Posted: Aug 04, 2019 12:19 pm
by Cito di Pense
zoon wrote:To say firmly that there is no such thing as free will may imply a view, for example, that the law should be radically overhauled, which may or may not be the atheist’s opinion.

As mentioned humourously, above, people obey the law because they can't help themselves. People who break the law are in the same boat. We are all in the same boat. Who would insist that the law be overhauled if we are all in the same boat, except in terms of violation of the law? Only someone who really believes in free will. While you're not one of those (or so I surmise), it seems as if you are teetering very close to the edge on this one.

zoon wrote:
Before making use of encouragement or discouragement, and in particular before using any major discouragement, it still makes sense to be reasonably clear that the behaviour was not coerced, and that the person was mentally capable?

Whether a mentally-incompetent person or someone under coercion is unfairly treated in the prosecution of the law is a function of what some particular society wants in terms of its laws. Some societies are barbaric, and some societies are so hamstrung by the kind of consideration you're offering that the police are nearly-powerless to respond when hooligans are loose on the streets. Neither situation is what we want.

Only someone who believes (unreasonably, I might add) in the infinite power of rational discourse (instead of some infinitely powerful god) believes also that we can get what we want by rational debate. What you'd end up with is a quasi-static legal process, one that takes fucking forever to figure out how someone should be treated.