I know this has been discussed before, but I have read Sam Harris' book Free Will and Michael Shermer's book The Believing Brain, and I must say that I agree with both authors. Studies show that our brains make a decision on an unconscious level three tenths of a second and sometimes more before we even consciously know we're going to act. To take a short quote from Shermer's book: "The neural activity that precedes the intention to act is inaccessible to our conscious mind, so we experience a sense of free will. But it is an illusion, caused by the fact that we cannot identify the cause of the awareness of our intention to act".

Tags: Free, Harris, Michael, Sam, Shermer, Will

Views: 2439

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

If something has a pattern of causing harm, then our pattern if dealing with it might be anger. Neither of these require free will to exist. There is no rational ground to absolve responsibility from the lack of free will, especially when you realize that your response is also caused, and possibly a result on evolutionary survival. Therefore, I prefer the Compatiblist position over Hard Indeterminism. If responsibility is absolved, and whatever you do is caused, then one cannot presume that whatever agency he asserts is rational. The idea that the lack of free will should affect decisions, thus, leads to metaphysical nihilism.

If something has a pattern of causing harm, then our pattern if dealing with it might be anger. Neither of these require free will to exist. 

I agree, I'm not saying anger can't come without free will. I can be angry at my car for breaking down. It's quite a different sort of anger in which we recognize the silliness of it later.

That being said, I think a whole lot of anger and hatred due to this belief that people could have done otherwise.

 If responsibility is absolved, and whatever you do is caused, then one cannot presume that whatever agency he asserts is rational. 

It doesn't follow logically that logic, rationality, and reason can't come about entirely causally (in fact it couldn't come about uncaused), nor is responsibility (of the ethical sort that suggests someone could have done, of their own accord, otherwise) a requirement of these things.

Also understand that the word responsibility is ambiguous. We can say a hurricane is responsible for tearing the roof off of a house, but that's not the same as saying the hurricane is ethically responsible for doing so.

Responsibility here refers to something greater than ethics, but the attribution of some action or property to a subject. I argue that responsibility does not require free will, and such that the assertion that we should not hold a child molester responsible because he couldn't have done otherwise becomes groundless. If a person is not responsible for his actions because he couldn't have done otherwise, then you are not responsible for your anger in response. Your claims of "rationality" is just a side effect of some physical reaction since the Big Bang. This is where Compatiblism comes in, and Hard Indeterminism fails.

A person can only meaningfully claim rationality if he plays some role in the process of logic. If it is viewed that he is simply made to do something, then he is as "rational" as a cup that had made the rational choice to fall off a table and shatter.

 If a person is not responsible for his actions because he couldn't have done otherwise, then you are not responsible for your anger in response.

I never said you were. That doesn't change the fact.

 Your claims of "rationality" is just a side effect of some physical reaction since the Big Bang.

I never said it wasn't.

This is where Compatiblism comes in, and Hard Indeterminism fails.

Hard incompatibilism, and the claim that it fails is only a claim, not an argument.

A person can only meaningfully claim rationality if he plays some role in the process of logic.

I agree with this.

If it is viewed that he is simply made to do something, then he is as "rational" as a cup that had made the rational choice to fall off a table and shatter.

I disagree with this. A person can causally align with (be "made" to) the use of a logical methodology, a cup cannot (cups do not think, people do). Again, consciousness, thinking, and the use of such things as logic can and do all come about causally.

If you agree with the laws of physics, either classical physics or quantum physics, then I don't see how you can consistently assert free will.

Non-observable doesn't equal non-physical (being outside of physics).

A good number of people would argue it does. What is observable can change with time and instrumentation, but that is not the issue here. If something hypothesized in models of reality is by its very nature always and forever unobservable and untestable, then we must adopt the legal maxim:

De non apparentibus et de non existentibus eadem est ratio

Concerning what does not appear and what does not exist the reasoning is the same.

A good number of people would argue it does.

They'd be arguing a nonsequitur.

If something hypothesized in models of reality is by its very nature always and forever unobservable and untestable, then we must adopt the legal maxim:

Concerning what does not appear and what does not exist the reasoning is the same.

Both determinism and indeterminism are unobservable and untestable, yet it's logically impossible that both don't exist. Saying that determinism doesn't appear and therefore doesn't exist is saying the universe is indeterministic (not deterministic). But saying that indeterminism doesn't appear and therefore doesn't exist is saying that the universe is deterministic (not indeterministic). It's a silly expression.

We have much evidence for causal events and no evidence for acausal events. So though we don't know if every event is causal due to limitations at the quantum scale, thinking the events are acausal is of equal speculation. We aren't talking about nothingness, but rather the behavior of particles at that scale. Acausality holds just as much burden of proof if not more that causality for these events.

Just because I don't know (or can't know) what's behind door number 1 doesn't mean that nothing exists behind door number 1. This doesn't logically follow. 

Determinism doesn't exist, it is just a logical inevitability of what does exist (adequate determinism, anyway). It is not a physical observation, but a logical deduction, like quantum mechanics, which makes it no less valid.
Reality is always modeled, logic is an analogy. The point of it is tested by what it models. The model itself is an idea that cannot 'exist', but the physical existence of models are not grounds for why we draw them. The issue here is the word 'exist'--there are many facts which does not exist, like logic itself. So while we treat not observability the same as nonexistence, that does not say that what does not exist cannot be a necessary truth. If the latter is suggested, it would be self contradictory, because language doesn't exist.

If the universe is deterministic (entirely causal) then "determinism exists" in the universe. Such a universe would be "physical" (though physicalism isn't a requirement of determinism). ;)

There are two conceptions of 'existence' that you are using interchangeably when they are not. Determinism is not a thing, but the conception, or classification, of events. It does not physically exist. The number '1', which is universally understood, does not physically exist. They 'exist' as conceptions that we hold.
Or we could say that something exists because it is true, but that would not imply physical existence.
However, arguing on the semantics of existence is a red herring, because we do not need to prove whether free will or determinism physically exists to say whether they are logically true. Like I said in my previous post, nonexistence in this context is irrelevant to truth, unless the Dr. is suggesting that deductive knowledge is impossible.

Technically all words are "conceptions" (and they classify). Language itself is conceptual. Ball is a "conception" we apply to specific configurations that we perceive. Rolling is a conception about what the ball does. Round is a conception we have about the property of the ball that allows it to "roll". All of these "conceptions" we say "exist" for a round rolling ball...simply because we are talking about what they are addressing (what they are a concept of that "exists" in the universe) when we use the "words". If we have "1" apple in the basket, the conception of "1" applies  to the apple in the basket. It exists (we don't have 0 or 2 apples)

Determinism is a conception about the ontological state of the universe being entirely causal. If what it's "conceptualizing" exists in the universe, then it is correct to say it exists. 

You can say that determinism exists, but it is not the same "exists" as a ball that you empirically sense. It is true that the "ball" made available to your conscious mind is a conception, but it is based around an observation; we presume that the ball has physical presence in the external world. Determinism, on the other hand, is a deduction from the symbols abstracted from things that you sense. To begin with, causality requires multiple states, so it can't exist as a state of the universe.

RSS

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

AJY

 

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service