On Tue, Jun 12, 2012 at 7:23 PM, Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:

> No. But the gangster does not know this determination. So although at that
> level he could not do otherwise, from his perspective, it still can make
> genuine sense that he could have done otherwise, from our embedded pov
> perspective. Only for God, it does not make sense, but locally we are not
> God.
> More specifically. You are in a situation where you crave for spaghetti,
> you haven't had spaghetti in the last month, you know spaghetti is good for
> er ... whatever. You therefore make the decision to eat spaghetti. Now, you
> are put again in exactly the same situation and ... do you really think you
> could choose strawberries instead? would you choose strawberries?
If I am craving spaghetti I could not do otherwise.

Well, parents routinely punish their children for eating too much candy.
Why do they do that, if their children could not do otherwise?

> But then I would not have said it. The situation is when I remember having
> hesitate, and the day after, despite the determination, I can think that I
> could have done otherwise, because I cannot be aware of the complete
> determination. And, indeed, after that hesitation, I might well have taken
> the strawberry.

Yes, but for the sake of the argument, I wanted you to consider the case
where you are pretty certain about eating spaghetti. Defenders of free will
would say that free will is active whenever you make a decision, hesitating
or not hesitating.


> Determinism is just not incompatible with genuine "free will" or "will",
> for the will is not playing at the same level than the determination. If
> they were on the same level, you could trivially justify all your act by "I
> am just obeying the physical laws", which is just false, because you are an
> abstract person, not a body.

I am not really  talking about physical determination. But in any case, I
think the justification is correct. This is not important, though, because
we do not actually punish people because they could have done otherwise. We
punish people so that they will not repeat their bad behaviour in the
future (among other reasons).

> He will convince nobody  because we all believe that he (and all of us)
> could have done otherwise. And we all believe that because, for some
> reason, we believe it is unfair to punish someone if he cannot do
> otherwise. What I'm saying is that belief in free-will is just a
> justification for punishing people.
> OK. And rightly so, unless unfair trial of course.

What i'm saying is that we believe in free will  (although it is a false
belief) so that we can punish people without feeling guilty. Usually, the
opposite is claimed: we punish people because they have free will (but I'm
claiming that's wrong).

> Actually this is not proved, and some argue that going in jail can augment
> the probability of recurrence of certain type of crime. But that's not
> relevant. So OK.

I agree, but if that's the case, we should change the punishment.

> He learned "to do otherwise".

Agreed. But that's what I'm saying. Making people responsible has nothing
to do with their free will, but with reinforcement and learning. Belief in
free will is just a excuse to discipline people.

> Let's suppose that a person forgets everything every morning. Would it
> make any sense to punish someone like that, because he just could have done
> otherwise?
> Someone like that must go to an hospital, be cured, and then can be judged
> responsible or not. It can depend on many factors. There are no general
> rules, nor any scientific criteria for judging with any certainty the
> responsibility.

Agreed. However, If we punish people because they have free will (i.e. they
could have done otherwise), then this person should also be punished. Again
and again. It's not his free will that is failing, it's his memory.
However, it makes no sense to punish such a person, because having no
memory, the punishment will not change his future behavior.

> But "exactly the same subjective experience" is ambiguous. Our doing
> depends also on unconscious processing, of the luminosity of the sky, of
> possible subliminal messages from peers, of hormone concentration, and all
> those factors might be unknown.

But that's basically randomness! you cannot be sent to Hell because of the
luminosity of the sky! I don't think that would be considered free will.
Free will should be the result of deliberation, even if at the end you
decide to do something random.

> Or something equivalent, if we were put again in exactly the same
> subjective situation, would we do otherwise? I don't think so, but If yes,
> why?
> We can't. Given your condition. But the determination being unknown, we
> can correctly conceive of having done otherwise, for a little unknown
> reason which would have influence the choice made after some hesitation.
> Even without hesitation, there is still, even more, free will.

If we make up our mind, and we are certain, and there is no hesitation, and
we can still conceive ourselves doing something completely different under
exactly the same conscious state, we have to conclude that we are random
and inconsistent. Hardly the conclusion free will defenders would like to

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