“If there is no free will, why write books or try to convince anyone of anything? People will believe whatever they believe. They have no choice! Your position on free will is, therefore, self-refuting. The fact that you are trying to convince people of the truth of your argument proves that you think they have the very freedom that you deny them.”
A) This is a conflation of determinism and fatalism. This claim suggests that people think they have control over what they believe, as if the experience of being convinced by evidence and argument were voluntary. There is much evidence against the notion that our conscious selves have no control of what we believe. We didn’t choose to be born with a brain that’s able to accept good arguments. We’re simply designed to accept it when it is in front of us. Some of us are born with brains that hang onto our biases and emotional attachments more. However, those attachments are malleable due to our hard-wired adaptability to our environments. We didn’t choose to be adapt. We simply are. There may be varying degrees of adaptability or some may be born with none due to unhealthy mutations. Even in those cases, they had no control over those physical manifestations. Some may argue that how can one claim such an absolute statement when we see so many random events concerning free decisions? Every random event which occurs can be attributed to either the environment or our genes. You cannot decide to obey the law of gravity rather than fly around at your pleasure.
Our society is plagued with this libertarian notion of Free Will which defies all good studies of Science.
“If nobody is responsible, not really, then not only should the prisons be emptied, but no contract is valid, mortgages should be abolished, and we can never hold anybody to account for anything they do. Preserving “law and order” without a concept of real responsibility is a daunting task.”
B) Where did the notion of punishment come from? Is it truly the justified and righteous way of dealing with atrocities? When we look at scientific facts about psychopaths, we see that they didn’t choose to become psychopaths. They had no control over their hard-wired susceptibility to a life without empathy. Should we forgive a psychopath for murder? We’d like to say No, but the answer isn’t as easy as our instincts like it to be. Let’s take a look at something we take as granted within the libertarian notion of deservedness as Hard work or merit to illuminate the errors of our intuitions concerning responsibility. An article shows that even something as trivial as birth order and size (which we have no control over) determine our work ethic and our overall personalities. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ruled-by-birth-order/ If you take a look at a child whose parents and siblings are hard workers (genetic and environmental factors), they’re most likely going to be hard workers. It’s been hard-wired to be susceptible to developing rigorous work ethics. Perhaps even the traits that characterize or lead to hard work, such as perfectionism. Are they only going to be hard workers? No. We were also programmed in the ability to adapt to our environments. However, we did not choose those programs nor did we choose the varying levels of adaptability each individual is born with. These natural facts show how we are not able to say it is always right to punish such murderers with absolute certainty. Instead of being merely enraged at atrocities, we should rationally think about how the consequent responses we could take after such atrocities will benefit our well-being. Why should we squander our money on imprisoning murderers rather than improving our education system? Why is imprisonment the least harmful way of dealing with criminals? Shouldn’t we change the environmental factors that caused many of these murders to happen? How does it benefit our well-being when we punish and practice equally violent acts of execution? Instead of tying responsibility and punishment to our gut reactions, we must connect it to the well-being of conscious creatures.
I do believe that it is more cost efficient to imprison murderers who exhibit violent tendencies to prevent further murders, since that is to secure the well-being conscious creatures. Not because he is responsible for all of his decisions. Some may believe that my argument concerning responsibility with the case of murder is weak. That is precisely because of the nature of murder. It ends the possibilities of all pleasure, love, and experiences of a conscious creature. It is the end. It’s very difficult to justify. However, murder is not the only case in which we attribute a crime due to responsibility. We imprison the poor who commit minor theft and sell marijuana. We let our government and corporations to destroy the poor who were dissuaded into taking out risky loans. We let potential murderers walk around with guns due to our attachment to responsibility. We even spout nonsense like we should’ve let the banks collapse and consequently the world economy. I vehemently disagree. We should’ve prevented the banks from making such risky bets in the first place. We shouldn’t let irresponsible people roam around in a laissez faire economy with no regulation. Our perverted sense of freedom and responsibility let us harm the poor and prevent us from treating each other fairly. This is a real issue. We do not live in an Ayn Rand world of objectivity. It is utter gibberish. We are capable of touching on objectivity but we as subjective beings may never become purely objective. It is physically implausible. David Hume was right. We can only experience the world as subjective. It is always an experience of first person. With emotions and genetic biases that prevent us from having all truths in this world. We should take Thomas Hobbe’s warning of our savage and violent past of anarchy seriously. Freedom doesn’t exist. Life may be about discovering different sorts of restraints. When one argues that discovery and responsibility requires Free Will, I beg of you to think again. No matter what decision you are making, you do not have control of how the decision came to you nor does your conscious self have control over your body’s enactment of it. Moral Responsibility may need to disappear as a word, for it does not exist anymore. Instead, we should take upon the consequentialist approach of a utilitarian calculus. It is ridiculous to denigrate being restrained and controlled by kindness and fairness for radical responsibility and libertarianism.