[extropy-chat] Best To Regard Free Will as Existing

Stathis Papaioannou stathisp at gmail.com
Fri Apr 6 04:41:15 UTC 2007

On 4/6/07, Russell Wallace <russell.wallace at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 4/6/07, Stathis Papaioannou <stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:
> > But how is this true in a deterministic world? Children and criminals
> > are just collections of matter which follow the laws of physics (scene in
> > court: "Your Honour, I submit that my client is just a collection of matter
> > with no choice other than to obey the laws of physics, and I challenge the
> > prosecution to prove otherwise!").
> >
> And what of it? From that perspective, juries are just collections of
> matter with no choice other than to obey the laws of physics, and you can't
> call them wrong for convicting the accused - you can't consistently even use
> concepts like right and wrong. Once you switch to a higher level of
> organization and allow there can be such a thing as wrongful conviction,
> you're invoking morality, which implies free will, so you must allow that a
> criminal can be held responsible for his actions. This is simple logic;
> whether electrons are deterministic or not has nothing to do with it.

There can be wrongful conviction in the sense of certain facts being wrong.
However, I reject absolute morality just as I reject free will. There are
certain behaviours in people which are more desirable than others (because
we have evolved to find some things pleasant and other things unpleasant),
and as a matter of utility we set about encouraging the desirable behaviours
and discouraging the undesirable ones. "Moral responsibility" is just a
concept that is sometimes useful in organising society.

Stathis Papaioannou
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