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Stop Makin' Funna Me!... Just Kiddin' Ya Grego

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Posted by tenacious/">tenacious on October 5, 1999 20:30:42 UTC

: Ah, how I enjoy these debates. Great mental exercise having to organize your thoughts on paper, no?

This is essentially my argument (which you obviously understand so I'm not insulting your intelligence, I'm just doing this for my own clarification):

1)Humans are the result of two things. Their genetic makeup, and social interaction with others. 2)These two things are beyond our control. 3)In life, we develop a sort of computer program that dictates our behavior (which is ever changing and adjusting itself in accordance to new experiences). We will always act in accordance to that program at any one time, under a particular set of conditions. ie) you will act in a manner you believe consistent with your own set of ethics and values (socially determined or environmental), even if these conflict with our animal urges (genetic). The complexity of how these two things interact gives the illusion of free will.

Now, you mentioned the example of 29 icecream flavors. I THINK, that you indeed have a variety of CHOICES. But you want ice cream (satifying your need of eating, or you enjoy the taste), and you thus must make a decision. Take the classic example of a dog that has two bowls of dog food placed equidistant from each other at either end of the room. The dog can only make a decision, if he's gauged which option is the better one. But in this example both choices will yield the exact same thing (take same amount of distance to get there, same food in each bowl). BUT, there is another unseen option. The dog would sooner eat either bowls, then die. Thus self perservation is an option. In this case, the dog isn't really choosing because both options are identical. It's like saying, "do you wanna watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or do you wanna watch Buffy the Vampire slayer? Both options are identical.

In the ice cream example (which isn't as simple as the dog example), you want ice cream. You discover that you've either have to pick a different choice because the one you want isn't available, or 'cause gosh darn it, you just wanna try something new. In this case, you're randomly choosing any old flavor out of necessity. All the options have become identical to you (to you it doesn't matter which one you choose, you just want to try something new). You've never tried any of the new flavors, but you do any way (need for novelty, or option is unavalailable- which all goes back to the complex computer program analogy). I'm saying that all the desires that are present in this situation (or in any kind of decision making), are not uncaused. First you want ice cream for a reason, you want to pick a new flavor for a reason, and these reasons are beyond your control. Your program might be saying, "I'm sick of this flavor even though I normally like it; try something new."

I just knew that you'd bring up that second point concerning the accountability of criminals. I think this doesn't say anything wrong about my theory, but more the flaw found within the justice system. Currently, society sees things in a Reward/Punishment type scheme. This idea of justice is primitive, focus should be placed on rehabilitation. Because of my free will stance, it's not really anybody's fault that their a criminal, or psycopath, etc. But that's not to say that I think they should just run free. After all, a criminal, if he's the result of his environment or not, is still a criminal nonetheless. The idea that we should just toss people into a concrete room for a few years, and then when we release them years later they should be perfectly rehabilitated is laughable. That's the equivalent of throwing all your dirty clothes into the closet before mom and dad sees. So all this lobbying for longer sentances, or tougher sentances for criminals doesn't even begin to address the problem. That's just something polititians spout just to get re-elected, appeal to parents' sense of "protecting their children." Tossing people in jail for 20 years and then releasing them into the public ultimately helps no one. It's a quick fix. Ironically, the criminal leaves prison becoming a better criminal than he was before.

So yes, if a rapist is a rapist because he grew up in a very deprived childhood, then he could not expect to grow up any other way. Anybody else that grew up in the same situation: his mother was beaten by his father, or his father was an alcholic, he was sexually abused, etc, would turn out the same way, simply because those early childhood years are so powerful in the type of person you're going to be. That doesn't mean we shouldn't help him. It just means our justice system needs more reform.

.... So that is why I believe that we have no free will.

Thanks Greg. This has been a most interesting and addictive conversation. Hope to hear from ya bud.

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