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

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sun Apr 8 15:39:25 UTC 2007

Damien writes

> Criminals are held responsible for their ill deeds because we know 
> that while they might have a powerful disposition to act in a malign 
> and antisocial fashion they also have the capacity to choose 
> otherwise (except where the disposition overwhelms all other motives 
> or external circumstances restrict their options too brutally).

We have seen evidence on this very list in recent posts that failure
to believe in free will can lead some people to automatically
exculpate the guilty.

These two terms "hold accountable" and "to hold responsible" are
very good and convenient ways of describing the correct attitudes
that are needed.  (I was particularly struck by Pinker's use of "we
must hold accountable....", in this same context, in a lecture he gave
at Stanford when publicizing his recent (at the time) book
"The Blank Slate".

Whatever one's views on the abstract questions concerning
philosophical free will, there should be no doubt that we need
to severely *blame* criminals and naughty children and, in
general, all miscreants.  This is for the simple and obvious
fact that all non-neurologically damaged people are affected
by censure, blame, and punishment.

I would even go so far as to require judges when handing out
sentences to do so with passion.


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