Which side makes a better case?
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  • a year ago

    Thx man had fun first super high debate

    • a year ago

      That was weird, it ended with 5 seconds left on my screen...

      Anyway, thanks for the debate @bronsonkaahui. I hope I was able to challenge your views properly.

      • a year ago

        I feel like this is @kyrothehero struggling to explain a somewhat nuanced idea, and @bronsonkaahui desperately using logical fallacies to do his best to contradict him.

        Argument from absurdity is a favored line here, Fallacy of composition is #2. Argument from ridicule comes up a bit later.

        I disagree on how Pro uses the phrase "moral responsibility"

        Many of Bronson's answers to Kyro's questions are, "um I don't know." Honest, that's good, but as an argument, not so strong.

        Not to say I didn't enjoy the discussion, I did. Appreciated. And Bronson, you look cool in the hotel bathrobe and shades. :P Comfy and in command of your universe. :)

        -----

        Let me say that morality is a social tool. When good or bad is what we feel should be the social behavior of ourselves and others. Rocks and walls are not part of society so they don't have social mores or rules. They are also not reactive in any way that is self-actualized.

        Living things are black boxes of a sort. We have reasons to manipulate their behavior, and we can't directly control or entirely predict the behavior.

        Humans are especially complex in our reasoning reactions motivations and so forth. That means we are especially hard to influence and determine. But, we still do our best to try. Moral systems and arguments are one such way that humans attempt to manipulate on another.

        Moral rules, even in a deterministic system have a purpose, which is to sway outcomes of actions. You can stop a tsunami with a sufficiently large wall. Witha human, a moral code is one way we try and stop them from doing us harm.

        We understand that humans make decisions and choose actions based on outside influences and input. So we use methods, like morality to try and influence those outcomes. And each person is unique, and each person is impossible to fully predict.

        The intersection of desire, uncertainty, and agency is what gives rise to the outcome of a decision and our perception of what we call free will.

        • a year ago

          @sigfried the problem is that free will is wrapped up into the concept of "human" so youre implying free will by even SUGGESTING that there is something special or different about humans in terms of making choices and decisions that affect outcomes. In hard determinism, humans cant do that either. Humans in this conception are merely a large collection of atoms and other fundamental particles, like a tsunami or comet. There is nothing to really separate humans from inanimate objects or automated processes in hard determinism.

          His position is that nothing magic or special happens, that humans do not have the ability to make choices and decisions that can affect outcomes, and that its all based on prior causes and randomness (like tsunamis and comets).

          So its strange that you would keep making reference to the specialness of humans while simultaneously positing that there is nothing special about humans in terms of determinism. It seems to be a contradiction.

          What, SPECIFICALLY, makes humans different or special in a hard determinist universe? Nothing, of course. Collection of fundamental particles just like any other collection of fundamental particles. Humans are no more "choosing" to rape than tsunamis are "choosing" to kill, so why would we describe one as immoral and the other as nature? Shouldnt all human actions be described in naturalistic terms? Are tsunamis immoral?

        • a year ago

          Even talking about human choices and decisions is silly in this universe. What choice? What decision? The way youve defined that seems to mean "not choice." You never "chose" to do anything, you simply did something according to predetermined causes. The word itself becomes meaningless. Its like saying the comet CHOSE to obey the laws of physics and crash into the planet. WTF? Could it have done something other than what it did? No? Okay...but neither can humans in this universe...so how are we different from comets? You literally CANNOT "choose" to do something that you are not predetermined to do, much like the comet cannot "choose" to do something besides what physics suggest it must do. We are morally equivalent to comets in this universe.

        • a year ago

          @bronsonkaahui "the problem is that free will is wrapped up into the concept of "human" so youre implying free will by even SUGGESTING that there is something special or different about humans in terms of making choices and decisions that affect outcomes. "

          Of course there is something special about humans. We have special qualities unique to humans. A diamond also has special properties. So does a cat. It is those special qualities that we use to identify what is a diamond, a human, and a cat. So I am doing more than suggesting, I am categorically stating that humans are special in many respects.

          "Humans in this conception are merely a large collection of atoms and other fundamental particles"

          That is the logical fallacy known as the "Fallacy of composition"
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallacy_of_composition

          It is arguing that everything made of atoms has the same properties. We know that is categorically false in our universe. Different arrangements of atoms have entirely different characteristics and function.

          "His position is that nothing magic or special happens"

          Special is relative, magic is bullshit. Humans are special, but not magical. We are pretty clearly the most aware and reasoning creatures on the planet. Not the only aware or reasoning creatures, but the most. That is special, at least in the context of our planet, probably our solar system. Beyond that, it might not be. But there is no evidence it is some kind of magic or is out of character with the universe. Indeed we know there were other living species that did have similar abilities (neanderthals and denisovans). They might have been smarter or more self-aware, we don't know, but we know they had cultures and technology similar to homo-sapiens.

          "What, SPECIFICALLY, makes humans different or special in a hard determinist universe? "

          Well, humans have brains, comets don't. There's one for you. Other animals have brains, but humans have brains specialized for predictive cogitation and abstract representation. That makes us more special among animals with brains. Honestly, those are pretty simple answers, I'm surprised you can't sort them out or yourself.

        • a year ago

          @sigfried "Of course there is something special about humans. We have special qualities unique to humans. A diamond also has special properties. So does a cat. It is those special qualities that we use to identify what is a diamond, a human, and a cat. So I am doing more than suggesting, I am categorically stating that humans are special in many respects."

          So the problem here is "relative to what?" I agree, humans and cats are different, but relative to morality in a hard determinist universe, they aren't, actually. Neither are diamonds for that matter. All have a capacity of 0 for moral agency in a hard determinist universe. We're not comparing their physical properties or shapes or colors, we're comparing their ability to engage in morality. On that level, we see they are exactly equal -- zero.

          I thought I made that part clear by saying "in terms of" meaning that's the thing we're comparing, not their mass or position or some other arbitrary characteristic. The relevant comparison here is their ability to make choices and decisions that affect outcomes, and in a hard determinist universe, diamonds and humans are equal. Neither have the ability to make a choice or decision that can affect any outcome.

          "It is arguing that everything made of atoms has the same properties. We know that is categorically false in our universe. Different arrangements of atoms have entirely different characteristics and function."

          But this would imply my view, not yours. My claim is that free will does exist to some non-zero degree, and that it is an emergent property special and unique to this particular combination of matter (humans, and perhaps other combinations, but not the diamond combination). Thus, it's okay for ME to make a distinction between humans and diamonds because I'm saying that humans have free will and diamonds don't. I'm making a VALID and RELEVANT distinction between humans and diamonds, not an arbitrary one (size, shape, etc.). In the absence of free will, you lack this ability to make a VALID and RELEVANT distinction in terms of morality. You can't identify any property of humans that would make us more physically able to engage in morality than a diamond unless you're implying that humans have a greater degree of choice than diamonds. But if a diamond is at zero, humans must be at some other value than zero (free will is a non-zero value) if there is a relevant difference.

          Your view implies that neither have any free will, so there is no rational basis in which to make a distinction in terms of morality. Sure, you can say they have different shapes and different masses and other arbitrary characteristics, but when we bring it back to the fundamental issue here (moral agency) you simply cannot identify any difference between a diamond and a human. Both are physically incapable of doing anything other than what they will do. In terms of morality, they are equivalent. Exactly equal. 0 moral agency = amoral. Something that lacks the capacity to be moral can't be moral, and morality requires the ability to make choices and decisions that affect outcomes (which is why diamonds aren't moral or immoral -- they are amoral). Your worldview suggests that diamonds and humans have the exact same equal capacity to engage in morality, which is zero.

          "But there is no evidence it is some kind of magic or is out of character with the universe. Indeed we know there were other living species that did have similar abilities (neanderthals and denisovans). They might have been smarter or more self-aware, we don't know, but we know they had cultures and technology similar to homo-sapiens."

          The "magic" I'm describing here is free will. It's an unexplained force that has no physical explanation. We've not identified any free will particles and probably never will. It's just some mysterious force postulated to exist. There isn't much evidence for its existence aside from fallible universal anecdotes, but to deny its existence also creates a different set of problems (such as no morality). If free will exists, it would be similar to magic in that it's a phenomenon that lacks any scientific explanation.

      • a year ago

        Oh ya, a vote...

        Neither side has any hope of definitively proving their case. I'm predisposed to the pro side here. I've argued it, though I think it is also a pretty moot argument and that people none the less will always be forced to behave in a cloud of uncertainty which means they effectively are active participants in guiding their own futures and the determinant factor they best understand is their own agency, aka free-will.

        I do feel like Pro is digging deeper here and since I favor his view, that's my vote.

        But I'll give Bronson a nod for being correct that science has not disproven free will. That is correct. Indeed in a way, it cannot as science can only describe and test causal relationships. Actions without causes, such as free will, are beyond the reach of science to test.

        • a year ago

          @sigfried I just cant get around the language that determinists use because it betrays their position on the issue. To describe humans any differently than any other combination of atoms in terms of morality is logically nonsensical. You cant have the position that humans dont make choices and decisions that affect outcomes, and when I respond "are comets immoral" you say no because they didnt choose to strike the planet. HELLO? Neither do humans in your world. Youre making an arbitrary distinction that doesnt make any sense. Cant say comets are different because they dont make choices when your position is that humans dont make choices. The "choices" that his worldview describes are an entirely automated process, like physics. As absurd as it sounds, its like saying the comet is immoral for choosing to strike the planet, or that we might talk the comet out of striking the planet. Saying a humans mind can be changed is like saying the comets trajectory can be changed. Sure, but only according to the laws of physics. There isnt anything YOU can do to change anyones mind in this universe.

          Even the concept of "you" implies free will. What is "you" anyway? Are you the voice inside that tells your body what to do? Not in a hard determinist universe. In this universe, "you" is also an automated process. Youre a passenger in an out of control trolley.

          To illustrate this point, just think about what exactly you mean by "humans make choices and decisions but comets dont." Youre using the language of free will (choices and decisions) while simultaneously maintaining that these are not in fact real choices or decisions since they are predetermined. Youre using the WORD choice, I agree, but thats not the phenomenon that youre describing here, because that would imply free will and some kind of ability to have a different outcome.

          So given that youre using the word "choice" in a meaningless way, why cant we say that comets are choosing to strike the Earth? That makes as much sense as saying humans are choosing to rape in this universe. Who cares if there is some fake and illusory internal process going on? What difference would that make? If the sum still adds up to zero I dont see how it would be relevant and Ibe never been given a clear answer to this. Its like they want it to count for something even though it still adds up to zero free will. Somehow human zeros are greater than comet zeros, apparently.

        • a year ago

          @bronsonkaahui "Even the concept of "you" implies free will. What is "you" anyway? Are you the voice inside that tells your body what to do? Not in a hard determinist universe. In this universe, "you" is also an automated process. Youre a passenger in an out of control trolley."

          I am Sigfried. You are Bronson. Neither of us can know the entirety of what we each are. We are too complicated for our own conscious minds to fully comprehend. By you are probably trying to get at the ideas of agency and identity.

          Agency is motive will, so closest to the free will argument. A deterministic view is that each person is a unique and complicated system. That system is originated with DNA instructions (as a rough description) and then modified by exepreince in their life. The result is a unique agent, similar to other humans, but unique in many other ways. Based on a convergence of desires, impulses, knowledge and ability, that person will be a dynamic actor in the world.

          Identity is that uniqueness element. And separation. Its clear where Sig ends and Bronson begins to us. We can not the disconnect and differences between us. Thus we can assign identity to each of us. We are part of the same universe, heck the same society, but we are different in enough ways that we are not the same (see law of identity in basic logic)

          "So given that youre using the word "choice" in a meaningless way, why cant we say that comets are choosing to strike the Earth?"

          I don't use it in a meaningless way. I wrote computer software. I've written that software to make choices. Sometimes choices where it the outcome is uncertain. Given different circumstances, it makes different choices. It considers options and picks one of them based on various criteria. If I want, I can make the criteria straightforward, or I can make it very esoteric and hard to understand. But it none the less makes choices. It is capable of A or B and it picks one based on the conditions it encounters. To an outside observer, it will appear it has a will. I think we are the same way. Without awareness of exactly how our minds work, we cannot tell you what all the causes of our choices are, but I think they do have causes.

          Imagine a world in which we made decisions without any cause. "I will eat the tomato because pink noodle is my favorite bath time song."

          Instead, we say "I will eat the tomato because I like the flavor or tomatoes, it is here in front of me, I have eaten them before, and know they are safe, and I am feeling hungry." In shrot, we make decisions for reasons, not "because.... Magic!"

        • a year ago

          @sigfried "Agency is motive will, so closest to the free will argument. A deterministic view is that each person is a unique and complicated system. That system is originated with DNA instructions (as a rough description) and then modified by exepreince in their life. The result is a unique agent, similar to other humans, but unique in many other ways. Based on a convergence of desires, impulses, knowledge and ability, that person will be a dynamic actor in the world."

          Now you're using the word in the definition by substituting a synonym. What is "will" in a hard determinist universe, aside from cloud particles on their predetermined paths? "You" can't influence these particles in any way -- only physics can. How is that different from a galaxy, or a diamond? These things are based on structures with instructions from physics and chemistry -- okay, so what? How does that make them capable of agency? Does this process result in a "unique agent" or is that only the case with humans? If only humans, how? You went from no agency to agency somehow without a rational explanation for how you got there. By this conception, diamonds and galaxies should also be "unique agents" and "dynamic actors in the world." But for some reason, you're still clearly able to make a distinction between a human and a diamond in terms of agency.

          Agency implies free will by the way. That's the very subject of dispute here. When we talk about diamonds we presume their agency to be zero. But in a hard determinist universe, humans also have zero agency. We say "humans have a capacity to act" but that would also be true of diamonds. They too, are able to "act" when acted upon by outside forces, just like humans. Both words become meaningless in a hard determinist universe.

          The most we could say is that an event happened. The human stabbed the other human. To say that he shouldn't have stabbed the other human is like saying the knife should not have pierced the other guy's skin and instead should have turned in another direction, bounced off his skin, or should have started floating out of the human's hand and into space. It can't do that, and the human can't not stab the other human. It has to, because that outcome is predetermined, just as the knifes actions are predetermined. There is no valid way to differentiate between the knife and the knife-wielder in a hard determinist universe aside from them being different objects.

          So the more precise we are with our language the clearer this issue becomes. You are using language which implies free will while simultaneously arguing against it, which only leads to confusion. To be consistent, every single description of humans in terms of morality should apply equally to other objects that lack free will, such as rocks and computer programs and planets. The reason we don't assign moral agency to rocks is because we assume they don't have free will. That's literally it and no other reason. If we thought they did have some free will then we might be using the same language to describe them as we do humans. But we don't. We assume rocks don't have a choice in the matter, and we don't give it a second thought. If humans don't have a choice either, then they are no different than rocks in terms of morality and our language should reflect that basic fact which is a logical necessity.

          If you dispute any of this, explain why we should use different language to describe human "actions" from the "actions" of any other physical object. What, specifically, makes a human action different?

        • a year ago

          @bronsonkaahui Here's the thing Bronson. We are both looking at the world, observing it, and then trying to understand how it operates.

          Language is invented to describe the world around us, to communicate ideas. So words like "Choices" "Will" "Decisions" "Agency" etc... are all descriptive of something we observe.

          People have will, they make choices, and they have agency. We both agree with that (presumably). Its patently obvious to us.

          The question is, is there some kind of magic ghost making our decisions and driving our desires, or are we essentially very complicated living machines obeying natural laws. Machines that have desires, make decisions and so forth. It's not a question of what we do, that is obvious to anyone. It is a question of HOW we do it.

          What you are trying to argue is that matter is incapable of thought, but I spent 20 years making non living machines think. I know it is possible because I've done it. The fundamental building blocks of the universe are not simple, nor very limited. You say this is impossible, but we and all the other thinking life forms are living proof that the universe is capable of this outcome.

          Meanwhile, the evidence for magic ghosts is pretty damned sketchy.

      • a year ago

        So thats the basic summary of my position. We know the solution to the equation is fw = 0 but for some reason we assign a higher value to human decisions even when they are exactly equal to comets.

        Comet fw = 0.
        Human fw = 0.

        Somehow, there is a difference between these 2 values. Somehow, they are not equivalent. The hard determinists like to emphasize the differences between comets and humans but the only relevant fact here is that they are equal in terms of choosing to do something other than what physics have determined they MUST DO. They are both zeros. Neither of them are choosing to do anything. Human "choices" in a hard determinist universe arent choices at all, they are some automated process like gravity. Its like saying "comets choose to obey gravity." No, they dont. Neither do humans.

        Humans have an equal chance of behaving morally as comets do. Exactly zero. Comets are amoral due to the absence of choice, and thus logically, humans must be too.

        • a year ago

          I’m intrigued by the idea that morality exists without moral responsibility. This seems untenable, but something I would like to explore.