On 12 Jun 2012, at 21:21, R AM wrote:

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.

What do you mean by "free will"?

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).

We can punish them with the hope that they can learn "to do otherwise".

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.

But there is a difference between different level of responsibility. Not all criminal are "only" sick people.

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.

We have to agree on a definition of free will first. I defend the compatibilist notion, and free will is just what makes responsibility sensical. I can identify it with will, responsibility, etc. I agree that a lot of definition of free will makes it non sensical.

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.

Free will has nothing to do with randomness or indeterminacy. Nothing. It exists in single Newtonian-determinist universe. I recall my definition: free will is the ability of knowing we are ignorant on a spectrum of self-determination, and being able to exploit it. Self- indetermination (leading to possible hesitation) is real, even in a deterministic reality. Such free will has a role: speeding up decision.

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,

Yes, because we can know that we don't know our "entire mind state". But if we have make our mind, then there is no reason to say "I could have done otherwise".

we have to conclude that we are random and inconsistent. Hardly the conclusion free will defenders would like to have.

Sure. Free will is self-determination in presence of incomplete information, notably.

You might have missed that I am defending compatibilist free will. Free will and responsibility have nothing to do with randomness.



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