On Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 2:08 AM, meekerdb <meeke...@verizon.net> wrote:

>  On 6/12/2012 1:06 PM, R AM wrote:
> Isn't that randomness?
> No, it's unpredictablity - something we may fruitfully model by a
> mathematical theory of randomness even though the dynamics are perfectly
> deterministic, when we don't know enough to use the dynamics to predict
> results.  Except in quantum mechanics, where events may be inherently
> random, 'randomness' is just modeling uncertainty due to ignorance and so
> it is relative to what is known.
OK, then it is random from the point of view of consciousness.

> Agreed, but then the reason is unconscious. To me, that's not free will.
> That's a problem with 'free will'.  Some people, like Sam Harris, insist
> that it means the same thing it did in the middle ages, a supernatural
> ability to do the nomologically impossible by conscious thought.  Some
> people, like Daniel Dennett, look at how the concept functions in society
> and redefine it so it doesn't require the supernatural but has the same
> extension in social and legal discourse.

It's not only the Middle Ages. Most people believe that free will is
supernatural or metaphisical (without using those words).

> OK, but I think a defender of free will would say that you could have also
> kissed that person instead of attacking him.
> But would he be wrong?

Yes, he would be wrong. But many people believe that he could have not
attacked that person. That's what free will feels like.

> But you know that's not the case.  You have a certain character, a certain
> consistency of behavior so that your friends can trust you NOT to do
> anything at random.  And having this consistency is essentially part of
> defining you and defining who it is who has compatibilist free will.  The
> fact that almost all this character is subconscious is irrelevant to the
> social meaning of 'free will'.

Yes, but then he could say, "it's not my fault, my violent character made
me attack that person". And the judge would say "but you could have done
otherwise", which is false. The judge should say instead: "you will be
punished anyway, so that next time your piriorities will change" or "you
will be punished so that others know that this behavior is punishable".
However, most people believe that it is unfair to punish someone if he
couldn't have done otherwise (in some metaphysical sense). That is why this
folk-psychology metaphysical meaning of free will is believed by all
members of society, and transmited from parents to offspring. But it is a
false belief.

I know that you and Bruno are compatibilists. I'm not attacking your notion
of free will. I agree that free will is a social construct. I'm going even
further: free will doesn't even deserve a name. Deep down, free will is not
something people have, but just a social definition of under what
conditions or situations we will be considered responsible (and punishable).

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