Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #51  
Old 03-01-2020, 05:03 PM
monstro is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 21,462
Quote:
Originally Posted by Corry El
1. OK, and it *is* OK IMO that people do this. Humans are social animals whatever their beliefs. Also it's not all one or the other. People do in some practical sense of 'free will' choose to adopt various beliefs. It's not *all* what they were taught.
I am probably not going to tackle the rest of your points. But I am at loss here. How do people come to a religious belief without it being taught to them? And how do people choose beliefs? Can you give a concrete example of you doing this?

Perhaps I'm a weirdo, but I have not chosen any of my beliefs. My beliefs have come to me the same way that literacy came to me. Through instruction and experience. I have never sat down and weighed the pros and cons of all the available belief systems out there. No, what happens for me is that one moment I have a set of ideas and notions in my head that were brought to me by my environment and then shaped by my own idiosyncratic weirdness ("Santa Claus is checking his list and he's checking it twice! And his pal Jesus is helping him!"). And then in another moment, those ideas/notions are adjusted by or replaced with something more palatable to me for whatever reason ("Santa Claus is a myth. Jesus is real, though.") I did not make a conscious decision to let go of Christianity. It's just that one moment Jesus seemed like a real thing to me and some time later, he no longer did. One day I woke up and realized that I no longer felt some kind of way about not praying, not going to church, or saying the lord's name in vain. I suppose if this realization had bothered me enough, I would have been compelled to go back to church and double-down on my Bible reading. But it didn't bother me. It actually made me feel liberated. I didn't choose to be the kind of person who feels liberated by a lack of religious faith.

So perhaps this is why I'm skeptical when people puff their chests out about how much they have "chosen" their religious beliefs. I certainly believe they chose to go to a particular house of worship and do all the things that adherents do when they want to follow a particular religion, although I don't think those are choices made of "free will". But no one chooses to be the kind of person who believes a particular thing. A belief either sticks with you or it doesn't. It isn't something you can "will" yourself into, IMHO.

So I'm curious if you can come up with a compelling example of you choosing a set of beliefs through an active and conscious process (which is what "free will" connotes to me).

Last edited by monstro; 03-01-2020 at 05:04 PM.
  #52  
Old 03-01-2020, 05:05 PM
Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 85,131
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
I don't disagree with you, but I am failing to see why that is an important distinction. Sure, you can prove that a bullet will damage your body, while at the same time I cannot prove that vampires will eat me if I go out at night.

But the belief would cause me to stay in at night, just like you would withdraw money from the ATM if someone pointed a gun at you. The coercion, to the individual, is the same.

I could argue that you could make the choice to believe that you are impervious to bullets. You could argue back that such a thing would be absurd because you can point to real world evidence that bullets are harmful to the human body. However just because my believe in vampire-munching is not based on real world data, it is just as real to me as anything else. I could no more get rid of that belief than you could.
It's a vast difference because a belief can be changed. A truth cannot be.

If my decisions are being constrained by my beliefs then the entire constraint lies solely within my mind. If I change my beliefs and begin acting differently, there are no consequences for my actions. If I decide one day that vampires don't exist and begin going outside at night, I will not be killed. And if I decide one day that God doesn't exist and I can eat bacon, I will not suffer any discernible consequences for doing so. But if I decide that I can fly and jump off the roof of a tall building, the reality of gravity will assert itself and I will plummet to my death. Because gravity isn't just something I believe in; gravity is something that is true. And its truth exists even if I don't believe it.
  #53  
Old 03-01-2020, 06:37 PM
UltraVires is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Bridgeport, WV, US
Posts: 16,788
Quote:
Originally Posted by elbows View Post
Do Nazis and KKK get a pass because they’re kinda compelled too?
By their ‘leaders/peer group/social beliefs’.
Get a pass for what? It is completely legal to be a Nazi or a member of the KKK.
  #54  
Old 03-01-2020, 06:43 PM
UltraVires is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Bridgeport, WV, US
Posts: 16,788
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
It's a vast difference because a belief can be changed. A truth cannot be.

If my decisions are being constrained by my beliefs then the entire constraint lies solely within my mind. If I change my beliefs and begin acting differently, there are no consequences for my actions. If I decide one day that vampires don't exist and begin going outside at night, I will not be killed. And if I decide one day that God doesn't exist and I can eat bacon, I will not suffer any discernible consequences for doing so. But if I decide that I can fly and jump off the roof of a tall building, the reality of gravity will assert itself and I will plummet to my death. Because gravity isn't just something I believe in; gravity is something that is true. And its truth exists even if I don't believe it.
No consequences until you die and don't make it into Heaven. Sure, no proof and all, but if I believe it, it remains so in my mind.

And so long as I believe that, it is a semantic fiction to say that I can simply choose to believe something else. No more that you could simply choose to believe that gays should not be allowed to marry.

Again, I think we are placing different strength on the definition of "choose."
  #55  
Old 03-01-2020, 07:44 PM
Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 85,131
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
No consequences until you die and don't make it into Heaven. Sure, no proof and all, but if I believe it, it remains so in my mind.

And so long as I believe that, it is a semantic fiction to say that I can simply choose to believe something else. No more that you could simply choose to believe that gays should not be allowed to marry.

Again, I think we are placing different strength on the definition of "choose."
Do you think a person can choose to believe he can fly - and then fly?

If you said no (which I assume you did) you're acknowledging that there are some beliefs that are subject to objective reality. Nobody can fly by believing it's possible.

The belief that people go to Heaven after they die does not have this objective reality to it. Which means it is not the same kind of belief.

There are beliefs that are based on evidence and there are beliefs that have no evidence to support them. These two different types of beliefs are not the same thing. They are not equivalent.
  #56  
Old 03-01-2020, 07:57 PM
UltraVires is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Bridgeport, WV, US
Posts: 16,788
Quote:
Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Do you think a person can choose to believe he can fly - and then fly?

If you said no (which I assume you did) you're acknowledging that there are some beliefs that are subject to objective reality. Nobody can fly by believing it's possible.

The belief that people go to Heaven after they die does not have this objective reality to it. Which means it is not the same kind of belief.

There are beliefs that are based on evidence and there are beliefs that have no evidence to support them. These two different types of beliefs are not the same thing. They are not equivalent.
I apologize because I am still not getting it. You are saying that for the first type of belief, there is objective proof that can convince a non-believer. If I believed I could fly, I could jump off of the third story balcony of a building and quickly find out, if I was a reasonable person, that my previous belief was in error and once I get out of the hospital, my belief going forward will be different.

Whereas with my religious belief, there will be no proof regarding the afterlife, at least none that will be realized on this earth, so it will remain an open question for those who haven't adopted the religious belief.

But that still doesn't make the strength of the belief any different for a person of faith. Nobody goes to church and states that they believe in Jesus Christ, but...hey who knows??
  #57  
Old 03-01-2020, 08:59 PM
cmkeller's Avatar
cmkeller is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: New York, NY, USA
Posts: 13,612
People have different drives. It is their choice whether to follow one (e.g., their bodies wanting some type of forbidden stimulation) or the other (the knowledge of religiously-promised reward and/or punishment). Given that even among the most sincere believers, the afterlife is an abstract concept and the physical gratification is concrete, the ability to rationalize following their body's desire over the stated will of the divine being they believe in is very strong.
__________________
"Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible. The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks."
-- Douglas Adams's Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective
  #58  
Old 03-02-2020, 10:03 AM
thorny locust's Avatar
thorny locust is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Upstate New York
Posts: 2,008
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstro View Post
But all of them find people who accept and respect them, since otherwise they would not be known as prophets but as crazy people.
Some of them are known as crazy people to all but a handful of followers. Some of even the ones who wind up with a lot of followers are at first known as crazy people to all but a handful. And some, I expect, never get any followers at all; with the result that almost everybody never hears of them.

They may have all had the same sort of religious experience to start off with, though.


Quote:
Originally Posted by monstro View Post
Yes, the millions of people who identify as "spiritual" but not religious. These people don't go to church, but they will still argue with you that insert your diety of choice exists as sure as the day you were born.
Well, I won't.

I am somewhere between an atheist and an agnostic, depending on what kind of god is being discussed. I have religious experiences, though.

Last edited by thorny locust; 03-02-2020 at 10:04 AM.
  #59  
Old 03-02-2020, 10:26 AM
UltraVires is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Bridgeport, WV, US
Posts: 16,788
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkeller View Post
People have different drives. It is their choice whether to follow one (e.g., their bodies wanting some type of forbidden stimulation) or the other (the knowledge of religiously-promised reward and/or punishment). Given that even among the most sincere believers, the afterlife is an abstract concept and the physical gratification is concrete, the ability to rationalize following their body's desire over the stated will of the divine being they believe in is very strong.
Sure, the immediacy of the consequence will make the decision more stark. If I smoke these cigarettes today, I might get lung cancer in 40 years, but I'll quit way before then.

It's easy to rationalize, but again, respectfully, I'm not sure why that makes a difference in this thread. Is the argument that the immediacy of a known harm makes something not really a choice, but if it is something that might come up years later, then we have a freer choice? Like maybe I'll go to hell for selling this gay wedding cake, but I can always repent later or who knows, maybe this Christianity stuff is mumbo jumbo anyhoo?
  #60  
Old 03-02-2020, 12:45 PM
monstro is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Richmond, VA
Posts: 21,462
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmkeller View Post
People have different drives. It is their choice whether to follow one (e.g., their bodies wanting some type of forbidden stimulation) or the other (the knowledge of religiously-promised reward and/or punishment). Given that even among the most sincere believers, the afterlife is an abstract concept and the physical gratification is concrete, the ability to rationalize following their body's desire over the stated will of the divine being they believe in is very strong.
Your last sentence is in conflict with the first.

Imagine you are tasked by your diety of choice to judge the character of two individuals.

The first individual is Mr. Goodytwoshoes. He has always found it easy to follow the directives in the Bible since he doesn't have a lustful, covetous, or dishonest bone in his body. He gets pleasure out of helping others. He loves being told that he's a nice guy. And he feels repulsion at anything he deems naughty. Like, once he saw his wife eating a grape in the produce aisle without paying for it and he felt physically nauseous. He has never even daydreamed of committing mischief.

The second individual is Mr. Baddington. He struggles to follow the directives in the Bible and most other codes of conduct. For one thing, he has a very strong sex urge. He can't look at a woman without thinking about sex. He wanted to wait till he got married to have sex like a good Christian, but he just couldn't hold out that long. And because his sex urge is so strong, he cheats. A lot. He has other "bad" urges too. He is a compulsive shoplifter and liar. He feels awful whenever he does these bad things, and he always prays for hours afterwards for heavenly guidance and strength to do better. He has also been in Christian counseling for several years. His behavior has improved somewhat over the years. He used to cheat on his wife every week. Now it is every month or so. He used to steal every day. Now he only steals once a week or so. But the urges have never diminished. He is constantly thinking about sex, stealing, and lying and constantly trying to distract himself from these thoughts. His doctor thinks he should consider medication because it is obvious to her that he is suffering from an impulse disorder, but Mr. Baddington refuses--believing he has a defect of spirit, not biology.

As the judge, who do you think has demonstrated better character? The guy who does good because he is wired for goodness, or the guy who works hard every day to be good and frequently fails?

Do you think the two have the same amount of free will?

IMHO, both are severely constrained.

Sent from my moto x4 using Tapatalk
__________________
What the hell is a signature?

Last edited by monstro; 03-02-2020 at 12:48 PM.
  #61  
Old 03-02-2020, 03:31 PM
begbert2 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Idaho
Posts: 14,092
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
No consequences until you die and don't make it into Heaven. Sure, no proof and all, but if I believe it, it remains so in my mind.

And so long as I believe that, it is a semantic fiction to say that I can simply choose to believe something else. No more that you could simply choose to believe that gays should not be allowed to marry.

Again, I think we are placing different strength on the definition of "choose."
I assume you realize that you're buying into Pascal's wager. This wasn't meant as an insult - it's just a statement of fact.

And I agree that one does not choose what they believe or not. The brain holds beliefs like they're stored on a hard drive, and there's no delete command. The way beliefs are changed is not through conscious modification, but rather through a subconscious examining of the facts and weighing of the interpretation of those facts. When the subconscious mind decides the evidence outweighs its various biases towards resisting influence, only then will the belief begin to change.

So one cannot choose to change a belief, but they can choose to put themselves in a position to examine the different facts and sides and consequences of things that relate to the belief. Given time the belief may change. Or it might not.
  #62  
Old 03-03-2020, 11:02 AM
cmkeller's Avatar
cmkeller is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: New York, NY, USA
Posts: 13,612
UltraVires:

Quote:
It's easy to rationalize, but again, respectfully, I'm not sure why that makes a difference in this thread.
Because that's the mechanism by which one overrides fear of religious consequences. Choosing to rationalize sinning over following the religious dictates is freedom of choice.

monstro:

Quote:
As the judge, who do you think has demonstrated better character? The guy who does good because he is wired for goodness, or the guy who works hard every day to be good and frequently fails?

Do you think the two have the same amount of free will?
I think that the situation you set up, as defined, means that the first person has inherently less temptation in his life than the second one. As such, any minor lapses that he has need to be judged more harshly than a minor lapse by the second one - more equivalent to a major lapse on his part.

I also believe that in real life, peoples' lives have enough different facets that ultimately all human beings of mental fitness have roughly similar amounts of temptation to sin in one way or another. We likely don't see the complete picture, but G-d by definition can. (That is, sin as defined by the person's particular cultural context. Obviously what Christians would consider sinful blasphemy is something that a Hindu or Buddhist does as a matter of course without thinking it sinful.)
__________________
"Sherlock Holmes once said that once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the answer. I, however, do not like to eliminate the impossible. The impossible often has a kind of integrity to it that the merely improbable lacks."
-- Douglas Adams's Dirk Gently, Holistic Detective
  #63  
Old 03-03-2020, 11:25 AM
begbert2 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Idaho
Posts: 14,092
Quote:
Originally Posted by monstro View Post
As the judge, who do you think has demonstrated better character? The guy who does good because he is wired for goodness, or the guy who works hard every day to be good and frequently fails?
I'm not sure what you mean by "character". I mean, I think you're trying to imply that Baddington is demonstrating better character because he's demonstrated it by resisting his terrible character, but on the other hand, that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by monstro View Post
Do you think the two have the same amount of free will?
I do.

When defining free will, one has to decide what influences you hope to be free from. One possibility is "your own mind". And while there are conceptions of free will where you're supposedly trying to be free from the influence of your own mind (libertarian free will, for example), I think that all such conceptions of free will are stupid. Which leads me to your example.

In your example, all the troublesome influences that the person is dealing with are coming from their own mind. Mr. Goodytwoshoes likes chocolate, chooses to eat the chocolate, and is fine. No external factors are at play here. Mr. Baddington likes sugar cookies at a basic preference level, but also recognizes that sugar cookies are the devil. So he tries to resist his basic urges - one part of his mind is at war with the other. But, still, both sides of the war are his own mind.

Your description of Mr. Baddington portrays his entire struggle with vice and sugar cookies as being self-initiated - you don't speak of him being pressured to change by his church or his parole officer. You mention Christian counseling, but it seems that Mr. Baddington goes there of his own free will. That being the case, I don't see any argument for his free will being abrogated - who would you think is abrogating it?
  #64  
Old 03-03-2020, 12:04 PM
Jasmine's Avatar
Jasmine is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Chicagoland
Posts: 2,613
Quote:
They've chosen to operate under that religious framework through free will. There's nothing stopping them from choosing a different religious framework, or none at all. It's not a get out of moral choices card.
There are a number of thoughtful and interesting responses here, but I think a number of them strayed from the OP's thread title, " Freedom of choice when one's behavior is compelled by one's religion". Unless a person is living in a situation much like the Spanish Inquisition, I think the quoted response above is correct. When we freely choose to follow a religion, we have freely chosen to follow all of its mandates and restrictions. We are free to change our mind, if we wish. Following rules that pertain to what was a voluntary choice cannot be viewed as suppression of Free Will. It makes no sense.
__________________
"The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance -- it is the illusion of knowledge."
--Daniel J Boorstin
  #65  
Old 03-03-2020, 02:14 PM
Max S. is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Florida, USA
Posts: 2,686
Quote:
Originally Posted by Velocity View Post
If someone is operating under fear of divine punishment, then their behavior is highly constrained and they do not really have free choice.
Velocity, what is your definition of "free choice"?

~Max
  #66  
Old 03-03-2020, 04:24 PM
Velocity is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 16,947
Quote:
Originally Posted by Max S. View Post
Velocity, what is your definition of "free choice"?
I'd define it as choice that is made without fear of consequences. For instance, choosing to buy a purple T-shirt or green T-shirt at Walmart. Either or neither is fine.

If one wants to take gun shots at a presidential candidate, that is not a free choice - sure, you can physically do it, but you will face prison time.

So, in terms of religion, if a Muslim fears divine punishment should he eat pork, he isn't free to eat pork.
  #67  
Old 03-03-2020, 04:39 PM
begbert2 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Idaho
Posts: 14,092
Quote:
Originally Posted by Velocity View Post
I'd define it as choice that is made without fear of consequences. For instance, choosing to buy a purple T-shirt or green T-shirt at Walmart. Either or neither is fine.

If one wants to take gun shots at a presidential candidate, that is not a free choice - sure, you can physically do it, but you will face prison time.

So, in terms of religion, if a Muslim fears divine punishment should he eat pork, he isn't free to eat pork.
So you only lack free will if you don't choose to resist your fears, then?

Supposing I fear the most dreadful of punishments, worse than prison time or the wrath of an angry god: rejection by a woman. Suppose there's a woman I like. Suppose that I want to profess my love to her, but the threat of certain rejection holds me back.

If I remain silent then, according the definition you propose, then I was unable to make a free choice because of my fear. But what if I do tell her? What if I overcome my fear? Was my decision still unfree?

Can one say "I was unable to freely choose because I was being coerced, yet I chose what I wanted anyway"? And if not, what does that mean about how coercion affects freedom of choice?
  #68  
Old 03-03-2020, 05:06 PM
Max S. is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Florida, USA
Posts: 2,686
Quote:
Originally Posted by Velocity View Post
I'd define it as choice that is made without fear of consequences.
I see. Is it still a free choice if, rather than fear, the love of Christ compels a Christian to act a certain way?

~Max
  #69  
Old 03-04-2020, 01:24 AM
RioRico is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: beyond cell service
Posts: 2,420
The usual source says, "Free will is the ability to choose between different possible courses of action unimpeded." I see a fairly simple decision tree.
IF some entity physically forces our actions
OR divine forces predetermine all actions
THEN we lack free will
ELSE we possess free will; we make our choices and go with the results.
Maybe someone pushes you off a cliff - that's not your decision. But if they just hold a firearm to your head and tell you to jump, you can choose your death. Yes, people can and do consciously change their beliefs. You need not obey the voices in your head. You do so voluntarily.
  #70  
Old 03-04-2020, 10:19 AM
UltraVires is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Bridgeport, WV, US
Posts: 16,788
Quote:
Originally Posted by begbert2 View Post
So you only lack free will if you don't choose to resist your fears, then?

Supposing I fear the most dreadful of punishments, worse than prison time or the wrath of an angry god: rejection by a woman. Suppose there's a woman I like. Suppose that I want to profess my love to her, but the threat of certain rejection holds me back.

If I remain silent then, according the definition you propose, then I was unable to make a free choice because of my fear. But what if I do tell her? What if I overcome my fear? Was my decision still unfree?

Can one say "I was unable to freely choose because I was being coerced, yet I chose what I wanted anyway"? And if not, what does that mean about how coercion affects freedom of choice?
I think this is far too black and white. I would modify Velocity's definition to be that a choice is not free if the definite consequence for making one of the choices is so severe so as to effectively make the notion of choice illusory.

I will not shoot the President, first because I believe it is morally wrong, and second I don't want a lethal injection or spend the rest of my life in prison. If I am a Muslim, I will not eat pork, first because I believe it is morally wrong, and second because I do not want to suffer eternal damnation.

The consequences of these choices are so severe that for all intents and purposes, I do not have a free choice.

Rejection by a woman, while embarrassing, is not a such a severe consequence to make a choice whether to ask her out illusory. First, I am doing nothing wrong by attempting to get a date, and second there is a risk/reward balance. Maybe she doesn't reject me. Maybe she ends up being the one I marry. There is an element of risk in any choice, but this example is different than a choice with known, certain, and severe consequences.

Last edited by UltraVires; 03-04-2020 at 10:22 AM.
  #71  
Old 03-04-2020, 01:03 PM
begbert2 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Idaho
Posts: 14,092
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
I think this is far too black and white. I would modify Velocity's definition to be that a choice is not free if the definite consequence for making one of the choices is so severe so as to effectively make the notion of choice illusory.

I will not shoot the President, first because I believe it is morally wrong, and second I don't want a lethal injection or spend the rest of my life in prison. If I am a Muslim, I will not eat pork, first because I believe it is morally wrong, and second because I do not want to suffer eternal damnation.

The consequences of these choices are so severe that for all intents and purposes, I do not have a free choice.

Rejection by a woman, while embarrassing, is not a such a severe consequence to make a choice whether to ask her out illusory. First, I am doing nothing wrong by attempting to get a date, and second there is a risk/reward balance. Maybe she doesn't reject me. Maybe she ends up being the one I marry. There is an element of risk in any choice, but this example is different than a choice with known, certain, and severe consequences.
You're fighting my hypothetical. But fine: a different but 100% equivalent one.

A man stands next to me with a gun to my head and says "Let me into the vault!" (Also, I'm guarding a vault.) Possible outcomes:

1) I comply, and when asked about it later say "I didn't have a choice, he had a gun to my head".

2) I refuse, and to my surprise he clubs me with the gun rather than killing me. Later, when asked why I didn't comply, I say "I chose not to."

So. Did I have a choice or not?
  #72  
Old 03-04-2020, 01:15 PM
UltraVires is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Bridgeport, WV, US
Posts: 16,788
Quote:
Originally Posted by begbert2 View Post
You're fighting my hypothetical. But fine: a different but 100% equivalent one.

A man stands next to me with a gun to my head and says "Let me into the vault!" (Also, I'm guarding a vault.) Possible outcomes:

1) I comply, and when asked about it later say "I didn't have a choice, he had a gun to my head".

2) I refuse, and to my surprise he clubs me with the gun rather than killing me. Later, when asked why I didn't comply, I say "I chose not to."

So. Did I have a choice or not?
I think you are equivocating on the word "choice." In an absolute sense everyone has a choice about everything. I can choose to stick my arm into a wood chipper. I can choose kill someone. I can choose to do anything so long as I accept the harsh consequences. You could even say that people choose to be gay, right? Not a thing in the world stopping Pete Buttigieg from divorcing his husband and starting to sleep with women. But nobody uses the word "choice" in such a fashion.

When someone says "I didn't have a choice" they don't mean that in such an absolutist sense. They mean that they did not have a realistic or meaningful choice without harsh consequences.

No letting the guy into the vault is a pretty foolhardy choice. So foolhardy that it would be appropriate for someone to say that they did not have any reasonable or meaningful choice but to comply.
  #73  
Old 03-04-2020, 01:34 PM
begbert2 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Idaho
Posts: 14,092
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
I think you are equivocating on the word "choice." In an absolute sense everyone has a choice about everything. I can choose to stick my arm into a wood chipper. I can choose kill someone. I can choose to do anything so long as I accept the harsh consequences. You could even say that people choose to be gay, right? Not a thing in the world stopping Pete Buttigieg from divorcing his husband and starting to sleep with women. But nobody uses the word "choice" in such a fashion.

When someone says "I didn't have a choice" they don't mean that in such an absolutist sense. They mean that they did not have a realistic or meaningful choice without harsh consequences.

No letting the guy into the vault is a pretty foolhardy choice. So foolhardy that it would be appropriate for someone to say that they did not have any reasonable or meaningful choice but to comply.
I'm not equivocating; I'm trying to determine if you are. (Whether Velocity was, originally.)

And honestly, it appears you are. In consecutive sentences you say that people don't mean it when they say they didn't have a choice - but it's appropriate to say anyway.

I'm trying to nail down what it means to have "free choice", in the "free will" sense, in the context of this thread. (In other threads "free will" means something entirely different, of course.) In this thread it's been argued by some (including both me and you) that the threat of negative consequences can be considered an abrogation of free choice - you were compelled and thus weren't able to choose freely.

Of course it later occurred to me that the possibility of not complying screws up the definition. If how you choose determines whether or not you had a free choice, then the term "free choice" and "free will" in this context are just a meaningless post-facto way of saying "There were pressures on me when I made my choice, so I abrogate some level of responsibility." It isn't really a statement about the choice itself, but rather how you decided, as demonstrated by the fact that prior to the moment of making the decision you can't know whether you have free choice or not.

Last edited by begbert2; 03-04-2020 at 01:36 PM. Reason: typo
  #74  
Old 03-04-2020, 03:33 PM
UltraVires is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Bridgeport, WV, US
Posts: 16,788
Quote:
Originally Posted by begbert2 View Post
I'm not equivocating; I'm trying to determine if you are. (Whether Velocity was, originally.)

And honestly, it appears you are. In consecutive sentences you say that people don't mean it when they say they didn't have a choice - but it's appropriate to say anyway.

I'm trying to nail down what it means to have "free choice", in the "free will" sense, in the context of this thread. (In other threads "free will" means something entirely different, of course.) In this thread it's been argued by some (including both me and you) that the threat of negative consequences can be considered an abrogation of free choice - you were compelled and thus weren't able to choose freely.

Of course it later occurred to me that the possibility of not complying screws up the definition. If how you choose determines whether or not you had a free choice, then the term "free choice" and "free will" in this context are just a meaningless post-facto way of saying "There were pressures on me when I made my choice, so I abrogate some level of responsibility." It isn't really a statement about the choice itself, but rather how you decided, as demonstrated by the fact that prior to the moment of making the decision you can't know whether you have free choice or not.
No equivocating, no equivocating, you're the one equivocating (you're the puppet)

Again, no English speaker uses the word "choice" with such an absolute meaning. Every choice has at least minimally negative consequences even if that consequence is the missing out of the alternative. Take Velocity's green shirt v. purple shirt example. If I choose the green shirt, then I have missed the opportunity to buy a purple shirt and vice versa.

But nobody would say that the negative consequence of losing out on either the green or purple shirt meant that you were denied free will in your shirt selection.

So in the absolutist sense every choice is a free one, yet every choice has a negative consequence. So it is meaningless for this type of discussion to use such absolutist thinking and it is not what anyone is talking about anyways.

Free will vs. "no choice" runs on a continuum. A choice can have such minimally negative consequences that we consider it a free choice, or free will. If someone offers me a european vacation for $1 nobody can say it wasn't really a free will choice because they forced me to give up a $1 in order to make it.

Also a choice can have such harsh consequences that we consider it effectively no choice at all. If I would like to watch a movie but someone calls and tells me that they have kidnapped my daughter and will kill her if I watch the movie, but return her unharmed if I don't, it begs belief to say that I had a real meaningful choice to watch the movie or not.

And we can have many things in the middle which are "tough choices" or actually what people mean when they use the word choice. Should I move halfway across the country for double my current salary but that means less time to spend with my ailing parents? That's a tough choice. But even though it has real, non de minimis negative consequences either way, it is still a choice and it still represents free will.

And in keeping with the OP, if I believe that selling a gay wedding cake means I don't get into Heaven, then that is such a coercive choice that I really did not have a meaningful one. Again, it doesn't matter whether that belief is objectively true or can be proven. If I believe it, then my decision-making process has left me without a true choice.

Last edited by UltraVires; 03-04-2020 at 03:33 PM.
  #75  
Old 03-04-2020, 04:14 PM
begbert2 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Idaho
Posts: 14,092
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
Again, no English speaker uses the word "choice" with such an absolute meaning.
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
Also a choice can have such harsh consequences that we consider it effectively no choice at all.
As you can see, the second post rebuts the first. This is because the concept of "no choice" here is incoherent gobbledygook used to justify decisions that are garnering criticism.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
And we can have many things in the middle which are "tough choices" or actually what people mean when they use the word choice. Should I move halfway across the country for double my current salary but that means less time to spend with my ailing parents? That's a tough choice. But even though it has real, non de minimis negative consequences either way, it is still a choice and it still represents free will.

And in keeping with the OP, if I believe that selling a gay wedding cake means I don't get into Heaven, then that is such a coercive choice that I really did not have a meaningful one. Again, it doesn't matter whether that belief is objectively true or can be proven. If I believe it, then my decision-making process has left me without a true choice.
There is no qualitative difference between the two choices. One choice is more obvious than the other, but as you say that's a continuum with no inherent distinction between "choice" and "no choice". Which means that whether or not you have "no choice" is always, necessarily, just a matter of arbitrary opinion.

Which means that it would be entirely correct to say there wasn't no choice, but rather that the cake-baker had the choice of doing the right thing, but chose not to because he didn't wanna. Did he have reasons for not wannaing? Sure. But reasons aren't justifications.
  #76  
Old 03-04-2020, 04:33 PM
UltraVires is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Bridgeport, WV, US
Posts: 16,788
Quote:
Originally Posted by begbert2 View Post
As you can see, the second post rebuts the first. This is because the concept of "no choice" here is incoherent gobbledygook used to justify decisions that are garnering criticism.

There is no qualitative difference between the two choices. One choice is more obvious than the other, but as you say that's a continuum with no inherent distinction between "choice" and "no choice". Which means that whether or not you have "no choice" is always, necessarily, just a matter of arbitrary opinion.

Which means that it would be entirely correct to say there wasn't no choice, but rather that the cake-baker had the choice of doing the right thing, but chose not to because he didn't wanna. Did he have reasons for not wannaing? Sure. But reasons aren't justifications.
1) Disagree. It is only contradictory if we stick with your absolutist definition of "choice" which nobody uses in common parlance. Nobody.

2) Yes it is a subjective opinion which may be the difficulty we are having. We could come up with hypos where many people believe that there was a real choice and others believe that it was too coercive to make a real choice. The law of confessions in the United States is a pretty good example. Given a fact scenario some judges will say that the defendant's will was so overborne that his confession was not a real choice while other judges will say that it was a voluntary choice. The fact that it is subjective does not change the analysis in my mind. Why would you say that it does?

3) You've sort of leaned over to get your drink and exposed your cards here. You say that the baker can do the "right thing"* but in his mind, he is committing an immoral act and exposing himself to punishment in the afterlife for doing so. Why does your outside opinion of what he is doing impact the internal feelings which are acting upon his free will?


*In these cake cases, I personally do not see any Christian values being compromised. I think a person can oppose homosexual conduct, homosexual marriage, yet still realize that gay marriage is the law of the land and bake a cake. It's not like he is marrying these people personally, nor will his refusal to bake a cake cause them to turn to Christ and renounced their sinful homosexual ways. But, again, I am not these people, so who am I to say what compels their behavior.
  #77  
Old 03-04-2020, 04:58 PM
begbert2 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Idaho
Posts: 14,092
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
1) Disagree. It is only contradictory if we stick with your absolutist definition of "choice" which nobody uses in common parlance. Nobody.
Except that everyone, including you, starts speaking if it as though it's an absolute the second they're not trying to defend against the obvious counterarguments to the idea of having "no choice".

The goalposts are on wheels here, and it's annoying.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
2) Yes it is a subjective opinion which may be the difficulty we are having. We could come up with hypos where many people believe that there was a real choice and others believe that it was too coercive to make a real choice. The law of confessions in the United States is a pretty good example. Given a fact scenario some judges will say that the defendant's will was so overborne that his confession was not a real choice while other judges will say that it was a voluntary choice. The fact that it is subjective does not change the analysis in my mind. Why would you say that it does?
Which analysis, specifically? You just straight-up said that a judge may or may not agree that somebody had no choice. Presumably you'd agree that in this case, the judge's ruling is dominant - it doesn't matter what the baker says, if the judge says he had a choice, then he had a choice.

This pretty much answers the OP, with "Religion can't abrogate your free will - unless you find a friendly judge. So, objectively* speaking, Religion can't abrogate your free will."

* objectiveness, of course, precludes a judge making a ruling. Or the baker, or me, or you, for that matter.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
3) You've sort of leaned over to get your drink and exposed your cards here. You say that the baker can do the "right thing"* but in his mind, he is committing an immoral act and exposing himself to punishment in the afterlife for doing so. Why does your outside opinion of what he is doing impact the internal feelings which are acting upon his free will?
Me showing my cards doesn't weaken my argument; it just demonstrates that the baker had damned well better hope he doesn't get me for a judge.

Or any honest person at all for a judge, because an honest judge has to put aside his own feelings and take the position that when the law dictates that equal service be given to all customers, then obeying the law is "the right thing" - meaning that they have the same cards as I do.
  #78  
Old 03-04-2020, 05:28 PM
UltraVires is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Bridgeport, WV, US
Posts: 16,788
Quote:
Originally Posted by begbert2 View Post
Except that everyone, including you, starts speaking if it as though it's an absolute the second they're not trying to defend against the obvious counterarguments to the idea of having "no choice".

The goalposts are on wheels here, and it's annoying.

Which analysis, specifically? You just straight-up said that a judge may or may not agree that somebody had no choice. Presumably you'd agree that in this case, the judge's ruling is dominant - it doesn't matter what the baker says, if the judge says he had a choice, then he had a choice.

This pretty much answers the OP, with "Religion can't abrogate your free will - unless you find a friendly judge. So, objectively* speaking, Religion can't abrogate your free will."

* objectiveness, of course, precludes a judge making a ruling. Or the baker, or me, or you, for that matter.

Me showing my cards doesn't weaken my argument; it just demonstrates that the baker had damned well better hope he doesn't get me for a judge.

Or any honest person at all for a judge, because an honest judge has to put aside his own feelings and take the position that when the law dictates that equal service be given to all customers, then obeying the law is "the right thing" - meaning that they have the same cards as I do.
1) There is no goalpost moving. When people talk about having a choice, they mean a reasonably free one. Nobody says that I have the choice to commit murder, even though from an absolutist perspective I do.

Take abortion. Many people are pro-choice. Does that mean that they are okay with laws banning abortion because obviously women have the "choice" to go to illegal abortion doctors and risk prison or health consequences by doing so? So illegal abortion is consistent with "pro-choice" right? Or does choice mean a reasonably free one?

2) Sure somebody has to make the call whether I am bullshitting about the coercion or not. No law could survive if I can just say that the Flying Spaghetti Monster made me do it and I go home (even if I don't believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster). And maybe the judge gets it wrong. It still doesn't change the commonly used definition of choice. The judge is looking for facts about whether the individual believed he was under coercion or not.

The judge is not (supposed to) make value judgments. He decides if the person was coerced or not; he does not decide that the guy was a little wimpy sissy for being coerced.

3) It seems like you are fighting the OP. I fear that you have decided the ultimate gay wedding cake issue and have therefore retrofitted your beliefs about choice to maintain your ultimate conclusion. The law of the state is indisputably the "right thing" and any religious belief to the contrary is therefore the "wrong thing" and how could anyone see otherwise?

And even if that is what you do believe (which you seem to indeed believe) how does that chance the choice/no-choice calculus for someone who disagrees with your assessment?
  #79  
Old 03-04-2020, 06:02 PM
begbert2 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Idaho
Posts: 14,092
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
1) There is no goalpost moving. When people talk about having a choice, they mean a reasonably free one. Nobody says that I have the choice to commit murder, even though from an absolutist perspective I do.
Of course you have the choice to commit murder. It's absurd to say otherwise. Heck, people choose to commit murder all the time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
Take abortion. Many people are pro-choice. Does that mean that they are okay with laws banning abortion because obviously women have the "choice" to go to illegal abortion doctors and risk prison or health consequences by doing so? So illegal abortion is consistent with "pro-choice" right? Or does choice mean a reasonably free one?
No, "pro-choice" means "in favor of the law and country recognizing that the woman should be able to choose to get an abortion if she wants to."

Do you have any other questions to ask that you already know the answers to?

Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
2) Sure somebody has to make the call whether I am bullshitting about the coercion or not. No law could survive if I can just say that the Flying Spaghetti Monster made me do it and I go home (even if I don't believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster). And maybe the judge gets it wrong. It still doesn't change the commonly used definition of choice. The judge is looking for facts about whether the individual believed he was under coercion or not.

The judge is not (supposed to) make value judgments. He decides if the person was coerced or not; he does not decide that the guy was a little wimpy sissy for being coerced.
Not really seeing a rebuttal here, other than an oblique reference to "the commonly used definition of choice" alongside a dubious implication that I am changing the aforementioned definition.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
3) It seems like you are fighting the OP. I fear that you have decided the ultimate gay wedding cake issue and have therefore retrofitted your beliefs about choice to maintain your ultimate conclusion. The law of the state is indisputably the "right thing" and any religious belief to the contrary is therefore the "wrong thing" and how could anyone see otherwise?
If you're a judge, then damn right it is. Unless you think it's the job of a judge to legislate from the bench?

I mentioned judges pretty explicitly. It wasn't the most subtle of goalposts when I planted it, and the attempt to move it also isn't subtle.

As for fighting the OP, I'll get back to that in a moment.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
And even if that is what you do believe (which you seem to indeed believe) how does that chance the choice/no-choice calculus for someone who disagrees with your assessment?
My beliefs have no impact whatsoever* on anybody else's mental calculus, as I think I've been pretty clear about this whole time.

(* unless my beliefs are leading me to effect the world around the other person, like say threatening to arrest or attack or frown at them if they go against my wishes. Their awareness of my reactions will, of course, be part of their mental calculations. How large a part, of course, is up to them.)

This does play into the OP, though. From the OP:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Velocity View Post
Under such circumstances, society cannot expect that human-passed laws such as "bakeries must provide gay-wedding cakes just as much as they must provide straight-wedding cakes" will actually convince a Christian baker (who believes that God does not want him to do that) to cave in, since the threat posed by God significantly outweighs the threat posed by human laws.
This passage asserts that society can't expect to persuade religious people to do things by making laws, because religious people care about their religion more than they care about the law.

And this applies to everyone: society can't expect to persuade murderous people not to murder by making laws, because murderous people care more about murder than they care about the law.

In cases like this, society does indeed accept that some people can't be persuaded to comply with the law. For those sorts they make jails.

The OP also says this:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Velocity View Post
TL;DR - if someone genuinely believes that there are strong negative religious consequences for doing this or not doing that, then they do are not operating under true free choice - just like how, in other philosophical discussions, it was mentioned that people do not truly have free will.
This is, of course, wrong, as the scenario above indicates. The law is not particularly concerned about how strongly you wanted to murder that guy; it doesn't consider your strong belief in the importance of murder to be any kind of mitigating factor in your murderous acts. If society decides that you had enough of an awareness of the law to know that murder is illegal (aka "wrong"), and your reasons for doing it aren't ones that the law considers to be persuasive justifications (aka self defense, etc), then it doesn't accept any assertions that you had no choice but to murder the dude, no matter what your reasons were.

The same goes for religion. You can be as scared as you want of divine punishment over your cake-making (and let's be clear - virtually nobody is that scared of divine punishment) but that doesn't mean you didn't choose to break the law.
  #80  
Old 03-04-2020, 06:08 PM
Max S. is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2017
Location: Florida, USA
Posts: 2,686
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
The law of confessions in the United States is a pretty good example.
Can you help me find this "law of confessions"? I found 18 USC § 3501, which describes a neat little test for the judge to decide whether a person voluntarily gave their confession. It doesn't touch on the issue of compulsion, eg: if a gun is literally held to the suspect's head, but one component of the test is whether the suspect knew their rights when making the confession.

But apparently that law is ignored by every court and prosecutor everywhere, in favor of... Miranda? Which was decided two years before Congress passed § 3501?

Then you have Colorado v. Connelly where a schizophreniac claims his disease removed free will from his confession. The Court declareth, We need not consider this question of free will, because in the eyes of the law, a confession is voluntary in the absence of police coercion.

Bring it back to the topic at hand: if your religion "compels" you to confess, unless your religion is the police, or unless you can get the court to recognize a priest-penitent privilege, your confession is going to be read before a jury. Am I right?

~Max

Last edited by Max S.; 03-04-2020 at 06:10 PM. Reason: priest-penitent privilege
  #81  
Old 03-05-2020, 10:16 AM
thorny locust's Avatar
thorny locust is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Upstate New York
Posts: 2,008
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltraVires View Post
And in keeping with the OP, if I believe that selling a gay wedding cake means I don't get into Heaven, then that is such a coercive choice that I really did not have a meaningful one. Again, it doesn't matter whether that belief is objectively true or can be proven. If I believe it, then my decision-making process has left me without a true choice.
Of course you'd have a choice. Not only would you have a choice between obeying human law and what you were convinced was god's law, but also you'd have the choice to quit selling wedding cakes in general, to anybody.

What the law says is that, if you're running a business open to the public, then you have to be open to the public. You can't pick and choose which members of the public you're open to based on their membership in any protected class. (You can refuse a specific customer because that specific customer doesn't pay their bills, or loudly insults other customers while in the store, or grabs the sales clerk's ass, and so on. That's a different issue.)

There is however no law that says you have to go into business selling wedding cakes.

If you believe you'd go to hell for filling legal prescriptions, then don't become a pharmacist. If you believe you'd go to hell for touching a woman you're not married to, then don't become a physician. If you believe you'd go to hell for selling a wedding cake, don't go into business selling wedding cakes. Of course you've got a choice.
  #82  
Old 03-05-2020, 01:38 PM
Crane is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 1,214
Amen!
  #83  
Old 03-05-2020, 05:03 PM
RioRico is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: beyond cell service
Posts: 2,420
Gawd made me do it. Satan made me do it. Tramp made me do it. Burgers made me do it. It's not my fault. NOT!
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:54 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017