On Wed, Jun 13, 2012 at 9:13 AM, Bruno Marchal <marc...@ulb.ac.be> wrote:

> 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"?

The metaphysical kind of free will. The idea that a person can decide
anything whatsoever, uncaused.

> We can punish them with the hope that they can learn "to do otherwise".
Yes. In fact, if there is no such hope at all, it doesn't make any sense
punishing people. Some would say that there is still revenge. But revenge
is just ano emotion  for changing other people ways.

> 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.

I'm not really attacking your views but folk-psychology ideas of free will.

>> 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.
> OK.

Then, that's all I wanted to say. We punish people to change their ways,
not because they posess free will (in whatever form).

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.
That's fine. However, I don't think the idea of free will needs to be
rescued, not even in its compatibilist form. People make decisions, that's
all. Some of those decisions are not socially acceptable and have to be
changed for the future. Punishing people is a way of achieving that (maybe
not the only one, maybe not even the best one).

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