The Instigator
socialpinko
Pro (for)
Winning
11 Points
The Contender
RationalMadman
Con (against)
Losing
1 Points

Compatibilism is false

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
socialpinko
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/5/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,207 times Debate No: 26019
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (11)
Votes (3)

 

socialpinko

Pro

===Resolution===


Pro in this debate will argue that free will and (causal) determinism are incompatible; that if every event is necessitated by previous conditions and events, then human beings cannot also possess the ability to choose among possible courses of action. The BoP is on Pro to bring an argument and to defend it in support of the resolution. Con's only burden is to deconstruct/refute Pro's argument.


===Definitions===


"Compatibilism is the thesis that free will is compatible with determinism."[1]


Determinism is "the idea that every event is necessitated by antecedent events and conditions together with the laws of nature."[2]


Free will is "a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives".[3] There are obviously competing theories on the specifics of what free will is and what it entails. I've kept the definition purposely vague so that if my opponent has a rival explanation for what the definition entails, they may argue for it.


Compatibility is obviously the capacity for two conditions or entities to exist simultaneously.


===Rules===


1. Drops will count as concessions.
2. Semantic or abusive arguments will not be counted.
3. New arguments brought in the last round will not be counted.
4. R1 is for acceptance. Argumentation begins in R2.
5. BoP is shared between Pro and Con.


===Source===


[1] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[2] http://plato.stanford.edu...
[3] http://plato.stanford.edu...
RationalMadman

Con

As a somewhat extremist fatalist this is one of my extreme passions within the realm of philosophical debates.

Essentially I only have one contention. Althought that sounds little, it tears the pro's debate apart in one go.

Ok I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
socialpinko

Pro

The argument which I'm about to forward is known broadly as the consequence argument for incompatibilism, formulated and defended by Peter Van Inwagen. The version which I intend to defend in this debate isn't the same word for word as Van Inwagen's formulation but it retains the basis structure. The original formulation itself goes as follows:


"If determinism is true, then our acts are the consequences of the laws of nature and events in the remote past. But it is not up to us what went on before we were born, and neither is it up to us what the laws of nature are. Therefore, the consequences of these things (including our present acts) are not up to us."[1]


P1- On determinism, our actions are consequences of the laws of nature in conjunction with past events and circumstances.
P2- Both the laws of nature as well as past events and circumstances exist outside of our control.
C1- Therefore, our actions are outside of our control.


Our actions cannot be both in and outside of our control. Therefore, if I can defend the consequence argument then compatibilism will have been shown to be false. Seeing as this argument is of the type that takes relatively uncontroversial premises to establish a controversial conclusion, it will obviously be difficult for me to defend the specific points in the argument without knowing what criticisms Con plans on bringing. Therefore I'll leave the argument as it is for now and expand wherever Con decides to focus his refutation.


Good luck to Con and I certainly look forward to an enjoyable debate.


===Sources===


[1] Essay on Free Will by Peter Van Inwagen. Cited: (http://www.informationphilosopher.com...)
RationalMadman

Con

I, unlike you, shall not steal another person's argument. I see that you, too have only one contention so I see it as fair to give mine.

I would prefer to call determinism 'fate' since I think 'fate' is a concept that the majority of people can relate to as opposed to determinism, which indicates a superior being determining things for us, and I am not religious and do not at all think God should be brought in (I'm not accusing pro at all of bringing God in but want to make a clear exclusion of this from the debate).

My contention is as follows (I know one is not a lot but there is really only one contention to discuss for con):

You determine free will to be as follows: A particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives.

You define fate as follows: The idea that every event is necessitated by antecedent events and conditions together with the laws of nature.

I do agree with fate. In fact I would go as far as to say I would bet my life on fate as opposed to chaos theory.

I also believe in free will. They are compatible.

There is not a reason why fate is compatible with free will other than the fact that there is no reason for them to be incompatible.

This is essentially my contention:

What if fate allows there to exist a group of rational agents which have capacity to choose a course of action from among various alternatives? What is the reason to claim that one defies the other? Regardless of the choice/decision being predetermined, the capacity of rational agents to choose is not non-existent, it merely is predictable based upon the laws of fate.

I think that I wrote that to best of my linguistic ability. If it confuses you, feel free to query it.
Debate Round No. 2
socialpinko

Pro

First, I'd like to point out that Con has not really attempted to refute my argument. He has not challenged either the validity of the argument or the soundness of the premises. Con simply states that he doesn't think there's any reason for them to be incompatible. That's what the argument I forwarded in R1 is for. On the "argument" related above, Con is simply asking why the two concepts are incompatible.


Determinism/fatalism distinction.


One possible source of confusion for my opponent is the distinction between fatalism and determinism and what they respectively entail. They are not the same or interchangeable as Con seems to think. Determinism is entirely concerned with causality. It is the thesis that given X, Y must happen. Fatalism is a more meta-version of this. It asserts that X as well as Y are "fated". So while a determinist might not think that the laws of nature or the beginning conditions of existence were "fated", a fatalist would.


This ties into the debate in a very important way. Con claims that there's a possibility that fate could allow for people with free will to exist. Therefore, determinism isn't a necessitated fact. This I have no objection to. But determinism merely posits that gives so and so conditions, so and so effect will be necessitated. Fatalism as Con is describing it would seem to posit that the the initial conditions would also be predetermined. This is where the idea of contradiction comes into play, the idea that determinists posit the initial conditions as originally necessitated. But since the initial conditions don't seem logically necessitated, Con thinks this is a contradiction for determinism. On the contrary, it's a contradiction in fatalism.


Knowledge/metaphysics distinction.


The last point of Con's counter that I think worth responding to is his claim that "the capacity of rational agents to choose is not non-existent, it merely is predictable based upon the laws of fate." I don't see these two propositions as contradictory though. For instance, given the laws of physics, if you drop an apply in your kitchen, it will most likely fall to the ground. Now even though we can predict that this will happen, that doesn't mean that certain initial conditions (i.e., gravity) don't causally necessitate the apple to fall. Herein lies the distinction between knowledge of the world and the world itself. Knowledge that event A is going to happen is not necessarily a contradiction with event A being causally necessitated on its own.


Con's refutation has rested simply on confusion between distinct concepts, determinism with fatalism and knowledge with metaphysics respectively. Clearing up these confusions should show that Con's counter isn't sound and that the consequence argument I forwarded in R2 remains uncountered.
RationalMadman

Con

No, the concept of determinism isn't to deny free will.

I shall explain my points and refute yours simultaneously.

If X causes Y to happen then X has caused Y to happen. Yes, no worries, you will let go of the apple "X1" and the apple feels gravity "X2" then this makes "Y" the apple falls to ground.

However, the difference between one's actions and events are the issue.

You are stating that a father raping his 4 year old daughter is equivalent to an apple dropping on the ground. That a sadistic axe murderer's victims merely underwent an event for which the axe murderer is merely non-responsible, it was predetermined no? In fact why do we put people in prison, invent punishment and bother with discipline if it assists 0% in preventing future crimes occurring? Well we don't do it because of that because that is clearly not the case. The rapist knew damn well how disgusting what he was doing is. Oh yes he did. The axe murderer is a lunatic mad man bound to be punished for life, threat to society! Just because it was determined, or 'fated' doesn't mean it wasn't their choice to do the disgusting things! That is all for this round.
Debate Round No. 3
socialpinko

Pro

Summary of dropped arguments.


Con seems to have dropped his points arguing from both his point regarding determinism's relationship to the initial conditions of existence as well as the point regarding whether or not knowledge of something about to happen is compatible with that thing being 'caused'. As I showed in R3 (and as Con has brought no refutation against), Con's "contradiction" in determinism is really a contradiction in fatalism. The mistake arose from Con's failure to distinguish between the two concepts. Furthermore, Con's point arguing that just because we can predict something doesn't mean it was "caused" falls flat when we realize that the two possibilities can exist simultaneously as per my apply example. My opponent has not attacked these refutations directly, but has brought another (more emotionally tuned) point and it's that point that I'll be concerned with this round.


Note: Con can't bring new criticisms or refutations of my arguments in the last round as per Rule 3 in R1. This includes the fatalism/determinism as well as the knowledge/metaphysics distinction.


Human/object distinction.


Con's counter-refutation is decidedly emotionally toned. His argument is from moral responsibility. Taken as a premise that people are responsible for their actions, free will is necessitated. For how can we hold responsible someone who had no choice in what they did? Actually, this argument is faulty on two levels. The first has to do with the fact that Con takes it as a simple presuppositions that moral responsibility exists (this comes with it the further burden of justifying moral realism, etc.). Second, arguing from current modes of thought further brings unjustified presuppositions into the argument. Why should we accept that current practices are necessarily the right ones?


Conclusion.


Con has failed to bring any reason to accept compatibism. Each of his criticisms have either rested on failure distinguish relatively different concepts or are caused by unjustified prejudices and presuppositions. The former problem relates to Con's failure to distinguish between the claims of determinism and fatalism, the contradiction he presented resting solely with fatalism. Also along this line of reasoning was Con's failure to distinguish between knowing something will happen and that thing being necessitated to happen. Con conceived that these two properties couldn't exist simultaneously, something refuted by my apple example. The latter problem was due to Con failing to justify the presuppositions used, notably the "fact" of moral responsibility and the justification of our current legal and justice systems. Neither of these are or should be unconditional presuppositions invulnerable to error. Vote Pro.
RationalMadman

Con

I have a simple contention:

It could be determined that we have free will.
Also, entire justice system is pointless if this isn't true.

That's pretty much my conclusion.
Debate Round No. 4
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by socialpinko 4 years ago
socialpinko
*double facepalm*
Posted by socialpinko 4 years ago
socialpinko
Reads Con's argument: *facepalm*
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 4 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
Seeing as this is 99% certainly now a trolled debate, I'll be happy to do this debate regarding the consequence argument specifically (though personally I'd rather do it in a longer period of time in a slightly less formal setting).
Posted by 000ike 4 years ago
000ike
That's not really what I mean.....in fact, your opponent has already exploited the problem with your definition that I was talking about, he says:

"What if fate allows there to exist a group of rational agents which have capacity to choose a course of action from among various alternatives? What is the reason to claim that one defies the other? Regardless of the choice/decision being predetermined, the capacity of rational agents to choose is not non-existent, it merely is predictable based upon the laws of fate."

That's exactly right.
Posted by socialpinko 4 years ago
socialpinko
You don't think that if everything we do is causally necessitated that that could make free will unlikely? understand what you're saying. You think that even if choices are uncaused, that free will wouldn't exist This debate doesn't cover that, but covers whether we can have free will if our choices ARE caused.
Posted by 000ike 4 years ago
000ike
The incompatible aspect of determinism, would be that those choices derived from those alternatives, are themselves, uncaused. The existence of that choice and the existence of those alternatives, and the existence of that deliberation are not in question.
Posted by socialpinko 4 years ago
socialpinko
Why do you think that's compatible with determinism?
Posted by 000ike 4 years ago
000ike
Why would your opponent need to challenge your definition? You've already given him the win with this one. "a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives"

That's completely compatible with determinism. The incompatible aspect of determinism, would be that those choices derived from those alternatives, are themselves, uncaused.
Posted by socialpinko 4 years ago
socialpinko
I know it's deterministic. I'm just saying it's false. I defined determinism and free will only because they're included in the definition of compatibilism.
Posted by Stephen_Hawkins 4 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
Compatibilism is a determinist theory, hurr durr.

SPinko, you're smarter than this, so I imagine this is just accidental, or just an assumption on one's part, but I would make the appropriate changes regarding the soft determinism/hard determinism divide.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by philochristos 4 years ago
philochristos
socialpinkoRationalMadmanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con never engaged Pro's original argument. Con argued that 'fate' and free will are both true, but he never explained how they can be compatible. Pro was more clear than Con, and he responded to all of Con's arguments.
Vote Placed by wiploc 4 years ago
wiploc
socialpinkoRationalMadmanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro met his burden of proof, and Con failed to refute. Con did say that he personally believes in both free will and determinism, but that is not an argument for the logical compatibility of Con's beliefs.
Vote Placed by AlwaysMoreThanYou 4 years ago
AlwaysMoreThanYou
socialpinkoRationalMadmanTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Con's argument started off okay, but got steadily worse as the rounds went on. By the end, he had pretty much dropped every one of Pro's arguments, as well as his own.