On Sunday, May 13, 2012 12:58:28 PM UTC+10, Brent wrote:
> 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. 

I can see that. But consider that the notion of being able to change the 
outcome of future society - 'prevent' or 'deter' anything at all - depends 
on the possibility of variant futures. From the absolute perspective, such 
variation is impossible (or is merely random and so not subject to reason 
or 'choice'). So how does one justify any decision? Seen absolutely, it was 
inevitable and there can be no talk of a good or a bad decision. But such a 
position is clearly untenable. So if one is forced to make evaluative 
decisions *as if *the future were not determined, one can and must also 
make retrospective evaluations of decisions - as being good or bad, noble 
or reprehensible, etc. One can do this locally with the awareness that at 
an absolute level, such an evaluation may be meaningless, and not fall into 
absurdity or contradiction. In fact it is the attempt to act and evaluate 
locally as if one had access to the absolute perspective that is doomed to 

> > 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. 

Sure, but it has nothing *evaluative *to say, because from an absolute 
perspective, where all things simply 'are', there is no good or bad, either 
morally or practically. Evaluation is a human, local activity. Mandela's 
courage may have been determined from the God's eye view, but who would say 
he should not be respected, admired and rewarded for it? To deny such 
affirmation is evaluative too - this is my point - and no value statement 
of any kind can be  justified by determinism. 

> > 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. 

Thankfully, he's not interested in mine. Otherwise I'd have to put up with 
his condescension, arrogance and stubbornness, 'my dear Brent'.

> Brent 

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