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Round 3 of my debate with kasmic

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3/17/2016 12:11:24 PM
Posted: 2 years ago

Due to the recurring error plaguing this site I am once again unable to view debates and other people's profiles. I wanted to post my argument yesterday evening, now it's noon. By the time when I am writing this I believe I only have about 2-3 hours left, which is why I will post my argument here.
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3/17/2016 12:21:41 PM
Posted: 2 years ago
Clarification: Last round I said I am not a libertarian. Some may wonder why I am talking about politics when I should be talking about free will. Of course I was not referring to the family of political theories, but to Libertarianism as a view on the nature of free will, namely that we have free will and that free will is not compatible is determinism.
You can of course be a Libertarian of one sort without being a Libertarian of the other, these positions are not related in the slightest.

In the beginning of his rebuttal, Con states "It seems reasonable to recall that a person is only acting freely if they could have acted in some other way. In this given example we see that the type of "freedom" that my opponent is suggesting does not entail this ability"
I spent roughly a third of my opening statement rejecting the idea of moral responsibility requiring the ability to do otherwise and another third laying out a compatibilist account of moral responsibility and although I do agree that initially it would seem Con is correct about this, in light of my arguments this intuition was defeated or at least that my opponent is required to directly rebut said arguments in order to make a statement like the above at this point in the debate.

He describes determinism as an "external force". However, this is rather misleading, since it portrays determinism as something which actively interferes with your life. That is clearly not the case. A person manipulating your decisions and controlling your every step from the shadows is an external force, determinism is not.

I am not sure I understand Con"s objection to the Frankfurt-case I presented. But I believe he misunderstands the point Frankfurt-cases try to bring across.
For once, neither compatibilism, nor determinism is assumed in a Frankfurt-case. Indeed, these cases are designed with a libertarian notion of free will in mind and someone like Allison who clearly has free will (or at least had free will her whole life up to this moment) making a decision, very much in a libertarian sense, about some action, with the result being determined, to show moral responsibility can be compatible with determinism. Here is where I do not see how my opponents thought experiment is analogous to mine.

If Allison was NOT forced, everyone would most certainly attribute moral responsibility to her, but if the dog was not forced, we would still not attribute moral responsibility to dogs, that would be ridiculous.
I do not assume the dog to not have free will, in fact my own account excludes all non-human animals and libertarian accounts, relying on a rational decision making process, do as well.
Con ends this section quoting Sam Harris as a response to my Compatibilism and puts forward a modified statement as a response to the Frankfurt-case.
A puppet is free as long as he loves his strings
This sure is nice rhetoric. However, I have shown in my argument how we would still have what determinism appears to take from us. As such I do not at all see why we should be afraid of "our strings", if we are morally responsible agents anyway. What I find striking is how, once again, determinism (i.e. the strings) is associated with something or rather someone who intentionally interferes with our life (i.e. the puppeteer). As I explained earlier, this is misleading.
A puppet is free so long as it is unaware of its strings
Let"s go back to our Frankfurt case again. Imagine Allison
(i) is aware of the chip
(ii) decides to walk her dog anyway, without being coerced by the chip
I do not see how this would infringe on her moral responsibility in the slightest.

To Do Otherwise
Con states my analysis of the ability to do otherwise further needs an analysis of consciousness/ "the self". However, this is not a burden I have to meet as it is not me who proposes we have this ability.
He continues by stating it is pointless to claim one could have done otherwise if determinism is true. But I am not sure to what exactly he is responding to here.
The Frankfurt case does not assume determinism and my compatibilist account does not mention making decisions or doing otherwise. So it has to be my response to his first argument. But there I explained how the scenario plays out both in an indeterministic and a deterministic world. At two points I use "determinism" and "choice" in the same sentence.
Why should this not determine S"s choice?
It is clear that I do not suggest S could do otherwise here. What I am suggesting is that there is nothing wrong with S"s (what appears to be a free) choice actually being determined.
If I make choices, I want them to depend or rather be determined by what I want to do
He says I play semantics here. However, I did not state I want to determine my choices or desires, I said I want my choices be determined by my desires (which I do not freely choose).

He states I am missing the mark, because I am merely arguing against determinism, not for compatibilism.
But at no point did I argue against the truth of determinism, this is not the topic of our debate and I said in the very beginning I do not believe it is true. I"ll repeat myself, I believe determinism would be compatible with free will, if it was true, not that it actually is true.
This is from his response to my objection to his first argument, where I am arguing against incompatibilism, not determinism. I don"t know why he expects me to argue for Compatibilism in a rebuttal to his argument.

Lastly, Con responds to my desire based account of free will. According to him, my account does not grant moral responsibility because our desires would still be determined.
I have already explained why we shouldn"t want anything other than that, but let me further illustrate my point.
Consider the following cases:

1) Gandhi fasting because he wanted to free India.
2) Stealing bread because one is hungry.
3) Signing a confession because one wanted to tell the truth.
4) Leaving the office because one wanted one"s lunch.

Compare these to:

5) The man fasting in the desert because there was no food.
6) Stealing because one"s employer threatened to beat one.
7) Signing because the police beat one.
8) Leaving because one was forcibly removed. [1]

A satisfying account of free will has to account for the characteristics common in 1-4), which are lacking in 5-8).
"This characteristic which all free acts have, and which
no unfree acts have, will be the defining characteristic of free will.
" [2]
Although the latter acts have causes (like there being no food in the desert), so do the former ones. Ghandi"s fasting was caused by his desire to free India, hunger is caused by a variety of physiological reasons. Thus, being uncaused does not seem like a good characteristic to distinguish 1-4) and 5-8).
Yet the former cases do share a characteristic the latter lack:
The former actions are caused by immediate psychological states (like desires) in the agent. We can see, the account I have presented can be used with great success to distinguish cases we would ordinarily think about as free/unfree. As such, I do not think the intuitive dislike of determinism or the also intuitive notion of incompatibilism hold up under critical examination.

[1] W. T. Stace, Religion and the Modern Mind
[2] Ibid.