On Fri, Apr 15, 2011 at 3:45 AM, Bruno Marchal<marc...@ulb.ac.be>
On 14 Apr 2011, at 22:25, Evgenii Rudnyi wrote:
This week in Die Zeit there were two papers about love and
fidelity. One more scientific, another more philosophic. In the
latter there is a couple of paragraphs related to Goethe’s
“Elective Affinities” that are 100% in agreement with Rex:
Die Utopie der Liebe
"Fidelity is mere an idea that fails due to the natural laws.
The materialistic calculation that Goethe has reviewed in a sharp
game becomes clear in a remark by the captain, with whom
Charlotte felt reluctant in love: “Think of an A that is
intimately connected with a B, such that one cannot separate them
without violence; think of a C that is connected in a similar way
with a D; now bring the two couples in touch: A goes to D, C goes
to B, without that one can say who first left, who first joined
"So it happens. And is it not devilish near to a common way of
thinking? The fact that we are not masters of our decisions, but
products of biochemical processes (or some others)?"
Hence Rex might well be right that the discussion here continues
because we do not have free will.
This shows only that we don't have free-will in the absolute
incompatibilist sense, but there are compatibilist theories, which
explains well the correctness of a relative (to the subject)
incompatibilist feature of free will.
The free will that we don't have in the "absolute incompatibilist
sense" is the free will that most people believe in.
Compatibilist free will should be called "faux will". Or more
charitably, "subjective will".
Critics of free-will are based on error confusion level.
Critics of "free will in the absolute incompatibilist sense" are
Critics of "compatibilist free will" object to the misuse of terms
by compatibilists, not to the concepts described by those terms.
There is no confusion. The problem is quite clear...combatibilists
are engaged in word-jugglery.
I think it is a bit dangerous, especially that there is already a
social tendency to dissolve responsibility among those taking
Rewarding bad behavior will get you more bad behavior - but this is
a consequence of human nature, and has nothing to do with free will.
Even if we take a purely deterministic, mechanistic view of human
nature, the question remains: "What works best in promoting a
Society, in that crime is only an issue when you have more than one
Is more criminal behavior due to correctable conditions that can be
alleviated through education programs or by a more optimal
distribution of the wealth that is generated by society as a whole?
In other words, can criminal behavior be minimized proactively?
Or is most criminal behavior an unavoidable consequence of human
nature, and thus deterrence by threat of punishment is the most
effective means of minimizing that behavior? In other words, can
criminal behavior only be addressed reactively?
The question is: As a practical matter, what works best?
What results in the greatest good for the greatest number? Whatever
it is, I vote we do that.
We are just not living at the level were we are determined.
But we are nonetheless determined, and thus not free from what
determines us. This is an inconvenient truth, and no amount of
word-jugglery gets around it. Best to just deal with it squarely,
rather than try to hide it under the rug as with compatibilism.
If we were, we could replace jail by hospital, and people would
feel having the right to justify any act by uncontrollable
All acts are justifiable in that sense. But, just as we don't allow
malfunctioning machines to run amuck, neither should we allow
malfunctioning people to do so.
To the greatest extent possible, malfunctions should be minimized
through proper configuration and maintenance. When malfunctions
inevitably occur, the damage should be minimized and repairs made if
Free will is irrelevant at best, and more likely a
As before, the question is what works best?