responsibility vs determinism

Xxxxxxxxx, you say that “We don’t try to reason with bears or babies or lunatics because they aren’t able to respond appropriately.” In saying this, you’re overlooking important corollaries to what you say; and confusing response and communication.

By saying that “We don’t try to reason with . . . babies or lunatics . . .” you’re actually saying that not all humans can become responsible for their own actions, and are opening a slippery slope or two.

First, at what point do people slip from the point of being not responsible for their actions to a point where they are? Does that change occur at two months old? Two years? Twenty-one years? Middle age, old age? And that’s just the “normal” babies…

What about lunatics? By “lunacy” I must presume that you mean persons of different mentality to those that you consider “human.” So is a person with Tourette’s considered responsible for their own actions? Considering that there are generally only a fairly small range of vocal and physical tics such a person endures, and is in all other ways as self-directed and responsible as anyone else?

And how do you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that a lunatic isn’t “adjusting their sails” frantically throughout their life but because they’re contending with signals and inputs that you’re not aware of, you consider that their actions don’t indicate that they are in fact responsible and responsive in every way, just to signals you don’t understand or perceive.

Let’s get to those bears now. We know that bears are supremely self-directed and aware of their surroundings, with a much larger range to each of their senses than we humans are capable of. We also know that bears can communicate and respond to one another quite elegantly and, in bear language, eloquently. But because we can’t say “grrff-graww-gurr” properly nor can we understand “back off this is my spot to crap,” as spoken in bearish that doesn’t mean bears are unresponsive or unreasonable or unresponsible for their actions. They can choose to share their toilet or tear you to shreds for breaking their rules.

We have a far longer history of coexisting with cats and dogs, and they crap wherever they feel the need, procreate in the streets, and can’t speak a word of English to express any of their experiences to us, nor we a single utterance intelligible to a dog or a cat.

Yet we know that dogs hunt in coordinated packs, cats and dogs make reasoned and subtly nuanced decisions. Are you saying that they have no choice in their life to make those decisions whereas we alone of the animal world do?

Are you saying that because we can’t get an “appropriate response” from a Frenchman when we ask them to “Move yer fucking arse outta the way of my truck” that they have a “deficit in their competence” for not speaking English?

In fact I feel that your view is limited, biased, and anthropocentric, and centric for only a small subset of humankind at that. It’s generally accepted that we evolved from primates, so at what point do you feel we stopped being “like the dumb unresponsive irresponsible inferior animals” and became this ONE fluke of the world?

Scientists have proven that dolphins and other species are capable of directing their own lives and affairs, what’s been missing is that we don’t understand the framework of their worlds, nor their language, nor their motivations. Once we clear up some of those obfuscating factors, we see that indeed they’re as complex and self-directed as humans.

So in conclusion I have to reject even that one sentence in your argument, and by your own words, that invalidates any “reasonableness” and “responsibility” that might be inherent in your thesis.

Zzzzzzzz, one sentence leapt out at me: “First and foremost, penalties deter players from breaking the rules.” My thought about this is dead simple, and breaks your argument.

Penalties “DETER players from breaking the rules.” ORLY? You’re implying that the player was predisposed by their particular set of experiences to break the rules, to the point where a penalty has to be imposed to discourage them from breaking the rules. And yet, some players will desist while others will offend.

Given that players of a game will all have had a similar experience vis a vis that game, i.e. had experiences that predisposed them to have interest enough in this game to join a team, get trained and coached the same as other players, by people who became trainers and coaches because their preexisting experiences predisposed them to become trainers and coaches, it follows that unless there was an element of free will involved somewhere in the past in the experiences of each player trainer and coach, they should all have developed almost identical attitudes and aptitudes. Yet some would never even consider cheating ever, some would cheat if it weren’t for the penalties, and some cheat despite the penalties.

Now consider this: “Consider the significant role luck plays in our lives. First, there is the initial ‘lottery of life’ or ‘luck of the draw’, over which we have no say. Whether we are born into poverty or affluence, war or peace, abusive or loving homes, is simply a matter of luck. It is also a matter of luck what natural gifts, talents, predispositions, and physical traits we are born with. Beyond this initial lottery of life, there is also the luck of what breaks one encounters during one’s period of self-formation, and what environmental influences are most salient to us.”

If our position in life was really so dependent on all these lucky whims of fate and random acts of chance then we should have a “grey goo” of people now with almost no variance, because we know that entropy ever increases, and entropy should have eroded away all the outliers already.

Consider this: Entropy is what wears away even the surface of the Earth. Eventually, the Earth’s surface would become a sheet of water covering a flat ocean bed. But along the way, humans should have gone from a position where different groups of people had concepts for, and were physically adapted for, environments of different altitudes, to one where all humans had roughly the same experience of and adaptation to, a fairly small range of altitudes.

Where in the past there were fewer people, and they were spread from the Alps to the islands, becoming short and stocky and with good heads for heights all the way to tall islanders adapted for living in fairly flat country, there will eventually be a species that are a bit taller than before, whose concept of “high altitude” covers a range from 100′ to 500′ only.