RE: Ethics and free will

From: fudley (
Date: Sun Feb 06 2005 - 13:26:28 MST

On Sat, 5 Feb 2005 "Bantz, Michael S (UMC-Student)" Wrote:

> I totally disagree. In my experience, human beings
> have a great deal of power over the misery and joy
> of others. One of the reasons why capitalism, or
> even society in general, is benifical is because it
> creates a loop where "I scratch your back, you scratch mine."

About the only thing I could find to disagree with in the above is ďI
totally disagreeĒ.

> It sounds like you would like utilititarianism, as
> well as Kurt Vonnegut's "Sirens of Titan".

Yes I like them both.

> This is the common line of attack from determinists.

Iím no determinist, no educated man is, weíve known for 80 years that
some events have no cause, in other words they are random.

> free will is a different type of cause from typical,
> physical causation. With what I would "cognitive causation"
> minds are able to view different possible worlds,
> and select from them.

And if they selected that world for a reason then it is no different
then everyday vanilla cause and effect and if they didnít then itís no
different from everyday vanilla randomness.

> This is, in a way, the reverse of physical,
> historically-based causation.

Iíll be damned if I can find the tiniest particle of difference, in both
things happened for a reason.

> Cognitive causation, usually called reasons,
> are so different because they are goal-orientated.

So the reason I acted as I did was because of my goal. Ok fine, I have
no argument with that but itís no different from saying the compass
needle moved because of the magnetic field.

> my claim is that there are (at least) two,
> completely different types of causation.

Yes that is your claim, and forget ďcompletely differentĒ, if you can
demonstrate that they are even a little bit different then you will win
the argument. You canít.
> I think Elizier's articulation on the matter is well worth noting:
> "Free will" is a cognitive element representing the basic
> game-theoretical unit of moral responsibility. It has nothing
> whatsoever to do with determinism or quantum randomness.
> Free will doesn't actually exist in reality, but only in the
> sense that flowers don't actually exist in reality. "

Thatís not very useful now is it, Elizier usually does better. Put
simply the above says little except that people are responsible for
their actions. So what else is new? He then lists several things that
free will is not but never actually says what it is. I have no idea
where he was trying to go with the flowers bit but he didnít get there.

If you put a gun to my head and told me to give a definition of free
will Iíd say itís the inability to always predict oneís own actions even
in a predictable environment and even if quantum mechanics didnít exist
and we lived in Newtonian mechanical universe. By that definition we do
indeed have free will.
> I think that one of the reasons why the
> free-will vs. determinism is so recurrent
> because both sides tend to assume that the other is
> denying the imporatance of their type of causation.

I only know of one type of causation, an event happening for a reason.

On my own behalf, of my own free will, I consciously decide to go to a
Because I want to.
Why ?
Because I want to eat.
Because I'm hungry?
Why ?
Because lack of food triggered nerve impulses in my stomach, my brain
interpreted these signals as pain, I can only stand so much before I try
to stop it.

Because I don't like pain.
Because that's the way my brain is wired.
Because my body and the hardware of my brain were made from the
information in my genetic code (lets see, 6 billion base pairs 2 bits
per base pairs 8 bits per byte that comes out to about 1.5 geg, compress
it into a zip file and you could burn it onto a CD several times over).
The programming of my brain came from the environment, add a little
quantum randomness perhaps and

On my own behalf, of my own free will, I consciously decide to go to a

John K Clark


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