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P Timmy
2012-Apr-08, 05:09 AM
Please answer the poll and discuss if you like.!!!
Personally... I don't think anybody ever deserves punishment.!!!

SkepticJ
2012-Apr-08, 05:39 AM
So, how would crimes be dealt with? A good shunning? No, wait, that's a punishment too.

I guess we should all give rapists and murderers high fives and thumbs up for a job well done.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-08, 06:00 AM
So, how would crimes be dealt with? A good shunning? No, wait, that's a punishment too.
I guess we should all give rapists and murderers high fives and thumbs up for a job well done.

Those are separate issues from my question... but do you also think an insane person deserves the same punishment for the same type of crime that a sane person committed.???

HenrikOlsen
2012-Apr-08, 08:46 AM
Whether anyone deserves punishment is a separate issue from whether punishment should be used.

In many criminal systems, and other parts of life, punishment isn't used because someone deserves it, it's used in order to make the expected price for non-desired behavior high enough to discourage that behavior from happening.

Note "discourage", not "prevent". No matter how high it is, there will always be people for whom the price is low enough.

Perikles
2012-Apr-08, 09:14 AM
Henrick's observation puts the question well into perspective. Society has to punish as a deterrent. Society could not function without such punishment, so the question of whether it is deserved or not remains fairly academic.

profloater
2012-Apr-08, 12:25 PM
right on, this is the individual versus society and any society can kill an individual so therefore society wins. The word deserve hides the old dilemma or balance between rights and responsibilities within a society. Usually the individual gets both just by being born. We can presume some rebellion in every individual so punishment in a graded scheme is required or maybe the threat of punishment is enough, but the threat will always need reinforcement with action because individuals can weigh up the risks very well. Assessing risk is one of our greatest abilities as self aware animals.

swampyankee
2012-Apr-08, 12:47 PM
Trying to handle the question "do people ever deserve punishment" scientifically is impossible, because of the word "deserve." Had you asked a question like "Is punishment effective in preventing behaviors that are unacceptable?" you could get a scientific answer; the poll question is essentially political and ethical.

People commit acts which are unacceptable to society: it is necessary for society to sanction -- punish -- these people in some way to maintain social cohesion and prevent civil society from breaking down into competing gangs. Since I'm not an idiot, I know that some people commit unacceptable acts while insane. A moral society will treat these people's medical issues in lieu of punishment.

DoggerDan
2012-Apr-08, 01:50 PM
Even if it were scientifically proven punishment is ineffective against criminal activity, we'd still have to answer the question as to whether or not criminals should be allowed to intermingle with the rest of civilized society.

I say no, they shouldn't. That's the other reason we have jails and prisons.

TJMac
2012-Apr-08, 02:14 PM
The question is too broad in scope.

What is punishment? I can say, we punish a murderer, by in turn, ending his own life. We may punish a drunk driver by making them do community service, where they 'make up' for their bad behavior. We may punish a child by restricting their activities, because they broke a rule. Those are simple, and fairly easy to see as punishment, whether we agree they are appropriate or not.

But what if it's more vague? Is it punishment to fire an employee from a job for poor performance? If I decide that one of my friends has become too annoying, and quit spending time with him, even though he still wants to spend time together, is that punishment?

Most of our actions have some sort of consequence. I don't know that if it is a negative consequence, it is necessarily punishment. Or is it?

TJ

P Timmy
2012-Apr-08, 04:12 PM
Whether anyone deserves punishment is a separate issue from whether punishment should be used.


And whether or not punishment is "deserved" is the focus I intend for this thread.!!!


Henrick's observation puts the question well into perspective. Society has to punish as a deterrent. Society could not function without such punishment, so the question of whether it is deserved or not remains fairly academic.

Even though the use of "punishment" still seems ingrained within society... I disagree that society "has to punish"... or that "society could not function without punishment"... and it also seems to me that the trend has been toward understanding/rehabilitation and away from revenge/harsher punishments.!!!


Trying to handle the question "do people ever deserve punishment" scientifically is impossible...


Except that... I'd like for the discussion to include available scientific evidence about determinism and free will as it applies to whether or not punishment is ever deserved.!!!



Since I'm not an idiot, I know that some people commit unacceptable acts while insane. A moral society will treat these people's medical issues in lieu of punishment.

Yes... and it's science which has driven the "moral" trend toward more compassion and away from "punishments"... such as... science has shown that mental illnesses have biological causes... not demons/devils... and that the mentally ill don't deserve the punishments "society" once thought.!!!

In other words... the more we know... the more we understand that people do not deserve punishment.!!!

For example:::

Does an adult who abuses animals deserve punishment.???


Even if it were scientifically proven punishment is ineffective against criminal activity, we'd still have to answer the question as to whether or not criminals should be allowed to intermingle with the rest of civilized society.
I say no, they shouldn't. That's the other reason we have jails and prisons.

The issue of this thread is whether or not people ever deserve punishment.!!!


The question is too broad in scope.
What is punishment?

For the purpose of this discussion a broad definition of punishment is fine... because the issue is whether or not punishment is ever deserved... (however punishment is defined).!!!

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-08, 04:40 PM
The issue of this thread is whether or not people ever deserve punishment.!!!

How many yes "votes" before you concede that your idea is flawed?...that simply asserting an idea does not make it true?


Why is it that you "want" there to be no punishment, ever....what did you "do"??

profloater
2012-Apr-08, 04:58 PM
Do we deserve to be alive? It (deserve) is a word that begs questions so you will not get a straight answer. Whatever you regards as individual rights are just a set of ideas devised within society. If society asks for punishment in defined ways (justice sytems are complex and expensive for society) then psdesreved it is.

Perikles
2012-Apr-08, 05:06 PM
I disagree that society "has to punish"... or that "society could not function without punishment"... So what would you do with people who harm others in pursuit of their own selfish needs? What would you do with somebody who needs a small amount of money on the spot and is prepared to blow somebody's brains out just to get a few banknotes? Society needs at least to restrict their freedom so they don't do it more than once. Or do you disagree with that? If they restrict somebody's freedom and the person does not like it, it is a punishment. Do you disagree with that, and/or object to it?

johansen
2012-Apr-08, 05:14 PM
Hello P Timmy,

It looks like you got some good responses (I particularly like those of swampyankee and Henrik Olsen), but then you also got responses from SkepticJ and RAF.

I have to agree, it all comes down to what you mean by "deserve" - any clarification?


How many yes "votes" before you concede that your idea is flawed?...

Maybe you could figure out what the idea is before you rubbish it.


that simply asserting an idea does not make it true?

I think P Timmy knows that. If I had to guess, I'd say that P Timmy is also aware that getting a bunch of yes votes in an internet poll does not make an idea true or false.


Why is it that you "want" there to be no punishment, ever....what did you "do"??

P Timmy didn't say that. Are all your quotations invented?

There is some good advice in your own post - please take it!

P Timmy
2012-Apr-08, 05:18 PM
How many yes "votes" before you concede that your idea is flawed?...that simply asserting an idea does not make it true?


The poll results are not surprising to me... and I concede that I might be wrong about everything... but I still think the idea of punishment not being deserved is interesting to discuss.!!!



Why is it that you "want" there to be no punishment, ever....what did you "do"??

For the best society possible at our current point in evolution I think punishment is necessary... but I think exploring the idea that punishment is never deserved could lead to a more compassionate/less hateful... society... and I think discussing the issue of the thread would be more productive than me bragging about what an angel I am... eh :)

Selenite
2012-Apr-08, 05:38 PM
When I was a child I got swatted for swiping cookies. It worked. The temptation didn't go away but the deterrent was there. Even getting away with it always left a tinge of shame or regret, so it just got to the point where taking things without permission wasn't worth it.

However, I've noticed a few modern parents seem to be fond of the "expressing disapproval" route of punishment.

"I'm going to take a cookie, father. Even though you told me not to."
"I'm very disappointed in you, Missy. Give me a few seconds to try and well up some tears so you can see how really disappointed I am."
Child walks away with cookie, not really caring that her father was disappointed or even worked up some tears because she is too busy eating the cookie.

You could apply that to thieves and murders, too. If there are no negative repercussions for committing a crime, disobeying those who have authority over you, or doing anything that is wrong/against the law, there would be no law because law is based on punishment.

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-08, 05:40 PM
I disagree that society "has to punish"... or that "society could not function without punishment"... and it also seems to me that the trend has been toward understanding/rehabilitation and away from revenge/harsher punishments.!!!

What would you do with those who refuse to be "rehabilitated"? give them a "stern" talking to?


Sorry, but no, your idea simple comes off as naive...without some form of punishment, there would be chaos.

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-08, 05:47 PM
Are all your quotations invented?

Why yes...I "invent" all my quotes.

Hey, it obviously was the "answer" you were looking for, so I "gave it" to you. :)


aside....do I know you, or do you think "attacking" was a proper way of "introducing" yourself??

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-08, 06:13 PM
...I think exploring the idea that punishment is never deserved could lead to a more compassionate/less hateful... society...

What is "compassionate", or "less hateful" about not punishing those who "break the rules"??


Actually, now that I think about it....what you seem (ok, johansen? :)) to be advocating is the need for rules at all....if no one deserves punishment, all rules would become meaningless.

DonM435
2012-Apr-08, 06:36 PM
I've read views by some people who believe in predestination to the extent that they do not hold a criminal responsible for the crime. Rather, they consider it a flaw in society, and contend that rather than punishing the criminal, society needs to be restructured to eliminate the possibility of the crime. But even there, I think they're only speaking of "active" punishment, and would not rule out ostracism or confinement as valid intermediate steps.

SeanF
2012-Apr-08, 06:45 PM
I've read views by some people who believe in predestination to the extent that they do not hold a criminal responsible for the crime.
If they don't think criminals have the free will to stop committing crime, how do they figure the rest of us have the free will to stop punishing them? :)

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-08, 08:01 PM
Ya know what..the following doesn't make any sense...


Maybe you could figure out what the idea is before you rubbish it.

What is it about the following...


I don't think anybody ever deserves punishment.!!!


...that you think I don't understand?


...and yes, I do require you to answer...

P Timmy
2012-Apr-08, 08:22 PM
Do we deserve to be alive?
It (deserve) is a word that begs questions so you will not get a straight answer.
Whatever you regards as individual rights are just a set of ideas devised within society. If society asks for punishment in defined ways (justice sytems are complex and expensive for society) then psdesreved it is.

I don't know of any reason why "we" might deserve anything... but the bulk of replies I've received seem pretty straight in agreeing that punishment is deserved.!!!
Yes... the whole of society rules... and I think a trend toward less emphasis on punishment and more effort toward rehabilitation is a good thing... how about you.???


Society needs at least to restrict their freedom...

Yes I agree.!!!


Hello P Timmy,

...it all comes down to what you mean by "deserve" - any clarification?


Hi johansen...
I don't see any evidence that humans are anything more than biological machines... so even though it's a basis of our current society... I don't think anybody deserves punishment or reward... anymore than a calculator deserves punishment or reward for the answer it might display.!!!


What would you do with those who refuse to be "rehabilitated"?

Ideally... treat them humanely with as little punishment as possible.!!!

SkepticJ
2012-Apr-08, 08:25 PM
I've read views by some people who believe in predestination to the extent that they do not hold a criminal responsible for the crime. Rather, they consider it a flaw in society, and contend that rather than punishing the criminal, society needs to be restructured to eliminate the possibility of the crime.

How do they propose that a society like that could be created? Aside from forming a Borg collective--and doesn't that sound great?--I don't see how it could be done.

But people who believe in predestination don't sound like critical thinkers, so pixie dust is probably how it's done.

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-08, 08:37 PM
....I don't think anybody deserves punishment or reward...

Now you don't want anyone "rewarded"?

Are you saying that no one "deserves" reward??


Good luck "selling" that. :)

HenrikOlsen
2012-Apr-08, 08:38 PM
Yes... and it's science which has driven the "moral" trend toward more compassion and away from "punishments"... such as... science has shown that mental illnesses have biological causes... not demons/devils... and that the mentally ill don't deserve the punishments "society" once thought.!!!
Let me start by addressing your obvious insanity as indicated by the repeated use of multiple exclamation marks, for which you need therapy: STOP DOING THAT. NOW! It's one exclamation mark and it's instead of the period.
That's rehabilitation enough I think, now back to the regular subject.

What makes you think all criminal behavior is caused by mental problems that can be cured?
What makes you think rehabilitation is possible in all cases?

Without punishment, doing whatever you want is the rational choice because it has no adverse consequences.
Without the threat of punishment, why should I not take anything I fancy?

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-08, 08:43 PM
I think a trend toward less emphasis on punishment and more effort toward rehabilitation is a good thing... how about you.???

It is incredibily naive to think you could impliment something like this...some will say, "sure, I'm rehabilitated", then they will turn around AND KILL YOU.


...and I don't think the public at large would stand for that....not for too long, anyway...

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-08, 08:47 PM
Don't get me wrong....it's a noble idea...but it just can't "work" in the real world.

danscope
2012-Apr-08, 08:48 PM
There are and always shall be consequences for our actions. We learn this when we are young and try to run in a dangerous situation, fall down and get scraped up. Those sore and bleeding scrapes keep reminding us for a few days. Nature builds in a
system to educate and punish repeat offenders. They are known by their appearance, casts on their leg, patch on the eye
etc etc. The two stupid kids that were racing down my little winding country road ( speed limit 25 mph) slammed into the big tree at over 40 mph after the brake marks of 130 feet. Destroyed ( mummy's ) car and THE COURT APPEARANCE for
reckless driving charges and speeding charges will render them un-insurable and personna nongratta for quite some time.
They shall use shoe leather for their transportation needs for many years to come. In winter, that is some punishment indeed. It is what they certainly deserve for risking death and severe harm to the innocent pedestrian and drivers they
threaten.

Dan

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-08, 08:53 PM
Without punishment, doing whatever you want is the rational choice because it has no adverse consequences.
Without the threat of punishment, why should I not take anything I fancy?

It's as I have posted...it isn't the "need" for rehabilitation instead of punishment that is being advocated, but the "need" for rules at all.


Surprised it took me so long to "figure" it out....must be getting old. :)

Selenite
2012-Apr-08, 08:54 PM
I I don't think anybody deserves punishment or reward... anymore than a calculator deserves punishment or reward for the answer it might display.!!!



Human beings are far more intricate than any computer, let alone a calculator. If one human being consistently out performs another in a particular field or endeavor, he or she is usually rewarded or compensated for it. Society isn't going to pretend they're both the same so as not to bruise any egos. The opposite goes for human beings who are a detriment to society. Punishment is a negative stimulus meant to discourage such behavior.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-08, 09:07 PM
If there are no negative repercussions for committing a crime...


Yes I agree that punishment is necessary in our current society.!!!



What makes you think all criminal behavior is caused by mental problems that can be cured?
What makes you think rehabilitation is possible in all cases?


That's not what I think... please quote what I said to make you think that.!!!



Without punishment, doing whatever you want is the rational choice because it has no adverse consequences.
Without the threat of punishment, why should I not take anything I fancy?

I do think punishment is necessary in our current society.!!!

AstroRockHunter
2012-Apr-08, 09:08 PM
It could very well be argued that any sanction imposed on a person, whether it be the death penalty, incarceration, demonstrating how "disappointed" one is in another's actions, or even ordered rehabilitation, is punishment. Thus by extension, punishment would indeed be deserved.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-08, 09:09 PM
Human beings are far more intricate than any computer, let alone a calculator. If one human being consistently out performs another in a particular field or endeavor, he or she is usually rewarded or compensated for it. Society isn't going to pretend they're both the same so as not to bruise any egos. The opposite goes for human beings who are a detriment to society. Punishment is a negative stimulus meant to discourage such behavior.

Yes I agree.!!!

P Timmy
2012-Apr-08, 09:14 PM
It could very well be argued that any sanction imposed on a person, whether it be the death penalty, incarceration, demonstrating how "disappointed" one is in another's actions, or even ordered rehabilitation, is punishment. Thus by extension, punishment would indeed be deserved.

Do you think that humans are the only animal that can deserve punishment.???

AstroRockHunter
2012-Apr-08, 09:23 PM
Do you think that humans are the only animal that can deserve punishment.???

Your original question was "Do people ever deserve punishment?" Thus I must conclude that your question about whether "humans are the only animal that can deserve punishment???" is irrelevant to the current discussion.

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-08, 09:52 PM
I do think punishment is necessary in our current society.!!!

Yes...so why would you think that some time in the future would be any different?

P Timmy
2012-Apr-08, 10:20 PM
There are and always shall be consequences for our actions.


OK... but to be clear... my issue is whether or not punishment is ever deserved.!!!



We learn this when we are young and try to run in a dangerous situation, fall down and get scraped up. Those sore and bleeding scrapes keep reminding us for a few days. Nature builds in a
system to educate and punish repeat offenders. They are known by their appearance, casts on their leg, patch on the eye etc etc.

The two stupid kids that were racing down my little winding country road ( speed limit 25 mph) slammed into the big tree at over 40 mph after the brake marks of 130 feet. Destroyed ( mummy's ) ND THE COURT APPEARANCE for
reckless driving charges and speeding charges will render them un-insurable and personna nongratta for quite some time.
They shall usee shoe leather for their transportation needs for many years to come. In winter, that is some punishment indeed. It is what they certainly deserve for risking death and severe harm to the innocent pedestrian and drivers they
threaten.


OK... you think stupid people can deserve punishment... but what about severely retarded people... or insane people... do you think any allowance should be made for them if they don't behave properly--like normal/sane people.???

For a more extreme example (than you gave above) to test your ideas... do you think children who played with matches (when warned not to) and subsequently burned to death... deserved the consequences of their actions.???


Do you think that humans are the only animal that can deserve punishment.???


Your original question was "Do people ever deserve punishment?" Thus I must conclude that your question about whether "humans are the only animal that can deserve punishment???" is irrelevant to the current discussion.

Thanks... but I consider it closely enough related to be on topic... and it could help me to understand why you think humans can deserve punishment.!!!

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-08, 10:34 PM
OK... but to be clear... my issue is whether or not punishment is ever deserved.!!!

...asked and answered...what is it about the replies, here, that you don't understand?



OK... you think stupid people can deserve punishment... but what about severely retarded people... or insane people... do you think any allowance should be made for them if they don't behave properly--like normal/sane people.???

Of course....why are you changing the parameters of your question?


For a more extreme example (than you gave above) to test your ideas... do you think children who played with matches (when warned not to) and subsequently burned to death... deserved the consequences of their actions.???

That's not "punishment", it's a consequence of stupidity....it might not be "deserved", but it's going to happen anyway.



...it could help me to understand why you think humans can deserve punishment.!!!

Why do you phrase it in this manner?....what do you mean by "can" deserve punishment?



...and if you could answer my question....post #37.

Gillianren
2012-Apr-08, 11:00 PM
My younger sister is a sociopath. She does whatever is most convenient to her at any given time. My mother seldom punished her. When she did, my sister learned that whatever-it-was wasn't worth the bother that would ensue when she was caught. When she stole from family members, Mom yelled but didn't do much else. When she stole from outsiders, there was punishment if she was caught. Therefore, my sister was not as likely to steal from outsiders.

And, yes, we punish the cat when he does something he knows he isn't supposed to do. He is capable of learning, therefore punishment when he disobeys the rules is valid and legitimate.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-09, 12:28 AM
My younger sister is a sociopath.


Sorry to hear that... I can't even imagine how difficult it must be for everyone involved.!!!



She does whatever is most convenient to her at any given time. My mother seldom punished her. When she did, my sister learned that whatever-it-was wasn't worth the bother that would ensue when she was caught. When she stole from family members, Mom yelled but didn't do much else. When she stole from outsiders, there was punishment if she was caught. Therefore, my sister was not as likely to steal from outsiders.


I agree that punishment can get desired results.!!!



And, yes, we punish the cat when he does something he knows he isn't supposed to do. He is capable of learning, therefore punishment when he disobeys the rules is valid and legitimate.

I'm in my sixties now... but when I was about 12 I would hit my Beagle (which was tied up outside) with a rolled up newspaper when it would howl at night... now I don't even think it's ethical to breed animals for pets... much less leave them tied up outside or punish them when they annoy or break the unnatural rules made up for human convenience.!!!

The next dog I owned was an Australian Terrier (which died a couple of years ago from liver cancer)... and she lived inside with us and was never punished other than a firm NO... but got lots of positive reinforcement and seemed to be a very happy dog.!!!

Would you think it was ethical if highly advanced aliens from a galaxy far far away captured and selectively bread humans for their personal pets... and used punishment to get desired behavior.???

Edit in red.!!!

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-09, 12:37 AM
Would you think it was ethical if highly advanced aliens from a galaxy far far away captured and selectively bread humans for their personal pets.???


Perhaps you should start a different thread if you want to discuss other topics.


Could you please respond to post #37??

AstroRockHunter
2012-Apr-09, 12:41 AM
OK... but to be clear... my issue is whether or not punishment is ever deserved.!!!
Which is vastly different from what you started with.





Your original question was "Do people ever deserve punishment?" Thus I must conclude that your question about whether "humans are the only animal that can deserve punishment???" is irrelevant to the current discussion.

Thanks... but I consider it closely enough related to be on topic... and it could help me to understand why you think humans can deserve punishment.!!!

No, it is not closely related.

Which prompts the questions; What do you consider as punishment? Could you give some examples? How would human punishment equate to other animal punishment?

SkepticJ
2012-Apr-09, 12:53 AM
Without punishment, doing whatever you want is the rational choice because it has no adverse consequences.
Without the threat of punishment, why should I not take anything I fancy?

I can't agree with this. Only doing what's right because of fear of punishment is the ethics of the sociopath.

Some reasons:

Because you don't want to hurt other people with your actions. You have the capacity to consider how others feel and care about them.

Because humans are social animals, we survive in groups, and doing things to hurt the group is stupid.

Because people don't like thieves. Even if you weren't overtly punished in Hypothetical World, if you were found out, people would treat you differently.

Why limit it to theft? Is it fear of punishment that should keep people from molesting children? From beating their spouses? From torturing people? From spitting on a homeless person and tearing up their refrigerator-box?

P Timmy
2012-Apr-09, 01:41 AM
No, it is not closely related.

Well of course you don't have to answer... but I think it better that we just agree to disagree rather than nitpick at each others posts when we could be answering each others questions.!!!

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-09, 01:58 AM
Yes...so why would you think that some time in the future would be any different?

FYI...I will continue asking this question until timmy answers it.


Timmy, if you can't/won't answer this question, please do me the "honor" of explaining just why on the board....I don't "do" PM discussions..

Swift
2012-Apr-09, 02:24 AM
...and yes, I do require you to answer...

Let me start by addressing your obvious insanity as indicated by the repeated use of multiple exclamation marks, for which you need therapy: STOP DOING THAT. NOW! It's one exclamation mark and it's instead of the period.

I think a couple of members need to take it down a notch. This is not ATM or CT where the OP is required to answer questions. And while non-standard punctuation can be annoying, this post is not appropriate.

If people can not discuss this politely, I will demonstrate that I fully believe that there are times when people deserve punishment.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-09, 02:26 AM
FYI...I will continue asking this question until timmy answers it.

Timmy, if you can't/won't answer this question, please do me the "honor" of explaining just why on the board....I don't "do" PM discussions..

I didn't send you a PM... I left you a public Visitor Message... which explains why I think it better that we just agree to disagree.!!!

AstroRockHunter
2012-Apr-09, 02:31 AM
Well of course you don't have to answer... but I think it better that we just agree to disagree rather than nitpick at each others posts when we could be answering each others questions.!!!

Fine.

Then why didn't you address/answer the questions that were in the post?

danscope
2012-Apr-09, 02:45 AM
@ Timmy, Sir: You Do realise that the mentally disadvantaged people you mentioned live in a "qualified" and separate reality, where they are more closely ....yea constantly watched and supervised so that they are not a danger to themselves or to anyone who might suffer from their misguided or thoughtless actions. You know.... even children
of higher intelligence must be saved from themelves. I have several sets of golf clubs. They are not toys. A pitching wedge in the hands of an untrained or inconsiderate or completely un-aware person( young or old ) is a VERY dangerous
situation where that person could swing the club back, not having 'cleared' the playing area and strike someone
( perhaps another child etc ) in the face and do some bruttal damage.... like you wouldn't believe. Just like we don't leave matches around or broken glass or guns etc etc. We must assume the responsibility for those who cannot understand that concept.
But ... yes, we can provide a "Non- reward " for children and the like when they disobey such rules as we shall have of them. Reinforced good behavior and behavior modification techniques in concert for the individual , such as they can
manage can result in a better managment of their lives and improve their quality of life within that theatre.
The term "Punishment" gets rather blurred in that regard. Pray you are not burdened with those chores and responsibility. It is too often a thankless and underpaid job which never goes away.

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-09, 02:54 AM
I didn't send you a PM... I left you a public Visitor Message...

Yes, that was my error...however, just so ya know...I don't "do" off board discussions.



...which explains why I think it better that we just agree to disagree.!!!

Which explains nothing of the sort. You don't want to answer "difficult" questions, well, you get to have it your way.


I just take it for granted that everyone is more or less like me, and I'm more than happy to answer any questions put to me...that is what a "discussion" board is all about.


Lets just say I am disappointed that you can't answer my question....but I've been disappointed before, so nothing new...:)

Gillianren
2012-Apr-09, 04:27 AM
Sorry to hear that... I can't even imagine how difficult it must be for everyone involved.!!!

Can you imagine how much worse it would have been if she'd always gotten her way instead having checks on her?


I agree that punishment can get desired results.!!!

Yes. And lack of punishment reinforces negative behaviour.


I'm in my sixties now... but when I was about 12 I would hit my Beagle (which was tied up outside) with a rolled up newspaper when it would howl at night... now I don't even think it's ethical to breed animals for pets... much less leave them tied up outside or punish them when they annoy or break the unnatural rules made up for human convenience.!!!

D wasn't bred to be a pet. He was rescued from a life where he would have died of starvation as a kitten. But had his mother not been killed, she would have punished him when he was a kitten for things he did that he wasn't supposed to. Humans are not the only animals to enforce their rules on others.


The next dog I owned was an Australian Terrier (which died a couple of years ago from liver cancer)... and she lived inside with us and was never punished other than a firm NO... but got lots of positive reinforcement and seemed to be a very happy dog.!!!

Ah, but did you ask how D is punished? You did not. You assumed corporal punishment. Frankly, you rather seem to be assuming that I'm mistreating my cat. As it happens, most of the time, he gets punished with a firm "no." Sometimes being physically moved away from whatever he's doing . . . such as getting into situations which could be physically dangerous for him.


Would you think it was ethical if highly advanced aliens from a galaxy far far away captured and selectively bread humans for their personal pets... and used punishment to get desired behavior.???

Edit in red.!!!

Well, now, that would depend on a whole lot of factors. But it also involves a lot of assumptions on your part, doesn't it?

P Timmy
2012-Apr-09, 05:45 AM
Originally Posted by P Timmy
Sorry to hear that... I can't even imagine how difficult it must be for everyone involved.!!!



Can you imagine how much worse it would have been if she'd always gotten her way instead having checks on her?


Probably much worse.!!!
-----------------------
I agree that punishment can get desired results.!!!



Yes. And lack of punishment reinforces negative behaviour.


I'm in my sixties now... but when I was about 12 I would hit my Beagle (which was tied up outside) with a rolled up newspaper when it would howl at night... now I don't even think it's ethical to breed animals for pets... much less leave them tied up outside or punish them when they annoy or break the unnatural rules made up for human convenience.!!!



D wasn't bred to be a pet. He was rescued from a life where he would have died of starvation as a kitten. But had his mother not been killed, she would have punished him when he was a kitten for things he did that he wasn't supposed to. Humans are not the only animals to enforce their rules on others.


I think all common house cats are from selective breeding... and rescuing a "pet" is a wonderful thing... but I think all punishment is undeserved... even if it does come from a mama cat to its baby.!!!
----------------------

The next dog I owned was an Australian Terrier (which died a couple of years ago from liver cancer)... and she lived inside with us and was never punished other than a firm NO... but got lots of positive reinforcement and seemed to be a very happy dog.!!!



Ah, but did you ask how D is punished? You did not. You assumed corporal punishment. Frankly, you rather seem to be assuming that I'm mistreating my cat.


I don't recall if I assumed corporal punishment or not... but it's irrelevant since I think that all punishment is undeserved.!!!



As it happens, most of the time, he gets punished with a firm "no." Sometimes being physically moved away from whatever he's doing . . . such as getting into situations which could be physically dangerous for him.


That sounds like a very well taken care of cat :-)
----------------------------------
Would you think it was ethical if highly advanced aliens from a galaxy far far away captured and selectively bread humans for their personal pets... and used punishment to get desired behavior.???



Well, now, that would depend on a whole lot of factors. But it also involves a lot of assumptions on your part, doesn't it?


Yes it does... so under what scenario do you see it as ethical for humans to be captured by highly advanced aliens and selectively bread to be their personal pets... and punished by them to get desired behaviors.???

Jens
2012-Apr-09, 06:37 AM
Originally Posted by P Timmy
Sorry to hear that... I can't even imagine how difficult it must be for everyone involved.!!!


Also, BTW, is there something wrong with your keyboard? The exclamation and question mark keys seem to be stuck or something. You always have three of them after any statement or question. You might want to try unsticking the keys. Or at least try using one of those air sprayers.

Gillianren
2012-Apr-09, 07:12 AM
I don't recall if I assumed corporal punishment or not... but it's irrelevant since I think that all punishment is undeserved.!!!

Okay, let's get down to it. Why? If you acknowledge that punishment has desirable outcomes, why is it always undeserved? My little sister was never going to respond to positive reinforcement. That's simply not how her brain works. She merely did what was most convenient to her without the slightest concern about how other people dealt with it. What is your advice on how to get someone like that to stop stealing? How do you think we should get them to follow the laws of society? Or do you think there is no reason for those laws? What, if anything, is your point?

Van Rijn
2012-Apr-09, 07:40 AM
I don't recall if I assumed corporal punishment or not... but it's irrelevant since I think that all punishment is undeserved.!!!


No jails for anyone then? Or do you not consider that punishment?

You're serious about this? This isn't a joke topic? It's hard to take a blanket statement like that seriously.

HenrikOlsen
2012-Apr-09, 08:10 AM
OK... but to be clear... my issue is whether or not punishment is ever deserved.!!!

It is for people who refuse to learn.

One exclamation mark, no period.
And one question mark, no period.

Paul Beardsley
2012-Apr-09, 09:32 AM
It is for people who refuse to learn.

One exclamation mark, no period.
And one question mark, no period.

Seconded. I find this affectation extremely annoying, to the point that I will not be reading any more posts by anyone who practises it.

WaxRubiks
2012-Apr-09, 10:06 AM
It's ok, he has this key; it makes things difficult.

16697

Tog
2012-Apr-09, 10:09 AM
I think we need a hard definition of both "Deserve" and "Punishment," especially in the way punishment and rehabilitation differ.

I think of punishment as the negative consequence of violating a rule or law. This could be prison, a caning, a stern talking to, or a time-out. Punishment for a minor violation in hockey is to "go to the box and feel shame" for two minutes, while you watch your team try to fend off the other which now has one more player.

By my definition ANY unwelcome consequence is a punishment, even it's ultimately beneficial.

As for Deserve, it seems that the question being asked is do humans have free will. If I shove an old woman down and steal her purse, did I do it because it's my fault, or is there some mental defect or compulsion that drove me to it? The answer, here would seem to be simple enough. Do I shove every old woman down, or just the ones near dark alleys, walking alone?

If it's a compulsive behavior, I wouldn't skip any of them. If I choose which one I mug, I'm demonstrating some control over my actions. Maybe it really is a compulsion and I hold out as long as I can, targeting only those least likely to get me caught, so I can do more later. That's still controlling it to some degree.

To say that no one deserves punishment implies that no one does anything contrary to the rules or laws of the land, under which everyone in that social group lives. That means that either the laws don't exist, or they are impossible to break. There's not a lot of support for either case.

profloater
2012-Apr-09, 12:27 PM
Seconded. I find this affectation extremely annoying, to the point that I will not be reading any more posts by anyone who practises it.I find this more interesting than the question although it is on topic because Paul wants to punish the multiple ! I suppose the innovation of emoticons must be just as annoying. Personally I can see the double ! or the double ? as having meaning in the same way as an emoticon. It just means the writer allocates degrees of exclamation as in Goal. Goal! GOAL! and so on. My example is flawed since I have not much interest in goals in the football sense. Sometimes the words can be lifted to an exclamation and the degree of passion felt might conceivably be justified by the boldness of !! which in text language does look like a very surprised cat. Should the writer be punished by not reading? We it would be easier if we put the exclamation at the beginning as they do in Spanish, upside down, to let you know.

Jens
2012-Apr-09, 12:51 PM
Profloater, I think probably that if a person occasionally puts three exclamation points after a particularly important sentence, nobody would say anything. But you might notice, going back, that this particular writer puts three exclamations after almost every sentence.

profloater
2012-Apr-09, 01:00 PM
Profloater, I think probably that if a person occasionally puts three exclamation points after a particularly important sentence, nobody would say anything. But you might notice, going back, that this particular writer puts three exclamations after almost every sentence. Well of course that is indefensible as a style issue and should be punished most severely by the removal of his shift key and shift lock key (capital punishment) please note no ex or Qu marks but I need the pun emoticon:confused:

Swift
2012-Apr-09, 01:03 PM
OK, enough with the punctuation police comments!!!

And P Timmy , for the sake of peace and the lining of my stomach, could you ease up on the !s

P Timmy
2012-Apr-09, 01:19 PM
Swift

P Timmy , for the sake of peace and the lining of my stomach, could you ease up on the !s


A 13 year old habit dies hard... but OK... :-)

I plan to answer the new questions in this thread later today.

novaderrik
2012-Apr-09, 01:25 PM
i read the first couple of posts, realized what was going on and where this thread was supposed to go, and decided to add that Hammurabi had it right.. let the punishment fit the crime- an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth..
if you don't punish those that break the rules of society, then the whole fabric of society falls apart.
this holds true for every different kind of society- from the family unit on up to organizations like the United Nations.

DonM435
2012-Apr-09, 01:32 PM
Punctuation transgressions should be resolved by taseful self-editing rather than punishment.

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-09, 03:02 PM
i read the first couple of posts, realized what was going on and where this thread was supposed to go, and decided to add that Hammurabi had it right.. let the punishment fit the crime- an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth..
if you don't punish those that break the rules of society, then the whole fabric of society falls apart.
this holds true for every different kind of society- from the family unit on up to organizations like the United Nations.

Very nicely stated.

In my opinion, there will ALWAYS be a "criminal element", mandating that there will ALWAYS be punishment for those who choose to break the rules.

It is basic Human nature.

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-09, 03:56 PM
...why would you think that some time in the future would be any different?

Allow me to re-phrase....:)


I see no reason to think that the "criminal element" of the future will be any different from the present day "criminal element". In other words, punishment will always be "necessary".

If someone disagrees, please state your reasons for thinking so.

Grey
2012-Apr-09, 04:10 PM
Shakespeare thought that probably everyone deserved punishment, but he also suggested that we should try to cut people some slack on that when we can. :)


Hamlet: Good my lord, will you see the players well bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used, for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time. After your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.
Polonius: My lord, I will use them according to their desert.
Hamlet: Godís bodykins, man, much better. Use every man after his desert, and who should íscape whipping? Use them after your own honor and dignity. The less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty. Take them in.

Perikles
2012-Apr-09, 05:00 PM
Shakespeare thought that probably everyone deserved punishmentEr - Shakespeare created a character who thought that. :rolleyes:

HenrikOlsen
2012-Apr-09, 05:23 PM
There is a technical term for someone who confuses the opinions of a character in a book with those of the author.

Gillianren
2012-Apr-09, 05:42 PM
If it's a compulsive behavior, I wouldn't skip any of them. If I choose which one I mug, I'm demonstrating some control over my actions. Maybe it really is a compulsion and I hold out as long as I can, targeting only those least likely to get me caught, so I can do more later. That's still controlling it to some degree.

And in my opinion, if you do it compulsively, it is to society's benefit--and your own!--to remove you from situations where you have the opportunity to shove down old women and steal their purses. Is that punishment? By your definition, and indeed by many reasonable ones, yes. But it may also be seen as protecting you from your own compulsion and certainly protecting old women from it.

HenrikOlsen
2012-Apr-09, 06:10 PM
And for that matter, if there's no free will to chose to commit crimes, why think there's any choice for society to chose to punishing them?

A society (which has survived for more than a fortnight) with a belief in no free will still be one in which punishment for crimes happen. Historically they've actually been the ones in which the punishments are harshest.

profloater
2012-Apr-09, 06:41 PM
I don't understand that, theocracies were/are the harshest and they believe in free will surely?

Tog
2012-Apr-09, 06:46 PM
And in my opinion, if you do it compulsively, it is to society's benefit--and your own!--to remove you from situations where you have the opportunity to shove down old women and steal their purses. Is that punishment? By your definition, and indeed by many reasonable ones, yes. But it may also be seen as protecting you from your own compulsion and certainly protecting old women from it.

Absolutely. I think the compulsive part is the key difference between "menace to society" and "danger to oneself or others."

Gillianren
2012-Apr-09, 07:01 PM
I don't understand that, theocracies were/are the harshest and they believe in free will surely?

Why "surely"? Look into Calvinism, and that's just one example.

HenrikOlsen
2012-Apr-09, 07:23 PM
I don't understand that, theocracies were/are the harshest and they believe in free will surely?
Where on earth did you get the idea that theocracies believe in free will?

Actually it's historically tended to be the theocracies where "everything is God's will" that have the harshest punishments, because they could/can excuse the actions of everyone involved in the act because it's all God's will.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-09, 07:44 PM
Okay, let's get down to it. Why? If you acknowledge that punishment has desirable outcomes, why is it always undeserved?


Punishment can achieve a desired effect... but that's irrelevant to the issue of this thread... which is... can punishment ever be deserved.
As far as your above statement goes... if horsewhipping a slave had the desired effect of causing her to not try and escape again... would that make the horsewhipping deserved.???



My little sister was never going to respond to positive reinforcement. That's simply not how her brain works. She merely did what was most convenient to her without the slightest concern about how other people dealt with it. What is your advice on how to get someone like that to stop stealing?


Well first... do you consider her mentally ill... a product of poor child rearing... a combination of both or something else?



How do you think we should get them to follow the laws of society? Or do you think there is no reason for those laws?


I agree with society making and enforcing laws... and punishment/incarceration is necessary to enforce those laws.!!!



What, if anything, is your point?

I think free will (uninfluenced choice) is just an illusion... so with no free choice... punishment can not be deserved.


No jails for anyone then?
It's hard to take a blanket statement like that seriously.

No need to take it seriously as far as I'm concerned... because I didn't make such a statement.!!!


I think we need a hard definition of both "Deserve" and "Punishment," especially in the way punishment and rehabilitation differ.

I think of punishment as the negative consequence of violating a rule or law. This could be prison, a caning, a stern talking to, or a time-out. Punishment for a minor violation in hockey is to "go to the box and feel shame" for two minutes, while you watch your team try to fend off the other which now has one more player.

By my definition ANY unwelcome consequence is a punishment, even it's ultimately beneficial.


That definition works for me.



As for Deserve, it seems that the question being asked is do humans have free will. If I shove an old woman down and steal her purse, did I do it because it's my fault, or is there some mental defect or compulsion that drove me to it? The answer, here would seem to be simple enough. Do I shove every old woman down, or just the ones near dark alleys, walking alone?

If it's a compulsive behavior, I wouldn't skip any of them. If I choose which one I mug, I'm demonstrating some control over my actions. Maybe it really is a compulsion and I hold out as long as I can, targeting only those least likely to get me caught, so I can do more later. That's still controlling it to some degree.


You make some good points if favor of free will being an illusion.



To say that no one deserves punishment implies that no one does anything contrary to the rules or laws of the land, under which everyone in that social group lives. That means that either the laws don't exist, or they are impossible to break. There's not a lot of support for either case.

My point is... that no one deserves punishment for behaving in a "negative' way... if that behavior was beyond their control.

NEOWatcher
2012-Apr-09, 08:02 PM
I think free will (uninfluenced choice) is just an illusion... so with no free choice... punishment can not be deserved.
The way I understand free will is that the person has the ability to make choices without outside influences.
When it comes to influence and deserverd, I think that is a societal choice.
So; I see them in different context.

While influence may affect how I exercise my free will, I still have the free will to make that choice.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-09, 08:10 PM
I don't understand that, theocracies were/are the harshest and they believe in free will surely?

The notion of "free will" seems to be a necessity for the theocracies that believe in an everlasting hell... that way... when someone winds up in hell it's not God's fault... because the person in hell chose to be there of their own free will.

danscope
2012-Apr-09, 08:24 PM
Leaving theology out of it, We as a collective community must needs have a code of conduct , which can genericaly cover
our civil behavior relating with all those of whom we are in contact with or affect. And we likewise have a responsibility
to Mother Nature , who shall surely punish us for our conduct as stewards of this world.
In view of the aberations in personal profile which crop up daily, society provides necessary provisions to remedy those situations. Your free will does not include a license to harm and infringe on others. All of our law is based on this concept. We may not have achieved perfection, but we have a system, and it works. Clatu

Van Rijn
2012-Apr-09, 08:29 PM
Punishment can achieve a desired effect... but that's irrelevant to the issue of this thread... which is... can punishment ever be deserved.
[...]
I agree with society making and enforcing laws... and punishment/incarceration is necessary to enforce those laws.!!!


If punishment is necessary to enforce laws and you agree there are laws that should be enforced, then it is deserved in those cases, correct?

P Timmy
2012-Apr-09, 08:36 PM
Originally Posted by P Timmy
I think free will (uninfluenced choice) is just an illusion... so with no free choice... punishment can not be deserved.


The way I understand free will is that the person has the ability to make choices without outside influences.


Well that's one argument... but influence is influence no matter where it comes from... and I can't imagine a scenario in which a choice was made that wasn't influenced.



When it comes to influence and deserverd, I think that is a societal choice.
So; I see them in different context.


As can be seen by the poll for this thread... society thinks punishment is deserved.



While influence may affect how I exercise my free will, I still have the free will to make that choice.

That perfectly describes the illusion.

Grey
2012-Apr-09, 08:39 PM
Er - Shakespeare created a character who thought that. :rolleyes:

There is a technical term for someone who confuses the opinions of a character in a book with those of the author. I think it's fair to say with certainty that there are times that authors (or playwrights) have their characters make statements that represent the views of the author in question, not just the opinions of the character. I would quickly acknowledge that it is not necessarily a simple matter to determine if and when that might be true in any specific case. However, my personal opinion* from reading the text, is that the opinions expressed by Hamlet in these lines were shared by Shakespeare himself. Especially the bit where he says how important it is to stay in the good graces of actors, but also that other bit, too. ;)


* Which clearly might be different from your own.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-09, 08:42 PM
If punishment is necessary to enforce laws and you agree there are laws that should be enforced, then it is deserved in those cases, correct?

My point is... that no one deserves punishment for behaving in a "negative' way... if that behavior was beyond their control... and with no free will then everything is beyond our control... so no... punishment is never deserved.

Swift
2012-Apr-09, 08:44 PM
The notion of "free will" seems to be a necessity for the theocracies that believe in an everlasting hell... that way... when someone winds up in hell it's not God's fault... because the person in hell chose to be there of their own free will.
I don't believe in hell and I am an agnostic leaning toward atheist, and I believe in free will, so I don't see what it has to do with theocracies. Sure, there are plenty of circumstances where people have little or no free choice, and we are surrounded by influences. But ultimately, we are individually responsible for our own actions, and need to accept the consequences of those.

Just my 2 cents...

Leaving theology out of it, We as a collective community must needs have a code of conduct , which can genericaly cover
our civil behavior relating with all those of whom we are in contact with or affect. And we likewise have a responsibility
to Mother Nature , who shall surely punish us for our conduct as stewards of this world.
In view of the berations in personal profile which crop up daily, society provides necessary provisions to remedy those situations. Your free will does not include a license to harm and infringe on others. All of our law is based on this concept. We may not have achieved perfection, but we have a system, and it works. Clatu
Nicely said.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-09, 08:47 PM
Your free will does not include a license to harm and infringe on others. All of our law is based on this concept. We may not have achieved perfection, but we have a system, and it works. Clatu

And... even those of us who don't have beliefs in free will don't have a license to harm and infringe on others.

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-09, 08:58 PM
My point is... that no one deserves punishment for behaving in a "negative' way... if that behavior was beyond their control...

That si decidely NOT what you posted in the OP....why the change??



...and with no free will...

Where did you get the idea that there is no "free will" for any/everybody??



...then everything is beyond our control... so no... punishment is never deserved.


Sorry, your "argument" remains unconvincing.

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-09, 09:05 PM
And... even those of us who don't have beliefs in free will don't have a license to harm and infringe on others.

Tell the guy about to rob you that he has no "license" to infringe on your rights...

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-09, 09:08 PM
...if that behavior was beyond their control... and with no free will then everything is beyond our control...

You have provided no reason to "connect" these 2 different ideas...or should I say, can you connect these 2 differing ideas in a rational manner?

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-09, 09:19 PM
...we are individually responsible for our own actions, and need to accept the consequences of those.

...and, personally, I wouldn't have it any other way. :)

HenrikOlsen
2012-Apr-09, 09:19 PM
The notion of "free will" seems to be a necessity for the theocracies that believe in an everlasting hell... that way... when someone winds up in hell it's not God's fault... because the person in hell chose to be there of their own free will.
That's a modern interpretation.
If it's the god's will that they sin, it's also the god's will that they get punished and the god's will that they go to hell.
There's no contradiction in that, it's perfectly logical.
It only becomes contradictory if someone adds a requirement that the god isn't nasty.

Anyway, you've already said that you understand that a society can't function without punishment, which means you agree that punishing people is necessary.

If that is so, isn't a discussion about "deserving" just philosophical candyfloss with no actual substance?

P Timmy
2012-Apr-09, 09:20 PM
Originally Posted by P Timmy
The notion of "free will" seems to be a necessity for the theocracies that believe in an everlasting hell... that way... when someone winds up in hell it's not God's fault... because the person in hell chose to be there of their own free will.


I don't believe in hell and I am an agnostic leaning toward atheist, and I believe in free will, so I don't see what it has to do with theocracies.


I don't see any conflict with you believing in free will and leaning toward atheism... with what I said above.



Sure, there are plenty of circumstances where people have little or no free choice, and we are surrounded by influences.


Then there's little difference between us... I just think that on closer examination there's zero evidence that free will is anything more than an illusion.



But ultimately, we are individually responsible for our own actions, and need to accept the consequences of those.


We can't escape the consequences of our actions whether we're believers in free will or not.

danscope
2012-Apr-09, 09:23 PM
Hi Swift, Thank you,Sir.
Best regards,
Dan

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-09, 09:27 PM
I think free will (uninfluenced choice) is just an illusion... so with no free choice... punishment can not be deserved.

From looking at the poll numbers, no one here agrees with that statement.


How do you account for that?

Swift
2012-Apr-09, 09:34 PM
Originally Posted by Swift
Sure, there are plenty of circumstances where people have little or no free choice, and we are surrounded by influences.

Then there's little difference between us... I just think that on closer examination there's zero evidence that free will is anything more than an illusion.

I think you are incorrect and I think there is a huge difference in our opinions. I said there are plenty of circumstances where people have little or no free choice. A slave, to pick an extreme example, has little or no free choice. But even then, they still have free will, for example, they may choose to rebel against their master, even knowing they will be harmed or killed doing so - there are plenty of examples of this in history. One may have choices, even if the choice is between bad and worse.

But plenty of circumstances with little choice is far different from all circumstances. There are even more examples where people have plenty of choices.

I completely disagree that free will is an illusion. But if it is, it is a necessary one, since to believe we are not responsible for our actions is the road to chaos, anarchy, and cruelty of the worst kind.

Anyway, this is the kind of philosophy discussion I don't enjoy. Please don't expect me to respond further. You all have fun.

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-09, 09:40 PM
We can't escape the consequences of our actions whether we're believers in free will or not.

If you understand the need for punishment (as you have just acknowledged), then what in the heck is this thread all about??


Is it as Henrik posted?...is this all just philosophical candyfloss?

P Timmy
2012-Apr-09, 09:41 PM
...isn't a discussion about "deserving" just philosophical candyfloss with no actual substance?

That depends on free will being possible or not... and even though most people believe they have at least some "free will"... so far... I haven't seen any convincing evidence that free will is anything more than any other unsubstantiated belief.

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-09, 09:54 PM
I haven't seen any convincing evidence that free will is anything more than any other unsubstantiated belief.

That is your opinion...which you are entitled to...however, unless you present some kind of convincing "argument"....well, what are we suppose to do??...blindly accept your idea?, even though we VERY STRONGLY disagree with you???


I Just am having difficulity seeing the "point" of this thread....the poll numbers say it all...

Gillianren
2012-Apr-09, 10:07 PM
Anyway, this is the kind of philosophy discussion I don't enjoy. Please don't expect me to respond further. You all have fun.

Certainly there isn't enough new and well-written for me to bother, either.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-09, 10:11 PM
I completely disagree that free will is an illusion. But if it is, it is a necessary one, since to believe we are not responsible for our actions is the road to chaos, anarchy, and cruelty of the worst kind.


I've thought free will is an illusion for over forty years and I've never considered myself as not being responsible for my actions... if I had... I probably wouldn't have been married for over forty years... lol... and instead of the other horrible things you mentioned above... its allowed me to be more compassionate... less judgmental... and willing to forgive anybody.

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-09, 10:24 PM
I've thought free will is an illusion for over forty years and I've never considered myself as not being responsible for my actions...

How is "responsibility" relevant to the "rightness" of your idea? There would seem to be no connection between the 2 ideas.



if I had... I probably wouldn't have been married for over forty years...

So who is right most of the time....you or your Wife? I've been married 36+ years, myself, and am curious to hear your answer.

AstroRockHunter
2012-Apr-09, 10:26 PM
P Timmy:

Along with the three questions that I asked you in post #43, could you please also give us your definition of "deserve"?

Thank you.

AstroRockHunter
2012-Apr-09, 10:28 PM
I've thought free will is an illusion for over forty years and I've never considered myself as not being responsible for my actions... if I had... I probably wouldn't have been married for over forty years... lol... and instead of the other horrible things you mentioned above... its allowed me to be more compassionate... less judgmental... and willing to forgive anybody.

Wouldn't the acts of marriage, forgiveness, compassion and judgment of others be acts of free will?

Van Rijn
2012-Apr-09, 10:55 PM
P Timmy:

Along with the three questions that I asked you in post #43, could you please also give us your definition of "deserve"?

Thank you.

Yes, I'd like to see that as well.

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-09, 10:56 PM
Yes, I'd like to see that as well.

Now, don't be impolite. :)

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-09, 10:58 PM
So who is right most of the time....you or your Wife?

Thread started in BaBBling...

Van Rijn
2012-Apr-09, 11:13 PM
Now, don't be impolite. :)

I don't see anything impolite in my request, and I certainly didn't intend it to be impolite. Are you joking? If so, I don't get it.

HenrikOlsen
2012-Apr-09, 11:36 PM
I've thought free will is an illusion for over forty years and I've never considered myself as not being responsible for my actions...
Responsibility is all about choice, without free will there's no responsibility either, you're not really making a coherent argument if you claim it's possible to be responsible for your actions AND have no free will at the same time.
If it's possible to be responsible for your actions without free will, then it's also possible to deserve punishment without free will.

HenrikOlsen
2012-Apr-09, 11:37 PM
Wouldn't the acts of marriage, forgiveness, compassion and judgment of others be acts of free will?
Not marriage. :)

Jens
2012-Apr-10, 12:01 AM
I've thought free will is an illusion for over forty years

Because this is a science-based board, I think it might be interesting for you to explore the concept a bit. In Newtonian world, where everything was predetermined, one could easily make the argument that free will is an illusion. In a world based on quantum mechanics, it is a much trickier question I think. You might want to look into it.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-10, 01:09 AM
Because this is a science-based board, I think it might be interesting for you to explore the concept a bit. In Newtonian world, where everything was predetermined, one could easily make the argument that free will is an illusion. In a world based on quantum mechanics, it is a much trickier question I think. You might want to look into it.

If you know of any quantum mechanics based evidence which supports the idea that free-will really is possible... I would like to see it.

Cougar
2012-Apr-10, 02:07 AM
If you know of any quantum mechanics based evidence which supports the idea that free-will really is possible... I would like to see it.

Quantum mechanics was not developed to answer any questions about "free will." It was found, however, that quantum events are inherently probabilistic, so individually uncertain.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-10, 02:27 AM
It was found, however, that quantum events are inherently probabilistic, so individually uncertain.

Thanks... but do you see that as somehow equating to free will being possible... like Jens "possibly" hinted at?

Jens
2012-Apr-10, 04:35 AM
Thanks... but do you see that as somehow equating to free will being possible... like Jens "possibly" hinted at?

I didn't hint at that, and I wouldn't. All I meant to say is that the problem becomes a very thorny one, not one that will easily be answered by a yes or no, as you seem to be asking for. I would suggest taking a look at this SciAm blog (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2011/09/19/free-will-and-quantum-clones-how-your-choices-today-affect-the-universe-at-its-origin/).

Luckmeister
2012-Apr-10, 06:32 AM
P Timmy, you seem to be discussing the subject of free will in terms of absolutes; that we either have total free will or none at all. I define free will as the freedom to make choices; not total freedom, but freedom of choice of action within the requirements and confines of societal living as well as other factors. My personal freedom of choice exists but is filled with compromises, at least if I want to coexist with others as well as my non-human environment with any degree of harmony.

Unless one chooses to live alone in the wilderness with no other human contact, free will must include compromises. Actually, one would still have them when relating to wild animal life on the same turf, or plant life, or the weather, or anything else that interferes with what you want to do at any given time. So yes, in that context, total free will must be considered an impossibility.

Okay, so there's no absolute free will, but there is limited free will and with that comes the concept of punishment when human choices conflict with what society has established as limits. Punishment can even be self-imposed for behaviour modification when one has failed to adhere to one's own standard.

So now I ask, does my bolded definition of free will above agree with yours when considering the concept of punishment, and if so, do you still maintain that punishment can not be deserved?

Mike

Jens
2012-Apr-10, 07:07 AM
If they don't think criminals have the free will to stop committing crime, how do they figure the rest of us have the free will to stop punishing them? :)

It may be that people didn't take this very seriously, but it seems to me that if one doesn't believe in free will, then this argument is fairly devastating. Nobody can no longer bear responsibility for anything, including meting out punishment.

Perikles
2012-Apr-10, 07:53 AM
I think it's fair to say with certainty that there are times that authors (or playwrights) have their characters make statements that represent the views of the author in question, not just the opinions of the character. I would quickly acknowledge that it is not necessarily a simple matter to determine if and when that might be true in any specific case. However, my personal opinion* from reading the text, is that the opinions expressed by Hamlet in these lines were shared by Shakespeare himself. Especially the bit where he says how iimportant it is to stay in the good graces of actors, but also that other bit, too. Yes, if I had to bet on it, I would agree with you in this particular case. Fortunately, I don't have to bet on it. :)

Tog
2012-Apr-10, 10:05 AM
What I said:

As for Deserve, it seems that the question being asked is do humans have free will. If I shove an old woman down and steal her purse, did I do it because it's my fault, or is there some mental defect or compulsion that drove me to it? The answer, here would seem to be simple enough. Do I shove every old woman down, or just the ones near dark alleys, walking alone?

If it's a compulsive behavior, I wouldn't skip any of them. If I choose which one I mug, I'm demonstrating some control over my actions. Maybe it really is a compulsion and I hold out as long as I can, targeting only those least likely to get me caught, so I can do more later. That's still controlling it to some degree.



You make some good points if favor of free will being an illusion.

Actually, I was going the other way with it. If free will is an illusion, I wouldn't have a choice to do or not do a certain thing. I'd be functioning 100% on instinct. I had a choice to reply to this thread. I had a choice as to what to write, and how to say it. I actually wrote a good deal more, then edited myself before sending it. If I had no free will, why would I write something, then delete it?

In some cases, I'll agree, free will is hard to demonstrate. If I burn my finger, my first reaction is pull it away from the heat. That's instinct. But I can override that and hold my hand over the fire.

When it comes to negative behavior, there may be some people that really don't have a choice. I would see this as something similar to Tourette's syndrome, where the person has no control over their own body or actions. I don't know that such a case exists, but kleptomania would seem to be close.

In those cases, it's considered a mental defect or ailment that causes them to do what they do. For everyone else out there, it's a choice.

As a kid, we used to break into the school across the street from my house. We'd sneak around inside and do stupid things like rearrange the desks, or swap sides with the teacher's desk drawer contents. If we got caught, we knew there would be consequences, and we could have chosen not to do it. This is proven by the fact that we never got caught, but stopped doing it all the same.

The same thing goes with my drive to work. I'm rarely below the speed limit, usually running 5-10 mph over. One night I got caught. the cop asked how fast I thought I was going, and I told him what I honestly thought my speed was. (Well, the lower end of the estimate.) My phrasing was "I was slowing down by the time I got in front of you and my spedometer reads 3 to 5 mph fast, so I'd guess about 75." The right answer was 78. I got a warning rather than a ticket, probably because, I'm one of the few people to not really lie about it when asked.

That's part of the game. I know the rules, and I know the consequences for breaking them. I accept those consequences the second I choose to break that rule or law.

Strange
2012-Apr-10, 10:38 AM
My point is... that no one deserves punishment for behaving in a "negative' way... if that behavior was beyond their control... and with no free will then everything is beyond our control... so no... punishment is never deserved.

If the behavior was truly beyond their control, then you might have a point. However, as nearly everybody is in control of their actions, and therefore responsible for them, your point is largely irrelevant.

Note, for example, how you were able to control your tendency to use multiple irrelevant punctuation marks.

profloater
2012-Apr-10, 11:05 AM
The law clearly allows exceptions for mentally ill or incompetent persons although they still end up confined. The impression of free will, if that is what it is, is enough to for the law to judge intent. The impression of free will is part of "consensual reality" that is to say most people seem to agree that we act voluntarily and have control over our actions especially when we know the codes of behaviour deemed acceptable/ unacceptable. The concept of "consensual reality" part of sociology, is actually helpful in finding a practical way forward and is ancient wisdom from the jury system used to decide guilt. Note the law then decides the punishment and the laws are made by society's representatives. This is one of the strong points of democracy as a system.

SeanF
2012-Apr-10, 01:42 PM
It's probably worth pointing out that even if there were no free will, that wouldn't be an argument against the utility of punishment.

Even if your actions are an unavoidable consequence of your environment and you have no direct control over them, it would still remain that the existence or non-existence of punishment would be a part of that environment and thus influence those actions.

Paul Beardsley
2012-Apr-10, 02:42 PM
A slave, to pick an extreme example, has little or no free choice. But even then, they still have free will, for example, they may choose to rebel against their master, even knowing they will be harmed or killed doing so - there are plenty of examples of this in history.

And not just history. When I was teaching maths and English to asylum seekers in 2006, one of my learners was an escaped slave. She told me her story one afternoon. She saw her opportunity to escape, and she took it - even after seeing two other young women being summarily executed for trying the same thing.

Scariest story I've ever heard.

R.A.F.
2012-Apr-10, 03:08 PM
Think I'll demonstrate the concept of "free will", by "joining" Swift and Gillianren.

DonM435
2012-Apr-10, 05:36 PM
Think I'll demonstrate the concept of "free will", by "joining" Swift and Gillianren.

"Yes! We are all individuals!"
(I'm outta here too.)

NEOWatcher
2012-Apr-10, 05:56 PM
The way I understand free will is that the person has the ability to make choices without outside influences.
Well that's one argument... but influence is influence no matter where it comes from... and I can't imagine a scenario in which a choice was made that wasn't influenced.
How far can you take that? From your statement it's an absolute.
If so, then where did the idea of free will even come from?
Is it not free will to not stop to enjoy the aroma of a flower because that bee sitting on it influenced my decision? Is it a punishment if I do get stung? Did I deserve to get stung?

So; regarding self decisions, even if influenced...
What would you call someone making their own decision to do or not do something?

BigDon
2012-Apr-10, 06:18 PM
I read the first and last pages. I think I missed something.

Profloater, I was going to start a seperate thread because I was talking to some twentysomethings who didn't believe having a big honking brain tumor was any excuse for aberrent behavior. Then *I* was a jerk for pointing out (correctly it turns out) that they didn't know the function and use of their brains. They thought I was calling them stupid. I was merely calling them ignorant. You can fix ignorant. Stupid goes all the way to the bone. They didn't want to hear that either.

Actors. They tend to be even more abysmal, education-wise than atheletes by a far measure.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-12, 01:12 PM
It may be that people didn't take this very seriously, but it seems to me that if one doesn't believe in free will, then this argument is fairly devastating. Nobody can no longer bear responsibility for anything, including meting out punishment.

I don't relate to the devastation you presumed above.
I recall being "agnostic" since I was 8 years old... lol... I quit school at 15... which wasn't that uncommon (at the time) for the small Kentucky town I grew up in... and for more than 40 years now I haven't thought that will is free... but I've been very responsible and a good citizen... such as... I vote... I volunteer at our community kitchen... I don't cheat on my taxes... never paid a bill late... owned my home for 38 years and paid for it 3 years... held my previous job for 19 years and I've owned a small business for the last 18 years... I don't smoke drink or use drugs and I'm still married to my first wife for over 40 years and we're financially set for a comfortable retirement. I consider myself to be happy and look forward to the future but I'm not afraid of being dead.

And what seems to be really important to most of the people in this thread :)... for the betterment of society... I think punishment/incarceration is necessary at our current point in evolution.

Realizing that free will is an illusion does not free one from the consequences of their actions... I just think it's interesting to understand how things actually work.


...the problem becomes a very thorny one, not one that will easily be answered by a yes or no, as you seem to be asking for.


If there is no free will then punishment can't be deserved... and since there isn't any evidence that such a thing as free will exists... then I don't think it's going too far out on a limb to conclude that punishment is not deserved.



I would suggest taking a look at this SciAm blog (http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/2011/09/19/free-will-and-quantum-clones-how-your-choices-today-affect-the-universe-at-its-origin/).

I read it and below are some snips from the last post (#16) in that thread.

16. kebil
10:40 pm 12/7/2011
"the universe is not entirely deterministic, but that does not mean that their is free will. Free will is not the same thing as being unable to predict what a person could do, even with a computer simulation. If anything, if such a computer existed, it would probably also feel like it had free will."

"There is a reason, though, why we feel as if we had free will, and it is probably a useful, if not necessary function of the brain to produce such a feeling in order to produce motivation, feel reward as well as itís inverse, and produce self awareness."

"There is no ďspiritualĒ input from another realm, quantum mechanics donít give rise to free will, if anything, they would introduce randomness into the process at a low level."

[End of snips]

I haven't seen any convincing evidence that the universe isn't deterministic... but determinism isn't necessary for free will to be an illusion.

Some people believe that free will comes from pixie dust/Gods... and some think that free will somehow comes from a quantum randomness... but uncontrolled/random influences in no way equates to free choice.

For the people (who's posts I didn't reply to individually) that are essentially asking the same question... "How can my will not be free since I make choices all the time?"... The issue is whether or not the "choice" was freely made (without influence)... and unless you can demonstrate a verifiable freely chosen intervening factor (such as Gods/souls/quantum-randomness) which breaks the chain of cause and effect... then the notion of free will remains an illusion.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-12, 01:35 PM
P Timmy, you seem to be discussing the subject of free will in terms of absolutes; that we either have total free will or none at all.


I agree.



I define free will as the freedom to make choices; not total freedom, but freedom of choice of action within the requirements and confines of societal living as well as other factors. My personal freedom of choice exists but is filled with compromises, at least if I want to coexist with others as well as my non-human environment with any degree of harmony.


I define free will as uninfluenced choice... whereas... your convoluted definition seems to define influenced choice as being free choice... even your "personal freedom of choice" is filled with "compromises."



Unless one chooses to live alone in the wilderness with no other human contact, free will must include compromises. Actually, one would still have them when relating to wild animal life on the same turf, or plant life, or the weather, or anything else that interferes with what you want to do at any given time. So yes, in that context, total free will must be considered an impossibility.


Yes... the closer you look... the more it can be seen that choice is not free.



Okay, so there's no absolute free will, but there is limited free will and with that comes the concept of punishment when human choices conflict with what society has established as limits. Punishment can even be self-imposed for behaviour modification when one has failed to adhere to one's own standard.


Give an example of the "free part" of limited free will.
Whatever society might impose as limits... has nothing to do with whether or not there really is such a thing as free will.



So now I ask, does my bolded definition of free will above agree with yours when considering the concept of punishment, and if so, do you still maintain that punishment can not be deserved?


I agree with your suggestions about social behavior... but if realizing that free will is just another unsubstantiated belief... and that realization caused the downfall of society... that's still not evidence that there is such a thing as free will... so I see no evidence to conclude that punishment is ever deserved.


What I said:
If free will is an illusion, I wouldn't have a choice to do or not do a certain thing. I'd be functioning 100% on instinct. I had a choice to reply to this thread. I had a choice as to what to write, and how to say it. I actually wrote a good deal more, then edited myself before sending it. If I had no free will, why would I write something, then delete it?


Surely you didn't write the things you wrote for no reason. I think the influences acting on you were so compelling that you had no choice but to write what you wrote.



In some cases, I'll agree, free will is hard to demonstrate. If I burn my finger, my first reaction is pull it away from the heat. That's instinct. But I can override that and hold my hand over the fire.


Are you suggesting that you would hold your hand over a fire for no reason... or on the contrary... would the influences have to be very strong for you to do such a painful thing?



When it comes to negative behavior, there may be some people that really don't have a choice. I would see this as something similar to Tourette's syndrome, where the person has no control over their own body or actions. I don't know that such a case exists, but kleptomania would seem to be close.

In those cases, it's considered a mental defect or ailment that causes them to do what they do. For everyone else out there, it's a choice.


Some causes seem to be obvious... some don't... and when causes aren't obvious... such as the early stage of a brain tumor which affects a persons reasoning in a negative way (or other causes which are not obvious)... the person being judged is wrongly considered to deserve punishment.



I got a warning rather than a ticket, probably because, I'm one of the few people to not really lie about it when asked.

That's part of the game. I know the rules, and I know the consequences for breaking them. I accept those consequences the second I choose to break that rule or law.

Yes... every step of the way... there were influences causing you to behave exactly as you did.


It's probably worth pointing out that even if there were no free will, that wouldn't be an argument against the utility of punishment.


Not everyone seems to understand that.

Strange
2012-Apr-12, 02:03 PM
I haven't seen any convincing evidence that the universe isn't deterministic...

Quantum mechanics (fundamentally probabilistic) and chaos theory (things can only be predicted a certain distance ahead) seem like good reasons to think the universe is not deterministic and, even if it were, not predictable.

profloater
2012-Apr-12, 02:15 PM
Hi P Timmy,
You are free to define free will the way you want but yours is not a widely held view I think. Because as has been hammered out here, we are all obviously influenced by experience from all our lives. You could argue a human decision is the only manifestation of free will in the whole universe but it is unknowable so we should be agnostic. Since the illusion of reality we live with is all we have, the illusion of free will is also all we have. The fundamental "zeroeth" point of agnosticism is that we cannot know if our personal experience is real or a dream, ergo we cannot judge the consciousness of others. Most people seem to agree the illusion of free will is enough to call it "free will" and therefore you can be held responsible.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-12, 04:34 PM
Quantum mechanics (fundamentally probabilistic) and chaos theory (things can only be predicted a certain distance ahead) seem like good reasons to think the universe is not deterministic and, even if it were, not predictable.

That events can happen for no reason as quantum mechanics might suggest is interesting but I think inconclusive... and that "chaos" might suggest that a deterministic universe is not possible is a tougher row to hoe... I think... but in either case... neither of those things... even if true... give rise to will being free... and that's the issue I'm concerned with in this thread as it relates to punishment being deserved or not.


Hi P Timmy,
You are free to define free will the way you want but yours is not a widely held view I think.
Because as has been hammered out here, we are all obviously influenced by experience from all our lives.


Whether my definition of free will is widely held or not... is irrelevant as to whether or not will is ever free... and I don't think that making up definitions which define influenced will as being the same thing as free will is a very compelling argument that free will exists.
And I agree that we are obviously influenced by experience all our lives... and even before we were alive... we didn't even have a choice in our genetic make-up or the environment we were born into... we were dealt a hand and we play it out like puppets on strings.



Since the illusion of reality we live with is all we have, the illusion of free will is also all we have. The fundamental "zeroeth" point of agnosticism is that we cannot know if our personal experience is real or a dream, ergo we cannot judge the consciousness of others. Most people seem to agree the illusion of free will is enough to call it "free will" and therefore you can be held responsible.

My argument has never been about whether or not we should be held responsible for our actions... I think we should... as a matter of fact... it's impossible to escape the consequences of our actions... but I agree that the illusion of free will is as powerful as if free will wasn't an illusion... I just like knowing how things actually work instead of a glossed-over version which happens to be soothing to the sensibilities... like one guy I discussed this with said... "Of course we have free will... who wouldn't want free will?"

NEOWatcher
2012-Apr-12, 04:45 PM
... but if realizing that free will is just another unsubstantiated belief...
So why can't we use "free will" in the context of our unsubstatiated belief and relative to societal norms?
I asked before: "What would you call it?"

Strange
2012-Apr-12, 04:50 PM
That events can happen for no reason as quantum mechanics might suggest is interesting but I think inconclusive...

I know you can't help it (:)) but I don't see how the fact that QM is fundamentally probabilistic can be inconclusive.


and that "chaos" might suggest that a deterministic universe is not possible is a tougher row to hoe...

Actually, chaotic systems are perfectly deterministic. Just unpredictable.


I think... but in either case... neither of those things... even if true... give rise to will being free

Agreed. Especially your rather broad definition of free will. Even if the usual "metaphysical" definition of free will was shown to exist, your version wouldn't because whenever someone makes a rational decision based on the information available, that would not be a "free" choice.

I have always considered the concept of free will to be rather pointless. But your version seems completely devoid of meaning.


... and that's the issue I'm concerned with in this thread as it relates to punishment being deserved or not.

And I'm not sure I see the relevance to that. (Especially as you seem to have a rather idiosyncratic definition of "deserved" as well.)

AstroRockHunter
2012-Apr-12, 06:04 PM
P Timmy

I would have to say that you, yourself, are strong evidence that free will exists.

You have freely chosen to ignore my questions that I presented in posts #43 and #104. In fact, you freely chose to address the most insignificant part of post #43 and presented your response as though the questions I asked didn't exist.

Also, being an atheist, I could only arrive at that position only by having free will.

And, you have not expressed any examples of support of your position on free will.

So, at the risk of being ignored further, I must ask another question.
Since you have strayed so far away from your initial question, in post #1, what is it that you truly want to discuss?

Luckmeister
2012-Apr-12, 11:13 PM
your convoluted definition seems to define influenced choice as being free choice...

No it doesn't.


even your "personal freedom of choice" is filled with "compromises."

That was exactly the point I was making.

We are actually in agreement that there is no absolute free will, but we won't get anywhere if your position is that if there isn't total (uninfluenced by any factors) free will, then none of us deserve to be punished for breaking society's laws.

Every day, we have the choice of taking the high road or the low in our dealings with others (yes, it really is a real world choice we deal with). We must take responsibility when choosing the low road when society has determined that choice is playing dirty. If you don't think possibility of punishment is a strong motivator for which road many choose, then you must be fortunate enough to live in idyllic rose-garden surroundings where everyone simply lives by the golden rule. Sadly, I have yet to see a society that fully embraces that ideal. If you have some method in mind of accomplishing that as an alternative to punishment, I'd love to hear it.

Please answer this so we can move on: Is the intended point you're making in this thread that punishment at any or all levels of society should be abolished?

TJMac
2012-Apr-13, 12:10 AM
I read the first and last pages. I think I missed something.


Nope, didnt miss a thing.

TJ

caveman1917
2012-Apr-13, 12:27 AM
Quantum mechanics (fundamentally probabilistic) and chaos theory (things can only be predicted a certain distance ahead) seem like good reasons to think the universe is not deterministic and, even if it were, not predictable.

These two arguments seem to be made a lot but i don't think they hold much substance. Chaos theory only applies to a deterministic system, all it says is that given non-perfect information about initial conditions the state of the system can't be predicted as far as we thought it would because of non-linear feedback in the system, whereas we first assumed the deviation would go linear. Because i can't predict exactly what i'll be doing in a day doesn't in any way suggest that i actually have any choice about what i will be doing, only that i can't predict it. The argument from quantum mechanics relies on Bell's theorem which needs a non-deterministic background, two experiments need to be performed independently from eachother to make the argument work. That's a necessary assumption for doing physics (if all our experiments are predetermined they have no meaning, since we aren't "free" to use them to probe our physical reality, if we're not free to decide which experiments we perform they are meaningless for testing any theory), however using this as a philosophical argument against the existence of free will is faulty. It's the other way around, we have to assume some form of free will for our enterprise of doing physics to make sense, and from that we can derive bell's theorem. Neither suggests the universe to be non-deterministic or us to have free will.

While i tend to agree with P Timmy that anything resembling free will is non-existent, the problem is that he is not consistent in his interpretation as Henrik already pointed out, if there is no free will then society has no choice in whether to punish or not.

caveman1917
2012-Apr-13, 12:42 AM
Perhaps for this to be well-defined i should add the specific definition of free will i'm using. Given a complete description in terms of physical variables of the present state of some region of the universe centered on some agent, this agent has free will in the following case. There is more than one possible complete description in terms of physical variables of the state of this region some infinitesimal time later, where "possible" means that it is allowed by the laws of physics, and this agent can change the probability distribution over the set of possible later states before it has materialized.

If there is neither of those than the universe is deterministic and there is no free will. If we only have the former but not the latter (there are many possible later states but the agent cannot change the probability distribution over them) then we have a pure random component, which is also not free will.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-13, 01:31 AM
So why can't we use "free will" in the context of our unsubstatiated belief and relative to societal norms?

I do.



I asked before: "What would you call it?"

Behaving the only way we can.



I know you can't help it (:)) but I don't see how the fact that QM is fundamentally probabilistic can be inconclusive.


(:))... ha ha.!!!

But what I said was... "That events can happen for no reason as quantum mechanics might suggest is interesting but I think inconclusive"

We're early in our understanding of QM... and the best we can currently make sense of QM is through probabilities... and I may be wrong... but I suspect that it will be found out that QM has causes and effects just like anything else that's well understood... and deterministic.



...chaotic systems are perfectly deterministic. Just unpredictable.


That seems to be the reality of it.

Do you believe that a human is anything more than a biological machine?

P Timmy
2012-Apr-13, 01:50 AM
Please answer this so we can move on: Is the intended point you're making in this thread that punishment at any or all levels of society should be abolished?

No... I think that punishment/incarceration is necessary and should be used when the laws that society makes are broken... but I don't have beliefs that free will exists... so I don't think anybody ever deserves punishment.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-13, 02:01 AM
While i tend to agree with P Timmy that anything resembling free will is non-existent, the problem is that he is not consistent in his interpretation as Henrik already pointed out, if there is no free will then society has no choice in whether to punish or not.

I like making choices... I make choices all the time.. I just realize that they aren't free choices... and I do think that punishment is necessary and should be used when the laws that society makes are broken.

danscope
2012-Apr-13, 04:39 AM
We are not ants, Timmy. Part of what sets us apart is the very nature of free will and deliberation as a social function
born by our upbringing in keeping with universaly accepted and basically understood laws.

Luckmeister
2012-Apr-13, 06:32 AM
No... I think that punishment/incarceration is necessary and should be used when the laws that society makes are broken... but I don't have beliefs that free will exists... so I don't think anybody ever deserves punishment.

So you think wrongdoers should be punished even though you don't think they deserve it? Since you've been such a stickler for defining terms, how about stating your definition of deserve because I see it defined as a value assessment and judgment determined by circumstances, not as an absolute declaration predicated upon a concept like free will.

I do recognize that severity of punishment can be mitigated by the extent of choice the wrongdoer was able to exercise. That issue is addressed in courts frequently, but the blanket statement that no punishment is deserved because there is no absolute free will makes no sense to me in any practical manner.

Strange
2012-Apr-13, 07:46 AM
These two arguments seem to be made a lot but i don't think they hold much substance. Chaos theory only applies to a deterministic system, all it says is that given non-perfect information about initial conditions the state of the system can't be predicted as far as we thought it would because of non-linear feedback in the system, whereas we first assumed the deviation would go linear. Because i can't predict exactly what i'll be doing in a day doesn't in any way suggest that i actually have any choice about what i will be doing, only that i can't predict it. The argument from quantum mechanics relies on Bell's theorem which needs a non-deterministic background, two experiments need to be performed independently from eachother to make the argument work. That's a necessary assumption for doing physics (if all our experiments are predetermined they have no meaning, since we aren't "free" to use them to probe our physical reality, if we're not free to decide which experiments we perform they are meaningless for testing any theory), however using this as a philosophical argument against the existence of free will is faulty. It's the other way around, we have to assume some form of free will for our enterprise of doing physics to make sense, and from that we can derive bell's theorem. Neither suggests the universe to be non-deterministic or us to have free will.

I wasn't using this to make an argument about free will. I agree it is irrelevant. I was simply pointing out that the universe appears to be neither completely deterministic nor completely predictable.

profloater
2012-Apr-13, 01:20 PM
Here is a slightly new argument for P Timmy. The evidence against free will today comes from neurological experiments which are necessarily very restricted such as "decide to move your finger". The results show a subconscious spike before consciousness registers it. This is not in itself evidence agin free will as discussed in your thread because the simple fact of the delay does not mean the decision process has not taken place. The sequence to start moving a limb has this delay but what of the whole experience of introspection, weighing up outcomes, solving puzzles both simple and complex? There is absolutely no evidence that these processes in our brains are not "free" for us to make even given that we all have an ever changing pattern of hundreds of billions of neurons and their mutiple interactions. The way conscious part of brain deals with this even given delays does not invalidate the impression that we have freewill as most people firmly believe. We mostly know if we choose to inflict pain on ourselves or others by actions. So why do you believe so firmly that we have no free will as normally defined?

Grey
2012-Apr-13, 01:22 PM
No... I think that punishment/incarceration is necessary and should be used when the laws that society makes are broken... but I don't have beliefs that free will exists... so I don't think anybody ever deserves punishment.So, even if someone accepts your position, is there any point? Mostly, it seems like it ends up a sad philosophical commentary on the world we live in: we have to punish people (indeed, we have no real choice in the matter, since the decisions of society as a whole are no more free than those of the individuals that comprise it). However, even though that's necessary, they don't really deserve it. And? Is that it? Is there any action you suggest we should take, or should we all just be a little more sad that we don't live in a better world?

HenrikOlsen
2012-Apr-13, 03:20 PM
Here is a slightly new argument for P Timmy. The evidence against free will today comes from neurological experiments which are necessarily very restricted such as "decide to move your finger". The results show a subconscious spike before consciousness registers it. This is not in itself evidence agin free will as discussed in your thread because the simple fact of the delay does not mean the decision process has not taken place.
Doesn't that actually rather suggest that choice is an illusion tacked on after the decision's already made to give ourselves the impression that a conscious decision process is happening?

The sequence to start moving a limb has this delay but what of the whole experience of introspection, weighing up outcomes, solving puzzles both simple and complex? <snip>
It's easy to show that introspection is a very poor indicator of how the brain works

P Timmy
2012-Apr-14, 01:05 AM
The evidence against free will today comes from neurological experiments which are necessarily very restricted such as "decide to move your finger". The results show a subconscious spike before consciousness registers it. This is not in itself evidence agin free will as discussed in your thread because the simple fact of the delay does not mean the decision process has not taken place. The sequence to start moving a limb has this delay but what of the whole experience of introspection, weighing up outcomes, solving puzzles both simple and complex? There is absolutely no evidence that these processes in our brains are not "free" for us to make even given that we all have an ever changing pattern of hundreds of billions of neurons and their mutiple interactions. The way conscious part of brain deals with this even given delays does not invalidate the impression that we have freewill as most people firmly believe. We mostly know if we choose to inflict pain on ourselves or others by actions. So why do you believe so firmly that we have no free will as normally defined?

Those are interesting experiments... and as firm as it may be in peoples minds... free will is nothing more than a belief... and with the scientific method... how things work can be determined... but science is not in the business of invalidating personal beliefs.

Lots of people claim there's such a thing as free will... and lots of people also claim there's such a thing as a personal savior-God... both might exist... but until verifiable evidence is produced for the existence of such things I'll remain a skeptic.

Through the process of cause and effect... memory and inputs from our senses are continuously analyzed by the brain producing a continuous stream of output... and unless this chain of cause and effect can be broken by a non-random uncaused influence... then free will can not exist... but the illusion of free choice lives on.

And of course QM is not helpful to the believers arguing for the existence of free-will ... since QM only adds a randomness to the mix.

Do you believe that the human brain is anything more than a biological machine?


So, even if someone accepts your position, is there any point?
Mostly, it seems like it ends up a sad philosophical commentary on the world we live in: we have to punish people (indeed, we have no real choice in the matter, since the decisions of society as a whole are no more free than those of the individuals that comprise it). However, even though that's necessary, they don't really deserve it. And? Is that it? Is there any action you suggest we should take, or should we all just be a little more sad that we don't live in a better world?

Understanding that no one deserves punishment could lead to a less hateful... more compassionate society... but I think the initial resistance from those who feel saddened by the idea of free will being an illusion... are not only frightened that their world view might be wrong... I think some of their strong emotion comes from the realization of how much time an energy they have wasted on unnecessary hate anger and vengeance... etc.

AstroRockHunter
2012-Apr-14, 01:46 AM
P Timmy

Would the act of murder of a complete stranger be an exercise of free will?

SeanF
2012-Apr-14, 02:27 AM
Understanding that no one deserves punishment could lead to a less hateful... more compassionate society... but I think the initial resistance from those who feel saddened by the idea of free will being an illusion... are not only frightened that their world view might be wrong... I think some of their strong emotion comes from the realization of how much time an energy they have wasted on unnecessary hate anger and vengeance... etc.
First, if people have no free will, then "understanding" something can not lead one to change how "hateful" they are.

Second, if people have no free will, then a "realization" can not cause a "strong emotion."

You claim you don't believe in free will, yet you speak as if you expect people to exercise it.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-14, 04:40 AM
So you think wrongdoers should be punished even though you don't think they deserve it?


Good question... and hopefully... to be more clear than I might have been in the past... I think that at our current point in evolution... the use of punishment/incarceration is necessary for the betterment of society... but I don't think anybody ever deserves punishment.



Since you've been such a stickler for defining terms, how about stating your definition of deserve


"Deserve" requires that behavior is freely chosen.



because I see it defined as a value assessment and judgment determined by circumstances, not as an absolute declaration predicated upon a concept like free will.


I don't see evidence that any behavior is freely chosen... so punishment is never deserved.



I do recognize that severity of punishment can be mitigated by the extent of choice the wrongdoer was able to exercise. That issue is addressed in courts frequently,


That the extent of choice a wrongdoer exercised could be recognized... is the height of arrogance that only a God could rightly take credit for... and just like free will... I also don't have beliefs in Gods.



...but the blanket statement that no punishment is deserved because there is no absolute free will makes no sense to me in any practical manner.

See if this extreme example helps to put it into perspective:::
Would a car deserve punishment if it didn't start when you turned the key? Of course not... and as annoying as it might be... a newborn baby wouldn't deserve punishment for crying loudly... neither have absolute free will and neither can deserve punishment.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-14, 06:06 AM
First, if people have no free will, then "understanding" something can not lead one to change how "hateful" they are.
Second, if people have no free will, then a "realization" can not cause a "strong emotion."
You claim you don't believe in free will, yet you speak as if you expect people to exercise it.

I don't know why you think that but I'm sure there's a reason for it :)... and the fact is... the way one behaves is because of influence... not in spite of influence... and speaking for myself... I haven't thought I've had free-will for over 40 years... but since I don't know what the future holds any more than believers in free will... that's what allows me to live my life as if I do have free will... and always realizing that free will is an illusion allows me to be more tolerant of other peoples actions--which has worked out well for me... it's like having my cake and eating it too... and whether the behavior is good or bad... the only thing I expect from other people is that they behave the only way they can... like the biological machines they are.

Solfe
2012-Apr-14, 06:55 AM
What are the parameters of punishment? What are the responsibilities of the accused?

About 90% of the time, my children have no idea they are outside the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. I give them a reason once and the next time, the "punishment comes".

If it is something really complex, then sometimes I have to give the reason several times before they get the concept of what is wrong and why, all of that explaining is actually the punishment. Once they understand, then there can be punishment for "real". Very often I don't have to work up to "real" punishment because an arched eye brow, finger pointing or a "why don't we do that" speech are all that is needed. Embarrassment and boredom works wonders on children.

I just don't see how the world could be functional without measured responses.

The main thing to understand about punishment is that the punished must understand why and the response must be measured. Sometimes the punishment isn't really required at all, sometime a reminder is necessary... with children anyway.

With criminality on the other hand, we sort of assume that everyone "gets it" as far as right or wrong goes. You can skip right to the punishment when the situation warrants it. I generally disagree with most forms of punishment that are more painful or restrictive than humiliating. Pain and restrictiveness are too easily shrugged off, but humiliation drives us all.

Think about it. Why don't you speed? Because an officer will pull you over, slow you down, waste your time, with with bells, whistles and sirens that say "See? This is a BAD person here." Having to go to court is even more humiliating because its a cattle call of dumb people (who you now count yourself as member) who all seem to be intent on wasting even more of your time. Paying the ticket or getting off scott free is just one further humiliating insult no matter what happens.

And it works. Rigging up a mine or a flamethrower to a radar gun is paradoxically, much less effective even though those both are easier to do. Avoidance is good, perfect avoidance causes traffic jams. It is easier to accept that most of the time it is desirable to have poorly thinking people at the controls of cars than horribly frightened people.

On the other hand, if they hung up a sign that said "each # mph over the limit is X dollars" I would speed all the time. It would be come a valid option, because I would only go as fast as I had money to sped and as a bonus, I only have to pay on the times I was caught. Speeding would be thrill, a privilege or duty to fund the state.

(Yes, I am aware that I am Neutral Evil at best.)

Luckmeister
2012-Apr-14, 07:15 AM
See if this extreme example helps to put it into perspective:::
Would a car deserve punishment if it didn't start when you turned the key? Of course not... and as annoying as it might be... a newborn baby wouldn't deserve punishment for crying loudly... neither have absolute free will and neither can deserve punishment.

Yeah, that's an extreme example -- too extreme to be useful in this discussion.

The choices we make are the product of genetic predisposition, memory and current environment through our physical senses. They may seem out of our hands to you but to me they are not. Our predisposition of choices can be strong but also can be overridden through contemplation or immediate needs.

Yes, we make some choices based on influence from other people but we have the ability to weigh the importance of those influences. Even the mood we're in on a given day can heavily influence our decisions and behavior.


Do you believe that the human brain is anything more than a biological machine?

Of course we're a biological machine -- so what? We're a very complicated one and part of the complication is the variety of choices we can make on a variety of inputs.

You have attempted to simplify human behavior to a concept that I feel has no applicability.

swampyankee
2012-Apr-14, 11:47 AM
Since I believe in free will and individual responsibility, I think that punishment can be justified, but not always. That "always" bit is where the trouble lies, as, there are people who are incapable of being fully responsible for their behavior: children, people with mental illness, etc., and these people should not be punished* in the same way as fully competent adults. There are also punishments which are unacceptable: I don't believe in capital punishment, so I do not believe "punishing" somebody by killing them can be deserved. There are also some rather blatant cases of selective enforcement, which, in my opinion, makes any enforcement immoral.

On a much more personal level, certain behaviors deserve punishment: violations of primary or secondary school rules** can be punished by detentions or moderately more severe sanctions, violations of work place rules can be violated by discharge, violations of my household rules can be punished by speaking sternly, etc. Going much farther than that starts crossing the line into vigilantism which is, of course, a crime.


-------------

* Occasionally (too often, in my opinion) children in the US are tried and convicted in adult court, frequently on murder charges, and some even sentenced to life in prison. I vaguely remember this being done to a child of about 12. If this happened, the punishment was a crime.

** I've recently begun teaching in Connecticut public and private schools. While most schools are rational about rules such as dress codes applying outside of school (which includes school-sponsored events), some aren't, and will claim the right to enforce all school rules at any time and any place, not just at school, while school is in session. In other words, they could, if they wanted, punish a student who is wearing a bathing suit at the beach for a dress code violation.

Solfe
2012-Apr-14, 01:45 PM
Since I believe in free will and individual responsibility, I think that punishment can be justified, but not always. That "always" bit is where the trouble lies, as, there are people who are incapable of being fully responsible for their behavior: children, people with mental illness, etc., and these people should not be punished...

I totally agree with the first part. "Always" is far too strong and sort of destroys the purpose of juries, judges and self re-cognisance.

On the other hand, I disagree not punishing children and the mentally ill. They can be punished to the degree or extent that they understand -- and this may look like no punishment it all to Joe Average. Recrimination, investigation and intervention to child or a mentally ill person may be a horrible punishment all on its own.

I think that punishing children and the mentally ill should look nothing at all like punishment given to average adults. I would rather take the risk that someone is not able to be rehabilitated than assume that they can't. Intervention is no picnic, it is a form of punishment in my book. It certainly isn't enjoyable.

I also think that many times people jump to the extremes too quickly. Maximum sentences should be reserved for the extrodinary cases. Too many people are chucked into prison for durations that are far too long. I am not saying that some people don't deserve to be locked up forever, I just think that people jump to those extremes far too fast.

swampyankee
2012-Apr-14, 11:31 PM
I totally agree with the first part. "Always" is far too strong and sort of destroys the purpose of juries, judges and self re-cognisance.

On the other hand, I disagree not punishing children and the mentally ill. They can be punished to the degree or extent that they understand -- and this may look like no punishment it all to Joe Average. Recrimination, investigation and intervention to child or a mentally ill person may be a horrible punishment all on its own.

I think that punishing children and the mentally ill should look nothing at all like punishment given to average adults. I would rather take the risk that someone is not able to be rehabilitated than assume that they can't. Intervention is no picnic, it is a form of punishment in my book. It certainly isn't enjoyable.

I also think that many times people jump to the extremes too quickly. Maximum sentences should be reserved for the extrodinary cases. Too many people are chucked into prison for durations that are far too long. I am not saying that some people don't deserve to be locked up forever, I just think that people jump to those extremes far too fast.

I've been listening to what passes for a debate about penal policy in the US, where "punishment" absolutely precludes any idea of rehabilitation for too long. Mentally ill people need medical treatment; they may consider it punishment while they are ill. Children who commit crimes may be mentally ill, in which case they should be treated, even if their parents think they shouldn't be; a recent trial in Connecticut shows what stupid (and I think criminally negligent and morally culpable) parents can permit to happen. (Google "Petit home invasion")

P Timmy
2012-Apr-15, 02:58 AM
P Timmy
Do you believe that the human brain is anything more than a biological machine?




Of course we're a biological machine -- so what? We're a very complicated one and part of the complication is the variety of choices we can make on a variety of inputs.


Do you think a very complicated non-biological machine could have free will?

P Timmy
2012-Apr-15, 03:41 AM
Perhaps for this to be well-defined i should add the specific definition of free will i'm using.

Given a complete description in terms of physical variables of the present state of some region of the universe centered on some agent, this agent has free will in the following case.

There is more than one possible complete description in terms of physical variables of the state of this region some infinitesimal time later, where "possible" means that it is allowed by the laws of physics, and this agent can change the probability distribution over the set of possible later states before it has materialized.


What would determine whether or not the agent changed the probability distribution?

Luckmeister
2012-Apr-15, 07:40 AM
Do you think a very complicated non-biological machine could have free will?

Since your OP is about human choices and punishment, which I have stated my views on, I consider that question off-topic and don't care to get into it. I'm done with this thread.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-15, 08:33 PM
The choices we make are the product of genetic predisposition, memory and current environment through our physical senses.


Those things you mentioned all lead up to the "choice"... they were part of an unbroken chain of cause and effect that stretches back before we were even born.



They may seem out of our hands to you but to me they are not. Our predisposition of choices can be strong but also can be overridden through contemplation or immediate needs.


I think the mistake is in thinking that the contemplation and immediate needs you speak of are somehow separate from the chain of cause and effect.



Yes, we make some choices based on influence from other people but we have the ability to weigh the importance of those influences. Even the mood we're in on a given day can heavily influence our decisions and behavior.


There's nothing free about the result which came from weighing those influences... the stronger influences always win out... directly leading to actions which are just more links in the chain of cause and effect.


Originally Posted by P Timmy
Do you believe that the human brain is anything more than a biological machine?




Of course we're a biological machine -- so what? We're a very complicated one and part of the complication is the variety of choices we can make on a variety of inputs.


All those inputs are the effects of previous causes... one leading to the other much like a row of dominoes where one is falling into the next... and so on and so on.


Originally Posted by P Timmy
Do you think a very complicated non-biological machine could have free will?




Since your OP is about human choices and punishment, which I have stated my views on, I consider that question off-topic and don't care to get into it. I'm done with this thread.


Thank you for your participation... but for any others who might agree that considering the possibility of a non-biological machine having free-will helps to put the point of this thread (Punishment can't be deserved without free will) into perspective... then I propose the questions below:::

If very complicated biological machines (humans) can have free will.... then why not a non-biological machine that's equally complicated... and if so... couldn't non-biological machines also deserve punishment?
Have you ever "abused/punished" a machine that didn't operate the way you wanted it to :) However... do non-biological machines have a choice in the way they operate... or are they bound by laws of physics?

What would be the difference in equally complicated biological and non-biological machines which would allow one to have free will and not the other?
Is there something about a human machine (pixie dust perhaps) which allows it to operate outside the physics of cause and effect... or does it operate by the same laws of physics that non-biological machines are bound by?

Until there's scientific evidence which supports the existence of pixie dust... I find it the logical position that free will is merely an illusion.

Solfe
2012-Apr-16, 01:24 AM
I would have to say, no machine that currently exists is remotely near the level of complexity so as to experience "punishment". However, I believe it may be possible to devise such a machine some day. If that machine has feedback form its environment, then punishment would a valid experience for it.

Most of my experience leans towards the idea that you would have software with the ability to use feedback and therefore could experience punishment long before you had a machine that could do the same.

As far as "proving free will" vs. "proving determinism", I don't see the strong connection. In fact, why couldn't you a strange world where everything indicates that freewill is ABSOLUTELY 100% not just probable but REQUIRED for existence in a world... and this world you live is actually 100% pre-determined so that you merely believe that you are free. You could of course have the exact opposite happen, too.

It simply boils down to a matter of perspective. Which world would you rather live in, free or not free? If you aren't free, then it doesn't matter what you believe. If you are free, assume you are and you will be; if you assume your not, then you will never be free.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-16, 03:38 AM
I would have to say, no machine that currently exists is remotely near the level of complexity so as to experience "punishment". However, I believe it may be possible to devise such a machine some day. If that machine has feedback form its environment, then punishment would a valid experience for it.


I think machines could one day be indistinguishable from humans... and just like humans... they also couldn't deserve punishment due to the nonexistence of free will... however... in dark corners throughout the universe some backward-thinking entities might still be beating their human-machines :)



As far as "proving free will" vs. "proving determinism", I don't see the strong connection.


To be clear... determinism... strict or otherwise... is not necessary for free will to be nothing more than an illusion.



In fact, why couldn't you a strange world where everything indicates that freewill is ABSOLUTELY 100% not just probable but REQUIRED for existence in a world... and this world you live is actually 100% pre-determined so that you merely believe that you are free. You could of course have the exact opposite happen, too.


That wouldn't be a problem for all knowing all powerful "God" to create.



It simply boils down to a matter of perspective. Which world would you rather live in, free or not free? If you aren't free, then it doesn't matter what you believe. If you are free, assume you are and you will be; if you assume your not, then you will never be free.

I'm wired to follow the evidence where ever it leads... not create or follow someone Else's feel-good beliefs where facts are of secondary importance.

Solfe
2012-Apr-16, 10:44 AM
To be clear... determinism... strict or otherwise... is not necessary for free will to be nothing more than an illusion.

That wouldn't be a problem for all knowing all powerful "God" to create.

I'm wired to follow the evidence where ever it leads... not create or follow someone Else's feel-good beliefs where facts are of secondary importance.

I was waiting for that penny to drop.

The last line, "...wired to follow..." would be non-existent in a deterministic world. The universe would be "wire to" convince a mass of matter and energy to behave in such a way that <insert action or belief here>. No-free will is equal to no intelligence, no sapience, no feeling, no proofs, no observation, etc., etc., etc.

Unless some mice are about to show up and say that Earth is vast supercomputer, I am not sure why you would want to perceive yourself as being a "participant" in a full deterministic world.

danscope
2012-Apr-16, 03:19 PM
Hi, Maybe Tim feels like the earth is just one big antfarm. But the problem is that there is a strong denial of the existance of the soul.
That is a concept that a computer can never understand, but people can..... and do.

Best regards,
Dan

P Timmy
2012-Apr-16, 06:21 PM
I was waiting for that penny to drop.


And since you picked it up... some superstitious people think you're guaranteed good luck all day... eh :)



...I am not sure why you would want to perceive yourself as being a "participant" in a full deterministic world.

I'm not sure that the world/universe is "full deterministic"... but in any case... how could one perceive things other than the way they do?


...the problem is that there is a strong denial of the existance of the soul.


Ah yes... the "soul"... and I don't... but most people believe they have one.
Do you believe that the soul is responsible for humans having free will?

Solfe
2012-Apr-16, 10:38 PM
I'm not sure that the world/universe is "full deterministic"... but in any case... how could one perceive things other than the way they do?

I am a joker not a philosopher, I would simply appeal to Occam's razor. "It seems that way therefore it is" is much simpler than contriving a way to not have something that appears self evident. That would be a step away from "invisible elves" being responsible for everything. (yeah, that's right, I stole it Van Rijn.)

I can give you an imaginative example of free will on multiple levels: I used to have a weekly meeting with my boss. To try and get out of it, I set up a phone in the next office to automatically dial his phone in the middle of the meeting. He would freak out and scream lovely things into the phone. One of the more amusing lines was "I can hear you!"; he could, of course, it was simply his own muffled voice. Some days our telephony system didn't work correctly and he would spend the meeting glancing nervously at the phone for the call that never came. Some days, this shouting was such a disruption that HIS boss would enter our meeting and ask him to "calm it down". My boss's boss was actually fully aware of what I was doing but never blew me in. It is kind of hard to imagine a deterministic world where I would have that much creativity or chutzpah to act "correctly" so as not to give myself away over a period of TWO YEARS. I would think deterministic universe would have no need for such antics nor would it need so many people to be aware and play along with my silliness.


Ah yes... the "soul"... and I don't... but most people believe they have one.
Do you believe that the soul is responsible for humans having free will?

Soul? Of course... Spirit, drive, mind, intelligence, motivation, would all equally qualify as "soul" if you like. I wouldn't say only humans have free will; that would mean lions would think that gun toting humans are just as yummy as sleeping humans.

AstroRockHunter
2012-Apr-16, 10:49 PM
P Timmy:

Are you going to answer any of the questions that I have asked in this thread?

caveman1917
2012-Apr-16, 11:56 PM
What would determine whether or not the agent changed the probability distribution?

Good question to which i don't know the answer.

DoggerDan
2012-Apr-17, 02:04 AM
I am a joker not a philosopher, I would simply appeal to Occam's razor. "It seems that way therefore it is" is much simpler than contriving a way to not have something that appears self evident.

I appreciate your appealing to Occam's razor. With that in mind, evolution has resulted in widespread punishment among mammals. Among felidae and canidae, for example, it usually involves parents gently (sometimes not so gently) biting wayward offspring. I'm pretty sure that tendency extends to humans, as I and other parents have noticed a tendency to gently bite our kids while rolling around with them on the floor if they get too rough, as in biting or pinching us.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-17, 04:55 AM
Solfe
...I would simply appeal to Occam's razor. "It seems that way therefore it is" is much simpler than contriving a way to not have something that appears self evident.


Except that... Occam's razor isn't about a simpler solution most likely being the correct solution... and the contriving is being done by the ones claiming that there is such a thing as free will... with zero verifiable evidence to support that claim.


Originally Posted by P Timmy
Do you believe that the soul is responsible for humans having free will?




Soul? Of course...


To be clear... is this a "God-given" soul you're referring to?

Van Rijn
2012-Apr-17, 07:03 AM
Except that... Occam's razor isn't about a simpler solution most likely being the correct solution... and the contriving is being done by the ones claiming that there is such a thing as free will... with zero verifiable evidence to support that claim.


What is your definition of "free will" and how would you test it? What would you consider to be evidence supporting it?

HenrikOlsen
2012-Apr-17, 10:29 AM
Hi, Maybe Tim feels like the earth is just one big antfarm. But the problem is that there is a strong denial of the existance of the soul.
That is a concept that a computer can never understand, but people can..... and do.

Best regards,
Dan
What is this "soul" you're talking about?
Please define, preferably using sources less than 1000 years old.

Solfe
2012-Apr-17, 11:35 AM
Soul = motive force, distinct from the body. Also know as intelligence, will and drive.
Known examples of persons in possession of: Mojo Nixon, HenrikOlsen, Micheal j Fox (Present) and Elvis.
Known Counter examples: Justin Bieber, Michael J Fox circa 1991.

Source --- Some Joker on the "Internet: the source of all Google and grammar."

NEOWatcher
2012-Apr-17, 12:05 PM
To be clear... is this a "God-given" soul you're referring to?
Why do you need "God" in the context of "soul"? Solfe's definition shows that there is no religious aspects in the concept of "soul".

Soul = motive force, distinct from the body. Also know as intelligence, will and drive.
Known examples of persons in possession of: Mojo Nixon, HenrikOlsen, Micheal j Fox (Present) and Elvis.
Known Counter examples: Justin Bieber, Michael J Fox circa 1991.
I'm not sure what MJF did in '91, but it could have been because that's when he got his diagnosis which could have messed with his soul.



What is your definition of "free will" and how would you test it? What would you consider to be evidence supporting it?
Ditto.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-17, 12:28 PM
What is your definition of "free will" and how would you test it? What would you consider to be evidence supporting it?

Free will is choice which is uninfluenced (and non-random).

Evidence for such a thing would be... a choice demonstrated to be non-random and free of influence... and a test to demonstrate this would be up to the one making the claim that there is such a thing as free will.

HenrikOlsen
2012-Apr-17, 12:36 PM
Soul = motive force, distinct from the body. Also know as intelligence, will and drive.
Known examples of persons in possession of: Mojo Nixon, HenrikOlsen, Micheal j Fox (Present) and Elvis.
Known Counter examples: Justin Bieber, Michael J Fox circa 1991.

Source --- Some Joker on the "Internet: the source of all Google and grammar."
Do you have anything to substantiate the claim that "souls" are distinct from the body?
Apart from defining them to be, in which case the question becomes "do you have anything to substantiate their existence?"

P Timmy
2012-Apr-17, 01:02 PM
Originally Posted by P Timmy
Do you believe that the soul is responsible for humans having free will?



Solfe
Soul? Of course...



P Timmy
To be clear... is this a "God-given" soul you're referring to?



Soul = motive force, distinct from the body.


Is this "soul" (motive force, distinct from the body) influenced by things which are separate from it?
Is this "soul" the only influence which causes the body to behave the way it does?


NEOWatcher
Why do you need "God" in the context of "soul"? Solfe's definition shows that there is no religious aspects in the concept of "soul".

I don't... and I don't know what you claim to know about Solfe's definition of "soul"... I only need to understand "soul" in the context Solfe's talking about... from her.

NEOWatcher
2012-Apr-17, 03:55 PM
I don't...
You were the one who mentioned "god", so if you don't need it in that context, then please explain why you asked it in that context?


and I don't know what you claim to know about Solfe's definition of "soul"... I only need to understand "soul" in the context Solfe's talking about... from her.
What am I claiming? I agree with the definition, what's there to claim?

SeanF
2012-Apr-17, 07:23 PM
Free will is choice which is uninfluenced (and non-random).

Evidence for such a thing would be... a choice demonstrated to be non-random and free of influence... and a test to demonstrate this would be up to the one making the claim that there is such a thing as free will.
Well, I don't think that's right, but I'll take your word for it.

Since I am one of those making the claim that there is such a thing as free will, I will devise the test.

If I have free will, I will choose to end this post without a closing period on the last sentence.

There we are

profloater
2012-Apr-17, 07:30 PM
Since you cannot even prove you are conscious to anybody else, proving free will will be tricky; it's an unknowable. We have to make do with Descartes.

To discuss unknowables you have to start by recognising the existence of unknowables in your reality model. If you think you know something concrete as a starting point you have not yet got it.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-17, 08:23 PM
Since I am one of those making the claim that there is such a thing as free will, I will devise the test.

If I have free will, I will choose to end this post without a closing period on the last sentence.

There we are

What's your definition of free will?

P Timmy
2012-Apr-17, 08:34 PM
You were the one who mentioned "god", so if you don't need it in that context, then please explain why you asked it in that context?
What am I claiming? I agree with the definition, what's there to claim?

I'm trying to find out what Solfe thinks a soul is... and I think it better that she answers for herself.

Solfe
2012-Apr-17, 09:07 PM
Do you have anything to substantiate the claim that "souls" are distinct from the body?
Apart from defining them to be, in which case the question becomes "do you have anything to substantiate their existence?"

I can provide no proof, however I can devise an experiment that may lead some people to consider further reflection on the "motivating force" in people (whatever you chose to call it).

Go to a local coffee shop with a friend and order two drinks in paper cups with lids so you cannot see the contents. Do not use the insulating sleeve if offered. Order one coffee black and one cup of ice water. Pay for them and ask your friend to pick up both cups.

If the coffee is hot enough and the ice water cold enough, he will drop both of them because his body can't sort out the two intensities and which hand is holding what. That is the body working. The "motive force thingy" is the thing that makes your friend refuse to go out for coffee with you again. It might even have some choice words for you. This is not the body working, but the motivating force that resides inside. :)

Solfe
2012-Apr-17, 09:13 PM
I'm trying to find out what Solfe thinks a soul is... and I think it better that she answers for herself.

"Himself." "Solfe" was the name of my second character in an RPG. The reason for the ambiguous name is players were more likely to interact and invite women to join war-parties. When a male with an ambiguous name showed up, they were kind of stuck for it. I'd ask to change it but I've been using since 1992.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-17, 09:24 PM
"Himself."

Ok... thanks.


Originally Posted by Solfe
Soul = motive force, distinct from the body.


I'd like to know how the soul you speak of operates.

Is this "soul" (motive force, distinct from the body) influenced by things which are separate from it?
Is this "soul" the only influence which causes the body to behave the way it does?

SeanF
2012-Apr-17, 09:24 PM
What's your definition of free will?
You've already defined it. We'll use your definition.

danscope
2012-Apr-18, 12:07 AM
Hi Henrick, Some feel that "we don't need no soul. We don't need no steeenkin soul ". Is it perhaps a defining effervescent intangible from the twilight zone
which separates us from the ants? For those who lack definition, they have lost nothing.
For those who enjoy the exaulted state of the human condition, they shall retain everything for always. And the material reality? Shrug.....

Best regards,
Dan

P Timmy
2012-Apr-18, 01:50 AM
Free will is choice which is uninfluenced (and non-random).

Evidence for such a thing would be... a choice demonstrated to be non-random and free of influence... and a test to demonstrate this would be up to the one making the claim that there is such a thing as free will.



Since I am one of those making the claim that there is such a thing as free will, I will devise the test.

If I have free will, I will choose to end this post without a closing period on the last sentence.

There we are

What's the evidence which demonstrates that your choice was free of influence?

SeanF
2012-Apr-18, 02:23 AM
What's the evidence which demonstrates that your choice was free of influence?
The fact that you can't say, "Your choice was influenced by x."

One of our more prolific posters on this board, Van Rijn, has a signature that reads, "I say there is an invisible elf in my backyard. How do you prove that I am wrong?" Think about it.

Non-existence cannot be proven, it can only be disproven. If you can disprove the non-existence of influence on my choice, then do so. Tell us what influenced my choice, and how you know that it influenced my choice. If you can't do that, then admit that there's no reason to presume my choice was influenced.

Van Rijn
2012-Apr-18, 03:42 AM
Free will is choice which is uninfluenced (and non-random).


Why would influence preclude free will?



Evidence for such a thing would be... a choice demonstrated to be non-random and free of influence...


So does that mean you wouldn't even consider the possibility of free will outside of a sensory deprivation tank?

HenrikOlsen
2012-Apr-18, 08:25 AM
Hi Henrick, Some feel that "we don't need no soul. We don't need no steeenkin soul ". Is it perhaps a defining effervescent intangible from the twilight zone
which separates us from the ants? For those who lack definition, they have lost nothing.
For those who enjoy the exaulted state of the human condition, they shall retain everything for always. And the material reality? Shrug.....

Best regards,
Dan
OK, so the soul is the magical thingie that makes humans unique. Check. Feel free to imagine you have one of those., don't expect me to believe your claim.

This has now degenerated into that type of philosophical discussion where no results can be gotten because people insist on arguing based on vaguely defined imaginary concepts.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-18, 01:51 PM
Originally Posted by P Timmy
Free will is choice which is uninfluenced (and non-random).

Evidence for such a thing would be... a choice demonstrated to be non-random and free of influence... and a test to demonstrate this would be up to the one making the claim that there is such a thing as free will.


Originally Posted by SeanF
Since I am one of those making the claim that there is such a thing as free will, I will devise the test.

If I have free will, I will choose to end this post without a closing period on the last sentence.

There we are


What's the evidence which demonstrates that your choice was free of influence?


The fact that you can't say, "Your choice was influenced by x."

Non-existence cannot be proven, it can only be disproven. If you can disprove the non-existence of influence on my choice, then do so. Tell us what influenced my choice, and how you know that it influenced my choice. If you can't do that, then admit that there's no reason to presume my choice was influenced.

You accepted the challenge of devising a test which would demonstrate that a choice can be non-random and free of influence... an failed. That you found it impossible to show that choice is free... demonstrates the futility in producing evidence for unsubstantiated beliefs.

SeanF
2012-Apr-18, 03:11 PM
You accepted the challenge of devising a test which would demonstrate that a choice can be non-random and free of influence... an failed. That you found it impossible to show that choice is free... demonstrates the futility in producing evidence for unsubstantiated beliefs.
Unsubstantiated, like your belief that my choice was influenced?

I did not fail. I submit that I demonstrated a free-of-influence choice. You can claim it was influenced, but if you can't even identify what any of the supposed influences were, your claim is not very convincing.

Your influences and Van Rijn's invisible elf are one and the same.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-18, 03:15 PM
Originally Posted by P Timmy
Free will is choice which is uninfluenced (and non-random).



Why would influence preclude free will?

I think post #163 answers that.


P Timmy
Evidence for such a thing would be... a choice demonstrated to be non-random and free of influence...



So does that mean you wouldn't even consider the possibility of free will outside of a sensory deprivation tank?

I think the illusion of free will arises from memory and sensory input being analyzed by the brain... but influence is much more than just input from our senses.

Our genetic makeup... and the environment in which were conceived and later born into are conditions we had no choice in... and yet... those influences largely determine who we will be throughout our life.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-18, 04:04 PM
Originally Posted by P Timmy
You accepted the challenge of devising a test which would demonstrate that a choice can be non-random and free of influence... an failed. That you found it impossible to show that choice is free... demonstrates the futility in producing evidence for unsubstantiated beliefs.




Unsubstantiated, like your belief that my choice was influenced?


I don't know if your choice was influenced or not... it may have been random.



I did not fail.

I submit that I demonstrated a free-of-influence choice. You can claim it was influenced, but if you can't even identify what any of the supposed influences were, your claim is not very convincing.


Influence is influence... and whatever the specific influence may have been is irrelevant.
I don't know if your choice was influenced or not... it may have been random (as the definition you agreed to accounts for)... but whether your choice was influenced OR random... failure is the outcome of your attempt to produce evidence that there is such a thing as free will.

NEOWatcher
2012-Apr-18, 04:34 PM
Using all the same logic I see in this thread... I now say there is no such thing as "North".
Since the universe started as a singularity and noone was there to understand orientation... then directions don't exist.

AstroRockHunter
2012-Apr-18, 04:36 PM
I don't know if your choice was influenced or not... it may have been random.



Influence is influence... and whatever the specific influence may have been is irrelevant.
I don't know if your choice was influenced or not... it may have been random (as the definition you agreed to accounts for)... but whether your choice was influenced OR random... failure is the outcome of your attempt to produce evidence that there is such a thing as free will.

And yet you refuse to accept that the scenario that I proposed in post #151 demonstrates free will.

SeanF
2012-Apr-18, 06:18 PM
Influence is influence... and whatever the specific influence may have been is irrelevant.
I don't know if your choice was influenced or not... it may have been random (as the definition you agreed to accounts for)... but whether your choice was influenced OR random... failure is the outcome of your attempt to produce evidence that there is such a thing as free will.
So, just to make sure I understand you correctly - in order to demonstrate free will to your satisfaction, one would have to demonstrate a choice and then they would have to prove that the choice was not influenced, rather than you demonstrating that it was. In other words, you want someone to prove a negative.

You presume that the choice was influenced until someone proves it wasn't.

You presume that Van Rijn's invisible elf exists until somebody proves it doesn't.

SkepticJ
2012-Apr-18, 07:48 PM
How could someone prove they weren't influenced, anyway?

Behavioral determinism isn't falsifiable, therefore it's outside the realm of scientific explanations and is an inhabitant of the Land of Bull Crap. Proponents of it can always claim that everything that makes up your psyche wouldn't let you choose differently than you did.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-18, 08:30 PM
Originally Posted by P Timmy
Influence is influence... and whatever the specific influence may have been is irrelevant.
I don't know if your choice was influenced or not... it may have been random (as the definition you agreed to accounts for)... but whether your choice was influenced OR random... failure is the outcome of your attempt to produce evidence that there is such a thing as free will.


SeanF
So, just to make sure I understand you correctly - in order to demonstrate free will to your satisfaction, one would have to demonstrate a choice and then they would have to prove that the choice was not influenced,


I required no proof from you and you gave none... I took your word that your choice was uninfluenced.
You chose to use my definition of free will... and based on my criteria... you chose to take on the challenge of devising a test that would provide evidence for their being such a thing as free-will... and failed.


SeanF
...rather than you demonstrating that it was. In other words, you want someone to prove a negative.
You presume that the choice was influenced until someone proves it wasn't.


It's my presumption that choice is either influenced or random.

If you had said... "Of course my choice was influenced... and the immediate cause and effect chain of events that lead me to this point began when I first noticed the 'Punishment' thread"... then the punishment would be over :)



You presume that Van Rijn's invisible elf exists until somebody proves it doesn't.


Well let me say this about that... I have a pink elephant living in my shirt pocket... and not that I think you'd get the job done... but since you're the only one I know of who's taken on the challenge of providing evidence for an unsubstantiated belief... I'd like to hire you to plead the case for the existence of my pink elephant... and based on the result of your efforts... I promise to pay you exactly what you're worth :)

P Timmy
2012-Apr-18, 08:49 PM
How could someone prove they weren't influenced, anyway?

Proof of anything is hard to come by... but how about you... do you think that influence can be at least part of the reason that one chooses "A" instead of "B"?



Behavioral determinism isn't falsifiable, therefore it's outside the realm of scientific explanations and is an inhabitant of the Land of Bull Crap. Proponents of it can always claim that everything that makes up your psyche wouldn't let you choose differently than you did.

Is cause and effect within the scientific realm?
Do you believe that the human brain is anything other than biological?
Do you agree that a human is nothing more than a biological machine?

SeanF
2012-Apr-18, 09:09 PM
I required no proof from you and you gave none... I took your word that your choice was uninfluenced.
You chose to use my definition of free will... and based on my criteria... you chose to take on the challenge of devising a test that would provide evidence for their being such a thing as free-will... and failed.
If my choice was uninfluenced, then it was free will. How, therefore, is it a failure?


I have a pink elephant living in my shirt pocket... and not that I think you'd get the job done... but since you're the only one I know of who's taken on the challenge of providing evidence for an unsubstantiated belief... I'd like to hire you to plead the case for the existence of my pink elephant... and based on the result of your efforts... I promise to pay you exactly what you're worth :)
I have not "taken on the challenge of providing evidence for an unsubstantiated belief." It is you who are claiming an unsubstantiated belief as truth, the only challenge I've taken is to try to get you to realize that.

I do believe I'm not up to the task, though.

grapes
2012-Apr-18, 10:48 PM
To wrench the discussion back to the direction initiated by the OP, I have to ask, let's say we grant you your premise that there is no free will, how're you going to convince those that do believe there is free will (through no fault of their own)? What kind of evidence that there is no free will, or even a convincing argument, can you give to them?

P Timmy
2012-Apr-18, 10:48 PM
I have not "taken on the challenge of providing evidence for an unsubstantiated belief." It is you who are claiming an unsubstantiated belief as truth, the only challenge I've taken is to try to get you to realize that.

I do believe I'm not up to the task, though.

Ha ha... good one :)



If my choice was uninfluenced, then it was free will. How, therefore, is it a failure?

Uninfluenced huh... so were there no reasons you chose to leave that period off the end of that sentence... and if so... was your choice random... in other words... was there no preceding thought about the action you took of leaving off the period?

SkepticJ
2012-Apr-18, 10:51 PM
Proof of anything is hard to come by... but how about you... do you think that influence can be at least part of the reason that one chooses "A" instead of "B"?

Most of the time, yeah.

Ever heard of The Imp of the Perverse?

I have absolutely no desire to shoot myself in the foot with a gun. But I could choose to do just that, just to show that I am capable of making a choice I know I won't like and that I don't have to do. How do you explain this, except that I have free will? Or I could go less extreme, and just bite my tongue--which I'm doing just as I write this. How do you explain this, me inflicting pain on myself when I get no masochistic pleasure out of it?


Is cause and effect within the scientific realm?
Do you believe that the human brain is anything other than biological?
Do you agree that a human is nothing more than a biological machine?

Sure, but the universe isn't Newtonian. Quantum Mechanics swept the notion of a purely deterministic universe into the incorrect meme dustbin.

I'm very much a philosophical materialist, but if you think that means believing the universe is some kind of clockwork mechanism where nothing unpredictable ever happens, then you have a not-even-wrong understanding of the philosophical position. There are desktop toys that display chaotic behavior. No computer, extant or hypothetical (say a computer the size of the universe) could tell you how that toy will move next. If something made from a few bits of metal and an electromagnet can display such a property, then what weirdness could a human spit out?

grapes
2012-Apr-18, 11:03 PM
I'm very much a philosophical materialist, but if you think that means believing the universe is some kind of clockwork mechanism where nothing unpredictable ever happens, then you have a not-even-wrong understanding of the philosophical position. There are desktop toys that display chaotic behavior. No computer, extant or hypothetical (say a computer the size of the universe) could tell you how that toy will move next. If something made from a few bits of metal and an electromagnet can display such a property, then what weirdness could a human spit out?Are you referring to mathematical chaos?

Mathematical chaos is deterministic. It's fairly easy to predict short-term chaotic behavior, it's the long term behavior that is difficult to compute.

Luckmeister
2012-Apr-19, 12:39 AM
P Timmy, I tried to refrain from any further posting but couldn't sit here biting my lip any longer (some influence made me start this post, but according to you I need claim no responsibility;)).

Free will -- shmee will! Please stop using that term as an absolute. I have some control over my actions.... right? How much control could be debated from now until the cows come home (if they have the will to come home:think:). Since I have no doubt that I do have some control, I also have some responsibility for my actions and some accountability which might deserve some level of punishment some of the time.

Now, parse that paragraph out into your world of absolutes. Or do you maintain that I have no control over any of my actions? If so, that is pure fatalism and IMO has no place for rational discussion on a science board. There are metaphysics and philosophy forums where you could run with your train of thought to your heart's content (or whatever has been predestined for you). I respectfully suggest that you may feel much more at home there.

Seriously, the black or white, all or nothing logic stance you have been taking has no place in the complicated world we exist in. We don't have either total free will nor are total slaves to a variety of influences. Everything in human existence involves shades of grey including personal choices, culpability and punishment. Why is that so hard for you to accept?

BTW, if you have no free will then how is it that seven pages of posts in disagreement with your ideas haven't influenced you out of them? Oh, you like your answers better? Be careful... that would sound like you're exercising free will. :naughty:

caveman1917
2012-Apr-19, 02:02 AM
This has now degenerated into that type of philosophical discussion where no results can be gotten because people insist on arguing based on vaguely defined imaginary concepts.

Sad but true. Too bad really, since i do enjoy these discussions, if only people would define their concepts.

Van Rijn
2012-Apr-19, 07:15 AM
I think post #163 answers that.


Ah. In post 163 I see this assertion about influences:



There's nothing free about the result which came from weighing those influences... the stronger influences always win out... directly leading to actions which are just more links in the chain of cause and effect.

I don't see where you've established this assertion nor do I see where you've shown that influence must preclude free will.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-19, 02:59 PM
To wrench the discussion back to the direction initiated by the OP, I have to ask, let's say we grant you your premise that there is no free will, how're you going to convince those that do believe there is free will (through no fault of their own)? What kind of evidence that there is no free will, or even a convincing argument, can you give to them?

Thanks... and to begin with... I challenge the claim that there's such a thing as free will (uninfluenced choice)... and based on my arguments I think mine is the logical position to take... but convincing others to change their beliefs about free will is not necessarily my goal... I simply think free will and how it applies to punishment is an interesting subject to discuss... and if my premise that free will is just an illusion is granted... do you then agree that punishment can never be deserved?

I think that humans are nothing more than biological machines... and just like non-biological machines... have no free will. If you agree that humans are nothing more than biological machines... but you think they have free will... then what is the difference that allows a biological machine to have free will but not a non-biological machine?

I think the universe works through the process of cause and effect... that each effect has a preceding cause... and that effect is the cause of the next effect... and so on and so on... in an unbroken chain of cause and effect which does not allow for such a thing as free will... and I see no evidence that the chain of cause and effect is ever broken by an "uninfluenced cause" (a cause that is not a link in the chain of cause and effect).

I think the universe is probably deterministic... but even if it isn't as some argue that QM implies... a randomness factor still wouldn't allow for "will" to be free.

Memory and inputs from our senses are continuously analyzed by the brain producing a continuous stream of output... and that output is perceived to be free will.

For example... if you're holding a heavy object and it falls from your hand toward your bare foot... it could be said that you have free choice to quickly move your foot out of the way... or not move your foot and let it be mashed from the falling object... but in reality you only have one course of action... the course of action which the brain analyzed (in accordance with cause and effect) to be the strongest influence based on memory and sensory input. In other words... the course of action with the strongest influence always wins out.

Unless this chain of cause and effect can be broken by a non-random... uncaused influence (an influence that isn't a part of the chain of cause and effect)... then free will is not possible but the illusion of free will persists.

Strange
2012-Apr-19, 03:11 PM
AI don't see where you've established this assertion nor do I see where you've shown that influence must preclude free will.

Easy: because he defines anything that is influenced as not being free. This is what makes this particular definition utterly meaningless.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-19, 04:27 PM
P Timmy
...do you think that influence can be at least part of the reason that one chooses "A" instead of "B"?



Skeptic
Most of the time, yeah.


OK... do you think "A" can be chosen instead of "B" in such a way that does not involve influence?


Skeptic
Ever heard of The Imp of the Perverse?


No but I looked it up:::
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Imp_of_the_Perverse

"The Imp of the Perverse is a metaphor for the tendency to do exactly the wrong thing in a given situation for the sole reason that it is possible for wrong to be done. The impulse is compared to an imp (a small demon) which leads an otherwise decent person into mischief."

From what I've heard about demons... they're so influential... they're leading most people straight to hell :)


Skeptic
I have absolutely no desire to shoot myself in the foot with a gun.


Good :)


Skeptic
But I could choose to do just that, just to show that I am capable of making a choice I know I won't like and that I don't have to do. How do you explain this, except that I have free will?


You could shoot your foot... but don't you agree that if you did... the influences that led you to that choice were stronger than any influences you might have had to not shoot your foot... in other words... the stronger influences won out?


Skeptic
Or I could go less extreme, and just bite my tongue--which I'm doing just as I write this. How do you explain this, me inflicting pain on myself when I get no masochistic pleasure out of it?


Same as above... the stronger influences won out.


Originally Posted by P Timmy
Is cause and effect within the scientific realm?



Skeptic
Sure, but the universe isn't Newtonian. Quantum Mechanics swept the notion of a purely deterministic universe into the incorrect meme dustbin.


How would a non-deterministic universe allow for free will?


P Timmy
Do you believe that the human brain is anything other than biological?
Do you agree that a human is nothing more than a biological machine?



Skeptic
I'm very much a philosophical materialist, but if you think that means believing the universe is some kind of clockwork mechanism where nothing unpredictable ever happens, then you have a not-even-wrong understanding of the philosophical position. There are desktop toys that display chaotic behavior. No computer, extant or hypothetical (say a computer the size of the universe) could tell you how that toy will move next. If something made from a few bits of metal and an electromagnet can display such a property, then what weirdness could a human spit out?


Would things being unpredictable allow for free will?

P Timmy
2012-Apr-19, 04:38 PM
...he defines anything that is influenced as not being free. This is what makes this particular definition utterly meaningless.

I think the notion of "will" being free even though it's influenced by things beyond our control is absurd.... and my definition points out that absurdity.

AstroRockHunter
2012-Apr-19, 04:51 PM
I do believe that P Timmy is equating "choice" with "decision". Therein lies his mistake.

NEOWatcher
2012-Apr-19, 06:16 PM
I think the notion of "will" being free even though it's influenced by things beyond our control is absurd.... and my definition points out that absurdity.
"Free will" is defined and it's definition is accepted. It does not match your definition. We reject your notion of "free will" based on that simple fact.
My source. Wiki on "Free Will" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_will).

Free will is the ability of agents to make choices free from certain kinds of constraints. The existence of free will and its exact nature and definition have long been debated in philosophy.
It's the constraints that you are arguing, and those arguments are in the realm of metephysical determination and are far from a common view.

Luckmeister
2012-Apr-19, 07:19 PM
P Timmy, you have continually asserted your (in my opinion flawed) conclusion that since we do not exhibit absolute, free of any influence, personal choices then no punishment is deserved and that humans would be a better-behaved, more moral species if punishment was eliminated and yet, when pressed on the subject, you conceded that some extent of punishment is necessary. Please explain how you reconcile those contradictory statements.

You have been repeatedly asked to give your definition of the term "deserved"; please address that.

You keep bringing up comparisons of human choice with AI, attempting to use AI to strengthen the case you are making regarding human choice. Please show how that conparison is relevant other than saying, "Humans don't have free will and machines don't have free will and we don't punish machines so we shouldn't punish humans." If you still think that simplistic logic is enough to make your case, then you haven't been paying attention to the points people have been making regarding the concept of free will.

I would like to see you offer some substantial basis to support your idea rather than a personal testimony that putting your idea into practice has improved your life and by using socratic logic common to a philosophy debate to make your points, which doesn't get you very far on a science board.

Please understand, I would love to see you show that your idea is valid and could be applicable to society in general but so far I don't feel you have begun to succeed in that.

SkepticJ
2012-Apr-20, 12:20 AM
OK... do you think "A" can be chosen instead of "B" in such a way that does not involve influence?

Sure.


You could shoot your foot... but don't you agree that if you did... the influences that led you to that choice were stronger than any influences you might have had to not shoot your foot... in other words... the stronger influences won out?

Same as above... the stronger influences won out.

Does this sound falsifiable, to you?


How would a non-deterministic universe allow for free will?

Would things being unpredictable allow for free will?

Are you serious, or just trolling?

Strange
2012-Apr-20, 08:38 AM
I think the notion of "will" being free even though it's influenced by things beyond our control is absurd.... and my definition points out that absurdity.

No. Your definition excludes any possibility of a choice being "free" and so is an example of begging the question. Your claim is also made unfalsifiable by the fact that when presented with an example of an uninfluenced choice you simply assert that the influence isn't known. So heads you win and tails we lose. Well done.

Van Rijn
2012-Apr-20, 08:42 AM
Easy: because he defines anything that is influenced as not being free.


Yes, it looks that way.

Van Rijn
2012-Apr-20, 08:54 AM
I think the notion of "will" being free even though it's influenced by things beyond our control is absurd....


You apparently consider it absurd because you are using the word "influence" in a way different than it is usually defined. You apparently are using it to mean something that dictates behavior, rather than something that can have some amount of effect on behavior. Since I do not equate "influence" with "dictated behavior," your argument makes no sense to me.

P Timmy
2012-Apr-20, 12:33 PM
Thanks to all who participated (including lurkers) but I think it's time to stick a fork in this thread :)

Click on the guess game link (below) and join the fun... a new clue will be added to the "Bag of Coins" guess game today.

AstroRockHunter
2012-Apr-20, 03:31 PM
Thanks to all who participated (including lurkers) but I think it's time to stick a fork in this thread :)

Click on the guess game link (below) and join the fun... a new clue will be added to the "Bag of Coins" guess game today.

So, what influenced you to choose to stop posting to this thread?

danscope
2012-Apr-22, 12:28 AM
Hi Henrick, Sorry to respond late, owing to my vacation on Cape Cod. I was polishing my soul and my golf game. Had a few good holes with my son-in-law.
We met many wonderful people who shared their day with us ... and a few laughs. Seldom do you see someone without a soul. They are like a boneless chicken.
They don't support themselves, so much as just slump in the corner.
Have a great day, Sir.

Best regards,
Dan

Van Rijn
2012-Apr-22, 06:42 AM
We met many wonderful people who shared their day with us ... and a few laughs. Seldom do you see someone without a soul. They are like a boneless chicken.
They don't support themselves, so much as just slump in the corner.


So the lack of soul causes osteomalacia? Does that mean that "soul" is vitamin D?

danscope
2012-Apr-22, 03:24 PM
Hi, I suspect that the soul will suffer without vitamin D . :)

Trakar
2012-Apr-22, 04:25 PM
So, how would crimes be dealt with? A good shunning? No, wait, that's a punishment too...

With rehabilitation and retraining?

Trakar
2012-Apr-22, 04:27 PM
Whether anyone deserves punishment is a separate issue from whether punishment should be used.

In many criminal systems, and other parts of life, punishment isn't used because someone deserves it, it's used in order to make the expected price for non-desired behavior high enough to discourage that behavior from happening.

Note "discourage", not "prevent". No matter how high it is, there will always be people for whom the price is low enough.

But this presumes that "fear of punishment" is present in the considerations of those who commit crimes.

Trakar
2012-Apr-22, 04:37 PM
What would you do with those who refuse to be "rehabilitated"? give them a "stern" talking to?

If they have committed a crime they have given up the right to "chose" their future. "Rehabilitation" doesn't have to be voluntary, though it seems it would be easier with cooperation.

Trakar
2012-Apr-22, 04:41 PM
What is "compassionate", or "less hateful" about not punishing those who "break the rules"??


Actually, now that I think about it....what you seem (ok, johansen? :)) to be advocating is the need for rules at all....if no one deserves punishment, all rules would become meaningless.

You only follow rules to avoid the punishments of breaking the rules?!
seriously!?

I mean I've heard of people who avoid sins because they are afraid of Hell, but I thought this manner of thinking a rare abberation, not something that was widespread applicable to most people in more practical terms.

swampyankee
2012-Apr-22, 04:41 PM
I'm not moderating!

I'm just trying to drag this vaguely back on track, by asking a question:

> Why is the presence or absence of a "soul" relevance to the question of punishment? Temporal authorities have no practical interest in how people's souls behave in the afterlife.

While religious belief will effect the opinions people have about punishment, especially capital punishment, the concern about the efficacy of punishment in controlling behavior is a concern of the temporal authorities. One of the behaviors the temporal authorities are trying to prevent is a cycle of personal vengeance and clan feud. Except for the most devoutly religious, the prospect of punishment in the afterlife would be insufficient to prevent the victim (or the victim's family) from taking vengeance. Without the temporal authorities succeeding (at least most of the time) in keeping vengeance and feud in line, society would quickly devolve into rule by local strong men. See, for example, much of the Medieval era.

Trakar
2012-Apr-22, 04:55 PM
To wrench the discussion back to the direction initiated by the OP, I have to ask, let's say we grant you your premise that there is no free will, how're you going to convince those that do believe there is free will (through no fault of their own)? What kind of evidence that there is no free will, or even a convincing argument, can you give to them?

If we focus on conscious free will which is what most would associate with contemplative decision making and thus subject to "punishment" considerations, there are studies such as these, which many researchers believe seem to indicate that the conscious decision making process is an illusion of after-the-fact rationalization, rather than the actual decision making process itself:

Neuroscience vs philosophy: Taking aim at free will -
http://www.nature.com/news/2011/110831/full/477023a.html

Trakar
2012-Apr-22, 05:02 PM
...Why is the presence or absence of a "soul" relevance to the question of punishment? Temporal authorities have no practical interest in how people's souls behave in the afterlife...

Speaking of which, it looks like I stumbled into the afterlife of this thread. I didn't realize that it was 6 pages long when I started responding, and as it all seems to have been thrashed out prior to my arrival, please feel free to let the dead RIP.

danscope
2012-Apr-22, 05:44 PM
The nature of the conscious individual that has been "brought up" , has subscribed to manners of behavior.
Under the parent's and teacher's eyes, that person grows as a human into a good product of society and, as such, will enjoy the privileges of that society as a function of his behavior. When he deviates from that norm, he soon runs into trouble, economicaly, socialy and in a sense...spiritualy, as he is forced into a reclusive environment . His mind will dwell
on his condition and contemplate the past, present and future, such as it is and will be. Society tries to remedy that
disturbed individual early on,so as to help him avoid that condition. For many reasons. It is in our own interest to have agreeable
individuals with reasonable behavior as opposed to those who would defy such society and "Game the system" as it were
like stealing for instance,instead of hard work.... to get what he needs or wants. We provide amply for those who
"choose" the bad path.
But that is simply just one form of punishment. Take the case of the artisan , who has invested much time and treasure into a work, only to make some terrible mistake and render that work unsatisfactory, if only in his own disciplined eyes. Ask any carpenter who worked a fine, long piece of finish wood , planed, sanded and formed to a specific billet, only to cut it short or wrong, or perhaps split it when fastening etc. It will cost him dearly in time and materials , along with his good attitude, which like the golfer who has made a poor shot, must summon his courage,
shake off his rage, compose himself and begin anew to fruition. Life is full of examples of risk, reward and
punishment of sorts, and we don't have to look far. Punishment is a grim teacher, and...depending on the individual,
a certain wraith who watches at arm's length for opportunity. The learned person knows this and works to defeat that
factor, ensuring success where others find failure. That shall be their reward, little by little, and day by day.
A good teacher makes sure to point out the pitfalls as well as the path to fruition. There can seldom be success without a knowledge of both and the discipline and courage to try, to work hard and, in the end, teach others as they have been taught. When we fail as techers, we beget those who fall, some farther than others.
Teach well and prosper,

Dan

SeanF
2012-Apr-23, 02:06 AM
But this presumes that "fear of punishment" is present in the considerations of those who commit crimes.
Well, it doesn't, actually, but let's say for the sake of argument that it does.

Why would you think that fear of punishment does not prevent people from committing crimes?

swampyankee
2012-Apr-23, 02:40 AM
Well, it doesn't, actually, but let's say for the sake of argument that it does.

Why would you think that fear of punishment does not prevent people from committing crimes?

My belief is that fear of punishment frequently doesn't work simply because most criminals are too stupid to parse the statement "if I do this, then I'll get punished." The first step of rehabilitation is to get the criminal to get that idea into their little pea-sized brain.

danscope
2012-Apr-23, 02:54 AM
The criminal thrives on the concept that he won't get caught, and even if he does, his lawyer will spring him and then he can bug out. His other self dominates his thoughts and he can always justify any wierd and lopsided idea with equally
lopsided pretzle logic. In short, he doesn't care.

HenrikOlsen
2012-Apr-23, 07:51 AM
This is actually a common mistake, punishment isn't there to prevent any and all crime from ever happening, it's just plain silly to expect that.

It's there to reduce crime by making some (not all, that would be absurd to expect) reconsider.

Criminals, who by definition already decided that the price was low enough to pay (or are unable to do the analysis or willing to make the gamble) do not invalidate this.


Note that no level of punishment or rehabilitation will make crime go away totally, it's an impossible goal and anyone promising to fulfill it is spewing bovine digestive products.

Swift
2012-Apr-23, 01:19 PM
My belief is that fear of punishment frequently doesn't work simply because most criminals are too stupid to parse the statement "if I do this, then I'll get punished." The first step of rehabilitation is to get the criminal to get that idea into their little pea-sized brain.
I believe there are studies that back-up the idea that fear of punishment does not prevent crimes. I'm too lazy to go a-googling.

A good chunk of crimes, particular of the assault and domestic violence type are crimes of passion, and so people aren't carefully thinking through the consequences before committing them.

Others are related to substance abuse, either to support such addictions, and/or crimes committed under the influence. Again, consequences don't often enter into the discussion.

I suspect that fear of punishment is only a factor with crimes that are carefully thought out before hand (and even then it becomes a risk/reward balance).

SeanF
2012-Apr-23, 03:43 PM
My belief is that fear of punishment frequently doesn't work simply because most criminals are too stupid to parse the statement "if I do this, then I'll get punished." The first step of rehabilitation is to get the criminal to get that idea into their little pea-sized brain.
Note that I didn't say "criminals," I said "people."

In order for the threat of punishment to work, there has to be people who don't commit crimes because of the threat of punishment. But in our society, you're going to find those people among those who have not committed crimes, not among those who have.

Luckmeister
2012-Apr-23, 10:03 PM
My belief is that fear of punishment frequently doesn't work simply because most criminals are too stupid to parse the statement "if I do this, then I'll get punished." The first step of rehabilitation is to get the criminal to get that idea into their little pea-sized brain.

Well, maybe selective stupidity. I knew a guy years ago who was a well-educated man with a high-tech job in the medical profession and had accomplished other things like a flight instructor level pilot's license, full ham radio licensing and groundbreaking work in computer game programming, all requiring a certain level of intellectual discipline.

But if he saw something he liked, he had no qualms about stealing it, if he thought he could get away with it. While he and I were at an electronics store, he shoplifted an item and then bragged to me about it. His "justification" was that everything is overpriced and the owners expect to lose a certain amount to stealing, so it was okay. He called me "paranoid" for strongly objecting to his actions.

That self-centered attitude showed up to some extent in all his social dealings and I finally had to put an end to our friendship because of it. It was an example that even with being intellectually bright, many with criminal tendencies justify in their minds not feeling guilt for actions others consider unacceptable.

danscope
2012-Apr-24, 12:36 AM
Yep, they got away with it once, ....or they "saw" someone else get away with it, and that concept is poison.
Like a strong acid, it eats slowly away at the subconcious ego , and ever after, that little devil is on his shoulder and it gets a little bigger on any particular day.
Character isn't just born. It is deliberately built and shaped as we live our lives and with the choices we make.
It remains for us to seek the light and avoid the dark side.

Trakar
2012-Apr-24, 07:27 PM
Well, it doesn't, actually, but let's say for the sake of argument that it does.

Why would you think that fear of punishment does not prevent people from committing crimes?

Most criminals do not seem to fear the potential consequences of their actions, nor for that matter do they seem to even consider such consequences. If fear of consequences was a valid deterrent we would have no need for prisons or executions, the fear of such potentialities would, in themselves, eliminate such behavior. They abnormally high incarceration and execution rate in the US argues strongly against punishment being an effective deterrent of criminal behavior.

Trakar
2012-Apr-24, 07:35 PM
My belief is that fear of punishment frequently doesn't work simply because most criminals are too stupid to parse the statement "if I do this, then I'll get punished." The first step of rehabilitation is to get the criminal to get that idea into their little pea-sized brain.

The root of the problem often goes to the other end of the spectrum. Sure there are criminals who simply "never learned any better." On average, however, criminals tend to be of at least marginally higher intelligence than the general population, and it isn't a matter of "I didn't know doing that was a crime," but rather, "I'm smarter than most of the people I know, so no one will figure out what I'm going to do, or successfully hold me to account for what I've done." Lot's of exceptions and qualifications to make in association with this, but there are few simple answers when it comes to human interactions.

Trakar
2012-Apr-24, 07:37 PM
The criminal thrives on the concept that he won't get caught, and even if he does, his lawyer will spring him and then he can bug out. His other self dominates his thoughts and he can always justify any wierd and lopsided idea with equally
lopsided pretzle logic. In short, he doesn't care.

Very much this in many cases, at least in what little I actually know and have researched about the topic.

Trakar
2012-Apr-24, 07:42 PM
This is actually a common mistake, punishment isn't there to prevent any and all crime from ever happening, it's just plain silly to expect that.

It's there to reduce crime by making some (not all, that would be absurd to expect) reconsider.

Criminals, who by definition already decided that the price was low enough to pay (or are unable to do the analysis or willing to make the gamble) do not invalidate this.


Note that no level of punishment or rehabilitation will make crime go away totally, it's an impossible goal and anyone promising to fulfill it is spewing bovine digestive products.

Then the issue is more, is punishment efficient and effective at deterrence. Are you proposing to make the case that punishment is the most effective and efficient means of deterring criminal behavior?

SeanF
2012-Apr-24, 08:18 PM
Most criminals do not seem to fear the potential consequences of their actions, nor for that matter do they seem to even consider such consequences.
I asked about "people", not "criminals". Unless you made this post before you read any of the follow-ups. :)


If fear of consequences was a valid deterrent we would have no need for prisons or executions, the fear of such potentialities would, in themselves, eliminate such behavior.
On the contrary. If fear of consequences is a valid deterrent, we would have a lesser (but not necessarily zero) need for prisons or executions. Lesser, that is, than we would have if we didn't have consequences. Prison clearly does not deter everybody, but that doesn't mean it deters nobody.


They abnormally high incarceration and execution rate in the US argues strongly against punishment being an effective deterrent of criminal behavior.
No, it doesn't it. It only argues against it being a perfect deterrent.

You're looking at the wrong thing. If you wanted to statistically determine whether incarceration deters robbery, you would look at societies which incarcerate robbers and societies which don't and compare their rates of robbery. The respective rates of of incarceration don't tell you anything about whether or not incarceration is a deterrent.

swampyankee
2012-Apr-28, 10:56 PM
They abnormally high incarceration and execution rate in the US argues strongly against punishment being an effective deterrent of criminal behavior.

I think it only argues for any mix of three things: one is that the US is treating punishment as the only possible solution, another is the there exist social conditions in the US which promote crime, and a third is that there are people who promote imprisonment regardless of its utility in reducing either crime or recidivism for political or economic gain. Personally, I think this third is the elephant in the room, witnessed by both private-enterprise prisons and by the use of prisoners by profit-making enterprises. There are social forces, mostly economic (and I won't mention the group I think is most guilty of exacerbating the cause), which aggravate US crime rates.

I would argue that the evidence is that there is some factor or group of factors in the US which is causing significantly higher crime rates (especially homicides) than the remainder of the first world.