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Author Topic:   Do I have a choice? (determinism vs libertarianism vs compatibilism)
DominionSeraph
Member (Idle past 2858 days)
Posts: 365
From: on High
Joined: 01-26-2005


Message 196 of 210 (364978)
11-20-2006 6:02 PM
Reply to: Message 187 by nwr
11-15-2006 9:48 AM


nwr writes:

But how does that connect back to JavaMan's comment. You seemed to think you were refuting that comment.

He implied that it was improper to do such a thing by using it as his rationale for dismissal. By doing the same thing quite properly, I highlighted the hole.

nwr writes:

You are probably making some unstated assumption about cognition and software. But it isn't easy to follow unstated assumptions.

I never claimed to have your ease as a goal.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 187 by nwr, posted 11-15-2006 9:48 AM nwr has acknowledged this reply

Replies to this message:
 Message 197 by AdminOmni, posted 11-20-2006 6:25 PM DominionSeraph has responded

  
AdminOmni
Inactive Member


Message 197 of 210 (364986)
11-20-2006 6:25 PM
Reply to: Message 196 by DominionSeraph
11-20-2006 6:02 PM


DominionSeraph writes:

nwr writes:

You are probably making some unstated assumption about cognition and software. But it isn't easy to follow unstated assumptions.

I never claimed to have your ease as a goal.

But the clear communication of one's position and reasoning is a goal of this forum.

I can appreciate the fact that you find yourself enormously entertaining here, and previously, with your expressions of flippant contempt; it is self-evident.

It will only moderately entertain me to suspend you briefly if you continue in this vein.


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    Trust me.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 196 by DominionSeraph, posted 11-20-2006 6:02 PM DominionSeraph has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 199 by DominionSeraph, posted 11-20-2006 8:00 PM AdminOmni has responded

      
    DominionSeraph
    Member (Idle past 2858 days)
    Posts: 365
    From: on High
    Joined: 01-26-2005


    Message 198 of 210 (364987)
    11-20-2006 6:31 PM
    Reply to: Message 188 by JavaMan
    11-15-2006 11:34 AM


    quote:
    Don't confuse motion for freedom.

    What do you mean?

    If one must change, one is not free to stay the same. If one must change in a particular way, one is not free to change in any other.

    Moving doesn't mean you're free -- it just means you're moving.

    JavaMan writes:

    Why do I need to be free to choose whether to suspend choosing or not?

    You used the presence of the event as evidence of freedom. If it's forced upon you, it certainly isn't freely chosen.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 188 by JavaMan, posted 11-15-2006 11:34 AM JavaMan has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 207 by JavaMan, posted 11-28-2006 7:47 AM DominionSeraph has not yet responded

      
    DominionSeraph
    Member (Idle past 2858 days)
    Posts: 365
    From: on High
    Joined: 01-26-2005


    Message 199 of 210 (365016)
    11-20-2006 8:00 PM
    Reply to: Message 197 by AdminOmni
    11-20-2006 6:25 PM


    AdminOmni writes:

    But the clear communication of one's position and reasoning is a goal of this forum.

    Something can be defined by the totality of what it is not.

    Clear? Yes. Easy? No.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 197 by AdminOmni, posted 11-20-2006 6:25 PM AdminOmni has responded

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     Message 200 by AdminOmni, posted 11-20-2006 9:21 PM DominionSeraph has not yet responded

      
    AdminOmni
    Inactive Member


    Message 200 of 210 (365037)
    11-20-2006 9:21 PM
    Reply to: Message 199 by DominionSeraph
    11-20-2006 8:00 PM


    Easy enough
    Wrong answer in the wrong place.

    Take a day off.


    Comments on moderation procedures (or wish to respond to admin messages)? - Go to:
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  • "Columnist's Corner" Forum
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    Trust me.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 199 by DominionSeraph, posted 11-20-2006 8:00 PM DominionSeraph has not yet responded

      
    JavaMan
    Member (Idle past 423 days)
    Posts: 475
    From: York, England
    Joined: 08-05-2005


    Message 201 of 210 (365100)
    11-21-2006 8:05 AM
    Reply to: Message 194 by Tusko
    11-18-2006 11:24 AM


    Re: Christ is a rambler
    Someone supporting the first instance argues that If you do something without being compelled by external forces, then you are content at some fundamental level, even if the act is self-destructive, because you are in control of your own destiny. On the other hand, if you do something because external forces compel you, you cannot be content on that same fundamental level - even if the act is pleasurable - because you aren't in control of your destiny.

    But I don't think the fundamental level is very fundamental at all - I think it is merely something that we have learned - i.e. that we should all seek to be in control of our destiny - that makes us feel uncomfortable when factors beyond our control take over. My whole argument is that there probably never is a circumstance when we are anything other than a passenger.

    And this is one place where we disagree. I think our wanting our own way is pretty fundamental. It's not something learned. It's an instinct, apparent from the moment a baby first cries for food.

    To me, this seems directly analogous to someone who says that they want to have children so they can pass on "their" genes. Actually, you don't own your genes. You didn't choose your genes. You inherited them. So you are not an owner, merely a vessel.

    Similarly, I don't see myself as an owner or author of my beliefs, or if I am, it is only in such a limited sense as to be effectively meaningless. I see myself as a vessel for my beliefs: beliefs that I have collected like a saucepan left outside will rain.

    I don't know whether you've noticed, but here, and elsewhere in the post, there's an implicitly dualistic model of the human psyche. You talk about you not being the owner of your beliefs, or of being a passenger, as though 'you' and the thing with beliefs and desires are two separate things. Is that really the way you view yourself?

    If so, that's another difference in our positions. For me, my beliefs and desires are me, they're not something external to me.

    As we know, there are a whole load of learned behaviours that can make us very unhappy - just look to the alcoholics, paedophiles, or people with OCD. Acting on these preferences, though probably unavoidable if they are sufficiently strong, will most likely result in less contentment, despite the fact that they come from within.

    As I've suggested elsewhere, you can't really begin to understand behaviours like these until you ask the question, What do they get out of behaving like that? i.e. What pleasure do they get out of it?

    Let me ask you a few questions, to flesh out what the practical differences between our two positions:

    (a) What is your attitude to therapy? If I were an addict and you were my therapist, do you think it would be possible to help me change my behaviour? How would you do it if you could?

    (b) Do you think it would be possible for me to change my behaviour on my own?

    (c) If my addictive behaviour were dangerous to others, do you think it would be OK to change my behaviour against my will? Would it possible?

    Edited by JavaMan, : subtitle

    Edited by JavaMan, : typo


    'I can't even fit all my wife's clothes into a suitcase for travelling. So you want me to believe we're going to put all of the planets and stars and everything into a sandwich bag?' - q3psycho on the Big Bang
    This message is a reply to:
     Message 194 by Tusko, posted 11-18-2006 11:24 AM Tusko has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 203 by Tusko, posted 11-25-2006 7:23 AM JavaMan has responded

      
    JavaMan
    Member (Idle past 423 days)
    Posts: 475
    From: York, England
    Joined: 08-05-2005


    Message 202 of 210 (365106)
    11-21-2006 8:28 AM
    Reply to: Message 195 by Tusko
    11-18-2006 11:45 AM


    Re: Pain and pleasure
    The reason I brought this up was because I thought, erroniously, you were offering an explanation of human behaviour on a hedonistic model rather than the model I favour of learned and biologically hard-wired behaviours.

    My difficulty with the notion of learned behaviour is that it is rather a static, passive model of human behaviour. If we only act out the behaviour we've learned, how can behaviour change? In order to understand the dynamic aspects of behaviour, I think you need to understand what motivates people to do things - and I think at the root of motivation you always find the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

    oh, and for some reason I can't go to the links that you gave for Cicero.

    That's strange. The server seems to have gone down since I put the link up. Hopefully it's only temporary. The link wasn't particularly important - it was just a good exposition of the Epicurean position on pleasure and pain. Cicero himself was a Stoic, believing that Virtues like Wisdom, Courage and Temperance were ends in themselves. The Epicureans, on the other hand, argued that virtues like these are never sought as ends in themselves, but only as a means to gain happiness or to avoid pain.

    Also - was Locke enlightening?

    Very. I think his Essay Concerning Human Understanding is going to become one of those books I keep going back to for inspiration. It's not a weekend read - it's over 400 pages long - but he writes in a very clear prose style, and he doesn't go in for obfuscation like some philosophers. It's a bit like reading some 17th century English Buddha clearing away the dead wood of centuries of delusion.

    Edited by JavaMan, : typo


    'I can't even fit all my wife's clothes into a suitcase for travelling. So you want me to believe we're going to put all of the planets and stars and everything into a sandwich bag?' - q3psycho on the Big Bang
    This message is a reply to:
     Message 195 by Tusko, posted 11-18-2006 11:45 AM Tusko has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 204 by Tusko, posted 11-25-2006 7:36 AM JavaMan has not yet responded
     Message 205 by DominionSeraph, posted 11-25-2006 8:28 PM JavaMan has responded

      
    Tusko
    Member
    Posts: 605
    From: London, UK
    Joined: 10-01-2004


    Message 203 of 210 (365915)
    11-25-2006 7:23 AM
    Reply to: Message 201 by JavaMan
    11-21-2006 8:05 AM


    Re: Christ is a rambler
    But I don't think the fundamental level is very fundamental at all - I think it is merely something that we have learned - i.e. that we should all seek to be in control of our destiny - that makes us feel uncomfortable when factors beyond our control take over. My whole argument is that there probably never is a circumstance when we are anything other than a passenger.

    And this is one place where we disagree. I think our wanting our own way is pretty fundamental. It's not something learned. It's an instinct, apparent from the moment a baby first cries for food.

    No - I think I haven't made myself clear enough. I think there is a difference between wanting something as a baby might cry for the breast and believing that it is desirable or even possible to have a free choice from a range of actions. The first is a reality and the second is a belief or projection. I think, for example it is possible to want something and to recognise that you don't have any choice in the matter.

    You talk about you not being the owner of your beliefs, or of being a passenger, as though 'you' and the thing with beliefs and desires are two separate things. Is that really the way you view yourself?

    Well... its complicated. I recognise that I am my beliefs and that if I had whisked back in time on the day of my birth to 1st century Mesopotamia, then I wouldn't have been me in any meaningful sense. But it is possible for me to imagine that man, and with some research I might start to understand more what he would have been like. Barring accidents or premature death he would be like me biologically, but would just hold different ideas. I can imagine lots of different 'me's, all with different beliefs. They wouldn't be me really, but I feel kinship with them nonetheless - especially the ones who only differ over one or two trivial beliefs.

    Because I don't think that I can choose my beliefs, and that circumstances instead determine them wholly or to a large extent, then I don't think I could ever have been any of these other people so they are entirely hypothetical. Even one who was identical but hated anchovies.

    As I've suggested elsewhere, you can't really begin to understand behaviours like these until you ask the question, What do they get out of behaving like that? i.e. What pleasure do they get out of it?

    I entirely agree here.

    These questions that follow look good. Let me try to answer them.

    (a) What is your attitude to therapy? If I were an addict and you were my therapist, do you think it would be possible to help me change my behaviour? How would you do it if you could?

    Yes, I think that it might be possible for my actions as a therapist to help you change your behaviour as an addict. I don't know what techniques I would use, but there are a range that might be effective given enough time, and assuming my knowledge and ability were of a sufficient standard.

    With this answer I am implicitly buying into the assumption that there is some kind of causal buck that stops with the therapist, when in fact I don't really see this as true. But for practical purposes I think its reasonable to talk in those kind of terms.

    (b) Do you think it would be possible for me to change my behaviour on my own?

    Yes, I think it would be possible to change your behaviour on your own. But I tend to think that - and the same goes for question a - it would either be inevitable or impossible, and not a case of probabilities. Lest you are wondering, I'm not making any predictive claims here.

    (c) If my addictive behaviour were dangerous to others, do you think it would be OK to change my behaviour against my will? Would it possible?

    Yes I think on balance its probably a good idea to restrain people who are a proven danger to others. But that isn't to say that rehabilitation would be impossible during a period of incarceration.

    With our present level of technology it isn't possible to predict with sufficient accuracy whether someone can be rehabilitated or not so we should always try to tailor the most effective program of rehabilitation to the individual. This of course leaves the door open for an apparently dystopic future where everyone is predestined by computers or something, but I think thats sufficiently far away for me not to lose any sleep over the implications right now!


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 201 by JavaMan, posted 11-21-2006 8:05 AM JavaMan has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 208 by JavaMan, posted 11-28-2006 8:12 AM Tusko has responded

      
    Tusko
    Member
    Posts: 605
    From: London, UK
    Joined: 10-01-2004


    Message 204 of 210 (365916)
    11-25-2006 7:36 AM
    Reply to: Message 202 by JavaMan
    11-21-2006 8:28 AM


    Re: Pain and pleasure
    My difficulty with the notion of learned behaviour is that it is rather a static, passive model of human behaviour. If we only act out the behaviour we've learned, how can behaviour change? In order to understand the dynamic aspects of behaviour, I think you need to understand what motivates people to do things - and I think at the root of motivation you always find the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

    Unless you happen to be cursed (blessed?) with an inability to remember, then I think learned behaviour makes for as dynamic model of behaviour as you could really require. I believe that every experience might potentially effect on your future actions.

    I'm really busy at the moment and I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to have a look at any Cicero in the immediate future. The Locke remains high up on my "should read list". I have plenty of dead wood that needs stripping away.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 202 by JavaMan, posted 11-21-2006 8:28 AM JavaMan has not yet responded

      
    DominionSeraph
    Member (Idle past 2858 days)
    Posts: 365
    From: on High
    Joined: 01-26-2005


    Message 205 of 210 (365995)
    11-25-2006 8:28 PM
    Reply to: Message 202 by JavaMan
    11-21-2006 8:28 AM


    JavaMan writes:

    My difficulty with the notion of learned behaviour is that it is rather a static, passive model of human behaviour. If we only act out the behaviour we've learned, how can behaviour change? In order to understand the dynamic aspects of behaviour, I think you need to understand what motivates people to do things - and I think at the root of motivation you always find the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

    Learned behavior encompasses the motivation(s).


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 202 by JavaMan, posted 11-21-2006 8:28 AM JavaMan has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 206 by JavaMan, posted 11-28-2006 7:35 AM DominionSeraph has responded

      
    JavaMan
    Member (Idle past 423 days)
    Posts: 475
    From: York, England
    Joined: 08-05-2005


    Message 206 of 210 (366447)
    11-28-2006 7:35 AM
    Reply to: Message 205 by DominionSeraph
    11-25-2006 8:28 PM


    Learned behaviour and motivation
    Learned behavior encompasses the motivation(s).

    What do you mean?


    'I can't even fit all my wife's clothes into a suitcase for travelling. So you want me to believe we're going to put all of the planets and stars and everything into a sandwich bag?' - q3psycho on the Big Bang
    This message is a reply to:
     Message 205 by DominionSeraph, posted 11-25-2006 8:28 PM DominionSeraph has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 209 by DominionSeraph, posted 11-29-2006 12:55 AM JavaMan has not yet responded

      
    JavaMan
    Member (Idle past 423 days)
    Posts: 475
    From: York, England
    Joined: 08-05-2005


    Message 207 of 210 (366450)
    11-28-2006 7:47 AM
    Reply to: Message 198 by DominionSeraph
    11-20-2006 6:31 PM


    Freedom of action
    If one must change, one is not free to stay the same. If one must change in a particular way, one is not free to change in any other.

    Moving doesn't mean you're free -- it just means you're moving.

    When I say I have freedom of action, I don't mean that I can do anything I like. I have to respond to environmental change, and most of my choices are to do with things changing around me. So, no, I don't have any choice in that - I have to respond some way. But does the fact that I have to do something mean that I don't have any choice at all?


    'I can't even fit all my wife's clothes into a suitcase for travelling. So you want me to believe we're going to put all of the planets and stars and everything into a sandwich bag?' - q3psycho on the Big Bang
    This message is a reply to:
     Message 198 by DominionSeraph, posted 11-20-2006 6:31 PM DominionSeraph has not yet responded

      
    JavaMan
    Member (Idle past 423 days)
    Posts: 475
    From: York, England
    Joined: 08-05-2005


    Message 208 of 210 (366453)
    11-28-2006 8:12 AM
    Reply to: Message 203 by Tusko
    11-25-2006 7:23 AM


    Re: Christ is a rambler
    (c) If my addictive behaviour were dangerous to others, do you think it would be OK to change my behaviour against my will? Would it possible?
    Yes I think on balance its probably a good idea to restrain people who are a proven danger to others. But that isn't to say that rehabilitation would be impossible during a period of incarceration.

    I don't think anyone would disagree with restraint or rehabilitation. What I was really asking was whether it would be OK to use some technique for changing someone's behaviour against their will. I'm interested in your answer because, if there really is no such thing as free will, then I can't see how it would be wrong to change someone's behaviour against their will. But maybe I'm missing something.


    'I can't even fit all my wife's clothes into a suitcase for travelling. So you want me to believe we're going to put all of the planets and stars and everything into a sandwich bag?' - q3psycho on the Big Bang
    This message is a reply to:
     Message 203 by Tusko, posted 11-25-2006 7:23 AM Tusko has responded

    Replies to this message:
     Message 210 by Tusko, posted 11-30-2006 11:54 AM JavaMan has not yet responded

      
    DominionSeraph
    Member (Idle past 2858 days)
    Posts: 365
    From: on High
    Joined: 01-26-2005


    Message 209 of 210 (366703)
    11-29-2006 12:55 AM
    Reply to: Message 206 by JavaMan
    11-28-2006 7:35 AM


    JavaMan writes:

    What do you mean?

    You learn how the behavior relates to what you want. So, what you've learned encompasses what you want.

    JavaMan writes:

    But does the fact that I have to do something mean that I don't have any choice at all?

    No. You have no choice if you're locked into doing one thing, so the question is whether the change could end up being different on a subsequent run (which would require another dimension of time).

    Edited by DominionSeraph, : No reason given.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 206 by JavaMan, posted 11-28-2006 7:35 AM JavaMan has not yet responded

      
    Tusko
    Member
    Posts: 605
    From: London, UK
    Joined: 10-01-2004


    Message 210 of 210 (367085)
    11-30-2006 11:54 AM
    Reply to: Message 208 by JavaMan
    11-28-2006 8:12 AM


    Re: Christ is a rambler
    Ah - okay. I didn't really see the distinction between restraints like incarceration and changing someone's behaviour against the will because both seem to be examples of changing someone's behaviour against their will.

    It sounds as though you are specifically talking about influencing people in a Clockwork Orangey kind of way though. I think that something like this is probably wrong.

    Allowing anyone this kind of control over an individual might be dangerous because it might have negative emotional effects on both the perpetrator and target. If it didn't, and I can't really see how not, then I don't see much of a problem.

    Imagine if someone invented the 'De-Paedo Booth', which people could be offered as an alternative to prison. It would quickly and painlessly replace the potentially harmful attraction to children in convicted paedophiles with a more socially acceptable sexuality of their own choosing. As long as you gave them the choice, then I think this would be a fantastic solution to a difficult problem. However, I think that if people were forced to use it then the unwished change to their identity might be upsetting. Also, I fear for the emotional well-being of those who routinely bend the wills of others.

    However, I'm not sure if my gut reactions to scenarios like this are very helpful. After all, Ive been brought up ina culture that glorifies freewill and denegrates those who take it away. I'm bound to feel a bit uneasy at such a prospect.


    This message is a reply to:
     Message 208 by JavaMan, posted 11-28-2006 8:12 AM JavaMan has not yet responded

      
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