Date: 2019-03-20 07:57 pm (UTC)
nyadnar17: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nyadnar17
I don't get the logic that it doesn't make sense to blame people for things or make judgement calls about behavior if free will is an illusion.

Assuming free will is an illusion and life is deterministic then me saying someone is a "bad person" or that some did a "bad action" isn't foolishness, its just a limitation of a language that was developed assuming "true" free will.

It also doesn't change the end result. It doesn't matter if someone was truly a free moral agent when they robbed the grocery store, they still have to be dealt with. Making allowances for causes we know we can affect "they robbed the store because they have a chemical imbalance" vs causes we don't know how to affect "they just fucking love the rush of crime" doesn't make people who believe that free will is an illusion hypocritical or logically inconstant.

Date: 2019-03-20 08:08 pm (UTC)
janegray: (Default)
From: [personal profile] janegray
Your brain and body chemistry determine your feelings.

Your free will determines your actions.

For example, if you are a heterosexual man, you are attracted to women, and you can't choose not to be attracted to women. You can, however, choose whether you become a rapist or not.

This was actually also used by some psychologists to draw a line between feelings that are (rightfully) despised by society, and the choice to act on those feelings. There is growing undeniable scientific evidence that pedophilia is something you are born with, like other types of sexuality. However, since pedophilia necessarily involves rape because it's not possible to have a consensual relationship with a child, a decent person who feels those urges will take every precaution to avoid ever being anywhere near children, so as to never act on those terrible feelings and to never harm a child. The thesis was that, while child-molesters are scum for their decision to harm children, pedophiles who take great care to avoid children their whole life are just people who were born with an extremely unfortunate condition.

Date: 2019-03-20 09:05 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] tcampbell1000
To Adams' credit, this is a fairly thorny philosophical issue and in terms of thoughtfulness, it was light-years ahead of most of the content in the funny pages in 1993 not written and drawn by Bill Watterson.

For that reason, I can (mostly) excuse the obvious strawmanning of Dilbert, who in these at-home strips is a fool for Dogbert to mock and a stand-in for something the cartoonist heard that sounded dumb to him (and somehow it's less charming than when Calvin takes on the same role in his wagon rides with Hobbes).

I tend to skew toward finding people accountable, but there's no easy answer here, or at least no easy answer that I would trust.
Edited Date: 2019-03-20 09:06 pm (UTC)

Date: 2019-03-21 02:50 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] tcampbell1000
That is interesting. I probably read it once, but it's been a while.

Strip format like this almost always means somebody has to be the own-ee, and it is nice that Adams allowed his closest lookalike to be the butt of some of the jokes.

Date: 2019-03-20 10:43 pm (UTC)
alicemacher: Lisa Winklemeyer from the webcomic Penny and Aggie, c2004-2011 G. Lagacé, T Campbell (Default)
From: [personal profile] alicemacher
Yet another related strip:

Adams is referring to a series of early 1980s experiments by the neuroscientist Benjamin Libet. Participants, with EEG electrodes attached, had to perform self-paced, simple motor actions such as tapping their fingers, and to note when they became conscious of their intent to perform an action. The EEG recordings revealed that there was a buildup of preparatory electrical activity in the subjects' brains (mostly in the secondary motor cortex) several hundred milliseconds before they reported awareness of their intent to move. When subsequent research by others replicated these results, some neuroscientists and philosophers took this as evidence that free will is an illusion.

However, Libet himself didn't believe his experiments ruled out free will. Instead, he found that even if there's a pre-conscious, preparatory buildup toward an action in our brain, we are still capable of consciously choosing not to perform that action. He called this the "power of veto" or "free won't." For this and other reasons, the question is far from settled within the scientific sphere.

(Thanks to my brilliant neuropsychologist wife for her help identifying and explaining the source research.)


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