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Author Topic:   Biology is Destiny?
Dr Adequate
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Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 35 of 129 (641811)
11-22-2011 2:14 PM
Reply to: Message 17 by Chuck77
11-20-2011 5:32 AM


I don't no. I don't think Fred had a whole new set of morals due to his brain tumor just like I don't think someone who goes on and off antidepressants for depression all the time wakes up every new day with a total new set of morals to guide them each and everytime some physical ailment threatens them.

It messed with Freds brain chemistry, not his moral compass.

What's the difference?


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Dr Adequate
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Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 37 of 129 (641813)
11-22-2011 2:24 PM
Reply to: Message 29 by New Cat's Eye
11-22-2011 9:42 AM


Thought Experiment
Its not for me. In my view, the mind is a gateway from the spiritual to the physical, and it stems from the brain. Damage the gateway, and the spirit doesn't come through the same way. Brain damage affecting behavior doesn't negate the spirit, for me.

But given our knowledge of neurology, what is left over for the "spirit" to do? It is now known that changes to your brain will affect your moral sense, will affect your religious beliefs, will affect your sexual orientation ... and, if it matters, will affect your ability to identify fruit.

What is left over for the "spirit" to do?

Put it this way. Suppose someone could engineer a swap such that your spirit was attached to my brain, and my spirit was attached to your brain.

What would your "spirit" do that would have any effect? If your spirit is the real you, then it would nonetheless be the case that "you" (your "spirit") would not merely have my memories and capabilities, but also "you" would also have my religious opinions, my moral judgments, and my sexual preferences. What would actually change?


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Dr Adequate
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Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 42 of 129 (641828)
11-22-2011 3:49 PM
Reply to: Message 40 by New Cat's Eye
11-22-2011 2:58 PM


Re: Neurology kills Free Will
I was asked, it isn't that much effort, and I like it. As I said, mental masturbation.

Anyways, what actual answers are we beginning to get?

Well, we have learned that people's deepest attributes, such as their religion, their morality, their sexual orientation, their memories, even their fear of death, have a neurological basis.

If you want to conjecture that this is somehow modified by the "spirit", then there's no particular evidence that this is so any more than it's modified by Saturn being in trine with Neptune, or whatever the astrological jargon is. There's no evidence of anything left over that we need the "spirit" to explain.


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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 51 of 129 (641909)
11-23-2011 1:32 PM
Reply to: Message 44 by caffeine
11-23-2011 3:25 AM


Re: Neurology kills Free Will
Whilst I'm in no sense a dualist, I don't think we can be quite as flippant as that. We are still no closer to explaining the subjective experience of consciousness. We have no idea whatsoever what mechanism could create it, nor any adaptive explanation for its purpose.

It is true that the Hard Problem Of Consciousness is ... hard. But damage to various bits of the brain stops us from being conscious of various things. The problem is, therefore, how the brain produces consciousness.

Again I ask: what is left over for the "spirit" to do?


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Dr Adequate
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Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


(2)
Message 52 of 129 (641912)
11-23-2011 3:46 PM
Reply to: Message 44 by caffeine
11-23-2011 3:25 AM


Re: Neurology kills Free Will
Whilst I'm in no sense a dualist, I don't think we can be quite as flippant as that. We are still no closer to explaining the subjective experience of consciousness. We have no idea whatsoever what mechanism could create it, nor any adaptive explanation for its purpose.

The invocation of "spirit" in this case is a special case of what I think of as the Invisible Man Hypothesis.

Got something that you can't explain? Then hypothesize the existence of an invisible man having the property of explaining it.

Can't explain the lightning? We've got you covered. There's an invisible man having the property of explaining the lightning. Hoorah!

Why are species well-adapted to their environment? There's an invisible man having the property of adapting them to their environment. So we're done here.

(You will note that this has never been right so far.)

And so we come on to consciousness. Can't solve the Hard Problem Of Consciousness? Well, in that case I myself am an invisible man having the property of solving the Hard Problem Of Consciousness.

Now this is even worse than the usual application of the Invisible Man Hypothesis. Because I am, verifiably, a visible man. And the Invisible Man shares nearly every property with the visible man (i.e. my brain). It would be silly, for example, to suppose that this Invisible Man is left-handed when my brain is right-handed, or that it's a Republican while my brain is a Democrat. The Invisible Man shares every property with the visible man except two: first, it is invisible, intangible, and unevidenced, and second, it has the property of solving the Hard Problem Of Consciousness.

How does it do that? Well, it just has that property. 'Cos we defined it that way. And of course the hypothesis fits the facts perfectly, because, hypothetically, an Invisible Man having the property of solving the Hard Problem Of Consciousness would, if he existed, solve the Hard Problem Of Consciousness. Who can deny that?

Well I'm glad we sorted that out.

Edited by Dr Adequate, : No reason given.


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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 86 of 129 (642358)
11-28-2011 12:19 AM
Reply to: Message 85 by Chuck77
11-28-2011 12:11 AM


Re: Biology does not dismiss free will
Free will.

Why can't free will be instantiated physically?


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Replies to this message:
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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 89 of 129 (642376)
11-28-2011 2:56 AM
Reply to: Message 88 by Chuck77
11-28-2011 1:35 AM


Re: Biology does not dismiss free will
So you're saying our ability to choose and understand right from wrong up from down etc etc would be a physical thing?

Well, instantiated physically ... like a car's ability to move. "Ability" is, I concede, itself an abstract noun (if that's what you're getting at) but that doesn't mean that the basis of that ability lives in some metaphysical neverland.


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Dr Adequate
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Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


(1)
Message 90 of 129 (642377)
11-28-2011 3:11 AM
Reply to: Message 87 by Chuck77
11-28-2011 12:29 AM


Re: Biology does not dismiss free will
What, why? I think YOU need to show that Fred lost his ability to know right from wrong.

Just because he made a poor illegal decision due to the tumor has nothing to do with him KNOWING right from wrong. Don't you get this? We all do things even tho we know right from wrong, it doesn't mean we have lost out free will because we choose to exercise our options. Im mean really...can't you see you're wrong here?

So, various things may have happened to Fred.

* He might have lost his ability to discern right from wrong.
* He might have retained the ability but lost the will-power and self-control.
* He might have retained both his moral evaluations and his previous level of will-power, but acquired a strong urge to do evil with which he never previously had to contend.

Is there anything else?

If you don't know that then I can't help you. Im just glad you're not a Judge or a Governor. We'd all be in trouble.

Free will is not required for us to incarcerate criminals.

By analogy, no-one blames people for being blind, but we still treat them differently --- for example, we don't issue them with driving licenses, because they'd have a tendency to kill people. For similar reasons we might deprive of yet more liberty someone who as a result of some brain defect had a tendency to go around stabbing people. There might be a change in our mental attitude: we might not hate him so much, but we wouldn't have found a reason to let him go around stabbing people any more than knowing the causes of someone's blindness would be a reason to let him drive a car.


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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 97 of 129 (642433)
11-28-2011 6:42 PM
Reply to: Message 92 by Tangle
11-28-2011 4:40 AM


Mens Rea
NoNukes is right, mens rea is a much narrower concept than you seem to think it is.

A good example of someone with no mens rea would be someone who drives while drunk because he is unaware that some malicious person has spiked his drink with alcohol. He could properly say that he had no mens rea.

On the other hand, consider someone who has a couple of pints and then drives under the false impression that the legal limit is higher than it actually is. This person possesses mens rea, because even though he had no intention to commit a crime, he possessed the intention to do the thing which is criminal, and this is all that is required for mens rea.


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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 98 of 129 (642434)
11-28-2011 6:47 PM
Reply to: Message 96 by Tangle
11-28-2011 6:20 PM


Re: Biology does not dismiss free will
I think not, as you say yourself, mental derangement can make a defendent incapable of possessing mens re(a) - which is exactly my point. If a disease can be shown to have removed a person's ability to act in a moral way, he can not be culpable in law.

In the UK at least, Fred would have been fairly quickly judged incapable of even making a plea, let alone having to make a defense of diminished responsibility or higher, one glance at the size of the tumour in his head and medical report would be enough to have him sectioned and treated.

But having diminished responsibility is not the same as having no mens rea, which is a much more specific concept than you seem to think it is.


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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 101 of 129 (642459)
11-29-2011 3:38 AM
Reply to: Message 100 by Tangle
11-29-2011 3:10 AM


Re: Mens Rea
You've picked a bad example. Drunk driving is a law derived from statute rather than common law and is a strict liability offence [in the UK at least].

I'm not in the UK.

Anyway, it suffices as an example of the sort of thing that would constitute having no mens rea, even if in some jurisdictions that does not constitute a defense. In the UK it would still be true that he had no mens rea, it just wouldn't matter.

In your second example, mens rea as you describe it is not applicable. The defendant Is merely ignorant of the law, which is no defense.

That's what I said.


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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 118 of 129 (642822)
12-01-2011 10:49 PM
Reply to: Message 116 by Tangle
12-01-2011 1:53 PM


Re: descriptive and normative
I don't like that definition of normative:

In its second normative and universal sense, morality refers to an ideal code of conduct, one which would be espoused in preference to alternatives by all rational people, under specified conditions

It's the word 'ideal' that's broken. It pre-supposes we know what's best and can choose or at least list the best morality and (presumably) aspire to it.

Well that is what "normative" means. It may be describing a concept you don't think exists, but then so does "unicorn".

My definition says that the normative values are intrinsic to (rational) people. We have them like it or not and those that don't are not normal.

Yeah, but your definition is wrong, so maybe you should find another word to express what you want to say.


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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 122 of 129 (642835)
12-02-2011 4:36 AM
Reply to: Message 120 by Tangle
12-02-2011 4:28 AM


Re: descriptive and normative
Like I say, I didn't make up the definition it came from here:

Yes, but it's still wrong.

The point I'm stumbling to make is that strong moral behaviours of the 'do no harm' type (and others) are normal and universal in people - I don't think that is too contentious.

Well, I think it's more complicated than that. It's usually more like: "do no harm to group X, but do all the harm you like to group ~X".


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Replies to this message:
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Dr Adequate
Member
Posts: 16112
Joined: 07-20-2006


Message 124 of 129 (642846)
12-02-2011 7:04 AM
Reply to: Message 123 by Tangle
12-02-2011 5:29 AM


Re: descriptive and normative
We can invent all sorts of evolutionary Just So stories about kinship for that of course and maybe that's it's origin. But we also have the other side of the story - the descriptive morality that allows for various authorities to say 'this is right' and 'this is wrong' which compliments or overrides the more primitive emotions that are normal in us. (From memory, the normal response is immediate and instinctive whilst the descriptive response is slower and calculated.)

Well, for example, when I heard that OBL had been shot, my response was not slow or calculated. I felt immediate joy, I went around whooping and hugging people. He was ~X. There may be people for whom everyone is X, and for whom Donne's words are true: "any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind". But for myself, to be honest, it takes a "slower and calculated response" from me to remember that I should feel sorry for OBL: my instinct was that the world was well rid of him.


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Replies to this message:
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