An Argument for Compatibilism

 
nate_kampeas
 
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nate_kampeas
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09 January 2017 13:42
 

The question to be answered herein is that of whether or not humankind has moral responsibility. I shall argue that it does. Let us assume that the world is deterministic, for the sake of argument. The brain is controlled by processes that occur within itself. So if a human being does something, is not the brain responsible? Furthermore, is not the “self” synonymous with the brain? If the self is synonymous with the brain, and the brain is responsible for all actions, is the self not responsible for all actions? Keep in mind that I define the self as the entire brain, not just the conscious part. I define it as such because even though the causes of one’s thoughts and actions are mysterious, one would never do an action that she would not want to do, and would never think a thought that is not tied to her emotions, observations, previous thoughts, etc. So everything a person does is done willingly, without external influence (excluding brain tumors and such). So in a deterministic universe, if someone is locked up for murder, it is not like they could have done otherwise, but since all the occurrences that led to the incident have their foundation in the brain, and the brain is a self-operated system, locking the person up for murder is like telling the self-operated system to not murder, to which the self-operated system, although merely a biocomputer, will take heed. The objection might be made that the other humans should not bother with the criminal because they themselves are the mere result of a deterministic chain of events. Not so. Since said chain of deterministic events is completely within the brain, the brain is responsible for everything that results from them.

Take this thought experiment: If a consciousness suddenly came into being with nothing else to affect it, i.e., it is the only thing in existence, and it started somehow doing things within itself, every deterministic thing that happens would be connected to it, including its spontaneous appearance. Since every deterministic occurrence can be traced back to it, it is responsible for all of them.

 
 
Giulio
 
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Giulio
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09 January 2017 15:57
 
nate_kampeas - 09 January 2017 01:42 PM

The question to be answered herein is that of whether or not humankind has moral responsibility. I shall argue that it does. Let us assume that the world is deterministic, for the sake of argument. The brain is controlled by processes that occur within itself. So if a human being does something, is not the brain responsible? Furthermore, is not the “self” synonymous with the brain? If the self is synonymous with the brain, and the brain is responsible for all actions, is the self not responsible for all actions? Keep in mind that I define the self as the entire brain, not just the conscious part. I define it as such because even though the causes of one’s thoughts and actions are mysterious, one would never do an action that she would not want to do, and would never think a thought that is not tied to her emotions, observations, previous thoughts, etc. So everything a person does is done willingly, without external influence (excluding brain tumors and such). So in a deterministic universe, if someone is locked up for murder, it is not like they could have done otherwise, but since all the occurrences that led to the incident have their foundation in the brain, and the brain is a self-operated system, locking the person up for murder is like telling the self-operated system to not murder, to which the self-operated system, although merely a biocomputer, will take heed. The objection might be made that the other humans should not bother with the criminal because they themselves are the mere result of a deterministic chain of events. Not so. Since said chain of deterministic events is completely within the brain, the brain is responsible for everything that results from them.

Take this thought experiment: If a consciousness suddenly came into being with nothing else to affect it, i.e., it is the only thing in existence, and it started somehow doing things within itself, every deterministic thing that happens would be connected to it, including its spontaneous appearance. Since every deterministic occurrence can be traced back to it, it is responsible for all of them.

Is your question specifically about compatibilism (as per your title): ie in a deterministic world in which we have agents interacting with the environment and with each-other, can we define a meaningful concept of freewill which is a property that an individual agent may or may not satisfy? I think the answer to this is yes, and for a given agent we can define a spectrum of freeness of will with respect to different situations and interactions, and over different timeframes. One way to understand this is via the concept of the internal state of an agent, and the degree to which an agent’s action at any point in time is determined by its internal state (vs external stimuli) at that time, and the degree to which other agents or the environment can specifically manipulate the internal state of the agent. Most humans have freewill in this sense much of the time, but not always; and many humans (eg the young and zealous members of some order) typically have less freewill. There is a more nuanced question as to whether some brain functions have freewill where the rest of the brain functions are now considered part of the environment. Again, to make sense of this I think we’d need to be able to define the internal state of a particular brain function (which may not make sense in some examples).

Or is your question specifically whether moral responsibility of humans makes sense in a deterministic world? I find this harder to answer only because I am still grappling with how to make sense of moral responsibility (up until recently i took moral responsibility for granted as a primary or basic concept, but I am questioning that now). I do believe moral responsibility and higher order (ie not primary) consciousness can only arise out of a social context of some form (even though an individual agent may end up living as a hermit and still hold moral values and exhibit higher order consciousness, the social values and various concepts of the ‘other’ now well encoded in the hermit’s mind). I don’t think questions around determinsim will yield any deep insights into the nature of moral responsibility - rather it’s about the individual and society, the society’s value systems, and how the individual perceives or encodes it’s role in that society (or broader environment).

What you actually asked about initially was something different still: the moral responsibility of humankind. I don’t think you meant the moral responsibility of society at large, but this is probably an even harder question, but an interesting one. A sharper question: Does it make sense to say some organisations (eg State of Islam, or the Mormons, or Google) have freewill? I think yes it does.

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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09 January 2017 19:19
 

I think I follow you but I will need defined terms in order to evaluate your premise.

At a minimum:

Free Will is:——————-

Determinism is:————————-

Compatibility is:————————-

 

 
nate_kampeas
 
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nate_kampeas
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10 January 2017 11:04
 
Giulio - 09 January 2017 03:57 PM
nate_kampeas - 09 January 2017 01:42 PM

The question to be answered herein is that of whether or not humankind has moral responsibility. I shall argue that it does. Let us assume that the world is deterministic, for the sake of argument. The brain is controlled by processes that occur within itself. So if a human being does something, is not the brain responsible? Furthermore, is not the “self” synonymous with the brain? If the self is synonymous with the brain, and the brain is responsible for all actions, is the self not responsible for all actions? Keep in mind that I define the self as the entire brain, not just the conscious part. I define it as such because even though the causes of one’s thoughts and actions are mysterious, one would never do an action that she would not want to do, and would never think a thought that is not tied to her emotions, observations, previous thoughts, etc. So everything a person does is done willingly, without external influence (excluding brain tumors and such). So in a deterministic universe, if someone is locked up for murder, it is not like they could have done otherwise, but since all the occurrences that led to the incident have their foundation in the brain, and the brain is a self-operated system, locking the person up for murder is like telling the self-operated system to not murder, to which the self-operated system, although merely a biocomputer, will take heed. The objection might be made that the other humans should not bother with the criminal because they themselves are the mere result of a deterministic chain of events. Not so. Since said chain of deterministic events is completely within the brain, the brain is responsible for everything that results from them.

Take this thought experiment: If a consciousness suddenly came into being with nothing else to affect it, i.e., it is the only thing in existence, and it started somehow doing things within itself, every deterministic thing that happens would be connected to it, including its spontaneous appearance. Since every deterministic occurrence can be traced back to it, it is responsible for all of them.

Is your question specifically about compatibilism (as per your title): ie in a deterministic world in which we have agents interacting with the environment and with each-other, can we define a meaningful concept of freewill which is a property that an individual agent may or may not satisfy? I think the answer to this is yes, and for a given agent we can define a spectrum of freeness of will with respect to different situations and interactions, and over different timeframes. One way to understand this is via the concept of the internal state of an agent, and the degree to which an agent’s action at any point in time is determined by its internal state (vs external stimuli) at that time, and the degree to which other agents or the environment can specifically manipulate the internal state of the agent. Most humans have freewill in this sense much of the time, but not always; and many humans (eg the young and zealous members of some order) typically have less freewill. There is a more nuanced question as to whether some brain functions have freewill where the rest of the brain functions are now considered part of the environment. Again, to make sense of this I think we’d need to be able to define the internal state of a particular brain function (which may not make sense in some examples).

Or is your question specifically whether moral responsibility of humans makes sense in a deterministic world? I find this harder to answer only because I am still grappling with how to make sense of moral responsibility (up until recently i took moral responsibility for granted as a primary or basic concept, but I am questioning that now). I do believe moral responsibility and higher order (ie not primary) consciousness can only arise out of a social context of some form (even though an individual agent may end up living as a hermit and still hold moral values and exhibit higher order consciousness, the social values and various concepts of the ‘other’ now well encoded in the hermit’s mind). I don’t think questions around determinsim will yield any deep insights into the nature of moral responsibility - rather it’s about the individual and society, the society’s value systems, and how the individual perceives or encodes it’s role in that society (or broader environment).

What you actually asked about initially was something different still: the moral responsibility of humankind. I don’t think you meant the moral responsibility of society at large, but this is probably an even harder question, but an interesting one. A sharper question: Does it make sense to say some organisations (eg State of Islam, or the Mormons, or Google) have freewill? I think yes it does.

I believe that we are beings of choice. Even if you tell me that I am not the author of my choices, that does not mean that I should give up on choosing. That is saying that I should choose to do something because I cannot choose to do anything, which doesn’t make any sense. We have to realize that although our choices are the result of non-conscious brain activity, our conscious selves are the mediums through which our non-conscious parts make choices. So even though the root of our decisions are mysterious, we must continue to act as if we are in fact agents and embrace the fact that we are mediums without which the human being would not survive. Therefore we need to actively make decisions, although knowing that their roots are mysterious, as it is in our best interest; else we would die through idleness and inaction. And as far as ethics go, we need to cooperate with each other to achieve a practical harmony in which we are all as happy as we can be.

 

 
 
Joe Rawlins
 
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Joe Rawlins
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12 January 2017 22:52
 

If Buridan’s Ass chooses the haystack of believing in Free Will, it means that the wind blew or some other deterministic factor changed circumstances to cause the ass to choose that haystack.

Does the fact that the wind blowing made the ass’s decision for him render the contents of that Free Will haystack less satisfying to the ass? No.

Does it change the fact that the ass would have starved if wind had not compelled him to choose a haystack? No.

That’s how I see compatabilism.

 
Shaikh Raisuddin
 
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Shaikh Raisuddin
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15 October 2017 08:08
 

Compatibilism is Bastardism

Water mixed into water, is water.

Morality is SOCIAL SPACETIME. Society does not create it artificially, deliberately, with willful act. Morality is a “social-terrain” one has to act accordingly as we do with geographical-terrain. Morality is “self-acting” like gravity when one ignore to see a pit and falls.