On Tue, Sep 1, 2009 at 12:32 AM, Brent Meeker<meeke...@dslextreme.com> wrote:
>> Right.  And Dennett is choosing his words carefully, so as to advance
>> his social re-engineering agenda.  He want's to keep the idea of
>> responsibility for utilitarian reasons..it's hard to keep a society
>> going without it, and so he redefines it's meaning to be compatible
>> with determinism.
>>
>> It's not "responsiblity" in the common usage,
>
> Sure it is.  It's what justifies reward and punishment.

In the common usage it is what justifies the death penalty.

In the common usage, responsibility justifies vengence, as well as
deterrence and rehabilitation.


>
>> it's "Dennettian
>> compatibilist responsibility".  He just shortens the latter to plain
>> "responsibility" in an attempt to mislead the unwary.
>>
>> The common usage of "responsibility" may not be logical, but it has a
>> definite meaning, and it's not the meaning that Dennett assigns to it
>> in that quote.
>
> And what meaning is that?  Can you give an operational definition, an
> ostensive definition, any definition other than "it is what it is"?

In the common usage responsibility implies that the buck stops here.
Not because it's convenient, not because you choose not to pass the
buck, but because it literally stops here.  The causal chain should
not be traced further back.  We don't need to worry about your
childhood conditions, or how much your mommy and daddy loved you, or
whether you are a good person, or hoped for better things.

There's no point in examining the conditions that led to your action,
because YOU are responsible for that action, and you will bear the
full weight of the consequences.  Not because you will learn
something.  Not because it will produce better behavior in the future.
 Not because it will deter others from acting as you did.  But because
you are responsible.

That's the common usage.  And, given determinism, I say there's no
such thing.  Given determinism, the whole concept is crazy.

Dennett also says there's no such thing, but he wants to claim the
word and re-purpose it for his own uses.  Not because it's such a
great word that rolls off the tongue, but because he wants to pull a
slight of hand, and keeps it's law-and-order, no-nonsense,
tough-on-crime-tough-on-criminals connotations while changing it's
actual definition.


>> Dennett knows this, but he wants society to adopt his
>> terminology and view point, so he keeps throwing it out there in the
>> hopes that it'll stick.
>>
>> If determinism is true, then there is no responsibility (common
>> usage).  My acts are an inevitable result of the initial state of the
>> universe and the laws that govern its evolution...neither of which are
>> my doing.  I get neither credit nor blame for anything, as events
>> could not have transpired other than they did.
>>
> First, some things may be random (like the way your brain developed).

Not given determinism, right?  And Dennett isn't arguing against
determinism.  He's arguing FOR compatibilism.


> Second, the utilitarian definition of responsibility - something that
> justifies you being punished or rewarded for you actions - applies
> *only* if what you do is determined by your experience.

I know.  Animal training basically.  Social conditioning.

But that's not the common usage.  In my experience at least.  Usage
determines meaning.


> Otherwise there
> would be no justification for giving you the experience of reward or
> punishment.

Reward and punishment probably aren't the right words.  Probably we
should say "positive and negative reinforcement".


>> You (and Dennett) can redefine responsiblity and then say, "there, you
>> have that".  But this is a change from the common usage...and so
>> effectively a new word.
>>
> You haven't defined it at all.  In fact you seem to assert it doesn't
> exist and hence no one is allowed to define it.
>

I actually would rather not have it used.  The word "responsibility"
carries too much moralistic "libertarian free will" baggage I think.
I think the common usage of responsibility is nonsense, and trying to
redefine it more logically while keeping the old connotations just
results in confusion and continued irrational thinking amongst the
"Old Testament"-inclined.

SO, with that in mind...what were you implying when you added that
quote?  What was your motivation?  What were you accusing me of?

In short...why did you introduce that Dennett quote into this thread?

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