The Instigator
mrsmooth27
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Mells
Con (against)
Winning
7 Points

Bio-Environmental determinism is compatible with free will.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Mells
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/2/2009 Category: Science
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,692 times Debate No: 6391
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)

 

mrsmooth27

Pro

After reading my opponent's debate with enkaaladiyilboomi under the same topic, I was thoroughly disappointed by the contender's arguments. I like to revisit this topic and provide a trying debate for both parties.

I have also narrowed down the topic such that both parties are on the "same page."

Bio-Environmental determinism, defined as the union of biological determinism, the belief that one's genetics determines one's actual actions, and environmental determinism, the belief that humans follow stimulus - response, and free will, the idea that humans choose their actions, are not mutually exclusive.

Determinism is a theory that states that what happens is all that would happen given the given situation, and outside what happens nothing would happen. Bio-Environmental determinism states that, and only that, what a person will do is all the person would do; if a man is asked to raise his right hand or his left hand, he would only raise one hand. For simplicity, we will say that the hand raised was his right. The hand he raised would be the only one he would raise. For a different hand to have been raised, either his external or internal environment would have to be different.

Free will, the idea that the man chose to raise his right hand, is compatible, if not supplementary, to the idea that he would choose to raise his right hand without different circumstances.
Mells

Con

I will begin by assessing that if determinism were true, then we could not have free will. As you can obviously see, I am a Libertarian Incompatibilist in regards to determinism and free will. Hence, if determinism is true, then free will is not true. They cannot coexist. Since you have apparently taken liking to the other argument in a different debate, I will begin by explaining how if determinism were true, despite his so called "choice", he would not freely chose which hand to raise. For in your example, you state that if it is already determined that he would raise his right hand, then he would freely choose to raise his right hand, unless in a different situation it were reversed. This is clearly untrue, for if it was already determined, due to the laws of nature and past events, that you would raise your left hand, then for determinism to be true, you must indeed raise your left hand. You dont even have the choice or free will of raising your right hand, because that would make determinism untrue--which i believe it is to some degree. I am not saying some things are not already determined, however, I do not believe that ALL our actions are already determined, but some - like early childhood, does indeed play some determining roles. However, this said, if determinism were true, we would have no "choice", no "rationality", and no "moral responsibility for our actions".

Here is my argument:
1.We have free will (of the kind required for moral responsibility) only if we are the ultimate sources (originators, first causes) of our choices.
2.If determinism is true, then everything we do is ultimately caused by events and circumstances outside our control.
3.If everything we do is ultimately caused by events and circumstances outside our control, then we are not the ultimate sources (originators, first causes) of our choices.
4.Therefore, if determinism is true, we are not the ultimate sources of our choices.
5.Therefore, if determinism is true, we don't have free will (of the kind required for moral responsibility).

This argument, taken from Robert Kane, shows how determinism cannot be compatible with free will on the basis of moral responsibility. For, as you believe, if person x decides (free will) to Z (murder someone), and say does murder someone, he is morally responsible for the death of that particular someone--assuming that the "someone" is the same in both parts of the sentence. However, you also agree that determinism is true-that what hapens is all that would happen given the situation, and outside what happens nothing would happen. So if it was already determined-that this person x would murder someone, then he cannot be held morally responsible because he is not the originator of the decision to kill someone. The decision to kill someone was made long ago given the laws of nature, and thus, he has no way of changing the past, so he cannot change the present, or future for that matter. Thus, he cannot change the fact that if determinism were true, he could someone not kill this person, unless it was determined otherwise.
Debate Round No. 1
mrsmooth27

Pro

Common sense establishes that "Will" (as in will jump or will ride) yields "Can." I simply argue that the inverse of the statement is true; that all happens that can happen and that what does not happen can not happen.

Choice is the word that you use for many possible outcomes, and that which I use for a determined decision.

Rationality is directly supplementary to biological determinism; it is, metaphorically, that water in a cup will stay in the cup. Rationality is a major impact on the definite outcome of a choice.

As for moral responsibility I think that it should be done in another debate.

And so I argue:
1. We have free will if and only if we are the most direct sources of our choices, with the reasonable exclusion of immediate external factors (such as a glass of water being too far to grab)
3. What influences us to make one choice is less direct than our making of the choice
4. We are the most direct link to our decision, with the exclusion of the decision itself, therefore.
5. We have free will.

The only fundamental differences between my opponent's view and my view are:
In my opinion, in any given decision, the combination of countless of factors, all of which can be traced back infinitely (not humanly, of course) as far as existence goes, ultimately leaves only one decision that will be made.

Whereas in my opponent's opinion, there are multiple ultimately possible choices.

And the definition of "free will" as the "Originator" of our choices versus the "most direct cause" of our choices.

My opponent's definition of free will, if taken as absolute, suggests the lack of external forces that limit one's choices. Such exclusions include factors that undeniably limit the outcome of an action such as, for example, a disability or a death threat. There exist indirect factors of a decision's outcome, including those those relating to the decision itself.

Robert Kane takes the point of view that the outcome of a "self forming action" is based on chance, and I take a similar point of view varying on the belief that once all is factored, one possible outcome has a definite chance of occurrence. Again, however, both beliefs include the making of a choice.
Mells

Con

"Choice is the word that you use for many possible outcomes, and that which I use for a determined decision."

I believe we have choices, because we have free will. If we did not have free will and determinism were true, then a determined decision implies that there are no actual "choices". For when one talks of "choice", he refers to the act of choosing. One cannot choose anything, if there were no other choices. Choosing implies that there are other alternative choices to be made. When one chooses something, he decides x over y, or x because y doesnt have such and such. He chooses x because of his preference over this. A determined decision cannot be called an actual choice, because although an individual may feel like he is making a "choice", he really isn't because the choice has already been made long before his time. His choice is more accurately called a determined decision, which the individual making the "determined decision" has only somewhat control over this. This is where my problem lies.

I also disagree that moral responsibility should be left for another debate, seeing as though my main problem with compatibilism is that of moral responsibility. Determinism, if true, leaves out the possibility of other choices. Without the possibility of other choices, one is left with a "decision" (although I wouldnt call it that) that has already been determined or made, meaning you are not the complete author of this decision. If you are not the complete author of this decision, then whatever happens you cannot be held morally responsible. Since we are indeed, under the laws of nature, morally responsible for our actions, then determinism cannot be true or we have no free. That is the debate, whether they can coexist. I believe they cannot coexist, because with determinism, moral responsibility is left unanswered and unusable. The guilt we feel when making a morally wrong choice (if determinism were true) is completely absurd. We may feel "guilty", but we surely should not feel this way and in feeling this way, we are fooling ourselves. It seems likely, however, that we cannot block this guilt out of our minds, which is why I feel we are completely responsible for the actions that come from free will. That said, determinism cannot be true.

Also, your logic is incoherent (i mean this in the nicest way). The argument you have constructed is not in its logical form. Thus, I cannot even disagree with it, because of its incompleteness of the correct logical form. If I were to somehow mentally put it into its logical form, I would question as to what you mean by a "reasonable exclusion" of these external factors. All your argument basically does is prove that we have free will, which I obviously agree with. When constructing an argument, as you have somewhat done, you are trying to get the conclusion out of your premises. Thus, your conclusion that we have free will is somethat that I completely agree with.

"Rationality is directly supplementary to biological determinism; it is, metaphorically, that water in a cup will stay in the cup."

Rationality is not supplementary to determinism, because under determinism we are unrational. We cant make any rational choices in life if determinism is true. Every action we do is already determined, so "thinking rationally" is not even logical. It isn't even logical to rationally think about whether or not determinism is true or false, because our decisions will be made by our previous causes and are already determined. If all our actions are determined, we are left with no rationality, no moral responsibility, and most importantly, no free will.

Hence my argument:

1) If determinism were true, then we can't be held morally responsible for our actions.
2) We are morally responsible for our actions
____
3) Determinism is not true
Debate Round No. 2
mrsmooth27

Pro

1. "One cannot choose anything, if there were no other choices."

Choices are in the eye of the chooser. It is expressly conceded by the viewpoint of Bio-Environmental determinism that an individual has multiple choices for each action. (X may kill Y or X may not kill Y) What is questionable about the theory in relation to free will is that, according to the doctrine, the individual will only choose one. (X will not kill Y because, as X sees it, the disadvantages (such as legal punishment/moral repercussions) outweigh the benefits)

2. "A determined decision cannot be called an actual choice because ... he really isn't [deciding] because the choice has already been made long before his time."

A "determined" decision, according to a part of bio-environmental determinism, biological determinism, is determined by the mind of the individual, that is, the individual is, with the exclusion of the present environment, the most direct link to his actions. That all decisions were made "long before his time" is true about other branches of determinism, but only indirectly so for Bio-Environmental determinism. The individual directly chooses the choice that he will make. The only limit on the individual is himself; he will only choose what he is willing to choose, that is, if X, as X sees it, the disadvantages and/or moral repercussions of the action outweigh the benefits, he will not kill Y.

3. "...the individual making the "determined decision" has only [some] control over this."

That the individual making the decision only has "some control" is dictated by environmental determinism, which states that one's environment limits the possible choices one can make. (For example, X can not shoot Y because he does not have a gun. If X kills Y he will have to use what tools are available to him.)

4. "I also disagree that moral responsibility should be left for another debate, seeing as though my main problem with compatibilism is that of moral responsibility."

A. "1.We have free will (of the kind required for moral responsibility) only if we are the ultimate sources (originators, first causes) of our choices.
2.If determinism is true, then everything we do is ultimately caused by events and circumstances outside our control.
3.If everything we do is ultimately caused by events and circumstances outside our control, then we are not the ultimate sources (originators, first causes) of our choices.
4.Therefore, if determinism is true, we are not the ultimate sources of our choices.
5.Therefore, if determinism is true, we don't have free will (of the kind required for moral responsibility)."

In this argument, my opponent argues "if no free will then no moral responsibility". This argument posted by my opponent suggests that no free will yields no moral responsibility, not the converse. If I invalidated every claim regarding morality made by my opponent, this logic would still stand and would still prove its point.

B. "Determinism, if true, leaves out the possibility of other choices."

See argument 1

5.
"your logic is incoherent,"

I concede that my chain of logic from prior arguments had missing statements, all of which were implied but not expressed or could be constructed from previous statements.

"1. We have free will if and only if we are the most direct sources of our choices, with the reasonable exclusion of immediate external factors [The immediate environment should be excluded from the definition of free will because there are obviously factors that would affect our physical ability to make a decision].
2. What influences us to make one choice is less direct than our making of the choice [as dictated by determinism]
3. We are the most direct link to our decision, with the exclusion of the decision itself [(the immediate environment)], therefore,
4. We have free will."

So, I have rephrased the argument as:

1. The definition of free will is that we are the most direct sources of our choices, with the exception of our immediate environment.
2. Bio-Environmental determinism states that the immediate environment and the party making the decision are the most direct causes of an action's outcome.
3. Considering the definition of "free will," if the most direct sources of the outcome of an action are the immediate environment and the party making the decision then we have free will.
4. Under Bio-Environmental determinism, we have free will.

6. "Rationality is not supplementary to determinism, because under determinism we are unrational. We cant make any rational choices in life if determinism is true. Every action we do is already determined, so "thinking rationally" is not even logical. It isn't even logical to rationally think about whether or not determinism is true or false, because our decisions will be made by our previous causes and are already determined. If all our actions are determined, we are left with no rationality, no moral responsibility, and most importantly, no free will."

Rationality is supplementary to biological determinism, one of the two fundamental components of bio-environmental determinism. Again, biological determinism expressly states that a choice is based on the rational analysis of the party making the decision.

7.
1) If determinism were true, then we can't be held morally responsible for our actions.

See argument 4.

8.
3) Determinism is not true
This conclusion is not the subject of the debate.

9. My opponent has failed to address the following:

__________________________________________________________________________________

I have supported my position to the best of my ability.

My opponent has debated with arguments that would hold true for a debate concerning determinism in general, but he has used many arguments that are inaccurate for bio-environmental determinism, including many that imply ideas of theological determinism.

I encourage voters to research bio-environmental determinism before voting.
Mells

Con

Mells forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Mells 8 years ago
Mells
i prefer you to remake this debate and then go first, since you seem to be so eager. I also need to know what you mean by your "argument", such as what you exactly are trying to argue. thanks
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Mells 8 years ago
Mells
mrsmooth27MellsTied
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