On Tue, Jun 12, 2012 at 12:18 AM, RMahoney <rmaho...@poteau.com> wrote:

> I'm assuming you mean by exactly the same situation, every atom in it's
> exact same physical state.

Not really. I mean the same conscious or subjective situation. From the
free will point of view, decisions are conscious and can only be based on
what is available to consciousness at the moment of decision. Defenders of
free will are commited to say that, no matter how long and deep we ponder a
question before making a decision, if we were put again in exactly the same
subjective situation (after all the pondering, etc) we could still do

> Now the question that came up, is this person not responsible for his/her
> actions if only at the mercy of the physical laws of the universe (no free
> will). The answers I've been hearing that suggest she/he may not be
> responsible miss the point. The measure of wrongness was defined by
> society.

I agree. People is not responsible in some ontological way. But society
considers us responsible (i.e. punishable). And we take that into account.
The important fact is not whether we have free will or not, but to know
that we are considered responsible.

It's interesting to notice that discussions about free will almost always
go hand in hand with discussions about responsability and punishment.

If history and experience yields a member of society that does a horrendous
> wrong, he/she is a defect of society and needs to be removed,
> rehabilitated, or whatever society dictates. Here's where I don't agree
> with aquitting someone due to mental defect. If the defect is there, the
> result is the same. Fix it if it's fixable or if it's not fixable remove
> them from society.

I agree, but we have to be careful here, lest we consider people to be
machines (something that has to be fixed or removed, like in
the Clockwork Orange movie).

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