On Monday, March 11, 2013 11:27:56 AM UTC-4, John Clark wrote:
> On Sun, Mar 10, 2013  Craig Weinberg <whats...@gmail.com <javascript:>>wrote:
> > Most people would say that if some communication is gibberish that it 
>> does not refer to anything,
> I would too.
>> > not that what it refers to exists and doesn't exist.
> No that's not what I'm saying, the phrase "dragons exist" or "God exists" 
> is not gibberish just wrong, and "free will" is not even wrong.  I'm saying 
> that  if "free will" doesn't exist and “free will” doesn't not exist then 
> that’s just another way of saying that "free will" is gibberish. 

I'm not saying that free will doesn't exist though, I'm saying that it 
exists and further that it is part of the fabric of physics, as is charge 
or force. Both charge and force are distanced appearances of free will. 

Your claim that free will is somehow not even wrong is itself guilty of 
exactly the same ambiguity that you accuse me of. Why do you put free will 
in a different category from dragons or God, unless you have an ideological 
axe to grind? What gives your view of free will the power to be both 
perfectly understandable to everyone who has every heard the term, and also 
"gibberish" at the same time?

>  > You don't understand what others are talking about, so they're crazy.
> Politeness aside I have no hesitation whatsoever in saying that whoever 
> continually insists that X is not determined and X is not not determined is 
> a idiot speaking gibberish.

You continually insist that free will refers to something which does not 
exist and does not not exist, so doesn't that make you an idiot speaking 

> > What the hell are you talking about?? A action is teleological if it 
>>> happens for a reason, in particular a advance to>ward a goal. So a computer 
>>> acted in a teleological way when it moved to the next line in its program 
>>> because it was a advancement toward its goal of finding the billionth digit 
>>> of PI.
>> >No. The computer has no goal of its own.
> Yes. When the computer reaches its goal we know because when it reaches 
> the billionth digit of PI the machine will stop.

The machines stops because the programmer has programmed it to stop, not 
because the machine had a goal which was satisfied. There is a huge 
difference. I can catch a mouse in a trap and the mouse will stop moving. 
That doesn't mean that the mouse has achieved some kind of personal mouse 

> > The actions of the electronic or mechanical structures are set into 
>> motion for human teleological purposes alone.
> And the motion of your thumb on the joystick of the computer game you were 
> playing were sent into motion by the computer which will stop when it 
> reaches its goal, the end of the game.

I respond to the game voluntarily, the game responds to me unconsciously 
and indifferently. It doesn't know that it is playing a game. It has no 
goal at all and would just as soon repeat a loop of an avatar bumping up 
against a wall forever as playing a competitive game. The game exists for 
human enjoyment and financial gain, not for any machine purpose.

> >> everybody is powerless to stop the laws of physics and because the only 
>>> legitimate reason for punishing anybody for anything is to prevent similar 
>>> atrocities from happening in the future.
>> > No, that would only make sense if people had control of their own 
>> actions independently of your idea of physics.
> Let's talk about those who “had control of their own actions” and could 
> have done otherwise but chose not to and decided to commit murder. There 
> are only 2 possibilities:
> 1) They chose to murder for a reason (bad genes or a bad environment or 
> both)
> 2) They chose to murder for NO reason (it was random)

No. There is a third option.

3) They chose to murder because of their own reason - they felt intense 
hatred for their victim, or they were protecting some secret that they did 
not want revealed. Why is that so incomprehensible? It is the most natural 
thing in the world.

> So if we should not punish people who had no “control of their own 
> actions” then we should not punish anybody anytime for anything.

Right. But people do often have control over their actions, and we can and 
do regularly make criminal judgments toward determining just exactly the 
degree to which people are culpable for their own actions. We aren't always 
right, but if the universe was the way you think it has to be, there would 
be no difference between right or not right to begin with.

> And that of course would destroy society, therefore the only logical 
> conclusion is that the entire concept of a "moral agent" is meaningless and 
> brings nothing but chaos to the legal system. And so everybody should be 
> responsible for their actions.  

That would be idiotic. It would mean that if someone knocks you unconscious 
and puts you in a Google car that runs someone over, then you are guilty of 
murder, but the person who knocks you unconscious is innocent because you 
are responsible for being in an anesthetized state.  

> > Punishing stones who roll down a hill is not going to prevent similar 
>> rollings from happening in the future.
> True, and that's why I don't advocate punishing stones. Once the stones 
> have reached the bottom of the hill they won't fall down it again unless 
> somebody deliberately places them at the top again, and punishing the 
> stones (breaking them into smaller stones?) will not deter other stones 
> from falling down the hill. 

Then why would punishing people (putting them in rooms by themselves?) 
deter other people?

> So I conclude that human murderers behave in a more complex manner than 
> stones rolling down a hill.

Complexity has nothing to do with it. You could make a maze thousands of 
times more complicated than the human brain and it would still have no 
effect on the stone's inevitable and unconscious path through the maze. 

> Living things nearly always behave in a more complex way than non life 
> although with computers that is becoming less true every day.   

Complexity may or may not be a symptom of sophistication, but it is the 
cause of nothing.

> > You do understand this right?
> No I do not. I'm not interested in the internal state of criminals, I'm 
> only interested in there external behavior; perhaps he thought he was 
> catching butterflies when the maniac chopped me up with a ax but that 
> doesn't make me any less dead,
and if he was that disconnected with reality that makes him a very very 
> dangerous man and very likely to kill again either in prison (or a mental 
> hospital) or on the streets. And there is a practical consideration too, a 
> jury has a hard enough job figuring out what actually happened in a 
> criminal case, to demand that they also figure out what thoughts were 
> dancing around the head of the defendant at the time of the incident is 
> asking too much and turns the law into a mockery.    

That has nothing to do with the reason why punishment could be effective 
for a person or society but not for a stone. Establishing guilt is a 
separate issue. Punishment as a deterrent relies absolutely on causally 
efficacious free will.

>  >> monsters cannot be ignored, they need to be dealt with
>> > Why? Monsters are just physics. Nothing needs to be dealt with unless 
>> we have free will.
> Hurricanes are just physics too but you’d be a fool, and probably a dead 
> fool if you refused to deal with them. 

Yes, because we have free will. If we didn't have free will, then it would 
not matter whether you were fool or genius, alive or dead. What difference 
would it make to the universe?

> The only legitimate point of punishment is to prevent the person from 
> performing the same evil act again and to deter others from doing something 
> similar. I don't deny that there can be other reasons, like everyone else I 
> am not completely free from sadistic thoughts that come from the reptilian 
> parts of my brain, but I am not proud of such impulses and will not defend 
> them. Some seem to think we should inflict pain on evildoers just for the 
> sake of pain, that if someone got pleasure in a evil way we should cause 
> him pain to somehow balance the ethical books. I think that is nonsense and 
> such a policy can only increase the net unhappiness in the world.  

I agree, but that has nothing to do with the ontology of free will. There 
is no way to prevent a person from performing the same acts again by 
punishment if they have no capacity to control their own behavior and avoid 
future punishment.


>   John K Clark

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