevitabilist position. It is apparent that my opponent used primarily examples that focused on the world, as a whole, to support the deterministic aspect of his argument, whereas my tendency was to use examples focused more on the individual to support my argument. Of course, my opponent also threw out a few individual examples and I threw out a few world-wide examples.

It is an immutable fact that the external world has effects on an individual, and further, that there are certain aspects of the external world (as well as one's own individual existence) that cannot be changed. To that extent, it can be said that certain aspects of an individual have been determined prior to the individual's birth, are presently being determined, and will continue to be determined as long as that individual lives. For instance, an individual born with certain mental defects will be very limited in what he/she can and cannot do.

This probably sounds like an argument in support of the opposition's argument, but be assured that it is quite the opposite. The facts stated above merely create an illusion of Determinism that will not necessarily hold true in practice. The actions of an individual can be predicted (to an extent) based upon the history of that individual, how the individual has seen others behave in similar situations, the success rate that the individual has experienced or has witnessed given those decisions and on how an individual thinks. Ergo, the more that one knows about the individual in question whose actions we are attempting to predict, the more likely we are to arrive at the correct conclusion about what the individual will do/experience in a certain situation.

It was touched on briefly that this process of predicting future actions will only work if the individual in question is a rational agent, if the individual in question is not a rational agent, then the predictor (who is bound by rational thought processes) will generally make an erroneous prediction of the other individual's actions. Therefore, it is difficult to legitimately say that the actions of an irrational individual are pre-determined because you may set a bowl of cereal and a pitcher of milk in front of that individual and he decides to pour the milk down the back of his pants and urinate in the cereal! Who would predict that?

Of course, this is not merely a question of sane vs. insane.

With respect to predicting the behavior of even a rational individual, there are still going to be fundamental differences between the predictor and the subject whose actions are being predicted. As it pertains to rational thought, one man's ceiling is another man's floor, so a difference in intelligence may result in the predictor attempting to predict the, "Rational," action the subject will take and the subject may take an action that the predictor did not think of. Perhaps the subject will take an action that the predictor could not have thought of.

Subjectivity dominates the world, so when surrounded by things that are empirically observable, the same agent may see two different things when viewing one physical object, and both agents can rationally explain what it is they are seeing and why they are seeing it that way.

The point of the matter is that certain circumstances may lead an individual to be in a position in which he can rise to a position of power and influence, but it is what that individual chooses to do with that power that can ultimately make a difference in the world. There are no less than a dozen individuals who became the President of The United States of America, arguably the most powerful man in the world, and didn't really do much of anything with it.

Regardless of the size of the stage and the props, anyone can get up from the audience, (and may occasionally find themselves pulled up from the audience) but it is the decisions that individual makes while on stage that makes him an influential actor, not the conditions by which he found himself on stage to begin with.

The Compatabilist believes in mobility, horizontal, vertical, rotational and circular mobility. In other words, the Compatabilist understands and accepts that there are going to be aspects of his own individual experience that are beyond his control, but that there are also aspects fully within the realm of his control. To wit, while some things have been determined, many things (quite possibly, most things) have not.

Nagasaki and Hiroshima, for example, one man's call at the end of the day.
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby Tab » Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:26 am

Yay, it's all over bar the shouting.

So how we gonna do this Pav..? Shall I just stick a poll at the top of the thread..? Do we want just votes with no reasons necessary, or a 'post your vote below with supporting reasons' approach..?

Knowing the sometimes completely unmassive response these debates can spur amongst our members :lol: perhaps we could create a 'self-bumping' thread in which to vote that would appear at the top of the boards for a fixed period - 5-10 days or something..?
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby PavlovianModel146 » Sun Oct 03, 2010 9:42 pm

Your last suggestion is exactly what I'm going to do a little later. I'm going to abuse my Moderator powers and make a ten-day Sticky announcement informing individuals of where to vote, how to vote, and the criteria they must meet to vote.

It's not really an abuse, because I'd do it for anyone else having a Debate in the Chamber.
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby Tab » Sun Oct 03, 2010 10:49 pm

Don't trouble your conscious overly. What is power for, if not a little abuse in the pursuit of a good cause..?
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby Tab » Mon Oct 04, 2010 5:00 pm

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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby Tab » Mon Oct 04, 2010 7:02 pm

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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby Kriswest » Mon Oct 04, 2010 8:57 pm

I vote tie
Both are well read, both understood their opponent as well as their own. Both a tad windy for my tastes but, they were very good. Oh and both were top notch classy gentlemen debaters
I will be bitchy, cranky, sweet, happy, kind, pain in the ass all at random times from now on. I am embracing my mentalpause until further notice. Viva lack of total control!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is not a test,,, this is my life right now. Have a good day and please buckle up for safety reasons,, All those in high chairs, go in the back of the room.
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby PavlovianModel146 » Mon Oct 04, 2010 9:34 pm

I appreciate the compliments as well as that vote!
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby TheBerto » Mon Oct 04, 2010 10:58 pm

I read both of your arguments and it took me a while to pick a winner. I believe I'm going to have to side with Pav by just a hair. I can definitely agree with what Pav was saying, but to really get his point across I think he just needed a slightly different perspective. Tab's argument was really good, and if he looks at the World with those eyes he will deffinitely get far, because as he says, pav's point isn't worth considering because it would be an unpredictible event. But I don't think you got Pav's point. It's not that it hasn't changed the outcome to two completely different ends, it's about whether it ever could. To help Tab figure out why I picked Pav over him i'll give my own example.

Our actions can be changed by information. there is an infinite number of potential information. (e.g. 0,1,2,3...infinity) and information can be used to create more information. Your theory holds true in the beginning, When your dealing with just evolution and a small amount of information and early human civilization. As information icnreases and becomes more available, so does the way it effects our actions. It's possible that a peice of information be created much later than another peice of information. (e.g. you gave an example of two books written far apart from each other that were pretty much exactly the same.)

When a small action leads to some giant event it's not that the trigger must eventually happen, what if another action existed which had the opposite effect. Or that the same trigger not triggering had the opposite effect? Lets hypothetically pause our universe. We're going to make an exact duplicate of this universe and set it right next to this other one. I think that if you hit play, if there where really probability differences between the two I believe you would eventually see a big difference between the two worlds.

So basically what i'm saying is that the timing of the trigger is also extremely important. In one of these universes, this famous scientist who is studying the power of lasers is left hanging off of a cliff. In one universe the scientist's friend saves him while in another one he doesn't and the scientist ends up falling to his death. In the universe where he survives he goes to create extremely powerful lasers while in the other World the technology has yet to exist. Now both of these universes are in trouble because there is a giant asteroid heading for Earth. In the universe with the powerful lasers they are not worried because they have the technology to destroy the asteroid. In the other universe they are struggling to figure out a way to stop the asteroid. they end up not figuring out anything and end up being destroyed by the asteroid. This of course assumes that the only solution was a powerful laser. That's not to bad of an assumption even if their where other methods maybe they weren't thought of yet, or maybe they couldn't be executed. That's all irrelevant because here are two different ends to the same equation. Life on Earth didn't create Nature as we know it. The World used to be ruled by dinosaurs. If the dinosaurs never went extinct they would still be here and we wouldn't. it wasn't until the asteroid destroyed the dinosaurs that allowed the chance for human life. That was an occurence that changed the outcome of the this World, whether the change was determined or not is irrelevant. As long as you accept the possibility.

to avoid from veering to far off from pav's point I won't say much more. But Tab, I agree when you say we are limited by our biological functions. But to say that these limits cause an inevitable future is a little much. I can easily see how a certain action can diverge to different path which will lead to a diferent outcome. these differences in outcomes will eventually cause a dramatic change between the Worlds. The stage that you are trying to get a feel for is caused by these smaller actions adding themselves together. I hope that makes you understand why I chose Pav over you. I think Pav was pretty much making this point but your argument was attacking something different other than this point.

One last thing, I don't quite have 100 posts so I won't mind if you don't count this vote, thought I might as well give it a try since I was interested...
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby PavlovianModel146 » Mon Oct 04, 2010 11:21 pm

I think that is a very well-reasoned Judgment.

Of course, had you simply said, "Pav wins," I'd have still concluded that you made a well-reasoned judgment. (Just Kidding)

I'm going to leave it up to Tab whether or not your vote counts because he is the adverse party in this matter.

TheBerto,

I made a few comments regarding the example in your post. I cannot post them here because they could influence the outcome, so I have PM'ed them to you.
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby Tab » Tue Oct 05, 2010 1:26 am

The Berto - Thanks for the time you took to read, and to post. The first considered vote of the judging.

Good enough for me - Your vote stands. Damn your eyes. :wink:

EDIT - deleted what would have been a furtherence of my argument.
Last edited by Tab on Tue Oct 05, 2010 1:45 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby Tab » Tue Oct 05, 2010 1:47 am

- Hey Pav - sorry you posted while I was editing. I deleted my continued argument. The debates over, better not muddy the waters till the voting is done.

Can you delete your counter arguments until the time limit's up..?
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby PavlovianModel146 » Tue Oct 05, 2010 2:08 am

I straight-up deleted the post altogether. I'm sorry about that, I should have thought of that.
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby TheBerto » Tue Oct 05, 2010 2:47 am

EDIT: Sorry, missed that by an inch, deleted this post as well.
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby unsuper » Tue Oct 05, 2010 4:15 am

tab is right and the compatiblism contradicts itself
there is a cause which produces an effect- which then becomes a cause to another effect. the original cause was the overall cause of the whole thing
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Re: Inevitabilism Vs. Compatabilism

Postby unsuper » Tue Oct 05, 2010 4:17 am

I'm really not gunna read the rest of this novel though
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