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Old 03-02-2011, 05:40 PM   #81
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Where do the personal choices come from but your nature and your circumstances? I know that this is tough to get your arms around, you might want to read some on naturalism. ...

Baruch Spinoza - Wikiquote
OK, thanks, I will read up on naturalism bit when I get a chance (unless it simply isn't in my destiny ).

I actually 'get' what you are saying, and can agree with it mostly (to me, it's more a 'tool' to try to understand things that are hard to grasp - it's not so literal for me). What I didn't like about how I took this from you at first, is that this outlook seems to relieve everyone of any personal responsibility. But you do address that some people are going to need some adjustments... "Punishing bad behavior may cause better behavior in the future...". On the positive side, I also see this as adjusting the environment for people so that they are motivated to behave well (carrots and sticks).

So maybe it's just semantics as to whether they had a 'choice' or not, but in the end we still end up doing the same things, don't we? Society should encourage and reward positive behaviors, and discourage and punish bad behaviors. Whether we call it 'choice' or just responding to causes does not materially change things for me. But I'll read up and see.

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Old 03-02-2011, 06:11 PM   #82
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Wow Martha, you've taken this discussion to an entirely different level. I'm not well versed in this philosophy, but I'm curious as to the first cause?
Cosmology is way out of my league.
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Old 03-02-2011, 06:15 PM   #83
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Cosmology is way out of my league.
Well aren't you LUCKY! Here is a thread about cosmology.....

That's a bit Young - Don't You Think ?
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Old 03-02-2011, 06:30 PM   #84
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Where do the personal choices come from but your nature and your circumstances? I know that this is tough to get your arms around, you might want to read some on naturalism. Basically, what I don't believe in is contra-causal free will. Instead I believe that we are part of the natural world and everything that happens to us is caused.
I remember you writing something similar in another thread.

Yes, but how far do we go? In a way, modern societies already recognize the influence of the environment on a crime perpetrator; judges do consider extenuating circumstances when sentencing.

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So where does this leave moral responsibility? I don't think of moral responsibility as coming from the ability to have made a different choice, which is the contra-causal free will argument. Instead, holding people personally responsible is important for a well functioning society.
Sure! I can never understand why Jared Loughner or any other mass murderer or serial killer did what they did. But as a practical guy, I have no qualms about locking them up for life and throwing away the keys to protect society. In fact, a death sentence for incorrigible killers, carried out in a humane way, is a practical solution and does not bother me at all.

And because ERD50 brought up Madoff, I really wonder what Madoff circumstances made him do it. He never offered any reasons, did he? Anyway, it made me remember a song I discovered recently and posted here.

Les attrapes sont mises pour les innocents / The traps are set for the innocent
Gambleurs, éviteurs des blâmes / Gamblers, shirkers of blame...

Quote:
But punishment for retribution reasons is wrong, because that implies the person in the circumstances they were in could have made a different choice.
We also no longer have unusual and cruel punishments. Still, violent criminals have to be locked up to protect innocent citizens. And in the case of Madoff, I would not buy the argument that because he is not violent, and that locking him up will not bring back the billions that disappear, that we might as well let him walk. No, locking him up serves as a deterrent for future perpetrators.

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I think believing in free will brings out the worst in people. We blame people for failures. (Fat, lazy, slob. . . ). We are arrogant about success. We do not work on creating the best conditions for people to make the best choices. After all, if they just squeezed their brow real tight and worked really, really hard they can come to the "right" choice. We are too hard on ourselves.
Yes, it is true that we are all fallible human beings, and we do not always succeed despite trying hard. But as a parent bringing up two children, I know how easy they could come up with excuses.

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What I think is personally important is that it is easier to control external circumstances than my nature...
Do you mean we need more laws to help people do the "right things"?

One last point: I still think people who are better off should be helping those who are less fortunate. I do not consider myself a religious person, and like to think that it is simply a "good thing". Does naturalism get into why we should be doing that at all?
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Old 03-02-2011, 06:55 PM   #85
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Instead I believe that we are part of the natural world and everything that happens to us is caused.
Causation is a theoretical idea we impose on the world in our effort to make sense of things. There is no causality in nature.
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Old 03-02-2011, 07:01 PM   #86
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I
One last point: I still think people who are better off should be helping those who are less fortunate. I do not consider myself a religious person, and like to think that it is simply a "good thing". Does naturalism get into why we should be doing that at all?


We help others because that is our nature. Empathy is so much a part of who we are that most everyone views those without empathy as ill or dangerous or both.
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Old 03-02-2011, 07:08 PM   #87
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Causation is a theoretical idea we impose on the world in our effort to make sense of things. There is no causality in nature.
I type these words and you see them.

I like theories that work in practice.
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Old 03-02-2011, 07:17 PM   #88
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I type these words and you see them.
Do I?
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Old 03-02-2011, 07:29 PM   #89
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I've been thinking about this some more. In a way, if naturalism says that we are completely a product of our environment, without free will, would that mean human beings are simply automatons? Or that are we no different than lower animals, just more complicated?

Arghh, this gets too complicated and philosophical for me. I will stick with what I know better... I am going to the "asset correlation" thread and perhaps post some more "mumbo jumbo" to attract some impressionable chicks.

Now, I know that me liking the opposite sex is really programmed into my genes, but my upbringing and background put some boundaries on what I would do. Naturalism at work there. No dispute at all.
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Old 03-02-2011, 07:42 PM   #90
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I've been thinking about this some more. In a way, if naturalism says that we are completely a product of our environment, without free will, would that mean human beings are simply automatons? Or that are we no different than lower animals, just more complicated?
Incredibly complicated, amazing animals. I wouldn't want to be anything other than human. Except maybe Purron's or Major Tom's cat.
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Old 03-02-2011, 07:50 PM   #91
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What I admire about the folks who minimize the role of luck or fortune in their lives is that they accept personal responsibility for outcomes even when those outcomes are negative and seem to be events that were not in their control. No whining. Just acceptance of unplanned negative events as their own personal responsibility.
Dr. William Edwards Deming did a lot of work about randomness being perceived as excellent work or substandard work in a business environment. He taught the Japanese about quality control after the end of WW2 allowing them to build quality cars that eventually changed the US market.

Economists talk about business owners seeing their growth in sales revenue as being sweat driven instead of money supply or inflation gains due to inventory on hand.

My luck has been that I was often mediocre even if functional.
I learned to read well, at about 4th grade.
I finished the mile when running it in track, but set no world records.
I was upper quarter in HS, not valedictorian.
I pick a lot of OK stock but some dogs and some home runs.
I use options as insurance to minimize risks, not profit centers.
I won the heart of the hard working pleasant woman, not the high maintenance princess.
I was surprised when someone said I would go to college.
I am in awe at how much my life changed for the better after reading the book The Richest Man in Babylon. (and the several hundred other books in my investment library )

Someone once said that almost all drivers consider themselves to be above average drivers. Most people consider themselves smarter than average as well.

My driving was so so for the first 30 years until I gained confidence and I still tremble at merging under heavy traffic conditions at a certain exit in chicago merging across four lanes. Maybe I don't look like I am subpar at driving but that exit still gives me the white knuckle steer and pray grip.

Lots of dumb people out there, but I have met people so remarkably smart that I felt humbled despite really excellent scores on standardized tests.

My options and stock teachers have all taught me to manage risks so profits so profits would have time to grow. You can't win a game if you are not playing it.

Taking credit for wins and loses is great for mental health, knowing if you were paddling upstream or downstream is wise as well. And none of us are all that unique.
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Old 03-02-2011, 07:53 PM   #92
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Do I?
Yup. I think that solipsism is pointless.
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Old 03-02-2011, 07:54 PM   #93
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I've been thinking about this some more. In a way, if naturalism says that we are completely a product of our environment, without free will, would that mean human beings are simply automatons? Or that are we no different than lower animals, just more complicated?
Sometimes I think of it that way. Now this will probably get pretty philosophical and out there, but consider this:

A) If I mistakenly touch my hand to the hot stove-top, I pull it back, and we call that an 'involuntary reaction', and it seems simple.

B) If the person ahead of me on a crowded sidewalk drops their wallet, I'll pick it up and chase them down to give it to them, though I could pocket it and keep the cash. Maybe this is an 'involuntary reaction' for me, just a bit more complicated?

But again, society should encourage the morale behavior and discourage the immoral, so I'm not sure it makes any difference what we call it.

-ERD50
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Old 03-02-2011, 08:16 PM   #94
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Yesiree, did every thing on my own and owe nothing to anyone.
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Old 03-02-2011, 08:29 PM   #95
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We also no longer have unusual and cruel punishments.
We absolutely still do.


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We help others because that is our nature. Empathy is so much a part of who we are that most everyone views those without empathy as ill or dangerous or both.
This doesn't jive well with human history much.


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Originally Posted by NW-Bound View Post
I've been thinking about this some more. In a way, if naturalism says that we are completely a product of our environment, without free will, would that mean human beings are simply automatons? Or that are we no different than lower animals, just more complicated?
Basically, naturalism means anything that can be proven by the scientific method. Free will is an idea from an individual allowed to make choices and actions free of some Creator's control; but since that's basically where the definition ends, it's not really an argument of 'RG once bought a pack of gum because Genghis Khan once killed 30 million people because a wee thing once crawled out of the ocean and brain equations and 'buncha other stuff' but intelligent design versus random chance.

We're not automatons, we're natures most advanced A.I.
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Old 03-02-2011, 09:55 PM   #96
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This doesn't jive well with human history much.
Well, of course there are other things in our nature besides empathy. We tend to be closest to our family and protective of them. We can be tribal and brutal as well. The question was why do good? My answer was that there are things in our nature and our circumstances that lead us to do good. If the question is why do we do bad I would say that there are things in our nature and circumstances that lead us to do bad.

Quote:
Basically, naturalism means anything that can be proven by the scientific method. Free will is an idea from an individual allowed to make choices and actions free of some Creator's control; but since that's basically where the definition ends, it's not really an argument of 'RG once bought a pack of gum because Genghis Khan once killed 30 million people because a wee thing once crawled out of the ocean and brain equations and 'buncha other stuff' but intelligent design versus random chance.

We're not automatons, we're natures most advanced A.I.
Maybe I misunderstand you, but I do not see the definition of free will ending where you end it. Free will is the implication that a person could have made a different choice than they in fact made. There is no indication this is true. I am talking about the kind of determinism that results from being part of the natural world with a mind that is the product of our body, rather than the kind of determinism that results from a belief in predestination, like the Calvinists believed.

I guess I favor defining naturalism as "nature is all there is." If you don't want to go that far you can have methodological naturalism, which is what you refer to when you mention the learning about the world through science. And it would include reason as well.
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Old 03-02-2011, 10:13 PM   #97
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Yup. I think that solipsism is pointless.
But you think that your observation "I type these words and you see them." did have a point? And perhaps showed that causality exists in nature? Well, if you say so.
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Old 03-02-2011, 10:18 PM   #98
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We also no longer have unusual and cruel punishments.
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We absolutely still do.
Right! I forgot about our income tax system.


OK, OK, just kidding! Back to the discussion of free will.

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Originally Posted by RetiredGypsy
Basically, naturalism means anything that can be proven by the scientific method. Free will is an idea from an individual allowed to make choices and actions free of some Creator's control; but since that's basically where the definition ends, it's not really an argument of 'RG once bought a pack of gum because Genghis Khan once killed 30 million people because a wee thing once crawled out of the ocean and brain equations and 'buncha other stuff' but intelligent design versus random chance.

We're not automatons, we're natures most advanced A.I.
Now, as I am not religious, I guess I will have to call myself a "naturalist" in accordance with the following definition.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines naturalism as:

2. Philos. The idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world; (occas.) the idea or belief that nothing exists beyond the natural world."
I tend to agree with that.

In another thread, one of the phenomena discussed was how two siblings raised in the same family, in the same environment, would have different behaviors and attitudes. Same inputs, different outputs. OK, so one of the CPUs that execute the AI software may be defective.

This got me thinking some more. If humans are just animals (or just "meat CPU"), and if some CPUs are just born "inferior", as we tend to agree, then what is the obligation of the rich and powerful to the poor and weak?

How do we say that "noblesse oblige" is a moral obligation? Does such a thing exist between one animal and another?

Do you see the above dilemma?

I like to think of human lives as being worthy more than that of lower animals, but what reasoning can I supply to make that case? Can someone help me out, without resorting to religious beliefs?
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:15 PM   #99
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Well, of course there are other things in our nature besides empathy. We tend to be closest to our family and protective of them. We can be tribal and brutal as well. The question was why do good? My answer was that there are things in our nature and our circumstances that lead us to do good. If the question is why do we do bad I would say that there are things in our nature and circumstances that lead us to do bad.
I think that one's easy.

We do 'good' (selfless) because we need each other to survive. So we help each other (share the food we hunted), knowing that we will also get helped someday. Sometimes it is very direct, other times it's very indirect. Since we are the descendants of survivors, it is in our DNA.

We do 'bad' (selfish) because we also have to look out for #1 to pass on our DNA, especially if there just isn't enough food to go around at all. Since we are the descendants of survivors, it is in our DNA.

Slight differences in the balance between our selfish and selfless sides are probably responsible for most of the conflict in the world.


-ERD50
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Old 03-02-2011, 11:26 PM   #100
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I like to think of human lives as being worthy more than that of lower animals, but what reasoning can I supply to make that case? Can someone help me out, without resorting to religious beliefs?
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