[extropy-chat] Best To Regard Free Will as Existing
stathisp at gmail.com
Thu Apr 5 05:33:56 UTC 2007
On 4/5/07, scerir <scerir at libero.it> wrote:
[I have the pdf of this paper, if somebody is interested]
> Behav.Sci. Law. Feb 23, 2007
> 'The concept of free will:
> philosophy, neuroscience and the law.'
> Various philosophical definitions of free will are first considered.
> The compatibilist definition, which says simply that acts are freely
> if they are not subject to constraints, is identified as much used in the
> legal system and essentially impervious to scientific investigation. A
> middle-ground "incompatibilist" definition, which requires that freely
> willed acts be consciously initiated, is shown to be relevant to the idea
> of mens rea and in the author's view not actually incompatible in
> with a fully scientific worldview. Only the strong libertarian definition,
> which requires that freely willed acts have no physical antecedents
> whatsoever, makes the existence of free will very hard to swallow
A non-believer in free will can still go along with the law as something
which is instrumental in bringing about the determined behaviours. We put
roofs on our houses in order to stay dry, and we stay dry because the roofs
are in place. Similarly, we punish criminals to prevent further crimes and
further crimes are prevented because we punish criminals. However, I keep in
mind the fact that the criminals engage in their behaviour either because it
is determined by their genes and environment (in which case it isn't their
fault) or due to random processes (in which case it isn't their fault).
Blaming and revenge are in keeping with a belief in free will; tolerance and
compassion are in keeping with the absence of such a belief, although
tolerance and compassion do not prevent us from taking practical measures to
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