Posted: Aug 04, 2019 12:26 pm
by zoon
GrahamH wrote:
zoon wrote:

I’ve been arguing that free will is still a useful concept, because we don’t want to blame or punish someone for an action they were coerced into doing. To blame somebody when they were coerced would not encourage them to change their behaviour, and would sent the wrong message to everyone else?


OTOH you can think of penalties and rewards as other forms of coercion. You could also think of antisocial behaviour as coercion of the wider society (can't go out at night, no go areas, having to secure property, having to pay taxes to combat crime and insurance to cover losses etc).

Then the justice system is part of a pragmatic feedback system to rebalance coercive influences.

As you say, there are unstated issues behind the use of the term "free will", such as the acceptable coercion of society being contrasted with unacceptable coercion which reduces blame. It's one of the reasons I think the concept's still useful, it is usually understood in spite of not being simple, and trying to replace it with more "scientific" terminology may be as misleading as keeping it, though in a different direction. I won't argue too heatedly that the term "free will" needs to stay, it certainly does have unscientific connotations, but I don't think it can be dropped as easily as gods.

Edited to add, I've changed the quote tags inside GrahamH's original post, GrahamH was answering a post which I wrote, not LucidFlight.