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Guest Tamler Sommers (from the Very Bad Wizards podcast) summarizes Galen Strawson's "The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility" (1994) and his father P.F. Strawson's "Freedom and Resentment" (1960).
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Jason Grey says
Is the episode already recorded? I’d love to hear some insightful discussion of the younger Strawson’s intriguing work, The Self. And Against Narrativity as well.
Mark Linsenmayer says
It has been recorded, yes, and we had plenty to talk about focusing on free will. I should have the Topic Announcement with more detail up in a day or two.
It kills me when people misuse responsabilty with the term accountability. Responsibility points toward a persons “ability” to “respond”. Whether a person should be held “accountable” for his or her response to a given situation is quite different than analyzing a persons ability to respond to that situation in some prescribed moral way. Very bad wizard in dead;)
The bigger issue is taking a look at the cultural norms. In a place like Norway if a person commits harm to another, that person isconsidered sick. So you can contrast a wellness or nurturing oriented culture like that against a punishment culture like our war based destruction cult here in the center of the new empire. But I digress. Accountability is assessed in a punishment culture in order to figure out how much harm to do to the sick person. Wait this gets dumber. I hope this show can transcend the tail spinning semantics you fall into without broadening the context. No man is an island.
Anthony Verbalis says
In this podcast, Dr. Sommers uses the phrase “truth of determinism” often. One could be forgiven if one thinks that Dr. Sommers actually believes there is such a “truth”. Unlike Dr. Sommers, I do not believe there is.
I come at this from a background in physics, not philosophy. While Newtonian physics is rigorously deterministic, modern physics has moved on, as I’m sure Dr. Sommers is well aware. Quantum physics clearly refutes the “truth of determinism”. Lest you think that quantum indeterminism is limited to the microscopic realm, let me give an example which shows that it is not. I will use the “Schrodinger Cat” argument in a somewhat different way than Schrodinger intended. I simply want to observe that according to our best physical theories there is no way, even in principle, that we can predict that when we open the box, the cat will be dead or alive. Depending on the outcome, the Universe then proceeds on very different tracks. One of which is that I bury the cat, and the other that I need to find another way to kill it.
Now, I realize that this is not an argument for free will. But when determinism has a hole like this punched into it, why should we have confidence in any conclusions based on it? In particular, ethical conclusions?
Common sense tells me that I have a degree of free will in some of my decisions. Common sense is not always correct. It is contrary to common sense that the Earth moves, but Newton’s laws prove conclusively that it can and it does. This is more than sufficient authority to overthrow common sense in this matter. But in the case of free will, the so-called “truth of determinism” falls far short of what is necessary to overrule our common sense. It does not mean that future knowledge will not supply sufficient reasons to overthrow common sense in this matter also. The “hidden variable” physicists might get lucky. But until then, belief in determinism is a matter of faith. Starting discussions by implicitly assuming the correctness of this faith is highly suspect, at best.