Metaphysical Finale (Part 2 of 4)

Over the next day or two I will be discussing the following topics:
Formulating and Explaining: Determinism, Hard Determinism, Soft Determinism, Indeterminism, Volitional Indeterminism, The Theory of Agency, Fatalism, Theism, and Atheism.

Presenting, Explaining, and Evaluating: An Argument Against Moral Responsibility, The Kid Patriot Argument Against Soft Determinism, The Ernest Patriot Argument Against Simple Indeterminism, The Vera Patriot Argument Against Volitional Indeterminism, What I take to be the best argument against The Theory of Agency, The Argument for Fatalism, What I take to be the best argument for Theism, and What I take to be the best argument for Atheism.

Bolded parts can be found here. This may be a few days worth of material so I’ll continue to bold things and perhaps color them so its easy to find the parts relevant to visitors. I also realize that some of this has been stated before, but I will try to give new (I know fantastic) responses to them.

Hard Determinism

(1) Determinism is True
(2) People never act freely.
(3) People are never morally responsible for their actions.

Determinism was defined earlier and the this requires no further explanation. Hard determinists believe that determinism is true, just like gravity. If Determinism is true then one would be hard pressed to say that people act freely and likewise a hard determinist says just that, people do not act freely. Finally if people never act freely then they are never morally responsible, after all you wouldn’t judge a man forced to kill someone as you would someone who freely does so the same.

Soft Determinism

(1) Determinism is True
(2) People act freely when they commit unconstrained and voluntary actions.
(3) People are morally responsible only when they commit unconstrained and voluntary actions.

Again we are looking at the statement that determinism is true, again for the same reasons above. However we introduce two new ideas. The idea of unconstrained actions and the idea of voluntary actions. So lets clarify those two :).

An action is unconstrained if it is an action that is if the agent were to decide to not do an action that it would in fact not do that action. Seizures for instance are not unconstrained as you will do them whether or not you want to (which is sad). However jumping is an unconstrained action as you don’t jump if you don’t want to and aren’t forced to. However no amount of hope keeps you from returning back to the Earth which is why falling is unconstrained :). Hope that helps.

An action is voluntary if the agent decides to do the action. More specifically the action is voluntary if the organism doing the action decided that it wanted to. Sort of sounds the same but I believe there are subtle and appreciable differences (might be the coffee).

The basic idea here is that there are activities that people can do that do not conflict with Determinism and those particular actions are the ones you are responsible for as long as they are unconstrained and voluntary. However this raises a complaint that was labeled the “Kid Patriot Argument against Soft Determinism”.

The Kid Patriot Argument against Soft Determinism

(1) If Soft Determinism were true kid patriot would be morally responsible for shooting the president.
(2) Kid Patriot is not morally responsible.

(3) Soft Determinism is False.

Short sweet and to the point. However you might be asking yourself “Why the hell did kid patriot shoot the president?” Well here is the story in a nutshell. Lets say that there is a boy by the name Kid Patriot, as his last name would suggest he is absolutely obsessed with protecting the president. He spends his whole life getting the grades and experience required to become a secret service agent. Truly an example for us all. Well a group of Aliens who hate the American Way (or perhaps were bored) secretly implant a chip in Kid Patriots brain that essential tells him to do things (mind control). They could give him urges to eat pizza, slap nuns, or perhaps…shoot the president.

When he’s at the white house they flip the switch to “presi-kill” and indeed he puts a bullet into the president and with the precision of a surgeon kills him. The second its over they turn off the brainwash and he is mortified, the other agents gun him down and that is the end of Patriot. Poor kid.

Kid patriots action was unconstrained and it was voluntary. Now I personally was very hard pressed to accept these reasoning’s and in fact I’m likely forgetting the rationale. Because in this situation he is indeed not morally responsible it is argued that soft determinism is equally flawed. I warn you now these stories only get wackier from here.

The argument itself is valid, if kid patriot is indeed supposed to be morally responsible for the presidents death according to soft determinism than we have a conundrum because it would appear he is a victim in the situation like the president. The second premise is true because it seems relatively reasonable to say that he was not morally responsible. The argument also appears to be sound for the same reasons that it is valid.

I would argue personally if you want to make Soft Determinism more appropriate you would perhaps replace voluntary with desired.

Desired Actions would be defined as “Any action done in sound mind that the agent finds the most appetitive.” The idea being that whenever an agent acts in the interest of itself with full faculties that it is acting to its desires. Introductions of great distress, ultimatums, and brain control devices negate the sound mind feature of the definition so I ‘think’ that it is relatively solid.

Indeterminism: Not every event that occurs is completely determined by previous events.

Indeterminism finds strength in not making a universal statement (in the conventional sense). It leaves room open for human naivety. Much like soft determinism it essentially establishes that the entire timeline has not already been determined and played out (and consequently boring). There is nothing about natural law that dictates that it has complete domain over thoughts and decisions (which is something that determinism never seems to address).

To be Continued Tomorrow :). (Slowly but surely folks expect other updates with these too. I’m feeling spunky.)

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