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Unread July 12th, 2006, 01:26 AM
alexandra_k alexandra_k is offline
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 106
Default Re: free will, determinism, and morality

I'm not too sure what you mean, that is why I'm kind of asking for clarification. Have you read 'Explaining Behaviourism' by William Baum? He outlines how behaviourists don't believe in libertarian free will and regarding what they say on free will... I'm in agreement 100%. Trouble is... When I say 'sure we have free will' I'm not talking about libertarian free will, I'm talking about a kind of free will that is compatible with determinism.

How do you know the external world exists?

To put a more modern spin on Decartes... How do you know that your brain wasn't removed from your body by evil scientists when you were 4? They could have placed your brain in a vat of nutrients and they could have attached electrodes to stimulate your brain in such a way that you have had the experiences that are indistinguishable from experiences you would be having were you to still be disembodied.

I'm not trying to trick you... I'm just trying to say that 'proof' can be hard to come by.

I can't prove we have free will (though I'll claim I can prove that we do not have libertarian free will). I can't prove that we have free will that is compatible with the determinist picture... I can't prove that we are morally responsible...

But I think we have chatted before about reasons to want a compatibilist version of free will:

People who committed suicide in the name of 'freedom'. Did they committ suicide for nothing? Was there no freedom for them to be fighting for?

Tell the slave that he can't complain about his slavery because nobody has freedom...

Let the serial rapist off because he wasn't free...

There are good reasons for retaining the terms 'freedom and dignity'. Despite Skinners rhetoric (heh heh).

If we don't follow the behaviourists on consciousness / mental states...
Then why follow then on freedom and dignity???

>> I think both of us will appeal to argument to best explanation (abductive reasoning)

> I'm assuming that these are not the words that were in your head at the time. This still gives me a headache when I look at it.

Because you don't understand what I'm saying?
Distinction: Deductive Reasoning / Inferential Reasoning
Distinction: There are two different varieties of inferential reasoning: The usual kind (what we typically mean when we say inferential reasoning) and abductive reasoning.


P1) If we don't have free will then people who died in the name of freedom died for an illusion
P2) They didn't die for an illusion
__________________________________________________ _____________
C) We have free will

This is a proof, but it will only work for you if you grant me premises one and two. I figure that if you are determined that we don't have free will then you will just reject (offer arguments against) either premiss one or premiss two or both.

P1) The sun rose yesterday
P2) The sun rose the day before yesterday
P3) The sun rose the day before the day before yesterday
================================================== =======
The sun will rise tomorrow

The premises are supposed to provide some reason to believe the conclusion. Hume offered a radical argument that... What reason do we have to believe the past is a good indicator of the future? Science makes use of inductive reasoning all the time... Consider

P1) People were selected at random
================================================== =======
C) We can generalise our finding back to the population as a whole

P1) I am having experiences that seem to be systematic
================================================== =======
C) The best explanation for this is that I have causal contact with external reality

P1) People talk about freedom a lot and they tend to value it highly
================================================== ========
C) While the folk notion (common conception) might be a little confused it seems that the best explanation for people valuing 'freedom' is that there is something worth having that we are capable of having that deserves to be called 'freedom'.

I can't prove that we have free will
Just like you can't prove that you are in contact with external reality.
The best we can do is offer arguments to the best explanation.

I think that the trouble we are having is mostly verbal.

You say we don't have free will because when you say 'free will' you mean libertarian free will.

I agree. We don't have libertarian free will.

But I do think we have free will because when I say 'sure we have free will' I mean compatibilist free will.

You disagree because you seem determined to read 'free will' as referring to libertarian free will and hence you miss the point of what I'm saying...

That a compatibilist position is possible.

And it is a verbal dispute...

Over whether what compatibilism gives us... deserves to be called 'free will'.

If you are interested in free will I'd reccomend:

"Elbow Room: Varieties of Free Will Worth Wanting"
(Not only that but also varieties of free will that are possible for us to have)
Daniel Dennett... Well worth a read. If you are bold you could have a go at 'Freedom Evolves' too...
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