free will and culpability

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by chimpkin, Oct 1, 2011.

  1. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,416
    Prolly giving myself a kick in the head here...

    Postulating we do not have free will, what right do we have to hold anyone responsible for their actions?
     
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. Pineal Banned Banned

    Messages:
    846
    We can't help but hold them responsible.

    I know I can't stop holding people responsible. I've tried. But I still do. I must not be free.
     
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,028
    There is the right to protect society, and also hope that their fixed unfree will can broaden to a new and better fixed will. Wider learning makes for a wider will. Will is not fixed forever, although not free since it depends on brain analysis. If will was free and undetermined by anything then it would be as random.
     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. Rav Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,422
    When pondering such a question, I think it's useful to keep in mind that even if consciousness is the result of a deterministic process, it is accepting input from processes that are not (the external world). In other words, even if we don't have free-will it does not mean that our actions are generally predetermined, only that they are predetermined for a given array of input.

    Further, I think it's safe to say (with a few possible exceptions) that there is, to varying degrees, an inherent moral/ethical conflict within each of us. External influences (such as laws, the known consequences of breaking them, the philosophical justifications for their existence etc) can play a significant role in shaping the way in which this conflict unfolds. The 'right' influences can result in one embracing a sense of responsibility and a desire to do the right thing. The 'wrong' influences can result in one rejecting responsibility and embracing selfish desires.

    The point is that theoretically at least, holding someone responsible for their actions is new input for the deterministic system that can potentially result in a positive outcome.
     
  8. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,416
    If we don't choose with something approximating a will of our own, if the choice isn't "made" but is somehow involuntary...then a mass murderer is as reprehensible as a hurricane.

    You are left with human existence as mindless automata chewing helplessly and robotically away at each other, unable to stop themselves, IMO...

    Someone asked me to participate in another free will thread, and the thing is I figured out during the last free will thread I have a giant axe to grind...I need to hold people culpable for the evils they have done...

    And I fail to see how holding people responsible is consistent with thinking there is no free will. So I have an emotional need to believe in free will.

    The closest thing I can think of is that I am also a willess automata and I am programmed to rend and tear in this particularly moral fashion at my fellow sentient automata. I just can't help it, I'm compelled, just as the amoral automata are compelled to tear at me for desires that are more "selfish". But are in the end just as meaningless as anything else, because in a world devoid of freedom, how is it that anything truly matters? We're just here to rend and rip at each other until we fall over, gears stripped. We can't help ourselves, we're devoid of the freedom to do anything else then as we do.

    I'm in a somebody-shoot-me-please sort of mood, BTW.

    Anyway, so I wanted to see if anyone could pick holes in this train of thought of mine.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011
  9. Me-Ki-Gal Banned Banned

    Messages:
    4,634
    Chimpkin there is alteration . It takes planing . You can change the course . Yet it is probably a forgone conclusion that the course would be changed . O.K. consider this : How far have we come in evolution . Think about when there was no fire. O.K. think about when the ice age was on . Wad we eat ( I think we ate each other as much as anything . O.K. even if we are controlled predictable animals ? Look how far we came . Alteration has consequence . It is not like free will . It is like pushing a wave . We had a swimming pool when the girls were young and we would get in the middle and slowly move up and down until the water started moving with us . Then we would match the speed and push the water just a little bit more with very jump. You could actually feel the tension in the water and time the push with the momentum of the water . We would get that sucker 6 to 7 feet in the air . One big wave plopping straight up in the air . It was truly rad cause the mono wave would drag you up with it . The girls and all there friend really loved it . Fuck it was fun . I am smiling right now thinking about it . We one day the pool collapse from doing it and that was the end of that . The pool went to the dump. The point is we changed the course of the natural state of the water. We had to run up beside it and then push on it . If we broke past the push then we lost the wave by the interference . I don't know if you call it that , but the point is the pattern was disrupted and no wave formed . You had to ease up on it and then push it to the limit with out it braking the wave . Real similar to creating a whirl pool . Humans are bags of water . There course can be changed . Although it is predicted that humans will change so go figure . What does it boil down to . We gots to do the things we do . So consider this : You are right were you are suppose to be . You belong on the earth right now and right were you are . Tomorrow will be the same . You don't know what action you take will have down the line from your action . The triggers of living. Some one may save a life just because you accidentally dropped your play toy at the grocery store and it delayed then long enough to be at the right place at the right time . It could be hours after you dropped your little vibrating play toy at the grocery store . You don't know cause it is out of your peripheral view . So what will be will be and there is not to much you can do except plan , enjoy what you can ( not just your play toy) and push with out braking the wave . Build momentum . I am with Yeah . We are doing it right here with all the wonderful people on S.F. I think the readership is pretty good and getting better so what you say has a big impact chimpkin . You I believe have a support base of like minded peoples . Huuu Blows on finger nails . Deal the cards , Goldy Locks is ready to play
     
  10. Rav Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,422
    In my opinion, even though I understand enough about the current state of neuroscience as far as it relates to the question of free-will to appreciate where the evidence is pointing, I still think it's premature to conclude that there isn't a single underlying or emergent mechanism that gives us at least some degree of actual freedom. In other words, it might be more appropriate to grind your axe after we've given the field of neuroscience another decade or three to more accurately model and quantify all the relevant phenomena, and only then if it's still telling us the same thing.

    In the meantime, it seems that believing in the reality of free-will can make you less of an automaton than those who don't, and has other benefits as well.
     
  11. Gustav Banned Banned

    Messages:
    12,575

    not too well versed in neuroscience so what is the evidence and where is it pointing?
     
  12. Telemachus Rex Protesting Mod Stupidity Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    249
    Imagine you had a robot sitting next to you. That robot is programmed to punch the air around it wildly. That robot has no free will, and its punching represents a threat to you and others near the robot, since it occasionally punches someone.

    In response to the threat the robot's actions causes, you and the guy on the other side of this robot restrain its arms, preventing it from punching. That prevents the robot from doing the one thing it "wants" to do (limiting it's liberty), but would be considered obviously justified in light of the consequences.

    Now imagine that, this whole time, you were also a robot, but you are programmed to make more robots. The punching represented a threat to that directive, since injuries caused by the punching could limit your ability to make more robots. In furtherance of your directive "make more robots" you might well decide to remove threats to yourself. The restriction of the punching robot's liberty is simply a way for you (with or without free will) to further directives or goals that you have, in the face of external actors who have inconsistent goals. The restriction on their liberty is justified (especially if you have no free will yourself) because you are just acting on your own programmed responses to limit what you perceive to be suboptimal acts by the one being punished.
     
  13. SciWriter Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    3,028
    The state of being from the states beneath has a flavor and a zest to it and so we go with this, and nature made it so, so it must be of some use as an impetus. If an when we do think of no free will, we are granted a tolerance of people.

    Our fixed will broadens continuously from learning and experience, and we would even want to depend on who we have become rather than nothing.
     
  14. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    19,220
    Because we, having no free will, have no choice but to do so.
    If a criminal cannot help being a criminal then a policeman cannot help capturing him and a judge cannot help sentencing him.
     
  15. Telemachus Rex Protesting Mod Stupidity Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    249
    But see, from the same magazine, this: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/04/is-free-will-an/

    --Martha Farah, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2011
  16. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    15,058
  17. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Messages:
    5,160
    I like defining free will as the ability to freely choose between alternatives, without any subjective cost. For example, If there were an apple and orange on the table, if I subjectively prefer the apple over the orange, I do not have free will. The reason is there will be a cost, in terms of subjectivity, if I picked the orange (the orange is not free since it has an attached subjective cost). The more narrow your ability to adapt, the less free will you have.

    I can still pick the orange using will power, since willpower and free will are not the same thing. I can even pretent to like it. This may make someone else happy so the cost and benefit offset to create a net zero cost. But this is not free will but might lead to free will.

    The criminal may not have free will, since he can't freely chose between crime and civility. There may be more subjective benefit within crime, such that free will does not apply. However, he will still have will power. The cost of the punishment may balance the benefit of the criminal subjectivity, allowing him to approximate free will, with the hope the approximation becomes free will.

    Free will is learned and not a condition of birth. Children have a narrow range of preferred adaptation based on subjectivities. They may hate those veggies. But if they don't eat them they will not be able to watch TV. The child may do a cost/benefit analysis to see if it zeros out and might learn to have free will.
     
  18. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    19,220
    If you can choose the orange over the apple how is that not free will?

    Please support this with logical discussion, not word salad.
     
  19. Pineal Banned Banned

    Messages:
    846
    And the believers in free will cannot help but think that is a mistake and you can't help reacting to them as if they were free and they can't help but react back like you were. It's like a coin that just keeps spinning on the table defying friction and entropy and exhausting the observer.
     
  20. wellwisher Banned Banned

    Messages:
    5,160
    If you can chose either the apple or orange and like both equally, there is no subjective cost or benefit to either choice. This is free will. Yoi can blind fold yourself and be happy either way.

    If you gravitate to one or the other, since you like one subjectivtl, that means you like the other less, so there would be subjective cost if you chose the less. The cost means this is not free (will).


    Free will is not the same as will power. I can hate oranges but still chose it. There is a cost to this choice. But I may use a secondary motivation, such as showing off, to gain benefit. The double choice may add to free. But real free will is about single choices and not composite choices. These help to change subjectivities so new habits may lead to free choice.
     
  21. Dywyddyr Penguinaciously duckalicious. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    19,220
    So what?
    WTF is a "subjective cost"?

    WTF is a "subjective cost"?

    Word salad again.
     
  22. Big Chiller Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,106

    The OP question was sillier than at first glance since not having free will wouldn't mean there isn't consistency.
     
  23. chimpkin C'mon, get happy! Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,416
    Consistency, yes.
    But then we have no right to pat ourselves on the back for being moral beings, as we simply happen to be moral, those of us who are, and those of us who are not, not.

    For some reason saying we have no free will seems to negate all value to me...I'll think about it and see if I can articulate why...after coffee...

    It may all sound silly, but...it just seems to take any meaning and significance out of anything for me if I'm doing it automatically.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011

Share This Page