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Determinism the end of morality and free will?

Cognisant

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For this thread I'm not interested in arguing whether or not reality is deterministic, the only "evidence" to the contrary is subatomic phenomena that nobody really understands which hardly proves anything.

What I'm interested in discussing is determinism as it applies to morality and free will because if everything is deterministic then anything anyone ever does is simply a natural outcome of their circumstances. Now practically that doesn't mean much, if someone turns out to be a serial killer because they weren't held enough as a child us knowing that doesn't change the fact that they have to be punished for their crimes, both to (in theory) rehabilitate them and to serve as an example to others.

But what if we had the technology to literally change someone's mind, to enable a team of psychiatrists to open up the patient and remove the neurosis like a team of surgeons removing a tumor, would it still be necessary to imprison the former serial killer indeed assuming the procedure wasn't voluntary and the patient isn't resisting the changes are they still the same person?

On the other hand wouldn't it be cruel not to use such technology? Does someone born into unfortunate circumstances and/or with an unfortunate predisposition to violence deserve to be punished for existing?
 

lightfire

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That's assuming all serial killers weren't held enough as children and in that case maybe all they needed was just a hug. But I think it's more complicated than that.

And what you said reminds me of how lobotomies were once performed on patients with supposed mental disorders. It was deemed barbaric and mostly discontinued.

If someone truly believes they need to kill several human beings for whatever reason they find as motivation, "fixing" them with technology isn't really tackling the issue of why they did it in the first place.
 

Serac

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That tumor example comes from a real-life case, I believe. I don't recall the details, but some guy committed murder and it was later revealed he had a brain tumor which affected his behavior.

Living in a society means giving up certain freedoms – e.g. the freedom to kill people at will. As long as one agrees, for example, that people shouldn't have that particular freedom, one tacitly agrees to suffer the consequences of committing such acts. Then the question becomes – what would you rather like: getting brain surgery which changes you as a person, or being put in prison? I guess that's a matter of consensus. I personally would prefer the brain surgery as long as it would result in a healthy, autonomous human being.

I also think such considerations can be done independently of any regard to determinism. Whether or not one believes in determinism, it's quite clear that people's psyche is affected by their environment, their experiences, upbringing, physiology, and so on.
 

Cognisant

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Oh right I was building up to a point about how if we take a totally deterministic approach to ethics, treating crimes as illnesses to be cured or malfunctions to be fixed, that we are effectively denying the criminal their "free will".

They still have the freedom to act, just not to own their actions, I dunno for some reason I find the concept of a criminal frustrated by their inability to commit meaningful crimes fascinating.
 

Hadoblado

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This is already how I think about crime, and I believe it's the best way.

We don't have access to the pure deterministic mechanisms, but we do have empirical data on what follows what and we should do our best to create the environment most conducive to reducing crime.

Prison systems tend to really suck at their purpose, especially privatised ones. They're based on fundamentally unsound psychological principles, and waste resources at an astonishing rate.

I'm already 100% against imprisonment for the purpose of punishment. If we had the magical ability to prevent them from doing further crimes (and we used it), so long as people saw the deterministic mind control as a deterrent, there's no reason to keep them.

But rather than implementing this reactively, wouldn't we want to treat this disease proactively, before the crimes occur? AKA a society structured such that the mentally ill are cared for and crime is not incentivised.
 

Pizzabeak

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If every man had one wife or partner, people all around the world in different continents would behave less retarded. Being freakin' stupid as heck like some or most people are, is why there's much strife already as it is. Dumb people can't control their anger, rage, envy, jealousy, and other qliphoth, sinful influences.
But rather than implementing this reactively, wouldn't we want to treat this disease proactively, before the crimes occur? AKA a society structured such that the mentally ill are cared for and crime is not incentivised.
Sure.
 

The Grey Man

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For this thread I'm not interested in arguing whether or not reality is deterministic, the only "evidence" to the contrary is subatomic phenomena that nobody really understands which hardly proves anything.
People make far too much fuss over supposed quantum indeterminacy. Ironically, the 'Schrödinger's cat' thought experiment proves, by analogy, that there is nothing mystical about the collapse of the wave function, simply because the collapse of the wave function is a theoretical postulate and not an observable event. I can't tell whether a cat in a box is alive or dead because I can't see into the box, just as we can't see into a quantum superposition. There is no empirically meaningful difference between these two cases. As Hume pointed out, experience teaches us merely that one event follows from another, not that it follows necessarily, though Kant twisted himself into an unseemly semantic pretzel trying to disprove this.

But what if we had the technology to literally change someone's mind, to enable a team of psychiatrists to open up the patient and remove the neurosis like a team of surgeons removing a tumor, would it still be necessary to imprison the former serial killer indeed assuming the procedure wasn't voluntary and the patient isn't resisting the changes are they still the same person?

On the other hand wouldn't it be cruel not to use such technology? Does someone born into unfortunate circumstances and/or with an unfortunate predisposition to violence deserve to be punished for existing?
When the state has the power to modify people from the top down, body and soul, to produce "correct" behaviour, dystopia has arrived. This is as dismal as science fiction gets. At this point, we can say that man is mere fuel for an organism of a higher order, as animals are to us and plants to animals.
 

lightfire

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The Grey Man. +1
 

DoIMustHaveAnUsername?

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For this thread I'm not interested in arguing whether or not reality is deterministic, the only "evidence" to the contrary is subatomic phenomena that nobody really understands which hardly proves anything.
People make far too much fuss over supposed quantum indeterminacy. Ironically, the 'Schrödinger's cat' thought experiment proves, by analogy, that there is nothing mystical about the collapse of the wave function, simply because the collapse of the wave function is a theoretical postulate and not an observable event. I can't tell whether a cat in a box is alive or dead because I can't see into the box, just as we can't see into a quantum superposition.
Indeterminancy has more to do with Bell Inequality violation. It follows from the experiment that there can no local hidden variables to pre-determine how a particle can act or interact. However, non-local hidden variables are still possible (which is still a deterministic case). Some finding non-locality implausible can commit to other forms of interpretations. It's a real epistemic-metaphysical mess out there. I avoid that area. Indeterminism doesn't really matter too much in the end anyway, unless it is The Will that controls the indeterminancy. But if the will controls and causes indeterminate event - then it cannot be in full control of the events it causes (otherwise it would deterministically follow the will). It may be the case, that the will itself is indeterministic, but then it follows that the will itself is not fully determined by anything or anyone. Indeterminism doesn't give any more freedom than determinism can. If determinism cannot give us any free will (compatibilism), nothing can.

As Hume pointed out, experience teaches us merely that one event follows from another, not that it follows necessarily, though Kant twisted himself into an unseemly semantic pretzel trying to disprove this.
Kant agrees with Hume that it cannot be derived from experience - that something necessarily follows something else. But Kant disagrees with Hume in that the idea of causation - 'that something necessarily follows something else' can be learned from experience itself (through habits and custom). Nothing remotely close to that idea exists in empirical reality, according to Kant - it's not mere chimera of experienced stuffs. Rather, the propensity to order cognized objects in terms of rules (causal and otherwise) lie a priori as conditions of cognition itself.
 

The Grey Man

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I agree that the correct conception of the freedom of the will is compatibilistic. Why do I do what I do? Why am I me and not someone else? When we ask these questions we become like a dog chasing its tail. In ordinary situations, that people act the way they do is a more important fact than why they do. This is 'marketplace morality.' The closest we can get to a why outside the marketplace is the principle of individuation, which I strongly doubt that we will ever be able to explain since it seems to be the essence of empirical reality itself.

Kant agrees with Hume that it cannot be derived from experience - that something necessarily follows something else. But Kant disagrees with Hume in that the idea of causation - 'that something necessarily follows something else' can be learned from experience itself (through habits and custom). Nothing remotely close to that idea exists in empirical reality, according to Kant - it's not mere chimera of experienced stuffs. Rather, the propensity to order cognized objects in terms of rules (causal and otherwise) lie a priori as conditions of cognition itself.
Kant successfully showed that the formal aspect of nature is subjective, that empirical reality is our ordering of the manifold impressions provided by the senses according to laws a priori. This, however, does not refute Humean skepticism regarding causality, because causal laws have both a formal and a material aspect. For every causal law, there is some thing, some sensation which follows another, not just an empty form, but Kant does not give any reason why any given sensation must be followed by another. The manifold, according to Kant, is simply "given." Why this manifold and not another? Why am I me and not someone else? It seems that both the freedom of the will and causal necessity are grounded in individuation.
 

DoIMustHaveAnUsername?

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I agree that the correct conception of the freedom of the will is compatibilistic.
I don't think this is necessarily the 'correct' conception. There is still a deep sense in which determinism does imply lack of any real freedom - or at least true moral responsibility. Philosophers try to associate 'reason' and action followed by 'reason' with freedom, but I find 'reason' to be quite tenuous once we leave pure logic and maths into the world of practical action. All reasons for actions seems to boil down to something beyond reach of reason. Very little is actually even visible to me regarding why I do what I do. I suspect, much of the 'reasoning' people do, those who think they do, are often artificial post-action. Now, of course, deliberation and complex planning do take place pre-action - but when it is all seen mechanically, the notion of freedom seems weak - it is still in a sense true, in case of determinism that the pre-natalistic chain of causes and actions have determined fully what you do and what not. You can do what you will, and your actions will have consequence over the future, but if determinism is true, neither did you really decided your own state of being which causes your action, nor did you decided your will and its patterns of movement. Sure, there are still senses, one can argue that freedom is compatible. "what more do you want than being a salient cause of actions, having the will to act, and having some reasons to do so?" - one may say. But it's all about which part you emphasize. Compatibilists would de-emphasize the incompatibilist's concern - as rather irrelevant, and emphasize on reason, 'local' (non-ultimate) responsibility and such. The two views aren't incompatible rather have different emphasis depending on different intuitions. In the end, it is more of a problem of language, connotations, and associated intuitions to the concepts, more than it is a problem of what actually is. I lean more closely towards impossibilism than anything though I acknowledge one can always choose a convention and a sense under which 'free will' can exist with determinism.
 

DoIMustHaveAnUsername?

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Kant successfully showed that the formal aspect of nature is subjective, that empirical reality is our ordering of the manifold impressions provided by the senses according to laws a priori. This, however, does not refute Humean skepticism regarding causality, because causal laws have both a formal and a material aspect. For every causal law, there is some thing, some sensation which follows another, not just an empty form, but Kant does not give any reason why any given sensation must be followed by another
seems so.
 
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