Free will [was: Canine combustion [was: God, man and morality]]

Richard Goode's picture
Submitted by Richard Goode on Sun, 2013-01-13 20:01

How great are his signs,
    how mighty his wonders!

His dominion is an eternal dominion;
    his kingdom endures from generation to generation.
All the peoples of the earth
    are regarded as nothing.
He does as he pleases
    with the powers of heaven
    and the peoples of the earth.
No one can hold back his hand
    or say to him: “What have you done?”

Book of Daniel (NIV)

[Cross-posted from Eternal Vigilance.]


( categories: )

Richard Goode doesn't mind

Richard Wiig's picture

Richard Goode doesn't mind it, because in his mind it's Gobby who will do the ruling. We are impotent, but Jesus can save us - except for people like me who need evidence of Gobby.

In a world without Free Will,

Richard Wiig's picture

In a world without Free Will, it's every dog for himself, facts of reality be damned. This isn't my doing, or my choosing... it's the consequences of no Free Will. A world to be ruled by elites, by virtue of their DNA.

Yeah, you are right, Jules.

Richard Wiig's picture

Yeah, you are right, Jules. You'd expect more honesty from someone who's apparently so concerned about honesty.

No, Richard.

Damien Grant's picture

If the facts of reality are such that it's a good thing to bash your wife, then everyone who opposed wife-bashing would have to oppose the facts of reality.

If the facts of reality are X, then that is what we should accept. You want to deny the facts if they make you uncomfortable.

ultimately a waste of time.

Jules Troy's picture

So is debating with Damein...

Mischaracterisation.

Richard Wiig's picture

I haven't even said what I'd do. It seems to me that you simply see what you want to see. I said, if free will doesn't exist, then freedom lovers would still have to promote it if they wanted to support freedom. The alternative is to give up on freedom because it's ultimately a waste of time.

duh

Damien Grant's picture

If free will does not exist then it does not exist. This would be a fact. The earth goes around the sun.

But you want freedom. Sooooo. You would deny facts in order to keep your world view.

You would insist that the sun goes around the earth.

The intellectual dishonesty required to get to this point is actually pretty common. See my post on cats.

An intellectually honest approach is to look at IS. what the facts are and go from there.

You decide how the work OUGHT to be. Then look for the facts.

Common. I think Hume identified the problem.

I'm saying nothing of the sort.

Richard Wiig's picture

If Free Will doesn't exist, then it makes freedom impossible. Hence, anyone who values freedom would have to promote Free Will. Freedom lovers would be in the position of Socialists who have to deny the facts of reality in order to support their system. I'm simply saying how it would have to be in order to support freedom if your topsy-turvy theory was true.

no Richard

Damien Grant's picture

You are saying that you want to suppress facts that undermine your views.

The fact that you cannot see the flaw in that condemns your intellectual integrity.

Sorry.

There's nothing to justify,

Richard Wiig's picture

There's nothing to justify, Damien. If the facts of reality are such that it's a good thing to bash your wife, then everyone who opposed wife-bashing would have to oppose the facts of reality. It's a good thing the facts of reality aren't contrary to freedom though, so it's really not an issue.

Rosie

Damien Grant's picture

Wow.

Thanks. That will keep me quiet for a while.

I appreciate the information.

Damien

Rosie's picture

I like the idea of moral symmetry, is there a set line of thought on this issue somewhere? Nothing came up in google.

Hohfeld’s Analysis is the starting point for categorising the structure and function of different types of rights. I wondered whether the following links might be what you were looking for:

Brief Overview of Hohfeld’s Analysis , other rights , commentary/criticism:
http://www.lawyersnjurists.com...

Similar but better -offers more detail:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entr...

Very long article about the concepts of rights and duties:
http://du.ac.in/fileadmin/DU/A...

A chapter of a book with one analysis of The Right to Do What is Morally Wrong: Page 109+
http://books.google.co.nz/book...

Rights and Interference – Excerpts from Book
http://books.google.co.nz/book...

Claim rights and liberty rights:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C...

Negative and Positive Rights:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N...

Animal Rights:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A...
http://analysis.oxfordjournals...

Hohfeld's Analysis : Four types of rights
Here, A and B are persons and X is a situation.

• Claim-rights - A has a claim-right against B with regard to X entails B has a duty to A to bring about X.
Example: B borrowed $100 from A. So A has a claim right against B that B returned $100 to A.
• Privileges (liberties) - A has a privilege against B to X entails B has no claim right against A not to X.
Example: If A the right (against the Japanese Government) to stay in Japan, then this is a privilege. It means that the Japanese Government has no claim-right against A that he leaves the country. Or in other words, A has no duty to the Japanese Government that he leaves Japan.
• Powers (authority rights) - A has a power over B with respect to X entails he can change B's rights with regard to X.
Example: The librarian has the power over a student with regard to the use of the library. Normally a student has the right to use the library. But if a student is noisy then the libarian has the power to take away that right and stop the student from using the library.
• Immunities - A has an immunity against B with respect to X entails B has no power over A's rights with respect to X.
Example: Diplomats are supposed to have diplomatic immunity. If they have committed a crime in their host country, they are immune against arrests and legal prosecution. In other words, the police would have no power over them. (They can still be expelled though.).
Notice that these four kinds of rights are related to each other, at least in the following ways:
• A claim-right corresponds to the absence of a privilege - Suppose A has a claim-right against B that B performs some action K. Then B does not have the privilege of not doing K. For example, if A lends $10 to B, then A has a claim-right against B that B gives $10 back to A. This implies that B does not have the privilege of not giving $10 to B.
• A power corresponds to the absence of an immunity - Suppose A has power over B with respect to a certain right of B. Then B lacks immunity against A with respect to that right. An example is that an employer has power over its employees with respect to their rights to enter the company building. The right to enter the building is granted by the employer, and can be taken away as the employer sees fit. This means that the employee lacks immunity against the employer with respect to such a right.

Richard w

Damien Grant's picture

So if Richard is right you would want these facts 'opposed'?

How can you justify this reasoning?

If the earth travels around the sun then if this was bad for freedom you would want this view opposed?

Greg

Rosie's picture

I think that what is meant by the assertion that free will is impossible and our choices are determined, is that every choice we make could never be otherwise; that each choice is akin to the product of a mathematical equation where the factors of the equation are the application of our dna, upbringing, values etc to the circumstances. Is this your understanding of what is meant when it is asserted that our choices are determined too? Or something else?

The above is my understanding of the assertion, anyway.
I can't see why it matters either way though since in either case each person is still legally and morally responsible for his decisions, others will still assess, evaluate and judge his character by his choices, the consequences and outcomes would surely be just the same, wouldn't they?

Absence of free will means absence of morality.

Why do you think that?

Objective morality exists independently of free will.

Neither my post nor your paraphrased statement has me saying that I know free will is illusory. No one can know this.

Ms Purchas

gregster's picture

You clearly have learned little in the time of engagement with some of us.

"Why does it matter whether our choices are determined or as a result of free will?" Absence of free will means absence of morality.

Your other (crazy) statement paraphrased: "Why is it significant if perception is illusory only?" How do you know it's illusory?

"The Book of Daniel" Oh yeah?

"God's Great Plan?" Who is this fella? I wouldn't allow you a weapon. You disgust me because I see humanity has less hope against other primitives while you homegrown goblinites continue in your self-delusions.

Get revenge

Jules Troy's picture

Bang her sister/best friends And say "now we are even. 

The case of the silent husband and the adulterous wife

Rosie's picture

Suppose that I discover that my wife is having sex with another man.
My wife is morally obliged not to cheat on me.
I have a moral right not to be cheated on by my wife.
Do I have a moral obligation to put a stop to my wife's adultery? (5)
Do I have a moral right to put a stop to my wife's adultery? (6)

Why do you think that the husband is neither obliged nor has the right to interfere with his wife's behaviour to try to stop her cheating if he is upset by it? I don’t agree that there is no right or duty between partners in a marriage to ignore behaviour that is a violation of their vows, lacking in respect, destructive to the exclusivity/quality/security of their relationship as two lives joined as one in marriage.
I understand there is a tension is between individual freedom and our authority to make claims on one another but marriage is a unique relationship where two lives are joined in one, isn't it?!

Principle for non-interference:

If P has a right to do A this entails that other people are morally required to refrain from interfering with P’s performance of A.

This is because there is no moral right to violate another’s moral right.

Since the wife violated the husband’s moral right in cheating on him, it follows, doesn’t it, that the wife has no moral right to cheat. And with no moral right to cheat, it follows that there is no moral duty on others to refrain from interfering with the wife’s cheating.

Using other forms of analysis, I still reached the same conclusion.

E.g., Did the wife have a right to do wrong?

1. I have a right to do A entails 2. I do not have a duty not to do A.
3. A is morally wrong entails 4. I have a duty not to do A.

Clearly a conflict exists between 2 and 4 when A is morally wrong. This conflict is resolved where there is no right to do A.

Only if the moral facts showed there were considerations to be taken in to account that made the wife’s cheating permissible, does it seem at all possible that there could be a right to do wrong. In this case, to say that A is morally permissible is to assert that A does not contravene any duty AND that the moral considerations that bear on our evaluation of A are insufficient to render an unequivocal judgement about it.

However, the thrust of the moral right to do what is morally wrong without interference is that it is the agent’s right that provides the warrant for wrongful action and this right which constitutes a reason for non-interference.

Since the wife, on the face of it, has no right to do wrong, there is no reason for the husband’s non-interference.
He is permitted to waive his right to interfere of course. But I think there is a duty, as her partner in marriage, to interfere in a non-violent way to try to stop her by, for example, telling her how her behaviour is impacting upon their marriage and what this will mean if she doesn’t stop the behaviour.

In conclusion, provided:
(a) the husband does not contravene any duty to his wife or the other man (i.e., does not violate their rights); and
(b) the moral considerations that bear on his interfering are insufficient to render an unequivocal judgement about it,
the husband is morally justified to interfere and try to stop his wife cheating both as a right –which he has power to waive - and as a duty to preserve their marriage.

Why does it matter if all the world is a stage?

Rosie's picture

And men are only players?

Why does it matter whether our choices are determined or as a result of free will?

We perceive ourselves as having free will when we go through the process prior to exercising our judgement and take in to account all the things we consider to be relevant to our decisions and attach differing levels of importance/weight to them - these things being our values, principles, religion, motives, virtues, reliability, consistency, honour to our word/promises, consideration of others' wellbeing, experiences, imagination, intuition, goals, foreseeing possible problems, etc .

In relation to other people, all these things are made apparent to others by the choices we make and the reasons we give and are the basis people evaluate our characters, predict our responses, determine whether to pursue a relationship with us , direct the quality/ nature/stability of that relationship and which guide our life's path.

Regardless of whether our choices are determined by our dna , upbringing, values, religion, experiences, culture, social status, wealth, etc or the result of an exercise of free will and individual reasoning, won’t the consequences and outcomes be the same?

Why is it significant if the process we perceive as, and attribute to, free will for our choices is illusory only?
Would the outcome to each life be any different if it were not?

The Book of Daniel correctly prophesied the future major powers/empires and political systems of the world thus supporting determinism yet all the while people have still perceived themselves as exercising free will. And isn't that a necessary factor for the panning out of God's Great Plan?

Damien

Richard Wiig's picture

I understand exactly what I said.

The Bible has all the answers

Richard Goode's picture

Even if your view was correct, which it isn't, it would need to be opposed by everyone who values freedom.

"The truth will set you free." - Jesus

Credit where credit's due

Richard Goode's picture

No merit can be earned because all actions are inevitable in the DNA. The feats of Einstein in thought are no more meritable and have no more virtue than bowel motions. He merely did what his DNA made him do, better than others - like a man with lean long legs is a superior runner to someone with short stumpy legs - but it was nothing deserving of any praise on his part. He had no choice in the matter. The absence of Free Will can only mean we are impotent.

"Apart from me you can do nothing." - Jesus.

Free shit

Damien Grant's picture

Even if your view was correct, which it isn't, it would need to be opposed by everyone who values freedom.

Richard W. Do you understand what you have said here?

 

Bowel motions

Richard Wiig's picture

It might be more apt to say they are mindless rather than involuntary. That's what I think the mind becomes in the absence of Free Will. No values can be chosen, they are preprogrammed. No merit can be earned because all actions are inevitable in the DNA. The feats of Einstein in thought are no more meritable and have no more virtue than bowel motions. He merely did what his DNA made him do, better than others - like a man with lean long legs is a superior runner to someone with short stumpy legs - but it was nothing deserving of any praise on his part. He had no choice in the matter. The absence of Free Will can only mean we are impotent.

LOL

Richard Goode's picture

Are your bowel motions "man-made" or "metaphysical"?

I don't recognise Rand's distinction.

My bowel motions are metafaecical.

Commander

Richard Goode's picture

Which continent are you in?

LOL.

Your bowel motions are involuntary?

Richard Goode's picture

Oh dear.

you really are classic Mr wiig

Damien Grant's picture

Even if Richard Goode was right you think his views should be opposed.

Classic.

you really are classic Mr wiig

Damien Grant's picture

Even if Richard Goode was right you think his views should be opposed.

Classic.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

Can I ask you to explain ...

I'll give it my best shot.

They are involuntary.

Richard Wiig's picture

Are your bowel motions "man-made" or "metaphysical"?

Yeah, I did, and it wasn't ad

Richard Wiig's picture

Yeah, I did, and it wasn't ad hominem. I think that liberty isn't a goer in the absence of Free Will. Even if your view was correct, which it isn't, it would need to be opposed by everyone who values freedom.

nailing custard

Damien Grant's picture

Can I ask you to explain to a simple insolvency practitioner, (perhaps with an example) your distinction between categorical ought, with no antecedent, and a moral ought that is driven by some outcome, or preceding condition that, if I am reading you correctly, give the moral ought some intrinsic currency or value.

I think I understand but nailing the idea down is like nailing custard to a cat.

I am so ignorant

Damien Grant's picture

Speaking of dogs, can we get back to what this thread wasn't originally about?

As I want to continue, I am trying to sort out my iss from my oughts.

I am feeling very forked.

Callum

Richard Goode's picture

Experimental results confirm my hypothesis that Objectivism is a form of demonic possession.

Gotta love science.

Holy shit

Richard Goode's picture

you have reduced mental processes to the same level as bowel motions.

The human nervous system (the brain) and the human digestive system (the bowel) are biological systems that operate in strict accordance with the laws of physics.

Are your bowel motions "man-made" or "metaphysical"?

Commander

Richard Goode's picture

You observed that my philosophy is antithetical to freedom? Yeah right.

Are you actually interested in discussing the problem of free will? If so, please familiarise yourself with the differences between the two views known as metaphysical libertarianism and compatibilism. Otherwise, lay off the ad hominems.

I'm a compatibilist. (Damien is too, probably.) Rand was a loony libertarian.

A simplified taxonomy of philosophical positions regarding free will and determinism.

Of course it's a statement. I

Richard Wiig's picture

Of course it's a statement. I didn't say it as an argument, but as an observation.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

From this starting point you can head in an infinite number of philosophical directions, but was she wrong in her initial starting point?

No, but Rand deserves no credit for starting from the same place as every other man and his dog.

Speaking of dogs, can we get back to what this thread wasn't originally about?

existence and consciousness

Damien Grant's picture

Whatever the degree of your knowledge, these two—existence and consciousness—are axioms you cannot escape, these two are the irreducible primaries

You may disagree with where she went to from that starting point, but was she wrong in making those two axioms?

The fact that we think, means that 'something is thinking'. We can draw from that two things. Thinking is occurring, thinking being done by a conscious being, and if there is a being there is existence. 

What conscious is and what exists is not certain but those two things are. From this starting point you can head in an infinite number of philosophical directions, but was she wrong in her initial starting point?

 You dispute its originality, I do not think that matters to this issue. 

freedom

Damien Grant's picture

"Your philosophy is extremely antithetical to freedom."

This is not an argument, it is a statement.

You are starting from the axiom that freedom exists, therefore free will exists, but you have no basis for making the assumption that freedom exists.

Your decisions about what to

Richard Wiig's picture

Your decisions about what to do ... are determined by your reasons for action. Aren't they?

There is no Free Will, so there is no Me. Everything I do is already determined, so there is only the illusion of a decision. What decision have I ever made? None! Not even to respond to your post.

Reason
It cannot exist in the absence of Free Will.
Why not?

Reason requires a being capable of independent thought, but you have reduced mental processes to the same level as bowel motions.

Your philosophy is extremely antithetical to freedom.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

Rand said


Whatever the degree of your knowledge, these two—existence and consciousness—are axioms you cannot escape, these two are the irreducible primaries

as if she had made a startling discovery. She then goes on to fight an entire army of straw men who, according to Rand, deny one or both of these "irreducible primaries".

Name me a single philosopher who denies either that A is A or that consciousness exists. You (probably) can't. Rand couldn't and didn't.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

It does not matter.

Of course it matters.

Objectivism is a vast edifice of bullshit. Who cares that the foundations are sound?

basis

Damien Grant's picture

It does not matter.

If she draws right or wrong conclusion from that it does not mean that basis was wrong.

Consciousness does exist. I think. Almost certainly.

Basis of what?

Richard Goode's picture

Rand is right when she says that consciousness exists.

She draws this as a basis.

Basis of what?

But if we are as we think we are then her starting position is valid, isn't it?

Did she leave the blocks?

I think therefore I am an objectivist

Damien Grant's picture

Descartes was wrong.

He mistook consciousness as proof he existed.

It was only proof that something was happening. But something was happening.

Rand is right when she says that consciousness exists.

She draws this as a basis. If we do not exist the way we think we do then she is wrong. But if we are as we think we are then her starting position is valid, isn't it?

Objectivism is bullshit

Richard Goode's picture

Outstanding nonsense.

Callum

Richard Goode's picture

You have before argued that SOLO is a cult.

Objectivism is a cult.

What mechanism has been put in place that makes it difficult to leave?

You've heard it said that a state welfare benefit is a poverty trap. It's hard to get off the dole because you have to work a great many additional hours just to earn the same amount of money as you're already receiving as a state handout, let alone better your financial situation.

Think of Objectivism as an intellectual poverty trap. It's hard to leave the retarded world of Rand because a huge amount of intellectual effort must be expended just to realise that you don't have the answers, let alone come up with an alternative world view. For example, why worry about the nature of consciousness when you can simply declare that consciousness is an irreducible primary and be done with the entire philosophy of mind?

Why even bother with philosophy at all (who needs it?) when you can ease your intellectual anxieties by repeating meaningless mantras ("Check your premises") and empty tautologies ("A is A") over and over?

Objectivists actually believe that Rand was the greatest philosopher who ever lived. (Seriously, they do. I kid you not.) This belief, inculcated by the cult, is a disincentive to think.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

We do not understand consciousness.

Damn straight.

I also cannot explain my consciousness.

Why try to explain consciousness? Just sweep it under the rug. It's an irreducible primary, don't you know?

unsure

Damien Grant's picture

The difference between a religion and a philosophy may be one of terminology.

Not sure it really matters though.

Unsure why Greg is pleased but please answer my gun club question.

Thanks.

Wow, a welcome surprise

gregster's picture

"We do not understand consciousness. I think that there is much yet to be unravelled, so although I know, using logic, that I cannot actually have free will, I also cannot explain my consciousness.
There is a degree of uncertainty. I also consider that a well-functioning human brain might have the ability to be aware of the influences acting upon it and make a (pre-determined) decision ignore it and invoke a DNA created power to think objectively.
Almost no one ever does,"

I believe you just did it Damien. Except "that I cannot actually have free will" and "There is a degree of uncertainty." Humans are capable of precision.

hmmm

Damien Grant's picture

Does Buddhism believe in a devine being?

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

I struggle with the whole volition element inherent in much of Rand’s writings but I do not think it renders it a religion.

What does it take to render a philosophy a religion? A belief in God? A belief in the supernatural? I think the latter suffices. Hence, my claim that Objectivism is a religion.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

Why does a lack of free will mean that a decision is not a decision?

To whom is your question addressed?

I do not see that. It might change the nature of that decision but it is still a decision.

I agree.

If a computer program decides to move the pawn to k4, is that a decision?

Yes.

(You are a computer program.)

free will

Damien Grant's picture

Why does a lack of free will mean that a decision is not a decision?

I do not see that. It might change the nature of that decision but it is still a decision.

I struggle with the whole volition element inherent in much of Rand’s writings but I do not think it renders it a religion.

The backward looking argument that I made before, the conclusion that Richard G comes to, ‘we are all meat’ does not mean that the way we act is not consistent with us having free will, even if we do not.

I’ve always struggled to articulate my thinking here, but I think at some point the sheer vastness of the different competing influences acting on a brain, any brain, mean that our thoughts have the appearance of separation from their influences; the predetermination is theoretical only, to the point that only a God could actually complete the task.

Rand talks about our only true power is our power to think. The nature of consciousness is difficult to understand, even to those of us who are both conscious and aware of it.

We do not understand consciousness. I think that there is much yet to be unravelled, so although I know, using logic, that I cannot actually have free will, I also cannot explain my consciousness.

There is a degree of uncertainty. I also consider that a well-functioning human brain might have the ability to be aware of the influences acting upon it and make a (pre-determined) decision ignore it and invoke a DNA created power to think objectively.

Almost no one ever does, the depressing state of advanced human stupidity is crushing, Woolly thinking is everywhere.

Bullshit

gregster's picture

thread. [Except for Callum & Commander] Outstanding nonsense.

Richard

Callum McPetrie's picture

"It is of the nature of cults to put in place mechanisms that make it easy to join and difficult to leave."

You have before argued that SOLO is a cult. What mechanism has been put in place that makes it difficult to leave?

Callum

Richard Goode's picture

Callum

Richard Goode's picture

I leave it as an exercise for the Objectivist reader to identify the flaw(s) in my argument.

I think you just identified a flaw in my argument.

Reed

Richard Goode's picture

Is that a problem?

Perhaps not.

If the government were to criminalise worship of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I'd wear a colander on my head in a show of solidarity.

I'm liking your 'justice'-based approach to the semantics of moral discourse. Smiling

Great. So, why must Ayn Rand

Callum McPetrie's picture

Great.

So, why must Ayn Rand believe in Satan then?

Callum

Richard Goode's picture

You're a polytheist?

No.

Satan is not a god, he's an angel.

Richard

Callum McPetrie's picture

"Ayn Rand was an atheist. She “just happened” to believe in one less god than I do. I believe in the existence of God … but I also believe in the existence of Satan. If Ayn Rand literally believes in one less god than I do, she must believe in Satan … but not in God. So … Ayn Rand is a Satanist!"

You're a polytheist?

Richard

reed's picture

You have a moral right to do [some things that are] morally wrong.

Is that a problem? Smiling

For clarification...

Would a government preventing worship of false Gods be a violation of your rights?
Would a government preventing worship of false Gods be a violation of your moral rights?

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

If a computer program decides to move the pawn to k4, is that a decision?

The human soul itself is no more and no less than a suite of software running on wetware known colloquially as "brains".

We're made out of meat.

Objectivists deny this. They think they have magical superpowers, including free will. They think that man is "man-made," as opposed to "metaphysical." Crazy stuff.

Objectivism is a religion. More than that, Objectivism is a form of demonic possession, and Ayn Rand was a Satanist.

What is a decision?

Damien Grant's picture

If a computer program decides to move the pawn to k4, is that a decision?

Commander

Richard Goode's picture

All our decisions are determined.

If so, then they are not decisions.

Your decisions about what to do ... are determined by your reasons for action. Aren't they? Or are you, as the young people like to say, a bit random?


Reason

It cannot exist in the absence of Free Will.

Why not?

Free will is physically impossible. If reason cannot exist in the absence of free will, then reason is physically impossible. (Objectivists will be consternated to learn that their only absolute is physically impossible.)

Commander

Richard Goode's picture

A thought would be no different from a bowel motion

Most thoughts around here are no different from a bowel motion.

Reed

Richard Goode's picture

(P1) You have a moral right to do anything that is not unjust.
(P2) It is not unjust to work on the Sabbath.
Therefore, (C1) You have a moral right to work on the Sabbath.

(P3) What God forbids is morally wrong.
(P4) God forbids you to work on the Sabbath.
Therefore, (C2) It is morally wrong to work on the Sabbath.

(C1) You have a moral right to work on the Sabbath.
(C2) It is morally wrong to work on the Sabbath.
Therefore, (C3) You have a moral right to do what is morally wrong.

Oops?!

Reason

Richard Wiig's picture

It cannot exist in the absence of Free Will. A thought would be no different from a bowel motion, or any other involuntary reflexive action.

All our decisions are determined.

Richard Wiig's picture

If so, then they are not decisions.

Is it unjust to work on the

reed's picture

Is it unjust to work on the Sabbath?

No.

a delusion, yes

Damien Grant's picture

I am not sure I would say it is childish, and I do not think that it invalidates the product of human reason.

The number of factors that impact on a human brain when it makes a decision are many, so many in fact, that although in theory any decision is pre-determined we act as if we have free will and I think it is fair for humans to act and think as if we do.

I may come from a background, have certain ideas, values, all sorts of experiences acting upon me, right up until I get to a point where I meet a new idea.

Although my acceptance or rejection of that idea is pre-determined the one thing that I have been gifted by the universe is a functioning brain. That brain can weigh the different merits of that idea and make a decision. The objective, rational functioning nature of the human brain can act as if it is a free-will.

If there was a Turing test for free-will, humans would pass it.

And to make a counter-argument against myself, quantum theory has some interesting things to say about the certainty of objects in the universe, which may bring a degree of randomness into the equation.

Free will is a childish delusion

Richard Goode's picture

We have the illusion of free will ...

... It seems very real, but if you look backwards through your life, it becomes apparent that you do not.

All our decisions are determined.

I have never heard any rational debunking of this view.

There isn't one.

Both Christians and Objectivists insist that free will exists, but cannot unravel this backwards deductive reasoning that shows that we don’t.

Intellectually honest Christians admit that there is a problem. Intellectually honest Objectivists ... oh, wait.

We would indeed all be no different to dogs.

Damien Grant's picture

Indeed.

We are to dogs as dogs are to flies as flies are to plants as plants are to microbes.

It is hubris of humans to think that we can be moral or immoral and such a thing is elevated to some higher cosmic order. We can reason. So what. Cats can reason, we can simply reason much more effectively.

We have the illusion of free will but run your life backwards.

You had no control over the moment of your conception. Your DNA is gifted to you by your parents. Everything that happens in your first nine months is beyond your control. So, when you are born you are the product of the universe. You have no power of anything up until that point.

From that moment, you began doing things, but everything you did was programmed. You instinctively cried when upset. This is not a decision. When you cried, things happened. These things were not within your control but these things would shape not just how your brain saw the world but when it comes to what ate and how your body processed this, your very body, the contents of it, beyond your control.

At some point, you will be able to make a conscious decision, the very first one, where you consider various options, even sub-consciously. This decision, at whatever age, is going to be a product of your brain, and the contents of your brain, up until that very instant, has been entirely beyond your control.

Your second decision is going to be influenced by everything that contributed to the first decision plus the effects of the that first decision, obviously, and every subsequent decision from that point.

If the first decision is programmed, then every other decision after that is likewise programmed.

We have the illusion of free will. It seems very real, but if you look backwards through your life, it becomes apparent that you do not.

I have never heard any rational debunking of this view. Both Christians and Objectivists insist that free will exists, but cannot unravel this backwards deductive reasoning that shows that we don’t.

But so what? The way we perceive colour is not real, the same for sound, yet we enjoy great art and great music.

Sure, but that's why it is

Richard Wiig's picture

Sure, but that's why it is meaningless. If everything you say and do is not within your control, then it has no merit, regardless of truth, falsehood, morality, immorality, hardwork, laziness etc. We would indeed all be no different to dogs.

If you define morality as telling the truth, then a person with no free will who is programmed to tell the truth can be said to acting morally on that point.

Romanian gymnast

Damien Grant's picture

In a universe with no free will a person can be honest or dishonest. This can be objectively measured.

If you define morality as telling the truth, then a person with no free will who is programmed to tell the truth can be said to acting morally on that point.

It depends how you define morality. The concept of morality is a malleable as a Romanian gymnast, so before you come to the conclusion that without free will you can have no morality you may want to define what you mean by morality.

I don't see the non-sequitur.

Richard Wiig's picture

I don't see the non-sequitur. Without Free Will what choice is there? Everything Jeffrey Dahmer did was beyond his control and inevitable. A sick game of cosmic charades. You can claim morality, but it is meaningless. It's simply your DNA in action as opposed to someone elses DNA. Freedom cannot exist under such a philosophy.

Reed

Richard Goode's picture

You have a moral right to do anything that is not unjust.

Is it unjust to work on the Sabbath?

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

It depends on how you define morality I suppose.

It helps to know what you're looking for before you go looking for it.

it is possible that there maybe a code of conduct for humans that is ‘good’ and find an objective basis for it.

I spent years looking for such an objective basis. I concluded that God is the only candidate for the job.

(Objectivist ethics is certifiably bat-shit insane.)

Commander

Richard Goode's picture

If there is no Free Will then of course there is no morality, at least not in any meaningful sense. No one would be responsible for their actions.

That's a non sequitur.

Original sin.

Repent!

If there is no Free Will then

Richard Wiig's picture

If there is no Free Will then of course there is no morality, at least not in any meaningful sense. No one would be responsible for their actions.

then there is no morality

Damien Grant's picture

It depends on how you define morality I suppose.

If you start from the position of an atheist, as I do, it is hard to think that morality is an objective truth in the same sense as physics. But it is possible that there maybe a code of conduct for humans that is ‘good’ and find an objective basis for it.

In any event, this is a long way off the reservation for me, I am so far out of my depth I’d need a nuclear sub to get me to the surface so I am going to STFU and come back to the symmetry theory.

thanks

Damien Grant's picture

I will read this and come back to you if I have questions.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

Morality is a theoretical construct that humans have devised to help us regulate our behaviour. Unlike gravity, it is not a naturally occurring thing in the universe, it is the product of human thought. This does not invalidate it, indeed I think it elevates it.

Wrong.

If morality is merely "the product of human thought," i.e., "a theoretical construct" that does not correspond to "a naturally occurring thing in the universe," then there is no morality.

That a thing is posited by a false theory is not a reason to believe it exists.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

I like the idea of moral symmetry, is there a set line of thought on this issue somewhere?

Chapter 7
The meaning of moral judgements

7.1 Good & bad
7.2 Ought & obligation
7.3 Right & wrong
7.4 Virtue & vice

I am a patient man

Damien Grant's picture

Although of course one lacking the infinite expectations of yourself. I must content and gorge myself with the earthly pleasures while I can.

Damien

Richard Goode's picture

Patience is a virtue.

RG: No obligation, moral or otherwise

Damien Grant's picture

I can understand all that. I like the idea of moral symmetry, is there a set line of thought on this issue somewhere? Nothing came up in google.


But if you have time I'd appreciate a link or anything you have here.


thanks.

No. 1

Richard Wiig's picture

Do I have a moral obligation to come to the aid of the Commander?

Answer: Yes.

That isn't referring to the jihadist.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.