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← The raw deal of determinism and reductionism

ccw95005's Avatar Jump to comment 4 by ccw95005

Of course if you go down to quantum level we are all just robots made up of colonies of cells. All our decisions are the result of the structure and connections and chemicals in the brain and could be predicted by a superdupercomputer or God if he existed, within the limits of quantum uncertainty.

What does that have to do with our everyday lives? Nada. It's an intellectual exercise, nothing more.

For all we can tell, in our actual existence we have total free will, unless we get into theoretical mode. You can decide one second from now to raise your right hand, or your left, or neither, or both. Go ahead, try it.

At a higher level, we can ask whether we have been programmed by our life experiences so thoroughly that out free will is limited. No. Your personality characteristics and tendencies have been shaped by nature and nurture, but you still have free will. You can decide to pull the trigger or not. Upbringing and environment have made your decision more predictable, but you can still do either.

Two men. One raised rich and privileged, the other poverty-stricken through life. Each of them brutally rapes a woman. Should the punishment be the same? That's for society to decide. Our sympathies are more with the poor man, but both are simply the product of their genes and environmental experiences. You'll go crazy if you try to ferret out extenuating circumstances for each of them. Each of them had no choice in an ultimate sense, so my opinion is that you deal with the individuals as they are now, and punish them according to the crime, without respect to their background. Of course in the real world, we look at the perp, and show mercy or vengeance at least partly on the basis of whether we like him or loath him.

Tue, 10 Jul 2012 20:53:21 UTC | #948870