It is just a cartoon, but ppl like Jerry Coyne take this argument seriously.
No part of the brain is exempt from the laws of physics. The laws of physics are not determinist, so they have no conflict with free will. It is not clear that determinism even makes any sense.
Civilization requires blaming ppl for misdeeds. You would not be reading this otherwise. So yes, we can blame ppl for what they do whether the laws of physics apply to brains or not. We have to so we can maintain order.
I know ppl who never blame dogs, because they say any bad behavior is a result of bad training, and they never blame cats, because they say cats just follow instincts. Leftists sometimes take another step and say that it is wrong to blame humans. Of course these same leftists are extremely judgmental and are always blaming others for not subscribing to the supposedly correct ideologies.
The Dilbert cartoonist likes to emphasize how ppl are irrational when they vote and make other decisions. Voting has become largely predictable by various demographic indicators, and therefore ppl are not as free as they think. There is some truth to this. But when you argue that some law of physics prevents ppl from making decisions, you are talking nonsense, because that law of physics is not in any standard textbook.
A recent Rationally Speaking philosopher podcast argues:
If someone asks you, "What caused your success (in finance, your career, etc.)?" what probably comes to mind for you is a story about how you worked hard and made smart choices. Which is likely true -- but what you don't see are all the people who also worked hard and made smart choices, but didn't succeed because luck wasn't on their side. In this episode, Julia chats with professor of economics Robert Frank about his latest book, Success and Luck: The Myth of the Modern Meritocracy. They explore questions like: Why do we discount the role of luck in success? Has luck become more important in recent years? And would acknowledging luck's importance sap our motivation to try?He is another leftist who does not believe in free will. He does not want to blame ppl for failures, and does not want to credit ppl for success. It is all determinism and luck, he says. He agrees with Pres. Barack Obama when he said, "You didn't build that."
Frank is apparently firmly convinced that ppl would more readily accept the progressive agenda if they could be convinced that everything is determinist or random. And also by asking ppl bizarre counterfactuals, like: What would happen if you were born a poor uneducated African?
If you are going to strip people of their wealth 'because they didn't earn it', I am going to extend the concept into academia as well and say that intellectuals are merely the product of determinism as well and strip them of their degrees and positions because 'they didn't earn them either.' All intellectuals and academics by this reasoning are merely outcomes of lucky chances of circumstance and had no part in their own success, and so should be stripped of their accomplishments as well...since 'they didn't achieve that.'ReplyDelete
Pot, meet kettle.