Critique My Philosophy of Life?
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23-11-2013, 05:45 PM
Critique My Philosophy of Life?
Over the past few years, I have formulated my philosophy of life, a 13-page document that may be found at the following link:

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0Byh6JnTg...sp=sharing

In the first half of the document, I present and defend the following positions: atheism, afterlife skepticism, free will impossibilism, moral skepticism, existential skepticism and negative hedonism. The second half of the document is devoted to ways to achieve and maintain peace of mind.

I have found the entire exercise to be very beneficial personally, and I hope that you will benefit from reading the document.

I am posting my philosophy to solicit feedback so that it may be improved. I welcome any constructive criticism that you may have.

Enjoy!
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23-11-2013, 08:02 PM
RE: Critique My Philosophy of Life?
(23-11-2013 05:45 PM)Philosofer123 Wrote:  I am posting my philosophy to solicit feedback so that it may be improved. I welcome any constructive criticism that you may have.

Quote:For any agent S and intentional action A, S does A because of the way S is in certain mental respects. Therefore, to be ultimately responsible for A-ing, S must be responsible for being that way in the relevant respects. But to be responsible for being that way, S must have chosen to become (or intentionally brought it about that he would become) that way in the past. But if S chose to become that way, then his choice was a product of the way he was in certain mental respects. Therefore, to be responsible for that choice, he would need to be responsible for being that way. But this process results in a vicious regress. Therefore, S
cannot be ultimately responsible for his A-ing, and thus cannot have free will.

More concisely, free will requires ultimate self-origination, which is impossible

Your conception of free will is deeply flawed. Your definition of free will--as "ultimate self-origination"--is arbitrary and absurd. It is akin to commencing a study of human locomotion with the arbitrary idea that locomotion by levitation is to serve as a benchmark for the study. Why is free will to be equated with "ultimate self-origination"? Where have you witnessed "ultimate self-origination" such that it has become the gold standard for human agency?

The vicious regress should have been sufficient to alert you to the absurdity of your conception of free will.

If ultimate self-origination were possible it would render the notion of moral responsibility meaningless because there would be no such thing as motive. We would be left with a purely consequentialist conception of right action but you would never be able to determine why someone acted as they did. Any explanation would necessarily appeal to antecedent causes but since all action would be ultimately self-originating there would be none to appeal to. Your conception of free will would also nullify all social sciences, e.g. psychology, sociology, geography, economics etc. and some biological sciences.

Also, how and why would the sort of free will that you have appealed to evolve? Survival relies on adaptation which in turn relies on responding to the environment. Ultimately self-originating behaviour would necessarily be dissociated from all environmental (and endogenous physiological) influences. Such an organism would soon perish.

Humans have free will but they don't have the capacity for ultimate self-originating behaviour and that is a good thing and in no way diminishes freedom. Only compatibilism provides an intelligible conception of free will.
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23-11-2013, 08:03 PM
RE: Critique My Philosophy of Life?
If I may make a suggestion...

I think we might benefit more if you perhaps used your wisdom to enlighten and entertain us in conversation.

It's not that I'm not interested in reading the philosophy of someone I have never met / heard of / engaged with before (well, partly it is)... it's more to do with:

a) the sales pitch i.e. why is worth investing my time?
b) the link took me to a blank page.

See? I did try.

Big Grin

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23-11-2013, 08:15 PM
RE: Critique My Philosophy of Life?
(23-11-2013 08:02 PM)Chippy Wrote:  
(23-11-2013 05:45 PM)Philosofer123 Wrote:  I am posting my philosophy to solicit feedback so that it may be improved. I welcome any constructive criticism that you may have.

Quote:For any agent S and intentional action A, S does A because of the way S is in certain mental respects. Therefore, to be ultimately responsible for A-ing, S must be responsible for being that way in the relevant respects. But to be responsible for being that way, S must have chosen to become (or intentionally brought it about that he would become) that way in the past. But if S chose to become that way, then his choice was a product of the way he was in certain mental respects. Therefore, to be responsible for that choice, he would need to be responsible for being that way. But this process results in a vicious regress. Therefore, S
cannot be ultimately responsible for his A-ing, and thus cannot have free will.

More concisely, free will requires ultimate self-origination, which is impossible

Your conception of free will is deeply flawed. Your definition of free will--as "ultimate self-origination"--is arbitrary and absurd. It is akin to commencing a study of human locomotion with the arbitrary idea that locomotion by levitation is to serve as a benchmark for the study. Why is free will to be equated with "ultimate self-origination"? Where have you witnessed "ultimate self-origination" such that it has become the gold standard for human agency?

The vicious regress should have been sufficient to alert you to the absurdity of your conception of free will.

If ultimate self-origination were possible it would render the notion of moral responsibility meaningless because there would be no such thing as motive. We would be left with a purely consequentialist conception of right action but you would never be able to determine why someone acted as they did. Any explanation would necessarily appeal to antecedent causes but since all action would be ultimately self-originating there would be none to appeal to. Your conception of free will would also nullify all social sciences, e.g. psychology, sociology, geography, economics etc. and some biological sciences.

Also, how and why would the sort of free will that you have appealed to evolve? Survival relies on adaptation which in turn relies on responding to the environment. Ultimately self-originating behaviour would necessarily be dissociated from all environmental (and endogenous physiological) influences. Such an organism would soon perish.

Humans have free will but they don't have the capacity for ultimate self-originating behaviour and that is a good thing and in no way diminishes freedom. Only compatibilism provides an intelligible conception of free will.

Thank you for your comments, but you need to consider my definition of free will in the context of my overall philosophy. I define free will in terms of ultimate responsibility because if that type of free will does not exist, then a number of negative emotions are rendered irrational (see bottom of page 6). This is the importance of free will impossibilism in the context of my philosophy.

In fact, if it would suit you, you may ignore my use of the term "free will" and think solely in terms of ultimate responsibility instead. Whether other sorts of free will (such as compatibilist conceptions of free will) exist does not matter to me, as it would have no impact on the rest of my philosophy.
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23-11-2013, 08:27 PM (This post was last modified: 23-11-2013 08:50 PM by evenheathen.)
RE: Critique My Philosophy of Life?
(23-11-2013 08:03 PM)DLJ Wrote:  the link took me to a blank page.

Me too. Click file, then download at the bottom. Thumbsup

Edit: Interesting, in chrome it pops up just fine. I was in safari the first time where it came up blank and you need to download. Drinking Beverage

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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23-11-2013, 08:46 PM
RE: Critique My Philosophy of Life?
(23-11-2013 08:15 PM)Philosofer123 Wrote:  Thank you for your comments, but you need to consider my definition of free will in the context of my overall philosophy. I define free will in terms of ultimate responsibility because if that type of free will does not exist, then a number of negative emotions are rendered irrational (see bottom of page 6). This is the importance of free will impossibilism in the context of my philosophy.

That doesn't change anything. The notion of "ultimate responsibility" is equally absurd and arbitrary.

Those emotions which you have declared "irrational" evolved in us to promote social cohesion. There would have been "dead-end" branches of human evolution in which there were families that didn't experience those emotions and obviously they perished (most likely by being expelled from a tribe). Humans aren't a psychopathic species for evolutionary reasons. If psychopathy were superior then we would be a psychopathic species, psychopathy would be the norm and the term psychopathy would not exist as a descriptor of a psychopathology.

The obvious thing that you have overlooked is that if "[f]ree will impossibilism eliminates a whole range of negative emotions" it also eliminates a whole range of positive emotions too, e.g. there would be no reason to feel proud of yourself for discovering a cure for cancer.
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23-11-2013, 08:47 PM
RE: Critique My Philosophy of Life?
(23-11-2013 08:27 PM)evenheathen Wrote:  
(23-11-2013 08:03 PM)DLJ Wrote:  the link took me to a blank page.

Me to. Click file, then download at the bottom. Thumbsup

Edit: Interesting, in chrome it pops up just fine. I was in safari the first time where it came up blank and you need to download. Drinking Beverage

It's because it is a Google document. You need to either have a Google account and be logged in or be using Chrome.
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23-11-2013, 10:14 PM (This post was last modified: 23-11-2013 10:18 PM by Philosofer123.)
RE: Critique My Philosophy of Life?
(23-11-2013 08:46 PM)Chippy Wrote:  The notion of "ultimate responsibility" is equally absurd and arbitrary.

Those emotions which you have declared "irrational" evolved in us to promote social cohesion...

The obvious thing that you have overlooked is that if "[f]ree will impossibilism eliminates a whole range of negative emotions" it also eliminates a whole range of positive emotions too, e.g. there would be no reason to feel proud of yourself for discovering a cure for cancer.

The notion of ultimate responsibility is what is relevant to eliminating a whole range of negative emotions. Therefore, while it may be absurd (after all, I have shown it to be impossible), it is not arbitrary.

The source of our emotions, evolutionary or otherwise, is irrelevant to whether free will impossibilism renders them irrational.

Negative hedonism establishes that maintaining peace of mind--the absence of significant negative emotions--is the most effective way to achieve and maintain happiness. I agree that free will impossibilism also renders irrational such positive emotions as pride and gratitude toward others, but that is a small price to pay relative to the wide range of negative emotions that are rendered irrational. Also, the regress argument establishes that free will impossibilism (the way I define it) is true.

If you believe that you can refute the arguments for either free will impossibilism or negative hedonism, then please try to do so.
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23-11-2013, 10:23 PM
RE: Critique My Philosophy of Life?
(23-11-2013 10:14 PM)Philosofer123 Wrote:  If you believe that you can refute the arguments for either free will impossibilism or negative hedonism, then please try to do so.

I already have refuted your "free will impossibilism".
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23-11-2013, 10:42 PM (This post was last modified: 23-11-2013 10:56 PM by Chippy.)
RE: Critique My Philosophy of Life?
(23-11-2013 10:14 PM)Philosofer123 Wrote:  The notion of ultimate responsibility is what is relevant to eliminating a whole range of negative emotions. Therefore, while it may be absurd (after all, I have shown it to be impossible), it is not arbitrary.

It is entirely arbitrary. Moral responsibility doesn't depend on "ultimate origination" which is effectively the same as contra-causal free will. There is no reason to equate freedom with contra-causal free will. That is an arbitrary move. Why not equate human locomotion with levitation and then conclude humans don't really move when they walk because they aren't levitating? Contra-causal free will is something that gods are supposed to have so on what grounds is an atheist using that mythical power to equate with human freedom? Contra-causal free will is a supernatural power so how can that form the basis of any meaningful discussion of human agency?

When humans say they acted freely they mean they were able to do what they wanted. The ultimate origin of their wanting is irrelevant to assessing their moral responsibility or freedom. If a person's brain is functioning normally then they are free if they can do what they want. The idea that a person acted freely only if they were able to subvert causality is absurd and arbitrary.
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