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Thread: The Great Contradiction

  1. Top | #251
    Formerly Joedad
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    I must admit that I don't know what the "thingy" is you are experiencing. Unless life is presently quite stressful my morning moments are blissful.

    Maybe you mean that it sometimes seems like we are more than one person. I can identify with that but it's easy enough to reconcile the two people as one person with limitations. When we drive our cars they eventually wear out and begin to act differently compared to when they were better maintained or younger. But it's still the same vehicle, obviously, it hasn't been possessed, no magic is involved. But it's fun making movies for some people about how cars are their own sentient entities or possessed.

  2. Top | #252
    Super Moderator ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by T.G.G. Moogly View Post
    I must admit that I don't know what the "thingy" is you are experiencing.......

    Maybe you mean that it sometimes seems like we are more than one person.
    No, I mean just one person, the self-thingy your system calls 'me'.

  3. Top | #253
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks
    Added to which, if I think that he could not have done otherwise, then there is less reason to attach personal blame or want retribution.
    If he had not been able to do otherwise in the usual sense of the words, yes. But that is not the case: Suppose the defense attorney of the serial rapist and killer says that the universe is either determinitic or it has some randomness, but either way, he could not have done otherwise, and so he is not guilty. Do you think that in the usual sense of the words, he has created reasonable doubt, so that jurors ought to acquit?

    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks
    The only caveat I would add to that is that it (free will skepticism or even disbelief) may be especially difficult for the 'western' mind, and perhaps especially the American one, for what may partly be cultural reasons.
    It's just as difficult elsewhere. In other countries, they might not use the English expression 'free will', and they might not even believe in whatever is usually mistranslated as 'free will', in case of mistranslations. But they believe we act of our own accord/free will (e.g., 'por su propia voluntad' in Spanish-speaking places), and they believe in retribution. Just take a look at the history of humankind, or the present. Retribution is everywhere. And so is the distinction between people who act of their own free will, and those who do not.

    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks
    Maybe I was wrong here, in the bolded part. I was trying to avoid negative subjective moralities. It might be better or more accurate to say that he (the rapist/murderer) is a bad person, especially if we avoid subjective morality as far as possible and just say 'harmful' or 'flawed' person. Essentially, a faulty or broken machine, in terms of one that causes harm to other machines.
    I do not know what you mean by "subjective morality" here, but I do know that 'bad person' does not mean 'harmful' or 'flawed'. It means a specific kind of flaw: a moral flaw. He is an evil person. An immoral person. A wicked person. And so on.

    For example, an insane man who has lost touch with reality, cannot reason and goes around killing people, is surely harmful and flawed. A broken machine if you like. But he is not a bad person. He is not at fault. He is not to blame. And so on. So, the meaning of those expressions is not the same. We have different words for different sorts of broken machines. Some of those deserve punishment, and others do not.

    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks
    I am not saying that a world without retributive urges would necessarily be a better or worse place, by the way, because that's a very, very difficult question and our retributive urges (including my own) seem to be deep-seated. You might say that I tend to believe it would be a better place, I suppose, but maybe that's just wishful thinking.
    I would be a world without humans, chimps, bonobos, gorillas, capuchin monkeys, etc. Retribution and morality come from millions of years of evolution.

    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks
    ETA: it's worth noting that a number of psych studies suggest that a stronger sense of or belief in free will is positively correlated with a stronger retributive urge, and a weaker belief in free will is associated with a lesser retributive urge.
    I'm not saying the human system of moral retribution cannot be damaged by a belief that we cannot act of our own free will. But it almost certainly cannot be destroyed in the majority of the population by that method - studies still show retribution all around (even if somewhat diminished), and frankly short of a much more massive damage to the brain (like with a surgery), it's extremely unlikely that something so central could be taken out. I'm not even sure it can be destroyed in any human by that method.

    At any rate, it is a part of the human mental machinery. If you manage to take it out, you get a broken machine.

    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks
    As a coping strategy, the illusion (if that's what it is) might be very useful indeed. Such illusions tend to be.
    But why do you think we have an illusion?
    I believe I act of my own accord, because the evidence is decisive. For example, I choose to move my mouse, and I do it. No one forced me. I was not compelled like a kleptomaniac, either, etc. The universe might be deterministic, but I am not under the illusion that the universe is indeterministic. I do not know whether it is. I take no stance, but I see no reason to believe I'm not acting of my own free will, regardless of whether under the same exact circumstances, particles and all, in the whole universe, it was necessary that I would act as I did.

    For that matter, I have the power to move my mouse. I can see I do it, and the evidence is decisive. Now someone might say that perhaps I don't have that power, and some powerful entity is moving the mouse when I intend to, in order to mess with my head. But that seems extremely improbable. Similarly, the free will illusion idea seems extremely improbable.

  4. Top | #254
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angra Mainyu View Post


    For that matter, I have the power to move my mouse. I can see I do it, and the evidence is decisive. Now someone might say that perhaps I don't have that power, and some powerful entity is moving the mouse when I intend to, in order to mess with my head. But that seems extremely improbable. Similarly, the free will illusion idea seems extremely improbable.
    From whence intention? From you or from machine finding reason for forming intention? Since we don't act on the world without becoming aware of the world - even there what is the purpose of acting if we don't know - we react. Intention is derivative.

    If I had to guess your arguments are too much about you.

  5. Top | #255
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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Angra Mainyu View Post


    For that matter, I have the power to move my mouse. I can see I do it, and the evidence is decisive. Now someone might say that perhaps I don't have that power, and some powerful entity is moving the mouse when I intend to, in order to mess with my head. But that seems extremely improbable. Similarly, the free will illusion idea seems extremely improbable.
    From whence intention? From you or from machine finding reason for forming intention? Since we don't act on the world without becoming aware of the world - even there what is the purpose of acting if we don't know - we react. Intention is derivative.

    If I had to guess your arguments are too much about you.
    I don't understand your post. Could you clarify your objection, please?

  6. Top | #256
    Super Moderator ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angra Mainyu View Post
    Suppose the defense attorney of the serial rapist and killer says that the universe is either determinitic or it has some randomness, but either way, he could not have done otherwise, and so he is not guilty. Do you think that in the usual sense of the words, he has created reasonable doubt, so that jurors ought to acquit?
    Yes, I think there is reasonable doubt, from philosophy, neuroscience and genetics mainly, that the rapist or any rapist could not have freely chosen to do otherwise.

    As to acquittal.....

    Imagine the court case taking place in and among a society made up of and run by sophisticated thinking/reasoning robots that don't have free will but are nonetheless capable of learning and making decisions. The robots who decided what to do with the serial raping robot would probably not acquit it, for a variety of reasons. For instance, the faulty (raping) robot, if freed, could easily rape again. And/or, since the society is made up of thinking robots with learning capacities, jailing raping robots would be a causal deterrent to other potentially-raping robots.
    Last edited by ruby sparks; 01-14-2020 at 12:37 AM.

  7. Top | #257
    Mazzie Daius fromderinside's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angra Mainyu View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Angra Mainyu View Post


    For that matter, I have the power to move my mouse. I can see I do it, and the evidence is decisive. Now someone might say that perhaps I don't have that power, and some powerful entity is moving the mouse when I intend to, in order to mess with my head. But that seems extremely improbable. Similarly, the free will illusion idea seems extremely improbable.
    From whence intention? From you or from machine finding reason for forming intention? Since we don't act on the world without becoming aware of the world - even there what is the purpose of acting if we don't know - we react. Intention is derivative.

    If I had to guess your arguments are too much about you.
    I don't understand your post. Could you clarify your objection, please?
    You dodge by presuming you have power. Starting there never leads to evidence. You admit that by resorting to 'seems extremely improbable' not a permitted evidentiary remark. That you can do anything is proof of nothing. You are observing you doing. So what? If you want to talk about introspection I'm your chickadee. Not evidence. Evidence requires independent observations note the (s).

  8. Top | #258
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    Quote Originally Posted by fromderinside
    You dodge by presuming you have power. Starting there never leads to evidence. You admit that by resorting to 'seems extremely improbable' not a permitted evidentiary remark. That you can do anything is proof of nothing. You are observing you doing. So what? If you want to talk about introspection I'm your chickadee. Not evidence. Evidence requires independent observations note the (s).
    First, I do not dodge.
    Second, I do not presume to have power. On the basis of the information available to me, it is beyond a reasonable doubt that I have the power to move the mouse on my desk. I was using that as an analogy, since I did not expect anyone would actually suggest I do not even have that power.
    Third, I do not "admit" anything, and "seems extremely improbable" is indeed a rational probabilistic assessment.

  9. Top | #259
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby spark
    As to acquittal.....

    Imagine the court case taking place in and among a society made up of and run by sophisticated thinking/reasoning robots that don't have free will but are nonetheless capable of learning and making decisions. The robots who decided what to do with the serial raping robot would probably not acquit it, for a variety of reasons. For instance, the faulty (raping) robot, if freed, could easily rape again. And/or, since the society is made up of thinking robots with learning capacities, jailing raping robots would be a causal deterrent to other potentially-raping robots.
    I'm having difficulty imagining the scenario. The robots think and reason, and can learn and make decisions. It seems to me they can act of their own accord, in other words of their own free will. If I were to assume otherwise, I would be implying that for some mysterious reason, then (and similarly us) cannot act of their own accord. But I would find it difficult to understand what makes it the case that our/their actions are not of their/our own accord, as they obviously appear to be.

    Essentially, the scenario seems similar to 'imagine that we humans cannot act of our own accord, even though appearances are as they are in the real world', and I have trouble imagining how that might happen.

    Still, I think I get your point: imprisoning people would be justified on grounds of danger, or deterrence. The problem is that said grounds are, on their own, unjust. I don't rule out that, when deciding how to allocate limited resources, the people in the government who make such choices should consider, in addition to the main goal of punishing the guilty as they deserve, secondary goals such as preventing dangerous people from causing more harm to those who do not deserve it, or deterring other bad people from engaging in similar acts, as long as the guilty are not punished more than they deserve. Yet, in this scenario, those secondary goals would be primary, and the system would be allowing (not when it malfunctions because they judge or jurors make a mistake, but as a matter of design) the punishment of people without conclusive evidence that they did something for which they deserve to be so punished.

    Consider this scenario: In our human society, the defense attorney has not brought up the matter of determinism to the consideration of the jurors, and they are not thinking about that. However, the pieces of evidence the prosecutor presented are not bad, but not strong enough to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is the author of the rapes and murders attributed to him. In fact, rationally, the jurors reckon that it is very probable (say, between 0.8 and 0.9 to give it a number) that he is the perpetrator of all of them, but there is a non-negligible chance that someone else did, and he did not rape or kill anyone. In other words, he is very probably guilty, but not probable enough to make it beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Yet, the considerations that you mention remain: why not convict, with 0.8-0.9 chances that he did it? Surely, that would work as deterrence. And - on the basis of the available information - the probability of more people getting similarly raped and murder goes down is he is imprisoned or executed. Why not do it, then? I would say it's because it would be unjust to do it, because there is a reasonable chance that he might not deserve the punishment. But then, the same applies to the robots (or humans, since there seems to be no difference) scenario.

  10. Top | #260
    Veteran Member Wiploc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angra Mainyu View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ruby spark
    As to acquittal.....

    Imagine the court case taking place in and among a society made up of and run by sophisticated thinking/reasoning robots that don't have free will but are nonetheless capable of learning and making decisions. The robots who decided what to do with the serial raping robot would probably not acquit it, for a variety of reasons. For instance, the faulty (raping) robot, if freed, could easily rape again. And/or, since the society is made up of thinking robots with learning capacities, jailing raping robots would be a causal deterrent to other potentially-raping robots.
    I'm having difficulty imagining the scenario. The robots think and reason, and can learn and make decisions. It seems to me they can act of their own accord, in other words of their own free will.
    I suggest that you can imagine what she's imagining if you ask yourself whether robots have free will now. Do neural nets, which learn and get smarter, have free will?

    If your reaction is something like, "Well, no, they don't have free will; they're just robots. And the neural nets may act like they're thinking, but we know what's actually happening, so we know they really aren't," then you probably get it.

    Ruby may believe that future robots--robots capable of passing the Turing test--will be the result of well-understood incremental improvements over tech that we have now. Tech that does not have free will.

    Ruby doesn't foresee any magic moment in the development of robotics that will remind us of this:



    And, absent such a moment, robot brains will grow in complexity, but the differences will always be of degree rather than of kind.

    If ever we learn to make robots that think like humans, it will be because we've figured out how humans think--and it will have turned out that we just a kind of robot ourselves.

    Note to Ruby: I apologize if I have misrepresented you in any way.







    ...

    Still, I think I get your point: imprisoning people would be justified on grounds of danger, or deterrence. The problem is that said grounds are, on their own, unjust.
    The four reasons for punishment are rehabilitation, isolation, deterrence, and vengeance. If you rule those out as unjust, you leave no justification for punishment at all.




    I don't rule out that, when deciding how to allocate limited resources, the people in the government who make such choices should consider, in addition to the main goal of punishing the guilty as they deserve,
    What's that, poetic justice? That's not a main goal. I don't think it's any goal at all. What would be the point?

    If punishment isn't justified as an attempt at rehabilitation, isolation, or deterrence, then it isn't justified at all.




    secondary goals such as preventing dangerous people from causing more harm to those who do not deserve it, or deterring other bad people from engaging in similar acts, as long as the guilty are not punished more than they deserve. Yet, in this scenario, those secondary goals would be primary, and the system would be allowing (not when it malfunctions because they judge or jurors make a mistake, but as a matter of design) the punishment of people without conclusive evidence that they did something for which they deserve to be so punished.
    Can you offer an example of a punishment that is deserved for a reason other than rehabilitation, isolation, or deterrence?

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