Episode 34: Determinism . . . One Last Time

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Episode 34: Determinism . . . One Last Time

Post  Admin on Wed Sep 09, 2009 4:18 pm

Episode 34 questions/comments here --
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Determinism

Post  LL on Sun May 09, 2010 3:55 pm

Sorry to be so late in responding to this excellent topic. I only just found Reasonable Doubts. I like it a lot.

This was particularly interesting to me because I am a hard determinist.

I notice one flaw in your arguments, though. You talked about punishment. This seems to come up all the time in discussions about determinism. I think someone gave the example of a loved one who was killed by a person who had a brain tumor or some other factor that made him not responsible for his action. Should he be "let go", was the question, if one could be certain he would not kill again. Forgetting the fact that no one can ever be sure, no matter what the circumstances, the point is that if our actions are determined by factors outside our control and outside our consciousness (which is how I define determinism), then it wouldn't matter how we consciously analyze the subject. Our determining factors are what will determine our actions and often our opinions. If we are determined by factors beyond our control and probably beyond our consciousness, which I contend is the case, then we will call for retribution or not, no matter what the conscious argument, no matter how we analyze the topic. Our "decision" will be what is determined, not how we analyze intellectually. In fact, we may, intellectually, "decide" that the person should be confined, but when the decision is actually made, we may well "decide" that the person should be let go--or vice versa.

People often say that if all our acts were determined, there would be no need for punishment. Although that's true on its face, the point is that people are also determined to punish--which we have no conscious control over. We will vote to punish even if we consciously accept that everyone's actions are determined by factors beyond our control.

Another thing--there have been scientific tests done in laboratories--brain scans--that show that humans make decisions seconds before we are consciously aware of them. (See Benjamin Libet) This, to me, is good evidence that we have no conscious independent control over decision-making.

Keep up the good work. Please have another program on determinism.

LL

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