On Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 12:49 AM, Craig Weinberg <whatsons...@gmail.com> wrote:

>> It's standard use of language that if something is not determined it
>> is random.
> I have never heard of that in my life. Did you say that because you
> had no choice or was it random?

If something is determined it follows necessarily from the
antecedents; if it does not follow necessarily from the antecedents
then it is uncaused or indeterminate or random. That's how people use
these words.

Note that something can be determined but unpredictable, or random but
highly predictable. Most complex natural phenomena are determined but
unpredictable; radioactive decay is random but highly predictable.

>> Determined means it's not random and random means it's not
>> determined.
> Why? Random is determined randomly. Free will is determined
> intentionally. So what? Word games.

The above definitions of determined and random I mentioned above are
well-understood and agreed to by most participants in debates about
free will. Choice, free will, intentionality are not so well defined.
For example, some would say that people have a choice in a
deterministic universe and some would say that they don't.

>> When someone is found guilty of a crime that has nothing
>> to do with whether their behaviour is determined or random.
> That would be news to attorneys and judges who spend their lives
> splitting hairs over liability.

The question is whether the understood what he was doing and was in a
position to make a different decision. This does not necessarily have
anything to do with whether the brain functions on deterministic or
random processes.

>> consideration the legal system uses is, essentially, whether punishing
>> the crime would make a difference.
> What are you talking about? Designations such as Murder, manslaughter,
> criminal negligence, etc have nothing whatsoever to do with the
> effects intended by punishment and everything to do with ascertaining
> liability. The criminal justice system is designed to do one thing
> only: assess guilt, ie degree of intentionality in a criminal act, and
> punish accordingly.

One of the main purposes of punishment is deterrence. If a person has
no understanding or control over his actions, there is no deterrence,
so (usually) the criminal justice system does not punish them. The
sleepwalker is one example: knowing that sleepwalkers who commit
crimes will be punished is not going to deter sleepwalkers from
committing crimes.

>> It will deter a criminal if he
>> knows he will be punished since the fear of punishment will enter the
>> deterministic or probabilistic equation, swaying the decision in
>> favour of not offending.
> You are mistaking your philosophy for the criminal justice system. Can
> you find any example in any legal code which implies these kinds of
> considerations?

Yes, people who would not be deterred by punishment because they don't
understand or can't control their actions are usually not punished, or
at least not punished so severely. This is the law being pragmatic as
well as "just".

>  On the other hand, it is pointless to punish
>> a sleepwalker: sleepwalkers do make decisions, but they are probably
>> not the kinds of decisions that are influenced by fear of
>> consequences.
> Without free will, we are all sleepwalkers. Consequences can only
> impact our behavior if we are able to choose what our behavior will
> be.

An interesting example is seen in schizophrenia. Some patients
experience auditory hallucinations of a command nature and feel they
are unable to resist them. Terrible things have happened as a result,
including murder. The patient says that he did not want to do what the
voices said, knew it was wrong, struggled against it but still did it.
In a sense, they suffer from a disease of their free will, and they
are usually found not guilty on the grounds of insanity if their story
is considered credible. We don't really understand what the deficit is
in schizophrenia, but it seems unlikely that it affects the
fundamental physics of the brain.

Stathis Papaioannou

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