On 6/9/2011 11:34 AM, Jason Resch wrote:

On Thu, Jun 9, 2011 at 10:00 AM, Rex Allen <rexallen31...@gmail.com <mailto:rexallen31...@gmail.com>> wrote:

    I'm also fine with block-multiverse.  And with a block-mindscape.

    Neither of which allow for free will.  Since both of which are static,
    unchanging, and unchangeable - making it impossible that anyone "could
    have done otherwise" than they actually did.  No one can be free of
    that fact - and therefore no one has free will.

'making it impossible that anyone "could have done otherwise" than they actually did.'

You say it is impossible that anyone could have done otherwise from what they did. Well what determined what they did? Their mind? Their biology? Their chemistry? The physics of the subatomic motions of the particles in their brain?

Of course any event has many causes, describable at different levels. But if many of the causal chains pass through one body and brain, it is reasonable to say that person is responsible for acting. It is the same if a certain aircraft design has a flaw (remember the de Havilland Comet?...and the Lockheed Electra?). We say the aircraft is responsible for deaths.

To say the mind is not doing any decision making because its behavior can be explained at a level where the mind's operation cannot be understood, is like saying a computer is not computing or a car is not driving, because if you look at a computer or a car at a low enough level you see only particles moving in accordance with various forces applied to them. You can render meaningless almost any subject by describing it at the wrong level. You might as well say there is no meaningful difference between a cat and a rock, since they are after all, just electrons and quarks.

If you describe the mind at the correct level, you find it is making decisions. You say it is impossible that the decision it makes could have been otherwise. This is good for the mind, it means it is guaranteed that its will is carried out.

That said, I don't mean to say there are not interesting implications for some of the concepts discussed on this list, such as the definition of personal identity or the view that we are all part of one mind/self/soul. Regarding personal identity, does it make sense to punish the 50 year old man with a prison sentence if it was a different person who committed the act 20 years ago? (If you regard the two as different persons).

It doesn't make sense to punish him even at age 30, except as a deterrent to him and others and to avoid vendettas.

Further, is there any role of punishment / retribution in the justice system when had we been born in another persons shoes we would have made the same decisions and ended up in the same place as that person? If ultimately we are the same person, we should have much more compassion and understanding for others and their actions.

But we may still conclude punishment is appropriate policy as one way to influence behavior.


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