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Re: [Ethics-Philosophyl-Group-of-East-Portla­nd] Free Will Discussion Highlights

From: richard b.
Sent on: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 11:59 AM
I'm not  sure where I'm coming into  this thread....but... a science geek as well as a philosophical soul "genes, experience, circumstances, and a lot of chance" seem pretty darn inscrutable.  

And, yeah...I agree nomenclature is always a a  mixed crowd it  may be near impossible....leaving us all to translate from one cohorts terminology to another.

Determinism when it  comes to crime,  racism, and other bad stuff seems to not fit easily with our sense  of "fair play" and the illusion of things being fair that so many of us identify with. 

Still...for me...just because it's humanly impossible to see or understand it...I believe all  we do is ultimately determined  by what has come before....on all possible levels. 

Nice to get a note from  you.....I've thought about you a bit over the weeks...

Until later,    richardbell

On 4/14/2012 7:37 PM, Roberta Palmer wrote:
Good work, Richard, but I never said the forces shaping my life were inscrutable  They are what behavorial scientists believe:  genes, experience, circumstances, and a lot of chance.
I thought our discussion was really confusing.  Would have helped me to define the terms first.  If we can never understand what the other side means, it would help to just consider the results of determinism on how we view humanity--criminals, the poor, the rich, etc.

On Fri, Apr 13, 2012 at 10:20 AM, Richard Mohley <[address removed]> wrote:

Ethical Philosophy Insights
2012 April 8

Free Will
Do You Have Any?

The following are my efforts to paraphrase some wonderful insights shared by the thoughtful folks in attendance. I’ve truncated their first names so no one can be clearly blamed, but you know who you are if you were there.

Forgive me if I misunderstood you. It may not have been what you said or meant, but it’s what I understood or got out of what I heard. And I thought it was profound.

Vin – As science explains more and more, the definition of free will gets smaller. It has to in order to maintain its existence.

Chris – But Free Will is necessary to believe in order for people to have hope. It’s good for emotional health.

Mar – The threat of punishment affects our choices, so it must be just part of the field of our subconscious forces that we like to call our Free Will.

Jo – Determinism (no free will) is usually associated with atheism and depression. I am a Free Willie.

Bern – It all comes from brain wiring and chemistry which we do not perceive. We experience those functions as our choice. It so complex that we can only predict a person’s decisions by probability.

Mark – The belief FW gives us sin and excuses for retribution. If we could embrace determinism instead, we could focus on the probability of behaviors, how to make the world safer and less on the sadistic joy of punishment.

Robert – I grew up a 7th Day Adventist but turned into an atheist. It was determined for me by my psychological makeup which made me unable to believe all that. Those forces are inscrutable, which means, “unable to be scruted.” It took me four years of “scruting” to go from Adventistism to atheism.

Greg – Probability and brain chemistry etc, do not explain the rare strokes of genius. So there must be something else other than determinism. I don’t know what it is.
Let’s call it the Sphere of Gregism. An inscrutable something, that needs to be scruted.

Geof – The whole question of Free Will is the wrong question. Standing all alone on the tundra with no humans in miles clears out all the stuff. The better question is whether I can become my best and deepest self?

Can I get there? Choosing it or being forced is unimportant. The question is can I get there?

Jo – It seems like the burden of proof is on the Free Will’ers. Reason is such a small part of life that it’s a narrow and silly question. Life to too big for just reason. Determinism is the ultimate cop out.

Laur - I have FW. I was born that way.

Jor – People are born with tendencies, agencies, inclinations. They can pursue them or not, but can’t change them.

Cher – Not only do I have free will, but I will exist in another form after death. And what’s more, I chose this life’s circumstances before I was born. So there!

Jo – Here, here! We choose our lives in order to learn stuff.

Dev – I don’t believe in FW, but I don’t walk under ladders. Why take the chance?

Den – After years of writing the history of religion, Della came down to ITS OUR CHOICE TO DESTROY OURSELVES, or not. Ultimately we have to accept free will or we are lost.

Dav – If every neuron in my brain (and my body’s effects upon it) were duplicated in a giant computer, would that computer have free will. Of course not. It would be a computer. So why do we think that the same thing in a skin suit does?

When something becomes very complex (like the weather), you can’t predict its decisions but that doesn’t mean it has free will. Do the clouds decide if it’s going to rain?

To – Obviously, each side uses all the evidence to support its beliefs. The beliefs (in FW or Determinism) come first, then the justifications for it follow.

Rich – In order to defend FW, you have to know what you are that is making decision X. That thing that you think you are, does not exist. It is only a sense or feeling.

Marg – Clearly, its best to assume FREE WILL FOR ME, Determinism for everyone else. Its like the Mule and Psychohistory in The Foundation Trilogy. The Mule cannot be predicted. However the mass of humans, like a mass of molecules, is determined by the laws of nature.

Jack – I feel the urge to have free will. I feel the need to feel I’m free.

A vote was taken and the results follow:

YES to Free Will – 9 compatibilists
NO to Free Will (determinism) - 7 incompatibilists
Agnostics / don’t know - 2 compatible incompatibilists

Prophet of The Snake God of the Clackamas River
And his consort, the Raccoon of Multnomah
May their blessed names be praised!

2012 April 08


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