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Is evolution correct?

12/15/2021 6:41 AM

We are lad to understand that the human as we know it, evolved from an ape like creature. From walking on all fours to upright and inventing, building, destroying and having wars.

If we have been around and inhabiting this planet side by side with other animals and apes, the question arises, why only has the human evolved to invent, destroy, build, wear clothes and kill and hunt for pleasure when all the other animals and apes have not evolved over the same time period to complete the same. Why have gorillas not build wooden houses for their families to live in or evolved to grow their own food crops. Why have they not created towns and villages to reside in. Why have only humans evolved to have many languages and have many beliefs of gods when animals have not done so over the same time period?

The only animal that kills for fun is humans, the only animal that creates wars is humans. And the only animals to over populate the planet is humans. All other animals only kill for necessity to survive.

Who stole the missing link? Are we all wrong in what has been taught to us and we now believe. Have we been lied to all along?

Why only have humans evolved far quicker than any other living animal on this planet if we originally were from ape like descendants?

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#232
In reply to #231
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Re: Is evolution correct?

12/30/2021 4:45 PM

This thread has assembled an army of strawmen.

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#235
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Re: Is evolution correct?

12/30/2021 9:17 PM

If tails are advantageous, why don't all animals have tails?
If small size is advantageous, why aren't all animals small?

One reason is that circumstances and environments vary, so what is useful in some cases isn't necessarily always useful. Consciousness has uses that should be obvious, but it is also expensive (e.g., large brain size, large energy consumption in the brain, more difficult birthing). One should be able to figure out such things on one's own, rather than having to ask repeatedly.

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#236
In reply to #235

Re: Is evolution correct?

12/30/2021 9:37 PM

A great demo traction is the Galapagos Islands is great for this, and I believe because of its restrictive environment, they even have miniature elephants there.

adaptation is the key for survival,.. or another word is the ability to evolve to take advantage of the changing environment.

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#240
In reply to #235

Re: Is evolution correct?

12/31/2021 11:21 AM

Are you answering on behalf of 'truth is not a compromise'?

Consciousness is not a physical characteristic, like big or small, or having or not having a tail. If consciousness/self-awareness is directly related to brain size and number of neurons, then it follows that for us to build conscious/self-aware computers we just need to build them bigger - if we just add more transistors, at some point the computer will 'wake-up'. Not only will it be able to calculate, but it will know that it can calculate. A few more transistors, then voila, just like us, the computer will have a sense of 'I'.

I cannot conceptualize a computer gradually becoming self-aware. The transformation from automaton to 'I think therefore I am', is not a quantitative change. It is not just a few more gradations higher on a scale. It would more accurately be described as a birth. It is a deep mystery, but you and others here pretend that it is not a mystery, that human consciousness is just a simple building block problem, that it is all to do with brain structure. You have no more insight (less probably) than the writers of the biblical account of Adam and Eve eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I prefer a good myth to bad science.

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#241
In reply to #240

Re: Is evolution correct?

12/31/2021 2:28 PM

Good science, as I understand it, says there is plenty of mystery (unknown) but no magic (impossible). I agree, but see belief IN impossibles (miracles) as useful in maintaining socially functional sanity, the illusion of power to defy science, and a structure for comfortable belonging, hence a logical and evolved status. I don't see that evolution has slowed or stopped; to the contrary, cultural evolution is accelerating, even as physical evolution is tied to our biology.

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#180
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Re: Is evolution correct?

12/28/2021 1:13 AM

"All humans are self-aware, and in addition, all humans know that they are self aware."

As long as you use the term "ALL", the italicized portion of your statement is probably false. I'm quite sure that the underlined portion is false. There are almost certainly some humans who have no idea of the concept of self awareness, including, but not necessarily limited to, people with brain damage of some kind.

I taught at levels from junior high school to college for 32 years. Unfortunately, I did not clearly understand how different people use totally different thought processes until well after I retired from teaching. I was a very good teacher for those students that think the way I do, but a very poor teacher for many others.

You need to accept that there are many different ways of thinking, both in humans and in other animals. If a cat wasn't self-aware, it wouldn't spend the time cleaning itself, as most (perhaps all) cats do.

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#198
In reply to #180

Re: Is evolution correct?

12/28/2021 11:06 AM

I admit that my quoted statement is poorly phrased. Human consciousness, or self-awareness, is a difficult subject. Allow me to try again. Human self-awareness is characterized by more than that's-me-in-the-mirror. A computer could be programmed to do this, but a computer does not know that it has been programmed to show recognition of itself in a mirror. Notwithstanding brain damage or illness or other disability, humans do know this. We know that we know. It is as if there is another, separate entity inside each of us, observing and judging our actions. The illustration C.S.Lewis uses is a good one: The something within us that can judge between two evolutionary instincts - for example, the instinct to help a man in danger, and the instinct to run away, and decide which impulse should be suppressed and which should be encouraged - cannot itself be either of those instincts.

PS: A computer/robot could be programmed to clean itself at random intervals. This would not be evidence of the computer's self-awareness. A cat cleaning itself is also not evidence of the cat's self-awareness.

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#233
In reply to #180

Re: Is evolution correct?

12/30/2021 5:09 PM

What about humans that have a misconception of what it means to be self-aware? Are they truly self-aware, that's probably true but they need not be their concept of self-awareness.

It's so much fun when you can make up your own meaning for words. You can act like a dingleberry. You know, those little jingly things found on elves slippers and hats, dingleberries.

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#234
In reply to #233

Re: Is evolution correct?

12/30/2021 8:43 PM

In your post#11 you include a link to a definition of self-aware: the realization of oneself as an individual entity or personality. You also linked a definition of introspection: an examination of one's own thoughts and feelings.

Introspection is not possible without self-awareness. It is contained by self-awareness. It is a subset of self-awareness. The human cognitive ability to know that we know falls under the definition of introspection, but since introspection cannot occur without self-awareness, it is correct to state that to know that we know is part of human self-awareness. (PS: we have already ploughed this semantic field)

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#237
In reply to #234

Re: Is evolution correct?

12/30/2021 9:54 PM

You continue to use "self-aware" to mean something only attributable to humanity even though multiple scientific studies and laymen observations have shown this is not solely a human attribute. You've never defined what you mean by "self-aware" while admitting "introspect" is closer to your concept. Yet you continue to say "self-aware" instead of "introspect" or the phrase you really want us to understand when you mean something completely undefined.

Don't you love the sound of dingleberries? They tell you when elves are nearby with their pungent aroma.

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#238
In reply to #237

Re: Is evolution correct?

12/31/2021 10:06 AM

In patent documents, if the invention includes for example, a cable, the cable is generally defined at the outset to include a rope, strap, chain, belt or any other flexible component having length and designed to withstand tension. Thereafter, wherever the word 'cable' appears in the text, the reader knows what is meant. Given the clearly stated definition, only a quarrelsome, thick-headed reader would claim not to understand what is meant by 'cable'.

Similarly, early in this thread I defined human self-awareness as including awareness of one's mortality, a sense of self or 'I', knowing that we know, being able to think about thinking, knowledge of right and wrong. This definition is in accordance with scientific/philosophical discussions about human consciousness, which often use consciousness and self-awareness interchangeably. Consciousness and introspection are not used interchangeably because it is recognized (as I have pointed out) that 'introspection' is a subset contained within the larger concept of consciousness/self-awareness. With all this set forth and clear, only a quarrelsome... etc.

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#242
In reply to #238

Re: Is evolution correct?

12/31/2021 3:06 PM

You continue to make up new, unrecognized meanings for words. Consciousness does not mean what you want it to mean. (Yes, I continue to use Merriam-Webster in order to be consistent.) I don't know what other words you misunderstand their meanings. I don't have the time or patience to parse your vocabulary. You repeatedly make things up to suit your perspective without any reference to anything but what resides in your mind. (This would be a good time to cite any patent document forging a new meaning, particularly a new meaning for "cable." I stride to reference my comments.) Since you repeatedly make up the meaning for words even when corrected, I can only conclude that you are either confused or lying. In either case, your words literally have no meaning.

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#243
In reply to #242

Re: Is evolution correct?

12/31/2021 5:17 PM

1. Cable:a thick rope of wire or hemp used for construction, mooring ships, and towing vehicles.

2. Cable: an insulated wire or wires having a protective casing and used for transmitting electricity or telecommunication signals.

This has been an English word for many years. Technically, in nautical use, a rope 10 or more inches around; in non-nautical use, a rope of wire (not hemp or fiber).
n. c.1200, from Old North French cable, from Medieval Latin capulum

Nothing made up or false about his statement at all. Used in the correct context in this case.

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#244
In reply to #243

Re: Is evolution correct?

12/31/2021 5:42 PM

Thank You AP#1 but that's not what I asked for about the use of the word "cable" but it does tie into my point. The premise that a patent document or any other document needs to only once redefine the meaning of an existing word for that new meaning to be unambiguous is plainly false. It might be acceptable within a formal document, like a patent application, but in an open forum like CR4, it is confusing. It can be evidence of lying.

The fact you, AP#1, provide that "cable" already met the definition supposedly redefined in a proffered patent application tells me no such patent application exists. A false statement has been made.

I've said it before but I'll repeat it here again. By trade, Engineers are nitpickers on details. CR4 is supposed to be an Engineering forum. When I see a patently false detail I will point out the error if not the liar.

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#245
In reply to #244

Re: Is evolution correct?

12/31/2021 7:26 PM

I disagree.

Good engineers knows when to apply details that would make a difference.

I’ve worked with too many engineers that spend (waste) too much time on details that don’t make a damn but of difference. Only to have their projects fail.

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#246
In reply to #244

Re: Is evolution correct?

12/31/2021 7:49 PM

You have no manners.

In patents, it is common to broadly define words outside of any standard dictionary meaning. The purpose of this is to prevent easy circumvention of the claimed invention by others. Keeping with the given example, if in the description of the invention the word 'cable' was used to identify a component, and a broad definition of the word was not included, then anyone else could build the invention, substitute a rope, strap or chain to meet the functional requirement of the specified cable, and the patent would be circumvented, and the holder of the patent would be unlikely to have recourse since, technically, no patent infringement has occurred.

From your post #242: "This would be a good time to cite any patent document forging a new meaning, particularly a new meaning for 'cable'." I refer you to US Patent #9,878,200 B2 "Gravity Return Rowing Exercise Device" Jan. 30, 2018 Inventor: Robert Edmondson Lines 54-58 "The handle 14 is connected to a cable 9 (which could include any chain, belt, cord, rope, or suitable flexible connector) which passes around sprocket or pulley 5 and then is routed to a force transfer assembly."

This is my patent, by the way. Lest you suggest that I probably wrote the text myself and therefore the broad cable definition probably does not adhere to standard patent document convention - I retained an excellent patent agent. In his qualifying exams he was awarded with the highest marks ever achieved in claims writing.

If it is acceptable to the US Patent Office to define words outside of their standard dictionary meaning, then I suggest it should also be acceptable in this forum. Provided the definition is set forth at the outset of a discussion there is no reason the discussion should be continuously derailed by disputes as to the meaning of the defined word (as you have done). 'Cable' had too narrow a dictionary meaning within the context of the referenced patent document. 'Introspection' had too narrow a dictionary meaning within the context of this discussion. 'Self-Aware' was used because it already has a broader dictionary meaning than 'introspection', and because it is the word commonly used (that and 'consciousness') in scientific/philosophical discussions on the subject. In those discussions it is taken to mean awareness of our mortality, a sense of 'I', the ability to think about thinking, knowledge of right and wrong... Regardless of whether the dictionary definition contains all of those meanings in the term self-aware, the parties agree that within the context of the discussion they shall be. You angrily refuse to accept this. It cannot be done in an engineering forum, you bray. It is never done in patent documents you positively assert, and in your last sentence, come very close to calling me a liar.

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#249
In reply to #246

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/01/2022 7:56 AM

Regrettably, it did require for me to become overly strident for you to respond to my complaint about redefining the meaning of a word to suit your ill-defined purpose. And yet you still have not provided a reference where an existing word is redefined.

Throughout this disagreement, I still do not understand why you refuse to acknowledge that non-humans can be self-aware. Earlier it might have helped if you more clearly explained why "self-aware" must be an exclusively human attribute. Humans are animals. Other animals are self-aware. Often pets know when they're being called when they hear the names we give them. How is that different from a toddler demonstrating self-awareness by responding to their name spoken by a babysitter?

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#252
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Re: Is evolution correct?

01/01/2022 8:23 AM

The main stumbling block to accepting that other animals are self aware is man's ego;

Thinking that we are special and different from and superior to other creatures.

Most Humans are a slave to their ego and see the world through a glass darkly.

If you let go of that ingrained philosophy,you can better see the truth of many things around you and be amazed at how little you once thought you knew.

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#253
In reply to #252

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/01/2022 8:26 AM

Agreed! I just foolishly thought I could get another to reflect on their own ego.

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#254
In reply to #253

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/01/2022 8:59 AM

A square tile is only square when viewed from a side or top. It is a diamond when viewed from a corner to a corner. It is still the same square tile to you. It is still the diamond shape tile to another. It is still the same tile.

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#262
In reply to #254

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/01/2022 1:52 PM

You are defining "is-ness" by sensory perception. What abour

"People believe what they want to be true."

or

"You can't doubt others until you are willing/able to doubt yourself."

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#263
In reply to #262

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/01/2022 1:57 PM

I like that second quote. Please, will you kindly cite the author?

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#267
In reply to #263

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/02/2022 2:12 PM

Me. Part of my view that we all need to distort reality somewhere, as further explained in my Post 205. Numbers (probability) and needs matter. If quote marks implied external publication, I apologize. I have no such channel, and may be too disruptive for popular digestion anyway.

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#264
In reply to #262

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/01/2022 6:31 PM

Let’s not bring Gender into this. Lol….

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#255
In reply to #249

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/01/2022 10:25 AM

Re: "you still have not provided a reference where an existing word is redefined". I cited a patent document that did just that. The word "cable" in the cited document was redefined as any component having length, flexibility, and able to withstand tension. This is far broader than the dictionary definition of cable, and completely acceptable to the US Patent Office. Read a few patent texts. It is very common to find statements advising the reader that whenever a particular indicated material is named in the text it is to be understood that other materials having characteristics suitable to the described function could be utilized and such use would still fall within the scope of the claimed invention. In other words, a named component or material can be defined more broadly than the dictionary definition, provided a statement is included that clearly sets this forth.

Re: "I still do not understand why you refuse to accept that non-humans can be self-aware." Self-aware in the broad sense that it is commonly used in scientific/philosophical discussions on the subject. I don't accept it because every proffered example of such self-awareness is easy to refute. Responding to a name? My voice activated TV responds to a name. Is that evidence the TV is self-aware? The Mirror test? Does an animal rubbing a marked X on its forehead when it looks in a mirror, evidence of self-awareness? A non self-aware robot could be programmed to do that. In HiTekRedNek's #248 post he gives an example of a gnat's collision avoidance system - a system he states we have yet to match. Can we therefore conclude that gnats have a sense of self, and can think about thinking? Randall, in post #195 cites a study that seems to suggest that rats have empathy. I found this very interesting. But does a rat respond to the distress of another rat by choice or by evolutionary dictate? Is it thought or evolutionary neurological programming? We can't know. In our own case, we have 'inside information' so we know that we make a conscious choice between running away and helping another in distress. We have an instinctual impulse to do both, but we reflect upon which is right and which is wrong. We make a choice, but we are not forced to do either. What is this thing that judges between two conflicting instinctual impulses and then consciously chooses which to suppress and which to encourage? Yes, in the study, the rat usually chose to help another rat in distress, rather than partake of a tasty treat, but can we conclude that the rat, before acting, reflected upon the rightness or wrongness of its actions, indistinguishable from human self-reflection in a similar circumstance? It is my reason, not my ego, that asserts, no, that is not a conclusion we can draw.

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#256
In reply to #255

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/01/2022 10:31 AM

Cable

Your definition is not different than 1d.

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#257
In reply to #256

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/01/2022 11:05 AM

1d: A cable is "a wire or wire rope by which force is exerted to control or operate a mechanism."

The definition of 'cable', the one accepted by the US Patent Office in the cited document includes all of the structure and characteristics of a "chain, belt, cord, rope, or other suitable flexible connector". A component having length, flexibility, and strength in tension is a much, much broader definition than 1d. It is perverse obstinance not to acknowledge this. If you object to this broad definition, I suggest you take your dispute to the US Patent Office.

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#281
In reply to #255

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/03/2022 1:13 PM

".... Does an animal rubbing a marked X on its forehead when it looks in a mirror, evidence of self-awareness?...."

Yes, when untrained and unprompted, it does provide good indication of the understanding of self, especially when such behavior does not occur when the animal is presented with just a picture of another individual with an x on the forehead.or another individual with an x on the forehead.

Programing a robot to mimic the behavior is not the same. If you figure out how to program a robot generally without specifically training for this test, you might actually be developing some form of self'awareness. I don't see it being as sacred or rare as you seem to think .

.

".... But does a rat respond to the distress of another rat by choice or by evolutionary dictate? ..."

It is obviously a choice and not a dictate because not every rat helps some choose not to help.

.

"... Is it thought or evolutionary neurological programming? ..."

False dichotomy. Thought is a result of evolutionary neurological programing. It is both.

.

".... In our own case, we have 'inside information' so we know that we make a conscious choice between running away and helping another in distress. We have an instinctual impulse to do both, but we reflect upon which is right and which is wrong. We make a choice, but we are not forced to do either. What is this thing that judges between two conflicting instinctual impulses and then consciously chooses which to suppress and which to encourage? ....."

In fact, there is strong evidence that what you describe as an internal choice is not part of the actual decision making process, but instead an after effect wherein the conscious mind vigorously attempts to backfill a story in which it is completely responsible for every so called choice. fMRI experiments shown the 'choice' has been made well ahead in time of the illusion of choice displayed by the conscious mind.

https://whyevolutionistrue.com/2011/12/27/the-no-free-will-experiment/

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#283
In reply to #281

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/03/2022 3:58 PM

Your first three paragraphs are a repeat of what you wrote in post #268 and to which I replied in post #270, and indirectly in post #273. The Mirror Test has been interpreted differently by different researchers. You have only presented the interpretation that supports your position. Please read and kindly reply to my posts #270 and #273.

Re: Possible robot self-awareness: There has been no demonstrated connection between self-awareness/consciousness and computational ability. The computer "Deep Blue" was no more conscious than a pocket calculator from the 70's.

The remainder of your post presents a bizarre world view. You first make the case that rats have freedom of choice, and then you make the case that humans don't. Presumably, in keeping with this, you reject our current legal system because humans have no freedom of choice and are therefore always innocent, regardless of their deeds; but you still want a legal system in place for rats, because rats have a moral code, and make a conscious choice between good and evil. Accordingly, you would like to see all bad rats brought before a judge and jury and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

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#286
In reply to #283

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/03/2022 10:18 PM

Maybe TINAC thought you misunderstood the point he believed he clearly made and that your reply never rebutted, let alone even provided a suitable acknowledgment showing comprehension.

I guess you have never heard of Alan Turing or his test. Bots are already passing this test and steering social media. Bot testing of bots has accelerated this evolution.

Your last paragraph shows that you do have trouble comprehending the meaning of referenced material. TINAC has a sound reason for repeating his statements in a different way. That last apparent run-on sentence is actually a link. I believe other researchers have used other brain scanning techniques to show how our brains fabricate supporting memories to apparent free-will choices. But you won't believe them any more than this citation. Illusionists use these memory fabrications all the time to achieve their illusions.

Does your inflexibility to even conceive of material outside of your programming mean that you are a bot? I don't care if you are or are not a bot. I just respect that you are incapable of accepting that another animal than humans can be self-aware. I'm not tired that you cannot accept that many others believe animals can be self-aware, I'm tired that you won't stop shoving your opinion down our throats.

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#296
In reply to #286

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/04/2022 12:44 PM

Passing the Turing test is not evidence that a computer is conscious. You know that and so do I.

The premise of the fMRI experiments was that a conscious decision was already preceded by an unconscious decision, and therefore it was only an illusion of choice in the conscious mind. People who do creative innovative work know that if they have worked hard on a problem and the solution won't come, the best strategy is to set the problem aside, and don't think about it for a few days. A common experience is that when the problem is returned to, the solution that had been so elusive, is suddenly, and obviously apparent. I can attest to this in my own experience. It could have been a math problem, a mechanical design problem...whatever. Somehow the unconscious mind had been working away on it while we were doing other things. The conscious mind chose to work on a particular problem, and then in some way directed and delegated the work to the unconscious mind. The order of direction and control described here is not in accord with the premise of the fMRI experiments. It is also evidence that the unconscious mind is not a swamp of emotions and reptilian impulses. Savant Daniel Tammet confesses that he has no idea how he does his astonishing calculations. Someone presents him with a problem. He turns it over to his unconscious mind, and it does the rest.

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#288
In reply to #283

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/04/2022 6:16 AM

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#290
In reply to #288

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/04/2022 7:47 AM

I like the video and agree with its point. I'd like to offer a briefer explanation.

Completely free will does not exist. We cannot take solely our will and perform any act we can conceive. Fantasy and science fiction authors, like J. K. Rowlings, can do this in their fantasy world but not outside of the pages of their work. But as any author finds out when they submit their work to an editor, not even in this realm does completely free will exist.

We do have the illusion of constrained will where we can choose between given choices. The image reminiscent of The Matrix movie is a perfect example where one can choose the red or blue pill but one cannot choose the green or plaid pill. I say even this constrained selection of will is an illusion for many hidden past events and physical constraints bias our selection. This is one of the key reasons that people are very bad at being truly random in choosing anything.

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#299
In reply to #288

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/04/2022 1:53 PM

In reference to my #292 post: If you agree that the decision of a man who chooses not to help another in distress when he could help, is contemptible, then you believe in freedom of choice, whether or not you admit it. If you truly do not believe in freedom of choice, then to be consistent with that belief, you can make no moral judgements about anyone's actions.

Do you think that Sam Harris views all human actions as neither good nor bad? Only if he is a monster. But that is the necessary rational companion to his professed denial of freedom of choice.

We pass no moral judgements on the behaviour of rats because everyone accepts that rats are purely driven by rat instinct. Humans pass moral judgement on the behaviour of other humans because we all accept that we have freedom of choice and that there is a moral component to our choices.

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#285
In reply to #281

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/03/2022 5:37 PM

In addition to my post #283 reply:

You've taken your argument to the end point of absurdity haven't you? You and others here have been so eager to show there is nothing special about human intelligence and consciousness, that you have relentlessly downplayed all evidence of the astonishing cognitive ability of humans ("It's just our ego telling us we're so special!" is the repeated scoffing chorus.), and interpreted more and more animal behaviour as thought driven rather than instinctual, until finally you have argued yourself into the absurd position of your post #281 that rats have freedom of choice but humans don't.

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#287
In reply to #285

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/03/2022 10:21 PM

That's not what he said.

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#294
In reply to #287

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/04/2022 11:11 AM

Oh? From TINAC's post #281: "It's obviously a choice because not every rat helps. Some choose not to help." Then at the end of the post he links to a study that purportedly demonstrates, with respect to humans, "the illusion of choice displayed by the conscious mind".

He is very clearly putting forth his absurd position that rats have freedom of choice and humans do not.

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#295
In reply to #294

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/04/2022 12:13 PM

As I said, that's not what TINAC said or posted. Is it too far of a reach for your mind to accept that both people and those rats have the illusion of choice?

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#297
In reply to #295

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/04/2022 12:46 PM

The words in italics are direct quotes from TINAC's post.

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#298
In reply to #297

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/04/2022 12:49 PM

And you still do not understand them. Your bias is blinding you.

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#289
In reply to #285

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/04/2022 6:40 AM

No one is claiming that the human cognitive ability is not truly remarkable. The opposition you find here seems to generally find distasteful your need to classify the cognitive abilities of nonhumans as unremarkable in order to protect your view that human cognitive ability is worthy of respect.

By the way the rat makes a choice in my description because it is the paradigm of agency that affords succinct discussion in contemporary English language. I would sat the same thing about a person making the same choice to avoid the awkward work around necessary to describe a specific action taken among multiple available.

Still, self awareness does not require true free will.

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#292
In reply to #289

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/04/2022 9:53 AM

The rats in the cited experiment were presented with 1) another rat in watery distress and 2) a tasty treat. Most ignored the tasty treat and helped the rat in distress. You argue that since not every rat helped the distressed rat, this is evidence of agency - that the rats all considered what do do and made a choice. More probably, I submit, is that some rats were hungrier than others, or liked the offered treats more than others. They all had an instinct to aid one of their own, but they also had the biological impulse to eat when hungry. A bit more hunger and the rat ignores another cage mate in distress. It is not a choice. It is a biological imperative. The rats that ignored their distressed mates we hold blameless.

Consider a similar human situation. A thought experiment. There are several men, all trained in swimming life-saving techniques. On different days each man goes to a seaside restaurant and when arriving is alerted by the call for help from someone who has fallen off the pier. Most rush to the aid of the drowning person, but one ignores the calls for help and continues to the restaurant. When asked later why he didn't save the drowning person, he replies, "I hadn't eaten all day, and a table was waiting for me in the restaurant." Arguably, this man was subject to the same impulses as the rats in the experiment, but we do not hold him blameless for his action, as we hold blameless a similarly behaving rat. We judge his behaviour to be contemptible, and we so judge because, faced with two impulses, one good and one evil, he chose evil.

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#293
In reply to #281

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/04/2022 10:43 AM

There are other published interpretations of the Mirror Test (my posts #270 and #273), which you have conveniently ignored. Not all interpretations agree that "it does provide a good indication of the understanding of self".

None of the researchers seem troubled that both a fish and a mammal passed the Mirror Test. Does this not cause the slightest flicker of doubt in your mind? Just what is the test actually measuring if a fish can pass it? Can we seriously conclude that a fish has an understanding of self? A more reasonable interpretation is that the Mirror Test fails to do what it was designed to do. The reflection of the fish in the mirror elicits a response by the fish that gives the fish a 'pass'. A fish! I suggest that the elicited response has nothing to do with a fish sense of self. It is some kind of instinctual response. The Mirror Test does not explain the 'why' of this response.

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#302
In reply to #281

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/04/2022 5:36 PM

My learned friend redfred writes that I have misunderstood your post. He says that you are not putting forward the absurd position that rats have freedom of choice and humans do not. No, no, no. He asserts that your position is that neither rats nor humans have freedom of choice.

Well, you are the one who wrote the post so I am asking you what you meant when you wrote this about rats helping or not helping another rat in distress: "It's obviously a choice and not a dictate because not every rat helps. Some choose not to help." Seems clear to me that you are saying rats have freedom of choice, but please correct me if I am misinterpreting.

Later in the post you write, with respect to humans: "In fact, there is strong evidence that" what is considered choice is "the illusion of choice". It also seems clear here that you are saying the opposite of what you said about rats - that humans have no freedom of choice. Again, please correct me if I am misinterpreting.

Unless you correct my reading of your post, I accept that you hold the absurd position that rats have freedom of choice and humans do not.

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#305
In reply to #302

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/06/2022 1:51 PM

I don't think my response (or lack of response) to your question will have that much effect on what you believe as you seem set on believing what you want in spite of the information provided to the contrary. Yet, this odd stubbornness is not an indication you have more than an illusion of choice. You may tell yourself you you have chosen your particular beliefs and course of action, but I don't think you could have chosen any differently. As such, what you may perceive as a choice, what we refer to as your choice is not a choice at all.

In the same sense I refer to the rats' choice. In that moment, at that time, the confluence of genetics and experience brings each rat to do one particular action, out of more than one possibility, but that thing that by convention of our current paradigm we refer to as choice is no choice at all.

Rest assured my comments was not an attempt to invert your hierarchy. I was not suggesting that rats have some special ability to choose beyond that of humans, not because I also hold sacred the 'humans above, other animals below' mantra of your hierarchy, but because using common vernacular is so much more efficient and it seems a waste to type so many words to someone who gives indication of zero willingness to entertain thoughts other that those he held at the outset.

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#307
In reply to #305

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/06/2022 5:58 PM

I think what really happened in your post #281 was that you were so determined to prove me wrong on all counts that you overlooked where your arguments took you. My position was (and is) that rats do not have the cognitive capacity to make choices, that they are solely driven by instinct. You responded to that by writing that, no, they are able to make choices, as shown by the evidence of the referenced experiment - most rats helped another rat in distress, but some chose to partake of a food treat instead. Then, with respect to humans, I argued that we have freedom of choice, and you responded by referencing a study that suggests the possibility that we are not so free to choose as we normally suppose. You posted it, I contend, without realising that you had put forth the absurd position that rats have freedom of choice, and humans do not.

What you, and other proponents of the idea that we have no freedom of choice ignore (including your revered Sam Harris) is the necessary moral consequences of this argument. If you truly believe we have no freedom of choice, then none of our actions can be deemed either good or evil. If we have no choice but to act in a certain way, then moral distinctions become non-existent. Someone who runs a shelter for the homeless is neither better nor worse than someone who physically attacks the homeless. Both individuals have no choice about their behaviour, so the former is not to be commended and the latter is not to be blamed. However, I doubt very much that this is how you view the actions of your fellow human beings. Almost certainly you find some actions utterly contemptible, and since you do, that is proof that you do not accept your own argument that we have no freedom of choice. If you judge some actions contemptible and other actions worthy of praise, then you are proclaiming that there is a choice. When you hear of the murder of a child, do you shrug and say, "Oh well, the murderer had no choice. He was compelled to do it, and is therefore blameless." ? You don't, and neither does Sam Harris (unless you are both monsters). You believe humans have freedom of choice.

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#316
In reply to #307

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/07/2022 8:00 AM

Let's recap:

You obviously misunderstood my original statement.

Your misunderstanding was so obvious that others tried to help you understand.

You refused their help and continued holding tight to your misunderstanding.

You made it clear that you would only accept clarification about my statement from me.

I replied to help you understand what the others had tried to tell you, namely that you were misunderstanding what I wrote.

You replied, refusing to accept the very clarification you elicited, instead choosing to stick with your original misunderstanding.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn this style of interaction represents a strong recurring theme in your life.

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#318
In reply to #316

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/07/2022 10:12 AM

There is nothing to misunderstand in your original statement in post #281. Here it is again: "It is obviously a choice (referring to the rats' behaviour) and not a dictate because not every rat helps. Some choose not to help."

It is a choice and not a dictate. That is what you wrote about rats, and you wrote it in opposition to my statement (in post #255), that a rat responds to the distress of another rat not by choice but by evolutionary dictate.

In your post #305, you claim, no, no, no, what you really meant when you wrote that rats obviously have a choice is, "In the same sense I refer to the rats' choice. In that moment, at that time, the confluence of genetics and experience brings each rat to do one particular action, out of more than one possibility, but that thing that by convention of our current paradigm we refer to as choice is no choice at all."

What is humorous about all of this is that I actually agree with you about no freedom of choice for rats, but you were so determined to prove me wrong on every point that you took the opposite position in #281, and you were so focused on that that you didn't even notice that you were putting forward the absurd position that rats have freedom of choice and humans do not - and now you are doing your mental gymnastics to try to cover and explain away your nonsense. Earlier, even your pal redfred tried to cover for you.

Please also explain how you reconcile your belief in no freedom of choice for humans with the necessary moral consequences of that position. That is the second point of my post #307. When you hear of the murder of a child, do you say, "Oh well, the murderer had no choice. He was compelled to do it and is therefore blameless."?

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#320
In reply to #318

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/07/2022 11:06 AM

How absurd can you get? You really think you are the one to declare comprehension when others say you don't understand. It doesn't work that way. You do not understand what TINAC wrote or the papers he cited. You appear to be incapable of understanding them. You are also incapable of accepting others that disagree with you.

As I said before and I will repeat it now. I don't mind that you disagree with anyone. I mind that you continue to shovel your opinion as fact. Will you please stop?

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#325
In reply to #320

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/07/2022 12:13 PM

My post #318 was addressed to TINAC, not to you.

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#327
In reply to #325

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/07/2022 1:57 PM

If you want a private conversation then don't post in a public forum.

Or are you saying that my rebuttal was so succinct and perfectly executed that you want somebody you can't understand to reply in order for you to continue to claim ignorance?

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#328
In reply to #318

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/07/2022 6:06 PM

I cannot help you to see what has been laid out so plainly in front of you, You have shut your eyes so tightly and refuse to unclench them even momentarily, lest you perceive something that forces you to reconsider what you have already decided you know. That would be a catastrophe indeed for you, I bet; to have to admit that you didn't have perfect understanding of things from the outset.

Look everyone gets things wrong. Trying to make it look as though you have never been wrong and are never wrong only insures that you will never actually get it right.

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#330
In reply to #328

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/07/2022 6:37 PM

What is laid out plainly in front of me is that you are trying to cover your rats-have-freedom-of-choice goof, and that your pal redfred is springing to your aid.

I'm still waiting for your humans-don't-have-freedom-of-choice response to my question: When you hear of the murder of a child, do you say, "Oh well, the murderer had no choice. He was compelled to do it and is therefore blameless."? If that is truly your response to the murder of a child then I will accept that you actually believe that humans don't have freedom of choice.

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#335
In reply to #330

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/08/2022 7:38 AM

This has not been a discussion of penal theory and I have resisted entertaining the question you seem to think is such an artful trap, not because it is actually threatening but instead because your argument implies that something could not be true if the consequences of that something are unacceptable or too difficult to consider. Plainly absurd, but let me do the mental footwork for you so that the task of sorting it out doesn't present an insurmountable task.

...and perhaps entertaining the question you seem to thing of as the ultimate 'gotcha' allow you to see what so far you have hidden from yourself so stubbornly.

Punishment for crimes is necessary for many reasons, not just for retribution.

Punishment is necessary for protecting society from dangerous people (the ones who have been committing crimes through things like actually incarceration and those who are likely to commit crimes through things like deterrent brought about by knowledge that crimes and efficiently investigated, prosecuted and punished.

Official punishment is necessary to maintain public order by minimizing things like vigilantism,, lynchings, and riots, from citizens believing justice will only be brought about by their own actions.

Punishment is necessary as indication through action that society deems the misdeeds against the victim as unacceptable and that it will not go without consequences.

.

Now, I can hear your misunderstanding chomping at the bit to announce to everyone your analysis... you cannot wait to blurt out,

"...How can punishment be a deterrent if there is no free will?!?! People would have to choose differently!; Ha!...lalalalalalala not listening to anything else that is said...lalalalal..."

.

If you could listen, you might be able to hear me tell you that a lack of free will does not mean that actions do not have effects.. To the contrary, actions have effects in us which are immune to the consideration of out conscious mind.

Punishment can have the effect of deterrence because some people who might have otherwise committed a crime might now not commit that crime with knowledge of the potential punishment, While they might even perceive this in themselves as a choice, it is merely the effect of an outside influence and the individual could not have behaved in any other manner.

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#337
In reply to #335

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/08/2022 10:03 AM

It doesn't need to be a discussion of penal theory. I can replace my illustration with one for which there are no legal consequences, and my point remains. Let us say that someone with swimming life-saving skills ignores the calls for help from a drowning man and continues to his appointment at a nearby restaurant. Would you judge his behaviour with contempt, or would you shrug and say, he had no choice?

To deny our free will is also to accept the rational consequence of that denial - that none of our actions can be judged as either good or evil. That is how we view the actions of rats, but it is not how we view the actions of our fellow human beings. Even those who accept the deterministic argument against free will find it impossible to accept that all human actions are morally neutral. Put poetically, it is denying free will with one's head, but accepting free will with one's heart.

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#339
In reply to #337

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/08/2022 10:28 AM

Please stop.

You've repeatedly demonstrated your bias. You reapply incorrect logic as you acknowledge the error of that logic. You repeatedly erect strawman arguments. I'm uncertain if these strawmen are a ploy or true a demonstration of misunderstanding. Regardless, strawman arguments are rooted in misunderstanding.

Your bias is so deeply rooted that communication has broken down. This has become pointless.

Please stop.

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#341
In reply to #339

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/08/2022 10:53 AM

Mindlessly shouting "incorrect logic" and "strawman argument", is not a refutation of my point. It is just making meaningless noise.

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#346
In reply to #337

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/08/2022 6:15 PM

"... To deny our free will is also to accept the rational consequence of that denial - that none of our actions can be judged as either good or evil. ...."

.

This premise which you pretend is universally accepted is not. I have already demonstrated in a previous post that it is not true and that it does not lead to some functional dilemma.

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#350
In reply to #346

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/08/2022 6:29 PM

.(my quote) "To deny our free will is also to accept the rational consequence of that denial - that none of our actions can be judged as either good or evil. ...."

(your quote) "This premise which you pretend is universally accepted is not. I have already demonstrated in a previous post that it is not true and that it does not lead to some functional dilemma."

I don't recall any such refutation by you of my above statement, and you have not provided the post # in which you do. Please copy and paste it so I am able to consider your counter-argument, and respond.

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#352
In reply to #350

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/08/2022 6:53 PM

335

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#353
In reply to #352

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/08/2022 7:19 PM

.Your entire post #335 is your explanation for the necessity of punishment for crimes, which misses the point.

My quote again: "To deny our free will is also to accept the rational consequence of that denial - that none of our actions can be judged as either good or evil. ...."

If you truly believe we have no freedom of choice, that all of our actions are compelled, and not chosen, then all of our actions are morally neutral. So, If you judge any behaviour of another human being as contemptible then that is an admission that you don't accept your own argument that we have no freedom of choice. If you judge some behaviour as contemptible, it is because you believe the person could have acted differently, and chose not to. It is because you believe the other person had freedom of choice. If you believe others have freedom of choice, then it follows that you believe you also have freedom of choice.

You have not answered this argument.

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#362
In reply to #353

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/09/2022 2:38 AM

I think I am beginning to understand the problem here.

You are so emmersed in your ideas about 'good and evil' that you won't risk anything that threatens those beliefs. That this fear has so hobbled your ability to integrate new information suggests your 'good and evil' paradigm is on very shaky ground and probably needs to be allowed to topple.

Try dripping the 'good' and 'evil' labels for a while just as a test. As a test, see how things work. If you want them back, they will be right where you left them.

In place of 'good' and 'evil', try substituting 'desireable' and 'undesirable', as in whether some happening is desirable or not if the plan is to move away from the greatest possible suffering for anything capable of suffering in the universe and to move towards the most fulfilling and enriching experience for everything capable thereof within the universe to the best of our understanding.

Now you don't need evil or even an agent to judge whether something should be encouraged or discouraged. The same tool can be used to evaluate the problem of a brutal assault as to evaluate a child contracting bone cancer, even though the child's bone cancer doesn't necessarily have a culprit (assuming a non-superstitious mindset and a lack of nefarious supervillians) . We can evaluate both events as undesirable and therefore take what actions are reasonable to minimize future occurrence and provide assistance if possible for those affected to recover.

No need to judge good and evil to have a functioning society. Don't worry, you'll still get the pleasure of other people being incarcerated.

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#364
In reply to #362

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/09/2022 3:02 AM

Good and evil themselves are evolved concepts that promote social cohesion. I called it morality in my post 355. What is kindness and love to one may be seen as bigotry and exclusion by another.

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#376
In reply to #364

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/11/2022 12:13 PM

"....What is kindness and love to one may be seen as bigotry and exclusion by another ...."

.

No need to surrender to moral relativism. A moral framework can be build starting from the basis of whether or not an action is likely to have a net effect of decreasing suffering and increase fulfillment or increase suffering and decrease fulfillment, over all.

.

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#366
In reply to #362

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/09/2022 10:38 AM

So that we can have it in front of us, the following is my argument against human determinism, copy and pasted from my last post:

"If you truly believe we have no freedom of choice, that all of our actions are compelled, and not chosen, then all of our actions are morally neutral. So, If you judge any behaviour of another human being as contemptible then that is an admission that you don't accept your own argument that we have no freedom of choice. If you judge some behaviour as contemptible, it is because you believe the person could have acted differently, and chose not to. It is because you believe the other person had freedom of choice. If you believe others have freedom of choice, then it follows that you believe you also have freedom of choice."

When I first introduced this argument, I illustrated it with an extreme example - that of a murder of a child. I stated that if you denied freedom of choice, the rational response in keeping with your deterministic belief would be to shrug and say, "Oh well, the murderer had no choice. He was compelled to do it, therefore he is blameless." Your response to this, completely missing the point, was to present arguments for the necessity of punishment under the law. I replied that my argument could be illustrated by an example in which there were no legal consequences, and my point remained. I used the example of someone ignoring the calls for help from a drowning man (to my knowledge there is no legal requirement to put yourself at risk to save another). Again, you completely missed the point, and you directed me back to your post in which you argue for the necessity of punishment under the law.

Let's go back to the extreme illustration - the murder of a child - and consider it stripped of any reference to the legality of the act. You suggest that instead of using terms like good and evil, I should instead use the words desirable and undesirable. Is that what you do? When you hear of the murder of a child do you say, "That is undesirable."? You most certainly do not. You are shocked and horrified, and if you were to speak about it you would use stronger language than 'undesirable'. You find the act beyond contempt. You do not shrug and say, oh well, the murder of that child was undesirable but the murderer had no choice. He was compelled to do it and is therefore blameless. You do not react that way because you believe the murderer could have chosen to act differently. You believe that he had a choice. Your response to such a heinous act is your own refutation of your denial of our freedom to choose.

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#374
In reply to #366

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/11/2022 11:05 AM

You would do well to try to sort the thoughts in your own head rather than continuing to expound on what your have convinced yourself others must surely be thinking.

You certainly do like to bring up heinous crime. Perhaps if I divulge some of my thinking on the subject you can gain new insight into the possibility of more than just the two positions you imagined existing.

I believe anyone who knowingly and intentionally grievously harms a child almost certainly has something wrong with their genetics and/or their upbringing. In many cases today, we are not yet capable of determining what went wrong and when. At other times we can have a pretty good idea of what lead to the problem. I suspect eventually we will be able to pinpoint what is wrong in the brain with a high degree of accuracy and certainty as well as how the problem was brought about.

That bring us back to the need for consequences for crimes.

Since you are fond of pushing people into hypothetical and then assuming their possible response (as one of two extreme positions) and then passing judgement....here is a bit of your own medicine:

Imagine you are taking a leisurely stroll down a neighborhood street with your mother and a man approaching walking in the opposite direction begins to yell obscenities at your mother. Your mother is visibly shocked and obviously offended. A police officer sees the whole incident and detains the man for an investigation for possible charges for assault. The man is visible upset and says he can help his utterances and is extremely apologetic. The policeman tries to talk to your mother, but she is too upset. He turns to you and asks how you would like to proceed, press charges or be lenient. You have seen the man before and he does seem genuinely unable to control his outbursts. Furthermore you know the local jail to be an exceedingly rough place especially for anyone with something like the nervous tick this guy is displaying, so if you press charges, you might be sentencing him to great bodily hard or worse. You also known that your aging mother is very sensitive and will likely not be willing to take walks outside in the future if you don't choose to press charges and see him punished. This lack of exercise will likely degrade the quality of and shorten her remaining years. Do you press charges or not? Would it make a difference if health care could or could not yet diagnose Tourretes syndrome. Would it make a difference if a medicine were available?

So which is it, are you a person who unfairly punishes someone for their handicap, or are you someone who does not love their mother enough to want to protect her?

That scenario is unfair in a similar way to the all or nothing scenario you attempt to push, as you were bringing clarity to the subject or supporting your position, at all.

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#377
In reply to #374

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/11/2022 6:15 PM

I am tired of this conversation, and I am tired of your unrelenting condescending tone. The following is copy and pasted from my previous posts.

I can replace my illustration with one for which there are no legal consequences, and my point remains. Let us say that someone with swimming life-saving skills ignores the calls for help from a drowning man and continues to his appointment at a nearby restaurant. Would you judge his behaviour with contempt?

If you truly believe we have no freedom of choice, that all of our actions are compelled, and not chosen, then all of our actions are morally neutral. So, If you judge any behaviour of another human being as contemptible then that is an admission that you don't accept your own argument that we have no freedom of choice. If you judge some behaviour as contemptible, it is because you believe the person could have acted differently, and chose not to. It is because you believe the other person had freedom of choice. Your response is your own refutation of your denial of our freedom to choose.

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#381
In reply to #377

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/12/2022 6:01 AM

I don't understand the point of all this absence of free will stuff, but, I do see the problem with your counter-example:

"Let us say that someone with swimming life-saving skills ignores the calls for help from a drowning man and continues to his appointment at a nearby restaurant."

Clearly in the current society, the man has no choice but to answer the call.

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#383
In reply to #381

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/12/2022 9:38 AM

In the current society, to my knowledge, there is no legal obligation to put oneself at risk to attempt to save another, but almost everyone recognizes the moral obligation to aid someone who is calling for help, and if an appeal for help is ignored, that decision is generally viewed with contempt. However, if you are a proponent of determinism, then in accordance with that philosophy, all actions are morally neutral. The only appropriate response for a determinist is to shrug, and say, "Oh well, he was compelled by his genetics and life experiences to ignore the drowning man, so it is not rational to find fault with him." I submit that even determinists do not react this way. They too find such behaviour contemptible, and this reaction refutes their own philosophy, and confirms that they actually believe that the person could have acted differently, that the person had freedom of choice.

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#384
In reply to #383

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/12/2022 10:42 AM

"However, if you are a proponent of determinism, then in accordance with that philosophy, all actions are morally neutral."

A simple google search for "determinism and morals" reveals that that is not a universally held belief.

From this article for example it seems as though Kant agrees with the statement but David Hume and Bertrand Russel do not.

If those guys can't resolve it I'm sure we're not going to be able to.

What is clear is that no one who is a proponent of determinism believes that all actions are morally neutral. That view is only presented by people wishing to discredit determinism.

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#385
In reply to #384

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/12/2022 12:31 PM

Your quote: "What is clear is that no one who is a proponent of determinism believes that all actions are morally neutral. That view is only presented by people wishing to discredit determinism." That view is presented by Immanuel Kant (who apparently wishes to discredit determinism). Prior to you informing me of Kant's view, I expressed the same thing here as a result of my own thinking on the subject. It is a rational position. That Kant came to the same conclusion puts me in good company. Also, our legal system is predicated on the belief that we have freedom to choose, that we have responsibility for our actions, that we are not leaves blown about by the wind.

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#386
In reply to #385

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/12/2022 12:58 PM

Ran out of time to add this rounding statement:

Our legal system is aligned with Immanual Kant in "wishing to discredit determinism".

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#390
In reply to #386

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/13/2022 5:14 AM

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#389
In reply to #383

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/13/2022 3:12 AM

So rather than swallow your own medicine and prove that you can make the choice requested of you in my scenario, you just continue to assume (and then claim as fact) the beliefs of others related to your own hypothetical scenarios.

.

Let's take another approach:

Have you ever in your life been so angry that you felt an urge toward acting violently, but some combination of consequences whether those are social, physical, or legal kept you from committing the violent act?

If the things that inhibited your violence had not been in place and you had acted violently, you might think of that as you having made a different choice. What changed wasn't you in that scenario though. What changed was external to you. Given the differing important inputs, your violence was either acted out or suppressed and even though you may have felt some internal struggle, you could not have made a different choice.

Even if the exact same scenario arises and remembering our conversation you change whether your violence was acted out or suppressed, what initiated a change is still external to you.

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#391
In reply to #389

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/13/2022 12:05 PM

Determinism has a problem which you have not addressed. Immanuel Kant elucidates it thus: "If our will is itself determined by antecedent causes, then we are no more accountable for our actions than any other mechanical object whose movements are internally conditioned."

Bertrand Russell, a determinist, disagreed with Kant. He argued that determinism does not diminish the moral dimension of our actions. Here is a Russell quote from Randall's provided link: "What determinism maintains is that our will to choose this or that alternative is the effect of antecedents; but this does not prevent our will from being itself a cause of other effects. And the sense in which different decisions are possible seems sufficient to distinguish some actions as right and some as wrong, some as moral and some as immoral." I am surprised that the great Bertrand Russell presents such a muddy argument to reconcile determinism and morality. I remain in agreement with Kant.

Your illustrations do not deal with this problem - the problem of the necessary moral neutrality of any action if that action is predetermined - nor does your revered Sam Harris in any of his illustrations. Your post #374 describes a scenario in which a choice must be made between two actions, both of which will result in unpleasant outcomes, and you write that this is as "unfair" as any argument I have presented, which I find baffling. In your post to which I am replying, the described scenario could be replaced by one in which a man is in a strait jacket, and accompanied by your declaration, "You see, he has no freedom of movement (choice)."

My argument, which you are either deliberately ignoring, or fail to comprehend (surely not, because it is a simple argument), is that determinists, no differently than non-determinists, attribute a moral dimension to the behaviour of others. In my given simple illustration, both react with contempt to someone who ignores the calls for help from a drowning man. That reaction is in itself an admission by the determinist that such behaviour - ignoring another's calls for help - is a choice, and as such carries with it the burden of moral responsibility. Determinists, by so reacting, refute their own professed denial of human freedom to choose.

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#392
In reply to #391

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/13/2022 1:56 PM

If this wasn't so annoying the irony of this endless loop would make me laugh.

The determinist doesn't believe in the free will of libertarians. The libertarian doesn't believe previous actions and experiences determine outcomes. This libertarian refuses to grant the determinist the free will to reject a libertarian perspective. The determinist refuses to accept the libertarian's views have been predetermined by the libertarian's past. Neither party stays true to their professed beliefs.

Both of these perspectives are well studied and understood philosophies. Many philosophies and particularly these two philosophies are incompatible with each other. Philosophic clashes have produced some of the most horrific terrors all in the hallowed name of doing good. Tomás de Torquemada and Thomas Cromwell were but two who committed atrocities in the name of doing good. No philosophy negates or proves another philosophy to be completely wrong. I find that all philosophies are flawed to one extent or another. That's probably a key reason why so many philosophies exist.

CR4 is an engineering forum, not a philosophy forum. This horse is dead. Please stop beating it.

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#394
In reply to #392

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/13/2022 7:05 PM

This free will/determinism discussion originated in a post by Randall referencing a behavioural study of rats, which related to the broad thread subject of evolution and adaptive behaviour. Several posts ago I wrote that I was tired of the conversation. But then, after having been silent for some time, Randall chimed in with an observation, and out of courtesy, I replied. Another post from TINAC followed...and so on. From my earlier post stating that I was tired of the conversation, it should be clear that I rather share your opinion that the horse is dead, but you have nevertheless chosen to direct your ridicule at me, as if I am solely responsible for this never-ending-thread. That said, if the horse shows signs of life, we might beat it some more. You are under no obligation to observe or participate.

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#395
In reply to #394

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/13/2022 8:58 PM

This was not directed at you. But if you feel the need to be the abused martyr then there's probably something wrong with you. You were just the latest one holding a horsewhip.

Please take this to a philosophy forum.

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#397
In reply to #392

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/14/2022 4:00 AM

You are right.

I apologize and will not beat the dead whore, anymore.

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#396
In reply to #391

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/14/2022 3:48 AM

No, your trouble making your ideas about morality fit if there is no free will is not a reasonable argument in favor of the existence of free will.

Your claims that the repulsion (you assume is universally to all non monsters) felt for someone ignoring the calls of a drowning man, is not proof that free will exists.

First, that repulsion, while appearing in your framework as some choice to grade that behavior as contemptible, is not a choice at all. A better description of that repulsion would be part of the conditioning (punishment/reward system) that would compel your own assistance to a drowning man calling out to you.

Secondly, the contempt you feel for a bad actor that destroys something cherished is unlikely to be limited only to humans.

Imagine that you have a beloved nephew and niece (both less than 6 years of age) that are in your care for the day. You and the kids are in your backyard when suddenly two escaped baboon mothers each with one young offspring enter your backyard and are in between you and the kids. The offspring of the two baboon mothers run over to you and climb up into your arms. The mother baboons shreik and the run with one grabbing your neice and the other grabbing your nephew. The baboons clearly are upset and seem to want to trade the youngsters in your charge for their own youngsters. You understand and cautiously approach the baboon mothers. The first baboon holding your niece hostage quickly accepts the exchange, grabbing her baby and releasing your niece unharmed. The second baboon (the larger one) grabs their own baby as well, but instead of releasing your nephew unharmed, begins to thrash the poor boy ultimately causing large facial scars and several broken bones.

The zoo recaptures the baboons and puts them on display. While recuperating, your nephew asks to visit the zoo. Upon reaching the baboon display, the larger female suddenly noticed your nephew and begins to scream and rush around the area near your nephew and throw things at your nephew. When you look at the large disfiguring facial scar on your nephews face, how do you feel about that larger baboon?

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#398
In reply to #396

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/14/2022 11:43 AM

The problem of reconciling determinism and moral responsibility is not something I just happened to make up during the course of this thread. It is the philosophical problem with determinism. As Kant wrote, if all of our actions are predetermined by antecedent causes, then we can not be held accountable for our behaviour. This problem, I acknowledge, does not disprove determinism, but it is intellectually dishonest to pretend that it is not a problem.

There is no proof either way in the determinism/free will debate. I am not making the claim that my drowning man scenario is proof that free will exists. I am claiming that it is strong evidence, approaching proof, that most people (including Sam Harris) believe in free will even if they profess to believe in determinism. Reading the news about a man who drowns needlessly because a passerby ignored the calls for help, Sam Harris should shrug indifferently, because in a deterministic world, all actions are morally neutral. But this is not like the morally innocuous examples he likes to use - pushing button number one or two; opening door A or B. Here, the passerby's action caused the loss of a life. It was morally wrong, and unless Sam is made of stone, his smug neuro-scientific deterministic certainty is replaced with contempt for the behaviour of the passerby, because contrary to his professorial utterances, he actually believes the passerby could have acted differently. His deterministic academic mask is off and we behold the bare face of someone who actually believes in free will. Ditto for you.

As for your baboon story: Whenever someone is injured or killed by an animal, we do not judge the animal's behaviour by a moral standard, as we do with human behaviour. When a grizzly bear kills a hiker, we do not view the bear's behaviour with contempt. We don't do this because we fully accept that the bear was simply acting according to its nature. Although we grieve the death of the hiker, we do not judge the bear's behaviour as either right or wrong. The same holds for baboons.

Contrast this with the drowning man scenario. If a passerby ignores the calls for help from a drowning man and continues to his reserved table at a nearby restaurant, we do not say, "It's terrible that the man drowned needlessly, but the passerby was hungry. He was just acting according to his nature." We do not say this because we believe that although the man had a strong impulse to appease his hunger at the nearby restaurant, he should have suppressed that impulse and gone to the aid of the drowning man. We believe that what he did was morally wrong. We believe he could have acted differently. We believe he had a choice. We do not judge animal behaviour by this moral standard because we believe that animals have no choice - but we believe that humans do.

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#399
In reply to #398

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/14/2022 1:17 PM

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#400
In reply to #399

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/14/2022 5:38 PM

After TINAC's post, the horse twitched, so I had to beat it some more. Still not sure if it's dead. Let TINAC check for vitals and decide.

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#401
In reply to #398

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/17/2022 12:48 AM

Humans evolved different forms of morality to improve group survival. Re the drowning man, it make a difference who the men are, their ideas about death, and the degree of personal "me-ness" which we often see now re vaccines (Djokovic). All of us distort reality to survive, but every case is different and it changes with time.

It takes courage to resist the need for absolutes, to see that impossibles are impossible, and it's lonely if you do.

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#402
In reply to #401

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/17/2022 1:02 PM

You are missing the point of my drowning man scenario. My argument is that most people, even determinists, would feel contempt for a person who ignores the calls for help from a drowning man, and the reason they feel that contempt is because they believe that the passerby could have acted differently, that he had a choice. But if you are a determinist, you believe that the passerby had no choice, that he was compelled by genetics and life experience to act the way he did, and therefore, to be consistent with your deterministic philosophy, you must believe that the passerby is not accountable for his action, and therefore it is not rational to judge his action as right or wrong, or to feel anything at all about what he did. A feeling of contempt for the passerby is therefore the determinist's own internal refutation of his professed belief that humans have no freedom to choose.

If you want to turn our morality on its head and assert that in some other culture the passerby would be admired for ignoring the drowning man (I can't imagine such a place, but let's consider that idea), then in that culture going to the aid of the drowning man would be viewed with contempt by others. It would be viewed with contempt (even by the determinists in that culture) because they believe the passerby had a choice. They believe that he could have done the 'right' thing and ignored the drowning man. My first paragraph argument remains intact. A feeling of contempt for the passerby's action (whatever that action might be) is the determinist's own internal refutation of his professed belief that humans have no freedom to choose.

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#403
In reply to #402

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/18/2022 12:42 AM

I am not a determinist. I meant that our cultures evolved moralities which work because being socially responsible to (certain) others helps the group cohere and survive, so its practice is reinforced. I also see it not as a yes-no issue, but action and inaction depend on many things in addition to morality, such as the ability to swim, the relative ages and sizes of the men, and whether they knew each other. Believing the same miracles as the group also reinforces the group and its morality, hence the ties of morality with religion.

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#405
In reply to #403

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/18/2022 9:45 AM

Sure, but your thoughts about the practical purpose of morality are not germaine to the drowning man scenario, and the point I am making, as I explained in my last post. Envision a culture in which a passerby would be praised for ignoring the calls of a drowning man and my argument is unaffected.

Also, the drowning man was a specific illustration to make a general point. Your questions: did they know each other; did the passerby know how to swim...and so on. These are nit picking details that lose sight of the general point - that even those who profess to be determinists, by their reactions to the behaviour of others, reveal that they hold others accountable for their actions, and thereby refute their professed belief. The illustration could have been: What is the determinist's reaction to someone pushing an old lady to the ground and stealing her purse? If the thief, by a combination of genetics and life experience was compelled to do it, and had no choice, as the determinist contends, then the determinist, although he is sorry for the old lady's bruising and loss, should, in accordance with his philosophy, shrug indifferently and say, "The thief had no choice." But he doesn't say this. He finds the thief's actions contemptible - and my already stated argument follows (I know, you could say that maybe the determinist and the thief were pals and in it together...and so on. But this again is finding some detailed objection to the specific illustration, and stubbornly refusing to see the general point.).

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#406
In reply to #405

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/22/2022 12:58 AM

I have abstained from commenting, hoping it would bring to an end the continual restating of your flawed arguments. It has not.

I am not going to waste too many words here, as I seriously doubt you are capable of reconsidering what the position you promote. I will offer a slightly different rebuttal of your drowned man/bruised lady argument.

Imagine instead of a man failing to save someone drowning, a publicly funded robot capable of many different tasks including rescuing someone from drowning, continued to sweep up instead of being the hero.... while your contempt might be focused on the 'programming' wouldn't you want that robot in that form to be less free? Wouldn't you want the program to be altered and be uneasy about having it be free to continue operating unless the program had been verified to have been improved.

Much the same scenario is an AI that programs a robot to steal a purse (with the misguided logic of keeping police fit and ready for action) and in executing the purse stealing, an old lady is bruised. You still likely want the robot and AI to be less free until such time as the errant behavior can be guaranteed to not occur.

Whatever your feelings towards the robots and programing or towards the criminals, what society would want for either is equivalent; a loss of freedom until rehabilitation.

There is no need for an agent to have free will for the occurrence of damaging behavior by an agent to trigger measures to limit or prevent further damaging behavior. Negative feelings towards the agent of bad behavior functions as motivation to enact changes to limit or prevent damaging behavior, be that living freedoms of the agent deemed responsible or new gemeral restrictions.

Look, Canadianslidewind, I don't need another rehashing of your attempted rebuttals. Neither do I require your count of arguments of yours that haven't had a response.

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#407
In reply to #406

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/22/2022 11:43 AM

Contempt is not something one feels for a robot with faulty programming, which is how you have characterized the thief who pushes an old woman to the ground and steals her purse. We agree that such behaviour is a societal threat, but if a robot were do such a thing we would not judge the robot's actions as contemptible, because we know that a robot does not have free will. Vexation would be our response to the malfunctioning robot, not contempt.

I submit that a determinist, upon witnessing a man pushing an old woman to the ground and stealing her purse, would not say, "I find that behaviour vexatious." No, the determinist (even Sam Harris) would use stronger language. He would express his contempt for the perpetrator, and in so doing would reveal that he does not believe the perpetrator was a robot. He would find the thief's actions contemptible because, contrary to what he professes, he believes that the thief, unlike a robot, is accountable for his actions, that he could have acted differently, that he had the freedom to choose.

This is not a disproof of determinism, nor a proof of free will. Such proof on either side has not yet been made. What it is, is evidence approaching proof that most humans believe in free will, regardless of what they profess.

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#408
In reply to #407

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/24/2022 10:55 AM

"..What it is, is evidence approaching proof Canadianslidewinder will continue to believe that most humans believe in free will, regardless of what they profess. evidence to the contrary including personal testimonials ..."

.

Bold italics added.

You are too comfortable assigning beliefs to others and proceeding as if your assumptions are undeniable fact. When your argument relies on changing what someone has stated as their perception into a perception that fits the reality that you are pushing, it isn't a rebuttal at all.

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#409
In reply to #408

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/24/2022 12:47 PM

Be honest with us, TINAC. Did you expect anything else from somebody displaying egomania?

I know that could be considered an ad hominem attack but I say the facts support my conclusion. This Canadian will never accept fault in themself. Just look at the disbelief he showed when I pointed out that people and animals could both be acting on the illusion of free will. He couldn't accept my analysis of your words.

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#412
In reply to #409

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/25/2022 4:04 AM

I don't hold any real hope that Canadiianslidewinder will regain the ability to objectively consider evidence challenging his beliefs, much less the ability to experience a change of mind.

I just imagine someone reading this exchange and being lulled into a state of noncritical thinking, leading them to internalize Canadianslidewinder's pseudologic as convincing. I shutter at allowing him to have the last word.

I realize that is folly. It is my own weakness that has me posting in response to him. I will do my best to resist temptation.

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#413
In reply to #412

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/25/2022 9:18 AM

Let me therefore summarize both sides.

Here is my simple argument: We do not react with contempt to any actions of animals or robots because we accept that animals and robots do not have free will. Conversely, we do react with contempt to certain actions of humans because we accept that humans do have free will.

Here is your counter-argument: There is no need to invoke free will as an explanation for our reaction of contempt to certain actions of humans. The contempt can be explained as a reaction to behaviour which is a societal threat. (Note that in your counter-argument you acknowledge the reaction of contempt.)

Here is my rebuttal to your counter-argument: Marauding animals and malfunctioning robots can also pose a societal threat, but this elicits no feelings of contempt for either when such threats occur, because, as stated in my initial argument, we accept that neither animals nor robots have free will, and are therefore not accountable for their actions. It follows that a determinist, who asserts that humans also do not have free will, should have no reaction of contempt to any human behaviour that poses a societal threat. But a determinist does react with contempt to such behaviour (you acknowledge this in your counter-argument). Therefore the determinist's reaction of contempt reveals a belief in free will beneath his deterministic facade.

That is where this exchange now stands. You have offered no reasoned response to my rebuttal of your counter-argument.

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#414
In reply to #413

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/25/2022 2:31 PM

You, canadiansidewinder, continue to impose your views and perspectives onto others in this philosophical argument. You are not the center of the universe. Repeating your self-centered views of others' thought processes does not make them any more truthful than when you originally stated them.

If you truly want a proper rebuttal to your philosophy then take this to a philosophy forum. This is an engineering forum.

If you want me to say that you were right, give up on that fantasy.

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#416
In reply to #414

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/26/2022 9:16 AM

Surely I don't need to point out that after several days of silence, it was TINAC who re-opened this discussion, not I. Also, I have no interest in persuading you to any view. Your only contributions (if they can be so described) is to throw tomatoes at me and give kudos to TINAC for everything he posts.

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#415
In reply to #413

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/26/2022 6:02 AM

"It follows that a determinist, who asserts that humans also do not have free will"

Your whole argument pivots on this false assumption.

No determinist worth talking about believes that we do not have free will.

I posted the following clip of a simple google search shortly after I had pointed out that both Hume and Russel were compatibilists.

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#417
In reply to #415

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/26/2022 9:35 AM

False assumptions are the foundation of strawman arguments. We are all susceptible from time to time to make this seductive but flawed type of argument. When I have presented this flawed argument I reassess both how to present my perspective and that perspective itself. When I find my perspective to be flawed, I don't always publically admit the error. Admitting one's errors is difficult.

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#418
In reply to #415

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/26/2022 10:09 AM

Thankyou Randall. Compatibilism is an attempt to reconcile determinism and moral responsibility. The debate over the success or failure of this attempt is very much alive. Incompatibilists continue to argue that free will and moral responsibility are incompatible with determinism. This has not been proven to be a "false assumption".

Also, others here have posted videos of Sam Harris, unaccompanied by comment, but the very posting of those videos suggest that they agree with Harris's 'hard determinism' - that given a person's life experience and genetics, absolutely no choice is possible, that free will is a complete illusion. Sam Harris and his followers leave no wiggle room for compatibilism. Typically, they avoid the problem of moral responsibility posed by their hard determinism by choosing illustrative examples that are empty of moral content ( choosing between Door A or Door B, and the like). When confronted with illustrative examples that do have moral content (eg. ignoring or going to the aid of a drowning man) they have, as witnessed here, been unable to explain within their hard deterministic philosophy why they feel contempt for certain actions and not for others.

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#419
In reply to #413

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/26/2022 11:44 AM

You continue to misunderstand my argument.

You continue to restate what you would like my argument to be....a way that favors your assertions.

You continue to assume you understand what everyone thinks and you definitely have gotten it wrong.

You continue to attempt to shrink the possibilities of reality down to just a choice between two options of your imagining. Reality is so much more nuanced that you realize.

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#420
In reply to #419

Re: Is evolution correct?

01/26/2022 7:24 PM

Well, you used a baboon analogy and a robot analogy to convey your meaning, and when I pointed out the flaws in your reasoning, you abandoned those analogies, so I reasonably concluded that I understood your argument well enough, and that my rebuttals had found their mark.

It remains unclear why you and certain others here are so eager to embrace hard determinism, conceptually reducing humans to programmed robots. Philosophically, the free will/determinism question is unsettled, but you have chosen the side that denies all human creative capacity. You have chosen the side that smells of death.

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