Crime and punishment in a deterministic universe
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13-06-2016, 09:40 AM
Crime and punishment in a deterministic universe
As the other thread is now a poisonous bog I thought it ought to be restarted.

For the time being let us grant that we live in a deterministic universe. As such free will is simply an illusion. Every decision anyone will ever make has already been set and cannot be changed.

Our criminal justice system is based on the idea that people can choose, that they have free will. It is based on the idea that a person can change their actions. But in a deterministic universe this simply is not true. So is it just? Is it fair to punish someone for an action which was pre-destined to happen? Something they could not choose? If you can not choose an action should you be held responsible for it?
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13-06-2016, 09:56 AM
RE: Crime and punishment in a deterministic universe
Well, there is a difference between being held responsible and being punished.

Assigning responsibility is rational - one collects facts and determines who or what is responsible.

Punishing is a human construct. It implies guilt. It springs from feelings of revenge and anger.

[Image: dobie.png]Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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13-06-2016, 10:01 AM
RE: Crime and punishment in a deterministic universe
(13-06-2016 09:40 AM)natachan Wrote:  As the other thread is now a poisonous bog I thought it ought to be restarted.

For the time being let us grant that we live in a deterministic universe. As such free will is simply an illusion. Every decision anyone will ever make has already been set and cannot be changed.

Our criminal justice system is based on the idea that people can choose, that they have free will. It is based on the idea that a person can change their actions. But in a deterministic universe this simply is not true. So is it just? Is it fair to punish someone for an action which was pre-destined to happen? Something they could not choose? If you can not choose an action should you be held responsible for it?

Nope. There is no morality without choice in my opinion. On my view, morality is a set of values and principles to guide ones choices and actions.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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13-06-2016, 10:02 AM
RE: Crime and punishment in a deterministic universe
(13-06-2016 10:01 AM)true scotsman Wrote:  
(13-06-2016 09:40 AM)natachan Wrote:  As the other thread is now a poisonous bog I thought it ought to be restarted.

For the time being let us grant that we live in a deterministic universe. As such free will is simply an illusion. Every decision anyone will ever make has already been set and cannot be changed.

Our criminal justice system is based on the idea that people can choose, that they have free will. It is based on the idea that a person can change their actions. But in a deterministic universe this simply is not true. So is it just? Is it fair to punish someone for an action which was pre-destined to happen? Something they could not choose? If you can not choose an action should you be held responsible for it?

Nope. There is no morality without choice in my opinion. On my view, morality is a set of values and principles to guide ones choices and actions.

Morality is simply inborn empathy plus early influences in your life.

[Image: dobie.png]Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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13-06-2016, 10:17 AM
RE: Crime and punishment in a deterministic universe
(13-06-2016 09:40 AM)natachan Wrote:  As the other thread is now a poisonous bog I thought it ought to be restarted.

For the time being let us grant that we live in a deterministic universe. As such free will is simply an illusion. Every decision anyone will ever make has already been set and cannot be changed.

Our criminal justice system is based on the idea that people can choose, that they have free will. It is based on the idea that a person can change their actions. But in a deterministic universe this simply is not true. So is it just? Is it fair to punish someone for an action which was pre-destined to happen? Something they could not choose? If you can not choose an action should you be held responsible for it?

While I don't prescribe to the "free will" argument, since many of my perceived "choices" are determined by so many things I cannot begin to list them all, I can't wrap my head around the "deterministic universe".

I don't believe, since most of us reason, possess critical thinking skills, have empathy, and can foresee consequences and try to avoid the consequence when possible (like slowing down when you see a police officer) that we somehow aren't to blame.

Now, with some people who are unable (such as due to a mental illness) are unable to foresee the apperent consequence for their actions, we should try to help them. Andrea Yates drowned her children, but was suffering from a psychosis that prevented her to understand what she was doing.

Scott Peterson murdered his pregnant wife on Christmas Eve, hid the details of his actions, and he told lie after lie (including telling his girlfriend that he was in Paris during his missing wife's candlelight vigil -- yes he made that call from the vigil) trying to cover up what he'd done.

In the Yates case, yes we should have empathy for her. She didn't deserve the death penalty -- because off her medications she couldn't understand or comprehend the severity of her actions.

In the Peterson case, he was a classic sociopath who believed he could easily get away with murder, carry on as the grieving widower and live his life.

In the deterministic universe, sure both cases would be bound by their innate urges and therefore not responsible for their actions, but aren't they still accountable for harm they caused?


But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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13-06-2016, 10:27 AM
RE: Crime and punishment in a deterministic universe
(13-06-2016 10:17 AM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  
(13-06-2016 09:40 AM)natachan Wrote:  As the other thread is now a poisonous bog I thought it ought to be restarted.

For the time being let us grant that we live in a deterministic universe. As such free will is simply an illusion. Every decision anyone will ever make has already been set and cannot be changed.

Our criminal justice system is based on the idea that people can choose, that they have free will. It is based on the idea that a person can change their actions. But in a deterministic universe this simply is not true. So is it just? Is it fair to punish someone for an action which was pre-destined to happen? Something they could not choose? If you can not choose an action should you be held responsible for it?

While I don't prescribe to the "free will" argument, since many of my perceived "choices" are determined by so many things I cannot begin to list them all, I can't wrap my head around the "deterministic universe".

I don't believe, since most of us reason, possess critical thinking skills, have empathy, and can foresee consequences and try to avoid the consequence when possible (like slowing down when you see a police officer) that we somehow aren't to blame.

Now, with some people who are unable (such as due to a mental illness) are unable to foresee the apperent consequence for their actions, we should try to help them. Andrea Yates drowned her children, but was suffering from a psychosis that prevented her to understand what she was doing.

Scott Peterson murdered his pregnant wife on Christmas Eve, hid the details of his actions, and he told lie after lie (including telling his girlfriend that he was in Paris during his missing wife's candlelight vigil -- yes he made that call from the vigil) trying to cover up what he'd done.

In the Yates case, yes we should have empathy for her. She didn't deserve the death penalty -- because off her medications she couldn't understand or comprehend the severity of her actions.

In the Peterson case, he was a classic sociopath who believed he could easily get away with murder, carry on as the grieving widower and live his life.

In the deterministic universe, sure both cases would be bound by their innate urges and therefore not responsible for their actions, but aren't they still accountable for harm they caused?

They are responsible for the outcome. They are a danger to others and need to be removed from society.

But not for reasons of guilt, atonement, repentance, and because out of anger and vengeance we want them to suffer. They need to be removed simply because we need to keep ourselves safe from such individuals.

I don't think the day is too far in the future when we will be able to better understand how their brains differ from ours. Just like an already identified or obvious mental illness, these people's brains misfire when it comes to social interactions. They may lack empathy, or impulse control, or foresight and so on. They are not responsible for this.

It still leaves us with the burden of deciding the best course of action to protect ourselves, but the motivation and approach will be much more rational and humane.

[Image: dobie.png]Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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13-06-2016, 10:32 AM
RE: Crime and punishment in a deterministic universe
(13-06-2016 09:40 AM)natachan Wrote:  As the other thread is now a poisonous bog I thought it ought to be restarted.

For the time being let us grant that we live in a deterministic universe. As such free will is simply an illusion. Every decision anyone will ever make has already been set and cannot be changed.

Our criminal justice system is based on the idea that people can choose, that they have free will. It is based on the idea that a person can change their actions. But in a deterministic universe this simply is not true. So is it just? Is it fair to punish someone for an action which was pre-destined to happen? Something they could not choose? If you can not choose an action should you be held responsible for it?

I cannot conceptualize these parameters for a universe. I would have to have evidence that this is even possible for me to try and form an opinion. At this time, I am not able to consider it possible.

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13-06-2016, 10:42 AM
RE: Crime and punishment in a deterministic universe
(13-06-2016 09:56 AM)Dom Wrote:  Well, there is a difference between being held responsible and being punished.

Assigning responsibility is rational - one collects facts and determines who or what is responsible.

Punishing is a human construct. It implies guilt. It springs from feelings of revenge and anger.

But, in the case of crime, doesn't the act of assigning responsibility lead to a consequence that can result in punishment?

If you've investigated something criminal, meticulously followed the evidence, and arrived at a conclusion; any action taken against the perpetrator is technically a punishment.

Sure you can dress it up and call it something else, but it is still going to boil down the same way.

Guilt is a human construct, so is assigning responsibility.


But as if to knock me down, reality came around
And without so much as a mere touch, cut me into little pieces

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13-06-2016, 10:59 AM
RE: Crime and punishment in a deterministic universe
(13-06-2016 10:42 AM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  
(13-06-2016 09:56 AM)Dom Wrote:  Well, there is a difference between being held responsible and being punished.

Assigning responsibility is rational - one collects facts and determines who or what is responsible.

Punishing is a human construct. It implies guilt. It springs from feelings of revenge and anger.

But, in the case of crime, doesn't the act of assigning responsibility lead to a consequence that can result in punishment?

If you've investigated something criminal, meticulously followed the evidence, and arrived at a conclusion; any action taken against the perpetrator is technically a punishment.

Sure you can dress it up and call it something else, but it is still going to boil down the same way.

Guilt is a human construct, so is assigning responsibility.

I don't think assigning responsibility is a human construct. A herd of antelopes will identify a weak member that will attract predators and exclude it from the herd. It's cruel, but it's not punishment. It's simply assigning responsibility for expected consequences.

[Image: dobie.png]Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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13-06-2016, 11:37 AM (This post was last modified: 13-06-2016 11:41 AM by true scotsman.)
RE: Crime and punishment in a deterministic universe
(13-06-2016 10:02 AM)Dom Wrote:  
(13-06-2016 10:01 AM)true scotsman Wrote:  Nope. There is no morality without choice in my opinion. On my view, morality is a set of values and principles to guide ones choices and actions.

Morality is simply inborn empathy plus early influences in your life.

Not for me it's not. I don't simply rely on emotions and I've rejected most of what influenced me in early life. For instance I was taught that selflessness was a virtue and I totally reject that teaching now.

If we have no choice in our actions then there's no sense in talking about what we should do or not do. Take away that choice and you take away morality. This is my view and I recognize that my views are very much out of sync with the conventional views.

Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture, an intransigent mind and a step that travels unlimited roads. - Ayn Rand.

Don't sacrifice for me, live for yourself! - Me

The only alternative to Objectivism is some form of Subjectivism. - Dawson Bethrick
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