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TomJrzk
February 11th, 2006, 05:52 PM
This thread is a continuation of a conversation of Free Will that started on page 4 of the "Intelligent Design and Why Not" thread with post #31. Please read those posts if you want the background.


Here are Tom's thoughts on free will in a nutshell:

1. All behaviors, personality, thoughts, feelings, and dreams come from our brains. There's nothing supernatural or spiritual.

2. Therefore, whatever choices we make are predetermined, they rely solely on the current conditions of our brains: memories/prior experiences, instincts/personality and what we sense from our environment; there's nothing else to tip the balance between 'yes' and 'no'.

3. Every individual's choices are essential to our collective predetermined future.

4. Criminals and obnoxious people should be pitied for their lack of compatibility with society, not hated.

My predetermined choice to post this has changed your 'prior experiences'. Hopefully, enough of us will realize that we humans are the only beings that can consciously change our futures, and do so for the better. We are all cogs in the machine, there is no omniscient being that will straighten out whatever messes we make.





1) Mr X discovers Mrs X in bed with another man. They divorce. Several years later Mr X goes out and buys a gun... He formulates a plan (writes it in his diary, let us say), and goes and shoots her.

2) Mr Y is being held at gunpoint. The person pointing a gun in his face hands him a gun and tells him: 'Either you shoot this person in front of you or I shall shoot that person and I shall shoot 5 other people as well'.

Lets imagine the trial...
Lets also consider moral responsibility...

Do you agree when I say that most people would think that Mr X should be locked up for a very long time (at the very least) whereas Mr Y... Shouldn't be locked up at all?

Yes, the trial would go as you described, as well it should. I appreciate your adding another example to your list but I still go back to my earlier question: "What is the ultimate source of Mr X's 'decision'? If there is a coin flipping in his brain or some other random-number generator then maybe you can call that a choice of some sort.

But, please tell me, maybe in 10 words or less, with what is Mr. X choosing??? When you realize that you can't answer this question without going supernatural on me, you'll be faced with the choice of either being a 'hard' determinist or a non-determinist; there really is no compatibility that I can see. Yet.

TomJrzk
February 11th, 2006, 05:56 PM
I guess I was expecting a little more rigor and honesty here. If that’s all there is, then your DNA “morality” is really not “morality,” it’s simply genes/algorithms, and the resulting behavior we might see, say, in a wolf pack; the result of random mutations and natural selection; and it merely has to do with the fitness of creatures that are little more than automatons.

So now you're calling me a stupid liar? I'd expect a bit more 'morality' out of you.

But, you see my point of view, we are but automatons. But ones with the power to communicate, learn, hope, dream, and improve our species as no other. IF we accepted that we are all there is, we MIGHT stop killing because of a cartoon or two and MIGHT be able to live in a peace that would allow us to guard better against evolution saying 'Next'. We might even stop calling each other stupid liars.

We would at least have an outpost on the moon that might protect our progress in the event of a nuclear war. We might have an outpost on Mars that might protect our progress in the event of a really large asteroid. But you are too busy insulting people, maybe in the hopes of saving them to the grace of god where wars and natural disasters have no effect. Your illusions are going to be the cause of our ultimate demise. That's what really scares me.

TomJrzk
February 11th, 2006, 05:58 PM
Or did Todd convince you that we do have some sort of free will? Although such a view is incompatible with Todd’s purported atheism . . . but that’s b/c Todd is actually agnostic or possibly a closet theist/deist, which explains why he’s such a nice guy.

No, he didn't. And thanks, again, for implying that I'm a terrible person because I'm not a closet theist/deist.

He offered a lot of words, none of which seemed to me to offer a non-supernatural mechanism to support his views. He mentioned discussions with a friend for many months and he was still of this view. I didn't see much hope without quitting my day job. And I used to not want to disillusion people out of the protective shells that made them so comfortable. But now I see how truly dangerous those illusions are...

I understand the allure of free will, and the expectation of hopelessness with its loss. I see a lot of people walking around denying that their arms are paralyzed because their brains can not allow them to question their firmly-held beliefs. But, it's not hopeless, and not scary in the least. We HAVE gotten this far and maybe we ARE the first in the universe. I'd hate to lose it all to people fighting over their equally-imaginary religions.

TomJrzk
February 11th, 2006, 06:03 PM
One last thought: Put yourself in my shoes and try to imagine how laughable you’d find the so-called “morality” of accidental automatons that’s essentially nothing more than the result of accidental DNA.

I have seen your perspective, that's why I noted your definition of morality. It is self-supporting in that it insists on 2 things: that morality be 'objective' and that anything coming from the mere mind of man is 'subjective'. But, again, your 'truth' was written by Man, all by himself, and is therefore as 'subjective' as anything I could dream up.

TomJrzk
February 11th, 2006, 06:05 PM
JimB’s been a great barkeep, it’s getting late, and we need to finish this thread—you and Tom get the last word, if you so desire.
Maybe, Fred, your decision not to post anything further is best for me; that you suggest that the thread end altogether without you, too, is expected. I hope you do, however, continue to read with as much of an open mind as you can afford (and, yes, I know this thread will stop if Alexandra agrees or stops arguing until someone else is willing to wade through your insults). And I know that you will still offer your views on other threads to help focus discussions such as this. Non-God's people love you, too, Fred.

TomJrzk
February 11th, 2006, 06:07 PM
I'm happy to not claim any victory here on the question of free will. But I do feel somewhat vindicated at that next level up (belief system theory).

I understand the wisdom of keeping the door open. It's something, though, I can do no longer. When others scan through this discussion, their paralyzed arms will chalk your statement up to agreement with theirs after either not thinking deeply into the disagreement that you're implying or actively ignoring the true meaning of your words.

I prefer to say, "There is no free will", but we can affect each other's environment to put us on a better pre-determined course. How's that for an 'apparent' contradiction?

Keep the great posts coming...even if you do agree with me ;).

TomJrzk
February 11th, 2006, 06:08 PM
Given their environment and their genes they could not have done otherwise from what they did in fact do. No libertarian free will allowed...

Hmmm. On another read of your post, I focused on this statement. It seems like you're saying that they had no choice (they didn't choose their environment or genes) but they are responsible for their choice. This is a contradiction that truly confuses me. So, it seems like your 'free will' is just rhetoric to lessen the blow to those that 'feeeeeeeel' like they're making a choice, even though you agree that there is no chouce. As I wrote to Margaret, I think this kind of waffling gives people who disagree an excuse to blow you off as either confused or unsure.

Could you describe your position without making what seem to me as opposing statements?

alexandra_k
February 11th, 2006, 10:06 PM
Free will is a tricky topic... Dare I say... It is especially tricky for the non-philosopher. That is because in philosophy... One acquires a tool-kit for conceptual analysis... There are distinctions that non-philosophers tend not to make. Those distinctions have been devised by philosophers precisely because... the absense of them... results in conceptual confusion. I shall try my best to be as clear as possible. But it is hard. And I don't have it all worked out yet either...

When people are debating whether it is possible for people to have free will or not... The first thing you need to be clear on is 'what is free will'?

The libertarian conception of free will is often considered to be most in line with people's pre-theorietical conception of free will (which is to say before they have thought hard about it and seen what sorts of contradictions they are going to end up indorsing). There is no such thing as libertarian free will. I'm prepared to argue for that... In fact I shall argue (briefly) for that near the end. If you are prepared to grant that there is no such thing as libertarian free will (which I think you are) then we are faced with two choices as to what moral we take:

1) there is no such thing as free will (your line)
2) the libertarian conception of free will does not tell us what free will really is. free will must be a little different from what we had supposed (hence the title of Dennett's book: Elbow Room: Varieties of free will worth wanting). This latter line... Is my line (and the line of the majority of current philosophy consensus - I think that is fair to say - amongst philosophers who take science seriously).

>> Given their environment and their genes they could not have done otherwise from what they did in fact do. No libertarian free will allowed...

> Hmmm. On another read of your post, I focused on this statement. It seems like you're saying that they had no choice (they didn't choose their environment or genes) but they are responsible for their choice. This is a contradiction that truly confuses me.

If free will requires that we could have done otherwise from what we did in fact do (as the libertarians maintain) then... it follows that there is no such thing as free will. I want to say that free will does not require that we could have done otherwise from what we did in fact do. This is counter-intuitive to be sure. It takes a bit to get your head around. But... Isn't freedom worth the effort? I mean... Think what is at stake ;-)

Pre-theorietically... People seem to think that a caused act cannot be a free act. But then if my act is not caused by my beliefs and desires, then how is it MY act? It seems that for an act to be MY act it must be caused by ME. But ME... Was caused by factors outside my control (my environment and my genes). What I want to say is... Yup. We don't choose our environment or our genes. We don't choose our beliefs and our desires. BUT... (very roughly) our action must be caused by my beliefs and desires in order to be MY act. But... That is not the end of the story... It is not...

The confusion / contradiction comes from persistently trying to read 'free will' as meaning 'libertarian free will'. I have already granted you that there is no such thing as libertarian free will. The question now becomes... We typically consider acts of type one (I hope I remember this the correct way) free. We typically consider acts of type two not free. So why is this? What do the acts we typically consider free have in common? In other words... Look at the range of phenomena in the world that we typically consider free... And given what we know about the world... What on earth might freedom be?

That is the real question. What could freedom be? And a constraint on the theory... Is that it should take science seriously. And it might well turn out to be the case that this world has deterministic laws (though I think you should be careful here because at this point it might well turn out to be the case that the world has an irreducible probabilistic element to it too...)

> So, it seems like your 'free will' is just rhetoric to lessen the blow to those that 'feeeeeeeel' like they're making a choice, even though you agree that there is no chouce.

What they will choose is determined by their beliefs and desires.
Their beliefs and desires are determined by their environment and their genes.
Their choice determines their action...

There is choice. But the choice is determined. There is no contradiction unless you thump on the table and say 'but choice isn't allowed to be determined by definition!!!!!'.

> But, please tell me, maybe in 10 words or less, with what is Mr. X choosing??? When you realize that you can't answer this question without going supernatural on me, you'll be faced with the choice of either being a 'hard' determinist or a non-determinist; there really is no compatibility that I can see. Yet.

Mr X's choice is determined by his beliefs and desires. those in turn were determined by his environment and his genes. his choice determines his behaviour. 'with what is he choosing'? his choice is based (most proximally) on his beliefs and desires. That isn't supernatural... And throughout I"ve assumed determinsim to be true. So... Compatibilism...


regarding the 'maybe free will can arise from quantum indeterminicies' idea. Sorry... but that is a bad idea...

how can a random event result in MY choice?
i don't choose the random event.
a random event isn't caused by me.
randomness doesn't help.

alexandra_k
February 11th, 2006, 10:22 PM
responsibility without the possibility of having done otherwise...

this little example might help:

suppose you have a kid. maybe... age 6. you take the kid into a shop. the kid (accidentally or intentionally it doesn't matter) breaks something.

you are responsible and must pay for damages
(i'm assuming you will grant me that)

and here you are responsible for something you didn't even do!

ah... but you COULD have watched the child more carefully. or you COULD have not taken the child into that shop.

what does the COULD mean?

well... you didn't think to do this...
your environment and your genes were such that that didn't occur to you...
but in being held responsible...
that becomes a new environmental influence
it acts as a punisher
which means that
in the future your environment and your genes are such that... that is more likely to occur to you (and be acted upon) in the future.

hence... justice isn't about retribution, it is about rehabilitation and prevention of future reoffending.

regarding type one and two cases... maybe it has something to do with the liklihood of recurrance... when the guy shot his wife... well... he might go on to shoot other people who do things he doesn't like. so... best lock him up. regarding the person with the gun in their face... how likely is that situation to recurr? not very. so we let them off. regarding the person holding the gun to their face... might recurr. hence... lock them up.

but that is law. legal responsibility.
regarding morality... it is harder...
but then i think ethics should be naturalised (given an evolutionary explanation) too.
that will involve altering our conception of moral responsibility most probably.
but i think thats okay. but i don't have that all worked out...

Fred H.
February 12th, 2006, 10:29 AM
TomJ: Your illusions are going to be the cause of our ultimate demise. That's what really scares me.
So on the one hand we humans lack free will in an indifferent world of a blind deterministic and/or random physical forces and genetic replication; and yet, nevertheless, it’s somehow my “illusions” (what, that 1+1=2 and that the infinite number of primes are objective truths?) that will cause our ultimate demise? Wow, that is scary, and so unfair somehow . . . or maybe it’s just laughable.

Margaret McGhee
February 12th, 2006, 12:41 PM
Tom, Alex, Fred:

Brain sientists Bill Calvin, in his book "How Brains Think" lays out the following hierarchy of persistent levels of organization in the human mind on page 37 in a cartoon-like diagram.

Starting below the ground (below consciousness) and working their way up they are:

Quantum Mechanics
Chemical Bonds
Bio Chemistry
Membranes
Synapses
Nerve Cells

Above ground are:

Consciousness (Which he describes as being, insight and bonding)
And at the top is the whimsical "Love is blind".

He states that quantum mechanics is to consciousness as spark plugs are to traffic jams. He suggests that the mind might be seen as something like a crystal, just ordinary matter like everything else temporarily organized in some complicated way - that ceases to have those properties if that organization is changed, as in injury or death.

Just thought this was interesting. ;)

Margaret

Margaret McGhee
February 12th, 2006, 01:00 PM
Tom, Alex, Fred,

Referring to Calvin's description in my last post (that Fred will not agree with) it seems to us that we are freely choosing from alternatives when we make behavior choices - blithely unaware of all those levels of organization down below that make the process and our limited perception of it possible.

Especially we are unaware of the strong emotions attached to our beliefs about the world that make it impossible for us to even consider some alternative ways to see it.

Because of those fundamental beliefs we hold some of us can't imagine a supernatural force at work in the universe or in our minds. Others can't imagine a universe where it is not there, endowing our special life form with the only possible capacity for morality. Whatever conclusions we draw or arguments we make they must be congruent with those beliefs in our mind. Logic has almost no power in these discussions - although each side will adamantly claim that only their view makes logical sense.

Each side is looking for logical justifications for their higher level beliefs that are being challenged and defended in this context. The only way any of us could come to the opposite conclusion about free will is to change those beliefs in our mind - and that almost never happens in adults save some life changing event like a near-death experience.

Those beliefs are a part of our identity. We would have to become a different person before we could see the question from the other side. Tom would have to become a theist or Fred would have to become an atheist. Does anyone believe that is possible? If you try to logically discredit someone's core beliefs all you will do is create anger and bitterness.

That's why I'm not interested in convincing anyone that my view (deterministic) is the correct one. These discussions become just a chance for each of us to prove that we are more clever at logically defending our higher level beliefs than our opponent. Alex is doing a great job teaching us how to speak "philosophy" and keep our definitions dry as we joust.

But for me the discussion is far more interesting at the EP level of how those beliefs get into our minds and how they can so easily overpower our intellect - no matter their connection to objective reality.

I know it's so compelling and emotionally satisfying defending our core beliefs on the intellectual field of battle. I've done plenty of that in my life. But just to shuffle the cards a bit (and probably get everyone irritated at me) I thought I'd throw in this unsettling view of intellectual impotency from the next level up. :rolleyes:

Cheers, Margaret

Margaret McGhee
February 12th, 2006, 02:01 PM
Tom, I understand your fear that people with strong irrational beliefs are likely to destroy the world and us with it. I used to believe as you do that it was worthwhile opposing them.

I think we are well into a reformative cycle of civilization where strong belief systems swell in peoples minds paralyzing their ablilty to reason - until they explode in death and destruction. Maybe this time around the weapons are powerful enough that truly major changes in the ecology of our planet could result. Maybe this will be the next great extinction in Earth's "reformative" cycle. Those predicting the end times will get their way and homo sapiens will finally leave the stage.

But if history is any guide, it seems that these cycles only end after so much death and destruction is let loose that the "true believers" finally exhaust themselves. Lying in their smoking ruins they have no ability to stop the next age of enlightment and peace to bloom - or in this case perhaps the age of insecta.

Maybe I'm too old to find much hope in opposing the current wave of ideology that seems to be sweeping over us. I'll have to leave it to you youngsters to carry on as I know you will - but know that I'll be cheering you on and appreciating your efforts.

Margaret

Fred H.
February 12th, 2006, 04:12 PM
MM: Those beliefs are a part of our identity. We would have to become a different person before we could see the question from the other side. Tom would have to become a theist or Fred would have to become an atheist. Does anyone believe that is possible? If you try to logically discredit someone's core beliefs all you will do is create anger and bitterness.
I was an atheist for the first twenty some years of my life (I was raised an atheist), but I eventually concluded that such a worldview didn’t add up. The eminent and former atheist Antony Flew is no longer an atheist—I think he was eighty when his beliefs changed. And of course there are always those deathbed conversions.

You’ve probably heard of the Monty Hall problem, where there is a prize behind one of three doors and you guess which door—Monty then eliminates one of the two remaining doors (that obviously doesn’t have the prize) and asks if you now want to switch your choice to the other remaining door. A lot of people will strongly and emotionally argue that it doesn’t matter, that it’s a 50/50 chance whether you stay with your first choice or switch. However, many of those same people will, if they truly attempt to understand the statistics, eventually see that in fact their odds of winning will increase from 33% to 67% if they switch.

The proof of the Monty Hall problem is a kind of objective (statistical) truth, and I think that most are probably capable of comprehending such objective truth, even if it is initially contrary to their strongly held beliefs and/or presuppositions. So I’d say that people certainly can and do change their beliefs, especially when they perceive an objective truth that is contrary to those beliefs.

OTH, if you’re convinced that there is no “objective truth” and/or that we humans lack free will, then I suppose that could effectively lock you into those beliefs. (Similar in some ways to fundamentalists convinced that their understanding of their “inerrant” scriptures and sovereign God is the only absolute truth; and why I generally view religious fundamentalism and most varieties of atheism to be equally small-minded and intolerant.)

alexandra_k
February 12th, 2006, 04:34 PM
Hmm. I'm not sure what to say. When philosophers (or lay people) make claims about chemical substances or biological kinds the scientists brush us off 'why on earth should philosophy (people's pre-theorietical intuitions) be able to help! the answer is an empirical matter and involves us getting up off our armchairs and actually taking a look at the world'.

and this is correct.

scientists are authorative about the natural world because they conduct SYSTEMATIC INVESTIGATION into its nature.

but when scientists start speculating about the nature of knowledge or justice or free will... they think that philosophers are no more authorative than the common man. and this is laughable really because it is things such as these that are the appropriate subject matter for philosophy.

philosophers are authorative about these topics because they conduct SYSTEMATIC INVESTIGATION into its nature.

the distinctions may seem dry and boring...
but i think it is more to the point that philosophy is HARD. it requires a lot of EFFORT to come to grasp the distinctions and grasp the terminology and what is meant by the terminology that is used.

philosophers don't do this just because they can. just like the physicists don't draw distinctions like 'proton' and 'electron' and 'neutron' just because they can. those distinctions are drawn for a reason. so we can better understand the lay of the land. if you don't grasp the terminology of physics it makes it jolly hard to have a conversation about physics. if you don't grasp the terminology of chemistry it makes it jolly hard to have a conversation about chemistry. indeed... if you don't grasp the terminology then you can't even grasp the lay of the land.

and philosophy is the same... though people typically don't like this... but what on earth do they think philosophers learn about? it isn't people just yakking like we are doing now... it is a serious intellectual discipline with a body of knowledge that consists in a map. a map of the lay of the land. there is no 'the' answer. but there are various answers that have been offered. they each have strengths (which is why it is worth learning about them) and they each have weaknesses (which is why the problem hasn't been solved yet). you need to grasp the lay of the land BEFORE trying to take the good, abandon the bad, and come up with your own coherant theory.

any first year textbook in philosophy consists in such distinctions to grasp the lay of the land.

i don't consider myself authorative when it comes to biology, or evolutionary psychology. i don't know very much at all. but when it comes to free will i have a fair grasp of the lay of the land.

boring maybe...

but who said philosophy was going to be easy?

depends on whether you really want to know. or whether you are more interested in justifying your pre-theorietical intuitions i suppose...

but i didn't really come here to talk philosophy... i have enough peoples IRL who i can learn from.. and i don't want to teach... i want to research...

alexandra_k
February 12th, 2006, 04:39 PM
just like the 'real' vs 'constructionist' debate.

if you think those two options are mutually exclusive then you are wrong.

i know of at least two varieties of realism.
i know of at least three varieties of constructivism.
and i know of one view... that lies somewhere in the middle (which is actually the one i favour)

but how can you have a well thought out view if you don't even grasp your possible options?

i object to PLATONIC realism.

because PLATONIC realism implies that there is this OTHER REALM OF FORMS where things exist in their IDEAL STATE.

i'm not opposed to other varieties of realism.

and as for constructivism... there are stronger and weaker versions of that. the weakest version is true (trivially)

There is a sense in which ALL concepts are social constructions because WORDS and the IDEAS conveyed by words... are products of our social and cultural evolution.

sigh.

TomJrzk
February 12th, 2006, 06:29 PM
We typically consider acts of type one (I hope I remember this the correct way) free. We typically consider acts of type two not free.

I guess I'm not typical. I do not consider any of those acts as free, in ANY sense. We accept 'innocent by reason of insanity', something in the person's 'psychology' 'drove' them to pull the trigger. I'm insisting that this is just a darker shade of gray. ANY choice we make is driven by our psychology at the time. That we punch the guy instead of shooting him is different in the eyes of society because of the relative consequences, and the non-shooter is seen as being a 'better' person, but there's nothing different besides the brain that made that choice (and I know you'd agree with that).

I'm willing to concede that humans can choose, I've used that term before; that the choice is predetermined does not make the consequences any less deserved nor the result any less important. We can, however, pity the perpetrator rather than fear or hate him.

There is choice. But the choice is determined. There is no contradiction unless you thump on the table and say 'but choice isn't allowed to be determined by definition!!!!!'.

OK, we agree. But this, to me, is not FREE will. If you want to stick with 'choice', that's exactly what it is; but it's not FREE choice, as you have noted. Using Margaret's computer, one chooses door #1, but could not do otherwise. Yikes, I liked your answer in the other thread much better.

If Compatibilism is determinism + choice, I'm with you. If Compatibilism is determinism + free will, you're right, I have not read enough mind-muddling philosophy books to see those as anything but diametrically opposed statements, and I can't support the term.

And you're right in your posts in the other thread. I have little tolerance for philosophy that takes common words and then defines them so differently that you have to read volumes to figure out that they're saying something completely different. Defining a term 'compatibilism' is a great idea, using terms that are opposed: 'determinism' and 'free will', is not as much a great idea. Someone must have changed the meaning of one of them to the point where they probably ought to create a new word.

As long as I can focus on our identical definition of 'determinism', I can politely ignore your still-nebulous distinction in 'free will' that rubs my neurons the wrong way... Great posts, and thanks!!!

regarding the 'maybe free will can arise from quantum indeterminicies' idea. Sorry... but that is a bad idea...

Agreed. I stupidly offered a straw man from you that I don't support myself. I shouldn't have wasted our time. And yet, I'm wasting still more by apologizing for it!!! ;)

TomJrzk
February 12th, 2006, 06:35 PM
So on the one hand we humans lack free will in an indifferent world of a blind deterministic and/or random physical forces and genetic replication; and yet, nevertheless, it’s somehow my “illusions” (what, that 1+1=2 and that the infinite number of primes are objective truths?) that will cause our ultimate demise? Wow, that is scary, and so unfair somehow . . . or maybe it’s just laughable.

Thanks, Fred. I'm glad you replied and didn't insult me directly.

Math and primes are deemed 'objective truths' only because most everyone agrees and probably because everyone can work it out pretty much by themselves. Your extrapolation of someone's idea of entropy to mean God the Father Who Art in Heaven, is somewhat LESS than objective, at least to me because I do not accept it. So when you typed the number '1', it wasn't as cut and dried to me as it must have been to you. I'm actually quite good in math ;).

And, yes, my belief that we humans evolved many moral concepts all by ourselves allows me to treat everyone with respect and fondness. Your precept of everyone sinning and needing to bend to your imaginary beliefs (or what???) is what is scary. And not only because it puts everyone in the position of unearned shame.

Just let go. We are on the whole 'nice' people, otherwise we wouldn't have lasted long enough to evolve so far.

TomJrzk
February 12th, 2006, 06:37 PM
Quantum Mechanics
Chemical Bonds
Bio Chemistry
Membranes
Synapses
Nerve Cells

Above ground are:

Consciousness (Which he describes as being, insight and bonding)
And at the top is the whimsical "Love is blind".

Good post, thanks. I'm glad that you included "Quantum Mechanics" so I can reiterate that I don't think they apply to the point of affecting social determinism.

TomJrzk
February 12th, 2006, 06:41 PM
That's why I'm not interested in convincing anyone that my view (deterministic) is the correct one. These discussions become just a chance for each of us to prove that we are more clever at logically defending our higher level beliefs than our opponent. Alex is doing a great job teaching us how to speak "philosophy" and keep our definitions dry as we joust.

Great points. This may sound clueless, or dishonest, or worse, but my goal is not to change Fred. I'm concerned about those who might read this in the future and have not yet formed such immovable views; I want them to know there's an alternative to Fred's view. That they don't have to kneel before an invisible god, or worse. I was hoping to get less qualified agreement so there wouldn't be an appearance of disagreement for those who don't take the time to delve into it. I'm very happy with the level of qualified agreement from you and Alexandra.

Besides, I KNOW that I'm "more clever at logically defending our higher level beliefs", just ask my kids. I'm practically perfect in every way ;).

TomJrzk
February 12th, 2006, 06:44 PM
You’ve probably heard of the Monty Hall problem, where there is a prize behind one of three doors and you guess which door—Monty then eliminates one of the two remaining doors (that obviously doesn’t have the prize) and asks if you now want to switch your choice to the other remaining door. A lot of people will strongly and emotionally argue that it doesn’t matter, that it’s a 50/50 chance whether you stay with your first choice or switch. However, many of those same people will, if they truly attempt to understand the statistics, eventually see that in fact their odds of winning will increase from 33% to 67% if they switch.

You have to add the fact that Monty must ALWAYS open a door; the show itself had him opening one some times and not others. That may have confused people but, you're right, some people can still not see it. And I'm glad that you, too, see that it works both ways.

TomJrzk
February 12th, 2006, 06:46 PM
OTOH, if you’re convinced that there is no “objective truth” and/or that we humans lack free will, then I suppose that could effectively lock you into those beliefs. (Similar in some ways to fundamentalists convinced that their understanding of their “inerrant” scriptures and sovereign God is the only absolute truth; and why I generally view religious fundamentalism and most varieties of atheism to be equally small-minded and intolerant.)

You might have to help me follow this supposition. Even though I don't believe in objective truth and don't believe in free will; I assure you that I will be kneeling right beside you if God does show up, maybe even a little harder out of desperation. I used to call myself an agnostic before someone pointed out the definition (someone who believes god is unknowable), now I have to use my own term: unconfirmed atheist.

TomJrzk
February 13th, 2006, 10:09 AM
the distinctions may seem dry and boring...
but i think it is more to the point that philosophy is HARD. it requires a lot of EFFORT to come to grasp the distinctions and grasp the terminology and what is meant by the terminology that is used.

Yes, too hard for me and my limited amount of time (and patience with redefined words). Especially when the 'definition' starts with a list of examples; examples are great for illuminating a definition but not such a good definition by themselves. It gets kinda wordy, which aggravates my estrogen-deprived brain. It would be nice if there were an understandable term for 'predetermined choices' without sounding so much like an oxymoron. But the fact that the concept is so foreign to our 'feelings' is probably why we don't already have one. So, I've summarized my thoughts on Free Will without even using the term, since we can't agree on its meaning. I'm going to edit this summary into the original post of this thread and update it as my thoughts change. If anyone wants their summary there, too, either post it or email it to me and I'll work with you on getting it added. I think it would be nice to have a list of summaries at the beginning so casual browsers can get our thoughts without having to wade through all the posts (leave it to an engineer ;)).

And, just one more 'clever point', just cuz my testosterone is acting up again: I've never heard of a clinical depression termed 'determinism'; I think anyone who can grasp determinism can also understand that it's not hopeless, they still have 'choice'. Can you imagine anyone actually thinking, "hmmm, my decision whether to get out of bed this morning is predetermined so it sounds like I don't really have a choice at all so why should I choose to get out of bed? I'll just lie here forever."? No, everyone still has to pee and then we get a bit hungry and then we start railing against the oppression by the capitalists! So, I see no reason, yet, to soften the language.

Here are my thoughts on free will in a nutshell:

Tom's current view:

1. All behaviors, personality, thoughts, feelings, and dreams come from our brains. There's nothing supernatural or spiritual.

2. Therefore, whatever choices we make are predetermined, they rely solely on the current conditions of our brains: memories/prior experiences, instincts/personality and what we sense from our environment; there's nothing else to tip the balance between 'yes' and 'no'.

3. Every individual's choices are essential to our collective predetermined future.

My predetermined choice to post this has changed your 'prior experiences'. Hopefully, enough of us will realize that we humans are the only beings that can consciously change our futures, and do so for the better. We are all cogs in the machine, there is no omniscient being that will straighten out whatever messes we make.

Fred H.
February 13th, 2006, 12:53 PM
TomJ: Your extrapolation of someone's idea of entropy to mean God the Father Who Art in Heaven, is somewhat LESS than objective, at least to me because I do not accept it….

Your precept of everyone sinning and needing to bend to your imaginary beliefs (or what???) is what is scary. And not only because it puts everyone in the position of unearned shame.
God the Father, sinning? You have an annoying habit of putting your words in my mouth. I suppose that might be indicative of your determinism and your lack of free will/moral choice, but I’m inclined to think it has more to do with dishonesty and/or delusion, and/or a lack of self-awareness.

Keep in mind, Tom, that when you experience fear (your “scary” feeling), it often has little to do with whatever you’ve consciously perceived to be the cause (e.g., Fred’s “precept”?). Fear is generated when stimuli subconsciously trigger your subcortical amygdala, which results in behavior, feeling, and then conscious interpretation—you don’t run b/c you’re afraid, you’re afraid b/c you run.

Now some here may read that and say, “Aha, we do lack free will!” But I prefer to think of these biological realities in this way: While the primitive subcortical and subconscious motivational/emotional neural mechanisms do indeed have tremendous influence on our behavior and conscious perceptions, we nevertheless can consciously and willfully discern, at least to some degree, the influence of these neural mechanisms and exercise at least some conscious and willful control (downward causation).

So anyway Tom, here’s Sigmoid Fred’s tough love diagnosis: Fred’s “precepts” are not what’s triggering your fear—you have other issues. Grow up, be more humble, become more self-aware of the influence of the subconscious primitive neural mechanisms on your conscious perceptions, and realize that you do indeed have at least some free will and that you can choose to be morally responsible (downward causation).

Sigmoid Fred

TomJrzk
February 13th, 2006, 01:06 PM
God the Father, sinning? You have an annoying habit of putting your words in my mouth. I suppose that might be indicative of your determinism and your lack of free will/moral choice, but I’m inclined to think it has more to do with dishonesty and/or delusion, and/or a lack of self-awareness.

Keep in mind, Tom, that when you experience fear (your “scary” feeling), it often has little to do with whatever you’ve consciously perceived to be the cause (e.g., Fred’s “precept”?).

You're right, I'm sorry. I should not have put thoughts in your head. Since you've not stated your beliefs I channeled my younger self and fell on my Catholic upbringing; I have to resist THAT temptation.

Certainly, instinctive, fight or flight fear is generated as you say. That's not what I'm suffering from. You are still scary but I feel neither compulsion, neither fight nor flight; I guess that's what you excluded by 'often'. I am glad that you're still reading, though.

Margaret McGhee
February 13th, 2006, 01:39 PM
Fred, you said,


While the primitive subcortical and subconscious motivational/emotional neural mechanisms do indeed have tremendous influence on our behavior and conscious perceptions, we nevertheless can consciously and willfully discern, at least to some degree, the influence of these neural mechanisms and exercise at least some conscious and willful control (downward causation).

This is a good descrption I think of what happens. The area where we might disagree is what happens next.

I would maintain that our intellectual conclusion that we should stay in class today instead of running off to the beach with our friends (as our more primitive emotions are urging us to do) has only as much power to control the decision as the emotional strength we grant it. And that this is an involuntary event. i.e. we will automatically give it the emotional power that our identity (higher level beliefs in the kind of person we believe ourselves to be) allows.

If we fancy ourselves to be serious about the profession we are pursuing we may feel bad (or less good) when we consider blowing off class. If we are going to school for less noble reasons we may not feel so bad at the prospect and may instead feel good.

But that feeling is what is considered, not the logical alternative itself. I propose that our decisions are made as the result of a summing of these emotional forces. Our logical conclusions have no force themselves other than what our identity (higher level beliefs) grants them in a specific context that must have some effect on our happiness or survival.

And in that sense, our decisions are still therefore "determined". If we are free we are only free to be ourselves, which means that we are free to consider whatever emotional value to our decision alternatives that our identity has established. And of course, the higher level beliefs of our identity were chosen in our past because they also felt good to our emotional computer.

They could have been chosen with emotional inputs from our intellect but that's dependent again on identity. Some people may tend to harbor only intellectually logical beliefs in their minds. Others may prefer (automatically give more emotional weight to) irrational religious inputs as mandated by the surf God, for example.

But freedom is hardly the best term to use for something that occurs subconsciously.

Margaret

TomJrzk
February 13th, 2006, 03:41 PM
The eminent and former atheist Antony Flew is no longer an atheist—I think he was eighty when his beliefs changed.

Fred, do you have ToddStark's posts on Flew, which included Flew's interview? Seems to me that Todd's point was that Flew wasn't much of an atheist to start with and didn't actually change.

If you can't give me a link, maybe you or JimB can let me know how to find it. I did a search on the whole forum plus what I could see on the archives and didn't find Todd's post.

Thanks!!!


Never mind, I persevered and found his quote (and I had it backward):

"A shift of strict atheists to secularist deism as in the case of Flew wouldn't bother me at all".

It was the "secularist" that made it clear to me.

Fred H.
February 13th, 2006, 03:52 PM
MM: This is a good description I think of what happens. The area where we might disagree is what happens next.

I would maintain that our intellectual conclusion that we should stay in class today instead of running off to the beach with our friends (as our more primitive emotions are urging us to do) has only as much power to control the decision as the emotional strength we grant it. And that this is an involuntary event. i.e. we will automatically give it the emotional power that our identity (higher level beliefs in the kind of person we believe ourselves to be) allows.

Margaret---And I don’t necessarily find your conclusion here to be unreasonable. In fact Margaret, I’d not disagree that much of my own life almost certainly does operate at the more or less automatic level that you outline—if it didn’t I’d probably not have survived & reproduced.

Nevertheless, again b/c of the overwhelming evidence that we humans can and do discern objective truths to perceive and understand ourselves and our world, I’m also convinced that we do have at least some conscious/cognitive free will and some sort of objective moral discernment and choice/responsibility (downward causation).

Otherwise, no matter how you cut it, we’re essentially automatons, all subjects of a blind determinism and/or randomness, creatures with illusions that couldn’t possibly have any real objective moral discernment or moral choice/responsibility.

And if that’s how it is, and how you and Tom see things, fine. But then would you please try to explain to Tom (again) that with such a POV, there’s no rational reason for him to be whining about other automatons, that don’t share his atheism, being “scary”—b/c in such a world we’re all ultimately, well, automatons . . .

alexandra_k
February 13th, 2006, 04:04 PM
just a brief post (OMG!!!)
i'm really busy organising relocation this week...
my tone was a little grouchy yesterday (sorry about that)
i got a little worried...
thanks for not getting pissed with me.
more next week!
:-)

TomJrzk
February 13th, 2006, 04:12 PM
And if that’s how it is, and how you and Tom see things, fine. But then would you please try to explain to Tom (again) that with such a POV, there’s no rational reason for him to be whining about other automatons, that don’t share his atheism, being “scary”—b/c in such a world we’re all ultimately, well, automatons . . .
I'm afraid that you're missing the point. We're all automatons taking in what we hear, processing it in our brains (deterministically), and then acting on it. If the Fred automaton convinced enough automatons that whatever super-natural being is real; then this automaton is concerned. Further, if Fred's support of his supernatural beliefs supports others' beliefs, which are probably different from Fred's beliefs, they might act on their beliefs in such a way that I think is dangerous.

Also, I deeply pity your apparent inability to express your points without insulting me ("whining", this time). I know that must have made your life very difficult and whatever caused you to be that way must have been very uncomfortable. For that, I am sorry.

Fred H.
February 13th, 2006, 04:19 PM
TomJ: Seems to me that Todd's point was that Flew wasn't much of an atheist to start with and didn't actually change.Sure Tom, undoubtedly. It’s like when a so-called believer stops going to Church, falls away—it then becomes obvious to the “true believers” that the one that fell was never a true believer to begin with . . . thanks for another example of how religious fundamentalism and most varieties of atheism are similarly small-minded and intolerant.

alexandra_k
February 13th, 2006, 04:59 PM
> I have little tolerance for philosophy that takes common words and then defines them so differently that you have to read volumes to figure out that they're saying something completely different. Defining a term 'compatibilism' is a great idea, using terms that are opposed: 'determinism' and 'free will', is not as much a great idea. Someone must have changed the meaning of one of them to the point where they probably ought to create a new word.

Lol!!!!! I have little tolderance for science that takes common words (like 'consciousness') and then defines them so differently that you have to read volumes...

(Consciousness is essentially subjective - only I know what it is like to be me and only I have access to my conscious states - so how can you have a third person / objective science of consciousness?)

No. They are talking about 'reportability' or 'wakefulness' or 'awareness' - all of which could happen without consciousness (it is logically possible)...

So... I do have sympathy. However... It comes back to the point about the people who died in the name of freedom. Were they fighting for an illusion? What is freedom if it is not the ability to exercise ones free will? I'm just thinking that standard terminology is that... There are a couple different senses of free will (or - there are a couple different theories of its nature). And... Libertarianism is one (which we agree is either a false theory of the nature of free will OR if it is a true theory of the nature of free will THEN we do not have free will. Compatible theories of free will... are another. They are typically considered theories of 'free will'. You are of course free (ha!) to use your own idiosyncratic terminology... But it makes things a bit tricky (though we seem to be doing fine with understanding each other really)...

Also...

'Pre-determined'. I don't really like that... Want to allow for the very real possibility that there may be an irreducibly indeterministic element to physics... And might want to allow for the very real possibility that such indeterminacies aren't confined to the sub-atomic level... They might 'percolate up' to the chemical, biological, social, psychological levels too...

Beliefs... Are you willing to grant that strictly speaking there are no such things? The trouble with terms like 'knowledge' 'truth' 'justice' etc etc 'free will' even... 'belief' etc is that if we do not revise our concepts so that it is possible for us to have them... Well... Then we do not have them.

I'm willing to argue for that (though I'd prefer to argue about 'beliefs' rather than the others)...

But I'd better pack...

Fred H.
February 13th, 2006, 07:33 PM
TomJ: Also, I deeply pity your apparent inability to express your points without insulting me ("whining", this time).
Oh Tom, Tom, if you’ll recall, here’s how things actually evolved:

In discussing morality you stated that, “Morality is burned into our DNA,” and I replied that, “I was expecting a little more rigor and honesty here,” that “if that’s all there is, then your DNA “morality” is really not “morality,” it’s simply genes/algorithms, and the resulting behavior we might see, say, in a wolf pack . . .”

Then you griped: “So now you're calling me a stupid liar,” that you expected “a bit more “morality” from me, and added that I was “too busy insulting people, maybe in the hopes of saving them to the grace of god where wars and natural disasters have no effect,” and that my “illusions are going to be the cause of our ultimate demise. That's what really scares me.”

Your additional sarcasms: I hope you do, however, continue to read with as much of an open mind as you can afford.

Your extrapolation of someone's idea of entropy to mean God the Father Who Art in Heaven, is somewhat LESS than objective, at least to me because I do not accept it….

Your precept of everyone sinning and needing to bend to your imaginary beliefs (or what???) is what is scary. And not only because it puts everyone in the position of unearned shame.

Finally, trying to help you see the irrationality in your “scary” feeling, I noted that there’s no rational reason for you to be whining about other automatons, that don’t share your atheism, being “scary,” b/c in such a world we’re all, after all, merely automatons driven by blind determinism.

And now you whine: “I deeply pity your apparent inability to express your points without insulting me.” Gee, it looks like you’ve been doing the insulting here, and frankly Tom, I’m surprised how magnanimous I’ve been . . . you’re beginning to irritate me though.

ToddStark
February 14th, 2006, 12:52 AM
I have always had some fundamental epistemological differences with Fred regarding how human reason operates, and it makes these kind of conversations very cloudy despite our intentions to clarify. He despises my "Necker Cube" metaphor for how human beliefs can orient and shift as a cluster, and to me it is almost indispensible. The different epistemologies bring us to different philosophies of science, and different stances toward scientific realism. It also brought us to very different ways of thinking about Flew's putative religious conversion. I see it as more of a nuance of his previous view rather than something grossly different from his atheism. Not much hinges on it for me.

I think human reason is generally underdetermined by evidence and operates out of webs of background schema rather than from strict logical inference. That is, we can reason scrupulously from evidence, yet come to different outcomes. To me, this position is entirely compatible with scientific realism. I think there is a single real world that we can come to know to some degree, and that different perspectives provide us with different aspects of that world rather than different worlds. The kind of realism that regards entities and substances is somewhat stronger than that which regards theories, but I am very much positively disposed toward both.

The underdetermination of reason is important because it means honest empirical inquiry is not just a matter of logical reasoning from evidence. It also requires various epistemic virtues, both individually and applied in communities and historical trails of reasoning. The things that distinguish science also distinguish good detective work and all other forms of empirical inquiry, making them different from all sorts of rational enterprises such as theology and literature which are not forms of inquiry in the same sense.

Consider this. Although Flew and Dan Dennett were/are both famously atheists, I perceive their reasoning to that stance as completely different. It would be a spectacular conversion for Dennett to take on a deist viewpoint because he is a thorough-going naturalistic philosopher whose whole focus is finding natural explanations for the sorts of things most of us look to the heavens to resolve. Flew's arguments have always been of a more general metaphysical and ethical sort, and it is to me more of a nuance from his principled atheism and anti-religionism to a non-religious sort of philosophical deism.

I would expect a radical atheist like Dawkins to convert to charismatic religion before either Flew or Dennett, because I see extremist viewpoints being more similar through extremism itself than through reason, which is why they are rightly considered extremist.

I don't see specific articles of belief as the issue, I see motivated patterns of reasoning and action as the issue. So for me very little hinges on whether someone believes in a deity in a particular form. To me, it is the web of reasoning and actions that flow from it that are important.

I know Fred hears this sort of argument and can honestly perceive nothing but sophistry on my part. Which is why I haven't been contributing here for a while, there is seemingly no middle ground and it just gets too frustrating for me just to express my viewpoint and not even remotely be heard.

Well, here is one more attempt, just in case the world of the forum has changed in the past few months.

kind regards,

Todd

TomJrzk
February 14th, 2006, 10:04 AM
In reply to Fred's post #33:

Yes, and if you recall, I accepted your point and apologized for extrapolating your writings and filling in my experience for your religious views, which I know very little of. Again, I'm sorry. But you're certainly free to keep beating me on the head with it.

But I give honest answers to your questions or points in the hope that you understand where I'm coming from, and maybe we can teach each other something. That's what the rest of us on this forum seem to be doing. I know my honesty and my thinking out loud makes me vulnerable but I really can't imagine where you got the idea that there was somewhere to get more honesty from. If I say something and someone asks for more honesty, I can see through the passive aggression and call a duck a duck. Frankly, I've noticed that far too many prior visitors to this site have made an argument with you as their last posts.

And you might also have noted that I wrote "I'm afraid that you're missing the point. We're all automatons taking in what we hear, processing it in our brains, and then acting on it.", which I thought directly argued against your characterization of my views as 'blind determinism'. If this is not clear, I'd really appreciate questions so that I can make it more clear. You can ignore my post, or you can argue my points, but I think it's very unfair to mischaracterize my views when you put words in my mouth.

And I'm not whining when I say that I know you're not ultimately responsible for your attitude and I have great sympathy for your predicament. I'll try not to irritate you further but I feel compelled to note your history to others so they don't get run off, too.

If you have a direct question, I'll do my best to answer it. It will be honest but I can only promise as much rigor as I can muster; probably not as much as you'd like.

TomJrzk
February 14th, 2006, 10:15 AM
Consider this. Although Flew and Dan Dennett were/are both famously atheists, I perceive their reasoning to that stance as completely different. It would be a spectacular conversion for Dennett to take on a deist viewpoint because he is a thorough-going naturalistic philosopher whose whole focus is finding natural explanations for the sorts of things most of us look to the heavens to resolve. Flew's arguments have always been of a more general metaphysical and ethical sort, and it is to me more of a nuance from his principled atheism and anti-religionism to a non-religious sort of philosophical deism.

Wow, I actually understood this! Well, once I went to dictionary.com and found "Deism: The belief, based solely on reason, in a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation.
". I'm still not convinced that a capital 'G' God created the universe, but can accept that s/he (for Margaret's sake) "assuming no control over life". Thanks!

Fred H.
February 14th, 2006, 10:46 AM
Todd: Consider this. Although Flew and Dan Dennett were/are both famously atheists, I perceive their reasoning to that stance as completely different. It would be a spectacular conversion for Dennett to take on a deist viewpoint because he is a thorough-going naturalistic philosopher whose whole focus is finding natural explanations for the sorts of things most of us look to the heavens to resolve. Flew's arguments have always been of a more general metaphysical and ethical sort, and it is to me more of a nuance from his principled atheism and anti-religionism to a non-religious sort of philosophical deism.

I would expect a radical atheist like Dawkins to convert to charismatic religion before either Flew or Dennett, because I see extremist viewpoints being more similar through extremism itself than through reason, which is why they are rightly considered extremist.
Hi Todd, good to hear from you. You seem to be doing well.

I’m inclined to agree with your comment regarding Dawkins, but I hope he never converts b/c he can only hurt whoever’s side he’s on—I’m praying he remains atheism’s cool aid drinker. (HeyTomJ, just jesting.)

Regarding Dennett, last I looked his “free will” is, at best, “won’t will.” And as I recall, there were rumblings, somewhere, from Dennett suggesting that he may be somewhat less than enthusiastic about his own atheism, making it a little difficult to take too seriously his convoluted speculations regarding free will.

Regarding Flew’s, in your view, not so spectacular conversion, I suppose it would be similar to the Pope becoming an atheist—although a lot of Catholics would be upset, the Baptist young-earth fundamentalist true believers would claim to not be all that surprised b/c they always knew that the Pope was a nuanced evolution believing antichrist anyway.

Keep it real, bro.

Fred

TomJrzk
February 14th, 2006, 11:04 AM
Regarding Dennett, last I looked his “free will” is, at best, “won’t will.” And as I recall, there were rumblings, somewhere, from Dennett suggesting that he may be somewhat less than enthusiastic about his own atheism, making it a little difficult to take too seriously his convoluted speculations regarding free will.

Regarding Flew’s, in your view, not so spectacular conversion, I suppose it would be similar to the Pope becoming an atheist—although a lot of Catholics would be upset, the Baptist young-earth fundamentalist true believers would claim to not be all that surprised b/c they always knew that the Pope was a nuanced evolution believing antichrist anyway.

Fred, could you please provide a source so I can verify, "there were rumblings, somewhere, from Dennett suggesting that he may be somewhat less than enthusiastic about his own atheism", that would be truly interesting. Though if they really are only "rumblings" of "suggestions" that he "may" be "somewhat"... I don't think that would impress me very much.

And, I also can't get my head around the difference between "pure atheism vs god only created the universe, nothing more" and "the Pope deciding there is no God" being anything close to "similar".

Todd, it is REALLY great to have you back; I actually learned something in your first post. I'm sorry we lost Lizzie and Carey; and who knows how many casual readers. Margaret and Alexandra are too important to lose. I warned Margaret not to bother 'tilting against the windmill' but she handled herself VERY well. Feel free to not take Fred's baiting, a simple "I disagree" would suffice for me.

Fred H.
February 14th, 2006, 12:32 PM
TomJ: . . . could you please provide a source . . . I don't think that would impress me very much.

And, I also can't get my head around the difference between "pure atheism vs god only created the universe, nothing more" and "the Pope deciding there is no God" being anything close to "similar".
Wow. That’s amazing. If you don’t see that leaping from “pure atheism” to God “created the universe [what else is there?]" on the one hand, is anything “close to similar” to leaping from the Pope’s faith that God created the universe to “there is no God,” on the other hand, then that pretty much explains everything . . . as Dr. Phil might say, I am stupefied.

Yeah Tom, I got a source for the Dennett thing, but really, why bother. Anyway, Todd’ll know what I’m referring to. And if worst come to worst, there’s always Google. Good luck.

TomJrzk
February 14th, 2006, 12:51 PM
Speaking of 'honesty' I've not seen as amazing an example of 'taking out of context' as turning:


Fred, could you please provide a source so I can verify, "there were rumblings, somewhere, from Dennett suggesting that he may be somewhat less than enthusiastic about his own atheism", that would be truly interesting. Though if they really are only "rumblings" of "suggestions" that he "may" be "somewhat"... I don't think that would impress me very much.


into:


TomJ: . . . could you please provide a source . . . I don't think that would impress me very much.


But it is an excellent example of politics, if you happen to like such things.

And, for the sake of others, here is the last quote from Lizzie:

This is going nowhere, and you're getting condescending. Farewell.

And here's Carey's last response to you, Fred:

Here's my last post on this thread. You don't really try to process what other people say, but rather selectively read their posts and then throw back ad hominem comments. It's frustrating.

I hope others read your previous posts before they bother responding to you...

TomJrzk
February 14th, 2006, 01:04 PM
Oh, sorry, you did ask:
God “created the universe [what else is there?]"
If you'd remembered my earlier post, you would have known that deism includes:

a God who created the universe and then abandoned it, assuming no control over life, exerting no influence on natural phenomena, and giving no supernatural revelation.


I believe many, if not most, people think that acceptance of a god includes the control, influence, and revelation. That is, if you really care and were not just trying to misrepresent me, again. See, I can be pretty passive-aggressive, too. ;)

Fred H.
February 14th, 2006, 04:52 PM
TomJ: I hope others read your previous posts before they bother responding to you...
Yeah, me too. And if they actually took a moment to comprehend my generally succinct explanations, and also assess the not uncommon emotionality and lack of rigor & honesty in those that often argue against me, then that’d be Nirvana. Lizzie and Carey are two great examples—thank you for mentioning them.

You whined somewhere that I was “calling” you a “stupid liar.” I never did of course, and for the record, I doubt you truly are a “liar.” But it does seem that you’re too emotional, and/or you have other issues, for you to honestly assess some of your own arguments here.

Nevertheless, it remains astounding to me that you don’t see, or refuse to acknowledge, the obvious implications of your belief in (a blind/indifferent) determinism and lack of human free will.

TomJrzk
February 14th, 2006, 05:08 PM
Yeah, me too. And if they actually took a moment to comprehend my generally succinct explanations, and also assess the not uncommon emotionality and lack of rigor & honesty in those that often argue against me, then that’d be Nirvana. Lizzie and Carey are two great examples—thank you for mentioning them.

You whined somewhere that I was “calling” you a “stupid liar.” I never did of course, and for the record, I doubt you truly are a “liar.” But it does seem that you’re too emotional, and/or you have other issues, for you to honestly assess some of your own arguments here.

Nevertheless, it remains astounding to me that you don’t see, or refuse to acknowledge, the obvious implications of your belief in (a blind/indifferent) determinism and lack of human free will.
Thanks, Fred. I have what I need now. Yes, I do have other issues that you've helped me to complete. So I'll follow my own advice:

1. I explained 'liar' in terms of your asking for more 'honesty', same thing to me. And 'stupid' in asking for more rigor; though that was a bit more of a stretch it was still fun.

2. You're still misrepresenting me, I have no belief in "(a blind/indifferent) determinism".

3. Oh, and I shoulda said 'tone of your posts'; damn, you're good at this!

I still appreciate your posts, it woulda gotten a lot more quiet over the months without you here.

ToddStark
February 15th, 2006, 08:21 AM
Fred:
"there were rumblings, somewhere, from Dennett suggesting that he may be somewhat less than enthusiastic about his own atheism"

Hi Fred, good to see that you're still going strong too. :rolleyes:

My feeling is that Dennett probably is ambivalent about being associated with the extreme atheists like Dawkins because while he sides with them on his opposition to "intelliegent design," he also has a different view on the nature and role of religion in human life, possibly because he has a more realist view of human intentionality. Belief means something subtly more to him (in guiding action) than it does to Dawkins, I think, for whom it seems to be something arbitrary that we may or may not get right.

I think it was no coincidence that Dawkins came up with the most extreme Lockean version of the "meme" idea whereby the human mind is just a mishmosh of ideas from its environment.

Dennett supports the concept in general (in "Darwin's Dangerous Idea") but I think he takes it back just a bit more than Dawkins because he recognizes in various places that we process ideas according to things like particular styles of explanation, genetic preferences, and prior history. This means that memes seem to cluster in particular ways, lending much more structure to a mind than in Dawkins' view, and making intentionality and belief more relevant to philosophy and science of mind.

Anyway, that's the way I think of their respective stances. Perhaps it reflects more of my own than theirs though!

kind regards,

Todd

Fred H.
February 15th, 2006, 12:15 PM
Todd: Belief means something subtly more to him (in guiding action) than it does to Dawkins, I think, for whom it seems to be something arbitrary that we may or may not get right.
Yikes Todd, forgot how less than satisfying I often find your meanderings (but hey man, I still really like you). Anywho, if you have any interest, not that you’ll care or that it’ll have any impact on whatever your POV is, here’s Wright’s perspective on some Dennett statements—http://www.beliefnet.com/story/153/story_15340_1.html

TomJrzk
February 28th, 2006, 11:06 AM
Yikes Todd, forgot how less than satisfying I often find your meanderings (but hey man, I still really like you).
He's still right, though. The world IS deterministic and there are no 'souls' or 'spirits'. Psychology evolved on its own, that's why we have an Evolutionary Psychology forum.