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Old 08-07-2019, 05:48 PM
begbert2 is offline
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Idaho
Posts: 13,652
Originally Posted by you with the face View Post
To be clear, “not knowing right from wrong” isn’t any educated person’s definition of insanity, but its a common enough view that to claim never encountering it defies belief.

And really, you’re still defying it by parsing the word “know” literally. If insanity was thought to be a simple lack of knowledge, we’d be committing the mentally ill to schools rather than hospitals. Calling it a “knowledge and awareness issue” is so obviously wrong that it’s borderline offensive. Someone who eats a bullet after being tormented with suicidal ideation is not just ignorant or misinformed; their brain is producing pathological thought patterns that are beyond their control, driving them to do harm to themselves.

Some of them are. Depressed people who commit suicde often rationally know killing themselves is bad. The person who is unable to resist the impulse to grab and stab also might know this is bad. Where things breakdown is not their comprehension of reality; it’s their ability to regulate their behavior. The mental checks and balances that keep normal people in line are faulty in the mental ill.
Cognition is not an emotionless, analytical process. Emotion is involved as well. Emotion can effect decision-making, of course. It's not all about rationality, and if you're trying to define "free will" as "only makes purely rational, analytical decisions", then you have excluded pretty much all of humanity.

It's interesting to ponder the effect that mind-altering chemicals have on cognition, but things get odd when you try to say that introducing them eliminates free will because there are 'mind-altering chemicals' in everyone's brains all the time. It's sort of like the earlier argument that getting really angry could somehow abrogate free will; people always have an emotional state, so why would some emotions and not others interfere? And on a similar point, if a person's insanity is generated by their own brain chemicals, why does their arrangement of chemicals break it, and not everyone's?

Externally introducing mind-altering chemicals alters cognitive function. (Not to state the obvious or anything.) But does it abrogate free will? And if so, when? Does taking a whiff of a beer and letting a handful of aerosol alcohol particles enter your nasal vessels shut it off? Does taking an aspirin to reduce a headache shut it off?

Myself, I come at this from the approach that free will is being free from something. Traditionally that 'something' was God, gods, or the fates. Supernatural entities that reach in and take control.

If your position is instead that your own brain is what you need to be free of, then nobody has free will, obviously. And 'their own brain' is the thing that these insane people are being manipulated by. I don't think it's sensible to say that they have to be free of their own brains to have free will.

Originally Posted by you with the face View Post
So what deeper insights are obtainable from a discussion about free will if we start with the premise that that everyone from the mental ill, hostage victims, two year olds, and Jane Doe miscelllanious person on the street, all exercise free will? What is there really to talk about if we’re not supposed to see important differences in the kind of choices available to these people based on the limitations of their mind?
Well, first you can notice that hostage victims aren't suffering from limitations on their minds, and that if your approach to free will is reliant on grouping them in with people who arguably do then your approach to free will has a problem. Of all the things which could theoretically abrogate free will, having a gun to your head is not one of them.

Originally Posted by you with the face View Post
Not at all. You’re supposed to merely see how insular and unread it looks to say you’ve never heard it argued the mentally ill are deficient in free will. It’s like saying you never heard of California.
I'll concede I haven't engaged in many discussion of free will where people try to say that large swaths of the human population don't have it, but others do. Because, to be frank, that's absurd. Honestly it sounds like the first steps towards justifying a pogrom.