[ExI] free-will, determinism, crime and punishment
gts_2000 at yahoo.com
Sun Aug 19 14:16:40 UTC 2007
On Sat, 18 Aug 2007 22:08:19 -0400, Stathis Papaioannou
<stathisp at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 19/08/07, Samantha Atkins <sjatkins at mac.com> wrote:
>> A matter of taste? Really?
> Compatibilists say that you had no choice in your actions given the
> circumstances, but that's OK, you still have free will because if
> circumstances had been different your actions could have been
> different. Incompatibilists say that you had no choice in your actions
> given the circumstances and this means that there is no free will,
> even though if circumstances had been different your actions could
> have been different. There is no difference in factual claims, just a
> difference in whether the words "free will" should be used to describe
> the facts.
I prefer to think in terms of compatibilism because it resolves to my
satisfaction the sticky question of why we think and act as if we free
will is the fact of the matter, when in actual fact there is no evidence
to support it.
On this subject I agree with David Hume. In Humean terms we are "slaves to
our passions", (where of course "passions" is understood to include
ordinary inclinations and is not limited only to the modern usage which
has connotations of inflamed emotions). In this sense free-will is false;
our choices are determined by our natures. And yet on Hume's view we also
have free will, even despite being slaves to our passions, because it
cannot be denied that we can always do whatever we want to do.
These questions have bearing in a court of law, because as a defense
attorney I needn't deny that my client chose freely to commit the crime. I
admit he chose freely in accordance with his criminal nature. However the
prosecution, if it is seeking retributive punishment, must prove that my
client could have chosen otherwise.
More information about the extropy-chat