Thursday, April 22, 2021

New book on Free Will Debate

Philosophers Dan Dennett and Greg Caruso wrote a a 2018 debate on free will, and now they have expanded it into a book. From a review, they agree more than they disagree:
Both are naturalists (JD p.171) who see no supernatural interference in the workings of the world. That leaves both men accepting general determinism in the universe (JD p.33), which simply means all events and behaviours have prior causes. Therefore, the libertarian version of free will is out. Any hope that humans can generate an uncaused action is deemed a “non-starter” by Gregg (JD p.41) and “panicky metaphysics” by Dan (JD p.53). Nonetheless, both agree that “determinism does not prevent you from making choices” (JD p.36), and some of those choices are hotly debated because of “the importance of morality” (JD p.104). Laws are written to define which choices are criminal offenses. But both acknowledge that “criminal behaviour is often the result of social determinants” (JD p.110) and “among human beings, many are extremely unlucky in their initial circumstances, to say nothing of the plights that befall them later in life” (JD p.111). Therefore “our current system of punishment is obscenely cruel and unjust” (JD p.113), and both share “concern for social justice and attention to the well-being of criminals” (JD p.131).
Their hair-splitting philosophical differences are not that interesting. What interests me is how they could both have such a screwed-up view of life, and still think that they are on opposite sides of a big issue.

Caruso says we have no free will. Dennett says that we think that we do, and it is useful to maintain the illusion, but it is not real.

Without free will, there ia no consciousness. Our systems of law, ethics, morality, and politics depend on free will. Christianity is based on it. So is the scientific method. It is hard to imagine how modern civilization could even exist without free will.

These philosophers discard it all based on a belief that all events have prior causes.

When a uranium nucleus decays, is it determined by prior causes? Our best scientists cannot answer this question. But somehow these philosophers can get the answer by playing silly word games? No, it is all nonsense.

1 comment:

  1. Free will is very important in the consideration of crime. It establishes that the individual accused is to be on trial for the accused crime, not their parents and their parents before them etc.

    According to social justice theory, crime is entirely dependent upon which disenfranchised group (the more the merrier) a person belongs to first and foremost. If a person checks many boxes of grievances, they are absolved of their crimes because of past transgressions of other groups which are currently considered 'empowered' etc. If a person however belongs to one of those 'empowered' groups, they are guilty not only for what they did as an individual, but what their 'empowered' group did as well to un-empowered groups. This is nothing but blatant racism very poorly dressed up as some kind of woke original sin, and will only lead to ever increasing racial/ethnic acrimony over ever greater lengths of time of any perceived or imagined past transgressions that took place long before the litigants were even born.

    The other great tragedy of critical race theory is that is dependent upon the practitioners being utterly historically illiterate, as if they actually knew anything about history they would be confronted with the glaring fact that every group of humanity at one time or another (regardless of color) has been enslaved or mistreated by some other group. Given the time humanity has been around, everyone is in a grievance's only just a matter of how far back you want to go to start your grievance-o-meter ticking, Feel sorry for one mistreated tribe, but discover it in turn did something nasty to some previous tribe, and so on and so on until the beginning of once upon a time.