Why are we responsible for the consequences of our actions?

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This topic contains 45 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Simon Paynton 1 month ago.

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 46 total)
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  • #28597

    PopeBeanie
    Moderator

    I think that just declaring that we don’t have free will doesn’t automatically invalidate “responsibility”. How we define it and enforce it still has consequences.

    I curse you, Determinism! Or I defy you, at least, perhaps in vain, perhaps not, or perhaps because I just don’t know you as well as you know me.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by  PopeBeanie. Reason: I decided, out of respect, to capitalize the D in Determinism
    #28598

    _Robert_
    Participant

    punishing someone for doing something that they could not help but do is immoral.

    Vicious circle. We could not help but to punish that someone, LOL.

    I am leaning towards the idea that “punishment” is not really an effective deterrent. I am sure there are studies, gonna look into that. When someone stole my car by towing it away, I was not looking for punishment. My concern was that they never do it again. Either by rehabilitation if possible or by monitoring or least preferably, by confinement which is really punishment. If a convicted rapists rapes again, we have a victim of our collective failure.

    #28602

    Davis
    Participant

    I think that just declaring that we don’t have free will doesn’t automatically invalidate “responsibility”.

    How does making people responsible for what they did, if they had no choice, make any sense? We don’t make those with severe mental illnesses responsible for many of their crime, because, that doesn’t make sense. Just as we don’t blame a little baby who accidentally started a fire. That would be absurd, unless you start getting into Devil talk which I hope we don’t. We don’t hold computers responsible for doing what they are programmed to do. An enlightened person wouldn’t blame a tiger for killing a competing male tiger out for some new mates. Responsibility and morality derrive from choice and personal decisions.  If you are compelled, involuntarily to do something, then you have no moral culpability. Could you please explain, in any way, how responsibility is meaningful if you literally had absolutely no choice?  Because Sam Harris certainly doesn’t nor does Unseen nor any other absolutist I’ve read. There is the claim “they aren’t automatically incompatible” and yet no one can come up with any logical explanation.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by  Davis.
    #28603

    Unseen
    Participant

    I don’t think we know. not with certainty, but if every moment was always going to unfold as it has and every moment will unfold in the only way it can then the notion that we hold a person responsible for their actions is silly.

    We do hold people responsible. When we do.

    #28605

    Davis
    Participant

    We do hold people responsible. When we do.

    Yeah. Because we have no choice whether to make others responsible or not. Giving meaning to any of our moral choices is totally besides the point. Regardless of what we did or why…we had no option but to do what we did. Try owning up to that, and I can try to respect your position on free will.

    #28606

    Davis
    Participant

    I am leaning towards the idea that “punishment” is not really an effective deterrent.

    It really has its limits (though of course, having no consequences for people’s actions is also very problematic). When I studied the American death penalty, the ultimate conclusion, based on numerous studies, several books dedicated to the topic of capital punishment as a deterrent and many journal articles…was unanimous agreement that the death penalty is not a deterrent to murder…in any way. I have also read, an overwhelming consensus that imprisonment for minor crimes and long prison sentences for more serious crimes…have little to no deterrent effect. Especially for the many criminal who repeated their offenses and the handful who never stop. Yet in the United States and to a lesser extent other English speaking countries…the belief that long sentences deter is engrained in people’s psyche. I’d argue that it’s because we still see punishment as retributive and minimise or even ignore what solutions actually bring about rehabilitation, less repeat offenses and less crime in general. The collective “wanting someone’s blood” has led to totally ineffective justice systems and a prison system where there is barbarous cruelty.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by  Davis.
    #28607

    jakelafort
    Participant

    It is an absolute no-brainer that the idea of moral responsibility in a universe governed by strict determinism/no free will is impossible.
    I would love to hear an argument to the contrary that makes any sense.

    #28608

    Unseen
    Participant

    responsibility, in any meaningful sense, goes out the window. Ethics is a useless field. But most of them, including the otherwise intellectually honest Sam Harris, is incapable of doing that either. Mixing his belief in absolute non-free will and clockwork universe while at the same time trying to give advice on how to live their lives. As though I would have a choice or not what I actually do.

    One person without free will can say what it’s in his nature to say can have an effect on another person without free will because not having free will doesn’t insulate you from the stimuli coming at you constantly. You don’t need free will to give advice you feel like giving and the recipient doesn’t need free will to be affected by said advice.

    #28611

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Unseen strikes out.

    There is no cause and effect in anything we say feel or do in a universe that is laid out. It may appear to be cause and effect from our vantage. I once talked a gal out of suicide after four trying and draining hours. I felt like i had done something that was powerful in saving a young lady. But naah. Not if we posit as we are.

    #28616

    Davis
    Participant

    The failure to acknowledge the implications of no free will reminds me of the failure of theists to use the smarts they otherwise possess when analyzing their god.

    Indeed. I’ve read better terrible theology than Sam Harris’s book. I mean honestly, a respectable book on those who posit we have no free will based on the clock work nature of the universe (almost all them them base their opposition to free will on that) need only be a book that is about ten pages long. If they would just put down the bloody pen down after making their conclusion, which in theory is logical though I’d say hardly conclusive…then they’d be able to move on to a topic in which they could respectfully say more. Where elaboration is meaningful. But they absolutely cannot resist the urge to write more commentary. Which is a pity. But also kind of funny.

    #28617

    Unseen
    Participant

    Unseen strikes out. There is no cause and effect in anything we say feel or do in a universe that is laid out. It may appear to be cause and effect from our vantage. I once talked a gal out of suicide after four trying and draining hours. I felt like i had done something that was powerful in saving a young lady. But naah. Not if we posit as we are.

    You would  not have done anything that was not in your nature to do and that your brain didn’t order you to do, based on its organic programming and the inputs it was receiving.

    #28618

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Unseen, i am not sure what you are getting at.

    We act according to our nature? We are akin to programmed robots? And from this I am to understand what?

    #28619

    Unseen
    Participant

    Unseen, i am not sure what you are getting at. We act according to our nature? We are akin to programmed robots? And from this I am to understand what?

    I’m saying that cause and effect may bind you in terms of what you can do, but that what you can do in terms of being a cause nevertheless has effects. If it’s in your nature (your brain tells you) to want to prevent a suicide, for example, you as a cause can have the effect of preventing one.

    There was once a cop I saw interviewed on TV who happened on a boy on a bridge looking about to jump, which he did, but not before the copy caught his wrist. Using his other hand, he called it in and minutes went by where he gripped the boy’s wrist. He said he had never felt as much muscle pain in his entire life. The interviewer asked him, “He wanted to die. I wouldn’t have been against you if you had finally let go.” The cop’s simple reply, “If I had let go, I could not go on living.” It was not in his nature to do other than he did.

    We all act in ways that we don’t micromanage. Things are going on behind the scenes in our brain, some of which we find out about after they are a fait accompli and others we will never know about (you are not personally firing each neuron, for example). This is what I call someone’s nature. The bad person does what they have to do and we respond in fairly automatic ways as well.

    I hope that helps.

    #28621

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Unseen, lets not lose sight of the issue. Whether moral responsibility is applicable once having posited no free will/strict determinism.

    The choice of words in expressing my thoughts sucked. I should have said there is only cause and effect. There is no individual freedom to choose. There is a course of events which unfolds unerringly and remote causes (even billions of years ago) are as integral to the immediate effect as the preceding cause. Future events, billions of years hence are as aforementioned fixed. The chain is FIXED. We perceive. We feel pride, guilt, regret in our behavior.

    I, Jake LaFort (not my real name) felt anguish over the plight of a young woman who felt so hopeless and determined to end her life that she had the rope and the noose all set to go. She would secure the rope and wear the noose around her neck and jump from the second story bedroom as soon as her parents left the home. She told me it was a waste of my time to try. She had made up her mind. But i did not give up. Ultimately after hours of conversation she changed her mind. (from what i know she is doing well now and recently married) And i felt a sense of having made a difference in a persons life.

    Am i any more entitled to praise than a mass murderer is deserving of censure? Nope. WE had nothing to do with the chain. We are as the atoms that comprise us only matter and energy and cosmic stuff playing out a script that is written and has only one path.

    How can we legitimately be judgmental about behavior when behavior is as determined in the moment as it was billions of years ago?

    #28622

    Davis
    Participant

    If it’s in your nature (your brain tells you) to want to prevent a suicide, for example, you as a cause can have the effect of preventing one.

    LOL. Unseen is the universe clock work or not?

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