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Friday, August 19, 2011

Matteo on Determinism

I don't know why I didn't think to share with Gentle Reader Matteo's onservation when he first made it, as it's just the sort of thing I made the "overheard" category for.

Matteo on Determinism: "But for too many, the tastiest cake is the one you can have and eat, too. I suppose a lot of folks want just enough determinism to make God an impossibility, but not so much as to make themselves an impossibility."

Here is the context in which Matteo originally made the observation.

6 comments:

JSA said...

That about says it all. Either bite the bullet or don't. The bullet can't be gummed or nibbled.

Ephram said...

I've never understood the mindset of these liberal, New Atheistic determinists. These people cannot coherently condemn a single past event, human or otherwise, as being deviations from "the way things ought to have been," yet their moral posturing knows no bounds. "Crusades! Inquisitions! 9/11! Oslo shootings!" etc.

Ask Sam Harris or Hitchens (or pretty much anybody for that matter) whether 9/11 should have happened. I guarantee you they’ll forcefully say, “No!,” and then proceed to look at you as if you belonged in a mental asylum. Ask one of the few honest atheistic determinists out there? They’ll tell you that the question makes no sense. It’s on par with asking, “Should the Milky Way Galaxy have formed?”

Ephram said...

Some determinists, though, bite the bullet and say that an ability to coherently say of past events "That should not have happened!" is not necessary for a sound morality. They say that such counterfactual historical judgments do not matter and that they need only look towards the future while eliminating those factors that give rise to unfavorable outcomes, such as Inquisitions and Holocausts. To them, this is what "should" statements actually mean. They do not need to mean "that should not have happened" as in "something much better could certainly have happened.". Instead, they need only reflect emotive judgments, like "that was bad," and from there work towards creating a better future.


I don't agree with that at all, though. I think practical morality takes a fatal blow if that concession is made. It's just not in keeping with ubiquitous human intuition. If Ilion slaps me out of the blue, my first thought would certainly be, "Why the bloody hell did you hit me for no reason?! You should not have done that."

JSA said...

@Ephram - The quote isn't about morals. It's simply saying that, if you want to be eliminativist regarding God's intentionality and consciousnsess, you need to be eliminativist about your own. IOW, if determinism says that God doesn't exist, then neither do you.

Retribution and punishment in the face of determinism is a completely different issue.

Ephram said...

Oh, I know. I was merely describing yet another area in which (as I perceive it) they refuse to bite the bullet with regards to the dehumanizing implications of determinism.

Ilíon said...

JSA: "Retribution and punishment in the face of determinism is a completely different issue."

Yes, it's a different issue, but it is connected; for retribution and punishment makes sense (and actually, can can happen only if) we are agents with freedom.

JSA: "It's simply saying that, if you want to be eliminativist regarding God's intentionality and consciousnsess, you need to be eliminativist about your own. IOW, if determinism says that God doesn't exist, then neither do you."

Indeed -- every human mind is the proof that God is.