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>
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
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
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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