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A benefit of not believing in free will

 
Alexmahone
 
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Alexmahone
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05 July 2018 19:59
 

If people stopped believing in free will, wouldn’t it make them more forgiving of others’ sins. Why do people like Dennett seem to overlook this?

 
nonverbal
 
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nonverbal
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05 July 2018 21:53
 
Alexmahone - 05 July 2018 07:59 PM

If people stopped believing in free will, wouldn’t it make them more forgiving of others’ sins. Why do people like Dennett seem to overlook this?

Does forgiveness of others’ sins result in something beneficial? Are you certain that excessive amounts of forgiveness doesn’t encourage more sinning?

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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06 July 2018 00:09
 
Alexmahone - 05 July 2018 07:59 PM

If people stopped believing in free will, wouldn’t it make them more forgiving of others’ sins. Why do people like Dennett seem to overlook this?

Why would it?

 
 
Alexmahone
 
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Alexmahone
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06 July 2018 08:05
 
GAD - 06 July 2018 12:09 AM
Alexmahone - 05 July 2018 07:59 PM

If people stopped believing in free will, wouldn’t it make them more forgiving of others’ sins. Why do people like Dennett seem to overlook this?

Why would it?

Because the sinner would not be held responsible for his/her sin.

 
nonverbal
 
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nonverbal
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06 July 2018 08:31
 
Alexmahone - 06 July 2018 08:05 AM
GAD - 06 July 2018 12:09 AM
Alexmahone - 05 July 2018 07:59 PM

If people stopped believing in free will, wouldn’t it make them more forgiving of others’ sins. Why do people like Dennett seem to overlook this?

Why would it?

Because the sinner would not be held responsible for his/her sin.

Do you hope for such a world?

 
 
sojourner
 
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sojourner
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06 July 2018 08:43
 
Alexmahone - 06 July 2018 08:05 AM
GAD - 06 July 2018 12:09 AM
Alexmahone - 05 July 2018 07:59 PM

If people stopped believing in free will, wouldn’t it make them more forgiving of others’ sins. Why do people like Dennett seem to overlook this?

Why would it?

Because the sinner would not be held responsible for his/her sin.


That is somewhat offset by the idea that without free will, hypothetically you don’t hold yourself responsible for your own responses and behavior to an equal degree. (Hypothetically because if it was possible to just stop beating up on yourself because you made a philosophical commitment, there wouldn’t be a huge industry around instructing people on how not to beat themselves up.)

 

I actually don’t believe in free will (although I do believe in agency, a subtly different concept,) but I think framing the world in terms of no free will is a tricky concept in that it is pretty much only productive in hindsight, and when it comes to foresight, I think it only confuses people. In hindsight I do think it’s useful, for the purposes of forgiveness, to remember that things couldn’t have been any other way. When planning for the future, however, I think we should act as if we have free will, because as soon as you try to factor ‘no free will’ into the planning process, you have just confused things, to my mind. For example, I don’t see any utility in saying “Well, I shouldn’t even try to decide what to eat for lunch because I don’t have free will, so I should just wait and see what happens”, and I am hard-pressed to think of an example of how consciously going “Ok, so I need to remember there is no free will and only deterministic chains here” would serve much purpose in planning for the future. (The only one that even seems like a possible fit is the idea of ‘effortless action’ and other spiritual equivalents of that notion - an idea I think is intriguing but am not necessarily convinced exists.) I think Harris frames that as “choices still matter”, I would frame it as “there is no way to invoke ‘ok, no free will here’ as a step in the planning process that serves any helpful purpose. Same general idea, I think.


Similarly, I think it is useful, after the fact, to be more forgiving by reflecting on the fact that people couldn’t have behaved differently, but it is a bad idea for people to think “Hey, I’m not responsible for my actions, because things happen as they will” when preparing to respond to future events. In that sense, I guess I’m a hypocrite on free will, because I think we should invoke it in hindsight but act as if it does exist in foresight. Again, the only exception I might potentially make would be a sort of spiritual one, if one found they could surrender the idea of free will for something like ‘effortless action’ and that this was a positive thing. Otherwise, if you are ‘thinking about no free will and planning on having no free will’, I think the plot is already lost and it’s better to just pretend it exists.

 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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06 July 2018 08:44
 
Alexmahone - 06 July 2018 08:05 AM
GAD - 06 July 2018 12:09 AM
Alexmahone - 05 July 2018 07:59 PM

If people stopped believing in free will, wouldn’t it make them more forgiving of others’ sins. Why do people like Dennett seem to overlook this?

Why would it?

Because the sinner would not be held responsible for his/her sin.

Why wouldn’t they? If they are not responsible their actions then I am not responsible for holding them responsible for their actions. See how those negate each other.

 
 
Alexmahone
 
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Alexmahone
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06 July 2018 09:45
 
GAD - 06 July 2018 08:44 AM
Alexmahone - 06 July 2018 08:05 AM
GAD - 06 July 2018 12:09 AM
Alexmahone - 05 July 2018 07:59 PM

If people stopped believing in free will, wouldn’t it make them more forgiving of others’ sins. Why do people like Dennett seem to overlook this?

Why would it?

Because the sinner would not be held responsible for his/her sin.

Why wouldn’t they? If they are not responsible their actions then I am not responsible for holding them responsible for their actions. See how those negate each other.

Not if you truly understood that free will doesn’t exist.

 
GAD
 
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GAD
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06 July 2018 09:53
 
Alexmahone - 06 July 2018 09:45 AM
GAD - 06 July 2018 08:44 AM
Alexmahone - 06 July 2018 08:05 AM
GAD - 06 July 2018 12:09 AM
Alexmahone - 05 July 2018 07:59 PM

If people stopped believing in free will, wouldn’t it make them more forgiving of others’ sins. Why do people like Dennett seem to overlook this?

Why would it?

Because the sinner would not be held responsible for his/her sin.

Why wouldn’t they? If they are not responsible their actions then I am not responsible for holding them responsible for their actions. See how those negate each other.

Not if you truly understood that free will doesn’t exist.

I truly know that freewill does not exist.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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06 July 2018 10:00
 

He touches upon it in conversation but I think he tends to avoid it in print because he isn’t an ethicist. Referencing a moral dimension is good when done with focus but its often a detriment within a thesis that’s about something else.

 
EN
 
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EN
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06 July 2018 10:04
 
Alexmahone - 05 July 2018 07:59 PM

If people stopped believing in free will, wouldn’t it make them more forgiving of others’ sins?

No.  Look at GAD on this forum. He doesn’t believe in freewill and he is fine with the death penalty - for just about everyone!????

 
Alexmahone
 
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Alexmahone
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06 July 2018 10:48
 
GAD - 06 July 2018 09:53 AM
Alexmahone - 06 July 2018 09:45 AM
GAD - 06 July 2018 08:44 AM
Alexmahone - 06 July 2018 08:05 AM
GAD - 06 July 2018 12:09 AM
Alexmahone - 05 July 2018 07:59 PM

If people stopped believing in free will, wouldn’t it make them more forgiving of others’ sins. Why do people like Dennett seem to overlook this?

Why would it?

Because the sinner would not be held responsible for his/her sin.

Why wouldn’t they? If they are not responsible their actions then I am not responsible for holding them responsible for their actions. See how those negate each other.

Not if you truly understood that free will doesn’t exist.

I truly know that freewill does not exist.

Then there’s no way you can honestly hold someone responsible for their actions.

 
GAD
 
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GAD
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06 July 2018 16:41
 
Alexmahone - 06 July 2018 10:48 AM
GAD - 06 July 2018 09:53 AM
Alexmahone - 06 July 2018 09:45 AM
GAD - 06 July 2018 08:44 AM
Alexmahone - 06 July 2018 08:05 AM
GAD - 06 July 2018 12:09 AM
Alexmahone - 05 July 2018 07:59 PM

If people stopped believing in free will, wouldn’t it make them more forgiving of others’ sins. Why do people like Dennett seem to overlook this?

Why would it?

Because the sinner would not be held responsible for his/her sin.

Why wouldn’t they? If they are not responsible their actions then I am not responsible for holding them responsible for their actions. See how those negate each other.

Not if you truly understood that free will doesn’t exist.

I truly know that freewill does not exist.

Then there’s no way you can honestly hold someone responsible for their actions.

How can I not, it was as determined as you not holding them responsible for their actions, unless you believe you are freely choosing not too :0

 
 
Antisocialdarwinist
 
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Antisocialdarwinist
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07 July 2018 10:56
 
Alexmahone - 06 July 2018 08:05 AM
GAD - 06 July 2018 12:09 AM
Alexmahone - 05 July 2018 07:59 PM

If people stopped believing in free will, wouldn’t it make them more forgiving of others’ sins. Why do people like Dennett seem to overlook this?

Why would it?

Because the sinner would not be held responsible for his/her sin.

That’s a terrible idea. The whole point of holding people responsible for their behavior is to deter them from repeating it. And to deter others from behaving the same way.

 
 
sojourner
 
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09 July 2018 22:32
 

ASD, largely agree - while I don’t believe in free will in the most ultimate sense, I certainly think there is benefit in distinguishing between actions that are volitional and those that are not, when it comes to assigning ‘blame’. This is a matter of pragmatic concern, not more broad strokes philosophy, and there is certainly a distinction to be made there. Honorable behavior should still be valued because the very act of valuing it increases it. Deceit, betrayal and cruelty should still be turned away from because the very act of doing so discourages these behaviors. It’s not so much that they belong to any particular person in a self-authored way, it’s that we all have a vested interest in decreasing the degree to which they manifest in the universe - but that only works in the case of volitional acts, where influence can be applied, it does not speak to situations in which an actor had no say. In the words of this quotable quote: “Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.” There is no point in punishing people for the latter.

 
 
goedselhoeg
 
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goedselhoeg
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26 July 2018 07:14
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 07 July 2018 10:56 AM
Alexmahone - 06 July 2018 08:05 AM
GAD - 06 July 2018 12:09 AM
Alexmahone - 05 July 2018 07:59 PM

If people stopped believing in free will, wouldn’t it make them more forgiving of others’ sins. Why do people like Dennett seem to overlook this?

Why would it?

Because the sinner would not be held responsible for his/her sin.

That’s a terrible idea. The whole point of holding people responsible for their behavior is to deter them from repeating it. And to deter others from behaving the same way.

Dear Alexmahone,
with your opening question I think you are absolutely right, even so I wouldn’t use the word “sin” for any kind of bad behaviour. Since I no longer believe in free will, I am much less angry towards people committing any type of wrong doing, because it makes no sense. In the contrary, I should be sorry for them, because they lived under circumstances that led them to do bad things. Take Kim Jong Un, The Donald or Vlad Putin, all very unfortunate human beings, because they got there by making experiences they had no influence on.
But that doesn’t mean, that we as a society should not punish them for their crimes. And here we have to distinguish between the person and the deed. We have to show the person that certain deeds are not allowed and lead to negative consequences for them. Therefore it is absolute ok to put someone in prison even if you believe in non-free-will. The other reason expecially with heavy crimes is certainly to protect the society from a person (even if he is not responsible for his deeds).
The difference between punishing a person and punishing his deeds is, that if we put someone in jail for his deeds, we try to give him new experiences, so that he can live a life without crime in the future and be a better person. We can be caring and overlooking because we know that he didn’t make the choice to do bad things, but it was bad luck and we can help to change his luck and also do a favour to society.
If you punish the person maybe you kill him because he killed someone. This is old testament style, pure revenge. We should know better and most of us do.
Maybe watch a film comparing US and norwegian Prisons to better understand what I mean: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAaR0TfNxPE
Best regards
goedselhoeg

 
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