Indeed. I would class the notion of universal causal necessity/inevitability among the least meaningful and most irrelevant facts of life. Since it is always true of every event, it makes no meaningful distinctions. It is like a constant that appears on both sides of every equation and can be subtracted from both sides without affecting the result. If we use it to excuse the thief who steals your wallet, then it also excuses the judge who cuts off his hand.Papus79 wrote: ↑July 28th, 2020, 11:38 amThere's a meaningful, salient, divergence between what's ultimately or independently 'real' vs. what's relevant to us. For example the idea that at some level everything is all quarks at some level of resolution is true but we don't want to think about it in day to day use of our senses and if we had to we'd be functionally hobbled.
Free will, on the other hand, makes a meaningful and relevant distinction between a choice I make for myself versus a choice imposed upon me by someone or something else. This is useful information. It helps us to identify the cause that we need to correct when something goes wrong. For example, consider the bank teller who hands over the banks money to the robber who is pointing a gun at her. Both are taking the banks money. But to correct the bank teller's behavior, all we need do is remove the threat that caused her to give the money away. To correct the robber's behavior will require changing how he thinks about such actions in the future, and that may require punishment to induce him to engage in rehabilitation.
The fact that both the bank teller's actions and the bank robber's actions were equally inevitable due to causal necessity doesn't give us any useful guidance at all. Causal necessity makes itself trivial and useless by its own ubiquity.
But if we want to redirect that water we need to deal with the most meaningful and relevant cause of its current direction. Determinism would direct us to the Big Bang, which we can do nothing about. In fact, determinism would direct us equally to the state of things at every prior point in time, which gives us an infinite number of prior points to evaluate. Not too helpful.Papus79 wrote: ↑July 28th, 2020, 11:38 amI'd agree that, even as someone on the autistic spectrum, for someone to say that causes 'aren't real' because they had antecedent causes is like saying an apple or a loaf of bread isn't real because it's emergent from smaller constituents. That's an area where I think people who'd speak of it that way are abusing the concept of 'real' a bit. The way I'd look at determinism, and this is just what I think is my most intuitive metaphor so bear with me, it's a bit like in the now we experience we're like the end of live fire hoses. The velocity on the water coming out isn't that high meaning there's a wide range of complexity and reactivity that can come out but ultimately there's force pushing from behind us and flowing out and through us as a result. Maybe a better definition, our minds are a bit like spreaders on a gardening hose which augments the dispersal of water. Yes, there's give an take, we're not just ejecting material, we're also taking material in, iteratively changing it, sending it back out, so in that particular sense the time, human development, and subconscious as a fire hose or gardening hose and spreader is a somewhat limited-use metaphor but I think it captures something important about the kinds of forces we're balancing in our conscious and seemingly willful activity.
So, we look for the closer causes, the more direct causes, the causes we might do something about.
The key purpose of the notion of causation is for us to control future events or at least predict them so that we can be better prepared to avoid or deal with them.
Yes. But we get the relevant information from the sciences of biology, psychology, and sociology. They inform us about genetic dispositions, how people think about things, and the influence of our social environment in the formation of our personality and character. This is useful knowledge that helps us understand ourselves and others. But the fact of causal necessity tells us nothing useful, because it is always true of every event and makes no useful distinctions.Papus79 wrote: ↑July 28th, 2020, 11:38 am... but I realize it informs some of my understandings of nature, people, causality, what I'm sane to expect or not expect out of things (or what I could drive myself crazy with if I thought differently), ie. it inspires a fair amount of both stoicism and compassion. Even with a high locus of control, or at least accountability, I rarely if ever get particularly proud about achievements because I get that what aptitudes I have, even if developed by hard work, are something that still needed the right kind of genes and biology to have ever been a potential and if I might have been born to different parents, or even just a different sperm and egg, things could have been much different.
The philosophy of Justice needs to be addressed directly. What are we trying to accomplish when we create a system of justice?Papus79 wrote: ↑July 28th, 2020, 11:38 amAnd I'd make no argument against the actual complexity of the situation, just regarding the ultimate orientation of it - whether that information, even if true, can be practically useful on a day to day level other than perhaps better criminal justice, more humane societal games that take what are right now 'hidden externalities' into account, etc.
The point of a system of justice is to protect everyone's rights. So, a just penalty would have these elements: (a) repair the harm to the victim if possible, (b) correct the offender's future behavior if corrigible, (c) protect the public by securing the offender until his behavior is corrected, and (d) doing no more harm to the offender and his rights than is reasonably required to accomplish (a), (b), and (c).
The notion of causal necessity/inevitability will not get us to a better system of justice. If it excuses the thief then it excuses the judge who cuts off his hand. If we tell the offender that his prior behavior was outside of his control due to causal necessity, then it logically follows that his future behavior will also be outside of his control, making rehabilitation impossible.
The past is a history of prior presents and the future is a matter of speculation about the next presents. We live in the now. We remember what we've done. We imagine what might happen next if we do this or that. We decide what we will do next.Papus79 wrote: ↑July 28th, 2020, 11:38 amI think my mentioning before that 'time is a dimenion' covers this though. A bit like yes, you made a choice, and it's forever frozen in a piece of 4-dimensional amber - without there being much of any persuasive way to argue (at least for my limited knowledge at this point) that the future isn't already just as frozen in that amber as the past or present moment.
Within the domain of human influence (things we make happen), the single inevitable future is the product of our imagining multiple possible futures and choosing which one we will actualize.
Papus79 wrote: ↑July 28th, 2020, 11:38 amI think until we can find the 'warm' variables in this hard determinism will sound very cold, sterile, 'autistic', etc. because we tend to have an extremely inorganic picture of it when we imagine it. At the worst I ended up in a strange debate with someone somewhere else who suggested that if determinism were true then if someone walked into you at work and spilled hot coffee on you that you'd be fated to have it happen everytime thereafter, I argued back that if you're a reasonably alert person you'd probably have almost no choice but to give em a wide birth and a dirty look the next time they walked past you with coffee. There's a lot that people intuit here that I think creates problems that have more to do with our intuitions, values, etc. than what hard determinism actually would be - which is much more messy, just as creative (the music, art, and poetry don't vanish), it's all there but again either on a Minkoswki block or a bit like one of Heron of Alexandria's mechanical plays.
I am ignorant of Minkoswki and Heron, so I won't try to comment on that.
It would have been nice if Whitman had been diagnosed and treated before going on his shooting spree. One problem with the current prison system is that it houses many people with mental problems who should be treated medically.Papus79 wrote: ↑July 28th, 2020, 11:38 amSo I'd fully agree that coerced and non-coerced action are of a very different quality and coerced action tells a lot less about person than non-coerced. Sam Harris brought up the example of Charles Whitman, who climbed a clock tower, shot a bunch of people, would have been thought of as a moral monster, other than that he had a tumor pushing on his amygdala and even before that point had written a note requesting an autopsy on his death because he sensed something was wrong. Harris then goes on to say that it's likely 'tumors all the way down' from the standpoint that these causal mechanisms may not always be quite as coercive but they're compelling in their own ways and that's any blend of external effects, those effects warm and familiar enough for us to identify as 'us', etc.
But Harris is misguided in suggesting that it is "tumors all the way down". A sane person can rationally choose to rob a convenience store because he needs some cash. There is no tumor to remove that would fix his future behavior. Instead, he must be convinced that it is in his own best interest to get his cash through legal means. So Harris is misguided as to how we should fix the prison system. Again, if it is tumors all the way down, then there is no correcting such a cause without removing the head. So, let's hope that Harris is mistaken.