compatibilism

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Immanuel Can
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Re: compatibilism

Post by Immanuel Can »

iambiguous wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 5:21 pm So, we take what amounts to a Kierkegaardian leap of faith to volition and, from the cradle to the grave, do what we do.
Absolutely. Human beings, even when they use science, do not have "for sure" knowledge. They have high-probability expectations, which are, for most purposes, almost as good as having "for sure" knowledge. But there is something Kierkegaardian in even the most "for sure" things we think we know.

Most of life, anyway, is not fortified with precise scientific experiments. For most of what we do, we take our knowledge as good enough to get us through, and act on faith in it.
Then the part where "for all practical purposes" those who lead successful, accomplished lives insist that it is all of their own doing, while those who lead lives that are anything but can think to themselves "well, it's all 'beyond my control' anyway".
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 7:27 pmYes, you've got it. And this brings us to the point where the ethicists become involved. For it's a matter of what they call "praise" and "blame."

To illustrate, if I win the Academy Award for best picture...do I deserve it? I'd like to think, yes. But if my production was merely the cumulation of previous inevitable forces, why am I on the podium, taking the award and smiling? Should not every Academy Award simply be given to "the Universe"? :wink:
That's always the part that I tend to focus on. Especially in regard to "moral responsibility". Since my main interest in philosophy revolves around the question, "how ought one to live in a world bursting at the seams with both conflicting goods and contingency, chance and change?", I can't help but wonder if I have any actual capacity to either ask or to answer the question...freely?
Yes, that's the right question.

Believing in Determinism turns out to have a sort of "Russian doll" type structure: solve one question, and there's another inside it. So, for example, I decide that I believe in Materialism. But is that "belief" a rational one, or is it, like everything else, a product of prior causal-material forces that are inherently, of course, indifferent to truth? And what about the question I'm asking about my belief? Is that also just a product of some other prior causal-material inducements? And what about the question about the question about my belief...? And so on.
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 7:27 pmAnd on the other hand, if I am caught standing over a body, with a bloody knife in my hands, and I say, "Well, her death was inevitable, given the previous causal-material chains in play," is that an excuse for my actions? Should the only entity in jail actually be "the Universe," too?
Back to Leopold and Loeb and just how far one does take determinism in our lives.
I think it doesn't take us anywhere at all. We can't keep up our actions to fit with that belief for even ten seconds.
If, an hour ago, God knows I am going to be typing these words, how could I not be typing them?
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 7:27 pmYou obviously ARE going to be typing them, then. But again, we need to realize what the shape of the problem really is: it's not with God's foreknowledge, or "omniscience," but only with the conjunction of omniscience with some sort of divine action of compulsion or force.

To say again: "knowing" is not "making." For you see, I did anticipate that you would, in some form, respond to this message. You might say I knew you would respond -- and as it turns out, it seems that my knowledge of that fact was correct, too. You might say I had "perfect foreknowledge" that you would respond.

Of course, my knowledge is never "perfect." Still, in this case, it was verifiably correct, and we cannot now doubt it, can we?
This distinction may be clear to you but it is not to me.
It takes some careful thought. It did for me, too, when I first saw the problem.

The obvious mistake, the one everybody makes instantly, is to imagine that foreknowledge and predetermination are the same. But whereas the latter may, arguably, include the former, there's actually no reason the former has to imply the latter.

If I'm a very good sports prognosticator, may know that the LA Rams will win the Superbowl this year: but if they do, that does not mean I had to put on a uniform and play quarterback. God help them, if I did.
My thinking and my acting would seem seamlessly intertwined in God's all-knowing vantage point. Otherwise it's "all knowing" with an asterisk.
I think the problem is that Determinism gives us a one-track model of the universe. And we think that any mind God has must also be one-track: there's only that which will happen, and that which will not.

But this is not the only model possible, and it's not the Biblical model, actually. The model of the universe that is revealed in the Bible is of a place in which there are some "fixed" things, like material laws, and some things that involve possibilities...especially where volition, whether divine or human, is the chief causal agency.

So God knows all possible outcomes of a human decision. He does not have a one-track mind. He sees the universe as laid out before him, if we might picture it thus, as a sort of "map" or "web" of the possible and the actual. He knows what routes could be taken, and what routes we will take. But at no point does He need to intervene to force us down one route more than another, because he knows what's going on on the total "map" at all times.
Though I'm the first to admit I may well not be thinking this through correctly. But what does that even mean in discussions of God?
:D I think it means, "Talking about the Supreme Being makes human heads hurt." But what would we expect? We're finite, limited beings.
Same thing with regard to theodicy. Theodicy and so-called "acts of God". Natural disasters here on planet Earth that have destroyed the lives of millions. If God was only able to create planet Earth in accordance with the laws of matter then He is not really responsible for the natural disasters themselves.
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 7:27 pmWell, He'd at least be responsible for starting the causal chain and setting up the law-conditions that made the disaster possible. But you're right: it wouldn't necessarily mean he had personally engineered the rockslide or the tidal wave.
True. Unless in a way that goes back to what we don't know -- can't know? -- about existence itself the laws of matter themselves were responsibile for the existence of God. Or, we can go the route of Harold Kushner: God set into motion the laws of matter that resulted in "natural disasters" [or covid viruses] on planet Earth but He is not omnipotent.
I'll go a different way. I would say that any theodicy owes us those two answers, and isn't allowed to "punt to mystery." But I think that there are, at the very least, plausible and reasonable explanations as to why evil exists. And even if we have a struggle to decide which explanation we personally believe, perhaps, it's heartening that such things are clearly possible.
What is really going on chemically and neurologically in the brain that makes "I" different internally? The part where mind matter becomes willful. If it does.
Yes. But the Materialist or Physicalist worldviews are going to rule beforehand against any such explanation. They won't have a reason, other than that it would defeat their own basic premises to accept such a possibility, but they'll insist on it. They have to.
Though to me, compatibilism itself is still beyond my capacity to really grasp. Especially in regard to moral responsibility.
Oh, I agree. I think Compatibilism is inevitably just "Determinism in new shoes." And since that's all it is, it's contributing nothing to the field of knowledge in this area.
This and Donald Rumsfeld's contribution:

"There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know."

Especially in regard to the Big Questions in philosophy.
Okay, maybe so. But there's a problem: how do we know what the yet-to-be-knowns are? Do we just pull up at the first sign of a confusion or problem, and say, "Aha -- that must be something we can never know"? If we did, how are we to learn anything?

So we can't just stop there, can we?
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 7:27 pmAh, yes...this is a major, major problem.

If my knowledge is actualy reporting to me not on the basis of things true but on the basis of whatever previous material-physical chains caused me to think, why should I trust the pronouncements of my own brain?

This is a very serious, but little realized, critique of the Materialist or Physicalists worldviews: if Materialism is true, then science is not a matter of truths being discovered; rather, its products are simply whatever the material-physical causes dumped into my material-physical brain. How should I privilege scientific "dumpings" of that kind above any regular "dumpings" of ordinary events?

It's like we would have to say, "The reason Galileo knew the Earth moved is because the material-physical causes of the universe made him think so," instead of, "Galileo knew the Earth moved because he had observed and calculated it." We would have to say it was material happenstance, not scientific knowledge, that was behind his discovery.

And, of course, the same would be true for all science. None of it would be anything other than material-causal phenomena. And material-casual phenomena do not, themselves have any view of whether it's better for us to see truth or delusions.
Yes, and this would be the case in regard to "I" in the is/ought world as well. Human moral and political and spiritual value judgments would seem entriely interchangable in the only possible world.
It's worse than even that, I think.

The moral world, the world of the "ought" has to be entirely illusory. And all our moral judgments, like our cognitions, identity, reasons, and science itself, have to be nothing other than the outcomes of physical-material causes.

So, for example, the only reason we can believe slavery/rape/pedophelia/axe murder are wrong is that the physical-material forces of the universe have caused there to be a chemical in our brain that jolts us in a particular way when one of these things is implicated. But that jolt does not indicate anything, except that physical-material forces are doing what they do.

There is no actual "wrongness" that is being detected or signalled by the jolt. The jolt is just jolting. It's what jolts do.
Only, for me, even given some measure of free will, "I" seems no less unable to establish objective moral truths in the absence of God.
Right. And that's one reason why.

If Physicalism or Materialism is true, and if Determinism is true, then we might have the fact of our feeling moral, but we do not have any fact of X or Y action or impulse being moral.

It's then a fact that human beings (silly little accidents of nature as they supposedly are) are caused to imagine that there's a thing called "morals"; but there is not such a thing in the universe. All there really is are physcial-material causal chains, some of which, for no particular reason, produce these silly feelings. That's it.
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Re: compatibilism

Post by iambiguous »

Sculptor wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 11:15 am Any free act has to be the result of internal causes. Where else is there? You are mistaking what "we" is. We are a microcosm of the universe and act like all other things in the universe. What the "we" is in your sentence are individuated agents of change. And what we want directs our actions that can change the world around us. If we are not forced or compelled from outside forces then we are free.

WE have control over the outside world. Being free mean doing what we will but how can we will as we will. It matters not how many times you think back on the paths of causality, eventually you have to confront determinism within.

When I make a choice it is thankfully based on antecedant factors such as motivation, volition, education, experience. and so on. When I act, I act determinedly, not by a whim, not capriciously, but determined by my will.
As I noted to Skepdick above...
...this is what I call a "general description intellectual contraption".

What we need to do is to bring it down to Earth.

Meet Mary. She is pregnant and doesn't want to be. She decides to get an abortion. She gets the abortion. Others find out about it. Some support her, others condemn her.

How, given your assessment of free will, determinism, compatibilism and a sim world reality would you reconfigure your assumptions above in reacting to her behavior yourself?

Again, my own main interest revolves around moral responsibility. Is Mary morally responsible here? Is there a way to determine [even given a free will world] that she should perhaps be punished for killing her unborn fetus?
How would you reconfigure your point above into a discussion with Mary and those who react in conflicting ways to her abortion? Or choose your own context.
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Re: compatibilism

Post by iambiguous »

Terrapin Station wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 3:20 pm
iambiguous wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:27 pm From my frame of mind, if the human brain is entirely in sync with the laws of matter, then there was never any possibility of this friend not choosing the abortion.
So, for one, although it's frustrating that this aspect of the discussion never goes anywhere (I don't know if it simply doesn't register with folks when you say it, or if they're simply not interested or what . . .), I'm not a realist on "laws of matter." That is, I don't believe that there are literally something like laws that everything necessarily, deterministically works via.
I'm not sure how you relate this point to an actual flesh and blood woman choosing to take the life of an actual flesh and blood human fetus. All I know is how exasperating it can be that we do not have access to an argument [let alone a demonstrable argument] that resolves it once and for all. Same with what you believe. Do you believe it even though you were able to opt freely to believe something else instead? Or "for all practical purposes" were you never able not to believe it?
Terrapin Station wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 3:20 pm"Laws of physics" are generalizations, ways that we think about some regularities that we observe. But I don't believe that there is any good reason to believe that there are literally laws somehow "behind" everything or somehow "embedded" in everything, and further, I think the idea quickly becomes rather incoherent, as I'm prone to nominalism (including) in the sense that I don't accept that any "real abstracts" exist ("real" there means "objective" or "mind-independent").
Same here. There's what each of us believe about things like this. And then there's our capacity to demonstrate that all rational men and women are obligated to believe the same.
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Re: compatibilism

Post by iambiguous »

iambiguous wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 5:54 pm And how exactly would one go about demonstrating this such that all rational men and women are obligated to agree?
Skepdick wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 6:16 pmIf the universe is determinisitc - they've been programmed to disagree.
if it's not deterministic - they are choosing to disagree for whatever reasons.
If. That about covers it.
iambiguous wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 5:54 pm There are those in the simulation. There are those who created the simulation. There is nature with its immutable laws of matter wholly responsible for...both?
Skepdick wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 6:16 pmI understand the concept of immutability. I've never seen or experienced anything immutable.
On the other hand, in the either/or world, mathemathics, nature, the empirical world around us, the logical rules of language etc., come about as close as we are likely to ever get to it. On the other, other hand, what about human consciousness? Is that somehow the exception?
iambiguous wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 5:54 pm As with the absence of God, the absence of definitive proof that we are either in or not in an alien simulation means we can speculate until we are blue in the face but we have no God/alien race to go to for the "final answer".
Skepdick wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 6:16 pmThe final answer is that there are no final answers. Welcome to the suck!
I hear that!
iambiguous wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 5:54 pm Or so it seems to me. But I'm the first to admit I'm not thinking this through correctly. But then who is? If someone were able to provide us with the definitive answer, would s/he not be an actual "celebrity" by now? The talk of the town around the globe?
Skepdick wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 6:16 pmWell, before you can identify the person who is thinking "correctly", I figure you'd have to address a bunch of questions: What would thinking correctly be like? What would answering the deep, important final questions be like? What would it be like to finally discover The Truth?
"Questions without answers" as Basil put it to Zorba.
Or without answers yet.
iambiguous wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 5:54 pm Well, this is what I call a "general description intellectual contraption".

What we need to do is to bring it down to Earth.

Meet Mary. She is pregnant and doesn't want to be. She decides to get an abortion. She gets the abortion. Others find out about it. Some support her, others condemn her.

How, given your assessment of free will, determinism, compatibilism and a sim world reality would you reconfigure your assumptions above in reacting to her behavior yourself?
Skepdick wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 6:16 pmWhy would I even invest any energy in a reconfiguration?

If I don't have free will - I am behaving in accordance with my programming.
If I have free will - I am behaving in a way that I am indifferent to Mary's choices.
If again. Only to Mary and those who rally around her or who want to lock her up, leaps they must make to one or another conclusion. Then back to the suck.
iambiguous wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 5:54 pm Again, my own main interest revolves around moral responsibility. Is Mary morally responsible here? Is there a way to determine [even given a free will world] that she should perhaps be punished for killing her unborn fetus?
Skepdick wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 6:16 pmI you believe in free will - surely you believe in one's freedom to reject one's moral responsibility?

Free will changes nothing in practice.

If we have free will - the murderer is morally responsible because free men created laws against murder, and a judge freely chooses to enforce them.
If we don't have free will - the murderer was pre-programmed to murder and the judge was pre-programmed to sentence him to life imprisonment.

Nothing changes.
Well, if you are the unborn fetus about to be obliterated wouldn't it matter that Mary did have the option not to abort you? Couldn't she have bumped into someone who managed to change her mind and bring you into the world?
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Re: compatibilism

Post by Terrapin Station »

iambiguous wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 9:50 pm
Terrapin Station wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 3:20 pm
iambiguous wrote: Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:27 pm From my frame of mind, if the human brain is entirely in sync with the laws of matter, then there was never any possibility of this friend not choosing the abortion.
So, for one, although it's frustrating that this aspect of the discussion never goes anywhere (I don't know if it simply doesn't register with folks when you say it, or if they're simply not interested or what . . .), I'm not a realist on "laws of matter." That is, I don't believe that there are literally something like laws that everything necessarily, deterministically works via.
I'm not sure how you relate this point to an actual flesh and blood woman choosing to take the life of an actual flesh and blood human fetus.
You were talking about determinism a la everything being subject to laws of matter. If there are no real laws of matter, then this isn't an issue for free will.
All I know is how exasperating it can be that we do not have access to an argument [let alone a demonstrable argument] that resolves it once and for all.
I'm not sure what you're talking about here. I guess you're wanting something that resolves moral issues so that everyone winds up agreeing? I don't think there could be anything like that. I'm a subjectivist on morals/ethics. On my view, moral/ethical stances are ways that individuals feel about behavior, and different people are always going to feel different ways. There's nothing more to it on my view than how individuals feel. It's a lot like gustatory or aesthetic taste.
Same with what you believe. Do you believe it even though you were able to opt freely to believe something else instead? Or "for all practical purposes" were you never able not to believe it?
I don't remember if it was this board or another philosophy board I participate on, but I was just having a long discussion with someone about how on my view, we can not simply choose our beliefs.
Same here. There's what each of us believe about things like this. And then there's our capacity to demonstrate that all rational men and women are obligated to believe the same.
Again, this latter part isn't something I'd agree with. I'd agree with people ideally agreeing on objective facts, but morality/ethics isn't a matter of objective facts.
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Re: compatibilism

Post by Sculptor »

iambiguous wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 9:34 pm
Sculptor wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 11:15 am Any free act has to be the result of internal causes. Where else is there? You are mistaking what "we" is. We are a microcosm of the universe and act like all other things in the universe. What the "we" is in your sentence are individuated agents of change. And what we want directs our actions that can change the world around us. If we are not forced or compelled from outside forces then we are free.

WE have control over the outside world. Being free mean doing what we will but how can we will as we will. It matters not how many times you think back on the paths of causality, eventually you have to confront determinism within.

When I make a choice it is thankfully based on antecedant factors such as motivation, volition, education, experience. and so on. When I act, I act determinedly, not by a whim, not capriciously, but determined by my will.
As I noted to Skepdick above...
...this is what I call a "general description intellectual contraption".

What we need to do is to bring it down to Earth.

Meet Mary. She is pregnant and doesn't want to be. She decides to get an abortion. She gets the abortion. Others find out about it. Some support her, others condemn her.

How, given your assessment of free will, determinism, compatibilism and a sim world reality would you reconfigure your assumptions above in reacting to her behavior yourself?

Again, my own main interest revolves around moral responsibility. Is Mary morally responsible here? Is there a way to determine [even given a free will world] that she should perhaps be punished for killing her unborn fetus?
How would you reconfigure your point above into a discussion with Mary and those who react in conflicting ways to her abortion? Or choose your own context.
I do not see the instance of Mary to have any special significance to my appraoch.
How I understand determinism and compatibilism works with any scenario you migh dream up.
Clearly any difficulty that Mary has in making her decision as to having or not having an abortion would be weighed by several factors. Outside factors would include social pressure and possible moral sanctions from society, which would restrict her free will in the matter. But one thing is for sure that given the same moment in time and all things being equal her decision would be preserved in any situation of eternal recurrance. At the moment she decides there would have to be some other causative factor in place for her to make a different choice. Were that not so, then the only thing that could explain such a difference would be some genuinely random factor in the fabric of the universe which I do not think possible in any event. Once the dice leave the hand the number it lands on is set.
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Re: compatibilism

Post by iambiguous »

Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 6:33 pm
iambiguous wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 5:21 pm So, we take what amounts to a Kierkegaardian leap of faith to volition and, from the cradle to the grave, do what we do.
Absolutely. Human beings, even when they use science, do not have "for sure" knowledge. They have high-probability expectations, which are, for most purposes, almost as good as having "for sure" knowledge. But there is something Kierkegaardian in even the most "for sure" things we think we know.

Most of life, anyway, is not fortified with precise scientific experiments. For most of what we do, we take our knowledge as good enough to get us through, and act on faith in it.
The best of all possible worlds perhaps. Although for those I call the "objectivists", the worst of all possible worlds. The best of all possible worlds for them being to think as they do. And not just in regard to human interactions in the either/or world, but in the is/ought world in turn. For them moral and political value judgments might just as well be mathematical equations.
Then the part where "for all practical purposes" those who lead successful, accomplished lives insist that it is all of their own doing, while those who lead lives that are anything but can think to themselves "well, it's all 'beyond my control' anyway".
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 7:27 pmYes, you've got it. And this brings us to the point where the ethicists become involved. For it's a matter of what they call "praise" and "blame."

To illustrate, if I win the Academy Award for best picture...do I deserve it? I'd like to think, yes. But if my production was merely the cumulation of previous inevitable forces, why am I on the podium, taking the award and smiling? Should not every Academy Award simply be given to "the Universe"? :wink:
That's always the part that I tend to focus on. Especially in regard to "moral responsibility". Since my main interest in philosophy revolves around the question, "how ought one to live in a world bursting at the seams with both conflicting goods and contingency, chance and change?", I can't help but wonder if I have any actual capacity to either ask or to answer the question...freely?
Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 6:33 pmYes, that's the right question.

Believing in Determinism turns out to have a sort of "Russian doll" type structure: solve one question, and there's another inside it. So, for example, I decide that I believe in Materialism. But is that "belief" a rational one, or is it, like everything else, a product of prior causal-material forces that are inherently, of course, indifferent to truth? And what about the question I'm asking about my belief? Is that also just a product of some other prior causal-material inducements? And what about the question about the question about my belief...? And so on.
And, for me, so on until we go all the way back to what must surely be the biggest questions of them all...

1] why something and not nothing?
2] why this something and not something else?

In other words, probing where the "human condidtion" fits into an understanding of existence itself. Only in going that far back, we seem to be confronted with just how "infinitesimally insignificant" "I" must be in the context of "all there is". This in and of itself is enough to make some pull back from philosophy altogether.
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 7:27 pm
The obvious mistake, the one everybody makes instantly, is to imagine that foreknowledge and predetermination are the same. But whereas the latter may, arguably, include the former, there's actually no reason the former has to imply the latter.
This makes sense to you, but I still can't wrap my head around it. If God knows the Rams will win the Superbowl this year, then, given my own understanding of an omniscient/omnipotent God, that in and of itself predetermines it.

Thus...
My thinking and my acting would seem seamlessly intertwined in God's all-knowing vantage point. Otherwise it's "all knowing" with an asterisk.
Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 6:33 pmI think the problem is that Determinism gives us a one-track model of the universe. And we think that any mind God has must also be one-track: there's only that which will happen, and that which will not.
Yes. Here, for me, in either a God or No God world, determinism encompasses everything.

Thus this...
Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 6:33 pmBut this is not the only model possible, and it's not the Biblical model, actually. The model of the universe that is revealed in the Bible is of a place in which there are some "fixed" things, like material laws, and some things that involve possibilities...especially where volition, whether divine or human, is the chief causal agency.

So God knows all possible outcomes of a human decision. He does not have a one-track mind. He sees the universe as laid out before him, if we might picture it thus, as a sort of "map" or "web" of the possible and the actual. He knows what routes could be taken, and what routes we will take. But at no point does He need to intervene to force us down one route more than another, because he knows what's going on on the total "map" at all times.
...just doesn't sink in for me. It seems more in the way of "thinking up" a way in which to rationalize an omniscient God with human freedom.

then back to this...
Though I'm the first to admit I may well not be thinking this through correctly. But what does that even mean in discussions of God?
This and Donald Rumsfeld's contribution:

"There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know."

Especially in regard to the Big Questions in philosophy.
Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 6:33 pmOkay, maybe so. But there's a problem: how do we know what the yet-to-be-knowns are? Do we just pull up at the first sign of a confusion or problem, and say, "Aha -- that must be something we can never know"? If we did, how are we to learn anything?

So we can't just stop there, can we?
Stopping isn't a realistic option for most of us. We'll go to the grave with at least some hope of getting closer to understanding more than we do now. But then we don't even know if the human brain "here and now" is even capable of answering the biggest questions of them all. Just imagine the gap between what science could pin down a 1,000 years ago, can pin down now and what might be pinned down a 1,000 years from now. Even a 100 years from now. But how is there getting around accepting that fact that if death equals oblivion, so much will remain a profound mystery to us all the way to The End.

Here, as with most things, that is rooted in dasein for me. In how each of our individual lives unfold to predispose us to embody one frame of mind rather than another.
Yes, and this would be the case in regard to "I" in the is/ought world as well. Human moral and political and spiritual value judgments would seem entirely interchangeable in the only possible world.
Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 6:33 pmIt's worse than even that, I think.

The moral world, the world of the "ought" has to be entirely illusory. And all our moral judgments, like our cognitions, identity, reasons, and science itself, have to be nothing other than the outcomes of physical-material causes.

So, for example, the only reason we can believe slavery/rape/pedophelia/axe murder are wrong is that the physical-material forces of the universe have caused there to be a chemical in our brain that jolts us in a particular way when one of these things is implicated. But that jolt does not indicate anything, except that physical-material forces are doing what they do.

There is no actual "wrongness" that is being detected or signalled by the jolt. The jolt is just jolting. It's what jolts do.
Given determinism [as I understand it], I am basically on the same page here. Only, for me, even given free will, "I" in the is/ought world, is hopelessly "fractured and fragmented". Derived largely from the manner in which I construe human interactions re the OP on these threads:

https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... 1&t=176529
https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... 1&t=194382
https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... 5&t=185296
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Immanuel Can
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Re: compatibilism

Post by Immanuel Can »

iambiguous wrote: Fri Jan 28, 2022 11:47 pm The best of all possible worlds perhaps. Although for those I call the "objectivists", the worst of all possible worlds. The best of all possible worlds for them being to think as they do. And not just in regard to human interactions in the either/or world, but in the is/ought world in turn. For them moral and political value judgments might just as well be mathematical equations.
The problem is that science itself relies on a form of objectivism. For absent an objective world with objective physical laws, why should we expect any regularities from the empirical? And how should we believe that our predictions and data are reliable or our conclusions durable, if there's no objectivity?

And do not all scientists attempt to look at the data "objectively"?
And, for me, so on until we go all the way back to what must surely be the biggest questions of them all...

1] why something and not nothing?
2] why this something and not something else?

In other words, probing where the "human condidtion" fits into an understanding of existence itself. Only in going that far back, we seem to be confronted with just how "infinitesimally insignificant" "I" must be in the context of "all there is". This in and of itself is enough to make some pull back from philosophy altogether.
Not me. I think it's a great reason to keep thinking about it.

If the odds against us being here are infinite, then it suggests that something quite marvelous is at work in the objective fact that we are here. Some sort of very powerful explanation will be required to satisfy us that we have accounted for such vast unlikelihood.

It's like if we went to Vegas, and every time we spun the roulette wheel all evening, it gave us nothing but "12" every time. You and I would instantly realize there must be something amiss...something rigged, jammed or arranged...for that sort of vast improbability doesn't "just happen." We'd know that intuitively, wouldn't we?

And we'd certainly start putting our money on "12". :wink:
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 7:27 pm
The obvious mistake, the one everybody makes instantly, is to imagine that foreknowledge and predetermination are the same. But whereas the latter may, arguably, include the former, there's actually no reason the former has to imply the latter.
This makes sense to you, but I still can't wrap my head around it.
I understand. But simplify it this way, so you can get a handle on it: "know" and "make" are not the same verb. That's a common-sensical enough handle to help one start to grasp the idea.
Yes. Here, for me, in either a God or No God world, determinism encompasses everything.

Well, then, what makes you feel so committed to the one-track model of the world?
Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 6:33 pmBut this is not the only model possible, and it's not the Biblical model, actually. The model of the universe that is revealed in the Bible is of a place in which there are some "fixed" things, like material laws, and some things that involve possibilities...especially where volition, whether divine or human, is the chief causal agency.

So God knows all possible outcomes of a human decision. He does not have a one-track mind. He sees the universe as laid out before him, if we might picture it thus, as a sort of "map" or "web" of the possible and the actual. He knows what routes could be taken, and what routes we will take. But at no point does He need to intervene to force us down one route more than another, because he knows what's going on on the total "map" at all times.
...just doesn't sink in for me. It seems more in the way of "thinking up" a way in which to rationalize an omniscient God with human freedom.
Give it time, then. Because it's much more reflective of the way you actually live your life.

As I said earlier, nobody is able to live like a Determinist. Nobody. Not the most ardent Determinist. We all get up and behave as if we have options, and that our choices matter, and that they are our own, and that we have to consider "possibilities" of things happening. We don't just put our feet on the floor in the morning, and sigh, and say, "Que sera, sera." We get up and make choices.

The Existentialists, particularly Kierkegaard, really got this bit right.
Immanuel Can wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 6:33 pmOkay, maybe so. But there's a problem: how do we know what the yet-to-be-knowns are? Do we just pull up at the first sign of a confusion or problem, and say, "Aha -- that must be something we can never know"? If we did, how are we to learn anything?

So we can't just stop there, can we?
Stopping isn't a realistic option for most of us.

There it is! That's the point.

We cannot realistically behave as if Determinism is true. We have to act as if it's not. There's no choice about it.

The Existentialists would say we are "thrown into" existence. We find ourselves pitched into the middle of a world we don't understand, but one that's moving, dynamic and demanding of our choices: we are, to quote Sartre, "condemned to be free," i.e. condemned to make choices. There is no such thing as a human being who can simply capitulate to Determinism -- except a dead one. All living ones are forced to make choices constantly -- so the Existentialists advise us to make them deliberately, purposefully, meaningfully and "authentically," as they would say.

Even the choice to pretend not to choose is a choice.

Meanwhile, "dasein" is a dynamic, "living" idea, not one locked in the hardened cement of Determinism. For the Existentialists, it is precisely because we are entities-in-motion, entities in the web of choices, that dasein is an appropriate description of our mode of being.
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Re: compatibilism

Post by iambiguous »

Terrapin Station wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 10:37 pm
iambiguous wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 9:50 pm
Terrapin Station wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 3:20 pm

So, for one, although it's frustrating that this aspect of the discussion never goes anywhere (I don't know if it simply doesn't register with folks when you say it, or if they're simply not interested or what . . .), I'm not a realist on "laws of matter." That is, I don't believe that there are literally something like laws that everything necessarily, deterministically works via.
I'm not sure how you relate this point to an actual flesh and blood woman choosing to take the life of an actual flesh and blood human fetus.
You were talking about determinism a la everything being subject to laws of matter. If there are no real laws of matter, then this isn't an issue for free will.
All I know is how exasperating it can be that we do not have access to an argument [let alone a demonstrable argument] that resolves it once and for all.
I'm not sure what you're talking about here. I guess you're wanting something that resolves moral issues so that everyone winds up agreeing? I don't think there could be anything like that. I'm a subjectivist on morals/ethics. On my view, moral/ethical stances are ways that individuals feel about behavior, and different people are always going to feel different ways. There's nothing more to it on my view than how individuals feel. It's a lot like gustatory or aesthetic taste.
Same with what you believe. Do you believe it even though you were able to opt freely to believe something else instead? Or "for all practical purposes" were you never able not to believe it?
I don't remember if it was this board or another philosophy board I participate on, but I was just having a long discussion with someone about how on my view, we can not simply choose our beliefs.
Same here. There's what each of us believe about things like this. And then there's our capacity to demonstrate that all rational men and women are obligated to believe the same.
Again, this latter part isn't something I'd agree with. I'd agree with people ideally agreeing on objective facts, but morality/ethics isn't a matter of objective facts.
I agree that even if we accept that "somehow" matter, in evolving into biological life on Earth, evolving into us, brought free will/autonomy/volition into existence in the human brain, morality is still largely subjective/intersubjective...embedded historically, culturally and experientially out in particular worlds understood in particular ways by individuals living what can be very different lives.

Again, my own understanding of human identity in the is/ought world revolves around the points I made in the OP here: https://www.ilovephilosophy.com/viewtop ... 1&t=176529

But...

In the manner in which I understand determinism, the is/ought world itself is interchangeable with the either/or world. It is basically a psychological illusion derived from nature programming our brains to believe that we are free to opt for behaviors that come into conflict with others. But these conflicts themselves unfold only as they ever could have in the only possible reality in the only possible world given that the laws of matter are applicable to all matter...including human brain matter.

It's just that self-conscious brain matter -- living matter itself -- is so startling different from all other matter that one can't help but suspect that maybe there really is some measure of free will involved.

Which some then attribute to God.
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Re: compatibilism

Post by iambiguous »

Sculptor wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 11:33 pm I do not see the instance of Mary to have any special significance to my appraoch.
How I understand determinism and compatibilism works with any scenario you migh dream up.
Clearly any difficulty that Mary has in making her decision as to having or not having an abortion would be weighed by several factors. Outside factors would include social pressure and possible moral sanctions from society, which would restrict her free will in the matter. But one thing is for sure that given the same moment in time and all things being equal her decision would be preserved in any situation of eternal recurrance. At the moment she decides there would have to be some other causative factor in place for her to make a different choice. Were that not so, then the only thing that could explain such a difference would be some genuinely random factor in the fabric of the universe which I do not think possible in any event. Once the dice leave the hand the number it lands on is set.
Well, given my own understanding of determinism, even if Mary thought that she was having difficulty making up her mind there was never any possibility of her not having thought that. She would weigh only what the laws of matter compelled her to weigh. And outside factors, like the factors inside her head, would be inherently/necessarily intertwined in the only possible reality. All things always being equal to the laws of matter.

Even speculation on our part in regard to randomness is not in the least random. It is merely what the laws of matter propel our brains to think up.

Only I am no less able to demonstrate that definitively than you are able to demonstrate what you believe definitively. It's just what we were never able to not "think up" "in our heads" given the only possible reality in the only possible world.

We're all stuck there until someone finally resolves it once and for all. And it's already been literally thousands of years now since this particular antinomy first occurred to someone.
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Re: compatibilism

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iambiguous wrote: Sat Jan 29, 2022 2:43 am
Sculptor wrote: Thu Jan 27, 2022 11:33 pm I do not see the instance of Mary to have any special significance to my appraoch.
How I understand determinism and compatibilism works with any scenario you migh dream up.
Clearly any difficulty that Mary has in making her decision as to having or not having an abortion would be weighed by several factors. Outside factors would include social pressure and possible moral sanctions from society, which would restrict her free will in the matter. But one thing is for sure that given the same moment in time and all things being equal her decision would be preserved in any situation of eternal recurrance. At the moment she decides there would have to be some other causative factor in place for her to make a different choice. Were that not so, then the only thing that could explain such a difference would be some genuinely random factor in the fabric of the universe which I do not think possible in any event. Once the dice leave the hand the number it lands on is set.
Well, given my own understanding of determinism, even if Mary thought that she was having difficulty making up her mind there was never any possibility of her not having thought that. She would weigh only what the laws of matter compelled her to weigh. And outside factors, like the factors inside her head, would be inherently/necessarily intertwined in the only possible reality. All things always being equal to the laws of matter.
That is what I said.

Even speculation on our part in regard to randomness is not in the least random. It is merely what the laws of matter propel our brains to think up.
In my view what we think of as random is just unpredictable due to lack of information.
But even if it makes sense what people talk about Quanum randomness, this cannot advance a claim of radical free will.
My instinct tells me that all QM phenomena are due to a misunderstanding and lack of knowledge.
]quote]
Only I am no less able to demonstrate that definitively than you are able to demonstrate what you believe definitively. It's just what we were never able to not "think up" "in our heads" given the only possible reality in the only possible world.
[/quote]
This bit seems confused.

We're all stuck there until someone finally resolves it once and for all. And it's already been literally thousands of years now since this particular antinomy first occurred to someone.
It is no antinomy at all.
Determinism rocks. Free will just means not being pushed around by any one .
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Re: compatibilism

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iambiguous wrote: Fri Jan 28, 2022 11:47 pm Here, for me, in either a God or No God world, determinism encompasses everything.
Except this: it is utterly unrelated to how anybody ever experiences reality, or how he/she lives his/her life. :shock: :shock: :shock:

That's the astonishing fact. Without exception, people do not think or act like Determinists.

Yet Determinism has its attractions, all the same. It's so utterly comprehensive, for one thing. It answers every question one way: "It was fated to happen that way." And how unassailable that idea is! How incapable of falsification, how immune to rebuff! It provides a tidy solution to every dilemma -- even if such certitude comes at the expense of wiping out human volition and human identity. For many us, that is a price we are willing to pay for the latching-onto of such an answer.

My personal responsibility is gone. My moral struggles are over. My choices cannot ever be wrong, because "I" didn't really make them. No regrets, no guilt, no uncertainty, no accountability or judgment...and if freedom is also gone, the security such an answer offers, and the boost it gives to my sense of having resolved my human angst makes it a decent bargain, we say; I'll take it.

And yet, what an empty answer that is.

It all reminds me of a fellow undergrad in my history program, who wrote every essay with the following causal attribution: "God did it." (That's the Ultracalvinist answer, of course.)

Why did the Napoleonic Wars begin when they did? God said they had to. Why did Socrates give up his life? God made him. Why did the Munich accord not hold? God had foreordained WW 2. This was always the student's answer: and the professor was deeply perplexed as to how he could encourage the student toward a more meaningful causal-historical kind of understanding, without the politically-incorrect expedient of offending against the student's "faith."

But is it any better at all, if secular Determinism is substituted?

Why did the Napoleonic Wars begin when they did? Answer: causal necessity. Why did Socrates commit suicide? Answer again: causal necessity. History turns into a one-answer chant that actually tells us nothing at all. Yet, even this price some will pay to remain theoretically (though never, never actually) committed to Determinism.

I can't fail to think of the remark of G.K. Chesterton in his essay, "The Maniac." There, he speaks of exactly this sort of one-answer-fits-all thinking. And he says of such an ideologue, "He is in the clean and well-lit prison of one idea."

That's so good. That's so right. The "one idea" of Determinism is clean -- simple and straightforward -- and "well-lit" -- so obvious to the mind at first glance. But it is a "prison" nonetheless: for the cost of believing it is the stultifying of all human knowledge, activity, choices, morality, achievement, science and hope...all swallowed up at a single gulp, by the "one idea."

And nobody, nobody, is ever able to live out the "one idea." That's the overriding fact that should bring us to doubt that we are being told the truth at all. For however many charms Determinism may have, it utterly fails to reflect reality. And so we do well to become suspicious that we have been invited by it not merely into a realm of clarity and simplicity, but into a prison indeed -- a place where no life can thrive, no freedoms are possible, and all is boxed into that single thought.
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Re: compatibilism

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Two Conceptions of Free Will
Matthew Gliatto
Published in ILLUMINATION
The concept of free will is subtle and is easily misunderstood. One major cause of the confusion is that people often conflate two different conceptions of free will: compatibilist free will and libertarian free will. One of these, libertarian free will, is truly free will, while the other, compatibilist free will, can be thought of as either a misunderstanding or an excuse. But either way, it is not actually free will.
That's basically the assumption that I start with. Only I am immediately confronted with what may or may not be the fact that I was never able to not make that assumption. And that libertarian free will and compatibilist free will are just two sides of the same six of one, half a dozen of the other coin. Nature flips it autonomically going back to whatever brought into existence nature itself.

Whatever that means.

Then the part where all of this is discussed in "concepts". What are concepts but "worlds of words" in which words define and defend the meaning of other words. Definitional logic as it were.

In other words, it is not likely to get around to Mary above with a bun in the oven that she is undecided about getting rid of.

Oh, well...

Click.

Let me explain that. "Click" in the sense I am assuming that I do have at least some measure of free will here. I am opting to conclude what I do but only because in thinking it through to the best of my ability I did not opt toward a different, conflicting conclusion.
In order to understand the distinction between the two, one must first understand the concept of determinism. Since antiquity, people have been wondering whether or not the course of history is pre-determined. Determinism says yes, it is. According to a determinist, once the initial conditions of the world were set up, it was pre-determined that everything would happen exactly as it did. It was pre-determined that the Roman Empire would fall in 476 AD. It was pre-determined that the Spanish Armada would sink in 1588. It was pre-determined that the coronavirus pandemic would happen in 2020. You get the idea. There was only ever one possibility for the history of the world. And likewise, there’s only one possibility for the future.
Here perhaps what may well be the biggest conundrum of them all. Since we don't have access to an understanding of what the "initial conditions" were when matter first came into existence, what can we possibly know for certain about it now?

All we do seem certain of is that lifeless matter evolved into living matter evolved into us. And we are actually able to be cognizant of the past, the present and the future. But cognizant in what sense?

And that's before we get to solipsism, sim worlds, dream words and the Matrix.
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Re: compatibilism

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iambiguous wrote: Fri Jan 28, 2022 11:47 pm The best of all possible worlds perhaps. Although for those I call the "objectivists", the worst of all possible worlds. The best of all possible worlds for them being to think as they do. And not just in regard to human interactions in the either/or world, but in the is/ought world in turn. For them moral and political value judgments might just as well be mathematical equations.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 29, 2022 12:18 am The problem is that science itself relies on a form of objectivism. For absent an objective world with objective physical laws, why should we expect any regularities from the empirical? And how should we believe that our predictions and data are reliable or our conclusions durable, if there's no objectivity?

And do not all scientists attempt to look at the data "objectively"?
Yes, but science starts with the assumption that in the either/or world, certain correlations between matter seem to stand the test of time. They may not have pinned down an ontological -- teleological? -- understanding of cause and effect, but there are material interactions/relationships that are certain enough to send astronauts to the moon, or to create the technologies all around us, or to accomplish astounding engineering feats, or to sustain centuries old conclusions drawn by physicists, chemists, biologists and the like.

No, for me the mystery is always embedded in the is/ought world. What can we be certain of there...even in presuming to have free will. That and my inability to grasp the point of the compatibilists. Those who "in their heads" reconcile determinism with moral responsibility. That simply doesn't make sense to me. But I am more than willing to acknowledge this may revolve around me...my own failure to grasp their point.
And, for me, so on until we go all the way back to what must surely be the biggest questions of them all...

1] why something and not nothing?
2] why this something and not something else?

In other words, probing where the "human condition" fits into an understanding of existence itself. Only in going that far back, we seem to be confronted with just how "infinitesimally insignificant" "I" must be in the context of "all there is". This in and of itself is enough to make some pull back from philosophy altogether.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 29, 2022 12:18 amNot me. I think it's a great reason to keep thinking about it.

If the odds against us being here are infinite, then it suggests that something quite marvelous is at work in the objective fact that we are here. Some sort of very powerful explanation will be required to satisfy us that we have accounted for such vast unlikelihood.
Yes, even here there are many different reactions any particular one of us might have. Perhaps it then comes down to how close you are to death itself. If it's right around the corner then it can hit you that you will go to the grave utterly ignorant of "what it all means". Or if you are convinced "I" is sustained on "the other side", you can convince yourself you will find the answer then.
Immanuel Can wrote: Wed Jan 26, 2022 7:27 pm
The obvious mistake, the one everybody makes instantly, is to imagine that foreknowledge and predetermination are the same. But whereas the latter may, arguably, include the former, there's actually no reason the former has to imply the latter.
This makes sense to you, but I still can't wrap my head around it.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 29, 2022 12:18 amI understand. But simplify it this way, so you can get a handle on it: "know" and "make" are not the same verb. That's a common-sensical enough handle to help one start to grasp the idea.
With mere mortals, however, in not being omniscient, what they think they know about the future and what they can make others do given this knowledge is one thing. With an omniscient being? In my head, that changers things.
Yes. Here, for me, in either a God or No God world, determinism encompasses everything.

Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 29, 2022 12:18 amWell, then, what makes you feel so committed to the one-track model of the world?
That's rooted subjectively/existentially in dasein. With regard to my thinking about determinism/free will/compatibilism, I've lived a particular life. And given this unique and personal life of mine, I've had a particular set of experiences, relationships and encounters with information and knowledge. Meaning that I did not have other experiences, relationships and access to information and knowledge that might have predisposed me to think other than as I do here and now.

It's a way of understanding "I" in the is/ought world and in regard to the Big Questions that I'm only more or less successful in imparting to others.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 29, 2022 12:18 amAs I said earlier, nobody is able to live like a Determinist. Nobody. Not the most ardent Determinist. We all get up and behave as if we have options, and that our choices matter, and that they are our own, and that we have to consider "possibilities" of things happening. We don't just put our feet on the floor in the morning, and sigh, and say, "Que sera, sera." We get up and make choices.

The Existentialists, particularly Kierkegaard, really got this bit right.
Okay, but, again, how we live in a wholly determined universe from my frame of mind is the only possible way in which we could have lived. And that includes how we think about it. That we convince ourselves that what may be may well not be if we opt for something else doesn't change the fact that it will be what it can only be. We have no option other than to delude ourselves that we do have other options.

Like when we watch a movie and tumble down into the illusion that the actors are speaking their minds in an exchange that is entirely scripted.

And Kierkegaard not only took a leap of faith to God but a leap of faith to the assumption that his leap of faith to God was an actual option.

We are compelled only to believe that we are condemned to be free. Sartre was no less himself reciting "lines" that nature "scripted".
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Re: compatibilism

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iambiguous wrote: Sun Jan 30, 2022 7:11 pm ...science starts with the assumption that in the either/or world, certain correlations between matter seem to stand the test of time. They may not have pinned down an ontological -- teleological? -- understanding of cause and effect, but there are material interactions/relationships that are certain enough to send astronauts to the moon, or to create the technologies all around us, or to accomplish astounding engineering feats, or to sustain centuries old conclusions drawn by physicists, chemists, biologists and the like.
Right. But as it turns out, all that "objective" knowledge is once again probabilstic knowledge, not absolute knowledge. Yet, even for purposes like getting to the moon, it's good-enough knowledge.
...my inability to grasp the point of the compatibilists. Those who "in their heads" reconcile determinism with moral responsibility. That simply doesn't make sense to me. But I am more than willing to acknowledge this may revolve around me...my own failure to grasp their point.

Well, they're hung up between two things: they see the sort of "formal elegance" of Determinism, and that it seems to answer so many questions that cause them anxiety; at the same time, they can't escape the fact that everything in our existential experience requires that we practice a belief in free will.

Not able to reconcile the two, but not wanting to lose either, they opt for a kind of "train tracks" model...two ideas that never meet, receding into eternity, but somehow are supposed to convey the truth on their back. Affirm both, plead to mystery, and somehow things are supposed to work out.

But Compatibilism is really always one or the other, when you dig down, it seems. It's always either a commitment to total Determinism glossed over by the irrelevant observation that we human beings are unconscious of the deep fact of Determination, or else the mistake that a partial Determinism is possible -- like, "Scientific laws are determined, but human behaviour is not all determined."

Of course, in neither form does Compatibilism make sense.
And, for me, so on until we go all the way back to what must surely be the biggest questions of them all...

1] why something and not nothing?
2] why this something and not something else?

In other words, probing where the "human condition" fits into an understanding of existence itself. Only in going that far back, we seem to be confronted with just how "infinitesimally insignificant" "I" must be in the context of "all there is". This in and of itself is enough to make some pull back from philosophy altogether.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 29, 2022 12:18 amNot me. I think it's a great reason to keep thinking about it.

If the odds against us being here are infinite, then it suggests that something quite marvelous is at work in the objective fact that we are here. Some sort of very powerful explanation will be required to satisfy us that we have accounted for such vast unlikelihood.
Yes, even here there are many different reactions any particular one of us might have. Perhaps it then comes down to how close you are to death itself. If it's right around the corner then it can hit you that you will go to the grave utterly ignorant of "what it all means". Or if you are convinced "I" is sustained on "the other side", you can convince yourself you will find the answer then.
But why be reconciled to either of those choices? Why not simply say, "There's something about this I don't presently grasp; let's keep thinking about it?" Why would we feel obliged to go the further step of believing the answers are just hopelessly beyond mortal grasp?

In fact, does not the latter strike you as a rather unscientific and anti-educational way to jump to a conclusion? After all, that somebody does not know something today gives us no reason to suppose he won't tomorrow. And science and education both presume he might.
With mere mortals, however, in not being omniscient, what they think they know about the future and what they can make others do given this knowledge is one thing. With an omniscient being? In my head, that changers things.
I get that. It's easy to recognize that fallible beings like humans can correctly foreknow the future result of something without causing it. Add the idea of complete foreknowledge, and somehow it seems different.

But I think it's really not. I cannot see any feature of the completeness of the knowledge that transmogrifies it into action. Knowing remains knowing, and is not an external action but an inner state; it take an act of making to make something happen in the external world.
Immanuel Can wrote: Sat Jan 29, 2022 12:18 amAs I said earlier, nobody is able to live like a Determinist. Nobody. Not the most ardent Determinist. We all get up and behave as if we have options, and that our choices matter, and that they are our own, and that we have to consider "possibilities" of things happening. We don't just put our feet on the floor in the morning, and sigh, and say, "Que sera, sera." We get up and make choices.

The Existentialists, particularly Kierkegaard, really got this bit right.
Okay, but, again, how we live in a wholly determined universe from my frame of mind is the only possible way in which we could have lived.

Well, that's a kind of "Compatibiist-style" question, isn't it? It takes for granted that the universe (for some reason, the Material or the metaphysical) just HAS to be Determined, and then tries to carve back some place for questions like "how we [can choose to] live."

The problem, then, is in the framing of the question; and that there cannot be an answer to it is purely an effect of the pre-existing commitment to believing in Determinism.
And that includes how we think about it. That we convince ourselves that what may be may well not be if we opt for something else doesn't change the fact that it will be what it can only be. We have no option other than to delude ourselves that we do have other options.

But if the universe were really predetermined, then how is it that we don't know it is? What sort of odd "predetermined" effect has the "predetermined" universe thrown up, that human beings all, universally, act as if Determinism isn't true, even though it is? :shock:

Do you see how bizarre that framing of the world is? In that version of things, there are all these creatures who (presumably) are predetermined to live and die as they do, unconscious of the fact of Determinism; then there's this one creature -- man -- who, for some reason we can't begin to explain, has to live entirely as if the fact Determinism were factually false. :shock:

How do we make sense of that?
And Kierkegaard not only took a leap of faith to God but a leap of faith to the assumption that his leap of faith to God was an actual option.
That's true, of course. But there are leaps of unwarranted faith, and warranted leaps of faith; and we don't do well to overlap the two in our thinking.

Science is premised on warranted leaps of faith. I think I can get this rocket to the moon; I don't know for sure, but it seems to me all my calculations are on point. I try it out, and empirically, my rocket reaches the moon as planned. I rejoice, because my warranted faith has been affirmed.

Superstition is premised on unwarranted leaps of faith. I decide that my garden-house is infested with pixies, and call out the witch doctor to eliminate them. What happens next is anybody's guess. And in reality, there were no pixies.

The problem, then, is not that Kierkegaard called for faith -- for we all, even the most rigourous and scientific of us, use faith all the time. The question is, on what basis was that faith called for? Was it called for on mere superstition, or on the basis of good reasons and maybe even empirical facts?

Then the situation gets even more complicated. For as Anselm famously said, "I believe in order to know." :shock: There are things that are solid and factual, but which one never knows until AFTER one invests some measure of faith in them: "Will this bridge hold my weight?" "Does this girl like me enough to go out with me?" "What's it like to sit at the top of Mt. Everest?" These are things we will never know until AFTER we actually do something in faith...put our weight on the bridge, ask the girl, climb the mountain...
We are compelled only to believe that we are condemned to be free. Sartre was no less himself reciting "lines" that nature "scripted".
That's the unfalsifiabillity of Determinism. It explains everything away, but explains the reason for nothing. Why was Sarte so inclined to believe in free will when others were not? He was predetermined to do so, comes back the answer.

But that is not how Sartre thought about it, nor how we, even in retrospect actually think about Sartre and his work. We think he was "special," somehow, and we attribute his views and achievements to him. And we want people to attribute our views to us, too...You wouldn't want me to turn around and say, "My friend iambiguous" is only a Determinist because material causes made him that, not because his view is rational," would you? I think you would rightly rebuke me for being reductional. You would say, "No, no, IC...I've thought about this carefully, reasoned it out, and decided that Determinism is the most likely option."

But back comes the old Determinist excuse: I say, "Yes, well, you're only saying that because the material cosmos forced you to, not because your view has in it anything rational to commend it, and not because you are especially personally thoughtful in this regard."

And if I do that, I hope you click your tongue in disgust at me, and turn away. For deep inside yourself, you know better, don't you?

So the whole Determinist explanation becomes that sort of reductional wash: nothing is rational, personally believed or carefully-thought-about and committed-to: instead, all views are mere byproducts of cosmic accident....Including belief or disbelief in Determinism.
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