On 5/12/2012 6:48 PM, Pierz wrote:
I remember a kid back in secondary school saying to me that if everything was 
determined - as seemed inevitable to him from his understanding of physics - 
then you might as well give up and despair, since that was inevitable anyway!  
I tried to explain that this was a confusion of levels between the absolute and 
the relative, the same point that Bruno is making. From an absolute 
perspective, we may be completely determined (or partially random, it makes no 
difference essentially), from *inside* that system, our best way of acting is 
*as if* free will/responsibility etc were real. Obviously, if I act as if 
determinism was not a cause for despair, my life is going to look a lot better 
than if I did, and seeing as the absolute determinism of things does not tell 
me which way to decide the issue, I'm forced to use my relative local wisdom to 
decide on the former.

John Clarke seems to be saying that the law is an ass, not because of 
human-level failures of reasoning/justice etc, but because the criminal was 
predestined to act the way s/he did, or behaved randomly, and in either case no 
reponsibility can be assigned.

But he just recasts the problem of justice in terms of prospective outcomes. If you broaden this out you can provide a justification for rule-based justice: it will deter future crimes prevent vendettas. But then you don't need to know the criminal's reason, only what the effect on society of punishing him, or not, will be.

But the mistake here is the same as the one made by my high school friend. The 
absolute perspective has nothing useful to say about the local/relative one. If 
we were to follow this philosophy, the courage of heroes such as Nelson Mandela 
would be no cause for Nobel Peace Prizes, and the acts of villains such as 
Anders Breivik no cause for censure, because such of their inevitability in the 
absolute scheme of things.

The problem is that *not* censuring or *not* awarding prizes are also 
evaluative acts, about which determinism and the absolute perspective have 
nothing to say.

Sure it does: They are determined.

And I believe that no-one, not even JC himself, can escape the human 
perspective. When he loads derision and sarcasm on other contributors' 
arguments, he is acting as if they had a choice in what they believed. There 
can be no fools in the abolute perpective, as there can be no criminals.

And we're acting as if he were interested in other's thoughts; which seems 
doubtful.

Brent

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