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Determinism the end of morality and free will?

Cognisant

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For this thread I'm not interested in arguing whether or not reality is deterministic, the only "evidence" to the contrary is subatomic phenomena that nobody really understands which hardly proves anything.

What I'm interested in discussing is determinism as it applies to morality and free will because if everything is deterministic then anything anyone ever does is simply a natural outcome of their circumstances. Now practically that doesn't mean much, if someone turns out to be a serial killer because they weren't held enough as a child us knowing that doesn't change the fact that they have to be punished for their crimes, both to (in theory) rehabilitate them and to serve as an example to others.

But what if we had the technology to literally change someone's mind, to enable a team of psychiatrists to open up the patient and remove the neurosis like a team of surgeons removing a tumor, would it still be necessary to imprison the former serial killer indeed assuming the procedure wasn't voluntary and the patient isn't resisting the changes are they still the same person?

On the other hand wouldn't it be cruel not to use such technology? Does someone born into unfortunate circumstances and/or with an unfortunate predisposition to violence deserve to be punished for existing?
 

lightfire

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That's assuming all serial killers weren't held enough as children and in that case maybe all they needed was just a hug. But I think it's more complicated than that.

And what you said reminds me of how lobotomies were once performed on patients with supposed mental disorders. It was deemed barbaric and mostly discontinued.

If someone truly believes they need to kill several human beings for whatever reason they find as motivation, "fixing" them with technology isn't really tackling the issue of why they did it in the first place.
 

Serac

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That tumor example comes from a real-life case, I believe. I don't recall the details, but some guy committed murder and it was later revealed he had a brain tumor which affected his behavior.

Living in a society means giving up certain freedoms – e.g. the freedom to kill people at will. As long as one agrees, for example, that people shouldn't have that particular freedom, one tacitly agrees to suffer the consequences of committing such acts. Then the question becomes – what would you rather like: getting brain surgery which changes you as a person, or being put in prison? I guess that's a matter of consensus. I personally would prefer the brain surgery as long as it would result in a healthy, autonomous human being.

I also think such considerations can be done independently of any regard to determinism. Whether or not one believes in determinism, it's quite clear that people's psyche is affected by their environment, their experiences, upbringing, physiology, and so on.
 

Cognisant

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Oh right I was building up to a point about how if we take a totally deterministic approach to ethics, treating crimes as illnesses to be cured or malfunctions to be fixed, that we are effectively denying the criminal their "free will".

They still have the freedom to act, just not to own their actions, I dunno for some reason I find the concept of a criminal frustrated by their inability to commit meaningful crimes fascinating.
 

Hadoblado

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This is already how I think about crime, and I believe it's the best way.

We don't have access to the pure deterministic mechanisms, but we do have empirical data on what follows what and we should do our best to create the environment most conducive to reducing crime.

Prison systems tend to really suck at their purpose, especially privatised ones. They're based on fundamentally unsound psychological principles, and waste resources at an astonishing rate.

I'm already 100% against imprisonment for the purpose of punishment. If we had the magical ability to prevent them from doing further crimes (and we used it), so long as people saw the deterministic mind control as a deterrent, there's no reason to keep them.

But rather than implementing this reactively, wouldn't we want to treat this disease proactively, before the crimes occur? AKA a society structured such that the mentally ill are cared for and crime is not incentivised.
 

Pizzabeak

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If every man had one wife or partner, people all around the world in different continents would behave less retarded. Being freakin' stupid as heck like some or most people are, is why there's much strife already as it is. Dumb people can't control their anger, rage, envy, jealousy, and other qliphoth, sinful influences.
But rather than implementing this reactively, wouldn't we want to treat this disease proactively, before the crimes occur? AKA a society structured such that the mentally ill are cared for and crime is not incentivised.
Sure.
 

The Grey Man

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For this thread I'm not interested in arguing whether or not reality is deterministic, the only "evidence" to the contrary is subatomic phenomena that nobody really understands which hardly proves anything.
People make far too much fuss over supposed quantum indeterminacy. Ironically, the 'Schrödinger's cat' thought experiment proves, by analogy, that there is nothing mystical about the collapse of the wave function, simply because the collapse of the wave function is a theoretical postulate and not an observable event. I can't tell whether a cat in a box is alive or dead because I can't see into the box, just as we can't see into a quantum superposition. There is no empirically meaningful difference between these two cases. As Hume pointed out, experience teaches us merely that one event follows from another, not that it follows necessarily, though Kant twisted himself into an unseemly semantic pretzel trying to disprove this.

But what if we had the technology to literally change someone's mind, to enable a team of psychiatrists to open up the patient and remove the neurosis like a team of surgeons removing a tumor, would it still be necessary to imprison the former serial killer indeed assuming the procedure wasn't voluntary and the patient isn't resisting the changes are they still the same person?

On the other hand wouldn't it be cruel not to use such technology? Does someone born into unfortunate circumstances and/or with an unfortunate predisposition to violence deserve to be punished for existing?
When the state has the power to modify people from the top down, body and soul, to produce "correct" behaviour, dystopia has arrived. This is as dismal as science fiction gets. At this point, we can say that man is mere fuel for an organism of a higher order, as animals are to us and plants to animals.
 

DoIMustHaveAnUsername?

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For this thread I'm not interested in arguing whether or not reality is deterministic, the only "evidence" to the contrary is subatomic phenomena that nobody really understands which hardly proves anything.
People make far too much fuss over supposed quantum indeterminacy. Ironically, the 'Schrödinger's cat' thought experiment proves, by analogy, that there is nothing mystical about the collapse of the wave function, simply because the collapse of the wave function is a theoretical postulate and not an observable event. I can't tell whether a cat in a box is alive or dead because I can't see into the box, just as we can't see into a quantum superposition.
Indeterminancy has more to do with Bell Inequality violation. It follows from the experiment that there can no local hidden variables to pre-determine how a particle can act or interact. However, non-local hidden variables are still possible (which is still a deterministic case). Some finding non-locality implausible can commit to other forms of interpretations. It's a real epistemic-metaphysical mess out there. I avoid that area. Indeterminism doesn't really matter too much in the end anyway, unless it is The Will that controls the indeterminancy. But if the will controls and causes indeterminate event - then it cannot be in full control of the events it causes (otherwise it would deterministically follow the will). It may be the case, that the will itself is indeterministic, but then it follows that the will itself is not fully determined by anything or anyone. Indeterminism doesn't give any more freedom than determinism can. If determinism cannot give us any free will (compatibilism), nothing can.

As Hume pointed out, experience teaches us merely that one event follows from another, not that it follows necessarily, though Kant twisted himself into an unseemly semantic pretzel trying to disprove this.
Kant agrees with Hume that it cannot be derived from experience - that something necessarily follows something else. But Kant disagrees with Hume in that the idea of causation - 'that something necessarily follows something else' can be learned from experience itself (through habits and custom). Nothing remotely close to that idea exists in empirical reality, according to Kant - it's not mere chimera of experienced stuffs. Rather, the propensity to order cognized objects in terms of rules (causal and otherwise) lie a priori as conditions of cognition itself.
 

The Grey Man

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I agree that the correct conception of the freedom of the will is compatibilistic. Why do I do what I do? Why am I me and not someone else? When we ask these questions we become like a dog chasing its tail. In ordinary situations, that people act the way they do is a more important fact than why they do. This is 'marketplace morality.' The closest we can get to a why outside the marketplace is the principle of individuation, which I strongly doubt that we will ever be able to explain since it seems to be the essence of empirical reality itself.

Kant agrees with Hume that it cannot be derived from experience - that something necessarily follows something else. But Kant disagrees with Hume in that the idea of causation - 'that something necessarily follows something else' can be learned from experience itself (through habits and custom). Nothing remotely close to that idea exists in empirical reality, according to Kant - it's not mere chimera of experienced stuffs. Rather, the propensity to order cognized objects in terms of rules (causal and otherwise) lie a priori as conditions of cognition itself.
Kant successfully showed that the formal aspect of nature is subjective, that empirical reality is our ordering of the manifold impressions provided by the senses according to laws a priori. This, however, does not refute Humean skepticism regarding causality, because causal laws have both a formal and a material aspect. For every causal law, there is some thing, some sensation which follows another, not just an empty form, but Kant does not give any reason why any given sensation must be followed by another. The manifold, according to Kant, is simply "given." Why this manifold and not another? Why am I me and not someone else? It seems that both the freedom of the will and causal necessity are grounded in individuation.
 

DoIMustHaveAnUsername?

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I agree that the correct conception of the freedom of the will is compatibilistic.
I don't think this is necessarily the 'correct' conception. There is still a deep sense in which determinism does imply lack of any real freedom - or at least true moral responsibility. Philosophers try to associate 'reason' and action followed by 'reason' with freedom, but I find 'reason' to be quite tenuous once we leave pure logic and maths into the world of practical action. All reasons for actions seems to boil down to something beyond reach of reason. Very little is actually even visible to me regarding why I do what I do. I suspect, much of the 'reasoning' people do, those who think they do, are often artificial post-action. Now, of course, deliberation and complex planning do take place pre-action - but when it is all seen mechanically, the notion of freedom seems weak - it is still in a sense true, in case of determinism that the pre-natalistic chain of causes and actions have determined fully what you do and what not. You can do what you will, and your actions will have consequence over the future, but if determinism is true, neither did you really decided your own state of being which causes your action, nor did you decided your will and its patterns of movement. Sure, there are still senses, one can argue that freedom is compatible. "what more do you want than being a salient cause of actions, having the will to act, and having some reasons to do so?" - one may say. But it's all about which part you emphasize. Compatibilists would de-emphasize the incompatibilist's concern - as rather irrelevant, and emphasize on reason, 'local' (non-ultimate) responsibility and such. The two views aren't incompatible rather have different emphasis depending on different intuitions. In the end, it is more of a problem of language, connotations, and associated intuitions to the concepts, more than it is a problem of what actually is. I lean more closely towards impossibilism than anything though I acknowledge one can always choose a convention and a sense under which 'free will' can exist with determinism.
 

DoIMustHaveAnUsername?

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Kant successfully showed that the formal aspect of nature is subjective, that empirical reality is our ordering of the manifold impressions provided by the senses according to laws a priori. This, however, does not refute Humean skepticism regarding causality, because causal laws have both a formal and a material aspect. For every causal law, there is some thing, some sensation which follows another, not just an empty form, but Kant does not give any reason why any given sensation must be followed by another
seems so.
 

JansenDowel

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For this thread I'm not interested in arguing whether or not reality is deterministic, the only "evidence" to the contrary is subatomic phenomena that nobody really understands which hardly proves anything.

What I'm interested in discussing is determinism as it applies to morality and free will because if everything is deterministic then anything anyone ever does is simply a natural outcome of their circumstances. Now practically that doesn't mean much, if someone turns out to be a serial killer because they weren't held enough as a child us knowing that doesn't change the fact that they have to be punished for their crimes, both to (in theory) rehabilitate them and to serve as an example to others.

But what if we had the technology to literally change someone's mind, to enable a team of psychiatrists to open up the patient and remove the neurosis like a team of surgeons removing a tumor, would it still be necessary to imprison the former serial killer indeed assuming the procedure wasn't voluntary and the patient isn't resisting the changes are they still the same person?

On the other hand wouldn't it be cruel not to use such technology? Does someone born into unfortunate circumstances and/or with an unfortunate predisposition to violence deserve to be punished for existing?
I don't understand this digression about determinism? Our best explanations of reality tell us that free will exists, therefore we aught to treat it as such..

Punishment is not rehabilitation, so no. Unless your goal is to seek revenge -- which is neither productive nor helpful for anything other than 'hurt feelings' -- punishment is just a waste of everyones money and time.
 

Animekitty

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as an infp, I highly dislike this thread
who I am is separate from how I became so

it's like saying colors do not exist because we are in a deterministic reality.
crime is no perpetuating some action, it is the motive, the intention. the relationships.
what are my true colors? (as it is said: come let us reason together)
people have layers, they are complex, they make judgments.
responsibility is paramount because I always consider the consequences of my action.
impairment is not the same as the nonexistence of a concience.
look into the eyes of a child - they have what most know as a soul

the true enemy is Medusa
the rejected self
you need to hold your own self accountable
get right with God and all. only you can do it. become it. live life free.
 

Animekitty

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What I am saying is that determinism does not negate the existence of the individual's agency. I am who I am. I know myself. I am not a leaf in the wind. my existence is known to me. I exist. I make what I will of it. I mature further every day.

Self is Self
I see the future the present and the past as God does.
 

JansenDowel

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What I am saying is that determinism does not negate the existence of the individual's agency. I am who I am. I know myself. I am not a leaf in the wind. my existence is known to me. I exist. I make what I will of it. I mature further every day.

Self is Self
I see the future the present and the past as God does.
I think you're taking this way too personally. This discussion just sounds like a bunch of college students having a discussion about philosophy over lunch.

This whole area has already been thoroughly explored and I believe the consensus is that "emergent" phenomena actually exist.
 

Animekitty

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looking at it that way (emergent)
who is to say it's not top down rather than bottom up
entanglement quantum unity

ego has a physical container but I would not say it's gone when the brain is
 

JansenDowel

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looking at it that way (emergent)
who is to say it's not top down rather than bottom up
entanglement quantum unity

ego has a physical container but I would not say it's gone when the brain is
Personally, I think both are absolutely terrible explanations. "Bottom up" tries to reduce all of reality to a basic set of components, and build up from there. These components are usually derived from theories in particle physics. The problem, however, is that these theories in particle physics were only created to explain a limited set of phenomena. They were never created to explain all of reality. Perhaps you know the saying, "if it explains everything, then it explains nothing at all". Top-down has exactly the same problem, but in the opposite direction.

Its a good idea to avoid trying to explain all of reality with a single theory. You'll botch the job completely and look like a fool.
 

Animekitty

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just an idea:
wave collapse offers a semi-deterministic realty.
configuration over a state space can be selected rather than predestined.
past and future can be indeterminant until choice happens.
 

JansenDowel

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just an idea:
wave collapse offers a semi-deterministic realty.
configuration over a state space can be selected rather than predestined.
past and future can be indeterminant until choice happens.
I don't think you need to go that far though. If you say free will doesn't exist at all, then you must explain why it "appears" that we have it. Further, you must explain away ALL of the evidence that says we have it.

You could just say that free will doesn't exist. But this does not explain why it appears as though we have free will. Further, it does not explain why there is so much evidence that says it exists. So saying that free will doesn't exist can be summarily rejected.
You could just say the evidence is all wrong, but again, you would need to explain why. So this too can be summarily rejected.

The only option left is to say that our explanations of reality are incomplete. And that explains why we do not understand how free will and determinism can both be true simultaneously.
 

Animekitty

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consciousness then is deterministic
but I reject this
consciousness influences matter indeterminately
so time cant play deterministic physics
time is not set in place, the past changes by the future
(future consciousness determines times arrow, not physics of the past)
 

JansenDowel

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consciousness then is deterministic
but I reject this
consciousness influences matter indeterminately
so time cant play deterministic physics
time is not set in place, the past changes by the future
(future consciousness determines times arrow, not physics of the past)
No this doesn't mean consciousness is deterministic. Just because consciousness and determinism are compatible, doesn't mean consciousness IS deterministic.

As for the rest, I don't believe any of it. But that is irrelevant I suppose.
 

Animekitty

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I was contending the only option left.
 

JansenDowel

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I was contending the only option left.
Have you forgotten what I just finished saying? I just said that reductionism is silly. Bottom up is a terrible explanation. So of course the only option left doesn't imply that consciousness must be reduced to some kind of deterministic explanation.
 

Sandglass

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If you agree with determinism, free will is merely a matter of semantics. You will think what you're going to think and do what you're going to do - you can't change that. One perspective is that having no ability to change your course of action means you have no free will. The other is that it doesn't matter; as long as you are able to define yourself in a way, you still choose, even if your actions are predictable. Whichever way you see it, it does not affect anything that actually happens and it is better to go into discussion not choosing a side.

As for morality, there is no objective morality. Your morality would be most useful as the code of ethics that leads to your goals being accomplished and the morality of a society which affects it's laws should be the code of ethics that leads to the highest collective goal accomplishing (including positive and negative goals).

These two concepts don't seem all that important to the subsequent prompt of technology that can change minds, assuming it obviously works. If you use the device on someone, there is no reason for punishment. Do you lock up machines that had bugs which got fixed? No, you test that they are fixed and if you are confident that they are, they go back to work. The main two purposes of punishment are to make someone regret their actions (which this immediately fixes) and to act as a deterrent. Being mind-wiped if you break the law seems like a pretty big deterrent.

This does bring up one extra issue, is forcing this procedure 'moral'? I'd argue not according to typical sentiments. If the procedure changes how your mind works to a large enough extent that you could never re-commit a crime, it seems more like it destroys the original person and leaves behind a new one. An option to undergo it voluntarily or face alternative consequences seems best. On a side not, this really reminds me of "A Clockwork Orange".
 

Animekitty

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Freedom of the will or autonomy of will, what guides and directs the "will". Are all my decisions only limited to the forces outside of me? How is choice possible if I do not control what I have control over. Am I a robot? Predictable, manipulatable. Press the right buttons and get the response expected.

Will is an attractor state of the ego since the will is the control locus of self. The power of the will comes from the dynamics of the will to navigate a state space. To overcome hills and valleys. But is it free?

It is a many-body problem. Only a conscious being can recognize consciousness. Computers cannot manipulate Conscious beings. What they do is entirely recognizable.

At the core is a network that navigates to state space. It determines the trajectory that will be taken in the state space.

The essence of Consciousness is premeditation. I know what I am doing and I am doing it. The first action is the tipping point of the will. The initial condition for the followthrough. Choice begins randomly. It is not the process that follows. The process is consciousness because that is where the realization of one's ego arises. I know and that makes me responsible.

If I know, then I am in control. I may know more than you do putting me in more control.

I want to do something and I do it.
I know what I am doing and I keep going
I recognize theory of mind, I am Conscious.

my will allows me to move forward,
it pushes me and I can strengthen it.
it is my resolve. it is self-sustained.

the will is a flame that brightens as I feel its life within me.

the closest we come to freedom is autonomy.
The mental exists. People have minds.
Minds are more than utilitarian.
Boardings on spiritual.
Gnosis
 

Sandglass

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I want to do something and I do it.
I know what I am doing and I keep going
I recognize theory of mind, I am Conscious.
Did you want to post that before or after I posted what I did? Whether or not you admit it, my post caused a reaction from you and your followup was the result. I doubt you would have commented if nothing was said. If I was ungodly smart I would be able to convince you to write a different response by using a different original post.

Your actions are determined from your environment. From everything including your DNA, the food you ate, the weather, whether someone is talking to you, etc.. Whether you still choose is up to definitions and it doesn't change the reality of what happens.

The only thing you can really say about consciousness is that it appears to observe what happens. If our minds were unrestrained by their interactions, they would extend beyond the universe and anything would be possible.
 

Animekitty

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There is one future, yes.
I will never escape my environment so I have one future.
My future from this point onward comes from my environment.
As a creature with a mind, I am capable of contemplating the nature of my own existence.
It is fortunate that I came into such being as to reflect on the reality of the soul.
 

Pizzabeak

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People make far too much fuss over supposed quantum indeterminacy. Ironically, the 'Schrödinger's cat' thought experiment proves, by analogy, that there is nothing mystical about the collapse of the wave function, simply because the collapse of the wave function is a theoretical postulate and not an observable event. I can't tell whether a cat in a box is alive or dead because I can't see into the box, just as we can't see into a quantum superposition. There is no empirically meaningful difference between these two cases. As Hume pointed out, experience teaches us merely that one event follows from another, not that it follows necessarily, though Kant twisted himself into an unseemly semantic pretzel trying to disprove this.
It wasn’t a thought experiment, that was Einstein who was known for his. Schrödinger developed wave mechanics by taking what we knew from classical mechanics and applying the wave motions to electricity and molecules. The Schrödinger equation is a math equation, not an analogy. It never was mystical. The equation says all positions should be determined or determinable from your initial measurement. All looking at something does is observe it, which can determine the value of the waves. Heisenberg developed the same methods first a little earlier, although he used matrixes instead.
Hume just talked about the problem of induction, which is the future being like the past always. Through trial and error if a change is found, then you can begin to question past beliefs or methods. If you ask 200 girls out and all say no, why risk it even more? Once you notice that pattern is when you notice something may be going on. Kant seems to understand the gist of it when he said in order for weird things to exist, there must be a reason. To express an idea, based off anything, requires the reality of it. So, if it’s weird or something sounds weird, the reality of it can be bizarre. Even though you can’t prove it, you can say we don’t understand what builds worlds, so common sense loses to the ultimate reality every time.
 

The Grey Man

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The Schrödinger equation is a math equation, not an analogy. It never was mystical. The equation says all positions should be determined or determinable from your initial measurement. All looking at something does is observe it, which can determine the value of the waves.
"Nothing exists until it is measured." -Bohr

Can something exist that is not an object of empirical observation? According to Bohr, the answer is no, since it is observation (the reciprocal relationship between subject and object that has served as the backbone of most epistemological theories since Descartes) that confers upon a thing its very being. This is equivalent to Berkeley's old formula, esse est percipi. Philosophical interpretations of quantum physics are unknowingly retreading old ground because their champions are specialists in physics who aren't all well-versed in the history of philosophy.

I think that the key to understanding quantum physics is not Berkeleian subjective idealism, but Kantian transcendental idealism. The collapse of the wave function by an act of observation and, indeed, empirical observation in general, corresponds to the Kantian synthesis of the imagination, whereby diverse sense-impressions are combined into a single perception by the application by the application of a priori mental categories such as reciprocity and causality. For Kant as well as Bohr, the empirical world is Newtonian, but only because we are so constituted as to perceive the world as a community of Newtonian bodies (patches of a determinate sensory quality in space), which is why it is wrong to, as is sometimes done, assert that Kant's synthetic a priori was refuted by the discovery of phenomena that resist Newtonian explanation. It should surprise nobody that we are unable to see precisely how photons behave, since it is precisely by means of photons (or, more precisely, their interactions with our retinas inasmuch as they contribute sense-data to the mental synthesis) that we are able to see at all. Photons belong to the ontic substratum of perception and are, for this very reason, distinct from it. Light is not electromagnetic radiation any more than a school of fish is a fish.
 

ZenRaiden

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On the other hand wouldn't it be cruel not to use such technology? Does someone born into unfortunate circumstances and/or with an unfortunate predisposition to violence deserve to be punished for existing?
I dont understand what you are really saying. Are we really punishing people for any special reason? Isnt it just to preserve social functions?

Where does determinism come in?
 
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